It has paid off. Glasgow are through to the Challenge Cup final and Friday’s showdown with Toulon in Dublin offers them the chance to achieve something no Scottish club has done: lift a European trophy. While Smith prefers not to deviate from his tried and trusted principles, it would be incorrect to suggest his is a safe rugby philosophy. His Warriors team rarely kick for goal when offered the opportunity, preferring instead to go for the try. In the words of their attack coach Nigel Carolan, Glasgow are a “7-14-21” team, not a “3-6-9” one. But might they take the easy three points in Dublin, if offered? Their decision not to backfired in the URC quarter-final against Munster recently when the Warriors dominated the first 20 minutes and turned down a couple of kickable three-pointers in favour of chasing a try that never came.
The Munster experience was a bruising one for Glasgow, not least because it was the first time they had lost at home all season. They also had stand-off Tom Jordan sent off and he is now banned for the final. Munster managed to defuse the Warriors’ driving lineout maul, one of their most potent attacking weapons. Carolan does not envisage abandoning the tactic in Dublin but hinted that they might be more inclined to take a three-pointer, rather than kick to the corner, depending on circumstances. “Our general rule is that if it’s a gimme, we’ll consider it [kicking for goal],” said Carolan. “That was our first shot [against Munster], our first period in their 22, and as has been typical of us, we went to the corner. At the weekend against Toulon and it’s right in front [of the posts], hopefully we’ll make the right decision.”
Domingo Miotti’s creativity means he is likely is likely to get the nod ahead of the more pragmatic Duncan Weir as starting 10 but the latter’s game management skills could be vital in the latter stages. “Duncan has a cool head, but if you look at us over the course of the season, we’re not a team that goes 3-6-9,” added Carolan. “Franco has been fairly straight up from the start of the season, he’s much more a 7-14-21 man. It’s come back to bite us a couple of times, but hopefully we will get it right this week.”
An under-strength Toulon lost 43-7 to Racing 92 on Saturday but Glasgow are not reading too much into it and believe their team in Dublin will be closer to the one which faced La Rochelle recently, but with Dan Biggar starting at 10 ahead of Ihaia West. “Dan Biggar is there for these kinds of big games, and we know it’s all about Dan,” said Carolan. “He wants a lot of the focus and limelight on him, so he’ll want a lot of the play to go through him in terms of both kicking and running the ball, so we expect a lot of kicks from him, high balls in behind to challenge our back three, but whichever one they select is not really a massive focus for us.”