Glasgow Warriors reaction: Franco Smith proud of character shown in fronting up to Stormers in huge physical test

Semi-final date booked with Munster

A cold and rainy Scotstoun suited Glasgow Warriors more than the Stormers but the home side’s victory in the United Rugby Championship quarter-final had less to do with the weather and more their character in the face of an exacting physical test.

Franco Smith expressed his pride at the 27-10 victory which has earned them a semi-final against Munster in Limerick next Saturday and a chance for revenge: it was the Irish side who defeated Glasgow in the play-offs last season. That was in the last eight so they have already surpassed last year’s performance.

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The match with the Stormers was closer than the final scoreline suggests and Glasgow had to show their mettle after two tries from the South African side in the space of five minutes in the second half. Tries from Sebastian Cancelliere, Henco Venter and Ross Thompson got the Warriors over the line and Smith was a satisfied man after the match.

“I’m excited about the fact we’ve gone through,” said the coach. “The guys stuck to the script. The weather was tricky with the rain and we knew we couldn’t afford to turn the ball over much.

“We are still alive in the competition. We prepared well all week and stuck to the plan. We were playing against a very physical opponent and the boys fronted up. I’m proud of that.

“We have built the character of this team over the past two years. It was never something I doubted. We care a lot about this club and about each other as team-mates. We really worked hard for the win tonight.”

Two George Horne penalties had given Glasgow a 6-0 lead at half-time and Stormers’ cause was hindered further when they lost their captain Salmaan Moerat to a yellow card in the second half after making head on head contact with Warriors’ replacement Nathan McBeth.

Glasgow Warriors' Scott Cummings celebrates at full time after the BKT United Rugby Championship play-off quarter-final win over the DHL Stormers at Scotstoun Stadium, on June 08, 2024. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)Glasgow Warriors' Scott Cummings celebrates at full time after the BKT United Rugby Championship play-off quarter-final win over the DHL Stormers at Scotstoun Stadium, on June 08, 2024. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Glasgow Warriors' Scott Cummings celebrates at full time after the BKT United Rugby Championship play-off quarter-final win over the DHL Stormers at Scotstoun Stadium, on June 08, 2024. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

But even with a man fewer, Stormers got the first try of the game when Ben Loader scored in the corner. Cancelliere got a try back for Glasgow almost immediately but a few minutes later Paul de Wet dummied and dived over the visitors. Horne had converted Cancelliere’s try while Manie Libbok missed with both his efforts to go with a pair of botched penalties in the first half. It meant Glasgow kept their noses in front, 13-10, and they finished the match strongly with tries from replacements Venter and Thompson, both converted by the impressive Horne.

Smith will now turn his attention to Munster, last year’s champions and the side which finished top at the end of the URC regular season. They booked their semi-final place with a win over Ospreys on Friday.

“It was always going to be a tough game in the semi-finals regardless of who we played,” said Smith. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Munster, we knew it would be tough. I’m sure it’ll be a great semi-final.

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“We had a very good game against them last season over there and they repaid it with a narrow win over here. I’m sure it’ll be a great semi-final.”

Smith, who is more accustomed to warmer summers, seemed almost incredulous on Friday as he spoke about the unseasonably cool June in Scotland but his team are more than used to it and played the conditions to their advantage. The Stormers had travelled from South Africa in dribs and drabs and it was only on Wednesday that the whole squad had assembled. Training was consequently difficult this week but their coach, John Dobson, made no excuses on a night when the sun shone on the home side, metaphorically at least.

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