United Rugby Championship: Franco Smith hails 1872 Cup win as best of his tenure
Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith couldn’t hide his delight after his side won the 1872 Cup courtesy of 32-25 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday and said it was his biggest result since he took charge of the team.
The Warriors edged to a 16-10 triumph at Scotstoun in the first leg of the 1872 Cup and have now won five consecutive matches in all competitions, although Smith said he was not keeping track of his side’s number of victories.
Improving each week
“We didn’t count the wins,” he told the National. “It is about getting better every week, but we appreciate having the scoreboard in our favour.
“I’m glad for the club. All credit to the players and coaching group, they have been exceptional in this period.
“There were some decisions made in pre-season on how we want to approach the campaign, and they have bought into the philosophy. We think there is a lot to work on, but if you have this buzz in the changing room it will help.”
Despite being under the cosh for most of the first half, the Warriors were the better side in the second half at Murrayfield and were deserved winners in the end.
“The first half showed that expectation is our enemy,” added Smith.
“There was a lot of expectation around us, and I felt that drained our energy, so the quicker we get rid of the expectation around our next performance the better it will be.
“I’m really delighted for the boys. They made some sacrifices over the Christmas period. We had a plan, and they stuck to it, and I thought the second half, the energy the boys brought from the side and the way they reacted from the half-time talk, was fantastic. We lacked a little of belief and one or two things said at half-time helped us align again.”
Smith sang the praises of Sione Tuipulotu, who won the man-of-the-match award after a strong all-round performance.
“I’m glad for Sione – he really stepped up,” he said.
“It was a tough pre-season, as it was for most of the guys, but he kept on going, and the continuity he has got with playing a couple of games helped with his performance tonight.”
Edinburgh‘s loss means they have now won just one of their last six matches in all competitions. Their head coach, Mike Blair, admitted he was feeling the pressure.
“I’m feeling challenged in the job,” he said.
“I’m obviously pretty new to it with not a huge amount of experience, but I’m also very clear that we are a good side with good personnel.
“So I’m challenging myself, because I’m clearly not getting the best out of players at the moment, whether that’s an individual situation or a team situation. So I need to look at what I’m doing and find a way out of this.
Better belief needed
“I still don’t believe we are far off, because we are playing good rugby. We need to start looking more at our belief, and psychologically where we are, because we are doing enough good stuff, but we’re having periods where teams are finding it too easy to put points on us.
“The first half we played with confidence then when something went against us we found it hard to get it back. We have discussed how you change momentum of a game, through working on your ‘no talent’ battles, or our communication being more challenging of each other in that period, or producing big moments through a hit or a strong ball carry – but we weren’t able to find that tonight.”
READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Glasgow Warriors secure 1872 Cup after victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield