URC Grand Final: Bulls v Glasgow: George Horne says Warriors are ready to rewrite history

Scrum-half confident that his team can make it third time lucky at Loftus Versfeld

George Horne says Glasgow Warriors must be pragmatic without losing their attacking edge against Bulls in Saturday's URC Grand Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
George Horne says Glasgow Warriors must be pragmatic without losing their attacking edge against Bulls in Saturday's URC Grand Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GEORGE HORNE has promised that history won’t repeat itself when Glasgow Warriors take on the Bulls this Saturday evening in the Grand Final of the URC at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, just over a month after they came up short against the same opposition at the same venue during the the regular league season.

In that previous meeting, Warriors found themselves 37-17 down entering the final quarter, before rallying with three late tries and a Duncan Weir penalty to secure two bonus-points (final score 40-34).

While aspects of that performance will provide Glasgow with encouragement this week, they simply cannot afford to give their South African rivals such a big lead if they are to have any realistic chance of claiming their first meaningful piece of silverware since the 2015 Pro12 win.


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On the only other occasion these two sides have met in Pretoria, back in April 2022, Bulls were 29-17 winners, with a late Warriors try adding respectability to that score-line as well – but Horne believes his team have shown over the last two weekends that they have developed a more pragmatic and ruthless edge as is required to win knock-out rugby against seasoned opponents.

Warriors have often been the poster boys for the old aphorism about being “great to watch and great to play against” but Franco Smith’s side have challenged that narrative by out-Munstering Munster at Thomond Park in Saturday’s URC semi-final, just a week after their gritty home quarter-final win over the Stormers.

“I think we showed a different side to us to what people are maybe used to seeing,” said Horne. “We knew Munster were going to be a tough team to crack, so playing too much with the ball in our own half was not going to benefit us.

“As with last week against the Stormers, it was a fairly mature performance from us. We got out of our own half fairly well and without the ball it was a massive shift. They threw everything at us, as we knew they would, and we stood up to it well

“The forward pack were outstanding again, so we were just delighted to again defend so well and manage to sneak the win.

“It gives us confidence,” he continued. “In knock-out rugby, we’ve had to adapt our game-plan and be a little bit more pragmatic, maybe, but we still showed what we’re all about in transition. With the two tries we scored, we showed we’ve still got that attacking threat when we get the chance.

“Playing these big games against the best teams, you’ve got to find a way to win and it’s good we’ve been able to do that these last two weeks.”

 

 

Reflecting on last month’s defeat to the Bulls, Horne said: “We definitely take confidence from the way we finished. We work hard on our fitness and like to come in at the back end of games still being dangerous.

“But we can’t afford to give teams that big a head start, especially in finals. Hopefully we can still finish strong, but hopefully it will be a completely different game out there next week, and in a final anything can happen.

“We can’t give them anything cheap on transition. They are electric, especially their back-three but really their whole backline. They can score from anywhere so being disciplined with the ball and putting pressure on them, especially in our own half, will be important.

“We can’t overplay in there, and we need to try to not give them any sniff of turnover or transition ball, because we know that they can cut you up.”

“We have definitely matured as a group,” Horne continued. “We’ve had another year together with a fairly settled squad. We’ve played in a few big knockout games and lost – the quarter-final last year, the last 16 of the Champions Cup this year – but we have taken lessons from those games and adapted where we had to. That’s shown in the last two weeks. We’ve made ourselves hard to beat.”


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About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.