Franco Smith’s side were highly impressive in Saturday night’s 35-21 win at Scotstoun, particularly in the first 40 minutes as they secured a bonus point before half-time. The Bulls came into the game on the back of three wins but were outmuscled and outplayed by a home side who scored tries through Matt Fagerson, Sebastian Cancelliere, Scott Cummings, George Horne and Josh McKay. The trick for the coach and his players is to reproduce this form on the road.
You have to go back to January 29 for Glasgow’s last away win in the league. Since beating Connacht in Galway they’ve lost eight consecutive games on their travels in the URC, six last season and two in the current campaign, against Benetton and Ospreys.
Smith, who took over from Danny Wilson in the summer, will use the next fortnight in South Africa to better acquaint himself with a squad who seem almost unbeatable at Scotstoun but are stricken by some sort of affliction when they leave home.
“We had to learn lessons from what happened against Benetton in round one and against the Ospreys last week about what you need to do to win away from home,” said Smith. “So, we are going to take those lessons and apply them against the Sharks next week.
“We are already developing a really good relationship with one another, but these two weeks away together will help us really develop that.”
While satisfied with the result against last year’s finalists, Smith knows winning in South Africa is a step up.
“There is still a lot to improve on and that’s the best part for me,” said the coach.
“We worked hard all pre-season knowing that we would have to match the South African teams physically, and that was important to what we managed to achieve on Saturday.
“The momentum was taken away from us in the second half because we had 10 penalties blown against us, so we couldn’t build anything. But the benefit of that is that we have to win with the ball and without it, and we did that with the way we defended. Mentally and physically, we stayed tough when things weren’t going our way.”
Matt Fagerson, picked at No 8 in the absence of the injured Jack Dempsey, was excellent, scoring the first try and being a regular thorn in the visitors’ side.
Interestingly, he feels Dempsey’s presence has spurred him on.
“I felt I had plateaued a little bit,” said Fagerson. “I had a great tenure under Dave Rennie then I didn’t think I’d improved that much. But having Jack here has really pushed my game on.
“He’s a quality player, a different sort of player to me but he’s definitely improved my game and I love going out there with him.”
Glasgow’s unbeaten league run at home will stretch beyond a year later this month but Fagerson knows it’s not enough.
“Running out and playing in front of the Scotstoun crowd is the best feeling in the world. It’s about taking that and collating it when we go on the road as well.”