Gary and Paul O'Donovan are braced for a red-hot World Rowing Championships medal scrap after coming through a loaded semi-final on Thursday morning.

The Skibbereen brothers were touched off by Belgian for second but qualified in third after an absorbing lightweight men's double sculls contest.

They finished just under two seconds behind winners Italy in a time of 6:23.780.

"I never felt like it was getting away from us," Paul told RTÉ Sport of today's race. "Since the half-way anyway we were always sitting in that second or third position.

"It was tough going and we felt it in the legs at the end. We were pretty tired. But it's always good to get into the final."

They're on the water in Plovdiv, Bulgaria for the A final on Saturday at 10.16am (Irish) and expect a serious battle.

"With the conditions yesterday the semi-finals got a bit skewed," said Gary.

"On the water, when it's such a long distance the wind plays a big part."

"Some of the favourites were down the ranks and they weren't evenly distributed throughout the regatta. We had a potential four 'A' finalists in that semi-final between ourselves, Italy Belgium and Poland. In another regatta that could have been the 'A' final.

"I always reckon that if you're good enough, you're going to get through no matter what the conditions are. You just have to tough it out and get on with it.

"We're in the final now. That's where the fun starts. Simply enough, we're going to go out and try and win but so are the other five crews."

"There'll be no conveyor belt in lane six like the quarter-finals yesterday," added Paul in reference to the apparent advantage rowers on the outside enjoyed in Wednesday's conditions.

"Everyone is going to be very fast. We'll have the three medallists from the single sculls last year.

"It's going to be really exciting and I'd say really close.

Watch the World Rowing Championships live on RTÉ2 on Saturday (9.20am) and Sunday from (9.50am)