The Brumbies have returned home from South Africa full of confidence after collecting seven competition points from their travels to take on a Waratahs side that went close to defeating the Crusaders, despite their injury woes.
This match sees first versus second in the Aussie conference and will go a long way to determining the make up of the table with the Brumbies holding a five point lead over this weeks opponents. The Waratahs may have had a six day turnaround but the Brumbies have had the added obstacle of returning from South Africa and touched down in Australia at about the same time as the Waratahs walked off Allianz Stadium last week.
The Brumbies have tried a few things since full time in Johannesburg to overcome the battle with jet lag as they try to get back on track for this highly anticipated clash and White feels his team are ready to go.
The Brumbies have made three changes to the starting side with Dan Palmer, Ben Mowen and Sam Carter back into the starting XV. Captain Mowen is returning from a neck injury that could have seen him play against the Lions but thought resting was the better option.
The Waratahs have made the one change with try-scoring match winner from last years fixture, Sitaleki Timani elevated into the starting side at the expense of Dean Mumm who drops to the bench. The Waratahs will have other former Brumbies Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom in their side and will know only too well what this clash means for the local fans.
In years gone by there have been comments from either side in an attempt to start a war of words but in recent times there has been little talk to stir things up. Brumbies coach Jake White sees this as just another game and wouldn’t be drawn in the drama that used to accompany this clash. His young side sees every match as a big one as they go about their development from ‘no-names’ to names that National selectors are taking notice of with the test season not far off.
Brumbies: 15. Jesse Mogg, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Andrew Smith, 12. Pat McCabe, 11. Joe Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Nic White, 8. Fotu Auelua, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Ben Mowen (c), 5. Sam Carter, 4. Scott Fardy, 3. Dan Palmer, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Ben Alexander. Res: 16. Anthony Hegarty, 17. Ruaidhri Murphy, 18. Peter Kimlin, 19. Ita Vaea, 20. Ian Prior, 21. Robbie Coleman, 22. Tevita Kuridrani.
Waratahs: 15. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Atieli Pakalani, 13. Tom Kingston, 12. Tom Carter, 11. Peter Betham, 10. Berrick Barnes, 9. Brendan McKibbin, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Jono Jenkins, 6. Dave Dennis, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Sitaleki Timani, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson (c). Res: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Dean Mumm, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Rocky Elsom, 21. Sarel Pretorius B.I.G., 22. Daniel Halangahu.
The match will take place at 7:40pm at Canberra Stadium on Saturday evening. For those who can’t get there, you can view the game on Fox Sports 3. Officials are expecting a crowd of over 20,000 to attend so get in early if you are thinking of coming. (Side note: If I can get to Sydney for the Crusaders game, then Tahs fans can travel down, although this match is being played west of Anzac Parade)
The weather is expected to be cool, so that will keep the beers cold so bring your thermals just in case.
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Aus), Richard Goswell (Aus)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Aus)
There are some good match ups across the park that many fans would anticipate, however the key match up for me is the battle of the number 8’s, – Fotu Auelua up against Wycliff Palu. Anyone who saw the Lions match would have seen Auelua leaving his mark on opposing players – if you didn’t then watch the video here. There has been debate over who should be Palu’s long term backup with his injury record not that good, Australia may have just unearthed the next in line in Auelua.
The Fearless Prediction
Months ago you would have said the Tahs had this in the bag, but not so now. The Brumbies are well ahead of most observers expectations and have been lighting up the try scoring charts with 16 in their last three matches whilst conceding only four. I don’t think that will continue in this match and will be a very close game and since I could never tip the Waratahs, I will tip the Brumbies to get home by 3 points.