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Back from South Africa and holding serve over the Australian Conference, the University of Canberra Brumbies have named a team to take on their biggest rivals, the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium this Saturday night.
Head Coach Jake White has gone for minimal change, with just three alterations to the team that scored six tries over the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend.
Sam Carter moves back to the starting side to partner Scott Fardy at lock while Ben Mowen and Dan Palmer return to blind-side flanker and tight-head prop respectively after a week off.
The three changes have moved Peter Kimlin and Ruaidhri Murphy back to the bench while Scott Sio and Leon Power slip out of the 22-man squad.
The side is looking for a bumper crowd on Saturday night, with 20,000 predicted to turn out and see one of Super Rugby’s biggest rivalries ignite. The last two biggest crowds for University of Canberra Brumbies games at Canberra Stadium have been Waratahs clashes (2005 – sell out, 2007 – 23,000) and with the side’s good form coming into the match the club is looking for a similar turnout on Saturday.
“It’s a long trip back from South Africa but credit to the coaching staff and the squad for being professional all week about getting back into this time zone,” White said.
“The rivalry we see between these two teams is one of the fiercest in the competition and we are hoping for a good sized crowd to head in and support the team.
“Benny Mowen is back this week. Being the absolute professional that he is, Ben looked after himself well last week to be sure he wasn’t going to miss two games. This is a big one for him, playing against his former team for the first time.
“It’s good to have Dan and Sam back in the starting side too. They’ve been fantastic for us this year and this is a big occasion for both of them. Sam has played with a lot of the Waratahs during his time at Sydney Uni and obviously Dan has a long history with NSW.
“They are both looking forward to getting out there on Saturday night.”
In an extra boost for fans, they will be invited to invade the pitch at the completion of tomorrow night’s game to meet and greet their favourite players.
University of Canberra Brumbies v NSW Waratahs
Canberra Stadium, Bruce
Referee: Chris Pollock
University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore
3. Dan Palmer
4. Scott Fardy
5. Sam Carter
6. Ben Mowen (c)
7. Michael Hooper
8. Fotu Auelua
9. Nic White
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Joe Tomane
12. Pat McCabe
13. Andrew Smith
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Ruaidhri Murphy
18. Peter Kimlin
19. Ita Vaea
20. Ian Prior
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Tevita Kuridrani
• The University of Canberra Brumbies have faced off with their greatest rivals, the NSW Waratahs on 18 occasions with the Tahs holding an advantage with 11 wins to their names.
• Of those 11 wins, two have been here in Canberra making tonight’s fixture a dangerous one for the young University of Canberra Brumbies.
• Tonight’s match will hold extra feeling for the University of Canberra Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen and Tahs winger Adam Ashley-Cooper who traded clubs at the end of last season. Tonight is the first time they will face their former team mates.
• When the University of Canberra Brumbies have managed wins over the Waratahs they have often been by convincing margins. In 1997 the score was 56-9 while in the 2002 semi-final the Tahs were pumped 51-10.
• The two teams have shared plenty of players over the years, with the likes of Justin Harrison, Dan Vickerman, Adam Freier, Mark Gerrard, Sam Norton-Knight, Ben Batger and Jone Tawake all having represented both provinces.
• The Waratahs currently have nine players in their fulltime squad with links to Canberra including two from last year’s disappointing campaign, in Rocky Elsom and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
• In 2012 both teams are fiercely contesting first spot in the Australian conference. This match shapes as season defining for both sides.
• Despite holding an advantage of wins, the Waratahs have not scored as many points as the University of Canberra Brumbies. With all points tallied, the University of Canberra Brumbies come out ahead by 21 at 440 with the Waratahs back on 419.
• This fixture is usually a high-scoring one with the University of Canberra Brumbies averaging 32 points since 1996 at Canberra Stadium.