16 Mar Brumbies Set for Waratahs Test
The Plus500 Brumbies will travel to Allianz Stadium in Sydney this weekend to tackle old nemesis the Waratahs in Round 4 of the Super Rugby competition.
With both teams at the top end of the Australian Conference table the clash, which is always memorable, will have added spice and, for the first time, to the victor will go the spoils of the Dan Vickerman Cup.
The trophy, which was announced this week, will be presented to the winner of the clash in memory of Vickerman, the former Wallaby international, who tragically passed away last month.
Whilst the Brumbies enter the contest having won both matches last season, including a memorable 26-20 success in Sydney, the Waratahs boast an impressive home record against their foes having won no less than thirteen of the last sixteen clashes.
If the Brumbies are successful on the weekend they will claim a hat-trick of successive wins against the Waratahs, repeating a feat they last achieved across the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.
As ever the forward battle will be crucial and the return of Scott Fardy to the pack means the Brumbies field six internationals at the set-piece, the only members not to have received international recognition being flanker Lolo Fakaosilea, in for Chris Alcock, and number eight Jordan Smiler.
The Brumbies can be confident in their set-piece ability having the most accurate line-out in the competition, a success rate of 96%, with hooker Josh Mann-Rea at the top of the charts for accuracy hitting the target 95% of the time from 42 throws taken in 2017.
Having been beaten in their opening two matches of the season, narrow losses against both the Crusaders and the Sharks, the Brumbies returned to form in a four-try win over the Force on Friday evening meaning that confidence should be high heading into the fixture.
The Waratahs meanwhile have returned home from a less than successful jaunt to South Africa, where they suffered back-to-back losses against the Lions and the Sharks, conceding eleven tries across two heavy defeats.
On the plus side for the home team, the form of Israel Foalu has been top-notch. The hard-running centre-cum-full-back has made 211m in running this season and has crossed for three tries. With a tackle success rate of 88% his defensive efforts have been none too shabby either.
Keeping a lid on the explosive Folau and the fleet-footed Reece Robinson, who caused the Brumbies much pain in the pre-season loss in Mudgee, will be paramount if Stephen Larkham is to lead his side to victory.
One thing is for sure, there will be nothing left in the changing rooms when these two collide. We expect fireworks and, with the added bonus of silverware for the successful team, this one might go all the way.