Brumbies v Waratahs preview

Canberra Stadium, Canberra, 19.40 (9.40 GMT)

Easter Sunday sees an Australian derby in Canberra, where the flailing Waratahs will be hoping to salvage some pride against their more successful countrymen.

The Waratahs one-point loss to the Crusaders last weekend was one of the matches of the season (and featured one of the tries of the season – by 19-year-old Lachlan Turner) and the Waratahs should have won it but for a fluffed conversion by Peter Hewat.

The Waratahs will no doubt carry forward some of that momentum into this fixture.

Australian rugby has been strangely dour this year, and, with their backs to the wall last week, the Waratahs showed everyone the kind of rugby they should have been playing all along.

The Brumbies on the other hand, while not exactly setting the world alight, have notched up enough wins to be on the edge of a semi-final berth. Their defence has been fairly awe-inspiring but then again, they have only won one more game than they have lost.

The visiting Waratahs could definitely trip up the semi-final aspirations of the Brumbies on Sunday. The inclusion of Sam Norton-Knight at fly-half breathed new life into their backs last weekend, and they will be fired up as every team is on a derby day.

“I like the balance of this backline with Sam Norton-Knight at fly-half and Kurtley Beale to play his dynamic role off the bench,” said Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie.

And he might just be right.

The Brumbies, however, can’t afford a loss at this stage. They have a bye next week and a loss now could give some of their top-of-the-table competition two weekends to get in front.

Expect the Brumbies to be clinical and controlling, and expect the Waratahs to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them.

Prediction: This is a tight one to call, but one feels that the Waratahs might finally be ready to play the kind of rugby they should have been playing all along. It might be too hot for the Brumbies to handle. Waratahs to win by less than ten.

Teams:

Brumbies: unavailable

Waratahs: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 Sam Harris, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 David Lyons, 7 Tim Davidson, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Adam Freier (c), 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements – from: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Ben Jacobs, 23 Daniel Halangahu, 24 Dave Dennis

Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Australia), George Ayoub (Australia)
Television match official: Geoff Acton (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney (Australia)

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