Conference clincher harks back to derby 'days of old'

Conference clincher harks back to derby 'days of old'

YOU expected fireworks when the Brumbies and Waratahs met in years gone by, and Stephen Moore expects a return to ''days of old'' when they meet in Canberra on Saturday.

It's a fixture where the intensity usually lifts several notches, and the Wallabies hooker believes this game will be no different.

Grudge match ... the Brumbies Fotu Auelua, pictured, faces Waratah and Australian international Wycliff Palu.

Grudge match ... the Brumbies Fotu Auelua, pictured, faces Waratah and Australian international Wycliff Palu.

Photo: Getty Images

The Brumbies narrowly lost 36-34 to three-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls in front of 26,578 passionate South Africans in the cauldron of Loftus Versfeld, but Moore said even that game would pale in comparison to playing NSW.

The Waratahs have dominated the Brumbies recently, winning seven of the past nine meetings including the past three. But Canberra Stadium has been an unhappy hunting ground for the Waratahs; they've won twice in eight meetings there.

Moore wants his side to give them a hostile reception to keep the ledger tilted in the Brumbies' favour. Especially given what's on the line. The Brumbies sit on top of the Australian conference, five points clear of the second-placed Waratahs.


A win will give them some breathing space with seven rounds remaining. It will put the Brumbies well on their way to their first finals appearance since 2004. A loss would make things extremely tight.

''The game at the end of last year, there wasn't too much in [it],'' Moore said. ''We were well out of the hunt for finals but this time both teams are fighting for top spot. It's going to be a really intense match, probably back to some of the games of old between the Brumbies and the Waratahs.

''I think the local derbies are a little different to [playing the Bulls]. You're away from home, you've got a totally different environment but to play in front of your home crowd is very special to us, and to play against our greatest rivals, the Waratahs, makes it even more special.''

Brumbies No. 8 Fotu Auelua was named man of the match in the 34-20 victory over the Lions at the weekend, and Moore is looking forward to Auelua's duel with Wycliff Palu. Auelua's physicality would be crucial in such an important game, he said.

Brumbies back-line coach Steve Larkham said he was happy with the impact the human wrecking ball had made after just a few games.

''Fotu's been playing extremely well for us. He's been starting the game very well for us and he's been coming on and adding an impact there off the bench, and the combination of the two has been working really well for us,'' Larkham said.

The match will also be the first time former Brumbies Rocky Elsom and Adam Ashley-Cooper return to Canberra Stadium since joining the Waratahs. Ashley-Cooper collected 78 caps for the Brumbies, and Moore believes it will be an emotional return for the talented fullback.

''I'm sure it will be a big moment for 'Coopy', he's played a lot of games at Canberra Stadium in the Brumbies colours,'' he said.

''It'll be a bit different for him coming back as an opposing player this time, but I don't think we'll treat him any different to the other players. He's a very dangerous player so he's got to come in for some attention.''

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