After dominating the Australian Conference in the regular season, the Brumbies must see off the Cheetahs to move through to the second week of the Super Rugby finals. We’ll have live scores from 4.10pm AEST.
The Brumbies’ six-point loss against the Force in Perth last weekend cost Jake White’s men dearly.
They missed the opportunity to move ahead the Bulls into second on the overall Super Rugby table, which would have seen them earn a first-round bye and a home semi-final.
Instead, they’ll face a sudden-death knockout against a plucky Cheetahs side with the prospect of travelling to South Africa to face the Bulls should they win.
They’ll be boosted by three big inclusions, with George Smith, Clyde Rathbone and Nic White all returning into the starting XV and Colby Faingaa, Joe Tomane and Ian Prior moving to the bench.
The unpredictable Cheetahs come into the finals series boosted by their most successful Super Rugby season in their eight-year history – in fact, their sixth-placed finish is the only time they’ve ever finished better than tenth.
They’ve been renowned for their rangy, enterprising rugby in recent seasons – well, to most anyway. The Brumbies coach wasn’t so impressed, and the South African White questioned whether his compatriots are as expansive and entertaining as they are perceived.
The Cheetahs travelled to the Australian capital fresh off a fortnight’s rest having had the bye in Week 20, beating the Blues 34-13 the week prior – though they did record losses against the Stormers and Bulls before that.
Cheetahs boss Naka Drotske has named an unchanged 22 from the one that cruised to a 19-point win over the Blues in Bloemfontein.
A brief look at the head-to-head history between the two sides suggests that the Brumbies should have the edge this afternoon – they’ve won five of the seven matches they’ve played against the Cheetahs.
That said, they scraped home by a point when the two sides met at Canberra Stadium back in early March, and the Cheetahs have won four of their past six Super Rugby matches on Australian soil.
With the elimination of the Reds last night in Christchurch, the Brumbies now stand as the last Australian hope in the competition. They should do enough to be able to win this afternoon, but the Cheetahs are placed well to cause an upset.
Will the Brumbies progress to Pretoria this afternoon? Find out from 4.10pm AEST.