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How the Waratahs plan to snap four-year winless run against Brumbies

By AAP
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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The Waratahs will need to defy recent history if they’re to knock off the Brumbies in round three of Super Rugby Pacific at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.

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The Tahs haven’t won in Canberra since 2018 and it’s been rough going in the ACT since, with last year’s 61-10 mauling in round two a real low point of their brutal winless campaign.

But after knocking off Fijian Drua and having plenty of opportunity to beat the Reds last weekend, NSW coach Darren Coleman encouraged his players to swing for the fences.

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“You’ve got to throw punches. You can’t go there expecting to outbox them for 15 rounds, and finish on a points decision,” he said.

“If they get into the structured aspects of their game, you’ve got to really be on point.

“When we do get a chance we’re going to try and score and score quickly, and then knock them out that way as opposed to going jab for jab with them.”

The Tahs’ pack took a decent step forward in a 20-16 loss to the Reds, but against the Brumbies’ dominant set piece will need to lift once again.

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“(Saturday night) is going to be our biggest test around set piece, and the boys are really excited for that,” captain Jake Gordon said.

“It’s been spoken about all week – a really dominant set piece which they pride themselves on, a strong scrum and a really strong maul too.

“We’ve shown we can nullify that strength.”

Riding consecutive wins against Western Force and Fijian Drua, the Brumbies enter full of confidence but captain Allan Alaalatoa cautioned his side to be wary of the Tahs.

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“They’ve come a long way since last year, a large part of that comes down to having their leader there in Jake Gordon,” he said.

“They’re a dangerous side, a team that prides themselves on physicality … we’ve gotta make sure we front up in that area.”

Team changes see Nic White resume at halfback for the Brumbies in place of Ryan Lonergan, who drops to the bench, while flanker Jahrome Brown and hooker Folau Fainga also return to the starting side.

For the Waratahs, Will Harrison returns from injury with debutant Tevita Funa other back cover on the bench.

Alaalatoa said his side still had much to improve, even on last weekend’s 42-3 shellacking of Drua.

“For this club, for both clubs, this rivalry has always been there, it’s a big part of the year, but we made sure early in the week our focus was about us and how we can improve understanding that it’s round three,” he said.

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