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Potential try-fest quarter-final as high scoring sides collide in Canberra

By AAP
The Brumbies have claimed early season bragging rights against fierce Australian rivals the NSW Waratahs, having beaten them 25-31 at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.

The Super Rugby Pacific’s two best try-scoring teams clash on Saturday night, with the ACT Brumbies hosting the Hurricanes in a crunch quarter-final.

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The fifth-placed Hurricanes might not deliver the same consistency as their higher-ranked NZ counterparts but certainly bring the explosiveness in attack, boasting a league-leading 70 tries this campaign.

But the Brumbies have the firepower to match them after crossing for 66, although they’ll miss top try-scorer Corey Toole (nine) through an ankle injury.

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Coach Stephen Larkham was quizzed about his side’s famed rolling maul and it’s decreased productivity on the opposition line this season, but pointed to their new scoring avenues which had made them more unpredictable.

“We’re still at the top of the competition in terms of maul tries,” he said.

“We’ve been scoring in other ways, we’re averaging 34 points (which is) more than last year.

“We’re significantly up on last year in terms of points scored per game, we’re doing it in different ways.

“We spend a lot of time on our maul, opposition defences have woken up to our maul and it seems like every week we spend a fair bit of time on our maul thinking there’s an opportunity, and it gets shut down by really good maul defence.

“We just want to make sure we’ve got really good balance.”

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The Hurricanes stifled the Brumbies in NZ in round 10, winning 32-27 with two of the visitors’ tries completely against the run of play, including an 80m intercept return from lock Nick Frost.

But back in Canberra, where they’ve earned a 6-1 record this campaign, Larkham backed his players to once again find a way to win.

“Looking at the stats across the competition, our counter-attack and turnover possession leading to tries wasn’t where it needed to be, so we put a fair bit of focus on that,” he said.

“But equally, we want to make sure our set piece is as good as it’s ever been.

“In a knockout game, defence is important, set piece is important, being able to score tries against New Zealand teams is important.

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“There’s so many different elements of the game that go into a successful performance, and we’ve been prepping all year for this.

“We’ve been tweaking our game throughout the season with a view that we’re trying to put it all together into one performance.”

The Brumbies will need to keep an eye on crafty halfback Cam Roigard after his nine-try season, which included one against them in round 10.

The hosts have regained prop James Slipper and hooker Lachie Lonergan in a much-needed boost to their front row.

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