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Former champs battle

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

CANBERRA - The Brumbies aim to revive an "epic" rivalry by ending the Crusaders' decade-long, 49-match unbeaten home streak against Australian and South African Super Rugby teams.

The Crusaders haven't lost at home to a foreign outfit since round one against the NSW Waratahs in 2004.

The Western Force came closest in 2009 with a 23-all draw, while the last time the Brumbies tasted victory on Christchurch soil was back in 2000.

However the second-placed Brumbies head into today's clash full of momentum, naming an unchanged line-up after defeating reigning premiers the Chiefs 41-23 in Canberra last week.

"To go over to Christchurch and get a win against any Crusaders side is a massive result," Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said.

"We've prided ourselves on starting to pick up milestones.

"That's certainly a huge carrot."

Mowen insisted the rivalry between the two clubs, which spans back to when they both became Super Rugby powerhouses around the turn of the century, still had the potential to inspire a blockbuster come Saturday.

"Brumbies v Crusaders games have been classics for as long as I can remember — epic challenges," he said.

"Those responsibilities and honours are not lost on this group."

Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher admitted he also has one eye on the ladder, as the Brumbies are just one-point away from the table-topping Sharks.

No South African side has won on tour in 12 attempts this season.

"That would be nice. But the key is the detail in the teams we are opposing, and the outcome will be the outcome," Fisher said.

Meanwhile, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will return for the eighth-placed Crusaders at blindside flanker, however his deputy Kieran Read will be missing as he continues to suffer concussion symptoms following their last-start win over the Chiefs two weeks ago.

Read's captaincy armband has been passed to inside centre Ryan Crotty, while experienced halfback Andy Ellis returns in place of Willi Heinz.

Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Joe Tomane, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Robbie Coleman, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (c), Jarrad Butler, Jordan Smiler, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio.

Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Ruan Smith, Ruaidhri Murphy, Jack Whetton, Tom McVerry, Michael Dowsett, Andrew Smith, Pat McCabe.





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