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Australian teams battle for final spot

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CANBERRA - Two pithy words and a wry grin.

That's all Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen had to spare in response to a NSW Waratah's boast they'll be "unstoppable" on their march to a maiden Super Rugby title.

"We'll see," was Mowen's blunt reply.

The grudge rivals will clash at Allianz Stadium on Saturday for a blockbuster semi-final showdown — guaranteeing one Australian side will play in the grand final the following weekend.

It comes after the Brumbies survived a late onslaught from two-time defending champions the Chiefs to win 30-32 in Canberra on Saturday night, while the Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 to book a date against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

While the Waratahs earned a week's rest by finishing first on the log, they didn't spend their time shying away from the media.

Having won a club-record seven on the trot, Waratahs cult hero Jacques Potgieter last week lit a fuse by saying it didn't matter who his side played next.

"If we just concentrate on our stuff and do our own things well, we're going to be unstoppable," he said.

Potgieter's claim came the day after injured skipper Dave Dennis said the Waratahs had yet to peak, while NSW great Phil Waugh labelled the current crop "one of the best" teams in Super Rugby history.

But it might do the Waratahs some good to tone it down as the clash nears.

After all, the backbone of the ACT Brumbies' unrivalled success in Australia has been built on proving a point against both NSW and Queensland.

And while the Waratahs are undeniably on a hot streak, Mowen believes Saturday's win over the Chiefs — which followed a flogging of the Western Force — was his side's best performance in three years.

As such, the momentum both sides are taking into next week's clash have all the ingredients for a classic.

"You've got two really in form sides going up against each other," Mowen said.

"We've won a game apiece this year, so it's essentially a decider."

The Brumbies are further buoyed by the fact their semi-final is at Allianz Stadium — just three hours up the Hume Highway — and not overseas.

"It's fantastic that it's just up the road. It's just like a home game for us," said Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher.


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