||Join us again tomorrow for more live coverage of Sup Rugby when the Waratahs take on the Brumbies in Sydney!|
||The Sharks win the line-out and they form the maul. Messam disrupts it but the Sharks hang on to possession and keep it close as they run down the clock just outside their 22. THe Chiefs turn it over and are now 15 out from the tryline but they lose it forward and Pietersen kicks it out for FULL-TIME: Sharks 12 - 11 Chiefs|
||The Chiefs go wide before it is kicked downfield and the Sharks get a penalty in their 22 after Tom Marshall puts a knee into the back of Reinach who dived on the ball. Lambie finds touch near the Sharks ten-metre line|
||The Sharks run it out with Kankowski before the Chiefs turn it over and the Chiefs have a scrum near the Sharks ten-metre line after Kankowski nearly interceps|
||The Chiefs run from the restart and it is turned over and the Sharks will get a scrum on halfway after the visitors lose it forward. From the scrum the Chiefs win the ball from a tighthead. Lowe takes it up before Tom Marshall finds a gap and the Chiefs are back in the Sharks 22 before they lose it forward and the Sharks have a scrum .|
||From the scrum deep in their 22, the Sharks lose the ball with Sam Cane diving onto the ball. The away side keep it close in the wet conditions. Pulu gives it to Cruden who goes for the drop kick but it is wide|
||From the restart Gear beats a few defenders before Marshall takes it over halfway. They kick down field and Ndungane runs it out into touch for a Chiefs attacking line-out in the Sharks 22. They take it through the phases before they lose it forward and the Sharks will have a scrum ten out from their tryline|
||The Chiefs take it quickly from the line-out and they win a penalty a few phases later. Cruden will line up a kick from the Sharks ten-metre line in the pouring rain. He misses the kick and the Sharks still lead 12-11|
||After a knock on by the Sharks at the line-out, the Chiefs will get another chance with a scrum just outside the Sharks 22. They go wide with Cruden in a half gap. They are just five metres short now before the Sharks turn it over and it is cleared towards halfway|
||The Chiefs get the ball back with Messam making hard yards towards the Sharks 22. Cruden sends a kick in behind but Mvovo fields well in his 22. Lambie clears and the Chiefs have a line-out just outside the Sharks 22|
||The Chiefs now go on the attacking with more good work from McKenzie, They are in the Sharks 22 but they hold on the Sharks win the penalty. The Sharks have a line-out near their own 10 metre line|
||The Sharks win the penalty at the scrum with the Chiefs collapsing and Lambie will have a chance to put his team in front with a kick just outside the Chiefs 22. He converts the PENALTY and the Sharks lead 12-11|
||The home team forms the driving maul in the Chiefs 22 before Reinach's pass goes to ground behind the gain-line. The Sharks start again from outside the 22 and they prefer the pick and go. They send a high kick but it is lost forward by Weber and the Sharks have an attacking scrum deep in the Chiefs 22|
||From the scrum the visitors go wide but Tamanivalu loses the ball forward and the Sharks have the scrum this time near halfway on their side. They win the penalty after a dominant scrum and Lambie gives his team a line-out in the Chiefs 22|
||The Sharks, from the scrum on halfway, Reinach finds some space on the short side but is tackled into touch just short of the Chiefs 22. The Chiefs take it quickly and the Sharks want to run it from the kick. The away side will get a scrum now after a Sharksknock on near the Sharks ten-metre line|
||The Chiefs win the penalty at the scrum and Cruden gives his team a line-out. The visitors run it out from their own half with Cruden finding space before it is lost forward by McKenzie and the Sharks have a scrum on halfway|
||The Sharks now from a line-out on the Chiefs 22 opts for the driving maul and they make ground before it goes into touch and the Chiefs have a defensive line-out. The Sharks win the ball back with the help of Cooper, but they lose forward at the next phase and the Chiefs have the scrum|
||The Sharks now win a penalty just inside the Chiefs half and Lambie will attempt a kick from about 50 metres out. He is short and the Chiefs run it out of their 22. Messam is in space now but the Sharks turn it over with Marais and win the penalty|
||McKenzie finds a gap on halfway from the restart and he makes his way to the Sharks 22 before his pass is knocked down. The Chiefs now from the scrum go to the midfield but it is lost forward by Lowe and the Sharks clear towards halfway|
||The home side keeps ball in hand after the restart before Reinach kicks down field. Lowe sends a kick in behind the Sharks defence but it goes into touch. From the line-out the Sharks are under pressure just outside their own 22 before Reinach clears again. Lowe kicks in the Sharks in goal area and it is a 22 drop out|
||SECOND HALF: Chiefs' flyhalf Aaron Cruden gets the second half under way!|
||A dab through is almost gathered by Wentzel but the Chiefs get the ball back. Lowe is into space now before Reinach sends a ground kick down field. The Sharks get a scrum now just outside the Chiefs 22 after a knock on. From the scrum the Sharks get the penalty with the Chiefs collapsing. Lambie goes for polls in wet conditions and converts the PENALTY. HALF-TIME: Sharks 9-11 Chiefs|
||The Chiefs run it out from the restart before a kicking dual commences before Mvovo finds touch deep in the Chiefs half. From the line-out the Chiefs form a amul before Weber sends a box kick. Ndungane runs it back as the Sharks are just outside the Chiefs 22 now|
||Cruden misses the conversion and the Chiefs lead 11-6|
||From a line-out five metres from the Sharks tryline they lose the ball and Cooper is tackled into touch and the Chiefs get another five metre line-out. This time the go for the driving maul and Sam Cane is in for the TRY!|
||The Sharks are now on the attack in the Chiefs half and they win a penalty after Lambie's kick is knocked on with a Chiefs player playing it from an offside position. Lambie line up the kick from outside the 22 and he converts the PENALTY to make it 6-6|
||After the red card, Cruden line up the penalty kick and he converts the PENALTY and the Chiefs lead 6-3|
||The Chiefs now get a scrum in the Sharks half after Reinach's kick goes to far and dead. They go wide and they are now in the Sharks 22 after a strong run by Seta Tamanivalu and they get a penalty with Steyn tip tackling Cruden. Steyn gets RED CARDED|
||The Sharks now have the ball in the Chiefs half after the restart. Heem now finds space after Lambie's kick but he is tackled hard and the Sharks knock on as well. The Chiefs now have an overlap on halfway but a pass goes into touch|
||The Sharks opt for the three points this time and Lambie sets up the kick from just outside the Chiefs 22. He hits the posts and the score remains 3-3 as the rain comes pouring down|
||From the scrum Reinach sends a kick down field before McKenzie's kick goes dead and play is brought back for a Sharks scrum on the Chiefs ten-metre line. Kankowski takes it off the back of the scrum before Reinach sees an opening as the Sharks are in the Chiefs 22. They are nearly in for the try but play is brought back for a Sharks penalty|
||Cruden finds touch from the penalty. The Chiefs go wide from the line-out and Horrell finds space and the visitors march up field before its is lost forward by Cane near the Sharks ten-metre line ,and the Sharks will get the scrum|
||Play is stopped and Bismarck du Plessis is RED CARDED for a kick to the head of Leitch!|
||The Sharks from a line-out five metres out go for the drive before Steyn ends a cross kick which goes dead. The Sharks win another penalty after more dangerous play by the Chiefs and it is another five metre line-out. They go for the maul before Bothma is brought down short and Cane steals it and Cruden clears|
||The Sharks opt for another five metre line-out and they go for the maul again and they are over the line, but it is held-up and the Sharks will have an attacking scrum five metres from the Chiefs tryline. But it is a penalty to the Sharks after a shoulder charge by Elliot on the Beast and he gets a RED CARD!|
||The Chiefs opt for a driving maul and Reinach wins the ball after the away side is put under pressure in the backline. Lambie breaks through and Reinach takes it in the 22. The Sharks are now just five metres out and they win the penalty with the Chiefs offside. From the line-out the Sharks form a maul and win another penalty.|
||Lambie gives his team a line-out near halfway and they win the ball after a clumsy line-out before Steyn kicks deep but it is out on the full and the Chiefs have an attacking line-out in the Sharks half|
||The Chiefs now from a line-out sends a high ball through Weber, and they will get another line-out on halfway after Reinach puts a foot in touch. Sam Cane makes a few metres before it is kicked and the Sharks win a penalty in their own 22 after a shoulder charge|
||Its now a ping pong with the kicks down field before Cruden finally finds touch deep in the Sharks half. The Sharks from a line-out on their own ten-metre line. After a delay with Botha going down injured, Reinach kick down field.|
||The Chiefs now have the ball in the Sharks half and they get the penalty with Steyn giving away the penalty and Cruden will go for posts about 50 metres out. He converts the PENALTY and it is 3-3|
||Lambie converts the PENALTY from just outside the Chiefs 22 and the Sharks lead 3-0|
||After a brief kicking duel Renaich finds a good touch finder in the Chiefs 22 before it is taken quickly and McKenzie gives the Sharks a line-out just outside the Chiefs 22. The home side goes wide with Marais beating a few defenders and play is brought back for a penalty|
||KICK-OFF: Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie gets the game under way!|
||The Chiefs are aiming to win on consecutive weekends in South Africa for just the third time; a feat they last managed in April 2012.|
||The Sharks' Marcell Coetzee is the joint top-try scorer this season, and the top- scoring forward after crossing the whitewash four times in five games.|
||Welcome to live coverage of Super Rugby with the Sharks taking on the Chiefs at Kings Park in Durban.|
The stage is set for two days of high drama in the Super Rugby arena, as we take a look at Saturday and Sunday's matches.
The stage is set for two days of high drama in the Super Rugby arena on Saturday and Sunday, with the presence or absence of several big-name players the main attraction.
Star flank David Pocock will return to the spotlight for the Australian conference leaders, the Brumbies, against the defending champion Waratahs.
In contrast All Black superstar Sonny Bill Williams will be missing when the Chiefs take on the Sharks this weekend.
The Sharks also suffered a setback, with Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit ruled out for three months after knee surgery this week.
However, it is the decision of the Sharks to not rest key Springboks Marcell Coetzee, Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach that caused the biggest stir in the Republic.
Saturday's drama starts when the seven-time champion Crusaders, 10th on the standings after just two wins from four starts, host the 11th-placced Cheetahs (also two wins from four starts) in Christchurch.
We then cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa, where the seventh-placed Bulls (two wins from four starts) host the Western Force (12th, with just one win in five outings) in Pretoria.
The Sharks (sixth, with two wins in five starts) are then up against the Chiefs (fourth, just one loss in five outings).
Sunday's only game is the big all-Australian derby - where the defending champion Waratahs (eighth after recording just two wins) and the table-topping Brumbies (four wins in five outings) go head-to-head in a match that is an early wallaby trial.
We look at Saturday and Sunday's matches!
Saturday, March 21
Crusaders v Cheetahs
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 08.35 SAST; 06.35 GMT)
The Crusaders, notoriously slow starters, will be without one of their most iconic players, Richie McCaw when the dangerous Cheetahs arrive in town.
McCaw, who has been replaced as openside flank by Matt Todd, is being rested up so he can be fresh when the Crusaders arrive in South Africa next week - where they will face the Bulls in Pretoria and the Sharks in Durban.
Coach Todd Blackadder made no secret of the fact that McCaw is being held back to be unleash in the Republic.
"That was part of the plan for both Richie and Matt," he said of the decision to rotate the two flanks, adding: "Both wore worn out a couple of weeks ago, so it's just purely rotation."
McCaw's absence coincides with the Cheetahs' famed poacher Heinrich Brüssow, who will start his first game of the season - after recovering from concussion-related symptoms he suffered while playing in Japan.
The Cheetahs, who haven't won in Australasia since their successful 2013 tour, have managed just one win outside Bloemfontein in their last 11 matches on the road. That victory was in Round One this year, when they beat the Sharks in Durban.
The Crusaders, who won just one of their first three matches, looked to be showing signs of improvement when they dismissed an underwhelming Lions team 34-6 last week.
However, their coach, Blackadder, felt they played nowhere near their true potential.
"I still think we have got some work to do," the coach said.
The Cheetahs, who lost their last two outings after winning in rounds one and three, will have to improve their defence and cut down on the high error count if they are to stop the slide that has set in, in recent weeks.
2014: Crusaders won 52-31, Bloemfontein
2012: Crusaders won 28-21, Christchurch
2011: Cheetahs won 33-20, Bloemfontein
2010: Crusaders won 45-6, Christchurch
2009: Cheetahs won 20-13, Bloemfontein
2008: Crusaders won 55-7, Christchurch
Prediction: The Crusaders have won five of their last six at home, with four of those wins coming by more than 20 points. In contrast, the Cheetahs have lost 10 of their last 11 games away from home, including the last five outside of South Africa, averaging 39 points conceded per game during those five matches. The New Zealand side has conceded more tries (nine) than they have scored (eight) so far this season, however, at home they have scored five tries and conceded just two. The Crusaders have beaten the fewest defenders on average this year. They have evaded just 11.8 would-be tacklers per game. The Cheetahs have conceded 29.8 points and three tries per game on average this season; no team has averaged more in 2015. The Cheetahs do have a realistic chance of an upset, but then they will need to be on top of their game. Anything less than 100 percent will not be good enough. Heinrich Brüssow versus Matt Todd is going to be a key head-to-head battle. The Crusaders may just have enough in the tank to sneak a win by less than seven points.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 David Havili
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Johannes Prinsloo, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)
Bulls v Western Force
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 17.05; 23.05 AWST; 15.05 GMT)
The Western Force - despite having suffered four straight losses - do not fear the Loftus Versfeld factor and are willing to broadcast their confidence to the world.
History also seems to suggest they are a team that always push the Bulls to the limit, with the biggest home win by the team from Pretoria a 10-pointer (36-26) two years ago.
In fact in 2007, the year the Bulls won the first of their three titles, the Force scored an upset (30-27) victory at Loftus.
Force scrumhalf Alby Mathewson this week said are "quietly confident" of causing another upset.
"It's not like we're worried about playing in Pretoria or anything like that," Mathewson old the media from the team's base in South Africa.
"We are confident we can go there and do the job. Confidence in the group is still high. We still believe in what we're doing and how we do it.
"It's just about getting rid of those little inaccuracies."
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is well aware of the threat posed by the visitors, but felt his team - fresh from last week's bye - will be able to maintain the momentum they built through the victories over the Cheetahs and Sharks in their last two outings.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies was a bit more cautious in his approach.
"We always seem to be in tight matches against each other," he said of a rivalry in which the biggest winning margin - home and away - was 28-15 victory by the Bulls in Perth in 2010, the year that they won their third title.
"The trick for us will be to play the big moments better and to execute whenever we create scoring opportunities."
Ludeke said he had been impressed by the way his charges turned their fortunes around after the home defeats in the opening weeks.
"The impressive thing was the way the players changed and their accuracy suddenly changed, then the belief came, and with that the momentum came as well," Ludeke said.
"We would like to continue with what made us a dangerous side before the break, getting into the right areas, converting that opportunity, accuracy on defence and squeezing opportunities and hopefully winning that field position battle."
2014: Force won 15-9, Perth
2013: Bulls won 36-26, Pretoria
2011: Force won 26-21, Perth
2010: Bulls won 28-15, Perth
2009: Bulls won 32-29, Pretoria
2008: Force won 15-14, Perth
Prediction: In the regular season, the Bulls have won their last 15 at home to Australian sides, last losing in February 2007; however that defeat was inflicted by the Force. The Force have averaged more time in possession than any other side this season (16 minutes and 32 seconds). The Bulls have the best ruck success rate this year (96 percent). The Western Australia side have the worst tackling success rate this season, making just 83 percent of their tackles so far in 2015. The Force has also averaged the fewest clean breaks this season, making just 4.2 per game. The Bulls, along with the Brumbies, have averaged the most points per game this season (28); this is due in part to their goal-kicking success rate in Super Rugby this season (86 percent). Handré Pollard is the second-highest point-scorer so far this season (72) and has so far averaged the most points per game of any player (18). In the Bulls' last match against the Cheetahs, Pollard joined an exclusive club of just nine Super Rugby players to score at least a try, a conversion, a penalty-goal and a drop-goal in the same match. The other players in this club are Carlos Spencer (1996), Andrew Mehrtens (1998), Glen Jackson (2001), Andre Pretorius (2003), Morne Steyn (2008), Kurtley Beale (2008), Quade Cooper (2011 & 2013) and Johan Goosen (2014). It may not be a run-away win for the Bulls, but it is difficult to see the Force cause an upset, given their poor form. The Bulls should win by between 10 and 15 points.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.
Western Force: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (captain), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins/Guy Millar, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Pro Legoete (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Sharks v Chiefs
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 19.10; 06.10 Sunday, March 22 NZDT; 17.10 GMT)
The focus during the build-up to this game has been mostly on which players are in and who was out.
Sonny Bill Williams has failed to recover in time from his concussion issues and has been ruled out, while fellow centre Tim Nanai-Williams has flown home to New Zealand with a fractured finger.
The Sharks lost Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who will spend the next three months on the sidelines, after undergoing knee surgery.
But the real drama involved the Sharks Springbok trio of Marcell Coetzee, Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach '- who will all feature in this vital match, despite a request from the Bok coach and the South African Rugby Union that they do not feature in more than five consecutive matches.
This will be their sixth successive outing.
The off-field issues aside, the Sharks know they are in for a testing encounter against a Chiefs team that ended the Stormers unbe4aten run last week.
"The Chiefs' backline has shown they can score a lot of tries," Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt.
"The most important thing for us is stopping them from getting turnovers, that is where they are really strong and that is where they have scored the majority of their tries from."
Even without big names like Williams-times-two, they can still fall back on All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden to weave his magic.
"We are a talented group ourselves," Everitt said, adding: "We have internationals in our backline - we have Cobus [Reinach] and Pat [Lambie] and obviously Frans [Steyn] and JP [Pietersen] as well as Odwa [Ndungane] and Lwazi [Mvovo] who have all played international rugby."
The Chiefs fought back to end the Stormers' unbeaten start to the season with a 28-19 win last weekend and have won on four of their seven visits to Durban.
However, the Sharks' stuttering season took a turn in the right direction last week with a bonus point win over the Cheetahs.
2013: Chiefs won 37-29, Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 37-6, Hamilton (Final)
2012: Chiefs won 18-12, Durban
2011: Chiefs won 15-9, Hamilton
2010: Chiefs won 19-18, Durban
2009: Sharks won 22-15, Hamilton
Prediction: The Chiefs are aiming to win on consecutive weekends in South Africa for just the third time; a feat they last managed in April 2012. The Sharks' Marcell Coetzee is the joint top-try scorer this season, and the top- scoring forward after crossing the whitewash four times in five games. The Chiefs' James Lowe has made the most clean breaks (11) in Super Rugby this season. Nobody else is yet to hit double figures. The Hamilton-based side has averaged the most offloads per game (18) this season. Sonny Bill Williams has made 13 of those offloads and the most of any player in the competition so far. The Sharks will be without Super Rugby's top line-out winner this season, Pieter- Steph du Toit, who had won (28) and stolen (four) more than any other player so far this year. This is going to be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, both in terms of the quality of the rugby and the intrigue of the encounter. It is a tough call to make, but we feel the Sharks' curve is on the up and they will edge an arm-wrestle by less than 10 points.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Waylon Murray.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Tom Marshall, 23 Hosea Gear.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Sunday, March 22
Waratahs v Brumbies
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 16.05; 05.05 GMT)
This is going to be a Wallaby trial, whether the coaches say so in public or not.
Top of that list of head-to-heads is the Michael Hooper versus David Pocock openside battle, when the latter eventually is released off the replacement bench.
How much time Pocock is given will be crucial in the Brumbies. drive to cement their top spot on the standings and keep the Waratahs at an arms-length in the race for top spot in the Australian conference.
The Brumbies lead the overall standings after five games, while the Waratahs have had a difficult start to their title defence losing two of their four outings.
The Waratahs' shaky defence faces another test in Sydney, with the Brumbies having scored a tournament-best 19 tries in their surge to the competition lead.
Coached by Waratahs' Michael Cheika's newly-appointed Wallaby assistant Stephen Larkham, the Brumbies have also conceded only three tries in five games this campaign.
"The Brumbies are a very well drilled team," the Waratahs' injured hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau said.
"They do everything well and our focus on Sunday will be on playing consistently throughout the whole match and delivering a full 80-minute performance, which we haven't managed yet."
He is supported in this view by wing Rob Horne, who will be vying for a place in the Wallaby side with Brumbies wing Joe Tomane.
"They're going extremely well," Horne said of the table-topping visitors.
"They've got a style that is working for them at the moment and they always finish off games when they get into winning positions."
Returning to their home ground for the first time since round one, Horne said that he and the rest of the team were keen to play an entertaining brand of rugby in front of their supporters.
"It's nice to finally have a game at home, especially being a Sunday, and hopefully we can turn it on in front of a hostile home crowd, Horne said.
"We always try to play attractive rugby, no matter what the conditions, but it would be great if the track was dry and we can put on an impressive display."
Sunday's game will be the first time the two sides have met since the Waratahs ended the Brumbies campaign in 2014, when they knocked them out in last year's semifinal in Sydney, 26-8.
2014: Waratahs won 26-8, Sydney (semifinal)
2014: Waratahs won 39-8, Sydney
2014: Brumbies won 28-23, Canberra
2013: Waratahs won 28-22, Sydney
2013: Brumbies won 35-6, Canberra
2012: Brumbies won 19-15, Sydney
2012: Brumbies won 23-6, Canberra
Prediction: The Waratahs have won eight of the last nine meetings between these rivals in Sydney and have limited the Brumbies to no more than eight points in three of their last four wins during that run. No side has averaged more points (28) or tries (3.6) scored per game this season than the Brumbies, who have also conceded the fewest (10.4 and 0.6 respectively). The Waratahs however have averaged more carries, metres, clean breaks and defenders beaten than any other side this season. The Brumbies have allowed their opponents fewer metres and clean breaks than any other team this season, conceding 330 metres and 3.6 clean breaks on average per game. The ‘Tahs have conceded more turnovers, and won fewer in defence, than any other side this season. Nic White has been directly involved in six tries so far this season (two tries, four assists), more than any other player in Super Rugby this year. The Brumbies can be beaten, after all, they were knocked over by the Chiefs in week two. However, it will take a special effort and coach Michael Cheika's attention is being split between the Waratahs and the Wallabies - with the results speaking for themselves. The Brumbies should win this, but it will be by less than 10 points.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Sam Lousi, Mitchell Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Jono Lance, Peter Betham.
Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Scott Sio, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 David Pocock, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Stuart Berry (both South Africa)
TMO: George Ayoub
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
The Sharks did just enough to secure a 12-11 victory over the Chiefs at Kings Park in a match marred by poor discipline.