(Reuters) - The New South Wales Waratahs are targeting a perfect 2018 Australian conference record of eight wins in as many matches when they host the ACT Brumbies in the final round of Super Rugby fixtures on Saturday.
The Waratahs secured a record-breaking 77-25 win over the Sunwolves last weekend to clinch the Australian conference title and extend their winning streak in the section to seven matches.
The victory also helped the Waratahs climb to second in the overall standings behind the Canterbury Crusaders, a spot they can confirm if defeat the Brumbies.
“We know that rivalry against the Brumbies has been a big part of the history of Super Rugby for NSW and NSW people,” Waratahs attack coach Chris Malone told reporters.
“Also there’s the opportunity that this game is the last game we play against Australian conference rivals and so far this year we’ve got an unblemished record, and we want to maintain that.”
A second-placed finish in the overall ladder could prove vital for the Waratahs as it guarantees them a home qualifier in the first week of the playoffs and a semi-final in Sydney should they win that.
Malone is expecting a tight contest against the resurgent Brumbies, who are third in the conference and have won three of their last four matches.
“We had a game last weekend where we could run a lot, we were in open space a lot,” he added.
“I expect this game will be a lot tighter, there’s going to be a greater contest for possession at every ruck and it’s going to be about the physical contest as opposed to the running and the getting back on feet that we had last week.”
Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien