SYDNEY (Reuters) - The first meeting between the Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies this season set a new standard for Super Rugby AU and this week's return match in Brisbane could go a long way to deciding which team walks away with the title.
The Reds, who edged the Canberra thriller 40-38, take a four-point lead over the reigning champions into the round eight clash at Lang Park on Saturday and a victory would assure them of home advantage in this year's playoff final.
Brad Thorn's young side ended a six-year victory drought in the Australian capital with the round four win and the Brumbies must snap a similar streak in Brisbane if they are to keep the race for top spot in the standings alive.
Both sides welcome back their captains, with Reds skipper Liam Wright playing his first match of the season after recovering from an ankle injury.
Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said he could not wait to get out on the pitch after a frustrating three weeks on the touchline serving a ban for a dangerous tackle.
"You couldn't ask for a better game to come back, you're facing the Reds at (Lang Park) and they're unbeaten," the Wallabies prop said on Friday.
"Back (in March) we had our backs against the wall -- we had a few injuries and myself on suspension -- but I think we've come a long way again since then ... We've just got to make sure we come out firing."
Flanker Wright will start on the bench as the Reds go for a 10th straight win at Lang Park in front of a passionate home crowd.
"The boys are psyched, it's a top-of-the-table clash which we always look forward to, we've got a pretty good rivalry going with the Brumbies," he said this week.
"We only just pipped them at the post down there last time so we know they will be coming back for our blood. We know that we’re in for a tough game.
"If we (win), we know the prize at the end is pretty great."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)