WELLINGTON // A highly charged annual derby between the New South Wales Waratahs and Queensland Reds today may provide the highlight of the Super 14 round and shape the remaining season for both teams. The fourth-round match draws on the rivalry between the Australian states and is expected to be close and hard fought, though seven places separate the unbeaten Waratahs and one-win Reds on the championship table.
Queensland have never finished higher than 12th in the Super 14 or higher than 10th in the last five years of Super rugby but have always played above their standing in the annual derby. The Reds won all but one of the first nine meetings between the teams from 1996 - when they finished the regular season at No 1 - to 2004 - the other in 1998 was drawn 17-17. New South Wales have won the last four, but seldom by wide margins.
Michael Foley, the Waratahs forwards coach, played as a hooker for the Reds and understands the intensity of feeling between the teams. "The good thing about our [Waratahs] boys is that they are approaching this game knowing that no matter where Queensland are placed on the ladder, that the Reds treat it as a special match," Foley said. "And the Waratahs also treat it as a special game. Both teams take nothing for granted. There's every bit of detail done in preparation that you would expect for a very important game. It's one of those games where it is important to get all the little things right because it will basically take your best performance to win the match."