Hooper hoping team can break final drought

THE Waratahs will have to beat grand-final hoodoo team the Crusaders to win their first Super Rugby title on Saturday night.

The Kiwi outfit beat New South Wales in the 2005 and 2008 deciders but, unlike those defeats, this time the Tahs will host the game in Sydney.

They reached their third decider, and extended the club-record winning streak to eight, with a spirited 26-8 win in the semi-final against the Brumbies on Saturday night.

Many Tahs fans believe this could finally be the year their team breaks its title drought.

But the men in blue have not beaten the star-studded Canterbury outfit in their past 11 encounters, with their last win against their across-the-ditch rivals coming way back in 2004.

The semi-final could well have been Brumbies captain Ben Mowen's last for his club, with the back-rower to join French club Montpellier next season on a three-year deal.

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper (pictured) praised his team's defence, with try-saving tackles on Tevita Kuridrani and Scott Fardy in the second half helping get the New South Wales team over the line.

Hooper said a reversal of the Tahs' poor record against the Crusaders would make them worthy champions.

"As a team, you want to beat the best," he said.

"We haven't played the Crusaders this year and, if we knock them off, we'll deserve to lift the trophy."


WARATAHS 26 (A Alofa, K Beale, B Foley tries; B Foley con, 3 pens) BRUMBIES 8 (H Speight try; C Lealiifano pen) in Sydney on Saturday night.

CRUSADERS 38 (K Read, N Nadolo, W Heinz, J McNicholl, M Todd tries; D Carter 2 cons, 3 pens) SHARKS 6 (P Lambie 2 pens) in Christchurch on Saturday night.