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Big crowd enticed by grudge match

Jim Morton 21/04/2011 05:46:57 PM Comments (0)

The biggest Australian crowd of the Super Rugby season is set to flock to Suncorp Stadium in the hope of watching Queensland finally topple arch-rivals NSW.

Increased ticket sales in the past two days has the interstate grudge match tracking upwards of a 35,000-strong attendance on Saturday night.

The Reds' last win over the Waratahs, ironically the first Super Rugby match at the old Lang Park in 2004, attracted what remains the record highest Australian crowd of 42,237.

Queensland have surged to the top of the competition ladder with six straight wins.

The combination of witnessing the Reds possibly notch a record-winning streak and end a seven-game drought against their bitter rivals has driven sales in a difficult Easter weekend.

The previous biggest crowd this year was at ANZ Stadium in round two when 33,846 attended NSW's 30-6 thumping of the Reds.

A turn-out of 35,000 would be the Reds' third biggest home crowd and highest attendance since 38,947 turned up to jeer defector Wendell Sailor in NSW's 16-12 win in 2006.

The Waratahs' highest home crowd stands at 41,645, set in 2002 against the defending champion Brumbies, while 40,271 was the biggest attendance in 2010 when NSW beat the Brumbies 19-12.

With the Broncos and Gold Coast Titans playing away in the NRL this weekend, Reds coach Ewen McKenzie hoped non-rugby fans would also show their parochialism.

"(40,000) would be brilliant but obviously right in the middle of (Easter) that would test us," McKenzie said.

"I think we've been doing all we can to be successful and to play the right brand of rugby to get people interested so I'm hoping that's enough to get people on the edges to make the effort and come and support us."

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