TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 2 Preview

Gungahlin Bulls (1) v West Belconnen Warriors (2) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Gungahlin Town Centre Oval

The Gungahlin Bulls will attempt to celebrate their first match at their recently developed home ground in style with a win over a new-look West Belconnen Warriors outfit.

Bulls Captain Josh Ayres believes that the addition of Gungahlin’s new home ground will set the scene for an exciting and successful future for the club.

“We’re really excited to get out and play on our new home ground this Saturday,” Ayres said. “It’s a top class facility; the sheds are unbelievable, the field is one of the best in Canberra and I just can’t wait to play there.

“It’s been really tough in previous years without a designated home ground. It never feels like you have that home ground advantage where you can build a bit of a fortress. It’s good to finally say that the Bulls have a home ground.”

The Bulls are set to mark the occasion with a fun-filled day for local families.

“We’re really hoping for a big crowd especially with the juniors playing beforehand,” Ayres said. “Mums and Dads should definitely bring the kids out because there will be jumping castles, face painting, free sausage sandwiches for the kids as well as some top class footy. We feel like we are a really good club now and with a new home ground and we’ll be around for a long time so we really want the community to get involved.”

Bulls Development Manager Pat O’Sullivan added:

“This is a fantastic facility that will enable us to continue to grow our club and the code in the Gungahlin area. We are very appreciative of the ACT Government to answer our requests and they have provided us with a terrific modern showpiece facility.

“It will provide great atmosphere as the game will be close to the grandstand and spectators. Playing in the area will allow us to link more effectively with the community and junior clubs.”

There is an exciting buzz around the Bulls in 2014 due to their new home ground and the addition of two former NRL players in Lincoln Withers and David Howell.

“I’ve come back to Canberra after playing with the London Broncos in the English Super League for the last six years and I’m very happy to be at the Bulls,” Howell said.

“The facilities here at Gungahlin are very impressive. I haven’t seen facilities like this in junior or local football before so it’s going to be great to get out there and play for the first time on Saturday.”

Gungahlin and West Belconnen have both started the year in great fashion by registering impressive wins in Round 1.

The Warriors are a far different outfit to the 2013 team which took out the wooden spoon.

“Our new coach Justin Giteau has helped change everything around and everyone’s really enthusiastic about the year ahead,” said front-rower Wayne Bullock.

“The feeling in the dressing sheds after defeating the Scholars was unbelievable. It was a really good win for the club and it’s given us a massive confidence boost. Gungahlin will be a big challenge for us this weekend though. They will be fired up to win their first ever game at their new home ground.”

Belconnen United Scholars (7) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (5) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Northbourne Oval

After a promising pre-season new Goulburn Captain-Coach and ex-Raider Mick Picker was bitterly disappointed to lose their opening match of the season.

They may have only gone down by four points to last year’s most consistent side the Queanbeyan Blues, but that just goes to portray the ambitions of this talented Goulburn outfit in 2014.

“We were pretty disappointed with the loss but in saying that, we showed some really good signs, especially in the first half,” Picker said. “It’s good to have a game like that to show the boys that we’re not as far ahead as they might of thought. We won all our trials and have a good feel about the club at the moment but we are still a long way off where we need to be.”

After being up 18-0 at half-time the Bulldogs then let in 26 points in the second half. As such, defence will be a huge focus for Goulburn this Saturday.

“The thing we’re looking to improve this weekend is to gain some confidence back in our defence,” Picker said. “We had a chat about what we thought the problems were, what caused them and the best way to fix them so we’re aiming to tidy those areas up.

“The Scholars are similar in a way to the Blues; they’re a big group of boys and they’ve got some handy guys out wide to run off the forwards work. The first thing will be to trying to do is to keep control in the middle early.

“The other night we probably went away from that a little so we are looking to get back to putting as much work into the middle before we start throwing it around too much.

“With only 14 rounds it’s a sink-or-swim type of comp so we need to get a good start and the pressure will come off later down the track running into finals. Losing two or three games early on in the season and all of a sudden you have the monkey on your back.”

Queanbeyan Blues (4) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (3) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Seiffert Oval

The clash between Queanbeyan’s cross-town rivals the Blues and the Kangaroos is always a fierce affair however when you take into consideration that this will be the first time these two sides have met since last year’s Grand Final, things may get even more heated at Seiffert Oval this Saturday.

After being the most dominant side all year in 2013 the Blues will be out to extract revenge over the Kangaroos after they upset them in last year’s decider to claim premiership honours.

The loss hurt Coach Simon Woolford and his players deeply and the former Raiders Captain will have his troops particularly fired up for the re-match.

Both sides have retained a strong nucleus from last year’s sides so spectators can expect a typically high-class and passionate affair.

Tuggeranong Bushrangers (8) v Woden Valley Rams (6) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Greenway

Both the Tuggeranong Bushrangers and Woden Valley Rams will be gunning for their first victory of the season after each side suffered defeat in Round 1.

Woden went down to last year’s premiers the Queanbeyan Kangaroos 27-20 in what was a hard-fought game in which the Rams proved they can mix it with the best teams in the competition.

“We went down to a quality Kangaroos outfit in Round 1 and whilst we were disappointed with the loss, it’s only Round 1,” Woden front-rower Adam Kyle said. “There’s obviously room for improvement but there were also a few positives that we can take out of that match.”

Tuggeranong went down to Gungahlin last week but Kyle is expecting a vastly improved outfit in Round 2 at home.

“The Bushrangers made the semi-finals last year so that speaks for the quality of players they have in their line-up,” Kyle said. “They have a tough forward pack and one of the competition’s best attacking players in Michael Brophy at fullback. He’s definitely somebody that we will have to keep a close eye on this Saturday.”