TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 3 Preview
Queanbeyan Kangaroos (2) v Belconnen United Scholars (7) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Freebody Oval
Despite the contrasting fortunes of these two sides over the opening two rounds of the 2014 TTM Canberra Raiders Cup season, fans can expect a fiercely fought encounter in this match simply because these two sides absolutely detest losing to one another.
The rivalry between the Kangaroos and the Scholars is one of the most competitive within the recent Canberra sporting landscape.
Queanbeyan enjoyed premiership honours over Belconnen United in 2010, whilst the Scholars were able to extract revenge two years later with a 12 point win over the Kangaroos in 2012.
“The rivalry with the Scholars is always strong and they can never be taken lightly,” Kangaroos fullback Daniel Watt said. “They’re a tough team and they always seem to play strongly against us.
“We’ve had some good battles with them over the years in semi-finals and grand finals and this week will be no different, we’ll have to show up ready to play. They haven’t had the best start to the year but regardless of that, they’re always hungry for a win when they come up against us.”
Whilst Queanbeyan, the defending premiers, are undefeated and sitting in second place on the ladder, Belconnen United are yet to win a game this season.
“It’s been a rough start to the season for us but to be fair we’ve had a few blokes out,” Scholars hooker Luke Ashlin said. “We’ve got four blokes coming back into the side this week from suspension and injuries which will give us a boost.
“The Roos will be our biggest test of the season and we’re looking forward to it. It will give us a good indication of where we are at. It’s always a good match between the Roos and the Scholars; we’re really excited about it.”
Traditionally, the clashes between these two adversaries has been won and lost in the engine room through the props, second rowers and locks of the respective sides.
Although Ashlin has acknowledged this, he has maintained that Queanbeyan’s new signing, hooker Josh Mitchell, is the main danger man for the Kangaroos.
“Young Josh Mitchell has been a great signing for us,” said Watt in agreeance with Ashlin. “He’s provided us with a lot of direction and creativity out of dummy half and he will be an important part of our play this Saturday because the Scholars have a big, tough forward pack so he will look to tire them out and get our forwards on a roll.”
Woden Valley Rams (8) v Queanbeyan Blues (5) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Phillip District Oval
Woden were admittedly “disgraceful” in their Round 2 loss to Tuggeranong however things won’t get any easier for the Rams this Saturday as they face the Queanbeyan Blues.
“It was an extremely disappointing performance from us after a promising opening match of the season,” Woden front-rower Adam Kyle said. “We struggled to wrap the player and the ball up after the initial contact in defence and we paid the price for it.
“The offloads and tackle breaks that the Bushrangers made from this killed us. It’s not acceptable and we need to have a big week at training to fix up some pretty basic errors.”
Woden will obviously be looking to atone for their substandard performance against the Bushrangers although they will face will face an uphill batltle to do so as they face one of the competition’s most dominant sides in the Blues.
The Blues will also be looking to bounce back this week after going down to local rivals the Kangaroos in what was a Grand Final re-match in Round 2.
Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (4) v Gungahlin Bulls (1) on Saturday at 4:00pm at Goulburn Workers Arena
A new home ground and several talented signings headed by ex NRL players David Howell and Lincoln Withers has seen Gungahlin sitting atop of the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup ladder after two rounds.
“David Howell and Lincoln Withers have brought a lot of professionalism and experience to the club and they’ve been great in steering our younger players in the right direction,” Gungahlin Captain Josh Ayres said. “There’s a lot of excitement around the club at the moment and it’s showing on the field.”
After going down to the Blues in the opening round, Goulburn got the “monkey off their back” last weekend with a win over the Scholars.
“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,” Captain-Coach Mick Picker said.
“Losing two or three games early on in the season and all of a sudden you have the monkey on your back. It was good to get our first win for the year but this weekend will be another big test.
Whilst Gungahlin is in stellar form, Goulburn are always hard to beat at home, which makes for a highly competitive game.
West Belconnen Warriors (6) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (3) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Raiders Belconnen
After a promising start to the year in which they defeated cross-town rivals the Belconnen United Scholars, West Belconnen registered a lacklustre performance in Round 2 against the Gungahlin Bulls.
The Warriors were thrashed 42-6 by the Bulls and whilst a loss of this nature may not have been surprising last year in a season that resulted in the dreaded wooden spoon, there is a whole new feel about the club in 2014, making the loss all the more disappointing.
“Last year was tough but this year we have really turned things around,” hooker Nic Whatman said. “(New Coach) Justin Giteau has brought in a new culture and there’s a buzz around the club and everyone is feeding off the back of it and really aiming to do well this year.
“We had a long and tough pre-season and it showed in Round 1 that all our hard work had paid off and we got a lot of confidence out of that win.
“Last week was disappointing though. We just didn’t have the right attitude and errors cost us early on in the game. We’ll be looking to turn that around this week because we let ourselves and our supporters down.”
Tuggeranong registered their first win of the season last weekend with a comprehensive victory over Woden.
“The Bushrangers have a strong team across the field but we have to especially watch out for their fullback Michael Brophy,” Whatman said. “If we turn up with the same attitude from last week he will cut us to shreds.
“We’ve had a good week at training and will be looking to put our best foot forward in attack and defence this Saturday.”