Tuggeranong Bushrangers (2) 24 defeated Belconnen United Scholars (7) 18 at Northbourne Oval
Belconnen United’s winless start to the year has continued, this time at the hands of Tuggeranong after the Bushrangers registered a 24-18 victory over the luckless Scholars.
The Scholars’ younger brigade is still finding their feet in the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup and despite a spirited performance the Bushrangers capitalised on their inexperience to register a four-tries-to-three win.
The win by Tuggeranong sees last year’s semi-finalists retain their place at second on the ladder. It is the Bushrangers’ third win in a row after going down in the opening round.
Tuggeranong’s outstanding form now sets the stage for an epic encounter this weekend against the top of the table and defending premiers, the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.
Tuggeranong Bushrangers 24 (Alex Tuolo, Jordan Hammond, Brent Neil, Mitch McAppion tries; Carl Johnson 4 goals) defeated Belconnen United Scholars 18 (Chris Thorley, Matt Campbell, Dan Papali'i Scanlan tries; Thorley 3 goals)
Gungahlin Bulls (3) 32 defeated Woden Valley Rams (8) 28 at Gungahlin Town Centre Oval
Frustration is creeping into the Woden Valley’s camp after the side lost their fourth successive game and their third by a single try, after Gungahlin defeated the Rams 32-28.
Aside from their loss to the Bushrangers, Woden has been highly competitive in their other three fixtures which have included both of last year’s Grand Finalists.
Rams lock, Adam Kyle, who scored a try in the loss, revealed that there is a mixture of frustration and optimism amongst the side after their disappointing start to the year.
“There’s a bit of both to be honest,” Kyle said. “We have a very young first grade side and you can't question the effort we are putting in but to lose three games by a try is frustrating.
“I think that if we stick to what our coach is telling us it will help us progress. We all feel we are not far off but lack of execution at times hurts us.”
Conversely, the Bulls retained their place at third on the ladder after playing mistake free rugby league punctuated by a superb kicking game which reaped many repeat sets.
On the back of these repeat sets, Kyle highlighted back-rower Aiden Greenwood and ex-NRL centre David Howell as being constant threats on the edges.
Woden’s own centre, Tim Crome, had an outstanding game for the Rams scoring three tries.
“It's great Crome is finding form for us,” Kyle said. “As a rep player from the last few years we need him to help lead this team and over the last two weeks he has really done that.”
Gungahlin Bulls 32 (James Ulrick 2, Pat O'Keefe, George Hewitt, Aidan Greenwood tries; Greenwood 4 goals) defeated Woden Valley Rams 28 (Tim Crome 3, Adam Kyle Michael Geiger Jeff Morgan tries, 2 goals)
Queanbeyan Kangaroos (1) 28 drew with Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (4) 28 at Freebody Oval
Goulburn has proven they can well and truly match it with the best teams in the competition after drawing with last year’s premiers, the Queanbeyan 28 all – the first time this year the Kangaroos have been failed to register a win.
Queanbeyan Coach Aaron Gorrell said after the match that the draw was a reality check and that they need to lift their game if they are to win back-to-back titles this year.
“This was definitely our toughest match of the year,” said Kangaroos hooker Josh Mitchell. “Goz said after the match that this was a good reality check for us and that if we keep turning up the way we have been we won’t go well in this competition at all this year.”
Gorrell’s comments to his troops in the sheds may be deemed as peculiar given that they are sitting atop of the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup ladder, but they just go to show the high standards that the Kangaroos have.
“We are playing okay footy at the moment but once we improve the execution of our plays, we should be hard to stop,” Mitchell said. “Our defence is definitely one of our strengths this year and it will keep improving as the year goes on.”
A highlight of this match was the battle of the hookers – Josh Mitchell and Ben Picker. Both were team mates during their time in the Raiders Under 20s and were standouts for their respective sides, slotting four goals apiece.
“It’s always good playing against Benny,” Mitchell said. “He’s a good mate of mine and we know a fair bit about how each other plays so it’s always a tough test.
“He had a great game and along with his brother Mick, provided the Bulldogs with good direction around the park. Goulburn will be hard to beat this year.”
Queanbeyan Kangaroos 28 (Ratu Tagive 2, Daniel Watt, Matt Lewis, Troy Whiley tries; Josh Mitchell 4 goals) drew with Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 28 (Matt Worboys 2, Codie Medway, Michael Picker, Jason Gray tries; Ben Picker 4 goals
West Belconnen Warriors (6) 36 defeated Queanbeyan Blues (5) 26 at Seiffert Oval
West Belconnen Warriors completed a remarkable 134 point turnaround by defeated last year’s grand finalists, the Queanbeyan Blues, 36-26 away from home.
The last time these two sides met the Blues absolutely humiliated the Warriors 98-0 however the post season overhaul by club management has paid dividends with the side able to somewhat erase that painful memory.
New coach Justin Giteau and several quality imports has brought about a fresh start for the Warriors and their gruelling pre-season has left the side feeling optimistic about the year ahead.
Defeating the most consistent side of 2013 will no doubt provide them with a notable boost in their self-confidence both collectively and individually.
“It was a really tough game and to come away with a win against one of the best sides in the competition allows us to gain a lot of confidence,” said hooker Nic Whatman, who has seen first-hand the changes at the club after being a part of last year’s wooden spoon outfit.
After two quick-fire tries by the Blues, the Warriors trailed early on but fought their way back to trail marginally at half-time.
Their impressive second half performance was inspired by a tremendous effort from their forward pack and the pin-point kicking game of five-eighth Bobby Roberts.
“The forwards really put their hands up in the second half, led by Wayne Bullock and Scotty Jones, they were both outstanding,” Whatman said. “Bobby Roberts also played well and got us into really good position through his kicking game.
“It was a big second half effort from the whole side and we can all hold our heads high. All week we worked on completing our sets and focusing on the little things and this carried through into the game.”
On the back of the good work from the forward pack and Roberts’ boot, Dayne Ewings crossed for a hat-trick of tries.
“Dayne has been one of our best in the opening rounds of the season,” Whatman praised. “He has a great try scoring ability and I’m expecting him to have another awesome game against Goulburn this weekend.”
Queanbeyan were best served by Tom Ruediger who scored also scored a hat-trick of tries.
West Belconnen Warriors 36 ( Dayne Ewings 3, Brad Cappello, Jono Kent, Wayne Bullock, Isaac Hamad tries; Scott Jones 4 goals) defeated Queanbeyan Blues 26 (Tom Ruediger 3, Levi Freeman, Leon Tupuola tries; Andy McLean 2, Marc Herbert 1 goals)