TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 5 Preview

Tuggeranong Bushrangers (2) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (1) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Greenway

Greenway will play host to a top of the table clash between the Tuggeranong Bushrangers and the defending premiers, the Queanbeyan Kangaroos in what is undoubtedly the match of the round in the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup.

Although they drew last weekend against Goulburn, Queanbeyan has enjoyed an unbeaten start to the year whilst Tuggeranong has won three on the trot after going down in the opening round to Gungahlin.

Both sides are in terrific form which should make for a high quality encounter and heightening the competitiveness between the two opponents is the fact that the Kangaroos knocked the Bushrangers out of the semi-finals in 2013, one game shy of the Grand Final.

“We’re nervous and excited for the match,” said Tuggeranong Captain-Coach Michael Brophy. “Over the last few years we’ve had really competitive games against each other where there haven’t been too many blow-out scores.

“They beat us in the semi’s last year and hopefully a few of the boys will remember that heartbreak and turn it around this weekend.”

Kangaroos centre Daniel Watt believes the side was lucky to get away with the draw in Round 4 with Coach Aaron Gorrell far from thrilled with his team’s performance.

“We were lucky to get a draw last week against Goulburn,” Watt said. “Aaron wasn’t too happy with our performance and basically said that if we play like that against the really good teams then we will be walking away with a loss.”

Watt says Queanbeyan can ill-afford to deliver another lacklustre first-half effort as they did against the Bulldogs, with the centre adamant that Tuggeranong will provide the team with their greatest hurdle yet.

“We’re preparing for our toughest match of the year,” Watt declared. “We’re not surprised to see them in second place on the ladder. They love their rugby league down in Tuggeranong and they’re hard to beat at home.

“They’ve got some great players playing for the Bushrangers like Michael Brophy out the back and Matt Holmes and Jordan Hammond up front. We will need to be at our best.”

Queanbeyan Blues (5) v Gungahlin Bulls (3) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Seiffert Oval

The Queanbeyan Blues will look to bounce back from their shock defeat to the West Belconnen Warriors when they take on the Gungahin Bulls at home.

After annihilating West Belconnen 98-0 in their previous encounter in 2013, the Blues were upset 36-26 in Round 4 by the Warriors.

Coach Simon Woolford was filthy at his side’s performance at home and the players will subsequently be out to redeem themselves at Seiffert Oval this Saturday.

Gungahlin is travelling well this year, sitting in third spot on the ladder, however they were far from their best against the win-less Rams last weekend with the Bulls just scraping home by four points.

A highlight in this clash will be the match-up between former Raiders team mates Marc Herbert, now five-eighth for the Blues, and David Howell, now centre for the Bulls.

Woden Valley Rams (8) v Belconnen United Scholars (7) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Phillip

Woden and Belconnen United will both be searching for their first win of the year when they face off on Saturday at the Rams’ home ground.

Despite being competitive in most of their fixtures this year, the two clubs have struggled to register a victory due to the inexperience and youth of their line-ups.

The Scholars are in a “rebuilding phase” according to hooker Luke Ashlin, with a portion of the club’s first grade roster now made up from talented youngsters whom have been elevated from the premiership winning under 18s side from 2013.

Similarly, Woden’s top 17 for this weekend features nine players who are 20 years old or younger.

“We have a very young first grade side and whilst it’s been disappointing not to have registered a win so far this year, you can't question the effort we are putting in. To lose three games by a try is very frustrating,” Woden lock Adam Kyle said.

“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.”

In a boost for Woden, one of their more experienced players, CRRL representative Tim Crome, has started to hit some form after a stellar season in 2013.

The damaging centre was a handful for Gungahlin’s defence on the edges last weekend, scoring a hat-trick of tries. He will no doubt be a heavily marked man by the Scholars on Saturday.

“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.”

Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (4) v West Belconnen Warriors (6) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Goulburn Workers Arena

Goulburn and West Belconnen both registered superb results against last year’s Grand Finalists last weekend and the two sides will look to continue this form when they battle it out on Sunday at Goulburn Workers Arena.

The Bulldogs have been the only side thus far in 2014 to not succumb to defeat against reigning premiers the Kangaroos, whilst the Warriors proved that they will be a highly competitive force this year.

West Belconnen completed a remarkable 134 point turnaround in Round 4 to defeat last year’s grand finalists, the Queanbeyan Blues, 36-26 away from home.

The last time the 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.

Whilst Goulburn is always difficult to beat at home, West Belconnen’s new-found belief and current form will make for a fiercely contested dual.

Keep an eye out for Warriors winger Dayne Ewings who has been in tremendous form this season. Ewings was a standout for West Belconnen in their win over the Blues, scoring a hat-trick of tries.

“Dayne has been one of our best in the opening rounds of the season,” praised hooker NIc Whatman. “He has a great try scoring ability and I’m expecting him to have another awesome game against Goulburn this weekend.”