TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 8 Preview

Belconnen United Scholars (8) v West Belconnen Warriors (4) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Northbourne Oval

In what is traditionally a fiercely fought affair, local rivals Belconnen United and West Belconnen will head into this encounter with a fresh injection of confidence after the two combatants registered terrific results in Round 7.

After a forgettable 2013 campaign in which they finished with the dreaded wooden spoon, West Belconnen became the first side this year to defeat the defending premiers the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.

“The win last weekend over the Roos has really lifted our confidence,” Warriors hooker Nic Whatman said. “They were undefeated and are a really tough side so it gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we can not only match it with them, but beat them.

“We’re in the top four now and that’s where we want to stay. It’s a really tight comp and you can’t afford to lose too many games so it is imperative that we turn up every week.”

Meanwhile, the Scholars secured their first win of the year last week, defeating the Gungahlin Bulls 26-6.

Despite an injury scare whilst playing for the Canberra Region Representative side, five-eighth Chris Thorely was back to his best in the win, scoring a try and orchestrating several others.

Along with Thorely, prop forward Mitch Shaw was instrumental in the victory delivering a workman-like performance up front which netted the former Raiders NYC player two tries.

Shaw and the rest of the Scholars forward pack is what the Warriors are wary of this Saturday according to Whatman.

“Our matches against the Scholars are always tough battles,” he said. “They are a really physical side and their forward pack is really dangerous.

“Tsai Tui up front is always a big danger so we have to concentrate on shutting him and the rest of the forwards down early.

“We want to get back-to-back wins and continue our form so our focus is to match the physical battle up front with them in order to come away with the win.”

Gungahlin Bulls (6) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (5) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Gungahlin Town Centre Oval

Both sides will be looking to bounce back following disappointing losses in Round 7 however the Bushrangers will also be looking to avenge their opening round loss to the Bulls when these two adversaries face off on Saturday.

Gungahlin defeated Tuggeranong 34-18 in Round 1 on the back of a wholehearted effort from the Bulls forward pack and a dynamic display from former Raiders centre David Howell.

The Bushrangers recovered marvellously to win their next three games in a row however they have been forced out of the top four due to the Warriors recent run of form.

Just two points below West Belconnen in fifth spot, a win will see Tuggeranong return to the top four due to their superior for-and-against.

Queanbeyan Blues (2) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (1) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Seiffert Oval

Seiffert Oval will play host to a top of the table clash between home side the Queanbeyan Blues and the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.

Goulburn has ascended to top spot on the ladder after their recent good form and are currently ranked as the best attacking team in the competition statistically.

Whilst Goulburn has the best attack, Queanbeyan, last year’s runner’s up, have the best defence in the competition so spectators are in for an enthralling contest.

Both sides enjoyed wins over the weekend and will look to build on their form to consolidate their places at the top of the table this weekend.  

Woden Valley Rams (7) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (3) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Phillip District Oval

Woden can prepare themselves for perhaps their toughest encounter of the year as the defending premiers Queanbeyan Kangaroos look to vent some fury after succumbing to their first loss of the year – to last year’s wooden spooners!

Admittedly West Belconnen are a far superior team to their outfit of 2013, however that didn’t dim Kangaroos Coach Aaron Gorrell’s fury after the final siren one iota.

“That was our worst performance in five years,” Gorrell exclaimed after the match.

As such, the Rams, who went down by just nine points to the top of the table Bulldogs last week, can prepare to face a fired up Kangaroos side.

“Goz isn’t too happy after a win sometimes so I can only imagine how cranky he’d be after their first loss,” Woden front-rower Adam Kyle said.

“We need to worry about ourselves though. We’ve competed in every game but just can’t seem to translate those performances into victories. We’re still confident of making the semi-finals but we need to start stringing some wins together.”