TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 9 Preview

Queanbeyan Kangaroos (2) v Queanbeyan Blues (1) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Freebody Oval

A Grand Final rematch, a fierce local rivalry, a top of the table clash and the fact that both sides coached by two former NRL hookers who are still as competitive as ever. Where else would you rather be on a Saturday afternoon than Freebody Oval?

 The Blues are still hurting from their 17-16 Grand Final loss to the Kangaroos in last year’s decider after taking out the Minor Premiership and looking to make amends this year.

Conversely, the Kangaroos are looking to go back-to-back as they did in 2010-2011.

The two sides met earlier this year in Round 2 when the Roos ran out victors 26-10 at Seiffert Oval.

"The Roos have beaten us in the last three times we've played them so we're ready for a big game," Blues forward Trevor Thurling said.

"There's a great rivalry between the two sides and they're always fiery matches no matter where we are on the ladder."

The local clash is billed as the ‘Match of the Round’ for a reason.

The Roos have lost just one match all year while the Blues are on a four match winning streak.

The defending premiers have the second best attacking side in the competition, whilst the Blues have the best defence; making for a thoroughly entertaining contest.

Woden Valley Rams (7) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (6) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Phillip District Oval

Despite their standing on the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup ladder, the Woden Valley Rams have been thoroughly cometitive this year as portrayed by the fact that they have lost six of their seven losses for the year by 10 points or less.

The loss not included in that figure was the Round 2 thrashing by the Tuggeranong Bushrangers in which the Rams left the field after 80 minutes with a score line that read 42-6.

“That was by far our worst performance of the year,” Rams prop Adam Kyle said. “It was an extremely disappointing performance from us after a promising opening match of the season.

“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.

“We will be looking to make amends this week, turn our luck around and start to climb up the ladder.”

Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (4) v Belconnen United Scholars (8) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Goulburn Workers Arena

Goulburn will look to consolidate their spot in the top four after a disappointing loss to the Blues last weekend.

The Bulldogs are just two points above the Gungahlin Bulls in fifth spot however they have the potential to climb up the ladder if results go their way, due to their favourable for-and-against record.

“With only 14 rounds it’s a sink-or-swim type of comp so we need to start to find some form so that the pressure will come off later down the track running into finals and we can really concentrate on ourselves in that period,” Goulburn Captain-Coach Mick Picker said.

Goulburn won the corresponding match in Round 2 in thrilling circumstances after back-rower Luke Turner crossed in the dying minutes of the match to crush the Belconnen United. Turner’s try enabled the Bulldogs to level scores before former Raiders NYC star Ben Picker stepped up to slot the winning conversion.

The Scholars will need to be wary of the Bulldogs in this encounter given that they have the worst defensive record in the competition and Goulburn has the best attacking record.

West Belconnen Warriors (3) v Gungahlin Bulls (5) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Raiders Belconnen

West Belconnen will be attempting to go six matches in a row without tasting defeat when they take on Gungahlin at home on Sunday afternoon.

The Warriors are travelling nicely at the moment and are sky-high on confidence after being the only team to defeat defending premiers the Queanbeyan Kangaroos two weeks ago.

“It’s a good group of guys we’ve got in the team this year,” West Belconnen Captain Naseri Naseri said. “Everyone has gelled really well and we’re going pretty well at the moment.

“The win over the Roos really gave everyone a lot of confidence and we’ll be looking to continue our form this week against the Bulls.”

Despite the Warriors form, the fifth placed Bulls can go into this encounter in a confident frame of mind given that they smashed West Belconnen 42-6 in Round 2.

After a good start to the year, it is imperative that Gungahlin does not fall away from the current top four sides.