TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 12 Preview
Queanbeyan Kangaroos (2) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (5) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Freebody Oval
Tuggeranong will look to keep their semi-final aspirations alive when they face defending premiers the Queanbeyan Kangaroos on Saturday afternoon away from home.
Following a promising start to the year the Bushrangers went onto recently drop five matches in a row before finally returning to the winner’s circle last week with a 32-18 victory over the Scholars.
Impressively, Tuggeranong did so without Captain-Coach Michael Brophy who was in Hawaii with the Country representative side.
Brophy will return to lead the side at fullback this Saturday against the Kangaroos.
“It was a great trip to be a part of but I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field with the Bushrangers and getting some more wins,” Brophy said.
“It was good to see that the boys got a win last weekend without me there and hopefully that can continue this week against the Roos.
“We’re a slim chance to make the semi’s but that’s still our goal; we’re not playing football to lose, we’re playing to win.”
Regular halfback Carl Johnson slotted into the fullback role to cover for Brophy and subsequently starred for Tuggeranong in his absence, scoring a hat-trick of tries and slotting four conversions for a personal points haul of 20.
“Carl’s a very talented player,” Brophy said. “He’s got a very good running game and we thought that moving him to fullback would develop that further.
“It was good to see him take the line on and it showed how good his running game can be with those three tries.”
Queanbeyan hooker Josh Mitchell knows too well how dangerous Johnson can be having played with him in the juniors.
“I grew up with Carl and played a lot of my junior years with him so I know how good he is and he will definitely be one player that we will have to keep a close eye on. He’s a key player for them.”
Queanbeyan, aiming for their third win in a row, will be favourites leading into this contest however Tuggeranong can take confidence from the fact that in Round 5 the two sides shared a 20 all draw.
Belconnen United Scholars (8) v Woden Valley Rams (7) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Northbourne Oval
In a battle between the bottom two sides on the ladder, Belconnen United will look to secure their second win of the year and redeem themselves for an earlier embarrassment when they take on Woden on Saturday at home.
It has been a difficult year for the Scholars, a notable low light was the 40-12 thrashing they received from the seventh placed Rams in Round 5.
Woden winger John White was outstanding on that occasion, crossing for four impressive tries. He will no doubt be a heavily marked man this time around as will Raiders NYC squad member Kilu Pangai who on his day is one of the most explosive front-rowers in the competition.
In a blow for the Rams, the side will be without front rower cum five-eighth Adam Kyle for the remainder of the season as he will be in the UK. One of the side’s elder statesmen, Kyle has been instrumental in Woden’s form of late and will be sorely missed.
Chris Faaee will again be a go-to man for Belconnen United this weekend. The dangerous centre was outstanding in last rounds match against Tuggeranong, crossing for a hat-trick of tries in a beaten side.
Gungahlin Bulls (6) v Queanbeyan Blues (1) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval
Just one point clear atop of the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup ladder, the Queanbeyan Blues will look to retain their first place ranking when the face the Gungahlin Bulls on Saturday.
The Blues are coming off a tough 30-28 victory over West Belconnen and with a few injuries taken into consideration, they could be ripe for the picking by the Bulls who welcome back star backline players David Howell and Dwayne Connors from Country representative duty.
Howell and Connors will be handy additions to Gungahlin’s offensive structure given that the Blues are the best defensive team in the competition statistically.
Gungahlin have lost their last three matches in a row however they were highly competitive in their last encounter with the Blues, narrowly going down 24-16 in Round 5.
West Belconnen Warriors (3) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (4) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Raiders Belconnen
Sunday will see the two best attacking teams in the competition go head-to-head at Raiders Belconnen.
Goulburn, the best attacking team in the competition statistically, will not only be looking to confirm their standing in the top four but leapfrog West Belconnen into third spot on the ladder in the process with a win in Round 12.
Meanwhile, the Warriors could jump up to second place with a win and if the Roos are to fall to the dangerous Bushrangers.
Fans can expect a highly competitive showcase of attacking rugby league with both sides featuring in a 30 all draw in Round 5.
“They're not the easy-beats any more, that's for sure,” said Goulburn Captain-Coach Mick Picker of last year’s wooden spooners after the match in Round 5.
“They're a tough team, there’s no doubt about it and they've got some handy players out wide and some big boppers up front.
“It was obviously a tight match last time we played them and we’re expecting another tough arm wrestle this time around. It should be a good match.”