TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 14 Preview
Tuggeranong Bushrangers (6) v Queanbeyan Blues (1) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Greenway
With their imminent Minor Premiership on the line in the final round of the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup regular season, the Blues are set to come out all guns blazing against Tuggeranong on Saturday.
The Blues are sitting in first place on the ladder however a loss to the Bushrangers and a subsequent win to local rivals the Kangaroos, who are just one point below them on the ladder, will result in the Blues forgoing Minor Premiership honours.
As such, the side will be primed for a big performance according to former Raiders prop Trevor Thurling.
“We finished with the Minor Premiership last year and it’s something that we want to do again,” he said.
“The second chance that you get from finishing in the top two is really beneficial in the semi-finals but it means nothing if you aren’t playing well so the main thing for us is to build form as we come into the finals.”
This will be Tuggeranong’s final match this year as they are unable to qualify for the semi-finals however they can finish as high as fifth place with a win over the Blues.
Bushrangers Captain-Coach Michael Brophy says that even though semi-finals are out of their reach, they will be going out with the same level of enthusiasm in a bid to finish the year on a high.
“We aim to win every match that we play in and that won’t change just because we can’t make the semi-finals,” the Country representative said.
“We want to finish the season on the best possible note and what better way to do it than with a win over the Blues in front of our fans at home.”
Queanbeyan has the best defensive record in the competition however in Brophy and halfback Carl Johnson, Tuggeranong possess two players capable of causing the Blues defence some serious headaches.
The Blues defeated the Bushrangers 28-6 in Round 7.
Gungahlin Bulls (7) v Belconnen United Scholars (8) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval
With neither side able to qualify for the semi-finals, Gungahlin and Belconnen United will both be looking to finish 2014 on a high with a victory.
Despite some promising early season form, the Bulls have slumped to seventh place on the ladder whilst the Scholars have had a year to forget, managing just two wins all year.
One of those wins was over Gungahlin in Round 7 in which they comprehensively defeated the Bulls 26-6 at home.
Gungahlin were seething with their performance on that occasion and as such will be out for revenge on their home turf.
“It’s disappointing coming into the final game of the season and knowing that you’re not able to make the semi-finals but we turn up to win every weekend and that won’t change on Saturday against the Scholars,” Bulls fullback Michael Mackenzie said.
“We’ll be looking to put in a big performance at our home ground and finish the year off strongly to build towards next year.”
Woden Valley Rams (5) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (3) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Phillip District Oval
After nearly going down to Tuggeranong in Round 13 following a 22-8 deficit at half-time, Goulburn will look to recapture their best form against Woden as the semi-finals series fast approaches.
The Bulldogs are guaranteed a place in the semi-finals and whilst they can finish no lower than third spot, there remains a slim chance that they can graduate into the top two with a win over the Rams by a considerable points differential and if the Roos succumb to the Warriors.
Whilst Goulburn defeated Woden 32-23 in Round 7, the Bulldogs will head into this match wary of the Rams after they defeated West Belconnen 32-16 last weekend.
The match looms as an exciting display of open, attacking rugby league for the Woden faithful with the Bulldogs ranked as the best attacking team in the competition and the Rams likely to throw the football around with nothing to lose.
West Belconnen Warriors (4) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (2) on Saturday at 3:00pm at Raiders Belconnen
The Kangaroos have an opportunity to leapfrog the Blues and claim the minor premiership if they are to defeat the Warriors and the if Blues are to succumb to the Bushrangers this weekend.
The Kangaroos are in form at the right time of the year and will be gunning for their fifth consecutive win, whilst the Warriors have lost their last four in a row; a worrying sign just before the semi-finals commence.
West Belconnen are guaranteed fourth place on the ladder entailing that it will be sudden death football for them when semi-finals kick off next weekend.
As such, the match against the Kangaroos shapes as the perfect opportunity for them to regain form, confidence and practice finals football against a finals hardened side looking to defend their title.
West Belconnen can take confidence from the two side’s earlier encounter this year in which they beat Queanbeyan 22-14 back in Round 7.