TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Goulburn ends West Belconnen's impressive year
Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 16 defeated West Belconnen Warriors 10 at Goulburn Workers Arena
Goulburn has ended West Belconnen's fairytale season with a six point victory at home in what was a fiery encounter in the first round of semi-finals of the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup.
After finishing last season with the wooden spoon having failed to win a single game all year, the Warriors have done sensationally well to turn their fortunes around in 2014 and can be thoroughly proud of their efforts in graduating through to the semi-finals.
A large proportion of the turnaround can be attributed to the new coaching regime of Justin Giteau.
Although he rued the unforced errors his side registered in the difficult conditions, Giteau was overwhelmingly proud of his side's efforts this year.
"I told the boys I was proud of the year they've given us," he said after the match. "We'll add a few key blokes to the side next year and hopefully go a bit further."
"We dropped too much ball and didn't have enough attack in us to beat them."
As eluded to earlier, the match was played in torrential conditions on a soggy, quagmire-like surface at Goulburn Workers Arena.
This made ball handling an issue for both sides and restricted the movement of the ball out to the backline at times.
As expected, the Bulldogs adjusted to the conditions of their home venue the better of the two sides.
Goulburn raced out to a 14-0 lead after tries to powerful winger Junior Vatikani and wily hooker Ben Picker.
Picker was able to successfully convert both tries and added a penalty goal for good measure.
West Belconnen fough back with tries to fullback Joe Cramp and damaging interchange forward Tori Freeman and a sole conversion to Scott Jones to ensure a tense finish to the match.
Picker slotted another penalty goal soon after to extend Goulburn's lead out to six however the Warriors did not stop trying until the very death.
Both sides unfortunately let their emotions spill over in the final stages of the match as Goulburn reacted to a high shot from West Belconnen forward John Papalii and a tussle followed.
As a result Papalii and Warriors team mate Bobby Roberts, along with Goulburn's Luke Turner and Nathan Chappell, were sent from the field after the full-time siren.
Bulldogs Captain-Coach Mick Picker believes that disciplinary action for both sides would be unnecessary however any player who is sent from the field is required to front the Canberra Region Rugby League judiciary.
"It wouldn't be good for something to come out of it, because they were just disappointed and we've got something to do from here on," Picker said.
"For something to come out of it would be silly, the [Warriors] boys came back to our club and had a few beers, it was just frustration their season's over.
"It would be disappointing if the league thought they needed to step in and do something."
Picker left the field with a shoulder complaint towards the end of the second half but is adament that he will be fit to take on the loser of next Sunday's clash between the Queanbeyan Blues and the Queanbeyan Kangaroos at Seiffert Oval in a fortnight's time.
"I've seen the local physio already and it's looking pretty good," he said.
"It was more precautionary than anything."
Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 16 (Junior Vatikani, Ben Picker tries; Ben Picker 4 goals) defeated West Belconnen Warriors 10 (Tori Freeman, Joe Cramp tries; Scott Jones 1 goal)