Queanbeyan Blues 24 defeated Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 20 at Seiffert Oval
The Queanbeyan Blues have erased last year’s heartbreak with a thrilling, extra-time victory over Goulburn Workers Bulldogs in the 2014 TTM Canberra Raiders Cup Grand Final.
The Blues led from start to finish during the regular season last year however they went down in the decider in painful circumstances to cross-town rivals the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.
In a strikingly similar effort to last year, the Blues again finished with the minor premiership before cementing a place in the decider.
This time however, they had learnt their lessons.
“It was a tough loss to take last year,” Blues Captain Marc Herbert said. “We dominated even more so than this year and lost only one match during the season but we also unfortunately lost the big one.
“We didn’t want to let this one slip through our fingers.”
Queanbeyan opened the scoring in the fourth minute when halfback Ben Nicoll pounced on a loose ball after staunch defence forced the ball free from Goulburn winger Junior Vatikani on a kick return.
Not to be overawed by the occasion, the Bulldogs responded four minutes later through former Manly Sea Eagles and North Queensland Cowboys flyer Michael Bani. Ben Picker’s conversion levelled scores.
The Blues regained the lead in the 18th minute when Dave Pangai, eldest brother of Raiders trio Mosese, Kilu and Tevita, barged through some tired Bulldogs defence in the middle of the field.
Goulburn again responded try for try when Bani found space and sent Tim Turner over to score out wide. Picker missed with his conversion attempt entailing that the Bulldogs were trailing 12-10 at the half-time break.
The Bulldogs, in their first Grand Final since 2009, started the second half well and a 40/20 by Mick Picker gave his side an opportunity to post first points of the final half. Mitch Turner took this opportunity in the 49th minute when he capitalised on some smart play by hooker Ben Picker on the last tackle.
Turner’s try, followed by Picker’s conversion, gave Goulburn the lead for the first time in the match.
Goulburn would hold this lead until the 61st minute when dynamic centre Tom Ruediger, the competition’s leading try scorer, crossed for two scything tries in the space of 10 minutes to give the Blues the lead.
To their credit, the Bulldogs never gave up and on the back of the vocal support from their fans, centre Nathan Chappell dived over to level scores at 20 apiece, ensuring that the high quality match would go into extra time.
It took just one minute into extra time for the skilful Pangai to bust Goulburn’s defence before placing a delicate grubber for winger Leu Saipani to pounce on.
Despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts, the Blues would hold onto this lead for the remainder of extra time to win their first Grand Final since 2008.
Queanbeyan prop Scot Rutland was awarded Man of the Match honours after an inspirational display up front, whilst honourable mentions must go to Goulburn trio Bani, front rower Michael Dodson and hooker Ben Picker who were outstanding for their side.
"The wife actually asked me last week what I wanted for Father's Day," Rutland said. "I said I wanted a photo with both my kids holding the Canberra Raiders Cup after a win.
"I got my Father's Day present so I'm pretty rapt."
Queanbeyan Blues 24 (Tom Ruediger 2, Ben Nicoll, Dave Pangai, Leu Saipani tries; Marc Herbert 2 goals) defeated Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 20 (Michael Bani, Tim Turner, Luke Turner, Nathan Chappell tries; Ben Picker 2 goals) at Seiffert Oval on Sunday.
Man of the match: Scott Rutland.
Reserve grade: Queanbeyan Blues 22 (Mick Rusan, Phil Stonham, Tevin Arona, Brendon Lyons tries; Craig Wilkinson 3 goals) bt West Belconnen 14 (Daniel Buitendam, Ricky Fulivai, Damien Denny tries; Zac Smith goal).
Man of the match: Jason Farnhill.
Under 18 division one: Tuggeranong 30 (Jayden Thomas, Peter DeMamiel, Nathan Chudleigh, Corey Tai, Jayden Pollard tries; DeMamiel 5 goals) bt Belconnen United 4 (Phil Ryan try).
Man of the Match: Peter Demamiel.
Under 18 division two: Tuggeranong 32 (Eli Cottam 2, Pat Birch 2, Chris Shingles, Reece Bacon tries; Jordan Mulcaster 3 goals; Joe Camilleri goals) bt Gungahlin 6 (Shannon Grant try; Charlie Thim goal)
Man of the match: Reece Bacon.