TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 5 Preview

Woden Valley Rams (6) v Belconnen United Scholars (8) at 3:00pm on Saturday at Phillip

Woden will be looking to return to the winner’s circle this Saturday having not registered a victory since the opening round of the competition.

Despite the fact that they have been unable to secure a win in their past four encounters, Rams Coach Ash Barnes hasn’t been displeased with his side’s efforts by any means.

“We’ve been in the fight in every game this year, that’s what I’m proud of,” Barnes said. “The highest margin that we have lost by this year was 14 and that was against the defending premiers [Queanbeyan Blues].

“In comparison to last year, the score may have blown out in some of those games so there are positive signs ahead for this group of players.”

Whilst Woden will be striving for their second win of the year, Belconnen United will be aiming to achieve their first win this season after a luckless start to 2015.

Gungahlin Bulls (3) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (7) at 3:00pm on Saturday at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval

Under the guidance of former Raiders trio Troy Thompson, Lincoln Withers and David Howell, the Gungahlin Bulls have hit a purple patch of form and are in line to secure their fourth consecutive victory.

The Bulls past three victories have seen them climb to third place on the ladder and the club does not want to drop out of the top four for the rest of the season.

“Our goal is to play in the semi-finals this year,” said Gungahlin five-eighth Chris Thorley. “Gungahlin hasn’t played in the semi-finals for a number of years but we’re confident that we can turn that around this year if we keep working hard and learning from guys like Thommo, Linc and Doc.”

The Bulls are undefeated at home this year which gives the players confidence leading into the clash.

“We’re lucky to have such a nice home ground to play at and it shows how influential the venue and our supporters can be for us because we haven’t lost a game all year there,” Thorley said.

Tuggeranong are coming off their first win of the year and will again count on the services of former Manly premiership winning winger Michael Robertson.

Robertson played his first game for the Bushrangers last weekend and proved to be a top class contributor playing in the role of five-eighth.

Queanbeyan Blues (1) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (5) at 3:00pm on Saturday at Seiffert Oval

No matter where these two sides are situated on the ladder, one thing is for certain: there’s sure to be fireworks in this annually hotly contested affair!

Whether you’re in the Blues or the Kangaroos camp, it doesn’t matter, as either side’s players and supporters absolutely despise losing to each other.

Sure they’re mates off the field, but for 80 minutes on Saturday, you can expect the players to put their friendships aside and do anything they can to secure not only the two points, but the precious bragging rights from their cross-town rivals!

The Blues will be favoured to win this encounter given that they are undefeated after five rounds and the best defensive team in the competition statistically.

Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (2) v West Belconnen Warriors (4) at 3:00pm on Sunday at Goulburn Workers Club

When Sunday rolls around, West Belconnen will have faced both of last year’s Grand Finalists in consecutive weeks, however Warriors winger Joe Cramp believes that the tough fortnight will serve as a positive learning curve for the side.

“It’s a tough couple of weeks for us but I suppose you have to play those sides at some point this year, it’s just unfortunate for us that they are back-to-back,” Cramp said.

“It’s a good test for us to see where we are at as a side and we will learn what we need to do to compete with the top premiership contenders."

The Warriors went down 30-6 to the defending premiers the Blues last round however Cramp is confident that the Warriors can turn their fortunes around against the Bulldogs if they prevent the go-forward of Goulburn’s tough pack of forwards.

“We had a bit of a reality check last week against the Blues and realised that we’ve got a few things to work on but I’m confident that we will be able to turn that around this week against Goulburn,” Cramp said.

“Goulburn will be tough to beat though, they’ve got seven blokes in the Canberra Region representative team.

CLICK HERE to see the full CRRL Representative team.

“The key for us is to minimise the go-forward of their forward pack. They have a pretty simple game plan but if their forwards get on a role the likes of Ben Picker out of dummy half, Mick Picker and [Nicholas] Cornish on either edge and Michael Bani at fullback will wreak havoc.”

On the back of the creativity of Cornish and the Picker brothers, and the lethal running of Bani, centre Codie Medway and winger Junior Vatikani, Goulburn is ranked as the best attacking team in the competition statistically.