TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 7 Preview
West Belconnen Warriors (6) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (7) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Raiders Belconnen
After losing their last three straight fixtures, West Belconnen will look to get their season back on track when they take on the seventh placed Tuggeranong Bushrangers this Saturday afternoon at home.
The three consecutive losses has seen the Warriors slump to sixth place on the ladder however a win over the Bushrangers will see them keep pace with the likes of the Woden Valley Rams and the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.
Whilst West Belconnen have lost tough lock forward Nic Whatman for the year after the Canowindra junior joined his housemate Haydon Hodge in rupturing his ACL, Tuggeranong has also been hit heavily by injury.
Former Manly Sea Eagles premiership winning winger Michael Robertson had joined his junior club midway through the year and was highly influential in Tuggeranong’s sole victory for the year playing at five-eighth. Unfortunately for the Bushrangers though, Robertson broke his leg the following week and is now sidelined for the remainder of the year.
Given that Tuggeranong is statistically the worst attacking team in the competition, the loss of Robertson’s attacking ability is likely to be heavily felt.
Woden Valley Rams (4) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (5) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Phillip
A place in the top four is up for grabs when the Woden Valley Rams host the Queanbeyan Kangaroos at Phillip this Saturday afternoon.
Both clubs are tied on six competition points with only Woden’s superior for-and-against separating the two sides.
The match is set to be a tightly fought affair with both teams heading into the contest with plenty of confidence.
Woden’s confidence is derived from the fact that they are attempting to register their third straight victory, whilst Queanbeyan will be full of self-belief after defeating last year’s Grand Finalists, the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs, in their last game.
The Kangaroos have taken time to gel this year but under Captain-Coach Aaron Gorrell they have the blueprint for success, given that the former Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra rake has guided the club to three premierships.
“It’s definitely a new-look side for us this year,” said back-rower Adam Pearce who has been a part of the side for four years. “We’ve got a lot of new players, including three from England.
“We know that we haven’t been playing up to our usual standard for most of the year, but we’re trying to stay confident and the win over the Bulldogs helped with that! We just need to keep listening to Goz and working hard at training.”
Gungahlin Bulls (2) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (3) on Tuesday at 6:00pm at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval
Gungahlin will be gunning for their sixth straight victory when they take on last year’s runners up, the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs, at home.
After missing the finals in 2014, the Bulls have proven to be one of the most consistently quality performers in the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup this year on the back of the leadership provided by former Raiders trio Lincoln Withers, David Howell and Troy Thompson both on and off the field.
In a worrying sign for the third placed Bulldogs, the Bulls are also undefeated at home this year and statistically the second best attacking and defensive team in the competition following their 60-4 victory over the Scholars in Round 6.
As both sides have players representing Canberra in the Country Championships in Mudgee on Saturday, the match will be played on Tuesday.
Which teams representative players back up the better will be pivotal to the game’s outcome, however one player who will be fresh for the contest is Gungahlin fullback Dwayne Connors.
Goulburn will have to keep a close eye on the evasive custodian, who will be full of confidence after racking up a hat-trick of tries in the Bulls’ win over the Scholars.
Queanbeyan Blues (1) v Belconnen United Scholars (8) on Tuesday at 7:45pm at Seiffert Oval
After collapsing to a 54-point defeat in Round 6 Belconnen United will be praying that Queanbeyan’s representative stars are unable to back up from the final of the Country Championships on Saturday.
The Blues, the defending premiers, are undefeated thus far in 2015 and ranked as the best attacking and defensive team statistically in the competition, averaging 33 points in attack and conceding just 12 points per game.
Unfortunately, the Scholars are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the Blues, having not won a game in 2015 and having the unwanted record as the worst defensive team in the competition after conceding 244 points in their six appearances.
If the Scholars don’t aim up defensively on Tuesday night, there could be a massacre on the cards at Seiffert Oval.