TTM Canberra Raiders Cup: Round 11 Preview

Gungahlin Bulls (4) v Queanbeyan Kangaroos (3) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval

The Queanbeyan Kangaroos will be gunning for their sixth straight victory when they confront Gungahlin on Sunday afternoon at the Bulls' home venue.

With nine new faces from the 2014 season, the Roos underwent an up and down start to the year however they worked hard to gel as a team and are now arguably the form club in the competition.

“We’re going along much better now than what we were at the start of the year there’s no doubt about that,” said back-rower Jed Pearce.” We had a bit of a shaky start to the year but we’re starting to find some form now and hopefully we can hold onto it leading into the semi-finals.

“I think it just took us time for us to gel as a team. It was hard with a lot of new faces to begin the year, but we’re used to each other now and have grown into a team over time.”

A key figure in Queanbeyan’s recent resurgence has been the return of 2014 Les McIntyre Medallist Jordan Macey from America.

“Mace has made a pretty big impact since he’s come back…it’s really great to have him back,” Pearce said. “He’s been playing at fullback but we’ve had an injury recently so he might go back to five-eighth.”

Despite being decimated by injury, fourth placed Gungahlin snapped a three game losing streak last week with a tenacious triumph over Woden. The Bulls will again need to muster every last reserve of courage against the Roos this week if they are to keep their spot in the top four with the Warriors and the Rams hot on their heels.

Third place Queanbeyan also are feeling the pressure.

“It’s a pretty crucial game in terms of the make-up of the top four,” Pearce said. “It’s a must-win for us in terms of us being contenders this year because there are a few teams fighting for spots in the top four. We’ve definitely got to put them away this weekend.

“It’s not going to be easy though, I think that it’s going to be a very hard game. We have to turn up with the right attitude.”

Earlier this year in Round 4 the Bulls defeated the Roos 34-10.

Woden Valley Rams (6) v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs (2) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Phillip District Oval

After their best performance of the year in the last minute loss to the top of the table Blues a fortnight ago, Woden were well below par in last week’s loss to Gungahlin, with Coach Ash Barnes describing it as the “most disappointing loss of the year.”

The defeat now leaves the Rams four points outside the top four and increases the pressure on them to pull off an upset in the remaining four rounds.

“We didn’t play with the same level of energy as the week before which is really disappointing,” Barnes said “We had enough chances to win the game, but did not take our opportunities. Credit to the Bulls though who were down on troops but hung tough to get the win.

“We need to improve the execution of our plays attacking the opposition line. Against the Bulls we had plenty of opportunities in their end but couldn’t capitalise. We have worked hard to improve this area at training and I’m also expecting an improvement defensively from both our middle and edges.”

Despite their standing on the ladder, Barnes is confident that the Rams can still qualify for the semi-finals and that is their aim.

“Yeah we definitely can,” he said. “Our squad knows what is expected of them over the closing rounds and they want to do all that they can to give themselves a chance of playing in the semi-finals.”

Although Goulburn will be high on confidence knowing that they were the first team in 2015 to defeat Queanbeyan, Woden can also draw confidence from their encounter against the Blues as well as their previous match against the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs only narrowly defeated the Rams 34-28 in Round 4 this year.

“We know that we can compete with the very best teams in the competition,” Barnes said. “In the first round they dominated us in the first half but we came out and performed well in the second half. They are a quality side, so we need to start well and look to compete with them for the full 80 minutes.”

Goulburn suffered a major blow in last week’s victory over Queanbeyan with star back-rower Joe Picker breaking his arm. Despite the loss of the former NRL player, the Bulldogs remain a tremendously talented outfit according to Barnes.

“They have quality right across the park with a good mobile pack and strike on the edges, which has been seen with so many of them making representative teams,” he said. “Mick and Ben Picker control a lot of their play and we will have to work hard to limit what they do.”

Queanbeyan Blues (1) v West Belconnen Warriors (5) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Seiffert Oval

The results from Queanbeyan and West Belconnen’s Round 10 fixtures certainly had tongues wagging right across Canberra’s rugby league community.

After an outstanding undefeated start to the year, the Blues suffered their first defeat of 2015 at the hands of Goulburn, whom they defeated in the 2014 Grand Final.

Queanbeyan nearly went down the week prior to Woden however they escaped with a last-minute try to Jake Wheeler which was engineered by a magical kick-and-chase effort by centre Tom Ruediger.

Whilst disappointed with the loss, Blues Coach Simon Woolford hopes that the defeat will act as the wakeup call they need and spur them onwards and upwards into the latter half of the season.

West Belconnen on the other hand registered the biggest victory of the season, absolutely annihilating the lowly Belconnen United Scholars 74-12 in the one sided local derby.

The victory brought the Warriors to the brink of the top four and amended their previously negative for-and-against record.

With the Blues out with a point to prove and the Warriors high on confidence, this match shapes as a beauty.

Belconnen United Scholars (8) v Tuggeranong Bushrangers (7) on Sunday at 3:00pm at Nicholls

Tuggeranong’s sole win for the year came back in Round 4 over Belconnen United and the Bushrangers will be hoping to end their six match losing streak when they again confront the Scholars on Sunday afternoon.

Both sides have endured deplorable seasons with Belconnen United unfortunately the poorer of the two.

The Scholars are yet to win a game in 2015 and last week suffered the heaviest defeat of any side this year, a 62-point loss to the Warriors.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Belconnen United’s biggest issue this year has been defence. The Scholars have leaked an average of 44 points per game.

The clash with the Bushrangers will provide the Scholars with an opportunity to bounce back from last week’s humiliation, however if morale has declined even further at training this week, things could get ugly for the cellar dwellers.

With both side’s unable to make the semi-finals, each club will be playing for a fresh injection of morale and confidence to finish the season on a high note and build towards 2016.

 

 Current Ladder

POS

TEAM

P

W

L

D

B

F

A

PD

PTS

1

Queanbeyan Blues 1sts

10

9

1

0

0

342

151

191

18

2

Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 1sts

10

8

2

0

0

310

176

134

16

3

Queanbeyan Kangaroos 1sts

10

7

3

0

0

260

244

16

14

4

Gungahlin Bulls 1sts

10

6

4

0

0

259

216

43

12

5

West Belconnen Warriors 1sts

10

5

5

0

0

272

211

61

10

6

Woden Valley Rams 1sts

10

4

6

0

0

235

242

-7

8

7

Tuggeranong Bushrangers 1sts

10

1

9

0

0

144

308

-164

2

8

Belconnen United Scholars 1sts

10

0

10

0

0

172

446

-274

0