The Queanbeyan Blues will be searching for their second straight TTM Canberra Raiders Cup premiership in this weekend’s decider against the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs at Seiffert Oval.
The Blues defeated West Belconnen in a tense Preliminary Final to set up a 2014 Grand Final rematch with the Bulldogs – where the Blues snuck home 24-20 in an extra-time thriller.
Goulburn booked their ticket to the big dance two weeks ago with a remarkable 28-18 win over the Blues in the Major Semi-Final.
Trailing 18-6 at halftime, the Bulldogs stunned the minor premiers as they piled on 22 unanswered points to earn a week’s rest heading in to the Grand Final.
Searching for their first premiership win since 2009, the Bulldogs will now enter the Grand Final having only played one game in three weeks.
A top-two finish ensured the players would receive a much-needed week off before they took on the Blues in the Major Semi-Final, whilst the home-town favourites will play their third game in as many weeks.
Simon Woolford’s men will line up for their third consecutive Grand Final appearance on Sunday, buoyed by their brilliant run of form in 2015.
Unbeaten after nine rounds, the Blues juggernaut was finally halted by Goulburn at Workers Arena.
Two more consecutive defeats followed, before the Blues returned to their winning ways late in the regular season.
In three meetings this season, Goulburn have come away with two victories, those being a 30-14 defeat in Round 10, and the recent 28-18 boilover in the Major Semi-Final.
The Blues have emerged victorious just once over the Bulldogs in 2015, a 32-22 victory in Round 3.
Experience is vital in big games, and they don’t come much more experienced than the two premier clubs in the competition.
The league has enjoyed an influx of former NRL stars in recent years, with the two Grand Final-bound sides reaping the benefits.
Queanbeyan’s playing stocks have been bolstered over the past few seasons with the inclusion of Captain Marc Herbert and enforcer Trevor Thurling.
The Goulburn faithful have been treated to watching the likes of Mick, Joe and Ben Picker partner Michael Bani in donning the Bulldogs jumper.
Further proof of how strong these two playing rosters are, fifteen of the seventeen players that took the field for this year’s Canberra representative team were from these two clubs.
A Queanbeyan-Goulburn decider guarantees the title will stay across the border for yet another year.
Only once since 2007 has the premiership trophy been held aloft by a Canberra club – that being in 2012 when the Belconnen United Scholars toppled the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.
Since West Belconnen tasted premiership success in 2007, the Kangaroos have won three titles, followed by the Blues with two, and Goulburn and Belconnen United with one apiece.
Prediction: Blues by 4.
In Reserve Grade, the Tuggeranong Bushrangers will look to cap off a stellar season with a premiership as they come up against a determined Blues outfit looking to defend their title.
Under 18’s Division One action pits the West Belconnen Warriors against the Woden Valley Rams, whilst Tuggeranong Bushrangers Blue and Gungahlin Bulls Black will play off for the Division Two trophy.
Under 18’s Division Two: Tuggeranong Bushrangers Blue vs Gungahlin Bulls Black, Kick-off at 10:15am.
Under 18’s Division One: Woden Valley Rams vs West Belconnen Warriors, Kick-off at 11:45am.
Reserve Grade: Tuggeranong Bushrangers vs Queanbeyan Blues, Kick-off at 1:15pm.
First Grade: Goulburn Workers Bulldogs vs Queanbeyan Blues, Kick-off at 3:00pm.
All games at Seiffert Oval, Sunday 6 September.
ARTICLE WRITTEN FOR YABBA
(PHOTO: Jay Cronan)