Belconnen United Scholars v Queanbeyan Kangaroos at 3:00pm on Sunday at Seiffert Oval
The Queanbeyan Kangaroos will by vying for their third consecutive premiership whilst the Belconnen United Scholars will be looking to reap the rewards of three minor premiership winning seasons when both clubs meet this Sunday to contest the Canberra Raiders Cup grand final.
With both sides finishing first and second on the ladder, the grand final will be contested by the two most consistent teams over the course of the regular seasons.
Given the injury concerns within his team, Scholars Coach John Hawke gave little away over the availability of Les McIntyre Medal Winner Brent Crisp.
Crisp, the season’s leading try and point scorer, left the field in the Scholars’ 36-19 win over Yass Magpies in the preliminary final with a hamstring injury and is in severe doubt for the grand final.
“I suppose you’ll find out at 3:00pm on Sunday [whether he is playing or not],” Hawke said with a cheeky grin.
Gorrell was not reading into Hawke’s injury smokescreen and will prepare his side to face the competition’s premier player for 2012 in the decider.
“We’re going to prepare as if he’s playing,” said Gorrell. “We’ll just worry about our own backyard, we won’t be worrying about who’s in or who’s out.”
“I think Crispy will play. They came into the semi saying they were going to have six players out and they came up with the same side that they played with against us. We’re not going to worry about Hawkey and his little games.”
One player who certainly won’t be playing for the Scholars in the decider is Country representative Tsai Tui, who has been suspended for three games following his high shot on Patrick Mago in the preliminary final against Yass.
“Having Tsai out is a bonus for us,” Gorrell said. “Tsai is a big loss for them and it’s disappointing for him. I would’ve liked to have seen him play as a mate but obviously as coach of the other team I would rather him not.”
“We’ll just have to soldier on without him,” Hawke added. “It’s probably more disappointing for Tsai personally. It’s a very harsh penalty for a guy with an immaculate record but we’ve just got to worry about playing now. The heat is on both teams but we’ll back our own ability.”
Written off as premiership contenders after Gorrell’s season ending injury, Queanbeyan has adjusted to life without the former St George Illawarra and Brisbane player with their new go-to man Jordan Macey firing on all cylinders.
“Being written off was a bit of disrespect to the blokes that have come into the side,” said Gorrell. “I had full confidence in Mace. He brings a lot of different things to the team than what I did. His speed across the park gives us a new attacking weapon I think him and Clint [Wright] have combined well in the halves.”
Despite winning the title the last two years, a bit of Des Hasler-esque coaching guile has seen Gorrell anoint the Scholars as favourites for the grand final and also reveal how wary the Kangaroos are of Belconnen United’s hunger.
“They’ve probably been the best side for the last three years now. They’ve finished minor premiers for the past three years and they’ve got a strong squad so no matter what side they put out on the park we’re going to have to be on our best to beat them. They’ll be hungry for victory.”
Hawke rubbished such claims.
“He can say that we’re the most consistent team but they’re the club that’s won the last two premierships and they’re aiming to win their third. They’ve got the cup so we’ve got to go and get it.”
“We don’t speak about it [lack of silverware in the trophy cabinet] but then again you don’t have to. That gives us more drive and makes us more determined to go out and win it on Sunday.”
Captain Channon MacCaskill echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“It’s our chance to come back and get one hopefully,” said the tough as teak lock. “You always think about it even if you don’t talk about it so it will be good to get one back. Grand finals are a very big occasion and I’m sure the boys will be pumped. They’re going for a third title this year but hopefully we can stop that from happening.”
Both sides have traded victories throughout year with the Roos winning in round one 47-18, followed by the Scholars’ 31-18 success in round 10. Queanbeyan then had the last laugh in the semi final winning 24-12.
To see who has the last laugh for the year, get down to Seiffert Oval at 3:00pm for what is sure to be a stellar game of rugby league.