Tuggeranong’s run towards the finals hit a minor speedbump on Sunday afternoon, as the Woden Valley Rams fought back from 18-6 down to earn a 24 all draw.
The second draw between the two sides this season sees the Bushrangers slip two points behind the fourth placed West Belconnen Warriors but remain within striking distance with three round remaining.
However, an easy afternoon appeared to be on the cards as Timoci Vatubuli opened the scoring for the Bushrangers with a soft try from dummy half.
Capitalising on a Woden error 10 meters out from the try line, Vatubuli caught the markers off guard to score next to the posts.
Dayne Ewings crashed over the line shortly afterwards, but Woden hit back thanks to Michael Gilmour who busted through Tuggeranong’s defensive line to score.
However, poor ball security and a lack of fifth tackle options prevented Woden from building any momentum and Tuggeranong made them pay as Atu Tupou scored to give Tuggeranong a 12 point lead at halftime.
Woden ran onto the field with a more purpose in the second half, and Ron Leapai swung the momentum firmly in the Ram’s favour with a 50 meter try.
Gathering the ball from dummy half, the Woden prop stormed his way through the Bushrangers defence. With only Vatubuli to beat, Leapai decided against passing the ball to his teammate and instead trampled over the fullback to score.
Michael Gilmour scored his second try shortly afterwards, but a fantastic try to Isileli Afemui appeared to have given the Bushrangers enough of a lead.
The Tuggeranong centre gathered a cut-out ball from Blake Hansen and produced an excellent right foot step to carve his way through Woden’s defence.
However, Hansen dropped the ball from the kickoff and the Rams capitalised on the mistake when Brad Prior latched onto a Charlie Hallam grubber kick to close the gap to two points.
A serious looking knee injury forced Prior from the field shortly afterwards, but Woden managed to dig deep and were rewarded when Jayden Carroll kicked a penalty from 30 meters out.
Tuggeranong had one last chance to claim the win when Hansen attempted to kick a field goal, but his kick narrowly missed to the left of the uprights.
Woden Valley Rams 24 (Tries: M Gilmour 2, R Leapai, D Prior; J Carroll 3) drew Tuggeranong Bushrangers 24 (Tries: T Vatubuli, I Afemui, A Tupou, D Ewings; Goals: J Mitchell 4)
Man of the Match: Ron Leapai