Queanbeyan Blues tackle injuries to win top spot

THE Queanbeyan Blues may have been hampered with no less than eight injuries to senior players this season, but last week they steam-rolled the Tuggeranong Bushrangers to claim the Canberra Raiders Cup minor premiership.

They field some of the competition's most experienced players, including Tyler Stevens, Levi Freeman, Trevor Thurling, Marc Herbert, Michael Cullen, and Andrew McLean, and each of the last five have spent time on the sideline this year to injury.

But the depth of the club has risen to the occasion this year, with the side still taking 11 wins and suffering just two losses and a draw to have them finish one point clear of cross-town rivals the Queanbeyan Kangaroos.

Utility Ben Nicoll proved pivotal at halfback in the absence of McLean, who was out for two months, while young guns Tevian Arona and Tom Leddy were more than capable filling for Herbert when he was sidelined.

And the side will now be able to take a full strength side heading into their huge major semi-final clash against the Kangaroos at Seiffert Oval on Sunday-week.

Winger Stevens said much of his side's success this season was due to the attitude coach Simon Woolford enforced on them in the pre-season.

"From the start Simon brought on the attitude that it doesn't matter who we have on the paddock, we should be good enough to complete," said Stevens.

"It does reflect on the young boys coming through with a bit of depth, and I think know we've got the best team we could put on the paddock."

With a large talent pool of players for Woolford to choose from now, there could be selection headaches, but Stevens said this was only a positive for the squad.

"The young boys who have come through have stepped up, so really it's a good problem to have," he said.

But the east Queanbeyan side are not getting too excited yet, knowing they scored the same result last season and still went down in the grand final to rivals the Kangaroos.

The Kangaroos knocked over the West Belconnen Warriors 26-20 in Kippax last Sunday to finish second on the ladder, the same position they finished last season, and having won three of the last four grand finals, will still be full of confidence.

But for the Blues, although they have scored 114 points in their last two games in thumping the Belconnen Scholars 60-8 and the Bushrangers 54-10, they know their last grand final win was in 2008, and nothing short of a repeat of that will be acceptable.

"I thought we were the better team last year [compared with the Kangaroos], but they pipped us at the posts on grand final day," said Stevens.

"I wouldn't say it's haunting us at the moment, but 2008- it's been a drought, so we'll be out to bring the trophy back to this side of town."

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