Goulburn's desire for the Canberra Raiders Cup finals to start nearly cost it for the second week running in a spiteful clash on Saturday.
A late try to player-coach Mick Picker secured Goulburn a 34-26 win over Woden Valley, with a lack of motivation again a concern for the Bulldogs mentor given the competition's finals spots were decided weeks ago.
“It’s been the same the last few weeks running up big leads but it’s hard especially knowing we were guaranteed finals,” Picker said.
“Now the finals are here the focus will shift, we have tried a few different things in the past couple of weeks and some of it has worked and some of it hasn’t, but we’ll play completely different next week.
“Westies [West Belconnen] have been one of the surprise-packets this year and the focus now turns to them, so it’s up to the boys to train hard and hopefully we can get the right result.”
The Rams fought back from 24-4 down at half-time and got as close as four points thanks to a cameo from forward Tom Hicks, who helped himself to a hat-trick.
It was also the final game for Rams coach Cam Hardy, who is stepping down after five years with the club.
In the other games the Queanbeyan Blues wrapped up the minor premiership and made a pre-finals statement with a 54-10 thrashing of Tuggeranong.
They will have next week off before taking on either cross-town rivals Queanbeyan Kangaroos or Goulburn in the major semi-final, the winner to advance straight to the grand final.
Kangaroos can sew up second spot even with a loss of 12 points or less when they meet West Belconnen on Sunday.
In Saturday’s other match Gungahlin leapfrogged Woden Valley and Tuggeranong into fifth place with a 30-14 victory over wooden spooners Belconnen United.
CANBERRA RAIDERS CUP
GOULBURN WORKERS BULLDOGS 34 (Michael Bani 2, Codie Medway 2, Blake Hewitt 2, Mick Picker tries; Ben Picker 3 goals); bt WODEN VALLEY RAMS 26 (Tom Hicks 3, Junior Moala, George Pohau, Tim Crome tries; Crome goal); GUNGAHLIN BULLS 30 (Brendan Archer 2, James Ulrick, Rourke O’Sullivan, Brad Wood tries; Aiden Greenwood 5 goals) bt BELCONNEN UNITED 14 (Mitchell Shaw, Luke Ashlin, Chris Thorley tries; Lachland Sund goal); QUEANBEYAN BLUES 54 (Jake Knight 3, Tyler Stevens 2, Tom Reudiger 2, Jake Wheeler, Leu Saipani, Ben Nicoll tries; Marc Herbert 7 goals); bt TUGGERANONG BUSHRANGERS 10.