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Queanbeyan Blues coach Simon Woolford lauds West Belconnen revival as 'remarkable'

Justin Giteau during his time at the Queanbeyan Blues.

Justin Giteau during his time at the Queanbeyan Blues. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

When Justin Giteau took over the reins at West Belconnen last year, it had just lost to Queanbeyan Blues 98-0 in one of the darkest days in the club's history. 

Fast forward less than a year and the two sides are battling it out for top spot on the Canberra Raiders Cup ladder. 

It is little wonder Blues coach Simon Woolford branded the Warriors' transformation as ''remarkable'' before the joint competition leaders go head to head at Raiders Belconnen on Sunday. 

Former Raiders star, and now Queanbeyan Blues coach, Simon Woolford

Former Raiders star, and now Queanbeyan Blues coach, Simon Woolford

"We beat them 98-0 last year and I can honestly say there was no satisfaction doing that. It wasn't good for the game, for West Belconnen or for us,'' Woolford said. "You don't get much out of beating a team 98-0. The way they've turned it around has been remarkable.

"I think early on in the year when they were winning, West Belconnen, which went winless last season, has already beaten the Blues in their previous meeting this season."

Giteau won premierships with the Blues as a player and Woolford has no doubt beating his old side would give him satisfaction.

"Giteau's done a great job with them and they've certainly earned the respect of the rest of the competition, that's for sure,'' he said. "He's played a fair bit of his footy at Queanbeyan Blues, went over to a club that was at rock bottom and has done wonders with them. 

"I hear it's their old boys' reunion, so they've got plenty of reasons to win and so do we - top spot is up for grabs.  

"It [beating the Blues] would have a bit of extra meaning for him [Giteau], no doubt.''

The stage has been set for a potentially fiery match after West Belconnen halfback Bobby Roberts accused last year's grand finalists the Blues of ''buying premierships'' after a win over Gungahlin a fortnight ago. 

"They've got everything to lose. They've got the money, there's no secret about it,'' he said. "They've gone out, the Blues especially, they've spent all their money to buy premierships. It didn't work for them last year. 

"It's not a money thing here, the culture turned around and the whole club is behind us.''

It shapes as a crucial round with third and fourth-placed Goulburn and Queanbeyan Kangaroos to also square off on Sunday. 

"The two winners out of those games this week can really set themselves up for a top-two finish [and double chance in the semis],'' Woolford said. 

Meanwhile, the Yass Magpies are moving to re-join the Canberra Raiders Cup after a two-year absence due to a lack of player depth. 

"Yass has a lot of talent playing in the George Tooke competition with Binalong and Yass, and with strong player numbers coming through the junior ranks, the committee and I believe that for the benefit of rugby league in Yass we need to be part of the Canberra Raiders Cup in all three grades," Magpies president Greg Smith told the Yass Tribune. "We hope the entire town, local businesses and supporters get behind the mighty Magpies in their quest for success in 2015.'' 

CANBERRA RAIDERS CUP

Saturday: Tuggeranong v Gungahlin at Greenway Oval (3pm).

Sunday: Woden Valley v Gungahlin at Phillip Oval; West Belconnen v Queanbeyan Blues at Raiders Belconnen; Goulburn v Queanbeyan Kangaroos at Goulburn Workers Arena (all 3pm). 

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