Sport

Blues 24 Bulldogs 20

Queanbeyan Blues reverse last year's extra-time heartache with grand final win over Goulburn

Queanbeyan Blues coach Simon Woolford played 262 NRL games, but his last premiership as a player was as a 17-year-old. 

It was that pre-match message which helped his side avenge last year's grand final heartache with a 24-20 extra-time win over Goulburn in Sunday's decider at Seiffert Oval.

Woolford could only look on in despair as his side went down to cross town rivals Queanbeyan Roos last year, also in extra time. 

He had to sit through another 10 minutes of extra-time torture to break his drought. Unlike last year, this time it had a happy ending. 

Despite being on the end of a lop-sided penalty count and having three tries disallowed, the Blues dug deep.

Former Raiders skipper Woolford implored his side not to let the chance slip, because you're not guaranteed to get another. 

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"I played in a grand final [with Young Cherrypickers] when I was 17 and I didn't ever think that would be the last one I played in," Woolford said. 

"I told them I would have loved to have gone out and run around with them today, I haven't been able to do that [in a grand final] for 21 years. 

"They understood the importance of what I was talking about."

The Blues scored early through halfback Ben Nicoll but Goulburn responded when fullback Michael Bani, arguably the best player on the field, muscled over to level scores at  6-all after ten minutes.

The Blues regained the lead 12-6 through a Dave Pangai try midway through the first half.

But the Bulldogs responded soon after when Tim Turner crossed out wide after he was put in space by Bani, closing the gap to 12-10.

Goulburn took its first lead of the game 16-12 early in the second half when Luke Turner barged over after a Mick Picker 40-20 kick.

However Blues centre Tom Ruediger scored twice to give his side a 20-16 advantage with nine minutes left. 

With five minutes left in regular time the Blues were denied the match winner after a pass was ruled forward. 

Goulburn capitalised from the next set to level up scores at 20-all, Nathan Chappell's try sending the match into extra time. 

The Blues landed the killer blow in the first minute when a grubber by Pangai was pounced on by winger Leu Saipani.

Woolford praised his side for overcoming adversity, particularly some controversial refereeing calls which didn't go their way. 

"We didn't get any favours from the referees today," he said.

"That try to Tyler [Stevens, called back for a forward pass], I don't know what they were looking at there. 

"Every obstacle that got thrown in front of our boys today, they jumped over it.

"I played in semi finals as an NRL player and had some good wins, but it's a sense of accomplishment being the coach."

For Ruediger, the win also doused his own pain of losing two Canberra rugby union grand finals with Wests in 2011 and 2012.  

Lured to the Blues this season, his class proved the difference late. 

"I'm stoked, I didn't get as much as ball as I'd like but made the most of what I got," Ruediger said. 

"You could feel the tension during the week from the boys who were in the grand final last year."

Former Manly and North Queensland winger Bani said the loss may tempt him to have a second season with the Bulldogs.

"We lost today, that could ignite the flames within me to come back next year and try and win one for Goulburn," he said.

"Experience let us down today, we only had a handful of players with big game experience, but those young kids can only learn from their mistakes. 

"We had enough opportunities, it just didn't go our way."

The Blues capped off a memorable day by beating West Belconnen 22-14 in the reserve grade decider. while Tuggeranong claimed the under-18 division one and division two titles. 

CANBERRA RAIDERS CUP GRAND FINAL

QUEANBEYAN BLUES 24 (Tom Ruediger 2, Ben Nicoll, Dave Pangai, Leu Saipani tries; Marc Herbert 2 goals) bt GOULBURN BULLDOGS 20 (Michael Bani, Tim Turner, Luke Turner, Nathan Chappell tries; Ben Picker 2 goals) at Seiffert Oval on Sunday. Man of the match: Scott Rutland.

Other grades

Reserve grade: Queanbeyan Blues 22 (Mick Rusan, Phil Stonham, Tevin Arona, Brendon Lyons tries; Craig Wilkinson 3 goals) bt West Belconnen 14 (Daniel Buitendam, Ricky Fulivai, Damien Denny tries; Zac Smith goal).Man of the match: Jason Farnhill.

Under 18 division one: Tuggeranong 30 (Jayden Thomas, Peter DeMamiel, Nathan Chudleigh, Corey Tai, Jayden Pollard tries; DeMamiel 5 goals) bt Belconnen United 4 (Phil Ryan try). Man of the match: Peter Demamiel.

Under 18 division two: Tuggeranong 32 (Eli Cottam 2, Pat Birch 2, Chris Shingles, Reece Bacon tries; Jordan Mulcaster 3 goals; Joe Camilleri goals) bt Gungahlin 6 (Shannon Grant try; Charlie Thim goal) Man of the match: Reece Bacon. 

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