Queanbeyan Blues player Tyler Stevens breaks the West Belconnen Warriors’ defence to score a try in last year’s preliminary final. Photo: Jay Cronan.Undefeated and averaging north of 40 points a match, the Queanbeyan Blues are odds-on favourites to take home a third-straight Canberra Raiders Cup premiership.

But ahead of a top-of-the table clash with West Belconnen Warriors on Saturday, Blues captain Tyler Stevens has warned rivals they are only going to get better.

The Blues face arguably their toughest test so far, despite the two-point gap between first and second underestimating the gulf in class.

“We’ve been winning, and sort of comfortably, but we haven’t really been playing as good as we could have,” Stevens said.

“Last week we were a lot better and hopefully again this week.”

The Blues have quickly asserted themselves as the best side in the league this year with a points differential of 176 from six rounds.

Stevens, who has scored eight tries himself, says his side will approach the clash with Wests like any other.

“I think we approach it the same [as every game], we generally try to focus on our own game, try to stick to our game plans,” he said.

“We’ll try to identify weaknesses or parts of their game that we are going to attack, and then base our game plan around that.”

For Wests, the clash will prove a big challenge as they ride high in second place, but Tim Sloman says the Blues aren’t the only ones still with more to prove.

“It [second place] is probably a bit higher than we thought, but it’s more about performances for us,” he said.

“We still haven’t put together a full 80-minute performance so we’ll try and look to do that against the Blues this weekend.”

Wests won last weekend on the back of the bye, nearly letting a 22-4 half-time lead slip in a six-point victory against Tuggeranong.

Sloman says despite that scare Wests defense is their strong point.

“We sort of lost it in the last 40 minutes against Tuggeranong, just lost the plot a little but I feel like our defense is pretty strong, we just work for each other all day.”

Despite injuries been a seeming non-factor for the Blues so far, Stevens said the likely returns of second-rower Jamal Nchouki and centre Alex Tulolo would be a big boost to the already-strong Blues.

“Having them return will be good. [We] should be at full strength for the first time in a while, since the Roos game I think.”


Saturday:Gungahlin v Yass at Gungahlin Enclosed; Belconnen United v Goulburn at O’Connor, West Belconnen v Queanbeyan Blues at Raiders Belconnen; Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Woden Valley at Freebody Oval (all games at 3pm).

– The Canberra Times

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