Queabeyan Blues suffered a double blow on Saturday as their undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of West Belconnen Warriors.
The 23-16 loss was also compounded by a potentially serious leg injury to Nick Lawrence.
Blues coach Simon Woolford said the turning point came when they were leading 16-0 in the dying minutes of the first half. The Blues conceded a last-gasp try on the back of what Woolford admitted was a harsh refereeing decision.
"We thought we got a tough call just before half-time and the next play Belconnen scored to make it 16-4 – 16-0 at half-time is a lot different to 16-4, now they go in with their tails up and a bit of momentum," he said.
Tries to Trevor Thurling, Jake Wheeler and Matt Martin saw the Blues up 16-0 after 30 minutes, as the Warriors struggled with handling errors.
The visitors' half-back Luke Branighan suffered a calf injury during the first half, but Woolford opted to keep him on the field to organise the side, which Wests capitalised on after the break.
"He [Luke] had a slight calf problem and we decided to keep him out there just to direct us around," he said.
"But West Belconnen were smart in the second half and they started to target him defensively and he just couldn't get the job done so we had to take him off. And we were really unorganised."
Five-eighth Bobby Roberts stepped up to the plate for Wests in the second-half as he directed the comeback, as his kicking game put the Blues under immense pressure.
Tries to Phillip Ryan, Tori-Freeman Quay and Tolokana Aroha-Tuinauvai broke the game open but coach Troy Thompson admitted it was still far from a complete performance.
"It was a pretty scrappy game, I think for both the Blues and us, but the boys dug in deep which was good, but we still haven't played the full 80 minutes yet," he said.
"Even the second half, I think we dropped five balls on the first tackle. I think the highlight was our defense, but our attack has been very, very scratchy. We sort of go well in patches but we still haven't put 80 minutes together yet, which is a good sign."
Roberts sealed the win with a late field-goal, but the second-half was soured for both teams by the departure of Lawrence on a stretcher after an awkward tackle.
"It doesn't look great. He could have a broken leg or an ankle; obviously the ambulance had to take him," Woolford said.
"I doubt that it's going to be good news. It was just one of those days, we started well but things didn't go our way."
Canberra Raiders Cup:
WEST BELCONNEN WARRIORS 23 (T Aroha-Tuinauvai, T Freeman-Quay, B Graham, P Ryan tries; R Roberts 3 goals; R Roberts field goal) bt QUEANBEYAN BLUES 16 (J Martin, T Thurling, J Wheeler tries; E Malu 2 goals), GUNGAHLIN BULLS 32 (D Low 2, D Howell, D Keir, C McAskill, R O'Sullivan tries; J Scholes 3 F Peni goals) bt YASS MAGPIES 28 (J Smith 2, J Rousell, S Naughton, T Gavenlock, D Clark tries; M Barnden 2 goals), QUEANBEYAN KANGAROOS 38 (J Miller, G Baker, J Ayres, T Williams, A Pearce, T Whiley tries; B Crisp 7 goals) bt WODEN VALLEY RAMS 24 (M Gilmore, M Geiger, J Taws, C Hallam tries; K Harawira 4 goals), BELCONNEN SHARKS 28 (U Takitaki, D Eason, L Reis, S Tupuala, K Sione tries; D Eason 4 goals) bt GOULBURN 24 (T Greenwood, C Hart, C Medway, J Vatikani tries; B Picker 4 goals).
QUEANBEYAN KANGAROOS 36 bt WODEN VALLEY RAMS 32, QUEANBEYAN BLUES 24 bt WEST BELCONNEN WARRIORS 22, GUNGAHLIN BULLS 40 bt YASS MAGPIES 20, GOULBURN BULLDOGS 28 bt BELCONNEN SHARKS 20.
QUEANBEYAN KANGAROOS 24 bt WODEN VALLEY RAMS 18, WEST BELCONNEN WARRIORS 42 bt QUEANBEYAN BLUES 12, GUNGAHLIN BULLS 42 bt YASS MAGPIES 20
GUNGAHLIN BULLS 18 drew with HARDEN HAWKS 18
Ladies league tag
BELCONNEN SHARKS 24 bt GOULBURN 0
George Tooke Shield
HARDEN HAWKS 42 bt ADFA 14, BOOMANULLA 16 bt GUNNING 8, NORTH CANBERRA BEARS 48 bt BRAIDWOOD BEARS 0.
George Tooke ladies league tag
HARDEN HAWKETTES 1 48 bt ADFA 6, HARDEN HAWKETTES 2 50 bt ADFA 10, BOOMANULLA 16 bt GUNNING 8