BATHURST Bushrangers Outlaws co-coach Matt Archer wants his men to make a statement this Saturday when hosting Central West AFL rivals Orange Tigers at George Park 2.
He wants his Outlaws, who have sat out the past fortnight and have a long list of absentees for the second versus third match, to show that they are true premiership contenders.
Archer has labelled the match “a finals preview” and as such, has placed plenty of importance on the result.
“There’s plenty to play for, it’s the halfway point of the season after this weekend, so whichever team wins gets to the halfway point in outright second spot,” he said.
“That’s the aim, if we can get up this weekend it sets us up for the back half of the year. We don’t have to travel to Dubbo and we want a good buffer zone heading into the last game [of the regular season] against Orange.
“It’s important we hold the home ground against these better teams and if we can do that against Orange, it gives us a chance next weekend going in to face the Rebels, that we can leapfrog them into first.
“As far as top two goes, this game is huge.”
The Outlaws currently occupy second spot on the ladder, but it is percentages alone that ranks the Bathurst side ahead of Orange. Both have four wins through five rounds.
Though Archer is not sure just where the Tigers’ strengths and weaknesses lie, he is anticipating a hard fought contest on Saturday.
“We don’t really know what to expect, we saw them in round one when they played the Rebels, but we haven’t seen them play since then. They have got a few players back and went over to Dubbo and beat Dubbo, which is a really big ask,” he said.
“We are expecting a pretty tough challenge on Saturday so we have got to be up for it or they might come away with the victory.”
With last Saturday’s general competition bye and Cowra forfeiting the week before that, the Outlaws players have not experienced a match situation since May 27. The Bathurst side also has to contend with 10 players being unavailable to face the Tigers, yet Archer is confident his men can overcome those hurdles.
“We want to show that no matter who we put on the field, we are very confident in each other. We will still have our main key players, our midfield will be the same and our forward line will be the same,” he said. “If we can get a win this will be a huge statement.”
The opening bounce is at noon on Saturday.