THE Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws demonstrated the depth of its playing roster on Saturday afternoon when beating Orange Tigers 16-17-113 to 8-3-51 despite having 15 regulars missing.
The win at George Park 2 helped Outlaws into outright second on the Central West AFL ladder, the Bathurst side sitting four points clear of the Tigers at the halfway point of the season.
Though not the most polished performance of the season from the Outlaws – as evidenced by kicking more behinds than majors – co-coach Matt Archer was still delighted with the effort.
“We were pretty confident going into it even though by the end of it we had about 15 out. We were really proud of the guys who came up and a lot of guys stepped up,” he said.
“Mitch Bestwick and Andrew Grinter in the back line really led the charge and Michael Long in the midfield, he’s only 17 but he’s been the most consistent for us this season. It’s really pleasing.
“They didn’t have Simon Kay or Jake Adams, so they didn’t have their centre half forward and probably their best midfielder … so they probably weren’t full strength either.”
Lining up for the first time in three weeks, the Outlaws opened up a 21-point lead in the opening term and from there were never headed.
Still, the honours in the second versus third encounter were still very much up for grabs at the long break with the Tigers in reach of the Outlaws at 5-11-41 to 4-2-26.
It led to Archer and his co-coach Paul Long making some tactical positional changes for the second half.
“We came out pretty fiery. The first five-10 minutes we were a bit shaky with our skills, but you expect that after a couple of weeks off,” Archer said.
“We fixed that up then in the second quarter we just couldn’t kick a goal. We had all the ball but we kicked one goal seven, so that was a bit frustrating.
“But overall I was pretty happy with the way we started and the way we played.
“We were pretty confident at half-time that we could go on with it, it was just about kicking the goals really. We felt like we had all the play and we were winning through the midfield.
“We made a few changes coming into that second half. We probably in the first half weren’t delivering the ball well, we just kept kicking to Tim Hunter.
“So we pushed him up the ground a bit and dropped a couple of smalls deep and that dragged their players up the ground and left the forward line a lot more open. We got a lot more better looks at goal.”
Outlaws kicked five goals three in the third term and restricted Tigers to just a single behind before cracking triple figures in the final quarter.