IF reaching the halfway point of the Central West AFL season undefeated was not enough to make the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels’ rivals nervous, then the words of co-coach Matt Griffin should.
Following Saturday’s 17-17-119 to 11-7-73 win over fourth-placed Dubbo Demons – the Rebels’ sixth consecutive victory – Griffin spoke of his desire to keep improving.
Given Rebels has booted at least 11 majors in every game and cracked triple figures in its last four outings, any improvement on that is a daunting prospect.
“We’re ecstatic. It’s a great feeling but obviously the job’s not done yet, we’re only halfway through the year and we’d rather be there at the end of the year than the halfway point, so we’ve got to keep working,” Griffin, who shares coaching duties with Steve Grundy, said.
“We are by no way, shape or form finished for the year. We won’t be putting the cue in the rack yet, we’ve got a lot to improve on and we plan to keep going.
“There have been some pretty close games and we’re not complacent at all, we don’t think we’re gods or anything like that. We know exactly where we’ve got to improve, us and the Outlaws are very close and Orange aren’t too far behind.”
Saturday’s match at George Park 2 pitted the undefeated Rebels against a Dubbo Demons outfit keen to strengthen its hold on fourth spot.
Any hopes Dubbo had of springing an upset were dealt a huge blow in the opening term as the Rebels restricted the visitors to three behinds while booting six goals three.
The 36-point advantage that gave the hosts further ballooned in the second quarter as the Rebels kicked another six majors for a 12-6-78 to 2-3-15 lead.
“We were pretty clinical I thought in the first half of the game, we executed our game plan well,” Griffin said.
“We like playing on our oval, it’s a nice big oval George Park and if we’re able to get the ball out wide then bring it back into the corridor once we get in our half, then we’re pretty hard to stop.
“I think we did that well – Peter Grundy, Bill Watterson, Josh Coyte and Joel Ryder, they were exceptional through the midfield.
“Their run and carry with the football was something which was pretty exciting and I think it probably frightened Dubbo a little bit in the first half, which was good.”
After the long break things were more even on the scoreboard, the Demons even winning the final term.
However, by then the Rebels had relaxed and taken the chance to rest some players as the co-coaches looked ahead to other challenges.
“The game was over by half-time and we took our foot off the gas,” Griffin said.
“We rested a few players with niggling injuries, basically did some player management towards the end of the game, but still ended up winning [easily] and we’re over the moon with that.”
Demons coach Will Bunt was proud of the effort of his side as well, having made the trip to Bathurst missing a number of regulars.
“Losing by 40 points is never good, but sitting in the sheds afterwards it felt like a win,” Bunt said.
“With just 18 players and the calibre of players we had unavailable for different reasons, we’re feeling positive and looking forward to taking that into training.”