WITH the Central West AFL finals looming it is a time when title hopefuls look to fine tune their game and build momentum, but for the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels that has not quite been the case.
Though Rebels head into this Saturday’s final round of the regular season with the minor premiership locked up, the Matt Griffin-Steve Grundy co-coached outfit has played just once in the last month.
After Cowra forfeited on July 17, Rebels beat Bathurst Giants before sitting out with the bye.
On Saturday the Bathurst outfit was drawn to play Young, but the Saints could not get enough players for the away fixture and forfeited.
Bathurst Bushrangers president Graeme Grundy said is shame to see teams having to forfeit and in Cowra’s case, withdraw from the competition.
“It [a team withdrawing] hasn't happened before, so it's been one of the most disappointing years in that respect forever,” he said.
“Young had been hit pretty hard by injuries, they lost three or four of their best players ... they were pretty competitive when they had everyone on the paddock, but it makes it hard for those smaller centres when they lose players to injury.
“What has helped build a solid foundation for us is that we won nine under 17 premierships in a row. All of those boys, or a fair swath of them, have gone on to play first grade and that has been a real strength for us.
“But a lot of clubs now just don't have those juniors.”