Tigers grounded: Orange faces month-long wait to play at home after Bushies clash postponed

WAITING GAME: Darren Sinclair, Luke Thorley, Ben Cullis and Bart Westgeest enthusiastically announce the Tigers' move to Waratahs in January. The club will have to wait a few more weeks to play their first game there though. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
WAITING GAME: Darren Sinclair, Luke Thorley, Ben Cullis and Bart Westgeest enthusiastically announce the Tigers' move to Waratahs in January. The club will have to wait a few more weeks to play their first game there though. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

The Orange Tigers will have to wait another month before welcoming any Central West AFL rivals to their new jungle after the club’s round three clashes with the Bathurst Bushrangers were postponed last weekend, due to a small section of Waratahs Sportsground not being fit for play.

Saturday’s respective men’s and women’s clashes with the Rebels and Lady Bushrangers were supposed to be the Tigers’ first at their new Waratahs base, but a small section of the upgraded surface was heavily impacted by the recent rain and snow.

It was only an estimated “15-metre area”, new Central West AFL regional development coordinator Casey White said, but with a lack of time to mark and approve a smaller surface, the decision was made to reschedule the game forJuly 7, although that’s to be confirmed.

White also explained the decision was made in the best interest of the Tigers and Bushrangers clubs, the ground itself and the competition as a whole, because playing on that surface may have caused long-term damage.

“I might be a bit more cautious than others but playing [two full] games on it could have ruined the ground and ruled it out for [much longer]. If that happened it’d make the Tigers’ move to Waratahs irrelevant because they’d have no ground to play on and that’s not what we want,” White said.

“It was only a small section of the ground, the rest was okay and it was really, really close. I had a look last Wednesday, but the rain and snow didn’t help the ground.

“Obviously the last thing we wanted to see was an injury, too. Both sides have to approve the ground on game day too, and we didn’t want the Bushrangers to come over to Orange and then potentially not have a game.

“We discussed it with the Tigers’ committee and we decided the best way to move forward was to postpone the game. That gives the ground enough time to get to its best, because there isn’t another game scheduled there [until June 23] and playing on the smaller surface probably wouldn’t have been ideal because the Bushies and Tigers games are usually pretty good ones.”

The clash was also set to be Michael Rothnie’s 100th top grade appearance, however he’ll now hit the milestone in Parkes against the returning Panthers this Saturday.

The Tigers will then face the Bushrangers Outlaws and Bushrangers Rebels, both at Bathurst’s George Park, in rounds five and six respectively before hosting Parkes at Waratahs in round seven.

The Tigers’ postponed clash will be played on July 7.

“There’s a competition-wide bye that weekend so hopefully it works out, because that date is still pending approval from both the clubs,” White said.