TOP spot on the Central West AFL ladder – that is the prize which the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels will be chasing this Saturday when hosting the Orange Tigers at George Park 2.
The Tigers have gone undefeated through their first four games this year to sit four points clear on top of the ladder, but since losing in the season opener against their Outlaws club-mates, the Rebels have not been bettered.
Should the Rebels win by a good enough margin this Saturday, they will leapfrog the Tigers on percentages.
The two sides were set to meet in round three, but issues with the playing surface in Orange meant the contest was postponed until July 7.
It also means that Saturday’s match will be the first between the pair in 2018.
“That was pretty disappointing to miss out on that first game because we were all pretty pumped for that. So we are super keen this weekend for the hit out against them,” Rebels co-coach Dan Lacey said.
Having booted 25 goals so far this season for the Tigers, Tim Barry shapes as a big threat for the Rebels inside 50. Matt Luther is likely to be given the job of tagging him, but Lacey pointed out restricting him is not the sole focus.
“I think we’ve definitely got the players there to shut him [Barry] down, shut their forward line down. It’s not just worrying about him because he’s definitely got players around him who can kick goals too,” he said.
“They’ve got a very dangerous side all over the park, they’ve certainly got players who can cause us headaches.”
Having watched the Tigers beat the Outlaws two weeks ago, Lacey knows controlling the ruck and winning a bulk of the clearances will be just as important.
“They’ve had a lot of good blokes come back this year and they’ve been getting a lot of goals from their midfield. They showed that when they played the Outlaws,” he said.
“We’ve talked about all year playing four quarters of good footy. Obviously against a good side you’re not going to get that all the time, so it’s about minimising those lull periods and capitalising on your periods of dominance.”
Opening bounce at George Park 2 is at noon.