SINCE the Bathurst Giants conceded 31 goals in their maiden match against the Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws they have come a long way – so far in fact that they will be chasing a third consecutive win against their local rival this Saturday afternoon.
Fostering junior talents and recruiting more experienced players since 2016 has seen the Giants become a team which is now a genuine chance of playing Central West AFL finals football come September.
Certainly the Outlaws, who fell to the Giants by 12 points earlier this season, know firsthand about the rise of Mark Kennedy’s side.
“I think it’s a detriment to them … I think we are in their heads a bit now. We’ve beaten them the last two times we’ve played them,” coach Kennedy said.
“But we are not resting on our laurels, we have worked really hard this week on our structure around our zoning defence and our kick outs.
“They are determined to not let us win again. They are going to come out all guns blazing I suppose and they’ll put a good team out on the paddock.”
As for the Giants’ side this Saturday, while two of their more experienced players are out, they do have some good inclusions.
Nathan Belbin and Frank Bright, who twinged his hamstring in the representative match, will not take to the field. However, Simon Kay will return to the line-up and Paul Jenkins – who was named best on ground for the Central West AFL outfit in his last match – has recovered from a knee complaint and will take on his former club.
On top of that, another former Bushranger in Emmitt Carr-Smith will play his first game in Giants colours this Saturday. His height and strength will be an asset to Kennedy’s side.
“He’s a big fella, so he’ll be a good target for us on the half-forward line,” the coach said.
If the Giants do manage to beat the Outlaws once more, it will give them a four-point buffer over the Bushrangers outfit and strengthen their spot in the top three.
“We’ve been languishing around the bottom of the table the last couple of years, so it’s good to see us keep moving forward and keep improving,” Kennedy said.
The game starts at 2.30pm.