BATHURST Bushrangers Rebels recovered from a dreary opening quarter to avoid what would have been an upset AFL Central West loss to Parkes Panthers on Saturday.
Even with the breeze against them in the opening quarter Rebels were off their game, putting them down by 20 at the first break, but began to piece things together to claim a 36-point win over the hosts.
Bill Watterson kicked four majors for the Rebels in their 12-9-81 to 6-9-45 win at Northparkes Oval.
Rebels made a bold decision to run against strong winds in the opening quarter but struggled to find the finishing touch in front of the posts.
Panthers went into the new quarter buoyed by a 29-9 lead.
With the breeze at their backs, and a focus on more sensible link up play down the field, Rebels began to shut the Panthers out of the match.
Over the final three terms Panthers found just two more goals to go with the four they kicked in the first quarter.
Rebels captain Matt Archer said his team needed to reevaluate their approach to the game following a frustrating start.
“We knew Parkes would start strongly but we had all the ball for the first five to 10 minutes in their forward 50m. We just couldn’t quite capitalise against that breeze,” he said.
“We finally got a goal but from the next centre ball it felt like we didn’t get our hands on the ball for the next 10 minutes. We were chasing our tails and they got on top.
“They’ve got a very good quality midfield and they really made us hurt at the end of that first quarter.”
Rebels booted five goals to one in the second quarter to take a narrow half-time lead of 40 to 36.
The breeze remained consistent and that meant the Bathurst club had to cast aside the opening quarter from memory and start anew.
Rebels still managed to outscore the hosts in a low scoring quarter to set themselves up for the victory.
“I think at the end of the first quarter we needed to refocus and just regather ourselves a little bit. We made sure we got back to basics and were a bit cleaner on the ball,” Archer said.
“We didn’t rely on the wind, which was good. We didn’t just blaze the ball long. We hit those short kicks and ran the ball well.
“Going into the third quarter with the wind against us again we just really focused on shutting it down, getting into their half and locking them down. We managed to do that and didn’t let them score a goal.
“The mood was great after the game. Everyone was happy with the way we were able to bounce back because that midfield is fantastic. They’ve probably got the best ruckman I’ve seen in a long time.”
Victory has pushed the Rebels back into second on the ladder after the Bathurst Giants went down to the Dubbo Demons. Rebels have the edge on percentage.