BATHURST Giants have written a special chapter into their club’s short history after claiming their first AFL Central West finals victory on Saturday.
Giants rose to the occasion against Bathurst rivals Bushrangers Outlaws to prevail 15-13-103 to 13-10-88 at George Park 1.
The Giants saved their best for when it mattered most, producing a late run of goals and setting up a preliminary final meeting with Orange Tigers this weekend.
This year Giants have ticked goals off their list one by one and seem to be creating new, higher aims with every game.
“It’s exciting for the club. In our pre-game speech we talked about being a part of history and everything for us is now a bonus,” Giants coach Mark Kennedy said.
“It’s territory we’ve never been in before but in saying that we’ve got a lot of players that have played finals over the years and have a lot of experience amongst a sprinkling of youth and enthusiasm.”
The teams went almost goal for goal throughout the game and went into the final quarter with 10 goals each.
Discipline was starting to waver among the Giants’ ranks after the main break and Kennedy said his side did a great job to switch back on.
“In the last quarter we regathered a bit. We’d had a couple of ill-disciplined 50’s that we gave away which led to goals, including one that I hadn’t seen for a long time – a crowd 50 for umpire abuse,” he said.
“We had a chat about the need to be disciplined and the last quarter showed that. We controlled the ball better and prior to that we were really beating ourselves.”
Giants had brutalised an injury-ravaged Outlaws side by almost 100 points in their prior meeting but the men in Orange knew finals would be a whole new story.
Many Giants members stood tall when everything was on the line.
Kennedy made some change ups to the team’s formation and it paid off in the closing stages.
“I pushed Nic Broes onto the half forward line and he kicked two crucial goals for us. Guys like Jenko [Paul Jenkins], Alex Cuttiford and Frank Bright up front – who kicked five – were among the guys who took control of the game late,” he said.
“I’m glad I played the Bushrangers because they brought a lot to the game. Last time we played them we had most of the ball and we came away with a big win but this time they stuck it to us.
Keep up to date with the latest sports news by clicking here.
“When they’ve got players like Peter Grundy and Tim Hunter in their side they can always be a bit of an unknown quantity.”
Hunter and Grundy were limited to a goal apiece while five Bushrangers players kicked two goals each.
Bright and Broes (four goals) did the bulk of the damage in front of goal for the Giants.
In the space of just six games for the Giants Bright has made a big impact, scoring 18 goals.