Bathurst Bushrangers women come up shy of fourth straight grand final

ONE of the Central West’s most impressive streaks across any sport came to an end on Saturday as the Bathurst Bushrangers women’s side were bested in the preliminary final by their cross-city rivals Giants.

Bushrangers had taken out all three editions of the women’s competition leading up to this season and still looked like the team to beat going into the finals series, having claimed the minor premiership by 12 points.

DONE AND DUSTED: Bathurst Bushrangers' season has come to an end in the AFL Central West women's competition after being beaten by the Bathurst Giants in Saturday's preliminary final. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

DONE AND DUSTED: Bathurst Bushrangers' season has come to an end in the AFL Central West women's competition after being beaten by the Bathurst Giants in Saturday's preliminary final. Photo: ALEXANDER GRANT

However, a late goal from the Giants in Orange over the weekend brought an end to the run of grand final appearances for the Bushrangers.

Giants won 4-2-26 to 3-1-19 to knock Bushrangers out of the finals series with the team’s first ever set of back-to-back defeats. 

The result guarantees a new team will be crowned women’s champion when Giants and Dubbo Demons meet in this Saturday’s grand final at George Park 2.

“We acknowledge that we’ve had heaps of success over the past few years and we were obviously hopeful of continuing that but we were under no illusions that it would come easy for us,” Bushrangers captain Kelsey Richards said.

“It’s disappointing but it’s not like a win for us was inevitable given how strong the comp has been this year and the great games we’ve had against both Dubbo and the Giants.”

Giants skipped away to a two-goal lead in the opening quarter before the Bushrangers showed their experience to hold their opponents scoreless in the next term.

Bushrangers weren’t far away at half-time, with Giants leading 3-1-19 to 2-1-13, and would have still considered themselves strong candidates to make it four grand final appearances in a row.

Giants had other ideas and worked overtime in defence to keep the Bushrangers off the scoreboard over the final quarter.

“In the middle two quarters we pegged it back and we were even at three-quarter time,” Richards said.

“There were some awesome battles across the ground. There were a couple of opportunities that were missed and they got a sneaky goal late in the last quarter which got them over the line.

“We both play different styles of footy and in the end, in those conditions, it benefited them even though we both had strong games.”