AN even head-to-head this year. Some of the most closely contested matches of the season. The region’s classic rivalry.
The conditions are perfect for a memorable AFL Central West senior men’s grand final this Saturday.
The last day of the season is be at George Park 2 for the first time in five years and the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels will want to celebrate on their home turf after a meeting with minor premiers Orange Tigers.
Rebels and Tigers have alternated victories throughout this year.
The Bathurst club picked up the latest of those wins with a 21-point success in the major semi-final – earned with five final quarter goals – to book grand final hosting rights.
Tigers fought through to the decider with a two point victory over Bathurst Giants and will be hungry to show why they ended the regular season on top of the ladder.
“The fact it’s come down to the one and two teams from the season has probably done the competition justice. We’re two and two head-to-head at the moment so it’s a great game to decide who is the best team,” Rebels co-coach Steve Grundy said.
“Playing at home doesn’t make you more of a chance to win but it’s great to be playing here. It means a lot to the players. Not only the Rebels outfit but for the whole club.
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“We want the whole Bushrangers club to put on a great day for everyone and show them what a grand final should look like.”
Rebels entered the finals series in a great frame of mind having won four of their last five games – the outlier being a disappointing one-point defeat to Dubbo Demons.
Despite those wins inconsistency has been a recurring problem for the Rebels in that time frame.
However, when their combinations have clicked and kicks have found their targets no-one has been able to match the Rebels towards the end of the season.
Given the way they dominated through the middle portion of the season Grundy said the Tigers command respect.
“They’re the minor premiers and a fantastic team but one thing we’ve done at the Rebels is just focus on what we can do and what we can control and this week is no different,” he said.
“We’re looking fully fit and there’s a great vibe around the camp at the moment. Everyone’s raring to get out there and do their job.”
Bushrangers will need four quarters of brilliance against the Tigers who scraped into the grand final with a gritty performance.
“It was a great back-and-forth game last week. The one thing you can take away from that game, and our win the week before, is that it’s not over until that final siren,” Grundy said.
“We’ve got some very experienced players in this team and big game players who tend to step up in these moments. It’s likely to be the most physical and contested game of the season.”
This will be the second straight Bushies-Tigers decider following last year’s victory for the Bushrangers Outlaws, which helped the club ease the pain somewhat of 2015’s heartbreaking loss to Orange.
The decider starts from 2.30pm following the women’s clash between Giants and Dubbo Demons (12.30pm).