IN one of the tensest finishes to any first grade sporting contest this year the Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws saw off the visiting Dubbo Demons by just two points in their instant classic Central West AFL meeting on Saturday.
Outlaws successfully played catch-up football across a strong third quarter to send the game to a tense conclusion, ultimately holding out the Demons 9-14-68 to 9-12-66 at George Park 2.
The Bushrangers men overcame a 14-point half-time deficit and outscored the Demons five goals to one to take a 56 to 40 advantage into the last term.
Demons pushed their hosts to the limit in a thrilling fourth quarter - and had the ball in the Outlaws' half during the final minute - but for the second time this season came up just short of besting a Bushrangers opponent.
"It was a fantastic game, a real sort of grinding match," Outlaws co-coach Steve Grundy said.
"We knew with how good Dubbo are around the contested footy that it was going to be that way. We took it back to the basics and tried to up our work rate.
"We settled through the first half, it went back-and-forth, then in third quarter we switched on and scored five goals. That was the difference.
"Dubbo fought right to the final siren and made those last few minutes really tense."
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Demons' Bevan Charlton-White kicked two early goals to send an early message to the Outlaws that he was up for the fight.
Outlaws had to work overtime to contain the talented forward and Grundy was proud of the way his men adapted.
"Dan Lacey played on Bevan Charlton-White, who kicked four goals. He looked really strong and we challenged Lacey to do a job on one of the best forwards in the competition and keeping him to four goals is a fantastic result," he said.
"Adrian Hickey on the half forward line showed great experience and composure to settle the team down at the crucial moments.
"Our player's player was Troy Robinson, my co-coach, who bounced back to form in a strong way.
"The battles for third, fourth and fifth are going to come down to a win or two so this was an excellent win for us. We really challenged ourselves and we knew, to be in the mix, we need to be winning these games at home."
Outlaws now have the bye before the year's second Bushrangers derby.