THEY'VE been dealt some big blows with injuries to key players, but the Bathurst Lady Bushrangers are on the cusp of their fifth AFL Central West grand final appearance in six years.
This Saturday the Lady Bushrangers will host the Dubbo Demons in the preliminary final at George Park, the victor to go on and play the Bathurst Giants in the grand final.
Naturally the Lady Bushrangers are intent on being the outfit that advances, but that they've reached this stage is itself an impressive achievement.
Since round two they've been without captain Amelia Wright and former premiership-winning skipper Kelsey Richards due to injury. Full forward Steph Taylor played four games before damaging ligaments in her ankle and being ruled out, while last Saturday key defender Pagan Harrison-Brown broke her leg.
Young talents Elly Rudd and Tula Foster have also had stints on the sideline with injury.
Still, the Lady Bushrangers lost just two regular season games and are now aiming to beat Dubbo for the third time in 2020.
Dubbo has not managed to boot more than two majors in a match against the Lady Bushrangers, but Bathurst coach Brian Matheson knows better than to underestimate a rival in finals football.
"Dubbo is going to be very tough opposition, we've beaten them twice in Dubbo, so I'm glad the game is in Bathurst and we don't have to travel there again," he said
"We're not going to take them lightly, they're a very physical and very talented side, they play a bit different to a lot of other teams in the comp.
"They are just really well structured and their best players are really skilful. They play straight down the corridor and they've got a couple of very tall players."
In the absence of Harrison-Brown, Tomika Speer gets the job of marking key Dubbo forward Lauren Hazell.
It won't be easy but Matheson said his back line has been "outstanding" this season with the likes of newcomer Ciara Kearns doing a job on taller, more experienced rivals.
Up front the Lady Bushrangers have been boosted by the return of Tori Whitla, who booted three majors in last Saturday's win over Cowra.
However, the real key lies with how Lady Bushrangers on-ballers Keeghan Tucker, Beth Durham, Lucy Thompson, Sonia Lang perform.
"If we can control it out of the centre, that will go a long way to us winning the game," Matheson said.
Opening bounce in Saturday's preliminary final at George Park 1 is 12.30pm.