THE Bathurst Bushrangers marked the 200 senior game milestone of co-coach Matt Archer in impressive fashion on Saturday, thumping the Orange Tigers 26-17-173 to 6-5-41.
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The 132-point triumph at George Park 2 was the biggest margin any AFL Central West senior Bushrangers men's side had posted in five seasons.
As for Archer, it was the most commanding victory in a senior game he's played in since the Bushrangers Outlaws beat inexperienced newcomers the Bathurst Giants 31-32-218 to 1-4-10 in August 2016.
Archer kicked seven goals in that win and while he did not add any majors to his career tally on Saturday, celebrating his 200-game milestone made it a very special afternoon.
"It only seems like yesterday I was running around for my first senior game, I've obviously enjoyed it, time flies when you're having fun," Archer said.
"It's just not something I really thought about to be honest, I just enjoy playing football every week and just sort of show up and do it and all of a sudden you're at 200.
"I joined the club as a junior in 2006 in under 14s, it's a long time ago.
"I won an under 14s grand final and couple of under 17s and there was a probably a couple of years I missed out in under 17s due to health reasons.
"I made my first grade debut back in 2007, I was pretty grateful back at the time that Steve Withers gave me a chance to do it. I wasn't the only young guy in there, Peter Grundy and Paul Long were doing it as well, so I had two of my best mates to do it alongside and I was never uncomfortable."
Since his debut season in seniors, Archer has gone on to win five premierships and in three of those he acted as player-coach.
He's been made a Bushrangers life member and has a whole swag of club best and fairest and leading goal-kickers awards.
This season the side Archer is co-coaching with Tim Hunter is undefeated, Saturday's win over the Tigers their fifth in a row.
I just enjoy playing football every week and just sort of show up and do it and all of a sudden you're at 200.- Matt Archer
The opening quarter at George Park 2 was relatively close, Bushrangers kicking four goals eight to the Tigers' three goals one.
But Archer's side pilled on nine majors in the second term and from there the gap between the Bushrangers and Tigers further ballooned.
The Bushrangers cracked triple figures in the third quarter and by the time the final siren sounded, the scoreboard reflected Bathurst's most dominant display since the Rebels beat Cowra 28-22-190 to 6-2-38 in May 2017.
Nathan Smith and Hunter kicked seven majors apiece and Hugh Templeton five as the trio once again flourished inside 50.
"It was a really quick, fast-paced game to be honest, there wasn't much control about it, it was all one hundred mile an hour," Archer said.
"To be fair that probably suits us a bit more because it just opens the game up through the middle a fair bit and our quicker midfield guys can get our forwards into one-on-ones.
"I remember looking at the scoreboard once and thinking 'It doesn't feel like we're up by that much' but anyway, yeah, it was just a funny old game."
The way the Bushrangers clicked in the win over the Tigers is a reflection of the mood within the playing group at the moment.
Archer says the intent from his Bushrangers has been on display from the moment pre-season training started and has continued on from there.
"The vibe is really, really positive, last year it was a bit flat and I don't know if that was because we were coming off back-to-back flags or not or due to COVID," he said.
"Last year we just never seemed to get there, but it's almost seemed to make it work better this year because from the first day of pre-season everyone was switched on and ready to go.
"Then we've had new guys come in and lift the standard as well, no-one is missing training, everyone is coming to training and putting in the hard work.
"The atmosphere, everyone seems to be enjoying it and they're enjoying each others' company. That's then transitioning onto the field."
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