THERE are plenty of strong rivalries and contests going on across Central West sport this season but perhaps the most even and well-contested one can be found in the junior divisions of AFL Central West.
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Bathurst Giants and Orange Tigers currently sit inside the top two of all four junior competitions, with the leaders in three of those divisions holding their advantage by one win or less.
The two clubs have been setting the standard this year, with Giants leading the Tigers in under 14s and 17s based on percentage and the Orange sides having the advantage in under 12s and youth girls.
Under 17s coach Brad Broes said when it comes to trying to find two teams with nothing between them then you need look no further than his Giants and the Tigers.
"In our first game against Orange we lost by nine points then when we played them the next time we won by seven and then in the latest game we won by a goal," he said.
"It's been neck and neck the whole way, and it's been a similar story for our under 14s side as well.
"It's great for their football. They're strong contests as well."
This season's been a textbook case of a side taking their time to find their feet.
The Giants 17s were in early trouble this year when they lost back-to-back matches against the Bushrangers and Tigers - each by nine points - but since then they've gone on to win five straight games.
With the Bushrangers dropping their second game to the Giants by just four points and the Dubbo Demons bagging two wins this year it's shaping up to be a season where any team can be considered a title threat.
Broes has enjoyed watching his side develop into a skilled and cohesive unit over what has been a promising season to date.
"The whole time I've been involved with this age group Orange has been our main rival. There's rarely a big gap when we play each other. It's probably only happened a couple of times over the past few years," he said.
"The side I have this year has gone above and beyond where I thought they would be. I've got three players left from last year's side and there's 10 bottom age kids in the side. The next few years should be good for the team so hopefully they can all stick together over that time.
"The numbers at training have been awesome. We lost our first two games but we've gone on to win the next five. I'm just so happy to see how these guys have come along.
"A lot of them came up from the 14s side who lost every game last year, so when we got that win at Orange to start the five-on-the-trot that was one of the happiest days for me. You could see how relieved they all were."
It's derby time this Sunday for across junior grades as the Bathurst Giants and Bathurst Bushrangers meet in all four divisions.
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