THE perfect season is within reach for the Bathurst Bushrangers following a convincing victory over the Dubbo Demons in the last game of the AFL Central West senior men's regular season.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Bushrangers won 16-16-112 to 6-3-39 to go into the grand final with 15 consecutive victories to their name.
Consistency might not have been a strong suit for the Bushrangers in the win but once again they were able to showcase what they're capable of when everything comes together.
That was the case across the first and third quarters of the match, where the hosts put on 11 of their 16 goals.
Kolby McMahon continued to thrive in his time at full forward, leading the way with four goals for the Bushrangers, while teammates Jimmy Smith and Hugh Templeton each kicked three.
Bushrangers co-coach Matt Archer said it was a great performance to take into the decider.
"It was a good, well-rounded performance. We probably switched off for the last five minutes of the second quarter but other than that we concentrated well across the full game. That's what you like to see before a grand final," he said.
"We were the better team for pretty much that whole second quarter and I was surprised that we didn't score more goals. They were able to kick three goals in the last five minutes.
"We were disappointed with that. We spoke at half-time about needing to regroup and refocus on what we wanted to do. The response to that was fantastic.
"The talk was great and we set ourselves up well behind the ball in the third quarter."
Rain has been plaguing teams across the competition over the past month but drier conditions over the weekend allowed the Bushrangers to inject some pace into their game.
Archer said his side won a large majority of centre clearances in the second half and moved the ball ahead with accuracy and speed.
"We generally play our ground well, and we haven't played there for a while, so it was nice to get good conditions on there," he said.
"It was a bit more open and we were able to use our foot skills down the outside and we love the dry conditions. Hopefully we can take that performance into the next one in a few weeks."
Bushrangers look to be heading towards a full strength lineup at the right time of the year.
"We threw AJ [Andrew James] in the midfield for the whole game and he was fantastic, back to his best," Archer said.
"Kolby looked confident in his time at the ruck, and it was probably [co-coach] Tim [Hunter] and myself who were more nervous. He spent more of his time forward.
"The plan was to put him back in the ruck for the grand final but he's kicked 11 goals in two games in his return at full forward. We've got to make a decision on how to utilise him, but it's a good problem to have.
"I thought young Hamish on the wing was fantastic ... and Riley in the midfield played a great role for us there. They were two standouts from the game."
The win for Bushrangers would be to the Bathurst Giants' benefit, who now have hosting rights for the preliminary finals due to the Demons' defeat.
Bushrangers await the winner of the Giants and Demons contest.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.