THE Orange Tigers may have gone down by 84 points at South Dubbo Oval on Saturday but it was the Demons who were the big losers, missing out on the finals by just 0.41 on percentages as Parkes continued its impressive late season form.
At the same time as Dubbo booted an impressive 23.10 (148) to 9.10 (64) mauling of the Tigers, Parkes went about dismantling the Young Saints in an 18.19 (127) to 2.1 (13) thrashing that resulted in the Panthers taking the Demons' place in fourth.
Bathurst suffered its first loss of the Central West AFL season to Cowra, going down 12.10 (82) to 9.7 (61), but maintained its place on top of the ladder on 56 points with the Blues in second on 52.
The Tigers already had third sewn up on 24 points with Parkes and Dubbo finishing the year on 20 points each.
However, Parkes' percentage of 87.89 was fractionally better than Dubbo's 87.48, gifting the Panthers the final place in the competition's top four.
Parkes will now travel to Orange Ex-Services Country Club Oval to tackle the Tigers in the first week of the semis, with Dubbo left to lament a late fourth-quarter blitz from Orange which netted three late goals.
"The percentages have probably only come down to one goal too," Orange Tigers player-coach Joashim Mahon said.
Now the challenge for the Tigers ahead of Sunday's sudden death semi-final against Parkes is bouncing back from two big losses and re-capturing the sort of form which saw them win three games in a row earlier in the year.
Mahon believes his side can.
"It really wasn't that bad a game for us. We had a few blokes backing up from reserve grade. We were down by 30 at half-time and we just ran out of legs from there," Mahon, the Tigers' best target on Saturday booting four majors, said.
"But it's probably a bigger loss for them. I suppose the three goals were pretty important."
The Tigers will welcome back Nick Goudie, Shane Properjohn and Varun Wijewardene along with a host of young guns for the first week of the semis.
"As long as we can get numbers to training and get a really good week's training under our belts I think we can put it together and win," Mahon said.
"There's no point turning up if you don't believe you can win."