AN inspired final term from Nathan Pearce’s men has helped catapult the Orange Tigers into the club’s first Central West AFL top grade grand final since 2002.
Behind for three quarters of the preliminary final as former big guns Cowra produced their best footy of the season, the Tigers lifted at the back end of the clash after Pearce offered the black and golds some “home truths” with their season on the line.
“It’s a pretty special group. There wasn’t any need for rockets, just a message of self belief,” Pearce said of his three-quarter time speech with the game in the balance at Country Club Oval.
“You’re either out there playing for 21 of your mates, or if you’re not prepared to do that then you can come sit on the bench and give someone else a go.”
The message hit home.
The Tigers, down 11.10 (76) to 10.6 (66) at three-quarter time, rallied to boot six final term majors and wrap up a place in this year’s decider 16.12 (108) to 14.11 (95).
It was a proud moment for Pearce and assistant Andrew Nelson.
“As a coach and having been here for a while now, it’s always been a goal of mine to get a group to the grand final,” Pearce said.
The Tigers welcomed back key forward Tim Barry for the penultimate match of the Central West AFL season, and the Victorian didn’t disappoint in kicking five majors.
Pearce also lauded the work of midfielders Simon Kay, Josh Bubnich and Sam Burley.
While Michael Rothnie’s final term was magnificent.
“He produced some fair but hard bumps and it really got the boys going,” Pearce added.
Down by eight points at quarter time and then 13 at the major change, the Tigers struggled throughout the match.
If the same effort eventuates in next week’s grand final against the undefeated Bathurst Bushrangers, the result won’t be as pretty.
But Pearce was confident his group won’t need any more motivation to perform come the first bounce next week.
It is, after all, a grand final, the club’s first since winning the flag in 2002.
“I said it to the boys, it doesn’t matter how many times Bathurst have beaten us this season, grand finals have a completely different feel to them,” Pearce said.
“We’ve just got to get up for one more game.
“Anything can happen and Cowra nearly showed us that today.