BATHURST Bushrangers coach Mark Kennedy says that his team’s Central West AFL grand final opponents the Orange Tigers ‘dodged a bullet’ during their 13-point win over Cowra in Saturday’s preliminary final in Orange.
The Tigers, who have been a clear second to the Bushrangers all season and well ahead of the Blues, suddenly looked a little at sea at the Country Club Oval and trailed for virtually the entire match before hitting the front in the last term.
Kennedy was on hand to watch the clash and was grateful to see both sides giving it to each other in a physical clash.
“I think Orange dodged a big bullet,” he said.
“In the end one of the only things that really saved them was the fact that [Cowra forward] Franky Bright had to go off in the last quarter with a blown calf. He battled it all day and it just got too bad for him to go back out there. I’d have put money on Cowra to win up until then.
“They are a very accurate side and the only thing they know how to do is turn up and play when it really matters. They were very hard at the footy and both teams hurt each other.”
For Orange the focal point up forward was Tim Barry as he has been all season, and he chose a good time to produce something close to his best as he nailed five majors.
Curtailing his influence will be pivotal for Kennedy and his players, and he says that the build-up to the grand final this Saturday at George Park will be dedicated to perfecting their game plan and some positional decisions.
“We’re just going to work on our structure, which is something we’ve concentrated on for the last month or so,” the coach explained.
“For the last four weeks we haven’t worried too much about our fitness or strength work. Instead we’ve worried more about getting our skills a bit sharper and that sort of thing.
“I’ll name a squad of 24 at some stage during the week. It was great to see the reserves get through to the grand final as well, they played a very entertaining game against Orange on the weekend and had to fight hard to get past them in the end.”