And then there were five: Orange and Bathurst to make up extra games

THE Orange Tigers and Bathurst Bushrangers are faced with an intriguing prospect after Central West AFL president Tony Lewis released the 2014 first grade draw yesterday.

In the 18-round fixtures list, the Tigers and the Bushrangers will both play one more game than the Cowra Blues, Young Saints and Dubbo Demons, who receive an extra bye as a result.

In the CWAFL competition, teams who have a bye receive four points - the same amount as for a win - which immediately puts both of last year’s grand finalists at a slight disadvantage. Cowra, Young and Dubbo are all guaranteed the extra four points, while Orange and Bathurst must earn them by winning.

In a surprising revelation, Lewis revealed all five clubs agreed on the draw.

“We basically had two drafted options, a 20-week draw or a 12-week draw,” Lewis said.

“None of the clubs went for either and, although I don’t like the idea of part rounds, the clubs voted and made the decision for us. Orange and Bathurst do play the extra game each, but based partly on them being the top two sides last year, and most likely again this year, they were happy and we were happy to make the compromise.”

Young re-enters the top grade after being absent since 2012, and Lewis said it had not been easy to convince the Saints to re-ascend after originally nominating for just reserve grade.

“They won’t get any good out of playing lower,” Lewis said.

“In the lower grade, potentially they wouldn’t be getting consistent footy and their club might suffer as a result. They’ve decided to come up, and they picked up some handy players, and most of the other teams, aside from Orange, have lost players, are just getting older in general.

“I’d say Young will definitely be quite competitive this year.”

The Tigers open their title defence with an away trip to Cowra, to take on an aging Blues unit on April 5.

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