It’s still early days in the 2017 Central West AFL season, but the Orange Tigers have already produced more than enough to suggest the 2013, 2014 and 2015 premiers will feature heavily in this year’s post-season.
The Tigers struggled through 2016 but with a new coach and a fresh approach, they’ve stalked their way into the top four with two victories from the opening three rounds.
The pair of wins have come in consecutive weeks too.
After losing first-up to the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels in round one the Tigers bounced back in a big way against Cowra, before securing a crucial victory over the resurgent Bathurst Giants on Saturday afternoon.
It didn’t come easy though, it took a magnificent fourth quarter for the black and golds to break away from the plucky Giants and claim four competition points.
There was no more than seven points in it at all the game’s breaks, the Giants led by one at quarter-time and the Tigers led by seven and three at half-time and three-quarter time respectively.
The Tigers broke away in the last term though, kicking four goals five and restricting the Giants to just two behinds to ultimately win 12.19.91 to 9.7.61.
“The Giants were very impressive but I think they’re younger, inexperienced players just fell away a bit in that last quarter and we pulled away,” Orange coach Dale Hunter said.
“It was good to be able to finish like that and get a good win, the Giants were hurt by an injury to (former Tigers premiership winner) Paul Jenkins, he was one of their main clearance winners.
“We controlled the clearances in that last quarter and created opportunities (as a result).”
Jaxon Mumme and Brent Tucker both kicked three majors for the Tigers in strong showings, while Chris Pethybridge booted two as well. Logan Crimp, Daniel Sadler, Caleb Campbell and Jacob Adams kicked one each.
The Tigers were still somewhat wayward with the boot, kicking 19 behinds to their 12 goals. That’s the main focus for Hunter leading into a tough run of games.
“I keep saying one day we’ll create all these opportunities, but look up and see we’ve been beaten so hopefully we can kick straight soon,” Hunter laughed.
“Dubbo this weekend is our first real road trip, it’ll be tough and good time to get together and really gauge where we are compared to a team that, realistically, is a bit more advanced than we are right now.”
The win takes the Tigers to fourth, equal on points – but behind on percentage – with the third-placed Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws. The Rebels are second, one win clear, while the Demons are on top.
ORANGE TIGERS 12.19.91 (Jaxon Mumme 3, Brent Tucker 3, Chris Pethybridge 2) def BATHURST GIANTS 9.7.61 (Aiden McAuley 3, Matt Willis 2)