50 shades of play: Nelson hits half century as Tigers look to maintain rage

THE MOMENT: Tigers ace Andrew Nelson, pictured after sealing the 2015 flag for his side, will reach a milestone this weekend. He's set to play his 50th game for the club. Photo: SAM DEBENHAM
THE MOMENT: Tigers ace Andrew Nelson, pictured after sealing the 2015 flag for his side, will reach a milestone this weekend. He's set to play his 50th game for the club. Photo: SAM DEBENHAM

It feels like Orange Tigers ace Andrew Nelson has been around forever.

He’s been a steadfast fixture in the black and golds’ line-up for years and, most memorably, punted himself into club legend status with a final-minute goal to seal the Tigers’ three-point win in the 2015 grand final.

So the fact he’s still only made 49 appearances for the club is as surprising as Melbourne midfielder Shane Woewodin’s 2000 Brownlow Medal win.

He’ll finally hit the half century mark this weekend, as his Tigers look to continue their strong Central West AFL form.

“It’s definitely taken some time, I started here back in 2012,” Nelson laughed.

“A season away at the (Bathurst) Giants made it take a bit longer.”

Making the milestone game a bit more special for Nelson is the fact is is against the Giants.

He made the decision to link with the club in its inaugural year, essentially helping build the Bathurst club to where it is today – competitive, spirited and proud.

“I loved my time at the Giants, so it does make it a bit more special,” he said.

“Being involved in the club’s first win is something I’ll always remember, I still have a lot of close mates at that club so I daresay I’ll cop a bit of banter from (Giants coach) Mark Kennedy and the boys.”

While he admitted he’s supremely proud to hit a personal milestone Nelson was – as he typically is, such is his humble nature – lightning fast to divert the attention back to his side.

The Tigers are gunning for a second straight win, one which will keep them in contention for a top two spot and, indeed, the minor title.

BACK IN BLACK: Former best and fairest winner Josh Bubnich returns to the Tigers' side this weekend.

BACK IN BLACK: Former best and fairest winner Josh Bubnich returns to the Tigers' side this weekend.

In a huge development, electric on-baller Josh Bubnich is back too after being cleared to return by the Gungahlin Jets.

“Bubs was the best player in the league for two or three years, by a fair way, so to get his experience and leadership back is a massive boost,” Nelson enthused.

“We know the Giants have a great group of young blokes though, that can play a great brand of footy. They have class players like (former Tigers flag winner) Paul Jenkins and Dave Manning too, so they’re always going to threaten sides.

“We just have to keep in our structures, keep up pressure around the contest and hopefully kick straight up front.

“The Giants have surprised a lot of people in the league this year, as we have a little bit, so we know we’re in for a good contest.

“I think our experienced guys through the middle, like Mitch McKenna, Bubs, Brent Tucker and Jaxon Mumme will be the difference though, if we can get first use out of the ruck.”

First bounce at Country Club Oval is at 2.30pm.

Prior to that, in the first game of a superb double header, the Tigers’ women host the Cowra Blues.

It’s a crucial third-versus-fourth clash. A win would help the Tigerettes extend the buffer between them and the fourth-placed Blues, one which currently sits at 12 points.

The Tigerettes’ clash with Cowra starts at 12.45pm.