Getting eliminated from any finals race is disappointing.
But getting eliminated in a sudden death match when playing nowhere near your potential makes things even more painful.
That was the scenario for the Dubbo Demons in Saturday’s Central West AFL minor semi-final, as the Bathurst Bushranger Outlaws handed out an 80-point trouncing at George Park.
“I thought we were a top two team,” Dubbo coach Will Bunt said, his side getting knocked out in the first week of finals after finishing in fourth spot.
“To go out like we did, last season it was the same when we finished fourth but then we only lost by six, so to get beat by 80 is very disappointing.
“At the start of the year we had a strong group but then injuries, particularly Terry Lyons with his experience and calming influence, and then unavailability for some pretty poor excuses at times was a reason for disruptions.
“Particularly in the middle and latter parts of the season, we struggled for consistency and continuity.”
The Bushranger Outlaws were on top right from the start on Saturday in what finished a 20.10.130 to 7.8.50 result.
While the Demons had the benefit of a strong breeze at their back in the first quarter they couldn’t make it count and the hosts shot out to a 14-point lead.
That margin stretched to 57 by half time as the Outlaws turned it on with a whopping eight goals while keeping the battling Demons scoreless.
Bunt and his side was left in shock, especially given the side finished the regular season was a stunning victory over the minor premiership-winning Bushranger Rebels.
“What we did to the Rebels, the Outlaws did to us,” Bunt said.
“They went hard at the ball, they used it better, they were smarter and made better decisions and as much as they were good, we did play badly.
“It was like watching a different side.”
Bunt added it was hard to get his side back up at half time and it was all over by three quarter time when the Outlaws led 16.9.105 to 4.7.31.
To the Demons’ credit they didn’t completely throw in the towel and booted three majors in the final stanza but it was far too little, too late as the hosts advanced to next weekend’s preliminary final.
“To their credit they were impressive to watch,” Bunt said of the Outlaws, before speaking about his own players.
“At half time they were down a bit and I don’t know, maybe it was a bit of finals inexperience and some nerves but they got a bit down on themselves.
“It would have been nice to show a bit more character.”
Bevan Charlton-White booted three goals for the Demons and was one of the few shining lights for the visitors.
The young gun only played a handful of matches this year but looks set to be a regular from next season in what Bunt described as a positive boost for the Dubbo club.
Cameron Richards and Tim Hunter both starred with five goals each in the win.