Prior to the opening bounce in Saturday’s Central West AFL match against Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws, Bathurst Giants coach Mark Kennedy was hoping his side could be competitive.
He got a lot more than that.
When the final whistle sounded at George Park, Kennedy was celebrating what he called “the upset of the season” as the Giants emerged 11-5-71 to 8-3-61 victors.
Given Giants lost last year’s corresponding fixture by 214 points, it was easy to see why he made that claim.
“I was quietly confident we were going to compete, but this is their grand final side, this is the side they are going to try and win the premiership with. Pauly Long was back, Nath Belbin was there, Matt Archer, Sebastian Matheson, Tim Hunter – so they had a very good side,” he said.
“It was jubilation at full-time, it was like our grand final. It was last game of the year, so it was a great way to finish this year and great for us going into next year.
“The amount of self belief these younger players have is just phenomenal.”
While a swirling wind made conditions tough at times – a number of kicks going out on the full instead of finding the intended target – the Giants were able to adjust.
After trailing by 15 points at quarter-time, the Giants used the wind in the second term to take a 7-1-43 to 4-5-29 lead.
The third term saw the Giants able to add just one behind to their tally, while three Outlaws majors had the Bushrangers back in front at 54-44.
“We were only 10 points behind at three-quarter-time, but I just knew because we had the wind coming through we’d be a chance,” Kennedy said.
“I let everyone know at the break that it would be Jordie Longmore’s last game and then everyone was spurred on to get him a win in his last game.
“We got the lead about halfway through the final quarter. I stuck Jules Larsen up front, just a bigger, stronger body. He kicked two goals in the last quarter for us to get us across the line.
“We were so happy.”