Too fast, too hard, too good - Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels have locked themselves into a grand final berth after a dominant display over the Orange Tigers in the AFL Central West major semi final to claim a 15-12-102 to 8-7-55 win.
The result means the Tigers will have to repeat their 2018 path if they want to defend their flag by defeating Bathurst Giants in a do-or-die final at Waratahs next Saturday.
The Giants' cohort - watching from the hill at George Park oval - would have felt confident of beating the Tigers a third time for 2018 next week as the visitors defence struggled against the quick entry and dominant midfield of the Bushrangers in the first half.
Four goals to two in the opening quarter flattered the Tigers as Harry Bowden, Michael Long and Andrew James took control of the midfield, with the latter bombing two goals from long range in the second.
We knew Orange were a tough side and we were never going to have it our own way, they were pretty ferocious at the ball and had their moments but we didn't drop our heads.Bushrangers playing coach Tim Hunter
While the Tigers picked up a little in the second quarter a 31-point deficit loomed large at the half despite the massive effort of Charlie Kemp in the middle in the yellow and black.
They lifted in the third quarter, with crumbers finding more of the ball at the feet of Andrew Nelson, who finished with four goals and was about the only shining light up forward
His set shot from the boundary, minutes after Callan Hunt - thrown forward in the second half - bounced one through from the other pocket, gave the Tigers a spark.
Sam Neville stood in Hunt's place at full back and helped stem the flow, but the Tigers couldn't add their second-half endeavour to the scoreboard as the Bushranger ground them out.
The Bushrangers' resilience to "stick at it" as the Tigers came at them in the third quarter was one thing which pleased playing coach Tim Hunter.
"We knew Orange were a tough side and we were never going to have it our own way, they were pretty ferocious at the ball and had their moments but we didn't drop our heads," he said.
"It was a tough old battle but that's finals for you."
His side didn't look like one coming off nearly three weeks without football, which Hunter credited to having Outlaws players still coming along to training to set up match sense drills.
Scott Brown and Charlie Flude were two young players Hunter picked out as doing hard yards in the guts in the literal and metaphorical heat of the last quarter, saying they "dug really deep".
"Matty Archer and Bill Watterson were pretty strong but to Orange's credit it was pretty tough in there," he said.
Meanwhile, Tigers coach Dale Hunter said the side would try and focus on the quarter and a half of good football the group put together instead of the bad start to the clash.
"They were excellent, I don't want to take anything away there, we were off and it shows you only need to be five to 10 per cent off in a final and they put five goals on you really quickly," he said.
"They got some real ascendancy in that second quarter with the ruckwork and clearance work and kicked some good goals and we needed half time to reset."
"We were back in the contest after half time and we were good but it was a case of too little, too late."
Hunter said after two games in just under two months, he hoped the side would be better for the run, but wasn't concerned by the scoreline after some junk-time goals blew the margin out in the final 10 minutes of the last.
"We look forward to next week now against the Giants, they're in good form and in form at the right time, this week was our first game in a month and first game in a month prior to that," he said.
Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels 15-12-102 (Matt Archer, Andrew James 3 goals, Charlie Flude, Michael Long, Pat Edsall 2, Nathan Swards, Bill Watterson, Harry Bowden 1) def Orange Tigers 8-7-55 (Andrew Nelson 4 goals, Mark Mori, Callan Hunt, Phi Hoang, Pete Byrne 1)
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE SPORT AND NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below ...