Bathurst Bushrangers have thrown off the doubters of their AFL Central West season with a comprehensive preliminary final victory over Orange Tigers on their home turf on Saturday.
The Bushrangers kept the Tigers goalless until three quarter time to set up a rematch of the major semi-final against Bathurst Giants in Bathurst next weekend with the 9-4-58 to 1-1-7 win.
Georgia Shiels kicked three and Alora Dickson and Gabby Wilson had two each as the Bushrangers were able to control the ball coming into their forward line and set up easy set shots after controlling the corridor.
A four-goal opening term put any Tigers hopes of an upset to bed early, returning to the grand final stage after missing qualification for the first time in 2018.
Coach Brian Matheson said he was "really proud" of his troops to have the win, but said the game was closer than the scoreline suggested.
However, his side's attack on the ball was second to none.
"Our tackling pressure, talk and shepherding was great," Matheson said.
"We knew Orange were a really strong and physical side so we wanted to get out there and have a big first quarter and to go in 24-nil at quarter time and 45-nil at half-time was really pleasing to see.
"Credit to the Tigers though, they kept fighting all day."
The Bushrangers have now set up a chance for revenge against Bathurst Giants after the minor premiers beat them in the major semi final two weeks ago, but Matheson said the pressure was on them.
"There's no pressure on us, they're expected to win it and we'll turn up on the day and anything can happen," he said.
For Tigers coach Nita Noble, while she said it was "a bit disappointing" to bow out of season 2019, the result was secondary to building a strong club culture.
"To see the girls still smiling and enjoying being around each other and getting out and playing the game even when we were 40 or 50 points down was really good to see," Noble said.
"It's one of those things which helps bring Tigers back, that friendship and club culture."
Noble said the "best two teams" had made the grand final and was looking forward to watching the Giants and Bushrangers duke it out on Saturday.
"They were too good for us and simply outclassed us," Noble said.
- BATHURST BUSHRANGERS 9-4-58 (Georgia Shiels 3 goals, Alora Dickson, Gabby Wilson 2, Beth Durham, Amelia White 1) def ORANGE TIGERS 1-1-7 (Emma Clark 1 goal).
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