IT was seven years in the making, so on Saturday afternoon when Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels co-coach Matt Archer got to celebrate a Central West AFL premiership win on his home soil at George Park 2 it was a moment he relished.
The Rebels proved too good for rivals Orange Tigers in the blustery conditions to emerge 9-15-69 to 5-9-39 victors.
While Archer was also part of the Bushrangers Outlaws outfit which had been crowned champions in 2017 at Orange's Bloomfield Oval, Saturday's victory was the first the Bathurst club had won in front of a home crowd in seven seasons.
It meant Archer was not the only person clad in teal, black and white who was celebrating after the full-time siren.
His fellow Rebels and a host of other Bushrangers players, supporters and officials were too.
"It's the first one I've won at home since 2012. I've lost two since then at home, so to finally actually win one at home again - it's a surreal feeling," he said.
"It's definitely not just the 24 people in this team that feel that win, it's everyone at the club. As you can see from these scenes here, everyone is really happy."
While 12 months earlier the Orange Tigers had staged a remarkable final quarter comeback at George Park 2 to be crowned champions over the Rebels, this time around the Bathurst side led at every change.
The Tigers certainly threw plenty at the Rebels, but the visitors did not fully utilise the wind when they had it at their backs.
Despite a host of inside 50s against them in the first and third quarters as the wind gusts peaked at 50km/hr, the Rebels conceded just three majors in those 50 minutes.
"The conditions weren't great, but that first quarter really set us up," Archer said.
"To kick those two-three really quick goals against the breeze, it really just set us up for the whole game.
"It really evened it up because they didn't make the most of their chances. So that first quarter was excellent and even in the third quarter when they had the wind again, we held them to one goal.
"In that fourth quarter we didn't kick many goals, we just played smart football. We were in front and just locked things down in that quarter."
Having beaten the Tigers in the major semi-final a fortnight earlier, it took the Rebels just 28 seconds on Saturday to deal the first blow of the decider.
Andrew James added another major before the clock had ticked over to the four minute mark and when Michael Long found the target from a free kick, the Rebels led by 14.
While the Tigers ran with the wind and dominated the inside 50 count early on, it took them 17 minutes to finally register their first major, Andrew Henry bending in an effort from the left boundary line.
Peter Byrne added another for the Tigers soon after, but the Rebels led 3-1-19 to 2-5-17 at the first change.
In the second quarter the Orange outfit hit the lead when Charlie Kemp took a great pack grab to mark a Casey Grice kick in the goal square then slotted home.
When Andrew Nelson steered another through for the Tigers in the 40th minute, it looked as if momentum had turned.
But then came a two moments of brilliance from man of the match Bill Watterson. It swung things back in the Rebels' favour.
Firstly he thumped one through from beyond the 50, then he saw the Rebels win the next centre clearance, muscled and stepped his way around a number of Tigers defenders and launched another effort from range.
It bounced through for a major score and the Rebels were back in front.
Before the half-time siren sounded James had his second and Rebels co-captain Tim Hunter had curled one in as well to see the hosts with a 7-5-47 to 4-7-31 lead.
It was a handy buffer, but with the Tigers having the assistance of the wind in the third quarter, the premiership was far from decided.
However, in the 25 minutes which followed, it became clear the trophy would be in Bushranger hands.
The Tigers managed just one goal for the term as the Rebels defended with desperation. Paul Long made a brilliant diving smoother, young gun Scott Brown showed some slick skills in the half-back line and Watterson was all class.
The gap between the rivals stood at 13 with a quarter to play and from there the Rebels closed it out.
Fittingly it was Watterson who booted the final goal of the match - and his fifth of the game - as the Rebels emerged 9-15-69 to 5-9-39 victors.
Tigers co-captain Mick Evans was disappointed not to have made it back-to-back premierships, but could not fault the effort of his players.
"It is tough, but I'm really proud of the boys," he said.
"Congrats to Bathurst, they were the better side on the day and used the conditions a bit better. But our guys didn't let their heads get down or give up until the last ball. Unfortunately we just couldn't get it done today.
"We truly believed we could get over the top of them in that last quarter, we were only two kicks down. We were against the breeze, but we really did believe we could win. I guess it's just a credit to the Bushrangers, they didn't give us a sniff."
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The other positive for Evans to come out of the match was the performances of the younger Tigers like Byrne, Kemp, Callan Naden and Max Bylsma.
"Look with the turnover we had, it was always the aim this season to blood some young fellas," he said.
"They were just incredible, the whole season, not just today. We had four who backed up from the under 17s grand final and a couple of 18-year-olds out there as well, so the future looks bright.
"If they stick around we'll be bigger and better next year."
BATHURST BUSHRANGERS REBELS 9-5-69 (Bill Watterson 5, Andrew James 2, Tim Hunter, Michael Long) defeated ORANGE TIGERS 5-9-39 (Peter Byrne 2, Charlie Kemp, Andrew Henry, Andrew Nelson)
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