For all but the final two weeks of the Central West AFL season the Bathurst Bushranger Rebels had seemed virtually untouchable.
Top of the league and guaranteed minor premiers, the Rebels were on track for a seemingly smooth run to the grand final but then a final round thumping at the hands of the Dubbo Demons was followed by a shock major semi-final loss.
The minor semi-final saw the Demons’ eliminated from the running in 2017, handed an almighty 80-point defeat by the Rebels’ clubmates, the Bushranger Outlaws.
Now on Saturday, the Rebels and Outlaws meet for the right to meet the Orange Tigers in the decider and Dubbo coach will Bunt has tipped the minor premiers’ slide to continue.
“I’ve thought all year the Outlaws were the better side of the two so I’m backing them to win Saturday,” he said.
But while he’s seen how strong the Outlaws are first hand, he’s not sure they have what it takes to go all the way.
“Then in the final I think you’ve got to back Orange with that home ground advantage but it’s going to be a close game.”
Orange was thoroughly impressive against the Rebels in the major semi, overcoming a slow start to score a comfortable 27-point win.
While still keeping an eye of proceedings despite his side now being knocked out, Bunt will turn his attention to the women’s competition preliminary final this weekend.
In that match, the Dubbo Demons take on the Oranger Tigerettes with the winner to take on the might of the Bathurst Bushrangers in the decider.
The Bushrangers have lost just once game in three seasons and are gunning for a third straight title.