THE Bathurst Giants produced their best quarter of football of the 2019 Central West AFL season on Saturday to not only set up a 10-7-76 to 7-11-53 win over the Orange Tigers, but fuel hopes of a home final.
Trailing the competition leaders by 13 points after the opening term at George Park 1, Giants coach Mark Kennedy implored his players to lift. He knew his men needed a win to ensure they stayed in third place on the ladder with two rounds remaining.
The Giants responded. They upped their handballing efficiency to 97 percent, made 22 tackles and 40 pressure acts, won six clearances and had 20 entries inside 50 while restricting the Tigers to just seven.
It helped them to a 8-4-52 to 5-3-34 lead at half-time and from there they went on to beat Orange for a second time this season.
"They're a tough, hard side but we matched them around the ground," Kennedy said.
"Our second quarter - I reckon that was our best quarter of the year. Just the way we controlled the football, we really took the game by the throat.
"I wasn't happy with our completion rates [in the first quarter], we were down to 50 percent completion rates. I said that 'This isn't the way we play football, we really need to lift. If we control the ball, we control the game, the other side can't kick goals if we've got the footy.'
"They lifted it to be up to 68 percent in that second quarter and we kicked seven goals. That really set us up for the game, from there we just had to nullify their run, nullify their use of the ball, which we did.
"It was quite even those last two quarters, but that was specifically us trying to hang on to that lead and play defensive, our backs were really good."
Coming off the back of a nine-point loss to the Bushrangers Rebels a week earlier, the Giants were determined to win on their home turf against a Tigers outfit hoping to claim the minor premiership.
The Tigers began the better of the sides with three majors in the opening term, dominating the inside 50s with 21 entries opposed to eight for the the Giants.
But the Giants rallied in the second term to snatch back momentum then matched the Tigers over the back half of the match - both teams adding just two further majors to their haul.
Giants' Paul Jenkins booted four goals for the match to take his season tally to 38.
The win keeps the Giants ahead of fourth-placed Dubbo on percentages, and while they will start favourites in their two remaining matches against Parkes and Cowra, Kennedy knows they must remain focused.
"I was really pleased with the way the guys played as a team, we are becoming a really strong, cohesive unit. We still had a few handy outs - we had Dave Manning out, we had Aiden Macauley out, we had Dylan Furnell out - you drag those three back into the side we had on the paddock - it's going to be an interesting finals series," Kennedy said.
"[But] You can't expect anything in this league, it is possible for the guys who are at the bottom of the table to come and knock off the so-called leaders."
- BATHURST GIANTS 10-7-76 (Paul Jenkins 4, Emmitt Carr-Smith 2, Liam Clarke, Jack Goodsell, Reilly Mitchell, Zac Yandle) defeated ORANGE TIGERS 7-11-53 (Tyson Hannus 2, Hamish Gledhill, Max Bylsma, Andrew Nelson, Casey Grice, Peter Byrne)