BEWARE the Demons - that is the opinion of Bathurst Bushrangers co-coach Matt Archer as he contemplates what lies ahead in the AFL Central West's 2022 men's tier one premiership.
Given last season was abandoned due to COVID-19 prior to the finals series, the Bushrangers head into 2022 as two-time defending premiers.
Those two titles came on the back of dominant runs - a seven-game winning streak in 2019 then an undefeated 2020 campaign - but Archer doesn't expect things to come as easily this year.
The Bathurst Giants proved last year that they are contenders and Archer thinks Dubbo Demons are shaping as genuine threats too.
"I think Giants last year obviously had a great year and deserved to be minor premiers but I think personally going into this year, Dubbo will be pretty hard to beat," he said.
While there has often been talk of a Dubbo threat at the start of a season, the Demons have not yet delivered. Last year they won four of 12 games.
But with a fully fit Bevan Charlton-White - a man who kicked 14 goals in eight games last season - and talent Thomas Byrnes in the midfield, Archer feels the Demons can deliver.
"I just think last year they didn't have a good start to the year, they didn't have Bevan play the first four rounds. But they got him back which made a big difference and then they got a really good midfielder [Byrnes] sort of halfway through the year," Archer said.
"He played the last five-six rounds and I think he got votes in the league best and fairest count nearly every game he played.
"So I just think with those guys there for the whole pre-season, they're shaping up really, really strong, they'll be tough."
While the Bushrangers are chasing a third consecutive men's title, the Demons last won a premiership in 2007 when beating the Bushies by 22 on grand final day.
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