Archer backs his Bushrangers to spring a grand final upset

THIS IS IT: Jordan Longmore could be one of the key players for the Bathurst Bushrangers in tomorrow’s Central West AFL grand final against the Orange Tigers. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 082215cafl5aAUSTRALIAN RULES

THE Bathurst Bushrangers will need to produce their best football of the season tomorrow in the Central West AFL grand final at Bloomfield Oval if they are to prevent the Orange Tigers from making it three consecutive titles.

With the 2015 head-to-head between the rivals reading 5-1 in favour of the Tigers, the Bushrangers are distinct underdogs for the season finale.

But while the Bushrangers boast just the single 24-point win this season over the Tigers, it is enough to give them hope of springing an upset tomorrow.

Bushrangers coach Brett Archer believes the grand final can be won if his side don’t become too reliant on their leadership group to carry the match.

“In the past I’ve been involved in grand finals over a variety of sports and I know that in a grand final, anything can happen,” he said.

“We’ve got to be at our best. We have our core leadership group of five to six players who always have good games, but we need those guys in the next tier to step up and play their best game.

“Those are players like Bill Watterson, who has had brilliant games, and it’s got to the stage where we can rely on him week-in and week-out. Tom Markey is another one of those players, coming in from rugby league and with only two years of AFL experience, he’s been great for us.”

The Tigers earned the hosting rights for this year’s decider ahead of the Bushrangers due to their 15-21-111 to 11-10-76 major semi-final win a fortnight ago.

Yet that result doesn’t worry Archer. He knows that if his side can apply pressure throughout the four quarters, they have what it takes to better the Tigers.

“I’m absolutely confident we can do it. We’ve been able to put the pressure on Orange on occasions, usually for one or two quarters of the game, but we need to be able to do it for the full match,” he said.

“We’re starting to match it with them in the midfield. Josh Bubnich is a big talent and there’s other players they rotate through there to look out for as well. We’ve got Steve Grundy in the ruck and Sebastian Matheson and Harry Bowden able to rotate through there.”

The Bushrangers will have a full strength line-up for the decider, with Jordan Longmore and Daniel Donato both coming back into the side.

“The last time we played them we had some trouble in the forward line and we should have that sorted for this game,” Archer said.

“We’ll have Jordan Longmore in at full forward, who has six goals in him. Considering we lost by six goals, I expect he could be the difference in making that gap up.”

The vastly experienced Longmore was sorely missed by the Bushrangers in the major semi-final.

His seven goals in the three-point defeat to the Tigers in the final round of the regular season was what kept the Bushrangers in the match.

Archer said tomorrow’s grand final carries that extra bit of importance for both teams, being the last time they will compete before having their teams split up under next year’s new competition structure.

“We’re trying to be sharp come game day so we’re able to make those passes under pressure. Orange’s game style hasn’t changed much compared to last year. They’ve got some new players in there but so do we,” he said.

“It’s all coming towards an end of an era with us both splitting our teams up after this.”

The opening bounce at Bloomfield Oval will be at 2.30pm tomorrow.

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