The Central West AFL season has concluded, and I would like to recognise the Central West AFL board members for another great year: chair Craig Gale, secretary Kass Ings and treasurer Gavin Rhodes. Saturday, 2 September, saw the AFL faithful descend on Bloomfield Oval in Orange for the Central West AFL grand finals, putting the finishing touches on a very memorable season. The first game of the day was the Central West women's grand final, a competition only three years old but growing with great support from the Central West community.
The Bathurst Bushrangers women's side dominated all season, and they didn't give up a single game. They took that momentum into the grand final match against the Dubbo Demons. The game was off to a close start, with only a three-point margin by half-time, but the Bushrangers quickly pulled ahead after returning to the field, clocking up another convincing win, 7-8-50 to 2-2-14. So the Bushrangers have now won three consecutive premierships, proving that they have some serious form when it comes to big games. In fact, in the entire three years of competition they've lost only one game. I'd like to recognise everyone in the winning team, including captain Tori Whitla, Jessica Scadding, Haylee Lepaio, Alora Dickson, Keeghan Tucker, Victoria Matheson, Kaitlyn Kennedy, Mikala Bringolf, Mariah Gilchrist, Sophie Thrower, Abbey Hardie, Selina Harlum, Elise Hull, Amy Copping, Lauren Barnett, Taylor Armstrong, Rachael Shumack, Sarah Weal, Brittany Irwin, Allison Hundy, Meredith Jones, Sarah Shackleton, Jane Hanrahan and Sally Hennessy. Special mention also goes to coach Peter Neve, who must have picked up some tips at the Greater Western Giants coaching masterclass earlier this year.
In the senior men's division, the Bathurst Bushrangers Outlaws had another tough encounter at Bloomfield against the Orange Tigers. The pressure was on for the Bushrangers. The Bathurst club had made it to the grand final for the last four years and after being so close to victory suffered defeat every time. The Tigers took some time to warm up and the Outlaws capitalised, surging ahead from the opening whistle. The Tigers, fighting for their 10th senior premiership in the club's history, fought back in the second half, but it wasn't enough. The Tigers were valiant, but the Bushrangers Outlaws eventually won by 38 points to claim the 2017 Central West AFL premiership, 89-51.
I'd like to recognise each of the players for their mighty efforts, including Tim Hunter, who kicked four majors and was the leading goal scorer of the match and leading scorer of the season right across the Central West; Kaleb Crowhurst; Matt Archer, co-captain and coach of the side, who was awarded life membership of the club; Cameron Richards; and Charlie Flude, who was named best on ground after kicking a 50-metre goal off the back of a penalty. I'd also like to mention Paul Long; Jordan Price; Andrew Grinter; Matt Luther; and Sebastian Matheson, who was awarded the best and fairest in the league at the presentation night recently. I'd also like to recognise John Ellis, Nathan Belbin, Daniel Crofts, Nathan Swards, Adrian Hickey, Jordan Dennis, Michael Long, Brandon Eggleton, Patrick Edsall, Mitchell Bestwick, John Noyen, Thomas Markey and Tom Galloway. What a fantastic achievement by the Bathurst Bushrangers.
Although it was the players who took the to field and brought home that premiership in two divisions, there is also a great team in that club, working behind the scenes. I would like to give a special mention to Bathurst Bushrangers Club president Graeme Grundy, who was the volunteer of the year at the recent Central West AFL presentation evening; vice-president Scott Jablonski; treasurer David Flude; secretary Helen Price; coach Matt Archer; and, of course, the legendary facilities manager, Murray Cheers. Thank you, Murray, for your great work. I'd also like to mention game day manager Barry Fuller, players' rep Andrew Grinter and also junior rep Paul Knight.
The Bathurst Bushrangers are a tightly knit unit, and the AFL competition is really gaining strong support right across our whole region. I'd also like to congratulate the families of the players, the mums and dads, for getting the younger players to games and training, and of course the fans, who attend every week of the season, rain, hail or shine. I'd like to congratulate all players in the Central West, whether they were successful on grand final day or not. We have a very strong sporting tradition in Central Western New South Wales, and the AFL competition is very much a part of that. So I'd like to congratulate the Bathurst Bushrangers men and women on their 2017 premiership wins. Our communities are very proud of you, and we look forward to hearing of your exploits in 2018.