IT may have taken seven rounds, but everything finally clicked for the Orange Tigers last Saturday.
Led by a stunning man-of-the-match performance from co-captain Michael Rothnie, the Tigers hit the type of form that won the club the past three Central West AFL flags to thump the Young Saints by 117 points at Country Club Oval.
A week after starring for Central West in their representative win over Northern Riverina, Rothnie was remarkable against the Saints, racking up more than 50 possessions and kicking six goals to lead his side to a 22.13 (145) to 3.10 (28) win.
Brady Bennett also slotted four goals for the Tigers - he’s their leading goal-kicker with 14 - while Mitch McKenna, Tristan Degn, Jamie Cox and Eddie Te Paa kicked multiple majors as well.
“[Rothnie] was probably best on ground,” Tigers coach Nathan Pearce said.
“He was one who was probably down a bit [on form] in that loss to Dubbo [in round six], so it was good to see him get back to playing how he wants to be and how we want him to be.
“He wasn’t the only one who was very strong though, Mitch McKenna was good too and Simon Kay did a really good job as well, he straightened us up a bit.
“Chris Rothnie also rucked for three quarters and I thought he did a great job through the middle.
“There was still some periods where we slackened off a little bit but, overall, we played some really good footy.”
Bringing intensity far beyond anything they’d produced so far in 2016, the Tigers all but sealed the result in the first quarter of the game.
The black and golds took an early lead and didn’t let off for the entire opening quarter, banging home 6.4 and only conceding three behinds to lead by 37 points at the first break.
They extended that lead to 54 by half-time and then 74 by three-quarter-time, before kicking seven goals to Young’s one in the final term to seal the 117-point victory.
A no-holds-barred group discussion in the lead-up to the game had obviously worked, inspiring the side to their best performance of the year.
“We had a pretty frank discussion at training about where we were and where we wanted to be, we spoke some hard truths to each other,” Pearce explained.
“We still have plenty to work on, but we’re confident if we can bring that sort of intensity to every game we’ll be competitive no matter who we’re playing.
“If we don’t, we’ll get beaten. We’re sure we can keep winning, catch up to the group and be looking pretty good by the back end of the season though.”
The win was the Tigers’ second in 2016, and while they stay in sixth, other results fell their way for the side to move four points closer to the top four.
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