Giants reach major milestone

The Bathurst Giants won their first Men's minor premiership in 2021, finishing atop the Tier 1 ladder at season's end. PHOTO AFL Central West Media



In what has been an historic year for the club, the Bathurst Giants Men’s Tier 1 side have enjoyed their best season in senior football, taking out their first minor premiership. The Giants were simply superb all season long, only losing two games on rout to their best season since they joined the senior competition in 2016.

Whilst the side didn’t get an opportunity to play in the grand final due to COVID restrictions, coach Mark Kennedy was still proud of what his team accomplished.

“I really enjoyed coaching this year. I thought we were going to go into the grand final as favourites if I am honest. Anything can happen on the day, but I really enjoyed coaching the playing group this year. They have grown a lot and are becoming men,” he said.

“I thought the games were really competitive this year. We had three teams that were super competitive in the Demons, Bushrangers and us. Orange is on the cusp, I think. In the next couple of years with their juniors coming through I think they will get more competitive. I predict they will be fighting for finals spots in the next two years.”

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Led by the competitions leading goal kicker in Sam Sloan (41 goals), the Giants racked up an impressive 1094 points in 12 games. Sloan was a key factor for the Giants success in front of goal and Kennedy had nothing but praise for the forward.

“I think this is the best season Sam has had. He’s a very quiet unassuming guy, but the statistics speak for themselves in leading goal kicker. It was really good for him to get that award.”

The Giants were also highly strong defensively, only conceding 597 points all year, second to the Bushrangers (507). The team’s success this year across the paddock is a result of consistent performances each week. Something that Kennedy has preached all year to his playing group.

“I think some of the challenges are having a consistent team on the paddock all the time. That’s what our main focus is. I just want to get consistency across the playing group,” he said.

“We had a really strong leadership group this year in Bailey Brian, Shaun Noyen, James Kennedy, and Mitchell Taylor. They were probably the key leaders across the ground.”

“I was really impressed by the way a couple of other people stepped up. Nic Broes, and Leigh Monaghan in the forward line. Those guys really enjoyed their footy this year and they were a real presence on the ground. Especially having Nic control the back line for us and to have Leigh up there as another target to help Sam.”

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This year the Giants looked to introduce a number of players into first grade football to boost their squad.  Whilst it was a challenge for Kennedy to incorporate them into the team, it was worth it.

“One of the challenges was giving some of the under-17’s and some of the reserve graders an opportunity to play in first grade. To give them more exposure to a higher standard of football,” he said.

“There was a couple of guys who stepped up this year and I was really impressed with one of them in Jordan Ashcroft. He played a few games for us and I was really impressed. The way he is playing he will end up playing a lot more games in the senior side next year.”

“There was Liam Cooke who I thought was fantastic for us. I also thought Jack Goodsell stepped up for us all year. He came into the side and dominated the ruck this year. I thought he played outstanding for us.”

“Someone who really played himself into the role and was a key winger this year for us was Zac Yandle. Zac has his best football ahead of him and he is still only a young guy. He is keen to learn the game.”

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AFL Central West Football Operations Manager Casey White spoke highly of the side’s achievements. “The Giants have always been a strong junior side, and have one plenty of premierships across the grades since forming. For these players to now have transitioned into senior football and have success is something that can empower the other clubs within the competition.”

“To the coaching staff, and playing group, the league wish to extend their congratulations to the Bathurst Giants Tier 1 side. Although the season didn’t finish the way they’d have hoped, we expect them to be thereabouts again this time next year competing for silverware.”

“The introduction of their Tier 2 side has only strengthened their depth. Competition for spots will be fiercer than ever as more juniors age out of the ’17s. It’s exciting to think about what this side will be able to do over the coming seasons.”

Moving forward into next season, Kennedy has admitted that he would eventually like to see more teams participate in Tier 1 football.

“Only having four teams in Tier 1 can be a bit frustrating, like playing the same teams over and over again,” he said.

“I think there should be more teams in Tier 1 to be perfectly honest.”


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