AFTER a couple of false starts, the Berry Magpies will finally get to play their first game of the 2014 season when they host the Port Kembla Blacks at Berry Showground on Saturday.
With their opening game against Gerringong postponed due to bad weather and being given a bye in round two, the Magpies have been left frustrated so far and their coach Nathan Benney is eager to finally take the field.
“It’s probably not been the most ideal start to the season and it will be nice to have some more football under our belts,” he said.
“We’ve got a fair bit coming up, with Saturday’s game and then we’ve got the catch up game with Gerringong on Tuesday night, so I’m hoping we can make up for the lack of football,” he added.
Their opponents Port Kembla are one of the teams who have the benefit of playing in both the first two rounds and are fresh from a 20-18 upset win against Milton-Ulladulla.
Mention the last time the two teams met and there is a fair chance some Magpies players are still having nightmares about it.
The Blacks won that game 38-24 and it was the first and only time they tasted success in 2013.
“If I remember correctly, we prepared quite poorly for that game and I think it was one where we just expected to win,” Benney said.
“I must admit I don’t really know if they’re the same, better, or worse than last season, but it’s a reminder that we have to prepare properly, no matter who we’re playing.
“I certainly try not to discuss that game too much and it’s something I would like to forget.
“I’m sure the guys will remember it, but we just need to put it behind us and make sure we don’t give them the opportunity this weekend.”
From talking to his players, Benney has no doubt they are all excited and looking forward to finally having their first hit out of the season.
“Match fitness is something you can only get from playing, but I think what we’re lacking in game time, we can make up for with enthusiasm,” he said.
“Now I think we’ve just got to make sure we can direct that energy the right way and not get too carried away,” he added.
Benney said he will be looking to the likes of hooker Blake Dryden, halfback Joe Rogers, fullback Josh Coulter and centre Lloyd Sharpe, who has been appointed as co-captain, to give them direction on the field.
While he won’t be hitting any panic buttons if things don’t go their way, Benney said it was very important for them to start their season on a positive note.
“I think it is [important] in terms of making a statement to other sides, to show them that we are here to compete,” he said.
“But we also need to prove to ourselves that we have the ability to be one of the top sides this year.
“It won’t be the end of the world if everything isn’t running smoothly after one game, but if I can see some good signs, then I’ll be happy.”