THERE is much more than just bragging rights at stake for this weekends’ local derby between the Berry Magpies and the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets at Berry Showground.
While there is no doubt both sides will feed off the local rivalry, it is a very valuable two points up for grabs as the Magpies look to get their reason on track, while the Jets are hoping to keep the ball rolling after three consecutive wins.
Close, but no cigar seems to be the story of the Magpies season, with three of their five losses being by 10 points or less.
But as previously highlighted by their coach Nathan Benney, near enough is not good enough and their desire to get back on winning terms has led to a number of changes for the clash with the Jets.
Blaine Rosz will return in the front row for the Magpies with Josh Holland to move back to the bench, while Blake Harris-Davis comes back from injury at fullback, with regular number one Josh Coulter moving into the centres.
This will see Rory McCall shift to the wing at the expense of Joel Webeck, while Joe Rogers will return to halfback in place of Jack McPherson, after a stint at second row.
Benney said he was unsure how what difference the changes will make, but knows the time has come to have a look at their options.
“Blake actually played fullback against Warilla and he got players’ player and from what I’ve heard, Josh Coulter has played a fair bit in the centres in the past,” he said.
“I think it will be good for Joe to have more of a leadership role as well and as for Blaine, he makes such a massive difference with what he offers in attack and defence and we really miss him when he’s not there.
“The changes could work out well, or fail miserably, but at the moment we are one from six, so we’ve got to try something different.
“They might just get across the line and be the difference.
“Getting a win can give you a bit of extra belief and then it’s like everything clicks and starts to fall into place.”
Benney said it is always a tough game when they play the Jets and they will need to focus on their whole team, rather than one or two star players.
While their main focus may be on the whole team, Benney expects the ex-Berry players in the Jets lineup might attract bit more attention.
“They do have a few [ex-Berry players] and I think whenever you play against someone you used to play with, it’s an opportunity to make them second guess why they’re not still with the club,” he said.
Geoff Johnson, John Carey, Nathan Deaves, Nathan Falzon and Mick Blattner have all previously worn the Magpies jersey and Jets coach Ben Wellington thinks it will be a big game for all of them.
“They’ll be targeted for sure,” Wellington said.
“But I reckon they’ll all be ready to go and will have a point to prove against their old club,” he added.
While the Jets have fared much better than their local rivals in recent weeks, Wellington has no doubt the Magpies will step up and make it a tough game.
“It’s always a good test for us,” he said.
“I think they’ve been going well, but just missing out in their past couple of games.
“They’re getting closer, but as long as we keep defending well and complete out sets, then we can get another two points.
“We’re getting a bit of momentum now and it’s like a snowball, we’ve just got to keep picking up more as we go along.”