LAST Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the last time the Berry Magpies had beaten the Gerringong Lions in a first grade game.
Not since their 34-22 victory in round 10 of the 2009 season, played on June 13, had the Magpies got one over their biggest Group 7 rival.
That was until last Sunday at Berry Showground, where the Magpies upset the defending premiers 30-16, which for anyone willing to do the maths, brought to an end a run spanning five years and two days.
Without being 100 per cent sure of exact dates, Magpies coach Nathan Benney said he and his team mates were well aware it had been a long time between drinks.
“We were wondering about it on Sunday night and thought it had probably been four or five years,” Benney said.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling, just such a huge lift for all the boys.
“I definitely hadn’t seen them that excited all year.”
Benney said the result came on the back of their best defensive effort this season.
“Gerringong are a side that likes to throw it around and we were really focused on shutting them down,” he said.
“That meant getting four or five guys in the tackle, slowing them down and forcing them into low percentage plays.
“We really did play the full 80 minutes. I know I’ve been saying we need to do that every week, but I think this was the first time we really grinded out a good win.”
In their previous win against Albion Park-Oak Flats, the Magpies had to play catch up footy, after trailing early on.
While the Lions did score first on Sunday, the Magpies managed to get in front and held their lead for the rest of the game.
“When we played Albion Park, we let them get out to a 12-point lead, but against a side like Gerringong, you just can’t afford to do that,” Benney said.
“It was very important that we didn’t let them get too far in front, because it would’ve been very difficult to come back.
“But I think it was a much closer game than the final score suggests.
“We were on top for the majority of the game, but we really had to fight for it.”
Interestingly, Sunday was supposed to be the second meeting of the two sides this season but their catch up game from round one is still yet to be played.
Benney noted the Lions were without Pat Cronin and had a number of players backing up from Saturday’s representative fixture and expects the real test will come when they play their catch up game on Gerringong soil.
“They don’t like losing, especially to Berry, so I think we can count on that being a real battle,” he said.
“I still don’t think we’ve seen their best football this season, but on their home turf and at full-strength, I think we will.”
With three wins on the trot, the Magpies season finally looks to be gaining some momentum and they are now within striking distance of the top five, heading into the bye this weekend.
While part of him would like to keep the ball rolling this weekend, Benney has no issues with having a bye at this stage as it will give them time to recuperate both physically and mentally.