Wickers find their feet

Berwick forward Tim Gunn flies for a mark against North Ringwood’s Josh Matthews. 236626 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

Berwick is slowly acclimatising to the little things that count in its new surroundings after the Wickers made it back-to-back wins with an 18.7 (115) to 9.11 (65) victory over North Ringwood on Saturday.

The Wickers have now squared the ledger at two-two after four rounds in their debut season in the Eastern Football League (EFL) Premier Division – a month of football that has taught the club some vital lessons that will provide invaluable learning tools moving forward.

The two main lessons learnt…prepare well and kick straight.

The Wickers have been a standout performer in their last five seasons of football, four in the South East Football Netball League (SEFNL) and their most recent 2019 experience in the AFL Outer East Premier Division.

While being a perennial double-chance contender doesn’t always end with the ultimate success, it does lend itself to having the opportunity to manage players for the more challenging contests of the season.

But in the EFL Premier Division – there are no such luxuries.

“That the biggest difference playing in this league, that you don’t get a let up and it’s like playing finals football every week of the season,” coach Clint Evans explains.

“The players are little more banged up each week and having to be more vigilant with their recovery and it’s just something that we need to get used to at this level.

“In the past you could set yourself for certain games, but now it’s full throttle each week.”

And Berwick has certainly done its homework on lesson two – kicking straight – with Saturday’s big win over the Saints set up by some super-efficient forward craft in the early stages of the match.

It’s worth remembering that the Wickers have been about as accurate as a two-year-old on a toilet this season, spraying 7.17 against Noble Park in round one and then kicking 4.16 to three-quarter time in their round-three victory over Balwyn.

The Wickers would kick 6.1 in the final term against the Tigers and carried that momentum forward, booting 5.0 to 2.3 in the first quarter against the Saints.

Good kicking is good football they say!

The Wickers dominated the second and third quarters, leading by 58 points at the final break before cruising home to a 50-point win.

Dynamic forward Harry Money continued his great run of form, backing up his five-goal effort against Balwyn with six against the Saints – taking him to 14 goals and the lead in the league goal-kicking ranks.

Money was well supported by Josh Burgess, who booted four, while Tim Gunn and the returning Bryce Rutherford made ample contributions with two goals apiece.

Jed Smith played his best game for the season, while Travis Tuck and Nick Green capped off an impressive list of best players.

The Wickers have an extra week to recover this week, with a bye, before hitting the road for their next challenge against Doncaster on Saturday, 22 May.

The Berwick women’s team continues to impress with the Wickers banking their third win for the season with a 41-point – 11.10 (76) to 5.5 (35) victory over North Ringwood.

Jayde Smith, Jess Szalek and Montana Mazzagatti were standouts for the Wickers, who sit in third place ahead of this week’s bye.