Deniliquin has stunned the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition, beating home side juggernaut Griffith 22-12 on Saturday.
It was the Drovers’ fourth win of the second grade season and Griffith’s second loss of the year.
Deni coach Warwick Strong said beating The Blacks at home is “almost unheard of”.
“Griffith is a club that doesn’t usually travel well, but they are always very strong at home,” he said.
“I can probably count the amount of times we’ve beaten them at home on one hand (since Deniliquin’s formation in 1985).
“It was a big effort and it has put our season right back on track.”
Griffith started the match full of confidence on Saturday, running in the first try out wide.
“The way they started, I actually thought they were going to run away the game,” Strong said.
“But to our credit we knuckled down and defended.”
The Drovers managed a try of their own when loose forward Storm Tamati crashed over from a ‘pick-and-drive’ movement midway through the first half.
But The Blacks were quick to answer, crossing for another five-pointer and grabbing a 12-5 half time advantage.
“The message was simple at half time; we had to defend well if we wanted to win the match,” Strong said.
And the Drovers responded. The locals managed to hold Griffith score-less in the second stanza.
Deni flanker Mason Brown sparked the comeback when he crashed over in the corner. This try really lifted Deniliquin, due to the fact that a number of players had a hand in setting it up.
Minutes later, skipper Jack Ellice-Flint intercepted a wayward Griffith pass to run 50m and score under the post, before cheeky halfback Zac Tamati scooted down the blindside from the back of a scrum to claim a try of his own.
“Everything just came together in the second half,” Strong said.
“We were playing territory and we were making tackles.
“It was very pleasing to watch.
“Our defence in the second half was probably the best I’ve seen from our guys in a while.
“We just need to take those desperation tackles into more of these games.”
Strong said the result has put his club’s season back on track.
“That win stopped us falling down the ladder. It has put some confidence back in the side and proves to other sides that we mean business.”
Ellice-Flint, playing at outside centre, was awarded the three votes as best player afield, Scott Ison claimed two, while Reed Jackson and Stu Kent shared one each.
Ellice-Flint and Storm Tamati were joint Players’ Players and Bernard Schoeman took home the Dingo Award.
The Drovers take on old rival Leeton at Memorial Park this Saturday.