Lions take pride in performance over Kiama
The Gerringong Lions are on a quest to claim their own slice of history after beating Kiama 34-16 in Saturday's elimination semi-final at Centenary Field.
Since Group Seven expanded to a five-team finals series 20 years ago, no side has marched to a premiership from fourth or fifth spot.
The Lions finished fourth in the regular season and believe they can be the first team to break new ground.
"Coach [Mick Cronin] said to us at the end of the game that no-one's won it from fourth or fifth, so that's a bit more incentive for us to win," Gerringong halfback Rixon Russell said.
"We've never been in this position, but we know we've got the side to win from here."
The Lions have played in the past four grand finals, winning premierships in 2013 and 2010.
Russell believes the Lions's best asset is their staying power, particularly in high pressure games.
"I think we're the fittest side out there, so the main thing is that we complete our sets and play how we know we can play, and if we do that we'll go close to winning it," he said. "We took a lot of confidence out of today and we can build on that. We don't know who we're against [in the minor semi-final] next week yet, but it doesn't matter who we play if we turn up, because we can match it with any side."
Kiama did well just to claim a finals berth, overcoming the loss of key players halfway through the season to snatch fifth spot.
The Knights gave the reigning premiers an early scare with Kieran Poole's try, but the Lions regrouped for a 16-6 half-time lead.
Gerringong put the game out of reach with 18 unanswered points in the second half before the Knights trimmed the deficit with two tries in the final 20 minutes.
"We started the game a bit slow and turned over possession coming out of our own end, but once we started to complete our sets we got a bit of a roll on," Russell said.
"We started real well in the second half and scored those two quick tries, and we just went on from there."
Gerringong's try-scorers were Lloyd Bowen (2), Peter Cronin, Russell, Brad Davidson and Simon Hoare; Joel Roberts kicked five goals.
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 31/08/2014