It had been a long 777 days. That's how much time had passed since Corrimal's last Illawarra League victory in June 2021, a fortnight before the season was abandoned due to COVID.
The days between that win, ironically over Dapto, and Saturday's 36-18 upset of the Canaries at Ziems Park were tough. In one cruel twist of fate after another, they've been entirely luckless.
In the end, it took no luck for the Cougars to breakthrough for long-desired victory, just grit and determination. It's what got them over the line in the penultimate round of a season in which no shortage of rivals will tell you they didn't deserve to finish without a win.
It was coach Drew Keys' first victory at the helm of the Cougars having overseen two draws in his debut campaign last year. As far as regular season wins go, Keys said they don't come more emotional.
"I had guys crying after the game. Some of the guys that have been here for two years and put in so much, it was just so emotional for them," Keys said.
"I was just really happy for the boys, especially the ones that have been here for two years because lot of them are just kids. Some of the older players finished up with the club, so the guys that we kept from last year are all young.
"Our captains (Jacob Karam and Zac Riley) are 21 and 22. Guys like Kristian Williams and Zac (Riley) and obviously the young guys that have come through like Joe (Duggan) and Villi (Viliame Mahe), they put in so much every week.
"They turn up every week and there's just been no reward for them in all that time. You could see that after games, they're devastated. It doesn't change, it doesn't matter who we're playing or what the result is, they're devastated every single week.
"Some of the other guys that we've brought in this year that have been there all season and played most of the games, they've really bought into what the other guys have done for 12 months.
"They love it, which is pretty incredible really. You've got these guys that haven't won a game and they just want to turn up for each other every week. That was the most exciting part, how they finally got rewarded for it."
It was emotional but, for coaches and players that have faced the Cougars this year, it didn't come as any huge surprise given how close Keys' young crop have come to a winning more than a couple of games.
While the door was rapidly closing on 2023, Keys was confident his side was nearing a breakthrough.
"I've definitely felt a bit of a turn in the past month where we've really been in the fight and been in those games," Keys said.
"The boys, speaking to them afterwards, have really started to enjoy their footy because they are in the fight. They've always put all their effort in, but we've realistically been in games this past month, so they could feel it coming.
"I knew we had a group of guys that can really play good footy, it was just that we hadn't had enough time together to be able to work through a game. You don't need to be mentally in a game for 80 minutes, but you need to be in it for 60 or 70 if you want to win. We just weren't there yet.
"We've been up in games before and then it would just fall apart because they just weren't sure how to win. It's good to get that win because it's a big mental barrier [to get past]. Winning takes practice like anything else and we hadn't had that practice, so it's good to get it for that reason as well."
The Cougars will remain rank outsiders when they take on competition leaders De La Salle this weekend but, having got over the winning hump, Keys said his side will throw everything at making it two on the bounce.
"It's a good way to think of it as a bit of a free swing," Keys said.
"We weren't far off last time we played them and even the first time we played them it was a real tight game. We probably just switched off for little moments and they put a couple of tries on us. Other than that we were in the contest right through those games.
"I reckon De La knows that they've got a game ahead of them and it'd be enormous for the club to be able to say that we genuinely improved across the year and got to the point where they were stopping teams from getting a minor premiership.
"As much as we want to be in the finals, we'll take that."
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