NORTHERN Districts and Port Kembla can give their semi-final hopes in Illawarra cricket a huge boost with a win in this afternoon's round seven clash at Hollymount Park.
Port are sixth and Norths seventh, with 20 points up for grabs in each of the 18 one-day rounds this season.
Norths are coming off a strong win over last-placed University in their first one-day win of the season, with skipper Tommi Bozinovski saying there were encouraging signs.
"We haven't been that far away in a few games," Bozinovski said. "If we keep working hard things will hopefully turn for us."
The Butchers trail Port by five points and are 13 points behind fourth-placed Balgownie and must beat Port to stay in touch with the top-four.
Port are coming off a strong batting effort making 7/252 against Dapto, but after taking an early wicket were blown away by an unbeaten stand of 236 between Aaron Hickson (115 not out) and Dale Scifleet (117 no).
It was one of the great partnerships in recent seasons, though Port can take the positives of batting well on a Reed Park track that yielded only eight wickets for 508 runs in less than 90 combined overs.
In today's other games, unbeaten co-leaders Wollongong face one of their biggest tests at home to Balgownie.
Both teams are coming off wins, with Wollongong the big improvers under skipper Dave Studholme, who is averaging 100 with the bat from four innings this season.
Keira skipper Graeme Batty takes a batting average of 128 into the Lions' home clash with Dapto, while Wests Illawarra host Helensburgh and Corrimal welcome University.
Ladder: Wollongong 90, Keira 90, Helensburgh 88, Balgownie 56, Dapto 55, Port Kembla 48, Northern Districts 43, Corrimal 26, Wests Illawarra 21, University 8.