Illawarra rugby titleholders Avondale have sounded an ominous warning to any rivals daring to believe they have lost their championship aura.
The Wombats were in devastating form on Saturday, underlining their premiership credentials with a crushing 65-12 defeat of University on the Mallee Bulls' home turf.
Avondale moved into a share of first place with Camden and host surging Shoalhaven in this weekend's final round.
"I'm pretty happy with the way the boys are going," Wombats coach James Patrick said.
"These final games going into the semis, it's what you work towards right from the start of the year. And hopefully we can just keep building."
Uni stayed within striking distance of the Wombats for most of the first half before being overrun in the second.
Winger Ryan Lonsdale scored three of his team's 10 tries.
"Uni had a couple of key players out and that would've made a difference, but the boys played really well and I couldn't be more proud," Patrick said.
"It was towards the back end of the first half and in the second half that the boys kicked on.
"The defence was good. The boys stood up and got off the line really well.
"I was actually more happy with the defence than our attack."
Avondale appeared to be cruising at the season's midway point and lacked their usual fervour.
But they have won their past five games and racked up plenty of tries.
After breaking through for their first premiership last year, the Wombats seem to have developed a knack for rising to the occasion.
"Getting that monkey off the back that we probably felt in the last couple of years, you can prepare better each week and the boys don't feel as much pressure going into the games," Patrick said.
"When they turn up to training, they play a bit of touch and have a bit of fun at the start, but when I call them in they're ready to go.
"It's taken a couple of years to get to this point, but it's pleasing as a coach to see the boys switching on and showing that kind of commitment.
"I always explain to our boys that they're caretakers of our jersey till the next person comes along. We're actually putting a bit of honour into the jersey so guys are proud to play in it."
Meanwhile, Shoalhaven kept their season alive with a thrilling 32-31 road win over the Wollongong Vikings.
Shoalies ran in seven tries, all by the Brandon brothers. Mark Brandon chalked up a hat-trick and Steve and Keiran scored two each.
Shoalhaven are equal-fifth with Vikings but boast a far superior for and against differential.
Even if Shoalhaven lose to Avondale in the final round, they could still claim a finals berth if Vikings lose their season-ending home game against Uni.