ILLAWARRA RUGBY UNION
The Wollongong Vikings are playing for fifth spot in today's season-ending home clash with University.
Not only do the Blueys have to beat fourth-placed Uni, they need minor premiers Avondale to nail Shoalhaven, who are sharing fifth spot with the Blueys. Vikings have their noses in front based on their wins.
"There's a lot of talk about the points and what not, but we've always gone into this game wanting to win, simply because we want to keep momentum going into the finals," Vikings co-coach Mark Foster said.
"Uni are in a position where they've made the semi-finals and they'll also want to take momentum into the semis, especially after their big loss to Avondale.
"Hopefully we'll be just a little bit more desperate and want that win a little more than they do."
Vikings blew a chance to secure a finals berth with last week's 32-31 home loss to Shoalhaven.
The Blueys trailed by more than 20 points before finally clicking into gear in the second half.
"We can't have the slow start we had against Shoalhaven," Foster said.
"We played fantastic in the second half, some of the best football we've played all year, and we scored six tries. If we can take that form into this weekend's game, dominate up front and give our backs some quality ball, we'll give ourselves a chance.
"Uni play a good style of rugby, not too dissimilar to Shoalhaven. They like to play an open style and they have good players in key positions."
If Vikings win and Avondale beat Shoalies, the Blueys will meet Uni in next week's elimination final.
"All going well, we get to play them two weeks in a row, but first things first," Foster said.
"We have to make sure we assure ourselves of a spot in the semis, and then we'll worry about what happens after that.
"You don't know if Avondale might switch off because they have the minor premiership sewn up, but knowing [coach] James [Patrick], that's doubtful. He'll have them trying to fire through to the semis and really put a stamp on the season.
"We just have to worry about what we're doing."
Avondale have such a superior for and against points differential on Camden that they would still claim the minor premiership even if they lose to Shoalhaven.
But Patrick would hate to see his side's five-game win streak broken.
"It's important to finish the season on a good note, otherwise it's like a bad start to the semi-finals," he said.
"Everyone going into the finals will be looking to go in with a win, and if you focus all your energies on one team, you're bound to fall over somewhere. It's such a tight comp. I love it.
"Shoalies will approach it like it's a grand final."
Meanwhile, the Woonona Shamrocks should beat wooden spooners Kiama and clinch third spot.