Belief is growing in the Illawarra camp that they can claim a victory in tomorrow's Sydney T20 double-header and likely book a spot in the quarter-finals.
Illawarra beat Parramatta on debut and face St George tomorrow morning at Hurstville Oval, before an afternoon clash with Phil Jaques' Sutherland at Glenn McGrath Oval.
Illawarra and Newcastle have joined the 20 Sydney grade clubs in an expanded T20 competition, with teams playing three pool games and the top eight advancing to the qualifying finals on November 24.
Dapto skipper Michael Stephenson took five catches and two stumpings for Illawarra in a stunning 30-run win over Parramatta and believes the new boys can upset St George.
"We're not sure what team St George will put out, but with our batting and the confidence from beating Parramatta, we can beat them," Stephenson said.
"We always thought we could match it with the Sydney teams but to have a win first-up just instils that extra bit of confidence."
Having defended a modest 6-127 against Parramatta, Stephenson said there was plenty of room for improvement.
"With our depth of batting we can bat better.
"Jono [Cook] bats top order for Keira and he's like No 9 for Illawarra.
"I bat top three for my club and depending what Dean [Merola, Illawarra coach] wants to do I might be down to bat around seven or eight.
"Knowing we've the depth to bat right down is important in T20 and our bowlers really stepped up against Parramatta."
Illawarra's NSW Country all-rounder Cameron Belshaw will have to pass a fitness test on a quad injury to take his place.
If Belshaw is forced out, Wests Illawarra teenager Oscar Oborn-Corby, who took 2-15 against Parramatta, will retain his spot.
Tomorrow's clash against St George starts at 10am, with Illawarra handed no favours by competition officials and left to race across to Glenn McGrath Oval for game two at 2.30pm.
St George skipper Chris MacDougal looms as the dangerman after blasting 33 off 15 balls in their win over North Sydney. St George posted 8-149, then restricted Norths to 5-139.
Sutherland skipper Phil Jaques, who as a 17-year-old blasted a century for Wests in an Illawarra premiership final, will be the key wicket in game two.
The former Test opener made 55 as Sutherland chased down Gordon's 8-136 with seven balls and five wickets to spare.