The Illawarra Steelers SG Ball Cup side are just a point off the competition lead with four rounds remaining, after a comprehensive 22-6 away victory over South Sydney in round five last weekend.
The Steelers under 18s made it four wins from five games with a four-tries-to-one triumph over the previously unbeaten Souths and are well placed for a top four finish in the nine round competition.
Illawarra will be expected to beat the 12th-placed Western Sydney at WIN Stadium on Saturday, with Western Sydney having just one win and two draws from the first five rounds.
Penrith (nine points) lead the SG Ball Cup with four wins and a draw. The Roosters, Steelers and Rabbitohs are on eight points.
In other round five SG Ball Cup results, Manly beat premiers Balmain 46-10, Western Sydney Academy and St George drew 30-30, West Coast Pirates and Central Coast drew 38-38, Penrith beat the Roosters 20-16, Newcastle thrashed Canterbury 40-6, the Storm beat Norths 32-18, Wests belted Cronulla 42-16 and Parramatta edged out Canberra 28-26.
Meanwhile, Illawarra's under 16 Harold Matthews Cup team are battling to make the top-eight playoffs following a 36-6 loss to the Rabbitohs.
The Steelers (2-3) slipped to 11th and need to beat the 10th-placed Academy at home on Saturday to keep their finals hopes alive.
In the other round five matches, Manly beat Balmain 16-12, Western Sydney Academy beat St George 34-10, South West Academy beat Central Coast 44-24, The Roosters and leaders Penrith drew 24-24, Newcastle beat Canterbury 22-20, Melbourne beat Norths 16-14, Cronulla defeated Wests 22-16 and premiers Parramatta beat Canberra 26-18.
The 18-team SG Ball and Matthews Cup competitions feature nine rounds before a top-eight semi-finals series.