A stunning first-half strike from Mitchell Scazzeriello guided Port Kembla to a gritty 1-0 win over Wollongong Olympic on Saturday.
The attacking midfielder fired from long range into the top corner to secure a valuable three points for the defending champions.
It saw Port move into solo fifth on the ladder and gave them a substantial boost on their finals rivals who failed to pick up wins elsewhere.
Both South Coast United and Tarrawanna had draws on Saturday.
"With them drawing it sort of helps us out a little bit but we just have to go on with it now and look after ourselves over the next few weeks," Port coach Stuart Beedie said.
Port are locked in a battle with the Blueys, South Coast and Albion Park White Eagles for the last two finals spots.
A mid-season resurgence has seen the defending premiers move right back into the finals fray.
They were dominant again on Saturday and were rewarded with Scazzeriello's first goal of the campaign after injury derailed much of his early season.
Beedie said the crucial goal would provide a boost for the attacker's confidence leading into the business end of the season.
"Anyone that scores from the midfield like he does, if they are not scoring, they start putting pressure on themselves," he said.
"He had another couple of chances and was getting in good positions which was pleasing."
Port's win was soured by the late sending off of Karouna Micheal.
The defensive midfielder received his second yellow card for what the referee deemed to be simulation in the 80th minute.
It made for a nervous final 10 minutes for Port.
"We played pretty well," Beedie said.
"It was pleasing to get a clean sheet again. They have a lot of big guys in their side like [Justin] Potter and Jake Duczynski that are always a threat from set pieces. I think we defended them well."
In other matches on Saturday, Tarrawanna held Wollongong United to a 0-0 draw and South Coast United shared the spoils with Woonona, 1-1.
Fernhill picked up what may prove to be a crucial point in a 1-1 draw with Cringila while Bulli accounted for Bellambi 3-1.
On Sunday, Dapto Dandaloo Fury defeated Albion Park 3-0.