Camden Rams' hopes on knife-edge: Brendan Schoupp

Brendan Schoupp (centre)

Brendan Schoupp (centre)

Camden coach Brendon Schoupp is the first to admit the defending champions face a steep climb to repeat last year's success.

The Rams broke an 18-year premiership drought for the club with last season's grand final win over Avondale.

But after starting their 2014 campaign strongly, Camden have lost three of their past five games.

Last week they went down 22-19 at home to Kiama, slipping to fifth spot with five games to go.

A loss to hosts University on Saturday could bury their chances of playing in the post-season.

"We have some really important weeks coming up that will make or break our year; whether we finish in the top four or just miss out," Schoupp said.

"We've put ourselves in this position and the boys are still positive about moving forward.

"A top four is a lot different to a top five - at this stage it's probably going to come down to us and Kiama for that fourth spot.

"We play very similar to Kiama and it will probably come down to who stands up against the better teams.

"I'm a big believer in the theory that if you're going to play semi-final football you need to be competitive against all the teams.

"We play Uni then Avondale in the coming weeks and we need to be very competitive or beat those teams."

Schoupp knows that knocking off Uni and Avondale is a lot easier said than done.

Avondale are unbeaten, while Uni's only two losses were to Avondale.

"This is a great opportunity against Uni. They're one of the top two teams," he said.

"We have to start winning and see where the cards fall at the end of the day.

"We've got one of the stronger teams we've put on the park this year. In saying that, Uni are a very good club so we're going to have to be on the money."

The Rams haven't played with the purpose that drove them to last year's glory though they lost key players during the representative period.

"Our rep players have been away for a lot longer than they were last year and that's hurt us, but that's not an excuse because we've lost games with the rep players in," Schoupp said.

"We've let ourselves down at certain times with a lack of commitment but they're all back together now and we've had a good week this week.

"Everyone is rating Uni, so we'll certainly see where we're at."

Kiama are tipped to beat Shoalhaven easily, Woonona will be confident against Bowral and the Wollongong Vikings will be wary of Tech Waratahs.