Northern Districts and Shellharbour will hold pre-game cultural ceremonies as part of the national indigenous round on Saturday.
The Tigers and Suns are locked in a battle with Bomaderry, with only two of the three clubs able to qualify for the new six-team top-tier format which begins after the long weekend bye.
Shellharbour and Bomaderry will start raging favourites against Nowra-Albatross and Port Kembla respectively, but Northern Districts are four points ahead of both teams. Northern Districts meet Wollongong Bulldogs, desperate to at the very least cling to some of their almost 18 per cent advantage on the ladder to qualify ahead of Bomaderry, who they beat by 15 points last Saturday.
“We know it’s a huge game and the Dogs will be tough to beat,” Tigers president Pat Woodley said. “We want to win, but we are aware of the ladder situation, we want to be in the top six. It’s a big day for the club, we have a number of great indigenous players and want to celebrate their culture before the game.”
Shellharbour will take renewed confidence of being a top-tier force after pushing unbeaten premiers Wollongong Lions on Saturday.
Scott McAndrew kicked three, as Mitch Bates and Harrison Cooper helped them fight back from a six-goal early deficit. Figtree will raise funds for Beyond Blue in their game against second-placed Kiama.
Meanwhile, Wollongong Saints goal ace Rylee McGartland has been named in a GWS Giants development squad to play next week.