Shellharbour coach Michael Coate admits the Suns will have to be just about perfect to keep hopes of a top-four finish alive.
They’re two games and percentage behind Figtree and take on the Wollongong Bulldogs in a crucial AFL South Coast showdown on Saturday.
With a rebuilt squad, Coate is encouraged by the Suns progress this year, winning two quarters in a 51-point loss to unbeaten premiers Wollongong Lions.
But where Figtree have been unable to claim a big scalp, Coate is banking on Shellharbour landing a blow on the “big three” of the league.
“If we can knock off the Dogs, it will keep us in contention,” he said.
“A lot has had to change for us this season, but it’s starting to come together.
“We lost some players and just had to remodel out structures and become more team orientated.
“Which is a good thing in long run, but like any club, it can take a bit of time.”
The Suns have introduced a number of talented teenagers into first grade, including Mitch Riley and Michael Stanton, while NSW-ACT Rams and Swans Academy player Harry Cooper is a star of the future. Shellharbour have added some experience this year by recruiting Mitch Lamb and Ben Telford from Coate’s former club Belconnen in Canberra.
Elsewhere, Figtree face another big test, against Kiama at Bonaira Oval, while the Lions can make it 10 in a row this year by overpowering Northern Districts.
In the AFL South Coast Women’s competition, Bomaderry and the Lions meet in a top-of-the-table showdown, while third-placed Wollongong Saints meet fifth-placed Wollongong Bulldogs.
In the AFL Sydney Women’s division one, the Wollongong Saints meet North Shore at North Dalton Park (1pm).
AFL SOUTH COAST
KIAMA v FIGTREE at Bonaira Oval
NORTHERN DISTRICTS v WOLLONGONG LIONS at Hollymount Park
SHELLHARBOUR v WOLLONGONG BULLDOGS at Myimbarr Oval