Albion Park coach Paul Carter has welcomed the challenge of battling a red-hot Wollongong Olympic outfit and says the blockbuster clash has come at the right time for his title hopefuls.
The White Eagles will host Olympic at Terry Reserve on Sunday in a what shapes as a curtain raiser to the upcoming Illawarra Premier League finals.
“I firmly believe we need this game,” Carter said.
“We have been battling teams recently that have different aspirations to these guys because of their position on the table.
“It’s important that we play a team with aspirations to win the grand final. I think we need it.
“Obviously we have already got a spot in the semis, but we shouldn’t need motivation for a game like this.”
Olympic (46 points) sit second on the ladder, but will make Park (42 points) in the first round of the post-season if the two clubs hold their position on the ladder.
Olympic are unbeaten in their past 15 league games heading into the round 20 encounter and have also claimed the Bert Bampton Cup during that run.
The White Eagles have had an undefeated streak of their own after last dropping the points in round 10. However, they face the most difficult end to the season of any club in the competition with matches against Olympic, ladder leaders Bulli and finals bound Wollongong United to come.
“It could be a real eye opener for us to see where we are at,” Carter said.
“If we can get a couple of results it will obviously give us a bit of confidence coming into the finals.
“I am proud of what we have achieved so far, but it’s far from over.
“I don’t just want us to go into the finals and make up the numbers.”
Park shared the points with both Olympic and United when they faced off in the first round while losing to Bulli.
Carter was absent from the sidelines for his squad's 1-1 draw with Olympic earlier in the campaign, but still knows what to expect from last season’s League Championship runners-up.
“They are powerful, confident and strong all over the park,” Carter said.
“If you want to succeed you have to beat these kind of teams, but you also need to give them the respect they deserve.
“They have threats all over the park and try to squeeze you into your own half and win the ball up the field to get their attacking opportunities, which we have to be wary of.”
Park are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw with Fernhill Foxes last weekend, but Carter expects his men to rebound from the frustrating display.
In other matches, Bulli can move one step closer to another League Championship when they face Cringila Lions on Saturday.
Wollongong United host South Coast United, Port Kembla play Fernhill and Picton Rangers meet the Tarrawanna Blueys.
On Sunday, Corrimal Rangers do battle with Woonona Sharks as the later look to edge clear of the relegation zone.