Oak Flats will use Saturday's Bampton Cup opener with Fernhill as a final tine-up ahead of this year's District League campaign.
The 2023 Bampton Cup will kick off this weekend with a revamped format, with the opening round to feature all 11 District League sides plus five Community League outfits. Illawarra Premier League sides will join the Cup at a later date.
The Falcons will take on fellow DL club Fernhill in round one at King Mickey Park. It shapes as a crucial outing for both teams, with the season proper to launch next weekend.
"It's always nice to win to start the season off before round one, but we're treating it just like another trial game. We'll work on combinations and get more minutes into the players' legs," Falcons co-coach Fabian Cappetta said.
"We've had quite a disrupted pre-season with injuries and work and family commitments, so we've had players in and out quite regularly. But we're quietly confident that we're getting there, with the ultimate goal of being fully prepared for round one against Gerringong.
"But it's good to take on another District League side (in the Cup). It can give you a good test of where you're at, or where you need to be, especially against someone like Fernhill. The talk is that they should be one of the title favourites, with the squad they have on paper."
Oak Flats have re-signed a key core of their squad ahead of this year's campaign, including Jarryd Vinton, Luke Day and Rhys Blanch, while bringing in the likes of ex-Port Kembla duo Bailey Fleming and Fabian Iacovelli.
"We've brought in quite a few new players to supplement the existing players from there last year," Capetta said.
"We're in a bit of a rebuilding phase, but we're confident that the guys we have brought in are fitting in well and will be very helpful to what we need to do, and to achieve our goals this season."
In the other round one Cup fixtures, Shellharbour will meet Oak Flats Kraken, the Wanderers will host Hill Top and Thirroul meets Picton on Saturday.
On Sunday, Dandaloo will host Gerringong, Berkeley Sports tackles University, Coledale Waves meet Unanderra and Balgownie battles Albion Park City.
Bampton Cup Draw:
Saturday, February 25:
King Mickey Park: Shellharbour v Oak Flats Kraken (12.30pm); Warilla Wanderers v Hill Top (2.30pm).
Keith Bond Oval: Oak Flats v Fernhill (2.30pm).
Thomas Gibson Oval: Thirroul v Picton Rangers (8pm).
Sunday, February 26:
Dandaloo Oval: Dandaloo v Gerringong (3pm).
Berekeley Sports: Berkeley Sports v University (2.30pm).
Judy Masters Oval: Coledale Waves v Unanderra (12.30pm); Balgownie v Albion Park City (2.30pm).