It promised to be a big year for Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles and the team they meet on Sunday, the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas.
But both the home-side Eagles and the reigning Group Seven rugby league premiers Warilla, have their fair share of issues heading into their round 12 stoush at Centenary Field.
Plenty of good things have happened off the field for Albion Park celebrating their centenary year.
But on the field the Eagles have struggled for consistency and have won only two and drawn one of their 10-games to date.
At times the James Hooper-coached outfit have looked like world-beaters, especially in their thrilling comeback victory over the Gerringong Lions.
But on other occasions, despite looking good and putting themselves in winning positions, have more often than not found ways to lose games.
This has also been an issue for the Gorillas. But the champions biggest issues have been ill-discipline, which have led to suspension of key players such as Tyrone Roberts, and a mounting injury toll which shows no signs of abating.
Despite this though Warilla still found a way to win only their fourth game of the season last week against Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies.
The win pleased Gorillas coach Troy Grant who praised his team's resilience in what has been a difficult season.
"The mood's been great considering what the boys have had to go through," he said. "The amount of injuries we've had, the mood and the attitude's been amazing. I couldn't be more proud of the boys."
The amount of injuries we've had, the mood and the attitude's been amazing. I couldn't be more proud of the boys.- Warilla-Lake South Gorillas coach Troy Grant
Grant added the last-start win was a deserved reward for the players, who continue to give their all in training and games, despite suffering setback after setback
"We got a win, and we're playing busted. We lost two more players from the weekend but I can't fault the attitude or commitment of the players," he said.
"It's disappointing and frustrating losing players to injuries but the guys' attitude has been tremendous, everyone is staying positive and working hard in training and in games.
"I couldn't be prouder of the boys, their attitude has been outstanding.
'It's been tough times, we get two players back from injury but then lose four. It's been frustrating but what's pleasing is our players' resolve to keep going and working hard for each other."
The coach said while it was good to get back to winning ways last week and Warilla would love to play finals football again, it would be difficult to achieve this season.
He said the Gorillas needed to just concentrate on their next opponent, adding the Eagles were a good side out of luck, just like Warilla.
"They've been very unlucky in some games. It's going to be tough on Sunday, just as it is every time we play Albion Park," Grant said.
Meantime the pick of the games this weekend is the top-of-the-table clash between Gerringong Lions and Stingrays at Michael Cronin Oval on Saturday.
Shellharbour Sharks also hosts Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies on Saturday, while Nowra-Bomaderry Jets play Jamberoo Superoos and Kiama Knights battle Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs on Sunday.
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