Wests will "throw everything" at a final-round showdown with Collegians next week, but Dapto will be running around in a dead rubber after Corrimal notched their first win in two seasons to send the Canaries out of the final race with a whimper.
After a dismal 1-7 start to the season, the Canaries kicked a finals fairytale into gear with four straight wins, including heavyweight scalps Thirroul, Wests and Collegians heading into last week's clash with De La Salle.
De La halted the run, but the Canaries were pronounced favourites to knock off Corrimal on Saturday and set-up a fourth-placed playoff with Thirroul in the final round.
The Cougars had other ideas, conceding the first try before running in five back to back, before bagging another late to notch a breakthrough win 36-18 at Ziems Park.
Fourth-placed Thirroul went down in game fashion to the Devils on Saturday, leaving the Canaries still just one win adrift with a game to play, but with a differential almost 200 points worse than the Butchers, the Canaries campaign is effectively over.
It was a dramatic penultimate round with De La Salle going top of the table with a 24-6 win over Collegians, with the Dogs now vulnerable to dropping out of the top two should they lose to Wests in the final round.
Tech Waratahs 38 def. Bowral 29
Campbelltown Halequins 43 def. Shamrocks 27
University 43 def. Camden 29
It was as if the script had been written just for the occasion.
Just moments after the referee blew the whistle to signal the end of the Illawarra rugby match between Avondale and Kiama, a rainbow appeared over Avondale Rugby Park.
The sign of hope and new beginnings couldn't come at a better time for a Wombats outfit playing their first match in almost six weeks due to four teams forfeiting matches against the Dapto-based club.
But on a cold and wet day Avondale refused to allow the wet-weather or their red-hot opponents Kiama to rain on their parade, scraping by to win 24-22 on Saturday.
Shellharbour Sharks 40 def. Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs 16
Warilla-Lake South Gorillas 26 def. Jamberoo Superoos 24
Kiama Knights 38 def. Berry-Shoalhaven Heads 16
Gerringong Lions 42 def. Albion Park-Oak Flats Eafles 8
A last-round blockbuster Shellharbour derby could decide the winner of the Group Seven rugby league minor premiership following results in round 16 action on the weekend.
Shellharbour Sharks and the Stingrays of Shellharbour recorded impressive wins on Sunday to have them on track to finish first past the post in the regular season, with just two rounds left before the finals start.
The Sharks had little trouble securing their 10th win on the trot, beating Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs 40-16 at Bill Andriske Oval.
The Stingrays though had a tougher time of things at Flinders Field against the high-flying Nowra-Bomaderry Jets.
Tom Warner's men prevailed 28-14 in the end but the visiting Jets were always within striking distance of downing the Stingrays for a second time this season.
Cringila 3 def. Corrimal 0
Wollongong United 1 def. South Coast United 0
Wollongong Olympic 4 def. Tarrawanna 2
Bulli 6 def. Bellambi 0
Port Kembla 1 def. Coniston 0
The Zebras remain in the hunt for a long-awaited Premier League finals return after claiming a hard-fought 1-0 win over Coniston on Saturday.
In a wet but fiery affair at JJ Kelly Park, Marco Pennisi's goal early in the second stanza proved the difference as the visitors claimed a crucial victory.
The equation was simple heading into the third-last round for the eighth-placed Zebras - they needed to win to keep their chance of reaching finals alive. Port had the majority of scoring opportunities, but only required to one goal to take down Coniston, who were sorely missing key players Daniel Lowe and Jason Zufic.
The Zebras will now meet Cringila and Helensburgh in the last two rounds of the regular season. If they are successful in sneaking into the top five, it will be the first time that Port have made the IPL's first-grade finals since 2018.
"We need to keep winning, we don't have a choice, and we have to rely on some other results," Port striker Oli Carrasco told the Mercury.
"We knew it was going to be a physical game but we just had to compete, and we knew our chances would come. And I think we were unlucky not to win by more to be honest. But the boys are feeling pretty good."
Albion Park 6 def. Helensburgh 2
The White Eagles are the Premier League's newly-minted premiers, after grabbing an unassailable lead at the top of the table by trouncing Helensburgh 6-2 on Saturday.
Heading into the third-last round of the 2023 regular season, Albion Park had accumulated 47 competition points and held a nine-point advantage over their nearest rivals Cringila.
It meant that George Antoniou's men simply needed at least a draw in round 20 - or in the ensuing final two rounds of the competition - to raise the silverware. Instead, they did it in emphatic fashion at Rex Jackson Oval on Saturday.
"It feels unbelievable, mate. It's been a long, tough year and I'm so proud of the boys and the club. It's really satisfying," Albion Park coach George Antoniou said.
"Where the club was last year, we just wanted to improve on last year and our goal was always semi-finals - and anything above that would be a bonus. But as the season went on, our goals changed a little bit and got a bit higher, and this was our target towards the end."
Figtree Kangaroos 12.16 (88) def. Wollongong Bulldogs 7.7 (49)
Northern Districts Tigers 18.26 (134) def. Kiama Power 2.1 (13)
Shellharbour Suns 11.10 (70) def. Wollongong Lions 7.4 (52)
It's been a long time between drinks, but Shellharbour will be back in the Men's Premier Division finals this year.
One week after Northern Districts booked their ticket to finals, the Suns followed suit after claiming a 11.10 (70) to 8.4 (52) victory over the Wollongong Lions at Myimbarr Oval on Saturday.
It is the first time that Shellharbour's men's side have made the AFL South Coast finals series since 2017.
"I'm so proud of the young players and the club. Our whole core is local juniors, so that's a big tribute to the club and the work that they put into their junior program and transitioning them," Suns playing-coach Dan Posch told the Mercury.
"To be part of the group that gets the club back into finals is a good feeling."
Re-signing their coach and a 3-1 win against Manly in the league. You couldn't ask for a better week than that for the Wolves.
Samuel Riak had the easiest of finishes for his first goal in Wolves colours to open the scoring before Lachlan Scott continued his rich vein of form with a header to make it 2-0 against United.
The game was put on its head however in the second half when substitute and former A-League player Matt Sim came onto the pitch to score and make it 2-1.
Jake Trew was brought down in the box late on however and Chris McStay made no mistake to finish the game off for 3-1.
It was a positive week off the field for the Wolves with Carney re-signing to the club for next season.
Wolves left back Walter Scott said post-game that the team were extremely happy to get the win off the back of their coach re-signing.
"It's sort of settled all the boys," he said.
"A few of the guys have been in talks to move forward and it's been really settling for the lads. It's been wicked [playing under Carney]. Former Socceroos left-back, it's a dream for me. Teaching me things I never knew and it's been awesome for my development."
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