We've reached the business end of this year's District League season - and there are still lots of crucial things to be decided.
The race towards the championship is now a two-horse race, with Shellharbour and Fernhill vying for the title, while most of the 11 teams are still in the hunt to play finals in 2023. At the other end of the scale, there are a handful of sides who are fighting to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
With just two rounds remaining in the regular campaign, this weekend's action shapes as season-defining for the competition. We run the rule over every team's chances of playing finals in 2023:
SHELLHARBOUR (41 POINTS, +36 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
In February, the Mercury flagged Shellharbour as the favourites to win the league championship, and the club formerly known as Shell Cove are now within striking distance of that title.
It's been a superb season for Shellharbour under new coach Rod Williams, with the team already picking up 13 wins in 2023. There have been strong performers right across the board, with Corey Haines-Grose in particular proving deadly in the front third.
After finishing second last year, Harbour now just to win at least one of their remaining two games to all-but seal the minor premiership and a likely Premier League promotion.
Last two rounds: v Oak Flats (H), v Unanderra (A).
FINALS VERDICT: 100 per cent confirmed.
FERNHILL (39 POINTS, +33 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
The Foxes have shown great improvement in 2023, following a disappointing campaign last year which saw them miss the top-five.
Led by an experienced head in coach Dale White, Fernhill has been excellent this season, securing 12 victories so far. Former Oak Flats talent Kyle Del has been in red-hot form, while the likes of Mitchell Turner and David Kotrc have also been important for the Foxes.
Fernhill still remain a strong chance of claiming the premiership if they win their left two matches and other results go their way.
Last two rounds: v Unanderra (H), v Oak Flats (A).
FINALS VERDICT: They'll be there.
OAK FLATS (32 POINTS, +12 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
After finishing fourth in 2022, the Falcons have put together another strong campaign this year to secure back-to-back top-five finishes.
Favourite sons Nathan Minutillo and Fabian Cappetta returned to the club ahead of the 2023 season to lead a "rebuild", and the players have responded to the challenge. The side has picked up 10 wins so far during the campaign.
With two rounds remaining, the Falcons are in "no man's land" in terms of motivation - they can't rise any higher than their current position of third, and they can only fall to fourth at worst.
Last two rounds: v Shellharbour (A), v Fernhill (H).
FINALS VERDICT: Locked in.
BERKELEY SPORTS (32 POINTS, +2 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
The Goats are comfortably the District League's most improved side in 2023. After finishing 10th last year, the side could finish as high as third place by season's end.
Led by coaches Nicholas Purdevski and Christopher Lazarevski, Berkeley Sports have accumulated 10 victories to ensure that they will return to this year's finals. The likes of Daniel Treneski and Luke Boersma have proved important in their run of good form throughout the season.
Berkeley can't finish in the top two, but can leap-frog Oak Flats on the ladder in the last two rounds.
Last two rounds: v Gerringong (H), v Warilla (A).
FINALS VERDICT: The Goats are baaaaaaaack.
GERRINGONG (24 POINTS, +7 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
Last year's Community League champions said they were ready for promotion in the pre-season, and they have proven that they belong in the higher grade in 2023.
Brad Boardman's squad remains well in the hunt to clinch a top-five finish heading into the last fortnight after accumulating seven wins so far. As expected, the Hawker brothers - Josh and Zac - have proven crucial to their fortunes.
While they currently sit in fifth position, finals aren't assured yet for the Breakers, who face the third-placed Berkeley Sports this weekend before receiving a last-round bye.
Last two rounds: v Berkeley Sports (H), BYE.
FINALS VERDICT: They look a little vulnerable.
BALGOWNIE (24 POINTS, -8 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
After finishing eighth in 2022, Balgownie have put themselves in a position to return to finals - though they have been a rocks or diamonds side all season.
Luke Buckley's men, remarkably, haven't registered a draw in 2023, with the side claiming eight wins and suffering 10 losses during their District League campaign. Three of those defeats have come in the past month.
However, Bally's destiny remain in the hands heading into the last fortnight, with winnable games now on the horizon.
Last two rounds: v Thirroul (A), v University of Wollongong (H).
FINALS VERDICT: The Rangers can still swoop in.
UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG (21 POINTS, -8 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
The Students made the District League finals - and were one win away from a grand-final appearance - last season, but now face an uphill battle to repeat the dose.
UOW started their campaign in positive fashion and now sit in seventh position after securing six victories so far. However, they have endured a horror past month after dropping their last three games.
They will give themselves every chance of beating Picton this weekend, however, their season could be decided by their last-round fixture with Bally.
Last two rounds: v Picton (H), v Balgownie (A).
FINALS VERDICT: It's going to be tough.
WARILLA WANDERERS (21 POINTS, -17 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
There wasn't a lot of hype surrounding Warilla in the pre-season, after finishing 11th in 2022, but the Wanderers have shown plenty of heart this season.
They set the tone early with gritty defeats to league powerhouses Shellharbour and Fernhill inside the opening month, and Steve Micevski's men have continued to improve throughout the campaign on their way to securing seven victories.
However, this weekend's bye has assured that Warilla won't play finals in 2023.
Last two rounds: BYE, v Berkeley Sports (H).
FINALS VERDICT: Not this year, but they can be proud of their campaign.
THIRROUL THUNDER (20 POINTS, -13 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
After finishing ninth in 2022, the Thunder have recorded six wins so far - the same amount as last year.
Garth Bowley's men lost to Fernhill last week, however, they had remained unbeaten in the three previous rounds to ensure they are finishing 2023 on a good note. The likes of Josh Bond and Brad Strudwick have proved important to their fortunes this season.
With two rounds left, Thirroul still remain an outside chance of playing finals, with the side a good shout at beating Balgownie and Picton in the last fortnight.
Last two rounds: v Balgownie (H), v Picton (A).
FINALS VERDICT: Unlikely, however, they have a pulse.
PICTON RANGERS (19 POINTS, -33 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
The Rangers could consider themselves unlucky to miss out on finals last year, but it's been a disappointing 2023 campaign for the Wollondilly club.
Picton were slow out of the blocks, losing their opening three games and shipping 18 goals in the process. However, they have recovered throughout the year to claim six victories, including their past two on the trot.
Mathematically, they might still be a chance of playing finals, but it's highly unlikely when they face UOW and Thirroul in the last two rounds.
Last two rounds: v University of Wollongong (A), v Thirroul (H).
FINALS VERDICT: Not this year.
UNANDERRA HEARTS (17 POINTS, -11 GOAL DIFFERENCE):
After winning the 2022 District League grand final, it's been a disastrous fall for Unanderra, who are now engaged in an active battle with Picton to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Hearts finished last year's regular campaign in fourth before really catching fire in the finals series. Following that truimph over Helensburgh in the decider, it's been tough going for Unanderra, who lost coach Rod Williams and several key players to rival clubs.
However, while they now sit at the foot of the ladder, there is still plenty to play for in the last two rounds for Adrian Hollingsworth's men, who are desperately hoping to leap-frog the Rangers into 10th spot.
Last two rounds: v Fernhill (A), v Shellharbour (H).
FINALS VERDICT: No, they need to focus on wooden-spoon scrap.
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