Coach David Tanchevski says it would be sad to see his Charlestown side or his former club Lambton Jaffas miss the Northern NSW NPL semi-finals given their performances through adversity this season.
At Lisle Carr Oval on Sunday, one team's finals chances could take a huge hit when they clash in the penultimate round.
Charlestown are third on 35 points, eight goals behind four-time defending premiers Edgeworth (35) and two points shy of leaders Maitland (37). Jaffas are fourth on 34 points, seven goals ahead of Weston (34) and two points better than Broadmeadow (32). All six teams remain in the race for finals and top spot, but that is likely to change this weekend.
Charlestown and Jaffas have defied the odds to stay in the fight. Jaffas have lost Bren Hammel, Andrew Pawiak, Michael Kantarovski, Nathan Verity and James Pendrigh to season-ending injuries. The Blues have lost Cameron Sullini and Musa Kamara, while Kane Goodchild, Scott Smith, Adam Hughes and Peter McPherson are sidelined.
Tanchevski said Goodchild was 50-50 to return on Sunday but the rest were out.
"I think our guys are just really together at the moment and they really want to play for each other," he said of their surge to third spot.
"That hunger to win is out there and guys like Rene [Ferguson] and Matt [Tull], Smithy and Goody, who have been long-term servants of the club, they want to win something together.
"Then the guys we've brought in, Riley [McNaughton], Tommy Smart and Kev Davison, they fit right into the culture and are there for the right reasons as well.
"Riley has been exceptional for us this year, and for me, he's been our most regular performer. Smarty always gives 100 per cent and Kev is the most underrated central defender in the comp.
"We've had a number of player who we needed to step up this year and they have, and that's why we are there."
Tanchevski, though, also admired the resilience of Jaffas, who he took to grand final victory in 2014.
"The Jaffas are similar to us," he said. "It would be sad to see either one of us miss out on the semis because we've been able to grind out results without having our full-strength team."
Also Sunday, Maitland can book their finals spot and put one hand on the premiership with victory over Rosebud at Adamstown Oval.
Adamstown, locked in a three-way battle on 11 points to avoid the wooden spoon, play their final match of the season. The other two sides on 11 points, Lake Macquarie and Valentine, meet at Macquarie Field on Sunday.
On Saturday, Edgeworth welcome Weston at Jack McLaughlan Oval in another match crucial to the finals and premiership races.
Also Saturday, defending champions Broadmeadow host the Jets Youth from 5pm at Magic Park. Depending on other results, Broadmeadow could effectively drop out of the top-four battle if they lose.