Goannas coach Todd Edwards is hopeful Friday night's last-round encounter with Lakes at Cessnock Sportsground provides some much-needed momentum approaching the finals series.
This fixture will be just the third outing for Cessnock during a stop-start six-week period, having accounted for the Pickers a fortnight ago and met Wyong in a top-of-the-table clash on August 30.
Two byes, a postponed round and rescheduled draw mean the second-placed Goannas only have this hit out left before an elimination semi-final at Maitland Sportsground on either October 10 or 11.
"We've only had two games in six weeks so it's hard to get momentum," Edwards said.
"I thought we were flat against Maitland and we don't want to come out flat again. Semi-finals start for us tomorrow [Friday] and hopefully we've got three weeks left."
Cessnock (16) are two points behind Wyong (18), who meet Maitland on Saturday, and two in front of Wests (14), who have the bye. The Goannas have a better for-and-against record than both sides.
Joe Bromage (appendicitis) will be missing for Cessnock and has to be cleared for next weekend. Bachelorette contestant Joe Woodbury has been named for his third appearance of the 2020 season and Josh Charles is on the bench.
Lakes, who can't make the play-offs, have several players out but Steve Whitehead and Kyle Jones will make their debuts in the top grade.
"It gives those guys a reward for a good year in reserves and a chance to test themselves in first grade," Seagulls coach Robbie Payne said.
Lakes lost 32-10 to Cessnock at Cahill Oval on August 16. Kick-off is 8:15pm.
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