BOTH Jamberoo and Gerringong have started the 2017 Group 7 season on fire, winning their opening five and four games of the season respectively.
But come Saturday afternoon at Michael Cronin Oval, only one of their unblemished records will still be intact.
Michael Cronin, coach of the reigning-premiers, who come into the encounter on the back of a 44-18 victory against Albion Park-Oak Flats, emphasised that Saturday is just another round game for his team – where he hopes they continue to improve as a unit.
“So far, we are travelling pretty well but we never try to get carried away with ourselves, especially this early in the season,” Cronin said.
“Being so early in the season, teams are still trying to find their grooves but no doubt Jamberoo will be a big challenge.
“All the top teams from last year seem to have lost a few players whereas Jamberoo seem to have bolstered their depth.”
The return of Lloyd Bowen to the Lions team two weeks was a huge bonus for the Lions and Cronin can’t speak highly enough about the forward.
“I didn’t expect to have Lloyd back this year but he’s a first grade footballer and has been for some time,” he said.
“He’s obviously been a large part of our recent premierships, with the past couple of season being his best in my opinion.
“He’s a player that all the young blokes, who don’t have much experience in the top grade look up to and can learn plenty from.”
With wet conditions expected, Cronin knows where the match will be won.
“With it looking like it’s going to rain, it’ll be up to our defence to be up to the mark and set the tone,” Cronin said.
“It’ll also be a good test for our younger blokes to step up and test themselves against one of the top teams in the Group.”
Opposite number Jono Dallas, the Superoos captain/coach, said it would be a good challenge for his troops at the weekend to see where they are at.
“We have a pretty good start to the season, winning all our opening games but there’s still a very long way to go,” Dallas said.
“None of our boys are concerned with our record or that fact we won last year’s corresponding fixture – their only worry is the game at hand this Saturday.
“Obviously we have some tough challenges such as Kiama and Nowra-Bomaderry on the road so far but this is without a doubt our biggest challenge yet.”
Dallas echoed Cronin’s thoughts – knowing the match would more than likely turn into a war of attrition.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve played some of the teams down the bottom of the ladder, managing to get solid early leads and cruise towards the end of the match,” he said.
“But this week, we need to show up with the same commitment and be ready for a full 80-minute battle.
“It will be up to our middles to stand up and deliver in the arm-wrestle.
“We know a lot of their play runs through hooker Nathan Ford, so we need to keep an eye on him, have plenty of numbers at the ruck and stay active.
“If we do that, I have confidence we can get the desired result.”
Kick-off is at 2.45pm.
This is the only Saturday game this week, with all other fixtures taking place on Sunday.
They include Warilla-Lake South hosting Albion Park-Oak Flats, Stingrays of Shellharbour taking on Milton-Ulladulla, Nowra-Bomaderry battling Berry-Shoalhaven Heads and Port Kembla entertaining Shellharbour City at Noel Mulligan Oval.
Kiama have the bye.