CRICKET: Five teams into four places won't work and round 13 of SCCA Division 1 fixtures could provide certainty for the remaining contenders unless premiers Gympie can continue an end-of-season fightback.
The Gold was in the doldrums at Christmas, win-less in the first four one-dayers, but the new year has brought no defeats.
It has shown class with a tie and a draw against competition leaders Caboolture and now sits at second.
Round 13 will be the last chance for points, as Gympie has the final bye, with rivals Maroochydore, Tewantin and Glasshouse close behind.
This makes the weekend's clash with the Rangers so important, as a loss or draw will be fatal to the Gold's hopes.
Winning value - especially outright - is needed, as Glasshouse is the side Gympie is most likely to remove from the four.
For the Rangers, losing could be terminal, giving points to the Gold before a last-round meeting with Caboolture.
The past decade reads 7-3 to the Snakes in such games, a record surprisingly respectable in 10 years of Caboolture supremacy but still not pushing Glasshouse to favouritism.
Without weather influence and upset results, the loser at the Rangers' home should miss out.
Tewantin-Noosa sits fifth but has a favourable draw in playing lower-placed Caloundra, then Nambour to finish.
The Thunder, now lacking pre-Christmas momentum, would expect to get the points against both and could even earn a home final, its first since 1998, with two wins.
This leaves Maroochydore and a hot Caboolture to face-off, where the home team is struggling to fire in the top order.
Injury, absence and poor form have forced Gerald Flegler to move positions toooften, yet the talent is there.
Maroochydore has the benefit of a last-round fixture at Caloundra but would love to fire ahead of the finals.
Perhaps the Swans can take inspiration from the imminent 500th wicket for Shane Newton, who moved within one of the feat last Saturday and will become just the fourth member of a club comprising Fred Hatchman, Errol Young and Ian Gibson, now legends of Coast cricket.
However against Caboolture, every wicket is hard-fought.