Despite having recorded comfortable victories in the opening two rounds, Terrigal-Avoca captain-coach Chris Bishop knows fellow unbeaten side Cardiff will provide the Panthers with their toughest test yet in 2019.
Terrigal-Avoca, who have featured in the last seven Black Diamond Cup deciders and claimed four titles, racked up 334 points and conceded 40 in recent wins over Singleton (190-19) and Gosford (144-21).
Now the Panthers meet the Hawks at Hylton Moore Oval on Saturday and Bishop knows it will be a step up.
"We've obviously had a couple of good games, but this will be a good test for us," Bishop said.
The experienced mentor has been particularly impressed by the form of Terrigal-Avoca's younger brigade such as Jack Grimmond, Lachlan White and Sam Ellis.
"The kids have stood out," Bishop said.
"A lot of them were our under 18s three years ago and now they are making their way in the top grade.
"Even though there's still a few old heads around, it's definitely a different team.
"We're running the ball a bit better and there's good incentive to get to training.
"A few guys who won the reserve grade premiership in reserves last year haven't missed a game in firsts."
The Panthers are missing Jai Turner, Jarrad Flint and Nathan Belbin. They are replaced by Brandon Thomas, Corbin Bond and Will Delahunty.
Cardiff have accounted for Killarney Vale and Maitland so far in 2019 but welcome back four first-choice players this weekend, including skipper Bryce Graetz.
Reigning champions Newcastle City and Warners Bay are the other undefeated teams and they visit Nelson Bay and Killarney Vale respectively.
The Blues are bolstered by fullback Luke Rawnsley, debutant Isaac King, centre half Cam Keast and forward Cade Triffitt.
Elsewhere in round three Maitland are away to Gosford and Singleton visit Wyong Lakes.
Meanwhile, Wyong Lakes coach Michael Solomons was handed a three-week suspended sentence after being found guilty of umpire abuse at Wednesday night's judiciary hearing.