Merewether coach Cassandra Koppen described United's clash with South Wallsend on Sunday as "a must-win" game.
When the back-to-back champions host the Herald Women's Premier League encounter at Myamblah Oval it will be the first time they have met since the second-placed Wolves delivered Merewether a club-low 9-0 defeat on April 21.
United were without several key players that day due to injury and unavailability but Koppen has a full-strength outfit for this weekend.
"It's time to stop making excuses," Koppen said. "If we want to be one of the last two teams standing this year then we have to start winning games, full stop."
Merewether slipped to outright fourth and slipped three points adrift of Warners Bay, third with 27 points, after a 3-2 loss to the Panthers last round. South Wallsend, 28 points, drew 1-1 with unbeaten leaders New Lambton (37) to become the first team to take points of the Eagles this season.
"Now is the time for players to start proving their worth for finals positions," Koppen said. "If we don't start knocking off these top teams then we will be in a battle for fourth place."
South Wallsend will be missing key personnel on Sunday. Koby Ferguson sustained a season-ending knee injury against New Lambton, Kirstyn Antoni is unavailable and Gaby Deacon is sidelined with a fractured foot.
They still have plenty of experience and talent across the park but coach Cas Wright was expecting a tough battle.
"They'll obviously come at us quite hard after the recent loss and they've also got a point to prove that they're the reigning champions, so they've got to get back into their groove," Wright said.
"They seem to step up in these situations and we're very mindful of that. We just need to stick to our plan and do what we know best.
"For us, it's just making sure the girls understand that they have worked really hard to get where they are and to back themselves. It's believing in themselves that they've got this far with key players out and making sure we can keep the momentum going."
The match brings to a close the second of three rounds in the league. It will also be the first of three in eight days for South Wallsend and fifth-placed Wallsend (18).
The Red Devils are away to Adamstown on Sunday then host the Wolves at Wallsend Oval Wednesday night.
Jets player Libby Copus-Brown made her return from injury in Wallsend's 4-2 win over Mid North Coast last round. Wallsend's leading scorer is returning from a broken foot and played 20 minutes from the bench. Jones hoped to get a half out of Copus-Brown against Rosebud.
Warners Bay travel to Port Macquarie to play Mid North Coast and Thornton are at home to New Lambton. All games are Sunday at 2.30pm.