Manly veteran Kieran Foran has tempered talk his side is a dark horse for the title by conceding their recent purple patch has come against teams below them on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
The Sea Eagles have gone from cellar dwellers to destroyers in the last three months, most recently piling on scores of 50, 56 and 66 against the Cowboys, Titans and Bulldogs.
After a string of defeats over the opening month of the season, Des Hasler's side has been on an upward trajectory. They're now fifth, four points adrift of the top four.
A favourable run home, which includes just two of their next nine games against sides currently in the top four, makes the Sea Eagles at a realistic chance of securing a double chance in the finals.
Hasler's side will meet Melbourne and Parramatta in rounds 21 and 22 after matches against the Raiders, Dragons, Wests Tigers and Sharks.
"If we can build nicely into those games [against Melbourne and Parramatta], strengthen the combinations and in the way we want to play, we'll get a good test and form guide into where we're at heading into the end of the year," Foran said.
"It's been an impressive month of footy for us but If we're being realistic we haven't played any of the sides above us in the past month.
"We'll get a good gauge into where we're at compared to sides that are flying above us."
Foran is enjoying his homecoming this season despite missing a fortnight with a fractured hand and being part of the side' first four losses to start the year.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Sea Eagles
The 225-game veteran turns 31 next week and with that hopes to stick around on the northern beaches in 2022.
"I'm really enjoying my footy at the moment," Foran said.
"The body is feeling good. I'm trying to continue to build on my own form while playing a role for the side.
"As long as we keep winning and we're playing some good footy hopefully the club will want to keep me around a bit longer."
The Sea Eagles face a challenge against the Raiders without the services of Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic due to State of Origin commitments.
Canberra aren't unscathed, with key playmaker Jack Wighton (NSW) and Josh Papalii (Queensland) absent due to Origin selection.
"The form DCE and Turbo have been in has been something else," Foran said.
"The touch Turbo is in I've never seen before. It's scary to think what sort of player he can become if he keeps climbing the way he is."