League farewells weekly bye

By Tyler Maher

The fixture for the Murray Football Netball League looks slightly different for next season.

Cobram will face a fierce examination early in its season, taking on premiers Nathalia in round one, before squaring off against its old sparring partner and grand-finalist Barooga on Easter Saturday in round 3.

The league released its plan for next year during the week and although former Picola District Football Netball League clubs Tungamah and Katandra remain, Shepparton East has left the competition.

The Eagles are still awaiting a place to land next year, but what it means for the Murray league is that last season’s weekly bye has been removed with 14 teams battling it out each round.

Campaigns of the respective outfits will start on April 6 — except for the Bears and Mulwala as they play in a standalone Sunday fixture the next day in an attempt to maximise crowds for the traditional derby.

Rivalry matches and crowd maximisation are two themes which remain prominent during the draw as old foes face each other twice and the Easter weekend remains a jam-packed affair.

Five matches will be played on Good Friday, while the local blockbuster will be played on Easter Saturday.

Tungamah and Katandra will also face-off on the Saturday, but the match will be hosted at Mulwala’s Lonsdale Reserve as part of a trilogy of fixtures across the long weekend.

Mulwala hosts Congupna on Good Friday, with Ovens and Murray Football Netball League opponents Yarrawonga and Wangaratta playing each other at the ground on Easter Sunday.

Members of Mulwala, Tungamah and Yarrawonga will receive entry into all three days of action for free.

A pair of general byes remain in the fixture for next season — on May 18 for the AFL Community Championships clash against Wimmera and the Vic Country match on July 13 — while round 16 will be split over the first two weekends in August.

The home-and-away season will culminate on August 24, with a final eight system again set to be implemented next year after it was brought in with the expansion of the league at the start of the most recent campaign.

Grand final day has been locked in for September 21, with all finals venues likely to be announced before the season begins.