Sport

Murray League settles on venues for finals

By Tyler Maher

Most of the Murray Football Netball League finals schedule has been locked in as the culmination of the season quickly approaches.

The grand final venue remains up in the air at this stage, but last year’s host Rumbalara is still in the running to take care of proceedings once more.

‘‘We’re still talking to a couple of clubs and we hope to make a decision at Monday night’s executive meeting,’’ league general manager Dale Norman said.

‘‘Rumba are definitely still in that discussion.

‘‘We hope to be able to announce the venue by early next week.’’

With a top eight system being used this year, more finals will be played in September than in previous seasons.

It also means much more work has gone into the draw in order to keep finals as close together as possible to help clubs with travel between venues on the same day and weekend.

‘‘We tried to make sure the venues are close to each other so people can get to other games,’’ Norman said.

‘‘We will also help subsidise the cost, especially for the first weekend, with anyone able to pay entry to one game and get a pass out to go to the others.’’

The first matches will take place across the weekend of September 1 and 2, with games at Deniliquin (first against fourth) and Finley (second against third) on the Saturday and Sunday elimination finals at Nathalia (fifth against eighth) and Tongala (sixth against seventh).

The Finley fixture will be a night match, the first final in the league to be played under lights since 2013, while the Tongala senior game will be live-streamed.

‘‘We will be live-streaming the Tongala game on the first weekend,’’ Norman said.

‘‘That will be so those who cannot attend the game or are at the other game that day can log in and watch it online.’’

All football games at Finley will start four hours after the usual scheduled time, while the netball matches will take place three hours later than normal.

On the second weekend of September, Mulwala will host a Saturday final and Congupna a Sunday fixture.

The preliminary finals will be played at Rumbalara (Saturday) and Echuca United (Sunday), with the grand final locked in for Saturday, September 22.

The final eight system will work the same way as the AFL finals, with the winners of the qualifying finals booking their spot straight into a preliminary fixture and the losers receiving a double chance.

For example, the winner of the first elimination final (fifth against eighth) will take on the loser of the first and fourth clash in the second week of finals, before the winner of that fixture crosses the draw to take on the winner of the second against third match.