Sport

League makes finals change

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

The Picola and District Football Netball League finals structure will be altered for next season, with the league shifting to a five-week set-up.

While remaining in the traditional top eight format, the league’s amendments will mean the first round of finals are split across the two weekends.

The first weekend of finals will have elimination finals played, before the top four meet in qualifying finals the following weekend.

The traditional finals configuration will play out from there, stretching the length from four weeks to five.

League operations manager Shane Railton said the rationale behind the move was reducing the fixture congestion on the first weekend of the post-season.

‘‘The reason for it is with the top eight, we had two lots of finals on each day on the first weekend of finals,’’ he said.

‘‘We had to run elimination finals and qualifying finals all on the one weekend, and it was just a fixturing nightmare.

‘‘It also meant clubs had to travel to two different venues on the one day, so the extra week will allow for that to not happen.’’

The new format will mean semi-final clashes between elimination final winners and qualifying final losers will have the lower-ranked sides enter the do-or-die games fresh from a week off, facing sides having played the week before.

But Railton said the benefit of rest was overstated, with clubs preferring the momentum generated by a consecutive run of games.

‘‘If you go through the senior football finals from last year, Rennie had to play all the way through to get there,’’ he said.

‘‘A-grade netball was similar, because Deni played every week and won after getting rolled in the first week. The two senior premiers played every week.

‘‘There’s always that argument of if continually playing is an advantage, or if not playing and having a rest is an advantage.

‘‘Some of the requests we’ve had for the draw, a lot of sides playing finals don’t want breaks, they want to be playing consistently in the lead-up to finals.’’

In a sign the league has resumed normal service after affiliating with AFL Goulburn Murray for next season, its SportsTG website has been re-established, with the first handful of an expected wave of player clearances beginning to roll through.