FOUR Warrnambool and District Football Netball League clubs are set to kick off the 2019 season before their rivals in a revamped fixture released by AFL Western District on Friday.
Timboon Demons play Panmure and Kolora-Noorat will host Dennington in round three Easter weekend fixtures, which have been brought forward to be played before round one on March 30 for the clubs involved.
Merrivale and Old Collegians will continue their traditional Good Friday match. East Warrnambool will host Russells Creek at Reid Oval, where it will continue to play all of its home games, and Nirranda will take on South Rovers in a reduced Easter weekend of games.
Round one will be headlined by the grand final rematch between the Warriors and Blues.
WDFNL executive member Michael Harrison said the league had chosen to continue to play through the AFL Victoria Country Community Championships to reduce the number of teams with multiple byes in a row.
“We decided not to have a bye like we did last year and the idea behind that was to play the interleague weekend, which we got permission to do,” he said.
“By playing that weekend the teams who have byes before it only get one bye instead of a two-in-a-row like last year.”
A league-wide bye is set for July 6-7, with East Warrnambool and Nirranda the only two teams set to have consecutive weeks off during the season.
The league is again aiming to have the top teams from the previous year play each other more than the bottom sides and vice versa.
Of the top five teams from 2018 – Nirranda, Old Collegians, Kolora-Noorat, Timboon Demons and South Rovers – the Blues are the only team to play last season’s four finalists twice.
Harrison said the league was pleased with how the fixture had come together.
“Under the circumstances of the fixture, which it is, it can’t be a draw because of the unevenness of the competition (having 11 teams), you can never get this perfect,” he said.
“But hopefully the way it comes out that everyone is happy with it. We think it’s pretty good under the circumstances.”