Hawks to host season opener

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Dec-2017

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Eaglehawk coach Josh Bowe. The Hawks will host a grand final rematch in round one of 2018. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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A SIMPLIFIED Bendigo Football Netball League fixture has been released, continuing the competition’s move away from Friday and Sunday football.

The BFNL season will start on April 14, and includes just one Sunday match – the indigenous round game between Maryborough and Kyneton in round eight.

More night games are likely this season, with Golden Square, Strathfieldsaye, Kyneton, Gisborne, Castlemaine, Sandhurst, South Bendigo and Maryborough all able to host night or twilight fixtures.

“That’s the final thing we’ve got to work through,” the league’s Dennis Bice said this week.

“There will probably be three or four night games in the first few weeks of the season and potentially one or two toward the end of the year as well.

“The reason for less Sunday games is we had feedback from club presidents that there is a lot for volunteers to do, and it’s getting harder to organise people and fit it in around junior football.”

Round one is poised as one of the rounds of the season, with five matchups that – on paper, at least – look like they could be exciting propositions for spectators.

Eaglehawk hosts Strathfieldsaye in a grand final rematch, Sandhurst hosts Golden Square at the QEO, South Bendigo travels to Kyneton, Gisborne plays Kangaroo Flat and Maryborough hosts Castlemaine.

“It’s important to have a strong round one, and we hope that those games can get the season off to a really positive start,” Bice said.

The Storm will unfurl their premiership flag in round two against Gisborne, with that weekend also seeing traditional rivals South Bendigo and Sandhurst playing at the QEO.

“We tried to fixture it so we didn’t have the same clubs playing in round one every year, and we rotated the clubs that played at home in round one last year which is why Strathfieldsaye will be out at Eaglehawk,” Bice said.

Clubs will have two general byes, one for Bendigo’s interleague clash with Hampden on May 19 and the other in the middle week of the term two school holidays on July 7.

Bice said the league would not be sending netball to Warrnambool for the clash – the Netball Victoria association championships are on the same weekend – but was hopeful of fielding an under-18 football side.

The season concludes on August 25 with what shapes as an uninspiring run of games – the last two weeks of the season see nine of the ten matches played featuring top-five sides from 2017 playing sides that finished outside the finals.

Finals will remain the same, with Bice saying clubs were largely happy with the 6pm start time for night finals trialled this year.

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