GRFNL - A shot at redemption

CHALLENGE. The Golden Rivers Football Netball League will be looking for its first AFL Victoria Community Championship win since 2016.

CHALLENGE. The Golden Rivers Football Netball League will be looking for its first AFL Victoria Community Championship win since 2016.

A RIVALRY last experienced earlier this century will resume when two leagues clash in the AFL Victoria Community Championships tomorrow.

The Golden Rivers Football Netball League will travel to Bendigo to take on the Loddon Valley Football Netball League, with both competitions aiming to move off the bottom of the rankings.

The game at the Queen Elizabeth Oval will be the GRFNL's first chance of redemption following last year's 83-point loss to Kyabram District.

League management have taken steps to ensure the best players are available for selection, creating bylaws that would see those who opt out of taking to the field tomorrow after being selected facing a one-match ban.

"I've been a big advocate for interleague my whole career and to be the coach is a privilege," GRFNL coach, Simon Morton said.

"All who have been selected to play are very proud to be taking part tomorrow." 

Although the match is the GRFNL's fifth appearance in the championship since returning to senior interleague action in 2014, it will be the first time the two neighbouring leagues have met for open age representative football action since 2002.

Whilst the GRFNL has a 2-2 record since returning to senior representative football action, Loddon Valley has lost its past four matches.

The GRFNL's southern neighbours did not compete in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the championships, with the league's last success coming in 2011 with a 40-point win against Maryborough Castlemaine District.

Eight of the GRFNL's nine sides are represented in the 22-player squad announced earlier this week, which was reduced to 22 last night.

The team includes two former E.G. Hunt Medallists – Tom Isma (Moulamein) and Justin Robinson (Wandella) – and five players who took to the field for either Wandella or Ultima in last year's grand final.

Six of the league's top 10 goalkickers are in contention to take to the field tomorrow, whilst Dylan Morison (Murrabit) will oversee the visitors' defensive efforts.

"I've spoken to Murrabit coach, Bryden Morison and Wandella coach, Paul Grayling, who both played at Pyramid Hill, for advice on their squad, and there are number of players listed for Loddon Valley they do not know," Morton said.

"The QEO is a very wide ground, meaning players can run to space. As a result, this game will be won by the team who has the best running legs in the middle of the ground and can get the ball to their forwards."

The winner of tomorrow's match will move inside the top 30 ranked competitions in Victoria and play the loser of the Horsham and District v Ellinbank and District in 2019.

The loser will remain at the bottom of the championship rankings and take on the loser of the encounter between Kyabram District and Colac and District match next year – two leagues the GRFNL has played in the past five years.

PREDICTION: Loddon Valley's players with Bendigo Football Netball League experience will help the hosts secure a 20-point win.

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