Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Back in play

Deni Rams on the road for round nine catch-up

- By LAURA GREEN

The Murray Football Netball League returns tomorrow after a Victorian lockdown which forced the cancellati­on of rounds 14, 15 and 16.

The Deniliquin Rams will face off with Mulwala in a round nine catch up, to be played at Lonsdale Reserve, Mulwala.

It will be a tough test for the seventh placed Rams against the Lions who are third on the table with only three losses from their nine games.

Rams co-coach Sam Hall said the smaller oval at Mulwala can be a challenge for away teams.

‘‘Mulwala’s is a small ground so we need to stick our tackles and be able win the contested ball,’’ Hall said.

‘‘Mulwala always play a physical brand of footy so we need to withstand that and be able to score enough goals to win the match.’’

The Lions’ physical contests can test the strength of their competitio­n, but Hall said the Rams are both confident and prepared.

‘‘We’ll need to be on our game defensivel­y but also willing to take some risks when we win the ball to give our forwards an opportunit­y to score,’’ Hall said.

Finals rounds will start from August 28, the season finishing with the grand final on September 18.

The league announced a restructur­e to the finals eliminatio­n rounds on Sunday, allowing the top eight sides to compete,.

It’s a positive for the Rams who sit seventh on the ladder, but Hall said his team is not going to be complacent.

‘‘We need to win matches to be assured, starting with Mulwala this weekend.

‘‘We have a tough three games to finish the home and away season,’’ he said.

The change to finals is aimed to ‘‘encourage participat­ion’’ at training and matches since some clubs have struggled to maintain numbers due to the ongoing uncertaint­y of COVID-19.

‘‘The decision is sure to generate excitement for players and supporters. We look forward to an enthrallin­g final series to complete the season. A season like no other,’’ the league said in a statement.

Hall called it a ‘‘great decision’’ given the interrupti­ons the MFNL has dealt with this season.

With the return of Clay Howe, Matt MacDonald, and Jayden Pitts to the line-up, Hall is expecting good things this weekend.

He said the Rams will go in to the match ‘‘refreshed’’ after an intra-club match last Thursday.

‘‘It was just what we needed and the guys are very keen to get back to playing,’’ Hall said.

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