Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Up in the air

Lockdown puts Picola, Murray finals under threat

- ~ with Josh Huntly

Picola and District Football Netball League’s season is under a real threat of being cancelled as a result of the regional New South Wales COVID-19 lockdown after it was extended for another seven days.

The league’s finals series, which was due to begin this weekend, has now been postponed with no indication of when or even if it can actually start.

The league played its final home-andaway round on Saturday before the region was plunged into lockdown at 5pm the very same day.

Stay at home orders are effective until Saturday August 28, effectivel­y wiping out this week’s community sport, including the scheduled start of the PDFNL finals.

The league executive and clubs met on Monday night to confirm their decision and another meeting is scheduled for early next week to determine revised finals fixtures.

League operations manager Shane Railton says further lockdown extensions would be hard to overcome, and floated a last resort option if restrictio­ns continue for weeks on end.

He said the league may push ahead with a reduced Victorian-only finals type series.

“We ran a similar competitio­n last year in NSW for our juniors, and we would potentiall­y look at something similar for all grades but obviously only for Victorian clubs.

“(Monday’s) the first time we’ve floated the idea of a Victorian-only series, so it’s very premature and it’s something we didn’t ask for a full decision on.

“If we’re shut down for four to six weeks, there’s no way any league could potentiall­y be shut down for that long and then progress forward.

“It’s just clubs wanting to get some sort of result if they can. That’s just where we’re at. We understand it’s not ideal.”

It’s the third interrupti­on to the competitio­n since July.

Eliminatio­n finals between Mathoura and Berrigan, along with Jerilderie and Katunga, are now on hold, along with A grade netball finals between Waaia and Katamatite, and Tungamah and Deni Rovers.

The Murray Football and Netball League abandoned its final round which was scheduled for this Saturday.

The MFNL staged a successful return to play last weekend but hopes to move straight into finals pending the easing of COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

Finals was due to begin next Saturday, August 28.

Top eight sides Mulwala (3rd), Deniliquin (7th) and Moama (8th), on the wrong side of the Murray River, are unable to take part in any formal competitio­n or training until next weekend at the earliest.

“The make-up (of finals) is still very much up in the air and we’ll just have to assess that week-to-week,” Norman said.

“There’s nothing definitive yet. It’s a work in progress.

“We’re dealing with two different public health orders that are very much conflictin­g and we’re just trying to gather as much informatio­n to present to clubs and make an informed decision from there.”

Norman said Sunday games were floated as one alternativ­e to cancelling an entire weekend of games if the lockdown was to be lifted next Saturday.

Clubs were forced to think on their feet over the course of round 17.

When news of the 5pm shutdown came through at Moama’s contest with Deniliquin in Deni, officials opted to shorten breaks between quarters in an effort to expedite the game and ensure everyone involved returned home before the state slammed shut.

The half-time interval was just five minutes.

“We’re optimistic that we can continue the season,” said Moama mentor Luke Eldridge.

“We’re still hopeful (finals) will still happen, but we just don’t know.”

Nathalia and Finley played shortened quarters so Purples’ players and other essential participan­ts could return to Victoria on time.

Tongala mentor Jordan Souter said the latest lockdown would make it hard to finish the season, a sentiment echoed by Mathoura coach Darcy Robinson in regards to the Picola District league.

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