THE easing of COVID restrictions has paved the way for senior sport to resume this weekend.
The ban on movement between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria has been lifted, while up to 1000 people can attend an outdoor community sporting event, an increase from 150.
The number of people who can attend an indoor venue has increased from 50 to 300. The maximum group size indoors is now 50 people.
The easing of restrictions was a blessing for indoor sports like basketball. The Maffra Amateur Basketball Association announced after the government’s announcement on Wednesday it would return to play on Friday night.
After three weeks without action, local sportspeople and supporters will welcome the return to the field or court.
THE football and netball Gippsland League will go ahead with round 10 as scheduled on Saturday, with Maffra to host Warragul and Sale travelling to Morwell.
The league had already scrapped rounds seven to nine, and will adjust its fixture to allow clubs to play each other at least once.
The unplanned three-week mid-season break has provided an extended rest for players, as well as the chance to reset their season.
Struggling in eighth place on the senior football ladder with just one victory, Maffra will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself against Warragul, the only side yet to record a win this season.
The last time the Eagles hosted a win-less side, they lost. The Eagles went down to Morwell by 26 points in the round before the season by paused.
Before the break, fourth-placed Sale ended a run of back-to-back losses by winning at Traralgon to consolidate its place in the top five.
The Magpies will play Morwell, which broke its season duck last start at Maffra after losing three of its opening five losses by 10 points of less. While that 26-point victory has given the Tigers a boost, the enforced break prevented them from creating from momentum from it.
The match of the round will be at Leongatha, where the third-placed Parrots will host Moe, which is in second.
The Lions and Wonthaggi are the only undefeated sides remaining after six rounds.
The Parrots are also in hot form, having won their past four matches, providing a test for the Lions’ undefeated status.
Traralgon will head to Wonthaggi to play the ladder leaders.
The Maroons’ focus has, understandably, been on ensuring they have a ground to play and train on follow last week’s flooding. With the Traralgon Recreation Reserve out of action, the Maroons have trained at Thorpdale this week and and will train at Gormandale next week.
If it can claim a major scalp on Saturday, Traralgon will stay in the top five.
The Maroons are 3-3 for the season and sit in fifth place ahead of Drouin on percentage, as loss to the Power and a victory for the Hawks, will see them fall to sixth.
It was hard to fault Wonthaggi’s form leading into the break, with a 104-point win at Warragul moving it into top spot.
The prospect of being in the top five for the first time this season should give Drouin plenty of incentive to win at home against Bairnsdale.
The Redlegs haven’t won since round one, and have the lowest percentage, with their past four defeats heavy.
East Gippsland FNL
WITH the East Gippsland Football-Netball League home-and-away season reduced to 14 rounds (with the postponed sixth and seventh rounds to be played before the finals), it is already more than a third of the way through.
Tomorrow’s football match of the round is without doubt the top of the table clash between local rivals Boisdale-Briagolong and Stratford.
The top four sides are level on four wins, with Stratford on top thanks to a vastly superior percentage.
After losing in the opening round to the Swans, the Boisdale-Briagolong has won its past
four matches to move into second spot on the ladder.
In the opening round, when the focus was on remembering the late Lachie Heywood and promoting the discussion of mental health, the Swans kicked away from the Bombers after quarter-time to win by 25 points.
The Swans showed the physical style of play which has seen them sit on top of the table since round two.
Out-played that day, the new look Bombers needed that run to work on their combinations.
Since, then they have rarely looked beaten, and will provide a greater test for the Swans on the own patch.
Orbost-Snowy Rovers have the chance to reduce the gap between its fifth place and the top four when the Blues host Lakes Entrance.
Eight points outside the top four, the Blues are yet to string together two wins or two losses together this season, and for the pattern to continue, they’ll need to overcome the third-placed Seagulls.
Lakes rebounded from its first loss of the season to Boisdale-Briagolong by thumping Paynesville before the enforced lay-off. Victory will see the Seagulls move into the top two, passing either Stratford or Boisdale-Briagolong.
Having won three consecutive matches leading to the break, Lindenow will welcome Wy Yung.
The fourth-placed Cats had to work hard for their previous two wins, with the break coming at a good time, allowing them to rest and refocus.
The Tigers are in sixth place with just one win so far. The four losses have come to the teams currently in the top four.
Lucknow will host Paynesville in the battle of the bottom two sides.
Lucknow’s luck has gone downhill since defeating the Gulls in round one, although they only went down to Lindenow by 15 in their previous match, in which the teams had the same amount of scoring shots.
The 41-point margin in the opening round was the closest the Gulls have come to winning this season, but the break has provided them the chance to rest and reset.
North Gippsland FNL
THE North Gippsland league season will pick up where it left off, playing round eight on Saturday.
The round includes some intriguing clashes in the football.
Looking to arrest a two-game losing run, Heyfield will host Yarram.
Back-to-back losses before the break saw the Kangaroos fall from second place on the ladder to fifth. The Kangaroos are, however, only two points adrift of the fourth-placed Demons, who lost at home to Rosedale in round seven.
Rosedale can return to the top five for the first time since after round three if the Blues defeat Churchill at home and Heyfield loses.
The sixth-placed Blues were in form before the season was interrupted, defeating Heyfield before a one-point loss to Woodside and victory at Yarram. The Blues will have a challenge on Saturday in the third-placed Cougars, who have only lost won match this season.
Fortune has not smiled on Sale City as far as the fixturing is concerned.
While the Bulldogs began their season with a big win over Gormandale as expected, their next six matches came against teams currently in the top six.
With two wins (including on over top side Woodside) and a draw, the Bulldogs are in eighth position, but have a chance to resume the season on a positive note tomorrow when they host Glengarry, which only grasped victory once so far.
Two points outside the top five, seventh-placed Traralgon-Tyers United will host the win-less Cowwarr.
The competition’s other side without a win, Gormandale, will welcome Yallourn-Yallourn North to the Tiger’s home ground.
The Bombers have been impressive since joining the league, losing just once and winning their past four matches to sit in second spot.
Ladder leader Woodside will have to wait another week to resuming playing, as it has the bye.