Picola District Football Netball League has released the draw for its new 13-team competition.
After four teams — Shepparton East, Tungamah, Katandra and Dookie United — opted out of the competition, the north-west and south-east divisions have merged into a 20-round regular season fixture, starting with today’s Tocumwal-Berrigan clash.
Four former south-east teams — Katandra, Katunga, Rennie and Waaia — join the remaining nine north-west sides for the first united Picola District league since 2008.
The first time members of the two former divisions will clash will be Katunga’s and Blighty’s round one clash tomorrow week, the first chance to see the difference in quality of the old two competitions.
Each team will have two bye weeks, with three teams off in round nine and five off in round 16 to make the fixture work.
Waaia, pegged as potentially the strongest south-east team, will get its first chance to face the other division with a comfortable fixture against Yarroweyah in round four, with a massive test against Deniliquin Rovers in round seven.
Another blockbuster fixture will take place in round eight as last season’s respective premiers — Rennie and Picola United — battle.
Rennie has lost a host of talent though and might be a shadow of its premiership side this year.
Picola’s rivalry with Waaia will be one of many to resume, with the teams to square off in round nine before United reacquaints itself with another rival in Katunga in round 11.
North-west runner-up Strathmerton will get its chance to avenge its grand final loss against Picola United in round three, but won’t face a south-east team until it travels to Katamatite in round eight.
The regular season wraps up on August 18, before an eight-team finals — following the AFL’s system — culminates with a September 15 decider.