The scheduling of this year’s Football Wagga finals has left some stakeholders scratching their heads but operations manager David Merlino insists there’s nothing out of the ordinary.
The second week of finals will see teams shift away from Wagga and play at Leeton’s MIA Sports Field in a move similar to last year’s preliminary finals round hosted by Tumut Eagles at Bull Paddock.
Though the schedule has precedence, Lake Albert coach Mitch Tinnock is concerned with the impact on top-two teams who will be required to contest their elimination fixtures away from home.
“I’m not worried about having to go (to Leeton) but I guess it’s just a bit disappointing for our boys,” Tinnock said.
“We started training in January this year and we’ve worked really hard to be in the position that we are, so I think we probably deserve to be rewarded in some way.”
Under Football Wagga’s revised finals format, the top six sides progress to a knockout stage with first and second place given a week’s break before facing the semi final victors in a must-win preliminary final round.
It means that despite having already secured the minor premiership and posting a 16-game winning streak this season, Lake Albert could be eliminated in their first week of finals.
“We don’t get that second chance any more and with that in mind, I think it’s fair that we should be having our final at home,” Tinnock said.
Henwood Park and Tolland are front-runners for second place and a week off come finals but whichever club ends up in the top two would still be required to contest their first – and potentially last – final away from home.
When questioned, Merlino said clubs had been advised of the finals structure and the nature of second week before a ball had been kicked this season.
“The second week of finals will be played in Leeton and everyone has known that since the start of the year,” Merlino said.
“We’ve had the second week of finals out of town (Wagga) for a few years now and last year’s finals in Tumut were a success.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to give non-Wagga clubs the opportunity to host finals and larger events.”
Tinnock agreed with the sentiment of sharing finals hosting rights around the region but suggested some consideration be given to dominant sides throughout the regular season.
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