NORTH Gippsland has earned a reputation as one of the most fiercely contested Victorian football leagues in recent years and 2016 promises more of the same.
With teams one through 10 all in with a shot at September action, the ball is well and truly up in the air as round one continues this weekend.
Already Woodside has shown last year’s ladder means nothing by sweeping aside neighbour Yarram on Good Friday in a landslide.
After running ninth in 2015 the Wildcats have given hope to others who fell by the wayside last year, with the second half of the split first round offering a chance to follow suit.
It will be a clash of the titans when the Rosedale Blues take on the Heyfield Kangaroos in the grand final re-match this weekend.
Prior to the match, the Blues will unfurl their 2015 premiership flag, which will be a thrill for all the fans down at Moore Street.
The home ground advantage should favour Rosedale but don’t discount the Roos, who will be looking to restore some lost pride.
At Glengarry, the Magpies take on the Cowwarr Saints.
Both teams will be keen to shake off the cellar dweller mantle after a disappointing 2015 when they finished 10th and eighth respectively.
With round two clashes against Gormandale and Woodside both clubs have a window of opportunity to go two-zip early in the season, which would give either a tremendous confidence boost.
It was a disappointing end to the 2015 season for Sale City, which finished strongly in the home and away rounds but was bundled-out in straight sets in September.
With experience now behind a host of developing stars, a premiership in 2016 is a distinct possibility for the Dogs who will be looking to go one better this year.
For a club struggling off-field, Gormandale finished a respectable seventh in 2015 with five wins along the way. A berth in the 2016 finals would restore a lot of pride to a club with a proud NGFNL history.
The Traralgon-Tyers United Bombers take on the Churchill Cougars in a repeat of last year’s elimination final which the latter clinched.
After finishing a commendable fifth at the conclusion of the home and away season, Churchill notched-up a positive finals series in 2015 before bowing out in the semi-final to Heyfield.
Both sides should be serious contenders in September so expect a ferocious and gutsy contest to get the ball rolling.
In netball, six players from last year’s NGFNL team of the year are set to line up in the big clash between Rosedale and Heyfield, so expect to see sparks fly when the best collide.
Churchill, with two players from the team of the year, and TTU will also have strong line ups in this week’s clash.
Woodside and Yarram have recruited strongly from their respective youth divisions and will again make waves across the grades.