While most will be disappointed with the news that the Murray Football League will not go ahead, you will be pleased to know that Best Battles is here to stay for the remainder of what would have been the 2020 season.
As seen on page 16, the Picola & District League is still hopeful it will be able to play a shortened season despite the challenges left by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Had the season gone ahead as planned, round 12 would have been played on Saturday for both the MFL and the PDFL.
This round would have seen a second meeting between some sides, so the McPherson Media Group sports journalists have picked out some different battles that could be arguably the best between the two sides.
Picola & District Football League:
Berrigan v Mathoura
Preliminary final, 2011 at Mathoura
Berrigan 18.13 (121) d Mathoura 14.9 (93)
By the first break, Berrigan already had one foot in the grand final after kicking six goals to none in the opening term.
And from there, the Saints were able to keep the Timbercutters at arm’s reach despite the latter kicking five goals in the last quarter.
Back-to-back league medallist Matthew Gorman, Craig Thornton and Jack Yelland all started brilliantly in the middle and did not allow the Timbercutters to get first use of the ball.
Josh Bozzola, Cameron Mynard and Chase Saunders all kicked three goals.
Waaia v Deniliquin Rovers
Round seven, 2019 at Waaia Recreation Reserve
Waaia 15.14 (104) d Deniliquin Rovers 14.9 (93)
An unbelievable second half performance from the Deni Rovers almost had them prevail against last year’s grand finalist.
The Rovers were sluggish in the first half and trailed Waaia by 24 points at the main break.
However, the visitors went on to kick nine goals to six after the break to go down by 11 points in what was a rollicking affair.
Waaia’s strong second quarter performance — led by Tim Belford and forwards Mark Meyland and Connor Brown — was the catalyst for the victory.
Brown and Meyland finished with four goals each, while Lachlan Henderson chipped in with three.
The Rovers’ Andrew May and Allan Bond (two goals) were the standouts in the tough loss.
Rennie v Katamatite
Semi-final, 2019 at Mathoura
Rennie 10.11 (71) d Katamatite 9.8 (62)
A five-goal lead at three-quarter time would have had Rennie and its supporters confident it was all but guaranteed a place in the final four last season.
But a rampaging Katamatite outfit almost produced one of its greatest comebacks to send the Grasshoppers packing.
In the end, Rennie managed to hang on to a nine-point victory.
‘‘It was a great win. We played a pretty good first three quarters,’’ Hoppers coach Craig Ednie said.
‘‘They came at us in the last quarter and having a bloke sent off didn’t help, but we were able to hang in there and win.
‘‘I think it came down to effort and everyone playing their role.”
Yarroweyah v Picola United
Round 11, 2014 at Picola
Picola United 12.15 (87) d Yarroweyah 11.8 (74)
Picola United and Yarroweyah endured difficult seasons in 2014 winning four games each.
But when the two sides met, both games were thrilling contests.
In their second meeting of the year, star forward Dylan Cunningham was the difference between the two sides. At the other end, Chase Saunders booted four.
Best for Picola were David Low, Sean Mortimer and Kodi Hicks.
Saunders was among the best on ground for Yarroweyah which also included Daniel Clarke, Reece Miller and Kane Hollister.
Blighty v Jerilderie
Round seven, 2019 at Jerilderie
Jerilderie 13.12 (90) d Blighty 8.14 (62)
The Demons led at every change in this contest, with inaccurate kicking letting the Redeyes down.
Jordon Anthony’s three majors were crucial for the home side in its victory, while for Blighty Jack Tyndall booted three goals as well.
Jerilderie had a two-point advantage at quarter-time — and a three-point buffer at the main break — before kicking away to success.
Murray Football League:
Deniliquin v Finley
Round 13, 2017 at Finley Recreation Reserve
Finley 9.9 (63) lt Deniliquin 13.10 (88)
In the midst of their toughest season in recent memory, the Cats pushed rival Deniliquin in an effort to snare their first win of the year.
After trailing by 42 points at the main break, Finley had eight scoring shots to two in the third term — and if it was not for half of those being behinds it would have gone even closer to belting out the team song.
Cam Robertson kicked three goals for the home side, but it was the Todd Gallagher (five goals) and Jayden Pitts (four) show for the Rams in attack which got them over the line.
Tungamah v Echuca United
Round seven, 2018 at Tungamah Recreation Reserve
Tungamah 11.8 (74) lt Echuca United 12.7 (79)
When the Eagles and Bears met for the first time, after the latter crossed from the Picola District league, the two sides produced an absolute thriller.
Despite trailing at the main break by seven points, a four goal to one third term put the Eagles in a strong position to finish the strongest of the two sides.
Tungamah produced a stronger last quarter, but the Eagles were able to hold on.
‘‘It was pretty hard fought by both sides,’’ United coach Guy Campbell said.
‘‘It was a credit to Tungamah too, throughout the year they will be hard to beat.
‘‘We had our chances to really blow the game out at times, but we chose to make it a close one.”
Congupna v Nathalia
Preliminary final, 2019 at Katandra Recreation Reserve
Nathalia 23.16 (154) d Congupna 12.8 (80)
When Nathalia and Congupna met most recently, the Purples did the business and booked a position in yet another grand final.
The Road brought the heat early in their biggest match in years, and took a slender four-point lead to quarter-time.
But the Purples, hungry to continue their pursuit of a fifth straight premiership, turned it on from there and never looked back, racing away to take a 74-point win, kicking 21 goals in the last three quarters.
Stars included Bailey Bell, Drew Barnes and Liam Evans, while The Road’s best were Dan Campbell and the great Jimmy Boyer (three snags).
Barooga v Rumbalara
Round eight, 2011 at Mercury Dve
Rumbalara 18.15 (123) d Barooga 14.11 (95)
Rumbalara threw the bigger punches in an absolute slugfest with Barooga in 2011, grabbing a hard-earned 28-point triumph.
In an exhilarating display, Rumba had nine goals before the first quarter was over and it proved the backbone of its great win, the Hawks putting the brakes on a bit to keep it to that tally across the next three quarters.
But Barooga could not sufficiently eat into the 44-point quarter-time lead Rumba had built, eventually falling 28 points short after a strong fight.
Corey Wanganeen was a clear best-on-ground with six goals, while his leading teammates included Ben Cox, Des Morgan and Brayden Williams.
For the Hawks, Matt Hyde was best and kicked two goals, while Shaun Robbins kicked three.
Katandra v Numurkah
Round 13, 2019 at Katandra Recreation Reserve
Katandra 14.9 (93) d Numurkah 10.15 (75)
Katandra fought hard to knock over the Blues in this battle, grinding out a three-goal triumph.
Ryleigh Shannon, Trent Herbert and Will Jeffery all managed three majors for the Kats as Tom Jeffery and Luke Minogue added two apiece.
Michael Herlihy slotted three for the Blues, but it was not enough as the home side shook off an even first term to lead at the remaining sirens.
Mulwala v Tongala
Round 12, 2019 at Tongala Recreation Reserve
Tongala 12.11 (83) d Mulwala 8.6 (54)
Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.
The entire Goulburn Valley was pelted with rain on this day last year, with many games stopped due to weather.
But in Jordan Souter’s 150th for his beloved Blues, Tonny got the job done.
Kyle Fitzgerald was dominant, Mackenzie Ryan kicked four, and Mulwala’s bench had to stand under cover to keep both floods out.
A seven-goal third quarter would be the key as the Blues won by 19 points.
Moama v Cobram
Round nine, 2017 at Moama Recreation Reserve
Moama 12.19 (91) d Cobram 10.13 (73)
One of the best players in the region showed why he was still a star on this day, as Rhys Archard booted seven goals for the Magpies.
It could have been even bigger for the Magpies, who still kicked 19 behinds, but Archard took control and led his side to victory against the Tigers.
Cobram was able to stay in the game for the majority of the contest, but wasn’t able to match the Pies’ form.