In normal circumstances Saturday's White Hills versus Lockington-Bamawm United clash would be one of the games of the season.
Two undefeated teams with a stack of quality players on both sides would have made for a cracking contest.
The recent COVID-19 lockdown and the rule that restricts Melbourne-based players from participating has taken the shine off the encounter.
"We're keen to have a run and see how we go,'' Lockington-Bamawm United coach Brodie Collins said.
"It's hard to know exactly how we're going, but that's the same for everyone.
"It's a free hit to go out there and have a crack. I'm not sure anyone would be expecting anything too special.
"The beauty is our guys have kept the hard work up. Last year in lockdown there was no motivation to train and we shut up shop.
"This year there's still the motivation of the season finishing, so the boys have been training hard to keep their fitness up."
The Cats will be without Trent Bacon and Tom Holman because of the "Melbourne rule".
White Hills will miss coach Sam Kerridge, star forward Jed Lamb, Zeke Lamb, Kris Bedford and Hayden Wright.
Jack Fallon will take on the Demons' coaching role for the first time.
"We're not at full strength, but that's the way the year goes,'' Collins said.
"We won't be making excuses, we'll put a good team on the park and see how we go.
"Obviously, White Hills are going to have a few out as well."
Mount Pleasant will be without its two best forwards - Melbourne-based Rhys Deacon and Ben Weightman - for its danger game against Mount Pleasant.
North Bendigo hosts Elmore and the reigning premier Bulldogs had mixed news at the selection table.
The Dogs lost Koe Ngawati and Harry O'Meara to the Melbourne rule, but regained four players from injury - Tom Metherell, Brayden Oates, Manny Thalasinos and Jeremy Lambden.
In the final game of the round, the rebuilding Huntly Hawks travel to Leitchville to play bottom side Leitchville-Gunbower.
The HDFNL received guidance from AFL Victoria and Netball Victoria late Friday that the cap of 150 people allowed inside venues on Saturday included players, coaches, officials and essential support personnel only.
That means no spectators can gain entry to venues.
Some of the return to play rules clubs must abide by include:
- Everyone entering the venue, including children, must record their attendance.
- Venues must use the Service Vic QR code app torecord attendance.
- Everyone, 12 years and over, must carry a face mask.
- A face mask must be worn outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- A face mask must be worn indoors.
- Encourage everyone to maintain 1.5 metre physical distancing when not participating.
- No spectators permitted at any venue. People required to supervise children and people required to support individuals with additional needs are permitted.
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