THE Group Three Rugby League's grand final will go back to the Sabbath, with the game to be played on Sunday, September 18.
This was decided at a meeting of the group's management on Thursday, August 11.
The grand final was to be on Saturday, September 17. The final will also revert to a Sunday (September 11) after originally set down for Saturday, September 10.
Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge said this was a unanimous decision by the board amid concerns of a grand final clash with the Hastings League on Saturday, September 17. This game will be played at Wauchope, regardless of the teams involved.
Venue for the Group Three match will be determined on Sunday, September 4 when the major semi-final is played at the minor premier's home ground.
Port City seem certain to be the minor premiers, so the major semi will be at the Port Macquarie Regional Stadium. If the Breakers win and the grand final is also at Port, Mr Bridge said it would result in the Hastings League grand final at Wauchope and the Group Three match at Port Macquarie on the same day.
He said the group was concerned about the impact this would have on gate takings.
Mr Bridge added the group was reluctant to wait until the result of the major semi is known before booking a ground for the grand final. If Forster-Tuncurry or Old Bar qualify for the major semi and win, the grand final would be played at a southern venue, where a clash with the Saturday League would be nullified.
However, Mr Bridge said there's criteria for booking the Port stadium and the group wanted to take any uncertainty about the grand final venue out of the equation.
The group decided earlier this year to run with a four team semi-final series instead of five. This followed the postponement of earlier games due to wet weather and closed fields.
Originally the grand final was to be played on September 10, working with a five team finals series. However, the season was extended by a week to allow a round for postponed games to be played. The four team finals allows the series to be completed in three weeks instead of four.
"That means less gate takings - we're down one week and two matches,'' Mr Bridge explained.
The group runs the finals series and keeps the gate takings. After expenses all monies are returned to clubs in prizemoney.
Group Three club delegates voted last November at the annual meeting to play the grand final on a Saturday in what would have been a first for the competition. Mr Bridge said on a Times' On the Bench segment earlier this year that there had been almost unanimous support from the clubs for the Saturday grand final.
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