The opening round of the next Riddell District Football Netball League will be held over two weekends.

The season will start on April 7 with Riddell hosting reigning premier Macedon in the afternoon timeslot, before the Sunbury derby between Sunbury Kangaroos and Rupertswood that night at Boardman Reserve.

Lancefield and Woodend-Hesket will conclude the first weekend on the Sunday afternoon.

On the second weekend of the opening round, Melton Centrals and Rockbank will do battle for the only time in the season, Broadford plays Wallan and Romsey and Diggers Rest play under lights – all on the Saturday.

Night matches are on the agenda early in the season, with five night matches across the first five rounds, including Woodend-Hesket hosting Melton Centrals in round two in the first night game at Gilbert Gordon Oval.

Melton Centrals will host a night match in round three.

Macedon and Rupertswood will continue their tradition of playing on Anzac Day, with this year’s match to double as a grand final rematch. It will be the only time the two teams meet for the season. The Sharks play four of the five other finalists to start the season.

The A-grade netball grand final rematch – between Lancefield and Romsey – will be played on May 12.

Teams will have the weekend off on May 19 for the WorkSafe AFL Victoria Community Championships, when the league will face the Central Highlands Football League, while there will be no games on the Queens Birthday weekend.

There will be a split round in round 13.

The grand finals will be held on Sunday, September 16.

Outgoing league operations manager Steve Williams said a key element in the planning of next year’s fixture was trying to get the right balance with teams playing each other twice.

“In the 2016 post-season senior survey, the majority of clubs voted to have the fixture balanced out over multiple years,” he said. “In other words, clubs who played twice in 2017 would play once in 2018 and vice-versa, with the view to continuing this process into 2019 and beyond.”