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Andrew Leonard

Many clubs who have spent time in Division 2 will tell you that if you can be promoted out of Division 2 then you have crossed an important bridge in the climb up the VAFA ladder. 
Next season another 10 clubs believe they have what it takes to make that step and like all other sections the first third of the year goes a long way to determining if it can be achieved. 
The opening weekend of the season will be on 13th April and here are the highlights: 

  • Old Eltham Collegians host South Melbourne Districts
  • Ivanhoe are at home to Therry Penola
  • Old Paradians will host Monash Gryphons at home
  • Yarra Valley launch their Division 2 campaign with an away trip to Emmaus St Leos
  • St Mary’s Salesian will host St John’s in round 1.

Other highlights include the anticipated Division 3 Grand Final rematch which will be played in round 4 with Ivanhoe to host Yarra Valley at Ivanhoe Park. 
The assessment of your team’s start comes down to the previous season’s form and the nature and number of your home fixtures. 
As we all know many things can change between now and round 1 but let’s analyse your team’s run the opening six weeks.
EMMAUS ST LEOS: Difficult first up home match against reigning Division 3 premiers Yarra Valley. Away to St John’s before two home games to Therry Penola and South Melbourne Districts. Old Paradians away and St Mary’s Salesian at home to round out an even first six matches.  B+
IVANHOE: Open with two home games against Therry Penola and St Mary’s Salesian. Old Eltham are up next at Eltham College before the Grand Final rematch at home to their conquerors Yarra Valley. Monash Gryphons away before  fourth home match against St John’s. Home games make this a great start. A
MONASH GRYPHONS: Only two home games in the first six commencing with a tough opening two rounds visiting last years finalists Old Paradians before entertaining Old Eltham. Away for South Melbourne Districts and St Mary’s Salesian and back at home for Ivanhoe, then away for Therry Penola. C
OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS: Three of the first four at home and only two away trips in the first six is a great opportunity for the Turtles. South Melbourne Districts in round one then away to Monash Gryphons the following week. Home games against Ivanhoe and St John’s before a trip to Yarra Valley. Old Paradians then visit the College. Chance to bolt out of the gates. A+
OLD PARADIANS: Alternate home and away for their first six games. Start with the Gryphons at home then a trip to promoted Yarra Valley in round 2. St Mary’s Salesian visit Garvey Oval before a trip to Therry Penola. Emmaus St Leo’s visit before a rematch of the Preliminary Final against Old Eltham away. B 
SOUTH MELBOURNE DISTRICTS: Three of the first four are away with a tough start visiting Old Eltham and Therry Penola in the first two weeks. First home encounter is against Monash Gryphons. A trip to Emmaus St Leos before a brace of home games against St Mary’s Salesian and Yarra Valley. Not ideal but manageable. C+
ST JOHN’S: Only at home twice but have winnable early games. St Mary’s Salesian are first up away before a home game against Emmaus St Leos. Challenging next fortnight with Yarra Valley and Old Eltham both away. Therry Penola visit in round 5 then on the road again when they travel to Ivanhoe. C
ST MARY’S SALESIAN: Home in round 1 and 4 but way for two brackets of two. St John’s visit Ferndale Reserve before trips to Ivanhoe and Old Paradians. Play Monash Gryphons at home, then its a fortnight away at South Melbourne Districts and Emmaus St Leos. C
THERRY PENOLA: Start away then alternate home through the first third of the year. Promoted Ivanhoe await in round 1, followed by South Melbourne Districts (home), Emmaus St Leos (away) and Old Paradians (home). Travel to St John’s in round 5 and host Monash Gryphons the following week. A
YARRA VALLEY: Start campaign away to Emmaus St Leos before unfurling their Premiership flag at home to Old Paradians. Remain at Domeney Reserve for the visit of St John’s, then its the Division 3 rematch with Ivanhoe at Ivanhoe Park. Old Eltham visit then a trip to South Melbourne Districts in round 6. B+
Agree or disagree with the assessment? Tweet @LennyVAFA to grade your team’s start to the year, include the hashtag #vafafixture and #vafadiv2
The complete 2013 fixture will be available after the VAFA’s AGM next Monday 3rd December 2012.