REIGNING premier Mitta United will clash with Thurgoona in a Tallangatta league blockbuster to open the season on April 6.
The league heavyweights fought out last season’s grand final with the Blues overcoming a 30-point quarter-time deficit to win by 59 points.
Both are again expected to be league pacesetters after landing several prized recruits.
The Bulldogs have been one of the most active clubs in the off-season, snaring dual Albury premiership star Mark Bush and Wodonga Raiders key defender Aydan Brown.
Young Holbrook ruckman John Willis has also joined last year’s grand finalist.
Mitta United has kept departures to a minimum while signing coach Clinton Gilson. Former premiership players Justin and Chris Nelson have returned to the club.
Dederang-Mount Beauty is tipped to be a big improver after newly appointed coach Marc Almond landed the biggest coup of the off-season.
He has lured dual Brisbane Lions premiership player Daniel Bradshaw, younger brother Darren and cousin Steve Bradshaw to the Bombers.
They are joined by Lavington key defender Matt Lee and Howlong midfielder Joel Barker.
The Bombers have been handed a friendly draw in the early part of the season and will have to wait until their round 7 clash with Thurgoona to get a true gauge on their premiership credentials.
Tallangatta won’t play its first home game of the season until round 9, due to its facilities being redeveloped.
The Hoppers will play their first four home games at the league’s finals venue, Sandy Creek.
Wodonga Saints were granted their wish to play a home game at Bethanga.
The Saints will clash with Tallangatta at their former home ground in round 5.
There will be two general byes during the season. The first will be for the interleague match against Hume league on May 25 and the second will coincide with the Queen’s Birthday long weekend on June 8.