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Ballarat firms as host of Sydney derby

The Sydney derby next round is set to be moved to Ballarat due to the escalating COVID-19 crisis which has led to Victoria shutting its border to NSW and the ACT.

The Swans overcame the turmoil to post an impressive victory over the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday but crosstown rival the Giants relinquished their spot in the eight after suffering a shock one-point loss to Gold Coast at Mars Stadium.

The Swans beat the Western Bulldogs on Sunday and are likely to face the Giants in the Sydney derby next round in Ballarat.

The Swans beat the Western Bulldogs on Sunday and are likely to face the Giants in the Sydney derby next round in Ballarat.Credit:Getty Images

The Giants are likely to return to the venue on Saturday afternoon to take on the high-flying Swans though the AFL was also considering GMHBA Stadium as a contingency. That is seen as the less likely option given the match is a Giants’ home game, and the Swans’ strong record in Geelong.

Canberra had been earmarked to host the fixture but that is no longer possible with the ACT also declared a red zone by Victoria.

It is the second season in a row the pandemic has forced the relocation of the derby, with last year’s game played in Perth.

The border closure is set to extend the Swans’ and the Giants’ stay in Melbourne, with both clubs and the AFL working to find a way to reunite players and staff with their families and loved ones in Sydney.

The Giants found the Gold Coast Suns too strong at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.

The Giants found the Gold Coast Suns too strong at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.Credit:Getty Images

The Herald and The Age reported on Saturday the AFL would look to make a submission to the Victorian government for a transitional hub to allow this to happen, though a league source with knowledge of the matter said no headway had been made at the weekend.

Swans coach John Longmire was guarded regarding the possibility of players missing games to return home, saying it would be a case-by-case scenario and that the club would support all players and staff. The Swans’ club doctor is set to return home this week.

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