BALLARAT remains in the running for a fourth AFL game in as many weeks with the league leaving the round 20 clash between the GWS Giants and Port Adelaide open to scheduling.
The league has released its fixture for rounds 19 and 20 with the Giants clash against the Power scheduled for Sunday August 1 at 1.10pm at a venue to be determined.
With a game at the MCG scheduled for later in that afternoon, Ballarat or Geelong would be among the leading contenders to host the game should the Giants not be able to return to Sydney or Canberra to host the match as would be their preferred option.
As of Wednesday, Sydney had recorded a further 97 positive cases of which 24 were infectious while in the community. The city's lockdown has been extended for a further two weeks.
This weekend, Ballarat will host the 'Battle of the Bridge' with the Giants to face the Sydney Swans, while next weekend, the Western Bulldogs will return to face Adelaide.
At best, Ballarat would be an outside chance to attract the match, given the Giants are scheduled to play in Geelong the following week and could be expected to request a match for experience at the venue prior to facing the Cats.
It could also provide an opportunity for the Giants to gain an advantage over a fellow top eight contender in Port Adelaide as they battle for a position in the finals.
Incredibly, Port Adelaide has only played in Geelong once since 2013 and without a win since 2007, meanwhile the Giants won at their last start at the venue in round 4, 2019.
The club has thanked Ballarat for "opening its arms" after it found itself stranded in Victoria due to the COVID lockdown in Sydney.
The state government has also come to the party with the capacity lifted to 85 per cent for this weekend's match, or up to 9400 patrons, subject to any changes in rules in coming days after Victoria recorded new community cases on Wednesday.
GWS players who have spoken to The Courier this week say they are preparing to remain in Victoria at least until the end of the home and away season.
The Giants other home match in the final weeks is against Richmond, with expectations that game would be moved to a larger drawing venue if it could not be played in Sydney.
Meanwhile the build up to Saturday's 'Battle of the Bridge' is underway with the two clubs coming together in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The Giants are set to recall captain Stephen Coniglio after a long absence with an ankle injury sustained in round 3, but will lose the skillful Lachie Whitfield with concession and ruckman Shane Mumford will miss with a stiff back.
In a big win for Ballarat fans, Lane Franklin is expected to line-up despite the Swans coming off a six-day break after their tough win over the Bulldogs.
While discussions are underway for the possibility of a transition 'hub' to allow partners and families of players and staff to join the Sydney clubs in Melbourne, Swans co-captain Dane Rampe said he would support players if they decided to head back to New South Wales.
"As a club we haven't sat down and discussed what that looks like but personally I'd have no problem with supporting the players in whatever they choose," he said.