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Saturday afternoon footy returns to NRL

For the first time in over a decade, Saturday afternoon matches will make a fleeting return to the NRL in the closing stages of the 2013 season.
Saturday afternoon footy returns to NRL
by AAP

SYDNEY, July 4 AAP - For the first time in over a decade, Saturday afternoon matches will make a fleeting return to the NRL in the closing stages of the 2013 season.

The NRL on Thursday released the draw for the final six rounds of the year, which includes three 3pm kick-offs hosted by St George Illawarra (round 24 and 26) and Canberra (round 23).

The Warriors will also play two matches at 5pm (3pm AEST) at Mt Smart Stadium in rounds 21 and 25.

Saturday afternoon games haven't been a regular feature in the NRL draw since the late 1990s.

Ladder-leaders South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters will clash in the final Friday night game of the regular season, in what could be a fight for the minor premiership - possibly the Rabbitohs first in 24 years.

Souths will also feature in Friday night blockbusters against Manly (round 23) and Canterbury (round 24).

Brisbane, who've had the largest share of Friday night matches this season, have secured five more in the last six rounds.

They will also play in a stand-alone Thursday night game against the Bulldogs.

The NRL said the inclusion of Saturday afternoon games was a way of attracting families in the build-up to the finals series - not a trial for next season.

"At this stage we are not considering making Saturday afternoon football an ongoing part of the NRL match schedule," general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk said in a statement.

"There is, however, a curiosity both on our part and of our broadcasters to see how fans responds to the time-slot, both in terms of game-day attendance and TV ratings."


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