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Giants, Saints to light up Manuka for first time

EXCLUSIVE

An artists impression of the new lights at Manuka Oval.

An artists impression of the new lights at Manuka Oval.

Night-time AFL is poised to make a spectacular debut in Canberra when the GWS Giants play St Kilda in April for what will be the first premiership fixture under the new Manuka Oval lights.

In a leap forward for the sport in the capital, The Canberra Times can reveal the Giants will take on the Saints in a twilight match in round three next year.

The AFL will issue next year's draw later this month.

But it is understood that after more than a decade as an AFL venue, the Giants-Saints contest on April 13 at 4.40pm will be the first time a premiership match has been played at night in Canberra.

The Giants will play a pre-season match at Manuka as well and it is expected to be played under lights to avoid the heat.

The ACT government had been limited in the past to which matches could be played in Canberra with only Saturday or Sunday afternoon timeslots available.

However, the Manuka Oval transformation with lights to be installed in December will allow greater flexibility in the 10-year partnership with the AFL's newest team - the Giants.

GWS chief executive David Matthews hoped for a bumper crowd.

''We are very excited about playing the first game under lights at Manuka Oval,'' Matthews said.

''It is a first for the AFL in Canberra and another first for the Giants.

''Canberra was the scene of our first win this year and we expect we will get a big crowd along to what will be an historic occasion for the nation's capital.''

The match will be part of Canberra's centenary celebrations and should attract a bumper crowd.

The government is also negotiating with the league to host one of the AFL's functions in Canberra with the season launch, the Brownlow Medal night or a Hall of Fame dinner.

The Giants will play three premiership games and a pre-season match in Canberra again next year, but the clash with St Kilda is the only one locked in.

Given the match is being played early in the season, fans won't have to suffer in the capital's coldest months.

The Giants won two games in their inaugural season with their breakthrough triumph coming at Manuka Oval against the Gold Coast Suns.

Cricket will be the first sport to use the lights at Manuka Oval.

Canberra's premier grade cricketers could get a chance to test them in December when the lights are turned on for the first time before Christmas. They will then be used for the Prime Minister's XI and Australia's one-day international against the West Indies next year.

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