The Round 23 floating fixture is still be revealed, but I’ve saved the AFL the hard work and come up with what it will likely look like.
Round 22 really makes Round 23 difficult to work out, with five of the match-ups including a team that played Sunday, so maintaining at least a six-day break, with consideration for marquee games in premium timeslots, proved difficult.
Friday night – Sydney vs Hawthorn at the SCG
One of four games that realistically are an option here, and probably the most appealing, as the NRL has kindly left the Friday night timeslot wide open in Sydney (Warriors hosting Penrith and Cowboys hosting Parramatta).
With Lance Franklin taking on Hawthorn, as well as being rematches of the 2012 and 2014 grand finals, there is plenty of hype to be generated here. The AFL machine should be able sell this game out, and start the final round off strong.
Saturday – Port Adelaide versus Essendon at the Adelaide Oval
The other primary candidate for that Friday night timeslot, I moved this game to Saturday afternoon.
The SANFL draws aren’t confirmed for this round either, and the Crows game being Saturday too, I would anticipate moving the SANFL to a Super Sunday.
I give this game the early kick off because Port could realistically attract a good crowd.
Saturday – St Kilda versus North Melbourne at Docklands
Docklands hosts two games this weekend, so we kick off Melbourne’s first game of the weekend with the replay of ‘that’ Good Friday game.
Hopefully the Saints can put on a good show for their home fans, as the Roos’ faint finals hopes could be dashed here.
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Saturday twilight – Brisbane versus West Coast at the Gabba
The idea of moving this game to the twilight timeslot is purely for the Eagles’ travel issues. This gives them a chance to get back to Perth at a reasonable hour on Sunday.
There wouldn’t be much cross-pollination between the Port-Essendon viewers, the Saints-Roos and this game, which is good.
Saturday night – Richmond versus Western Bulldogs at MCG
The Richmond hype will be hitting fever pitch, so why not give them the Saturday night game to fill the ‘G? Had the Dogs not played on Sunday, this was another game I was considering for the Friday night timeslot.
Saturday night – Fremantle versus Collingwood at Optus Stadium
I like the idea of giving the light show a night platform to really show off the spectacle, even though I go to the football to watch the football.
Collingwood should get the bikkies here, and potentially this game could have slotted into Friday night had Fremantle been higher up the ladder.
Optus Stadium (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Sunday – Geelong versus Gold Coast Suns
A fit Gary Ablett against his old side, with the Suns playing for pride. If Geelong need percentage, they are getting it here.
This is probably one of the most one sided games of the round and the Sunday early timeslot is the best fit.
Sunday – Melbourne versus GWS at the MCG
I am a sucker for Sunday afternoon football at the ‘G – there is something nice about the sun going down as the final quarter plays out.
Both of these teams will still be in the finals conversation, so putting them here seems off, however the MCG has two games, and GWS play Sunday, so would be unfair to ask them to play Friday night.
This could potentially be the match of the round, and shaping the final ladder position so late could be a boost.
Sunday twilight – Carlton versus Adelaide at Docklands
Adelaide are going to find form now that I have put them in the last time slot. Another victim of the Docklands availability and playing Sunday (both teams), this is the fairest place I could slot them.
This leaves us with Sydney on Friday night, Richmond Saturday night, and Melbourne in the Sunday afternoon slots. West Coast and Fremantle not clashing on the Saturday, with South Australian and Queensland teams spread across Saturday and Sunday too.
What do you think Roarers? How would you schedule these games, given opponents and venues are already picked?
Despite a couple of ruckmen this year being in the running for the Brownlow Medal, yet another count has been dominated by midfielders. When you’re doing your form for next year, pick a midfielder and perhaps look for one who has recently switched clubs. For these are the Brownlow trends that continue to emerge.
Melburnians love sport in general, but it’s football that’s in our blood, whether we’re one of 100,000 people packed into the MCG grandstands on grand final day, on the grass banks in the bush or in the burbs supporting the game’s grassroots.