Why oh why do you play Carlton on the opening night of the AFL season year after year?
Yes last year was tightly contested up until about a third of the way through the fourth quarter, but still, it doesn’t take away from the fact that opening night should be reserved for two of the most followed and successful teams from the previous season.
Take Collingwood vs Richmond, two of the most popular teams in Victoria, who brought in over 88,000 fans in Round 19.
Granted, the season opener brought in over 91,000 last season, but it must be assumed that the crowds would be larger if two highly popular teams were to play.
I cannot understand why the AFL would want to showcase a team like Carlton in their current state, but tradition is tradition and sometimes we must conform to decisions based on tradition.
It would be much more of a spectacle to watch two teams like Collingwood and Richmond or Hawthorn and Essendon, which are teams that are very popular throughout the AFL community and are generally successful, which can provide for a much more entertaining and tighter game.
I believe that most people will agree with me and assume that Richmond takes the cake with this game by a fair margin, but only time will tell.
Looking at other games in the round, on Friday night we will be fortunate enough to see two powerhouse teams play each other at the G on a Friday night, with Collingwood and Geelong squaring off.
It will more than likely be Dayne Beams return game to the Pies and a must-watch game for a footy die hard. Furthermore, seeing the Big 3 of Geelong’s midfield clash with Collingwood’s reconstructed midfield will be an intense matchup which hopes to bring high scoring from both teams.
It will be crucial for Collingwood to bounce back after a heart breaking loss in the 2018 Grand Final, and I expect them to fight until the final siren and have a solid win against a Cats outfit with new recruits Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan.
Melbourne will be looking to start strong against Port Adelaide and their potential top SA talent that they may pick up in the draft. Melbourne will also want to show that they have the talent in their list to take on a team like Port Adelaide, who lost three key pieces in their list in Jasper Pittard, Jared Polec and Chad Wingard.
Personally, I would have rather liked to see Port Adelaide take on Hawthorn due to the drama with Chad Wingard but we can only wait until Chad makes his return game against the Power.
Melbourne should look to take the win in front of a home crowd who is ready for them to return for a deep finals push. Both sides will be revealing star recruits, with Power showing off new premiership ruckman from West Coast, Scott Lycett, and Melbourne bringing in former Gold Coast captain Stephen May to a strong Melbourne defence.
Adelaide will be playing host to Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval. It will be interesting to see Chad Wingard make his Hawthorn debut at Adelaide Oval, however, not against the Power.
Hawthorn will also be unveiling star recruit Tom Scully, who adds depth to a midfield which already boasts the talents of Brownlow medalist, Tom Mitchell, and stars Jaeger O’Meara and Isaac Smith.
For the Crows, a win here would quiet the critics for at least another week, and prove to those who don’t believe, that they are ready to return to the finals. I believe that Hawthorn’s midfield will prove too much for the Crows and I see Hawthorn winning by a decent margin.
The Bulldogs will debut at the newly renamed Marvel Stadium on Saturday night against the Swans. For the Doggies, it will be a chance for them to prove themselves against a strong Sydney side whom they beat in the 2016 grand final.
However, Sydney’s experience and depth will more than likely be too strong for the Bulldogs, who have been struggling over the last two years, but it wouldn’t come as a shock if the hungry Dogs manage to cause an upset (by my standards).
Lions and Eagles will be a game that will fly under the radar. The Gabba was a place where the Lions were exceptionally tough to beat at this ground, and it will be a fierce contest between a strong Brisbane outfit and the premier Eagles.
Lachie Neale will be making his Lions debut with Tom Hickey more than likely making his Eagles debut in the ruck. However, the Eagles are the premiers for a reason, and that is why I see them squeezing out a tight win versus the Lions.
Saint Kilda and Gold Coast. Two teams looking to start the season 1-0, and it will probably be the only time in the year one of the teams has more wins than losses.
I have been proven wrong before, but these two teams look to be cellar dwellers come 2019, but who knows, maybe either team can surprise us all next year? St Kilda has the better list in my opinion, so based off of that, I believe they can pull off the win at home on the Sunday afternoon.
Essendon were able to knock off GWS at Spotless last year in Round 10, and the game should be a hot contest considering that it is Dylan Shiel’s return game after leaving the Giants in the trade period.
GWS will be coming out strong and showing Shiel that he should have thought twice before moving to Essendon. Another game that looks too tight to predict, (yes all these games are 50/50 chances at this point, but let me have some fun) but I believe that Essendon will come out guns blazing with their new look midfield and win in tight conditions.
The final game of the round is Fremantle vs North Melbourne, and there are star recruits on both teams who will be looking to line up for their teams come Sunday Round 1. Aaron Hall, Jasper Pittard and Jared Polec will be making their North debuts, while Jesse Hogan will be making his much anticipated Dockers debut.
Personally, I believe that North’s midfield is looking amazing on paper and I think they will dictate the flow of the game, which will result in the win.
Obviously, this is nothing serious, just some fun predictions that I came up with while reacting to the release of the fixture. Do you agree with my statement about opening night? Or do you think that the tradition should remain the same? Let me know your thoughts!