19/04/2024

Photos from AFL.com.au.

The AFL fixture release day is one of the most anticipated days among clubs and its fans. With the release of the 2022 fixture, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at your club's biggest games, must-wins, and where it'll be travelling next year.

The AFL fixture release day is one of the most anticipated days among clubs and its fans. With the release of the 2022 fixture, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at your club’s biggest games, must-wins, and where it’ll be travelling next year.

Adelaide

Fans will be excited for

Not only Adelaide fans but Port Adelaide fans as well will be ecstatic at the prospect of a Friday night Showdown in Round 3. The first time ever South Australia’s biggest game has been played in primetime on Friday night. The Round 3 fixture is a Crow’s home game and will give the Crows a big turbo boost as they continue their exciting build under Matthew Nicks.

Additionally, Crows fans will be buoyed by big Victorian sides making trips to Adelaide Oval this season, with Richmond coming over for a school holidays clash in mid April before reigning premiers Melbourne, Essendon, Collingwood and Carlton all set to play in Adelaide in the run home. 

Fans will be nervous for

While all the excitement comes with the early season showdown on a friday night, it will be imperative for the Crows to start the season off strongly so it is an enticing contest. With winnable games against Fremantle at home and then Collingwood at the MCG in the leadup to the Round 3 contest, The Crows will be going they can start off the season, much the same as they started season 2021.

Crows fans will also be hopeful and aware of how the team finished off the season last year and will be hoping that the same story doesn’t occur this year.

Interstate trips

The Crows have their set 11 home games at Adelaide Oval and with the return Showdown in Round 23, the Crow’s 10 interstate trips will see them span the country.Only 4 trips to Melbourne this year for the Crows with 1 game at the MCG, The Crows will also visit Perth, Sydney, Gold Coast, Geelong, Hobart and Ballarat.

Double encounters

Collingwood, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Carlton and West Coast.

The Crows have been dealt a great hand with their double up fixtures, only facing one team that finished in the top 8 last season twice.  

With teams around them like Carlton, Collingwood and West Coast, whom they meet twice, these games will be important for the Crows to get ahead and prove they are improving and developing under Matthew Nicks.

Jono Baruch

Brisbane

Fans will be excited for

The big teams are coming to play at the Gabba and the Lions have again retained their Easter Thursday clash against Collingwood in Round 5. They will also welcome the Demons, Essendon and Carlton to the Gabba and to play in front of their Lions’ fans.

The QClash is always something for fans to be excited about. In season 2022, the pair will meet twice. Brisbane will travel to Metricon Stadium for the first encounter on April 24. The Lions will then host the Suns on the weekend of July 22 in the rematch at the Gabba. Currently having the hold on Gold Coast, Brisbane will hope to continue their dominance over its cross-town rivals.

Fans will be nervous for

The Lions will face Melbourne twice in the second half of the season. Firstly facing them away at the MCG after the bye, then hosting the Dees in the last round at the Gabba. The last game might be a dress-up rehearsal for finals if Brisbane is in contention which we expect them to be.

Brisbane played the Demons twice in 2021and were comprehensively beaten, losing by 22 points and 33 points respectively.

Interstate trips

Brisbane have a relatively good schedule for the first half of the season, only travelling outside Queensland five times. They will though be travelling to Melbourne twice in the first four weeks, to combat Essendon in Round 2 before going down the highway to face Geelong at GMHBA Stadium in Round 4.

After the bye, the Lions will start with a trip to the MCG to play the reigning premiers, Melbourne before hosting two games against the Bulldogs and the Bombers at the Gabba. Brisbane’s last month consists of two trips to Melbourne in Round 20 and 22, to face Richmond and St Kilda respectively.

Double encounters

Essendon, Gold Coast, GWS, St Kilda and Melbourne.

Brisbane will face the reigning premiers, Melbourne, twice which may haunt Lions fans, having lost both contests when they faced each other this year.

The other four teams finished below them on the ladder but will still look to push the Lions going into next year. Out of the remaining four, St Kilda was the only team to defeat Brisbane.

Jordan Janssen

Carlton

Fans will be excited for

Carlton’s traditional home opener against the Tigers. Carlton fans always head into this game full of hope, and then have it stripped away after the game. However, they might have a bit more confidence heading into this game that they can get the win, particularly with the offseason they’ve had and despite Richmond’s improvement this offseason.

They’ll also be eager for the game against Essendon. Yes, they defeated them last year, but after that everyone saw what the Dons did. They’ll be up against a much more improved side and will be determined to win against one of their biggest rivals.

Fans will be nervous for

Two of their final three games are against Brisbane away and Melbourne at the ‘G. If the Blues somehow manage to be in finals contention, they’ll face two of the biggest tests in Rounds 22 and 23 in Brisbane and Melbourne. If they’re only just a chance, they’ll have to win those two, which means there’ll either be jubilation or even more heartbreak after those two rounds.

Interstate trips

Carlton will make a couple of trips interstate with only a few long trips. The Blues travel outside of Victoria six times, however they do have to take the long trip out west twice in 2022. They also have to make the trip up north to Queensland twice.

They’ll travel to both Adelaide and to the Sydney western suburbs once each, so it is a rather simple interstate plan for the Blues.

Double encounters

Adelaide, Collingwood, Fremantle, GWS and Richmond.

Carlton have some tough double headers, but they’re winnable games. Richmond and GWS could be a challenge, especially with its recent record against the two. Fremantle might also prove to be challenging, particularly out at Optus Stadium and despite their recent record against them.

Collingwood and Adelaide might prove less of a challenge. However, Collingwood can surprise and they showed early on in 2021 they can cause problems against the Blues.

Josh Ward

Collingwood

Fans will be excited for

Collingwood has always been one of the luckier sides that get the regular time slots and the games that both its fans and mutual supporters look forward too.

Although the Round 2 Thursday night match against Richmond has been removed, Collingwood will play its traditional Anzac Day and Queen’s Birthday clashes, Easter Thursday football and the late August trip away to Sydney will also make its return.

The ever-growing rivalry between the Pies and West Coast Eagles will excite the black and white army, as Collingwood will host the travellers in Round 4. West Coast have little issue playing at the ‘G which will come to the delight to Collingwood as Marvel will host the match.

Fans will be nervous for

Playing the Western Bulldogs at Marvel is never an easy challenge, and although it’s Collingwood’s home game, one would think the Doggies will go in with the upper hand over the Pies. The Pies do have the better over the Doggies, winning the last four of five encounters, but one would think after 2021, its the Western Bulldogs to take home the W.

Although its one of the most anticipated matches each year, Anzac Day in Round 6, then having to face the Bombers in Round 19 again will be a test for the Pies. Particularly on Anzac Day, there never seems to be an advantage to one side, with the big stage hosting a game full of surprises.

Collingwood as of late have not been too consistent against the Bombers, and facing the side twice who will push for top eight in 2022 will be a challenge. At least one win of the two games would be welcomed by the Pies.

Interstate trips

The now traditional Easter Thursday clash against Brisbane at the Gabba is fixtured again for 2022 and is set to be another thriller among the sides. COVID-19 forced the game to be moved to Marvel in 2021, a direct switch with the sides’ second encounter and was Collingwood’s win up until Zac Bailey’s final second goal that gave his side a one point win. 

Collingwood will then travel next in Round 10 to the west and play Fremantle, with no scheduled Perth game against West Coast which as of late, have been some of the Pies’ most exciting games.

The Pies also travel to Metricon and Adelaide over in the space of three weeks, with the return of the late August fixture against Sydney scheduled for Round 22. 

Double encounters

Adelaide, Essendon, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Carlton.

Collingwood’s double encounters will be a mixed challenge, with the side to face reigning Premier in Melbourne twice, one the traditional Queen’s Birthday clash. Pies fans will hope they can replicate their team’s performance this year, or will they be left to deem this year’s win thanks to a little bit of luck and fate for Nathan Buckley’s departer.

Up against Carlton and Gold Coast, it is never a certain win or loss for the Pies either, however their 24 point loss to the Suns in 2021 was the Pies downfall point in the season, and will need to beat them in 2022 if they plan on improving on their 17th place finish.

Tricia Mifsud

Essendon

Fans will be excited for

Eight straight matches in Melbourne to start the season headlines the fixture for the Dons, who played eight of their home-and-away games outside of Melbourne last season. Headlining this stretch is the annual ANZAC Day clash against Collingwood, with Essendon winning both matchups against its rival last season. Wins in this fixture have been few and far between in recent years, but the Bombers will fancy their chances in Round 6.

Never bereft of marquee fixtures, Dreamtime at the ‘G will be heavily anticipated after two consecutive seasons of the event being away from Victoria. The Tigers fell from their pedestal in 2021 and the Dons have an opportunity to end the run after they came so close last year. An early Dreamtime fixture – earmarked for Round 10 – means the two famous clubs will face each other again in Round 23.

Fans will be nervous for

An early stretch of three-straight games against top four sides from 2021 is a tough way to start the year. Geelong (MCG), Brisbane (Marvel) and Melbourne (MCG) could set the club up well if it gets off on the right foot, with winnable games against Adelaide, Fremantle and Collingwood to follow. It will be a great indication on where this club stands after an unlikely finals appearance last season.

A Round 9 trip to Sydney will also be a huge task, with the Swans vying for a spot in the finals along with the Dons. These clashes always produce fireworks with the Swans narrowly winning both last season. The Dons will circle this game as an opportunity to get one back on the Bloods in a game sure to produce a thrilling finish.

Interstate trips

After eight-straight games in Melbourne, the Dons will fly up to Sydney in Round 9 to face the Swans, and fly to Adelaide for a date with the Power in Round 11 before their Round 12 bye.

Their annual trip to the West will come in Round 15 against the Eagles which was a great result for the club in 2021, while trips to Brisbane in Round 17 against the Lions and Sydney in Round 21 to face GWS round out the interstate travel.

It’s considerably less travel for the Dons compared to 2021, with five interstate trips scheduled and a lot of football in front of Melbourne fans set to be played.

Double encounters

Collingwood, Richmond, Sydney, Port Adelaide and Brisbane.

A higher finish in 2021 corresponds to a tougher fixture for next season, with two top-four clubs and recent premiers on the fixture twice. Two meetings with the rebuilding Pies is a bonus for the club, with the Dons fancying their chances to repeat the dose for a second year running, while the Swans have been a thorn in their side with close finishes for years on end, so it could be time to turn the tables in that matchup.

Jasper Chellappah

Fremantle

Fans will be excited for

The Round 3 Derby against cross town rivals, the West Coast Eagles, will be one of the most heavily anticipated matches of the Dockers season. Freo were finally able to break the six year drought last season winning the Round 22 encounter by 15 points after having lost the past 11 meetings.

The match was one of the best games of the year and what made it even better was the roaring 50,000 plus at Optus cheering on the Dockers. The difference next year is the game will be a West Coast home game in Round 3 but the Dockers will be hoping their fortunes continue in 2022 and they can walk away after the match with the bragging rights over their rival. The two clubs are set to meet again in Round 22 where it will be a Fremantle home game.

Friday Night footy will return for the Dockers in 2022 for the first time in more than five years when they host North Melbourne in Round 8. In a match which Fremantle will be favoured to win, their fans will welcome back the return to Friday night and the marquee timeslot. 

Fans will be nervous for

The team has a tough backend to the season which sees them play five top eight sides from last season in their final eight games as well as matching up against Richmond away, St Kilda away and West Coast in the other three matches. With the club hoping to push for finals this season their tough fixture at the end of the season could see the team go from promising to quickly falling out of finals contention over the final two months of the season.

Fremantle’s Round 6 clash against Carlton will see Adam Cerra make his return to Perth against his old side. Fremantle will be desperate to show Cerra he made the wrong decision choosing to leave the club to return to the Blues in the offseason. History does not favour Fremantle in this matchup, falling to Carlton both times the two clubs met last season.

Interstate trips

Fremantle will only need to travel interstate for 10 games this season, compared to 11 last season. The Dockers open their 2022 campaign away against the Crows before playing their next three games in Perth. They will also get back to back games in Perth in Rounds 12 and 13 when they take on Brisbane and Hawthorn. 

Another positive for Fremantle is it does not have any back to back interstate games unlike last season where it was on the road from Round 15 to 17. The Dockers will also only need to make the long flight to Queensland once in Round 9 when they play Gold Coast.

Double encounters

Carlton, GWS, Melbourne, St Kilda and West Coast.

None of the teams the Dockers will meet twice finished in the bottom five on the ladder meaning they will have their work cutout for them both times they meet these teams. With Melbourne expected to be right at the top of the ladder and the other four sides all looking to play finals the results of these games will ultimately decide the Dockers season.

Ben Filosi

Geelong

Fans will be excited for

Back-to-back home games across Sir Doug Nicholls round in Rounds 10 and 11 will be special for the Cats after two years of inconsistent games in front of fans at GMHBA stadium. Geelong will face Port Adelaide and Adelaide across these two rounds.

A season opener at the MCG against Essendon for the Country Game will bring in a huge crowd. The marquee fixture has been a success since its introduction, and the two clubs have produced some brilliant spectacles. Last season the game was held in torrential rain down at the Cattery where Geelong secured the four points, but their home game will move up to the MCG this year.

Fans will be nervous for

The opportunity for revenge will present itself in Round 17 when the reigning premiers come to town. The preliminary final was a night to forget for Geelong, but a late-season encounter with Melbourne will have everyone on the edge of their seat as two top-four sides go head to head.

A Friday night trip to Sydney to face the Swans could be a telling game early in the season in Round 2. With Geelong needing to get off to a good start after an unconvincing beginning in 2021, the Bloods under lights could be a gripping game that holds so much history.

Interstate trips

The Cats will play nine games at GMHBA to go with six interstate games and a visit to six separate states and territories. It begins in Round 2 against Sydney at the SCG, then Round 6 against North in Hobart and Round 8 in Canberra in a clash with the Giants.

After their Round 13 bye, the Cats travel to Optus Stadium to play the Eagles before facing Port in Adelaide in Round 19 and the Suns at Metricon in Round 22.

Double encounters

West Coast, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs.

Two top-four sides and three teams that didn’t make finals await the Cats twice in 2022. The club will fancy their chances to – at the very least – split their season series with the Power and Dogs given their home matches at the Cattery, while they should be bullish in their chances to beat the Eagles in the West and take care of business against the Kangaroos and Saints.

Jasper Chellappah

Gold Coast Suns

Fans will be excited for…

The QClash, as always. Gold Coast and Brisbane will once again meet twice in season 2022, with Metricon Stadium holding the first encounter on Sunday, April 24. The Suns will then travel up the highway on the weekend of July 22 in the rematch at the Gabba. With the ledger currently 15-6 the Lions’ way, the Suns will be looking to cause a couple of upsets this season.

After it was slated to play in the heart of the nation last season before scheduling changes, Gold Coast will host Hawthorn and North Melbourne in back-to-back weeks at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs.

Fans will be nervous for

The clash with preliminary finalists Port Adelaide in Round 15. Gold Coast has only beaten Port Adelaide once in the club’s history, which was in its first ever win in 2011. As such the Power currently hold a 12-game winning streak over the Suns, and will get the chance to try and extend that at Adelaide Oval.

Interstate trips

Gold Coast boasts a packed travel schedule in its first nine rounds, starting the season at WA against West Coast, to NSW in Round 3 against GWS, Melbourne in Rounds 5 and 7 to face St Kilda and Collingwood respectively before backing up the latter by flying to Sydney where the Swans await.

After the bye, the Suns will enjoy three of their four matches at home with a trip to Adelaide in between, before finishing off the year with trips to Melbourne twice (Essendon and North Melbourne) and Tasmania (Hawthorn).

Double encounters

Brisbane, West Coast, Collingwood, Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

Gold Coast will face two of its fellow bottom four finishers in North Melbourne and Collingwood twice, while also taking on 14th placed Hawthorn twice as well.

Strangely enough, the Suns and the Hawks won’t meet in either of their home states, hosting matches in Alice Springs and Launceston respectively.

Alex Catalano

GWS Giants

Fans will be excited for

It doesn’t get any bigger than the Battle of the Bridge, and Sydney-siders don’t have to wait long for the grudge match.

The Giants kick off their campaign with a home game against their cross-town rivals in a match that’s sure to be spiteful.

The Giants hold the bragging rights after a dramatic one-point elimination final win last season, and if they can start the 2022 campaign with a victory, the harbour town bragging rights will be squarely in their favour.

Fans will be nervous for

The opening month of footy sees GWS travelling twice, firstly to Melbourne to face the Tigers in round two before facing the Dockers two weeks later.

Both Fremantle and Richmond will be looking to atone following disappointing seasons in 2021, which could spell trouble for the Giants.

Interstate trips

The Giants will be tested early, with a trip to Melbourne in round two before travelling to Perth a fortnight later.

The Giants then face the reigning premiers at the MCG in Round 5 before facing the Crows in Adelaide two weeks later.

GWS then gets three weeks in Sydney before facing the Lions in Brisbane.

Fortunately for the Giants, they only travel once more in the final month of footy.

Double encounters

Brisbane, Carlton, Fremantle, Sydney Swans, Western Bulldogs

Todd Davey

Hawthorn

Fans will be excited for 

The Easter Monday clash against Geelong will be a fixture that excites Hawks fans the most, with the Hawks playing host at the MCG on April 18. With Geelong well and truly holding bragging rights with a record of 8-2 between the sides on Easter Monday, new coach Sam Mitchell will be hopeful his side can scalp a win in his attempt against.

Round 11 against the Gold Coast Suns will also be a highlight, with the Hawks playing their first game in the Northern Territory at TIO Stadium. Having suffered a humiliating loss to the Suns last year, the Hawks will be eager to make amends.

Fans will be nervous for

Round 19 against North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena could make for a nervy encounter. In addition to losing three of its past five games against the Kangaroos including the seven-point loss in Launceston last year which gave the Kangaroos their first win of the 2021 season, the Hawks will be Roos’ backyard where the Hawks are yet to play at. 

The clash against Essendon in Round 8 will also be a nervous fixture for Hawks fans, with the club taking one of its biggest rivals at Marvel Stadium, where the Hawks have historically struggled at despite pipping the Bombers in Round One last season. 

Interstate trips

The Hawks won’t have to wait long for its first away trip of the season, taking on Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval in Round Two.

The side all up will have nine games outside of Victoria, playing five games in Tasmania which includes four home fixtures of UTAS Stadium and the aforementioned Round 19 clash against the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena.

The Hawks will make the single trip to both Western Australia and New South Wales, playing Fremantle at Optus Stadium and GWS at Giants Stadium. The Hawks will also be off to Darwin to play the Suns at TIO Stadium. 

Double encounters

Gold Coast, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs.

It’s a mixed bag for Sam Mitchell’s men who’ll be taking on North Melbourne and the Gold Coast Suns twice, both of whom finished in the bottom four, while also taking on last year’s grand finalists the Western Bulldogs, with St Kilda and Richmond rounding out the Hawks’ double encounters.

Though they may not all be winnable, the Hawks will feel they have a chance of being competitive, given they defeated the Bulldogs last year, drew with the Tigers last year, while they will be expected to take wins with the Roos and Suns. Though Round 20 against the Saints and Round 15 at Marvel will be tough fixtures.

Giacomo Bruno

Melbourne

Fans will be excited for

The season opener, the Grand Final rematch against the Western Bulldogs on March 16 at the MCG, where the club will unfurl the premiership flag. It will be the first time the two clubs will meet each other since the Grand Final and Melbourne would love to replicate the result and start their premiership defence off with a win.

The Demons host blockbuster matches at home against the Bombers in Round 3 and Hawthorn in Round 7. Fans can also look forward to watching the traditional Anzac Eve and Queen’s Birthday clashes at the MCG as well.

Fans will be nervous for

The middle patch of the season, Rounds 15 and 17 through 20. During that stretch, the Demons will match up against four of last year’s finalists in the Brisbane Lions, Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, Port in Alice Springs then the Western Bulldogs under the roof of Marvel Stadium.

Melbourne finishes that period with a trip over the Nullabor to face the Dockers away at Optus Stadium. This stretch could make or break the Dees season and have a huge impact on where they finish on the ladder at the end of the season.

Interstate trips

Melbourne won’t have to leave Victoria too much in the first half of the season, playing five games at the ‘G while sneaking another game as the away team when they play the Tigers in Round 6. The Dees will head up to the Gold Coast in Round 2 to play the Suns at Metricon Stadium.

They will also need to face top four sides, Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval in Round 4 while clashing with the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba in the last round of the season, a game that could be a dress rehearsal for both teams as they tune-up for finals.

The Demons will need to make the trip over to Perth twice next season when they face the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers in Rounds 9 and 20 respectively. 

Double encounters

Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs.

Melbourne have double ups against the rebuilding Pies and the Fremantle Dockers which will please Demons supporters as this year Melbourne were able to deal with the lower sides as good teams should, however, they did lose to Collingwood on Queen’s Birthday.

This year Melbourne had a good record going up against the top eight teams, finishing the year without a loss to a top eight side. In 2022, the Demons will face three sides who finished in the top five, the Brisbane Lions, Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide twice. Going into these contests as the hunted, the Demons will have to be at their best.

Jordan Janssen

North Melbourne

Fans will be excited for

North Melbourne fans will be eager for Round 1 to see number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis begin his AFL career at the home of footy. It’ll look to start 2022 on the right foot against the Hawks, who are also in rebuild mode.

The Kangaroos will also be determined on Good Friday when they face runners-up, the Western Bulldogs, who demolished them by 128 points in the sides’ last Good Friday match. It could be another thumping, but North could be set for a little improvement in 2022 and hopefully can prove a challenge to the Bulldogs.

Fans will be nervous for

Rounds 9 and 10 against Port Adelaide and Melbourne. Not a lot will expect Kangaroos to play finals in 2022, but they’ll want to prove themselves against the top sides. They’ll most likely struggle against those two, but it’s a massive/nerve wracking two games against two top four sides down at Blundstone and then at Marvel.

Interstate trips

They travel a fair few times North, with eight interstate games, including four down at Blundstone. Other than those games they travel to Brisbane once, Sydney once, Perth once and to the top end once to face Gold Coast at TIO Stadium. Down in Hobart they’ll face Geelong, both South Australia teams and the Hawks.

Double encounters

Adelaide, Geelong, Gold Coast Suns, Hawthorn and Sydney.

It’s mostly easy double headers, with some hard ones in 2022. The hardest of them all is no doubt the Cats and the Swans, who both finished relatively close to each other in 2021.

However the other three are easy. They could go 2-0 against Hawthorn and Gold Coast, but Adelaide could be challenging after they acquired a bit of talent this offseason. The Kangaroos can defeat Adelaide, but will be a lot more challenging this time around.

Josh Ward

Port Adelaide 

Fans will be excited for

As usual for the Showdowns, Port Adelaide will not have to wait long with the first coming in Round 3 which will be Adelaide’s home game as bragging rights will be on the line.

Whether Port Adelaide will get to wear its famous Prison Bar jumper for its Round 23 clash remains to be seen, but with a full crowd against its cross-town rivals to finish the season, Adelaide Oval will be rocking.

Fans will be nervous for

A two game stretch will see Port play Melbourne away and then Geelong at home. Given it will be near the end of the season (Rounds 18 and 19) it could have huge finals implications for Port and could either solidify or ruin their season.

Interstate trips

Port Adelaide had a good record on the road last season, going 9-2 on the year, but this season will be significantly tougher. 

The club will face Brisbane, Geelong, Richmond, Melbourne and a tricky match against Fremantle all away so it is a daunting schedule for the club in what is a defining year for Ken Hinkley.

Port will travel to some unexpected grounds this season with TIO Traeger Park, GMHBA, Blundstone and Cazalys Stadium all being visited. 

The Power also travels to the home of football in the MCG. In total, there are 11 matches away from Adelaide Oval in 2022.

Double encounters

Geelong, Richmond, Melbourne, Essendon and Adelaide.

A tough group of team’s for Ken Hinkley’s men to face twice. Two of last season’s top four along with a vastly improving Essendon side and cross-town rivals Adelaide. 

There is cause for optimism however, aside from Melbourne, Port defeated every team on that list last year including both Showdown clashes.

Adam Schultz

Richmond

Fans will be excited for

Round 1 against arch-rivals Carlton is always a momentous occasion for the club and its fans and while there was a crowd allowed early last year, with limited chances to attend games in the second half of the season, this fixture looms as another long-awaited return to the stands for Richmond supporters.

The return of Dreamtime at the ‘G – after the fixture was played in Darwin, and Perth the past two years – will also be a big occasion for the Tigers, hosting the Bombers in next season’s edition in a celebration of Indigenous culture.

Fans will be nervous for

The Tigers play the 2021 grand finalists, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne within the space of three weeks in the first half of the season in what might be a true test of their own credentials in staying with the top teams of the competition. The ANZAC Day eve clash between the Demons especially is another anticipated match, one which the Tigers will want to avenge the 34-point loss in 2020, this time around.

The SCG hasn’t been a venue that’s held a lot of success for Richmond this century, only winning three of 12 games since 2000 and if you were to extend it even further, it’s three of the last 16 games the Tigers have won there. Therefore, the Round 11 matchup against Sydney at the SCG looms as a big test for the club, especially when recollections of their last game at the venue in Round 23 of 2016 – a 113-point loss – looms in the back of the mind.

Interstate trips

The Tigers will be travelling outside of Victoria just five times in 2021 – twice to South Australia to face the Crows and Power, once to Western Australia for a clash against the Eagles, once to New South Wales for a battle between the Swans and once to Queensland to play the Suns.

Of these contests, Richmond hasn’t lost at Metricon Stadium – where it faces Gold Coast – since 2014, currently riding an 11-game win streak. Meeting West Coast at Optus Stadium hasn’t yielded a win in two tries, while travelling to Adelaide Oval twice in a season is usually a normal procedure but can be hit-and-miss in the regular season.

Double encounters

Essendon, Hawthorn, West Coast, Carlton, Port Adelaide

After an underwhelming 2021, Richmond face two sides who finished last season in the top-eight – Port Adelaide and Essendon – along with fringe-finals side West Coast, twice next year. 

2021 will mark the first time Richmond and West Coast come up against each other twice in a season since 2009 – where each team shared a win each. Since that point, the head-to-head is six wins apiece in the 12 seasons that followed to now.

The last time Richmond played Port Adelaide twice in the home-and-away season (in 2019), it won both encounters, similarly with Essendon (in 2018, 2016 and 2015), Carlton (in 2019, 2017 and 2015) and Hawthorn (in 2020 – although featured a draw – and 2018) so it’s a positive track record for double-up encounters between these sides for the yellow and black.

Jason Irvine

St Kilda 

Fans will be excited for 

It’s a potential dream start for the Saints not having to face any 2021 finalists until Round 6 in GWS, whom they narrowly defeated in 2021 back in a Round 1 thriller.

A Round 1 date with the Pies, looms as a mouthwatering contest with the Saints having plenty to prove, whilst hoping they can shut down the Nick Daicos debut hype.

A return home to Marvel in Round 3 against the Tigers will also have Saints fans keen with anticipation, as they will get to find out if their 40 point victory over the Tigers last year was a fluke.

Fans will be nervous for

A nail-biting finish to the home and away season with a tough final three games against the highly rated Cats, Lions and Swans. Thankfully for Saints fans, the latter two are at Marvel Stadium.

Brisbane and Sydney are both fierce competitors and will make for a gruelling challenge.

Interstate trips

The Saints face seven interstate trips, albeit one of those is a home game (against the Power in Round 7).

They do however, face the tough task of playing two games at Optus Oval, against the Dockers and Eagles,, where they, like many teams, struggle.

They also play the Giants at Manuka Oval, and the Crows, Swans and Lions all on the road also.

Double encounters

Hawthorn, Fremantle, Sydney, Brisbane and Geelong.

The Saints have a slightly more forgiving fixture this year with a double up against the Hawks, which will excite Saints fans, whilst having to play the Dockers, the Swans, the Lions and the Cats twice.

Although the double ups for the Saints are a tad on the harder side, Saints fans need not fret, as they defeated the Lions at the Gabba and traded points with the Swans last year. They also flogged the Dockers in Round 23 and pushed the Cats for three and a half quarters twice.

Jordan Peeler

Sydney

Fans will be excited for

The opening rounds against GWS at Accor Stadium and Geelong at the SCG will no doubt see the highly anticipated 1000th AFL goal from Lance Franklin.

With potential for it to be the last time we see a player achieve this feat due to the nature of the modern game, Franklin’s milestone will be watched and applauded by most fans from all teams.

The GWS matches particularly will also fuel excitement for Sydney fans who still feel the disappointment of last season’s elimination final, one point loss. Facing GWS twice in the 2021 home and away season, with either side earning a win, the battle of the bridge could well be more fiery than ever in 2022.

Fans will be nervous for

Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium in Round 6. The Swans haven’t faced the Hawks away from home since early 2018, with the four most recent encounters taking place at the SCG.

Despite it being a number of years since the two teams dominated the top of the table, their meetings have remained just as exciting.

In 2021 it was the Hawks that dominated and humbled the young Sydney side that was on the rise. Jai Newcombe made his AFL debut, playing an incredible pressure midfield role, ending the match with a mammoth 14 tackles to his name.

The Swans will have nightmares of the stadium which saw the Giants end their 2021 season in the elimination final. The Swans last played the Hawks at UTAS Stadium in round five, 2012, in which the Swans won by 37 points. 

Interstate trips

The Swans will have to travel interstate 10 times. They travel to Victoria six times, Western Australia twice, South Australia and Tasmania once each. 

Travelling the maximum length of Australia from Sydney to Perth twice to play the Eagles and the Dockers would probably be less than ideal for the Swans.

Additionally, a rare visit to Tasmania has come twice in six matches when they play the Hawks at the University of Tasmania Stadium.

Double encounters

Greater Western Sydney, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Essendon and St Kilda.

The Sydney rivalry with GWS continues as expected as that rivalry continues to heat up as seasons pass. Additionally, two more close encounters with Essendon will certainly be fixtures to keep an eye on.

A double encounter against last season’s runner’s up in the Western Bulldogs will be a challenge for the Swans, but a challenge that will excite the young Swans who will relish the chance to test themselves and continue to build on last season’s momentum.

Jack Dobson

West Coast 

Fans will be excited for 

A soft start faces West Coast in 2022. Having missed the finals for the first time since 2014 last year, West Coast’s push to return to September has the potential to get off to an excellent start. 

Facing Gold Coast to start for the second year running, followed by fellow non finalists North Melbourne, Fremantle and Collingwood, the Eagles have the chance for a dream start to their campaign, and an early chance for bragging rights in the Western Derby in Round three.

Fans will be nervous for

Unflattery at the Cattery. A big plus for West Coast’s fixture is that they will only play at its bogey ground, Geelong, once in 2022. However the Eagles’ visit to GMHBA Stadium will come in the last round of the season.

Given the last two matches at Geelong resulted in 97 and 92 point losses respectively, West Coast fans will hope they can break the Geelong hoodoo, or at least avoid another disaster if it’s season is on the line. 

Interstate trips

West Coast was hampered by a poor away record last season, going 3-8 away from Optus compared to 7-4 at home. 

Thankfully for the Eagles, five of their nine games against last year’s finalists come at home in Perth, and they’ll get first crack against Geelong at home as well, ahead of the last round clash against the Cats.

Two of last year’s top four in Port Adelaide and Brisbane are both away, part of a tough stretch for the Eagles from Rounds 5-10 that also features GWS away, and Melbourne and Sydney at home.

Double encounters

Fremantle, Geelong, Richmond, Gold Coast Suns and Adelaide.

As usual, West Coast will play Fremantle in the Western Derby twice across the season, in Rounds 3 and 22 respectively. Fans will savor the early opportunity to get one back over their cross town rival after their Derby streak was cut in Round 22 last year. 

The Eagles will be especially pleased to have drawn Gold Coast and Adelaide twice, having only lost to the Suns twice over their history, and having beaten the Crows in seven of their last eight meetings, including the last five in a row. 

Most promising, they will meet their only top eight double up, Geelong for the first time in Round 14, by which time they will have played six of last year’s top eight for the only time during the regular season, potentially meaning smooth sailing for the second half of the year.

Thomas Grattan

Western Bulldogs

Fans will be excited for

It’ll be primetime Dogs to start the year, with a Grand Final rematch set to open up the 2022 AFL season. The Dogs will be out for revenge after a heartbreaking finish to their season, and a Wednesday night clash with the Demons on the MCG presents as the perfect opportunity to send a message to the competition.

The annual Good Friday fixture against North Melbourne has been a happy hunting ground for the Dogs in the past couple years, with Josh Bruce’s 10-goal haul fresh in the minds of supporters. They get their opportunity to do battle once again at Marvel Stadium in Round 5.

Fans will be nervous for

After a resounding preliminary final win in Adelaide over the Power, the Dogs can expect a ferocious side coming out with a point to prove at Adelaide Oval in Round 8. Port Adelaide has crashed out a week before the big dance in consecutive years. After a one-goal loss to Richmond in the 2020 preliminary final, Port came out and beat them in the 2021 home-and-away season. They will be out to do the same in Round 8.

There also won’t be great memories when the Bulldogs fly west for the first time in 2022. The Eagles await in Round 11, so it will be interesting to see how the club deals with its first game at Optus Stadium since the Grand Final.

Interstate trips

Port Adelaide in Round 8 will be the Dogs’ first interstate trip, followed by the Eagles in Round 11. Straight after the bye will be a tough period to negotiate, with GWS (Round 15), Brisbane (17) and Sydney (18) all coming in quick succession away from home.

Overall, the Dogs are interstate for just five games which is a nice result for the 2022 season.

Double encounters

GWS, Melbourne, Sydney, Hawthorn and Geelong.

The Dogs have some tough double-ups – as you would expect – and will face four 2021 finalists in 2022. Clashes with GWS always have extra meaning since that preliminary final, while the same can be said for Sydney after the 2016 Grand Final.

Both Grand Final rematches with Melbourne will be must-watch, Geelong presents as a challenge down at GMHBA, while playing Hawthorn twice is a good result for the club.

Jasper Chellappah

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