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Cats kickstart 18 games in 18 days

Jennifer Phelan  October 31, 2013 9:37 AM

McLachlan and Lethlean on the 2014 fixture The AFL answer the hard questions on next seasons draw
THE NEW-LOOK NAB Challenge concept will kick off under lights at Simonds Stadium with Geelong hosting Collingwood on a Wednesday night.

As revealed exclusively on AFL.com.au on October 15, the League will debut its 18 games in 18 days format next February, starting on Wednesday the 12th at the Cats' home ground.

Rivalry rounds: the big stars turn up to face their old clubs

The Magpies travelled down the highway for a practice match at Simonds in March this year but it will be the first time they've appeared under the club's new lights.

The clash between the two 2013 finalists will kick off the fixture, which will see every club play two games across a mixture of AFL and non-AFL venues.

Click here to see the full 2014 home and away fixture

Every match will be televised live on Foxtel at a range of starting times from late afternoon to early evening.

Etihad Stadium will host five games, starting with Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions on Thursday, February 13.

The Docklands venue will back up with the third match of the series on Friday, February 14, with Richmond to face Melbourne.

The first three games will start at 7.10pm eastern daylight time (AEDT).





State league venues Richmond Oval in South Australia (home of SANFL team West Adelaide) and Arena Joondalup (home of WAFL team West Perth) will host the respective derbies between the local AFL clubs.

Football will return to Wangaratta with Collingwood to hit the road a second time to play Richmond at the regional Victorian venue.

Essendon played Richmond in the town last year after infamously missing the 2012 game against St Kilda because the Bombers elected to fly from Melbourne despite the threat of bad weather.

It forced their return in the light airplanes the club had chartered and the game was called off.

The Magpies are not the only ones who will have to embark on two road trips.

St Kilda will play the Western Bulldogs in Simonds Stadium's second game, on Wednesday, February 19, before heading to Wagga Wagga for the final match of the Challenge.

The Saints will play Greater Western Sydney in Wagga on Saturday, March 1, at 4.40pm EDT.

The Giants' other game will be at Canberra's StarTrack Oval against the Sydney Swans on Thursday, February 20.

Hawthorn and North Melbourne will both entertain their Tasmanian links with a Friday night clash on February 21 at Launceston's Aurora Stadium.

Ahead of its foray into the home-and-away season, Alice Springs' Traeger Park will host the Melbourne-Geelong clash on Friday, February 28 at 5.40pm central standard time (CST).

The Swans will play their second game against West Coast at Blacktown on February 27 while Gold Coast will host Essendon at Metricon Stadium on February 17.

Then, the Suns will play the Lions in Townsville the following Sunday.

Ballarat residents will also get a chance to see some pre-season AFL action with North Melbourne and Carlton set to play at North Ballarat on Saturday, February 15, in another 4.40pm timeslot.

There is an average of a nine-day break between games.

Geelong and Melbourne – who will play in the heat of Central Australia on the second last day of the program - have been scheduled with the biggest gap.

The Cats have 16 days between their games, and the Demons 14.

Gold Coast and North Melbourne have the shortest breaks with just six days, but both clubs are finished with their games early.

The Suns play their second game on February 23 and the Kangaroos on February 21.

The Saints and the Giants are also facing lengthy breaks of 10 and nine days respectively before their face off in the final game on March 1.

The home-and-away season will start on Friday, March 14, with Collingwood to play Fremantle at Etihad Stadium.

30 stars in 30 days

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan