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Round one fixture: What we'd like to see

Jake Lever against the Crows? We'd like to see that. Picture: @melbournefc Twitter - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Hawthorn Hawks,GWS Giants,Gold Coast Suns,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,Western Bulldogs,West Coast Eagles,Richmond Tigers,Fixture,column
Jake Lever against the Crows? We'd like to see that. Picture: @melbournefc Twitter

THE 2018 AFL fixture hasn't quite been set in stone, but it is being passed around the various stakeholders for their final approval.

>>The full home and away fixture will be released on October 31

For now, it is shrouded in secrecy, which leaves us to have a stab at what would like to see when the season opens on March 22.

Remember, the emphasis is on 'like to see'. We've loaded the marquee attractions all into the opening weekend and we know the League will string out the big games and the grudge matches over the first few weeks.

But one can hope.



Richmond v Carlton (MCG) 7.40pm AEDT
One opening-round match-up we can predict with absolute conviction is the traditional Tigers-Blues clash. And if you still think Richmond winning the flag is some sort of dream/nightmare from which you are yet to awaken, then the sight of the Tigers unfurling their premiership flag in front of 90,000 fans at the MCG will surely jolt you back to reality. The Swan Street pubs are ordering extra kegs already. 



Adelaide v Melbourne (Adelaide Oval) 7.10pm ACDT 
Patrick Dangerfield did it, and lived to tell the tale. Kurt Tippett did it also, as did Jack Gunston. Now it will be Jake Lever's turn. Going back to Adelaide for the first time to face the Crows on their home deck is a tough task and the locals will no doubt be whipped into a frenzy all week, reminding them of Lever's misdeed in choosing to leave Adelaide. Lever seems to be made of the right stuff, however, to withstand the nonsense and his new teammates did have a win there last year. 



Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions (MCG) 1.45pm AEDT
We were deprived the great psychological exercise of seeing Sam Mitchell against the Hawks last year because of injury, but watching 'Hodgey' running around on the MCG in a traditional Saturday afternoon clash against his beloved Hawks would be a game to see. The Hawks and Lions have met off-Broadway in Tassie the last few years, but not this time. Watching colleague Nat Edwards fidget her way through this one would be worth the price of admission alone.  


St Kilda v Sydney Swans (Etihad Stadium) 4.40pm AEDT
The Swans have won 10 of their last 11 against the Saints, so what better way to launch the Paddy McCartin Era (that is what we're calling it now that Nick Riewoldt has retired isn’t it?) than with a stirring win over their hoodoo team. Saints fans are always up at the start of the year and the Swans draw well in Victoria, so close to a full house will be ensured. 

West Coast v Collingwood (Perth Stadium) 4.40pm AWST
Sorry, Freo, but West Coast deserves to play the first game for premiership points at the new stadium. It will be a hot ticket no matter who plays, but just to make doubly sure there is not a spare seat in the house, let's send over the ‘Biggest club in Australia’ (©E.McGuire, Broadmeadows, Vic). It’s a big season for the Pies and they tend to travel well, and take away the pomp and ceremony, this will be a good game. 

Gold Coast v North Melbourne (Cazalys Stadium) 6.25pm AEDT
Another game already locked in stone. It’s not too late for the Kangaroos to delist former skipper Andrew Swallow and for the Suns to select him as a delisted free agent to play alongside his brother David at the Suns. For Gold Coast, this is the first game of a 10-week road trip because their ground is out of action due to the Commonwealth Games.



Geelong v Port Adelaide (Simonds Stadium) 1.10pm AEDT
Geelong fans are too mild-mannered to riot, but they will make plenty of noise if Gary Ablett’s first game back in the hoops is not at home. Gaz isn’t too keen on away games, remember. And with Steven Motlop wearing Port colours for the first time, there will be added intrigue. The weather will likely still be warm, so a morning surf for the locals followed by a game of footy. How pleasant is that? 

Gary Ablett's last game for the Cats in Geelong was round 22, 2010. Picture: AFL Photos

Western Bulldogs v Essendon (Etihad Stadium) 3.20pm AEDT
Jake Stringer versus the Bulldogs. ‘Nuff said.

Fremantle v Greater Western Sydney (Perth Stadium) 1.40pm AWST
The Giants can’t play at home for a few weeks because their ground is a cow paddock (no really, it's the Sydney Royal Easter Show) and it’s not really fair to make Freo wait another week to make their debut at their new home ground. We’re sure a stadium already billing itself as the "greatest in the world" can handle a piddling AFL double-header. It will make a nice debut game in purple for former Giant Nathan Wilson as well.