Geelong players ahead of their match against Carlton in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON has been rewarded for its hot start to the season, with the Bombers handed three primetime Friday night games as part of the AFL's latest fixture drop.

The League officially released the dates and timings of games between rounds 16 and 23 on Tuesday, with reigning premier Collingwood also sharing in a competition-high three marquee Friday night timeslots in the updated schedule.


The AFL is banking on Brad Scott's Bombers to continue their scintillating run of form, having moved into the top four over the weekend with an impressive 6-2-1 record.

Essendon is due to play pivotal Friday night encounters in Melbourne against Collingwood, Adelaide and Sydney as part of the latest fixture release, games which could shape the club's September ambitions.

Collingwood, meanwhile, faces blockbuster games against the Bombers, Geelong and Sydney on Friday nights as it aims to surge up the ladder in the back half of the year.

Top-four challengers Melbourne and Sydney are the only other clubs to secure multiple Friday night matches in the eight-round stretch of games, with six clubs – including the finals-bound Greater Western Sydney – missing out on Friday nights altogether.



Collingwood, Essendon


Melbourne, Sydney


Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Geelong, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, West Coast, Western Bulldogs


Fremantle, GWS Giants, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda

As reported by on Monday evening, there are no Thursday night games in rounds 16 to 23 after the League scheduled a record 14 straight Thursday night matches to start the year.

It means there are significantly fewer five-day breaks as part of the RD 16-23 schedule, with Carlton and the Western Bulldogs the only teams forced to play on a shorter turnaround.

There are a number of notable features as part of the eight-week fixture drop, which also includes a Friday night double-header in round 21 that follows last week's double-header due to Mother's Day.

The pair of Friday night matches will see the Western Bulldogs host Melbourne at Marvel Stadium at the earlier time of 7.15pm AEST, before West Coast plays Gold Coast at Optus Stadium at 6.30pm AWST (8.30pm AEST) later in the evening.


Round 21 will also see fierce rivals Collingwood and Carlton do battle on a Saturday night – an occurrence that has only happened once since 2005 – due to Marvel Stadium hosting three matches across the weekend.

The fixture sees the AFL continue to use the Saturday twilight spot as the latest marquee opportunity, with the Grand Final rematch between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG in round 23 one of a number of blockbusters pencilled in for that slot.

Geelong's clash against old rivals Hawthorn at GMHBA Stadium has also been fixtured for a Saturday twilight spot in round 17, as well as the QClash between Gold Coast and Brisbane in round 20.

That QClash will also be part of a Saturday twilight double-header, with St Kilda to host Essendon at Marvel Stadium at the same time in order to maximise fan attendance.


The final weekend of the season remains a floating fixture and is not part of the latest reveal, with the AFL's executive general manager of football Laura Kane telling clubs in April that dates and timings for round 24 wouldn't be confirmed until later in the year.

The AFL announced the full 24-round fixture in November last year, but only released the dates and timings to round 15 as part of a staggered schedule that enables the League to place more blockbuster games in marquee slots.

The AFL has already recorded three weekends where more than 400,000 fans attended matches this year (rounds one, seven and eight), something that had only occurred once before this season, back in 2017.