WEST Coast and Essendon will kick off this year's Toyota AFL Finals Series when they clash in a Thursday night elimination final at Optus Stadium in just under a fortnight.
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The AFL released the fixture for the first week of the finals with the reigning premiers and eighth-placed Bombers to do battle on Thursday, September 5 at 6.10pm AWST.
Week 1 Toyota AFL Finals Series
Thursday, September 5
First elimination final
West Coast v Essendon at Optus Stadium, 6.10pm AWST
Friday, September 6
First qualifying final
Geelong v Collingwood at the MCG, 7.50pm AEST
Saturday, September 7
Second elimination final
Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs at Giants Stadium, 3.20pm AEST
Second qualifying final
Brisbane v Richmond at the Gabba, 7.25pm AEST
Geelong, who pipped Brisbane for the minor premiership, hosts Collingwood at the MCG in a mouthwatering Friday night qualifying final blockbuster.
It will be the first September meeting between the two sides since the memorable 2011 Grand Final.
Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs will do battle in an elimination final at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in a repeat of the epic 2016 preliminary final.
The Dogs won that clash by six points on their way to their historic drought-breaking premiership.
Week one of the finals series closes with Brisbane, playing its first final since 2009, hosting Richmond at the Gabba in a qualifying final on Saturday night.
The two sides have met once in September with the Lions hammering the Tigers by 68 points in a preliminary final on their way to the 2001 premiership.
AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld said the AFL was seeking to ensure fans are able to attend or watch all finals live, as well as balancing equitable day-breaks where possible for all clubs.
He said the AFL had again chosen to open the finals with a Thursday night match, after the success in recent years in this timeslot with both attendance and television viewership.
The winner of the Eagles-Bombers clash will play the loser of the Cats-Pies blockbuster in week two.
For those sides grouped on the other half of the finals draw, the winner of the Giants-Dogs clash will face the loser of the Lions-Tigers battle.
Using this fixturing model, all clubs who play in week two of the finals will have at least a seven-day break from week one into their next match.