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The 22 games you won't want to miss in 2019

The big matches to look forward to in 2019 There are some mouth-watering encounters to come in the 2019 Toyota AFL Premiership Season

Round one, Carlton v Richmond, MCG, Thursday night
Having football back is always exciting. There will be a bit more to his one – Richmond will unveil Tom Lynch while Carlton will see Mitch McGovern in action. It could also be Tigers star Jack Riewoldt's 250th game, although his pregnant wife is due to give birth around the same time, which could complicate things for the Coleman medallist.

Round one, Greater Western Sydney v Essendon, Spotless Stadium, Sunday afternoon
Dylan Shiel will run out in the red and black for the first time and will get playing against his former side out of the way early. Alongside him will be Joe Daniher, who didn't play after round seven as he dealt with osteitis pubis. Then there's the question many are pondering – will the Bombers finally be contenders?

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Round two, Richmond v Collingwood, MCG, Thursday night
Two big clubs with rivaling membership numbers, both on the march and looking for redemption after suffering September heartbreak – the Tigers specifically at the hands of the Magpies – and with Lynch lining up against one of the clubs he knocked back. What's not to look forward to?

Round two, West Coast v Greater Western Sydney, Optus Stadium, Saturday night
West Coast fans are set to reach fever pitch as the club unveils its premiership flag at home in round two when they host the Giants under lights. Eagles supporters are renowned for turning up to support their side, so tickets will be tough to come by for this one.

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Round three, Collingwood v West Coast, MCG, Saturday night
Always an anticipated early match-up – the first time the previous year's Grand Finalists meet again. While nothing will make up for September's heartbreaking lost opportunity, the Magpies won't have to wait long to get back on the horse against the premiers – and last-gasp hero Dom Sheed – following the Eagles' five-point triumph.  

Round four, West Coast v Fremantle, Optus Stadium, Saturday night
This could be a Western Derby for the ages with Andrew Gaff sure to be at the centre of every storyline. He's got two games left to serve on his eight-game ban for the crude hit on Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw – an incident that sparked incredible tension between the clubs – and the round four scheduling means he'll be available. It will be interesting to see how the team and Freo fans treat the gun Eagle.

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How will Andrew Gaff fare against the Dockers after last year's incident? Picture: AFL Photos

Round five, Brisbane v Collingwood, Gabba, Thursday night
Lions fans – and players – can rightly remain confused about Dayne Beams seeking a trade back to the Magpies after he declared his love for his Queensland-based teammates in a speech in September. There are complex reasons surrounding Beams' decision but it will be intriguing to see how his Easter Thursday return to the Gabba pans out regardless.

DOUBLE-HEADER Two Good Friday games locked in

Round five, North Melbourne v Essendon, Marvel Stadium, Friday afternoon/West Coast v Port Adelaide, Optus Stadium, Friday night
For the first time ever, there will be two games on Good Friday. The Kangaroos will host the Bombers in Melbourne before a clash between the Eagles and the Power across the country in Perth. There's no love lost between the Eagles and the Power either, with Jeremy McGovern and Luke Shuey each recently slotting memorable after-the-siren goals to steal victory for West Coast.

Round five, Hawthorn v Geelong, MCG, Monday afternoon
These Easter Monday clashes are always huge and the Cats taking on the Hawks is one of the great modern rivalries. This one will have a bit of extra spice after last year's edition when fiery Hawk James Sicily kneed Cats captain Joel Selwood in the head.

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Round six, Richmond v Melbourne, MCG, Wednesday night
This is not just a match between preliminary finalists jostling for spots at the pointy end of the ladder. There's a fair chance the former Gold Coast co-captains, Lynch and Steven May, will line up on each other in the Anzac Day Eve blockbuster. That looms as a mouth-watering duel in itself.

Round six, Essendon v Collingwood, MCG, Thursday afternoon
Anzac Day is always special, but this one will be even more so in a football sense, because it's been a while since these powerhouse clubs met when both had genuine premiership credentials. Beams will take part for the first time since 2014 while it will be a first for Shiel.

FREE-TO-AIR BONANZA Footy galore in Easter-Anzac period

Round eight, Port Adelaide v Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, Saturday night
Some argue the Showdown between the Power and the Crows is the AFL's greatest rivalry, and based on recent results they wouldn't be far from the mark. The teams met twice last season with Port Adelaide winning by five points in round eight and Adelaide exacting revenge by three points in round 20. They'll meet twice again in 2019 – the second time in round 16 – with the first of the two clashes to be played under lights at the impressive Adelaide Oval.

Round 10, Sydney v Collingwood, SCG, Friday night
One of the greatest forwards of all time will bring up his 300-game milestone when the Swans kick off Sir Doug Nicholls Round against Collingwood on Friday night. Lance Franklin will become the seventh indigenous player to reach the 300-game mark (Eddie Betts will be the sixth in round five barring a missed game), joining Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Shaun Burgoyne, Michael O'Loughlin and Gavin Wanganeen.

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Round 10, Hawthorn v Port Adelaide, University of Tasmania Stadium, Saturday afternoon
Chad Wingard says he went peacefully and was strung out by the media, but local commentators maintain bad blood brewed between player and coach post-season and led to his exit. The sting will be minimised by the game's location, but Wingard can surely expect some niggle from his ex-teammates in their only scheduled clash in the home-and-away fixture.

Round 10, Fremantle v Brisbane, Optus Stadium, Sunday twilight
Lachie Neale's trade request started innocently enough, and it ended with his desired passage to Brisbane fulfilled, but not before his frustration reached fever pitch with the Dockers playing hardball in negotiations. A year after Lachie Weller walked out, Freo fans won't go easy on Neale when he returns to Perth in May.  

Round 12, Collingwood v Melbourne, MCG, Monday afternoon
The battle between the two best ruckmen in the AFL – Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn – is a key storyline to watch out of this game between two sides likely to feature as contenders late in the year. The two traditional rivals generally draw a big crowd anyway, but it could reach epic proportions on Queen's Birthday. And the Magpies are set to host the game for the first time since 2001.

Round 14, Melbourne v Fremantle, MCG, Saturday afternoon
While Lynch can expect a frosty reaction from his ex-Gold Coast teammates in round 16, Jesse Hogan is more likely to cop a sharp reception from his former club's fans when he returns to the MCG in June. The Demons were understanding of Hogan's plight to go home, but after years of being strung along every trade period, their supporters might not be as forgiving.

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Round 16, Gold Coast v Richmond, Metricon Stadium, Saturday afternoon
We waited until August for Lynch to confirm he was the latest Sun that wanted out. Immediately stripped of the captaincy and banished from the club, reports suggested Lynch's announcement wasn't met favourably by his former teammates. It was a departure that sets the scene for a potentially spiteful reception when he heads back to Queensland in July.

New Tiger Tom Lynch returns to his former home in round 16. Picture: AFL Photos

Round 16, Greater Western Sydney v Brisbane, Spotless Stadium, Sunday twilight
Jeremy Cameron and Harris Andrews are bound to renew hostilities after a sickening 2018 incident that left the Lion with bleeding to the brain and a severe concussion. Cameron was suspended for five matches for an intentional strike on Andrews that saw the Lion miss four games.

Round 19, Carlton v Adelaide, MCG, Saturday afternoon
Mitch McGovern joined a long list of players in the past 10 years to bounce from Adelaide to Carlton or vice versa, after the young Crow broke his contract and requested, and received, a trade to the Blues. The athletic key position player was highly rated by the Crows and they were disappointed with his decision to leave. He gets away with not having to return to Adelaide, but how will Taylor Walker react on-field to his younger teammate's defection?

Round 23, Sydney v St Kilda, SCG, TBC
In 10 years at Sydney, Dan Hannebery accomplished a lot, including a flag and three All Australian blazers. He's struggled recently though, and with many criticising St Kilda's move to sign the 27-year-old for five seasons, the left-footer will be keen to prove the doubters wrong against his former side when the clubs meet – bizarrely for the first time in 2019 – in the final home-and-away round.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs