Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury tackles Essendon's Jye Caldwell on Anzac Day, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON and Collingwood will open round 24 with a Friday night blockbuster at the MCG, while the make-up of the top eight likely won't be determined until the final game of the home and away season.

The AFL has confirmed the dates and timings for round 24, which will start at the MCG on Friday, August 25 with the Magpies taking on the Bombers, who will likely need to win to keep their finals dream alive.


For the second successive year, Carlton may not know its finals fate until late on the last day of the home and away season. The pivotal clash between the Blues (currently fifth) and GWS (eighth) will begin at 6.10pm AEST on Sunday night, a standalone game to finish the round.

The AFL has opted to spread all of Sunday's games out to ensure there are no overlapping fixtures, allowing fans to take in every moment of every match on the final day of the home and away season. 

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Apart from the COVID-interrupted 2020 season, it's the first time in the era of an 18-team competition that the final game of the season has been a standalone game.

Charlie Curnow marks ahead of Jack Buckley during Carlton's clash with GWS in round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues-Giants clash follows a potentially top-eight shaping game between Sydney and Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, which the Swans might need to win to secure a finals berth, while the Demons could earn a home qualifying final pending other results.  

Reigning premier Geelong will host the Western Bulldogs in a massive game on Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium, following another critical match between Brisbane and St Kilda in the Saturday twilight slot that will have a huge bearing on the finals make-up.

North Melbourne and Gold Coast will face off at Blundstone Arena from 1.45pm AEST on Saturday, while Hawthorn and Fremantle do battle at the MCG at the same time. 

West Coast and Adelaide will face off in Saturday night's other game, while Port Adelaide and Richmond begin Sunday's slate of matches with their fixture at Adelaide Oval from 12pm ACST. 

The final round match-ups and venues were locked in last year, but since 2010 the AFL has not determined the dates and times until just weeks beforehand to ensure the biggest matches have the primetime slots.



Friday, August 25

Essendon v Collingwood, MCG, 7.50pm AEST (Seven)

Saturday, August 26

North Melbourne v Gold Coast, Blundstone Arena, 1.45pm AEST (Fox)
Hawthorn v Fremantle, MCG, 1.45pm AEST (Fox)
Brisbane v St Kilda, Gabba, 4.35pm AEST (Fox)
Geelong v Western Bulldogs, GMHBA Stadium, 7.25pm AEST (Seven)
West Coast v Adelaide, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm AWST (Fox)

Sunday, August 27

Port Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval, 12pm ACST (Fox)
Sydney v Melbourne, SCG, 3.20pm AEST (Seven)
Carlton v Greater Western Sydney, Marvel Stadium, 6.10pm AEST (Fox)