Collingwood will play Richmond in the first game of the season’s restart. Picture: Michael Klein
Collingwood will play Richmond in the first game of the season’s restart. Picture: Michael Klein

Fixture revealed: Who your club plays in Rounds 2-5

THE AFL has released the first four rounds of its new fixture with a blockbuster between Collingwood and Richmond to kick off the season restart.

The Herald Sun revealed on Monday that Collingwood will play Richmond and Geelong will face Hawthorn when football returns for Round 2 starting June 11.

The Cats have struck pay dirt in their bid to host every home game this year at GMHBA Stadium with a blockbuster Round 2 clash against the Hawks at its home fortress.

SEE THE FULL FIXTURE FOR ROUNDS 2-5 BELOW

Each of the next four rounds opens with a Thursday night blockbuster and ends with a match in a new 6.05pm Sunday timeslot.

"To re-launch the season we have focused on scheduling blockbuster match-ups across these four weeks, particularly in the Thursday and Friday night primetime slots," AFL broadcasting chief Travis Auld said.

"As we navigate through the remaining 108 games plus finals, we will continue to be adaptable with our scheduling, ensuring our fixtures align with the relevant State Government restrictions in place at the time."

The AFL hopes to announce the next batch of the fixture after Round 3.

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FOOTY BACK WITH A BANG

The once-in-a-century crisis will allow it to deliver footy's greatest prime time fixture, with the first four weeks to also include regular triple-headers on Sunday with an early game leading straight into a mid-afternoon free-to-air clash and Sunday night game starting after 6pm.

With Thursday and Friday night football weekly, Saturdays will feature an early clash, a strong twilight fixture then two Saturday night games.

But the league's determination to drip-feed the fixture in four week blocks will effectively hand it a floating fixture for the entire year that can see it hand-pick Thursday and Friday games only weeks ahead.

With no crowds at games at least in the early rounds, the league can schedule the two best games of the weekend in Thursday and Friday night slots.

The league will be keen to minimise five-day breaks, but teams like St Kilda and North Melbourne could play themselves into contention for more marquee games.

Essendon will travel to Sydney to play the Swans. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Essendon will travel to Sydney to play the Swans. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Both were allocated only one Thursday or Friday clash in last October's fixture, which has since been shortened to 17 rounds.

On the flip side teams like Essendon (six Thursday and Friday games) and the Western Bulldogs (five marquee games) will have to prove they are worthy of those slots again.

As one club boss said: "Your destiny will be in your own hands".

Geelong captain Joel Selwood said he couldn't be more excited that a massive Geelong-Hawthorn clash was on the cards.

"To be honest I am hopeful it is. It is exciting enough that it's Round 2 with a big lay-off but if it's against the Hawks it makes it even more special," he said.

 

 

GEELONG THE BIG WINNER IN NEW FIXTURE

Geelong coach Chris Scott last week said the Cats deserved to host all home games in Geelong given football will resume without any fans attending games.

And that lobbying has paid off spectacularly in a high-stakes clash after Geelong's Round 1 loss to a white-hot Greater Western Sydney.

Geelong's home venue remains one of footy's fortresses, with the Cats having lost only four of their past 37 games at the old Kardinia Park dating back to 2015.

Not since Hawthorn hosted a Launceston clash against Geelong in Round 2, 2007 - the year before their epic rivalry ignited again in the 2008 Grand Final - have they played away from the MCG.

 

Geelong will host Carlton at GMHBA Stadium in Round 3. Picture: Michael Klein
Geelong will host Carlton at GMHBA Stadium in Round 3. Picture: Michael Klein

 

The Cats beat Hawthorn in 11 straight contests after the 2008 Grand Final loss in a streak dubbed the "Kennett Curse", but have lost three of their past four clashes against Alastair Clarkson's Hawks.

Clarkson has coached at GMHBA Stadium only once in a 52-point win against the Cats in 2006.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said on Thursday that "in principle clubs should be playing their home games wherever they choose".

"The clubs don't have any say over the fixture, sometimes we speak to what is fair and what's not but that doesn't imply that has any cut through with the decision makers."



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