A Thursday night rematch of the 2017 grand final will launch the AFL’s Easter holiday round with reigning premier Richmond being sent to Adelaide for the Tigers’ first away game of 2018.
And St Kilda will play Good Friday football for the first time, replacing the Western Bulldogs as North Melbourne’s opponent.
The Kangaroos will host the twilight clash at Etihad Stadium on Good Friday, rewarded for the resources they dedicated to this year’s historic game. As mooted by Fairfax Media last week, the Saints put forward a new request to play on the previously football-free religious holiday and have been successful.
The Crows, who open their season on Friday, March 23, against Essendon at Etihad Stadium, requested an opponent with a large supporter base for their first Adelaide Oval clash after opening last season with a home game against Greater Western Sydney.
And Geelong will host Carlton for the first time in 21 years when the two teams clash at soon-to-be-renamed GMHBA Stadium in 2018.
The most recent time the two teams met at the venue – Simonds Stadium for the past six seasons – was in round 20, 1997 when the Blues line-up included Andrew McKay and Stephen Silvagni. Both are now key members of Carlton’s football department as they look to restore the club to former glory under coach Brendon Bolton.
The Cats have been keen to attract at least one powerful Melbourne club to Geelong after the completion of their new stand and upset Richmond fans when they played the Tigers at Simonds Stadium in round 21, 2017.
The Tigers-Adelaide game on the eve of Good Friday means Richmond plays Thursday night football twice in succession to open the season and is expected to play Friday night football on at least four occasions after being scheduled no Friday nights in 2017.
In a series of early-season blockbuster games for the Tigers, Richmond will also play on Anzac Eve at the MCG against Melbourne.
Anzac Day falls on a Wednesday so the AFL has been forced to navigate the quick turnaround for Collingwood and Essendon, along with the Tigers and Demons, with those four clubs expected to feature in another configuration over successive rounds to minimise the disadvantages posed by short breaks.