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by Johnson Leung reporting for AFANA from Melbourne

The first ever AFL game (men or women) to be held at the brand new Perth Stadium is the main feature of the 2018 AFLW schedule. Fremantle’s twilight game against Collingwood on Saturday February 10 will be played at the 60,000-capacity stadium.  The National Rugby League had announced in late August that a doubleheader would be held at Perth Stadium on March 10, 2018 (confirmed in early October to be Canterbury v Melbourne and South Sydney v New Zealand Warriors), however the AFL responded in mid September, scheduling the Dockers’ first home game in Round 2 at the new venue to make sure it will be the first football code to be played there.

The second AFLW season will again kick off with Carlton and Collingwood playing the opening game at Ikon Park on Friday February 2. 24,568 packed into Ikon Park on February 3 this year for the clash between the two sides, which was also the first ever AFLW regular season game, forcing thousands of fans to be locked out. The opening round will also include a Grand Final rematch between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions on Saturday February 3 at Norwood Oval.

The home and away season will remain seven rounds, with the Grand Final to be played on Saturday March 24 at a location and time to be determined. Like last year, the highest placed team at the end of seven rounds will host the Grand Final against the second placed team.

Other features of the schedule include:
  • Four clubs (Adelaide, Melbourne, Fremantle and GWS) will play four home games while the other four clubs (Brisbane Lions, Collingwood, Carlton and Western Bulldogs) will play three home games.
  • Six games will be played on Friday night with Carlton featured in half of the slots.
  • There are no double-header matches scheduled with the JLT Community Series next year. This year’s inaugural season included several double-headers played either before or after AFL preseason games.
  • Games will be played in Alice Springs for the first time with other new venues: Drummoyne Oval (Sydney), Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex (Brisbane), Perth Stadium and Ted Summerton Reserve (Moe in eastern Victoria).
  • Blues recruit Tayla Harris will play the Brisbane Lions at Ikon Park in Round 3.
  • Giants recruit Alicia Eva to play her former side Collingwood at Olympic Park Oval in Round 3.
  • Round 6 will be themed with International Woman’s Day falling on March 8.
  • The Giants will again host the Western Bulldogs at UNSW Canberra Oval in Round 6.
  • Western Bulldogs will play Melbourne for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup in Round 7.
  • All teams will have a minimum six-day break between games and most games will be played in either twilight or evening times to avoid heat issues.
There was a push from clubs and players to introduce a semi-final weekend to enhance the competition, but scheduling proved an issue. The League does not want to start the season in late January as it will fall on the same weekend as the finals of Australian Open tennis tournament. It is also reluctant to extend the season into Easter which overlaps with the opening rounds of the men’s regular season.

AFL General Manager Clubs and Broadcasting, Travis Auld, said the League decided to run AFLW and JLT Community Series as two standalone competitions next year after officials noticed there were different crowds at the doubleheaders at the same venue. He said the League wanted to provide the women’s competition with enough “clean air” throughout the schedule.

The AFL is considering using a conference-style fixture for 2019 or 2020 when AFLW will expand to 10 and then 14 teams. North Melbourne and Geelong will join the AFLW in 2019, while Gold Coast, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda will join in 2020.

The 2018 AFLW schedule can now be seen at the AFANA website.

Sources: Michelle Clyne, AFL media release, afl.com.au, theage.com.au, heraldsun.com.au

Article last changed on Tuesday, November 07, 2017 - 5:21 PM EST


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