While Super Rugby and NRL fans have enjoyed watching their teams run around over the last few weeks or more, AFL supporters can finally breathe a sigh of relief with the season getting underway at the sport’s traditional home the MCG on Thursday night. That first match features old rivals Carlton and Richmond for a third straight year and it is the Tigers expected to roll the Blues.
Then on Friday night, Collingwood kicks off its campaign against the defending champion Western Bulldogs. On Saturday the Saints take on the Demons, the Swans play Port Adelaide at the SCG, Essendon take on a new-look Hawthorn team captained by the returning Jarryd Roughead and the Q-Clash between the Suns and Lions takes place on the Gold Coast.
Smart scheduling by the AFL has the first round being played in five major cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Gold Coast). On Sunday the North Melbourne and West Coast clash is at Etihad Stadium, the Crows tackle the Giants in South Australia and the final match features Fremantle hosting Geelong at WA’s Domain Stadium.
Sunday, March 26, 2:20pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
GWS are outright favourites to win the club’s first ever flag ($4.50 at time of publishing) heading into the first round of the 2017 AFL competition. Having come within a few points of making the 2016 grand final, there is no doubt one of the best rosters in the league will be as motivated as ever to power their way through the regular and post-seasons. Last year the Giants lost their round one match but went on to win 16 of their next 21 fixtures.
Adelaide’s clash with Greater Western Sydney is arguably the match of an action packed opening week to the season. The Crows proved the doubters wrong in a range of departments after many punters expected them to struggle without Cats midfielder Patrick Dangerfield. However, ‘Danger’s’ move to his home state of Victoria only served to bring out the star power of Rory Sloane and skipper Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker. The Crows are outsiders but the Giants have a poor record in Adelaide.
ADELAIDE: B: R.Laird, D.Talia, L.Brown HB: J.Kelly, K.Hartigan, B.Smith C: D.Mackay, M.Crouch, R.Sloane HF: E.Betts, T.Walker, T.Lynch F: C.Cameron, J.Jenkins, M.McGovern Foll: S.Jacobs, R.Douglas, R.Atkins Inter (from): R.Knight, C.Hampton, A.Otten, W.Milera, M.Poholke, T.Menzel, R.O'Brien.
GWS: B: Zac Williams, Phil Davis, Adam Tomlinson HB: Heath Shaw, Nick Haynes, Ryan Griffen C: Adam Kennedy, Dylan Shiel, Josh Kelly HF: Steve Johnson, Jonathon Patton, Rory Lobb F: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Tom Scully R: Shane Mumford, Callan Ward, Matt Kennedy Inter (from): Devon Smith, Tim Taranto, Matt Buntine, Nathan Wilson, Tendai Mzungu, Dawson Simpson, Sam Reid.