Melbourne Demons v Western Bulldogs
Wednesday 16th March at MCG, 7:10pm
Grand Final rematch to kick off the season. Apart from a few injuries, both lineups will look relatively similar to those which ran out for last year’s decider. The Bulldogs will be out for revenge, but the Demons should have too much class to withstand a Bulldogs ambush.
Demons by 18
Carlton Blues v Richmond Tigers
Thursday 17th March at MCG, 7:25pm
Michael Voss has a tough challenge against Richmond in his first game as a head coach in almost a decade. Both sides will be missing key players to injury, but the quality depth at the Tigers disposal should ensure they start the season with a win.
Tigers by 24
St Kilda Saints v Collingwood Magpies
Friday 18th March at Marvel Stadium, 7:50pm
Craig McRae will begin his head coaching career as he takes the reins of Collingwood for the first time. This will be a rebuilding year for the Magpies after finishing second last in 2021, but it is difficult to see them edging out finals contender St Kilda as they will be paying tribute to arguably their greatest supporter, the late great Shane Warne.
Saints by 12
Geelong Cats v Essendon Bombers
Saturday 19th March at MCG, 2:10pm
Geelong will have a point to prove after their humiliating 83-point defeat to eventual premiers the Demons in last years preliminary final. Essendon will also be looking to improve after scraping into the finals in eighth position before being soundly beaten in week one of the finals. On paper, the Cats look the far superior side.
Cats by 26
Greater Western Sydney Giants v Sydney Swans
Saturday 19th March at Accor Stadium, 5:10pm
All eyes will be on Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin in Sydney’s local derby as he closes in on 1000 goals. Both sides were forced to relocate to Victoria towards the backend of last season to do the Covid-19 outbreak and both sides will be desperate to impress in front of their home fans in what should be a close contest that could go either way.
Giants by 6
Brisbane Lions v Port Adelaide Power
Saturday 19th March at The Gabba, 8:10pm
The Lions have finished in the top four for the past three seasons but have imploded when reaching the finals, so they will have a point to prove this season. But so will Port Adelaide after they were routed by the Bulldogs in last years preliminary final. This game should be close but the Lions may have the edge with the home field advantage.
Lions by 10
Hawthorn Hawks v North Melbourne Kangaroos
Sunday 20th March at MCG, 1:10pm
Sam Mitchell takes over from Alastair Clarkson as Hawthorn’s new head coach to usher in a new era for the club. Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne had miserable season in 2021 and will be looking to rebuild. This should be a relatively even contest but Hawthorn will be out to prove their critics wrong.
Hawks by 14
Adelaide Crows v Fremantle Dockers
Sunday 20th March at Adelaide Oval, 4:10pm
The Crows and Dockers will be looking to improve on their 2021 campaign where both clubs missed the finals but showed promising signs throughout the season. On paper, Fremantle have the stronger side but a packed Adelaide Oval may help the home side cause an upset.
Crows by 8
West Coast Eagles v Gold Coast Suns
Sunday 20th March at Optus Stadium, 7:40pm
West Coast are decimated with injuries and the critics suggest they will continue their slide down the ladder compared to previous seasons. As for the Suns, you could argue Stewie Dew has run out of excuses and the time has come for the perennially inconsistent Gold Coast to challenge for a finals spot. Suns to spring an upset over in the west.
Suns by 16