MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Steele Sidebottom of the Magpies celebrates a goal during the round nine AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The AFL has confirmed the Round 1 fixture for the 2022 season, with a grand final rematch between the Demons and Bulldogs opening the new campaign.

That clash will precede the usual opening rivalry between Richmond and Carlton, with Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs playing at the MCG on Wednesday, March 16.

The Tigers and Blues will hold their usual slot on the Thursday night at the MCG, while the Saints and Magpies will follow on the Friday night at Marvel Stadium.

The AFL has managed to have all Victorian clubs play in their home state to open the new season after the footy-centric state was starved of a plethora of games for the second straight season in 2021.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs handpasses the ball during the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Geelong will face Essendon on the Saturday, while Hawthorn-North Melbourne will clash in the opening fixture on the Sunday, with both games at the MCG.

"The footy festival will bring people together and to be able to give all Victorians and footy fans from regional Victoria and interstate an opportunity to come to a game and see their AFLW and AFL teams across a 10-day period is a significant step bouncing back from a challenging year.” AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said in a league statement.

“We want to get big crowds back to the footy, the weekly ritual of being able to go to a game and the sense of community it creates, connecting families and friends is something we have missed in the state,”

“We look forward to seeing fans return to our venues in huge numbers as well as to all the surrounding business and venues that rely on footy and big events being staged across the city."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates a goal during the round two AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Adelaide Crows at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 29, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Round 1 will also see the Sydney derby be held at 5:10pm AEDT at Accor Stadium (Stadium Australia), an enticing fixture given Swans veteran Lance Franklin needing just five goals to reach the 1000-goal milestone

The Lions and Power will clash on the Saturday night, while Adelaide will host Fremantle on the Sunday before West Coast and Gold Coast end the opening round in Perth.

2022 AFL Round 1 Fixture 

Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs  MCG (SEVEN) 7:10pm 7:10pm
Thursday, March 17
Carlton vs. Richmond  MCG (SEVEN) 7:25pm 7:25pm
Friday, March 18
St Kilda vs. Collingwood  Marvel Stadium (SEVEN) 7:50pm 7:50pm
Saturday, March 19
Geelong Cats vs. Essendon  MCG (FOX) 2:10pm 2:10pm
GWS GIANTS vs. Sydney Swans  Accor Stadium (FOX) 5.10pm 5:10pm
Brisbane Lions vs. Port Adelaide  The Gabba (SEVEN) 8:10pm 7:10pm
Sunday, March 20
Hawthorn vs. North Melbourne  MCG (FOX) 1:10pm 1:10pm
Adelaide Crows vs. Fremantle  Adelaide Oval (FOX) 4:10pm 3:40pm
West Coast Eagles vs. Gold Coast SUNS  Optus Stadium (FOX) 7:40pm 4:40pm