The Friday night slot for the final round of the AFL season appears to be down to a two horse race. With two games holding more significance than the others in regards to the finals it appears likely Collingwood will host Essendon at the MCG, which could shape both the top four and the top eight
Collingwood's slump and Essendon's red-hot form has the makings for a juicy final fixture match up. With the Dons playing Gold Coast and the Pies hosting Richmond this weekend, the two sides could well draw level on points with four rounds to go. Collingwood have an easier run home however their hold on second chance positions is becoming shaky as the Bombers fly up the ladder.
Brisbane's run all the way to second place has seen their match up with Richmond become a game of serious interest. The Lions sit a game clear of fourth and still have three home games left in their bid to remain as the success story of 2019.
With Richmond playing on a Sunday in Round 22 however this game looks unlikely to be played on Friday due to the Tigers only getting a five-day break.
The AFL will then look to increase interest in the race by using their Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games for the other interesting clashes.
After Melbourne brutally missed the finals in 2017 late on a Sunday arvo, the AFL will look to generate as much drama and excitement as possible. Therefore the Richmond vs Brisbane and West Coast vs Hawthorn come into the equation.
The Herald Sun's Jon Ralph has given his take on the potential fixtures with an outline of what he believes to be the likely final round.
“Essendon’s hot form will see them rewarded with a massive Friday night blockbuster clash with Collingwood,” Ralph told Fox Sports News’ AFL Tonight.
“That Round 23 fixture I understand will be cemented in next Monday, and as part of that there were two options, Collingwood and Essendon or the Richmond versus Brisbane Lions clash.
“Richmond would’ve had a five-day break from Round 22 to Round 23, so what the AFL would love to see is a huge game with 80,000 at the MCG, and then potentially Richmond v Brisbane at (3:20) or 4:40, potentially the Fox Footy game, the last game of Round 23 and the season.
“They loved what happened last year and the year before that where we waited with bated breath in that Adelaide/West Coast clash, the last game of the season to see who would play finals. Potentially Richmond or Brisbane might be playing for top spot, top four finish, that’d be fantastic in Round 23.”
Port Adelaide and Fremantle at the moment could also be seen as an interesting clash, as well as the Adelaide vs Dogs. So with four of the nine games that round generating interest, the AFL has a decision to make over who plays at what time to get the most out of the fixture.
POTENTIAL ROUND 23 FIXTURE
Collingwood v Essendon (MCG), Friday night 7:50pm
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide Crows (Mars Stadium), Saturday 1:45pm
North Melbourne v Melbourne (Blundstone Arena), Saturday 2:10pm
Gold Coast Suns v GWS Giants (Metricon Stadium), Saturday 4:35pm
Geelong Cats v Carlton (GMHBA Stadium), Saturday 7:25pm
West Coast Eagles v Hawthorn (Optus Stadium), Saturday 8:10pm
Sydney Swans v St Kilda (SCG), Sunday 1:10pm
Richmond v Brisbane Lions (MCG), Sunday 3:20pm
Port Adelaide v Fremantle (Adelaide Oval), Sunday 4:40pm
The AFL is expected to confirm the fixture after Round 19.