A Friday night blockbuster at the MCG between old rivals Essendon and Collingwood will kick off the AFL’s Round 24 on August 25.
The AFL has locked in the schedule for the round and are banking on a full house when the Bombers take on ladder leaders Collingwood with, quite possibly, their finals hopes on the line in their final home and away match of the season.
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Brad Scott’s side take on North Melbourne and GWS over the next fortnight and could climb into the top eight with victory over the Magpies, which would set up a grandstand opening to Round 24, and will be live and free on Seven.
Carlton will take on the GWS Giants at 6.10pm on Sunday in a prime-time climax to the home and away season that could also have huge finals ramifications.
The Blues, currently in fifth spot, are on track to end a decade-long finals drought after winning their last seven matches.
The Bombers and Pies will kick off a monster weekend of footy in Round 24. Credit: Getty Images
But they sit just two points clear of the eighth-placed Giants and six clear of Essendon, who are 12th, with three rounds left to play.
The Kangaroos host Gold Coast on the Saturday afternoon and the Brisbane Lions take on St Kilda at the Gabba in the twilight slot, with the Geelong-Western Bulldogs and West Coast-Adelaide clashes set for the Saturday night.
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At this stage, Hawthorn-Fremantle is the only match-up in Round 24 that will not have any bearing on the top eight. Their MCG clash is set for the Saturday afternoon.
Sunday’s schedule features back-to-back Port Adelaide-Richmond and Sydney-Melbourne matches before the Carlton-GWS encounter.
“The last few rounds have shown this finals race is very much still wide open and we have been witnessing some incredible closely fought matches,” AFL head of scheduling Josh Bowler said.
The Swans-Demons clash will be live and free on Seven and could shake-up the top eight and even the top four. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
“We expect these last three rounds will keep footy fans enthralled as the race for the top eight is decided.
“This last round could possibly see up to six games with both teams competing for a finals outcome which will make for a fitting conclusion to a record-breaking season so far.”
The Sunday night fixture won’t bother Carlton or GWS ahead of possible week-one finals match-ups, with the pre-finals bye to provide an adequate break between matches.
AFL Round 24 Fixture
Friday, August 25
Essendon v Collingwood, MCG, 7.50pm AEST (Live and free on Seven)
Saturday, August 26
North Melbourne v Gold Coast, Blundstone Arena, 1.45pm AEST (Fox)
Hawthorn v Fremantle, MCG, 1.45pm AEST (Fox)
Brisbane v St Kilda, Gabba, 4.35pm AEST (Fox)
Geelong v Western Bulldogs, GMHBA Stadium, 7.25pm AEST (Live and free on Seven)
West Coast v Adelaide, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm AWST (Fox)
Sunday, August 27
Port Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval, 12pm ACST (Fox)
Sydney v Melbourne, SCG, 3.20pm AEST (Live and free on Seven)
Carlton v Greater Western Sydney, Marvel Stadium, 6.10pm AEST (Fox)
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