AFL Round 1 Tips and Game-by-Game Previews

Gary Emmerson /
AFL Ball

Round 1 of the new AFL season gets underway on Thursday March 19 when Richmond Tigers take on Carlton at the MCG, and has you covered.

There are nine games in store across the opening weekend, which will be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

Richmond v Carlton – Thursday, March 19

Richmond are the 2019 premiers and are set to kick off their premiership defence in style. While they lost their two Marsh pre-season games, they did look very sharp in the most recent of those against the GWS Giants and head in with a healthy list. Carlton also come off two pre-season losses and will find it hard to kick goals without Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Eddie Betts. Back the Tigers in the season opener.

Western Bulldogs v Collingwood – Friday, March 20

This shapes as an interesting game of Friday night footy, and the two sides have a couple of the better midfield groups in the competition. The Dogs were particularly strong at the end of 2019 and won one of two Marsh Cup games, while the Magpies were undefeated in the recent series. The Pies can edge a close one.

Essendon v Fremantle – Saturday, March 21

Essendon open up their campaign against Fremantle and both sides will be keen to make the step from the pre-season competition that saw them score two wins from as many matches. The Bombers are set to head in as favourites and normally you would anchor them at their ‘home’ ground. While it remains to be seen what effect the empty stadiums will have, we can expect the Dons to get up here.

Adelaide Crows v Sydney Swans – Saturday, March 21

Footy heads out to Adelaide for the clash between the Crows and the Swans. Both sides are tipped to finish out of the eight this season. The Crows have plenty of talent but their list is an ageing one, while the Swans are in a rebuilding phase. Both sides lost their two Marsh Cup games and there were some concerning signs for Sydney, so expect the Crows to win the opener.

GWS Giants v Geelong Cats – Saturday, March 21

GWS Giants are somewhat used to playing in front of empty stadiums and it remains to be seen if that holds them in good stead. They looked sharp in the recent Marsh Series and should be ready to go. Geelong will unveil their latest batch of recruits but the jury is out as to whether of not they can back up again.

Gold Coast Suns v Port Adelaide – Saturday, March 21

This shapes as an interesting game and, while Port Adelaide head in as strong favourites, it should be noted that the Suns were the early boaters last season, winning three of their first four games before capitulating and finishing with the wooden spoon. Both sides won their Marsh Cup games and this could go either way.

North Melbourne v St Kilda – Sunday, March 22

Can St Kilda convert their pre-season promise into early wins? The Saints enjoy a stack of early season games at Matvel Stadium and were probably the pick of the sides in terms of recruiting. Bradley Hill can help transform the side but don’t underestimate North Melbourne, who split their pre-season matches and will be up for the fight.

Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions – Sunday, March 22

Both sides were a bit disappointing in the recent Marsh Series. Hawthorn found it hard to hit the scoreboard, while Brisbane went winless. However, the Lions have an excellent recent record over Alastair Clarkson’s side and can continue their winning streak, this time at the MCG.

West Coast Eagles v Melbourne – Sunday, March 22

The final game of AFL Round 1 sees the Eagles tackle Melbourne Demons out in the west. This does look to be a bit of a lock for the home side to bank an early season win, despite the fact they won’t be in front of their home fans. The Eagles were winless in the Marsh Series but have a great record over the Dees and their superior form from 2019 would suggest that they will take this out.