The AFL has announced a blockbuster round of games to kick off the 2015 season in the first week of April.
Brisbane recruit Dayne Beams will make his Lions debut against former club Collingwood in what promises to be a heated clash at the Gabba on Saturday, April 4 after the 2012 Copeland Trophy winner orchestrated a trade period deal which saw him return to his home state of Queensland.
Thursday night’s April 4 season opener will pit old rivals and recent underachievers Carlton against Richmond in a clash sure to draw a significant crowd to the lone Easter Thursday fixture at the MCG.
Sunday, April 5 will be highlighted by a 2014 semi-final rematch between Fremantle and the rising Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium, following the Power’s major second half upset in a 22-point victory over the 2013 grand finalists in mid-September.
The AFL’s full season 2015 fixture will be released on Thursday, October 30.
League boss Gillon McLachlan has made a number of changes to the schedule this season, pushing back Saturday night games by 20 minutes to a 7.20 pm bounce down, abandoning Sunday night action and reinstating the traditional Saturday afternoon MCG match after reducing that number down to eight games in 2014.
“We’ve listened to what people have said,” McLachlan said. “(Fans have) told us that Saturday night games are finishing too late particularly for families with young children and supporters coming in from country areas.”
“We’ve looked at the research and we made the call some time ago that the 2015 fixture will be attendance-focused.”
AFL Round 1 Fixture
Thursday, April 2
Carlton v Richmond
Saturday, April 4
Melbourne v Gold Coast
Sydney Swans v Essendon
Brisbane Lions v Collingwood
Western Bulldogs v West Coast
Sunday, April 5
St Kilda v Greater Western Sydney
Adelaide v North Melbourne
Fremantle v Port Adelaide
Monday, April 6
Hawthorn v Geelong
Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images