VICTORIA'S bayside region is the surprise host of the 2022 NAB AFLW season-opener, with St Kilda and Richmond set to kick off a blockbuster round one in Frankston's SkyBus Stadium on Friday, January 7.
With the fixture to be released on Thursday, womens.afl can reveal the Western Bulldogs will host Melbourne in the annual Hampson-Hardeman Cup at VU Whitten Oval on Saturday night of round one, in what should be a high-scoring, free-flowing affair.
As previously reported, Ikon Park is unavailable for night matches this upcoming season due to redevelopment work affecting the availability of broadcast lights.
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It means the usual Carlton and Collingwood round one clash will instead be a twilight affair on Sunday of round one, where the Blues will be keen to seek revenge on the Magpies after last year's disappointing loss.
The AFLW Derby will be held in round eight, with West Coast hosting Fremantle at Optus Stadium on a Saturday night.
Pride Round is set to be played in round three, with Indigenous Round to follow in round eight of the 10-round season.
With RSEA Park unavailable until late February due to redevelopment work – including re-laying turf and the addition of a grandstand on the admin building wing – the Saints will play their first few home games at Frankston.
Sandringham's Trevor Barker Oval is also a possible option for St Kilda home matches, with the Saints currently juggling their training venues between that ground, Seaford, and the adjacent grassy space next to RSEA Park.
"It’s exciting to add another chapter to our AFLW journey by returning Saints' footy to the Frankston region," St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis said.
"SkyBus Stadium played a key role in the establishment of our women's football program (the VFLW side's home ground in 2018), so to be able to take a home and away AFLW match back to that venue and play under its spectacular new lights will be a very special occasion.
"This game will also provide a wonderful platform for us to showcase our new partnership with Frankston City Council to redevelop the Linen House Centre in Seaford into a state-of-the-art Healthy Futures Hub.
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"We couldn’t think of a better way to commence our third AFLW premiership season and hope to see as many local residents, St Kilda members and supporters there for round one."