THE AFLW season seven fixture has landed, and fans have been excitedly poring over their schedules and highlighting games. Big games headline each home and away round, including a full complement of state derbies, growing rivalries and finals rematches.
So, what are the 10 matches to mark in your diaries for season seven, no matter who you follow?
*in no particular order
Port Adelaide v Adelaide – the first Showdown
Round six, Friday September 30, Adelaide Oval
For the first time, the footy-mad state of South Australia will head along to a women's showdown at Adelaide Oval. Erin Phillips, Angela Foley and Justine Mules will all come up against their old side for the first time after a combined 135 games for Adelaide. Crucially, this one will take place in the back half of the season, giving Port Adelaide some time to find chemistry on the AFLW stage before facing the powerhouse that is Adelaide.
Essendon v Richmond – the first AFLW Dreamtime match
Round four, Sunday September 18, ETU Stadium
With the inclusion of Essendon to the AFLW competition, we now get an AFLW Dreamtime match during Indigenous Round for the first time. For 15 years, the Essendon and Richmond men's teams have hosted Dreamtime at the 'G, a showpiece game of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, and now their women's programs have the opportunity to develop their own traditions around such an important round.
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle
Round three, Friday September 9, Ikon Park
Last season the match-up between the Dogs and Dockers was tighter than most anticipated. Save for a dramatic goal from Ebony Antonio in the dying moments of the game, the teams were all square, with the winless Dogs pushing the undefeated Dockers right to the end. Bring on the next battle between these two sides.
LOCKED IN Traditions old and new headline AFLW season seven fixture
Adelaide v Melbourne – Grand Final rematch
Round one, Friday August 26, Norwood Oval
The Demons made their first AFLW Grand Final last season but had to make the hardest trip in footy – to Adelaide to play the Crows – and ultimately lost. Now, to open season seven they face the same challenge - Adelaide at Norwood Oval. Throughout AFLW history, Adelaide and Melbourne have played seven times, with the former in front on the ledger 4-3, and never having lost to the Demons at home.
Brisbane v Gold Coast – QClash
Round three, Saturday September 10, Gabba
After the first ever QClash ended in a draw, the Lions have won the past two by more than 10 goals each time. Older sibling Brisbane has been a dominant side in recent seasons, but the Suns are on an upward swing. In a showcase of Queensland talent, can Gold Coast finally break through for a QClash victory?
North Melbourne v Sydney
Round six, Sunday October 2, Arden Street
Scott Gowans will make his return to Arden Street in round six, but this time in the red and white. In his two seasons at the helm at North Melbourne, Gowans had an 11-3 record, but after the club made the decision to not renew his contract in light of COVID cutbacks, the Roos have gone 13-8 and failed to win a final. With a fresh list and a new perspective, Gowans' first AFLW match back at Arden Street will be worth a watch.
Melbourne v Western Bulldogs – Hampson-Hardeman Cup
Round seven, Sunday October 9, Casey Fields
For the first time since the AFLW launched, Melbourne will host the Hampson-Hardeman cup against the Western Bulldogs at its home ground of Casey Fields. The two pioneering clubs have played off 12 times – six exhibition matches between 2013 and 2016, and six since the AFLW launched in 2017 – and Melbourne boasts an 8-4 lead on the ledger. Added to this, All-Australian defender Libby Birch made the leap from the Dogs to Melbourne in season four, and former Dees Richelle Cranston and Deanna Berry are now Bulldogs.
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West Coast v Fremantle – Western Derby
Round five, Thursday September 22, Optus Stadium
There have been four Western Derbies in the AFLW, and the Dockers have claimed victory every time to date. The Eagles have gone through significant on-field changes this off season, with 13 players from last year's squad gone, replaced with experienced players and young draft selections. Fremantle has also seen plenty of change, losing inaugural Dockers via expansion, but still look the stronger list heading into the season. Is this season West Coast's chance, or will Fremantle continue its winning streak?
Melbourne v Brisbane
Round four, Sunday September 18, Casey Fields
These clubs opened their AFLW programs against one another at Casey Fields, and in the wet Brisbane claimed victory. Since then, the Lions have been unable to fell Melbourne in five attempts, although in their three most recent match-ups, the Demons have won by a combined margin of nine points. Brisbane will be smarting after its journey to win back-to-back premierships was stunted by Melbourne at the MCG in April, and in round four will have a chance at redemption.
Sydney v GWS – the first Sydney Derby
Round three, Saturday September 10, SCG
Another game with plenty of firsts. The first Sydney Derby. The first AFLW match at the SCG. The first time Rebecca Privitelli, Lisa Steane and Ally Morphett will face their old side. The incumbent Giants will look at this game as an opportunity to flex their experience and dominance across NSW, while plucky new side Sydney will be hoping to create an upset on the biggest of stages.