Every AFL season, there are games that football fans define as must-watch games for the season. There are the traditional rivalries such as Essendon and Collingwood, modern rivalries like Sydney and West Coast, and then there are rivalries that have been sparked by particular events such as Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne.
The rivalry games always make for good viewing, especially form a neutral point of view, but there are other games that make for seriously good viewing. Here are 10 of the top must-watch matches for the 2013 AFL season. Make sure you pencil them into your diaries.
Round 1: Hawthorn vs. Geelong
A modern rivalry, every time these teams meet it is almost certain that fans are in for a highly competitive and contested match. The two have played nine times since the 2008 Grand Final, however, every meeting since the Hawks emerged as premiers, Geelong has stolen victory. The greatest winning margin during this period has been a mere 21 points and there is nothing to suggest that this clash will be anything different. The big question remains; can Hawthorn get over the psychological challenge to overcome Geelong, or will the Cats continue their phenomenal winning streak?
Round 1: Fremantle vs. West Coast
The western derby is always an intense rivalry with bragging rights and glory on the line. In their last encounter, Fremantle annihilated West Coast by a whopping 65-point. However, this wasn’t particularly indicative of their final ladder positions, with the Eagles and Dockers finishing fifth and seventh respectively. In 2013, it is anticipated that both teams will develop upon their 2012 performances and be at a similar playing level. This should allow for a highly competitive match with a brilliant brand of football played.
Round 2: Collingwood vs. Carlton
Collingwood and Carlton have a long history of a powerful and fierce rivalry. However, there is one added factor in 2013, that being Mick Malthouse. Malthouse, who coached the Pies from 2000 until 2011, replaced Brett Ratten at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Despite stating “I could never coach against my boys,” Malthouse accepted the position at Carlton which angered many people involved with the Magpies. All eyes will be on how Malthouse can coach his new playing group against the team he mentored Nathan Buckley to develop. Both Collingwood and Malthouse have their pride on the line.
Round 4: St Kilda vs. Essendon
In September of 2012, Brendon Goddard was inducted as a life member by the St Kilda Football Club. Less than a month later, Goddard announced that through free agency, he opted to play with the Bombers in 2013 and beyond, a move that enraged many St Kilda fans. The Round 4 clash should be renamed St Kilda vs. Brendon Goddard, with the focus firmly on the new recruit as he lines up to play against his former team in red and black. Expect anger to be the flavour of the match.
Round 5: St Kilda v Sydney
For the first time in the long history of the AFL, a home and away premiership season match will feature on an international stage. The Saints will host the Swans on New Zealand turf at Westpac Stadium in the Round 5 game. The history-making event will feature on ANZAC Day, directly following the pronounced clash between Collingwood and Essendon. This could be the first of many games in the AFL’s effort to expand the game abroad.
Round 7: Hawthorn vs. Sydney
The Grand Final rematch is always an exciting game to witness. It is fierce, competitive and just as exhilarating as the last time the two teams met. For both Hawthorn and Sydney, this Round 7 game is about more than just the four points on the day. The Swans, who emerged as winners over Hawthorn in the 2012 Grand Final, will be looking to remind the Hawks of their 10-point victory on that last Saturday in September. The Hawks will be looking for redemption from their narrow loss. Let’s hope for a cracker of a clash.
Round 14: Port Adelaide vs. Collingwood
Unfortunately, this game is a must-watch under terrible circumstances, as it is to honour and celebrate the life of AFL footballer John McCarthy, a life that was cut short. McCarthy tragically lost his life during an off-season trip to Las Vegas at the conclusion of 2012. He played a total of 18 games for Collingwood and 21 for Port Adelaide, so this game is an opportunity for players and supporters to pay tribute to a former member of their clubs.
Round 16: Richmond vs. Gold Coast
There is one thing that all AFL clubs share minus Richmond, and it is that they have all beaten Gold Coast at least once since the Suns’ establishment in 2011. The Tigers seem to have difficulty being victorious over the Suns, letting an 18-point lead in the final term crumble last time these two teams met. Karmichael Hunt kicked the goal after the siren, granting the Suns a two-point victory. The hungry Tigers will come out firing in this round, hoping to end Gold Coast’s two-match winning streak over Richmond.
Round 17: North Melbourne vs. Carlton
The last time these two teams met, there were some interesting events that unfolded. Jack Ziebell was suspended for four weeks for a dangerous head-high bump on Carlton’s Aaron Joesph, but the most memorable event of the match was Chris Judd’s ‘chicken wing’ tackle on North Melbourne midfielder Leigh Adams. The incident committed by the Brownlow Medallist was considered unsportsmanlike, with Adams sustaining an injury to his problem shoulder. There is bound to be hostility when these two clubs meet again and we can expect the North Melbourne boys to come out vengeful and firing.
Round 23: Gold Coast vs. Greater Western Sydney
Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney met two times throughout the 2012 season and each won one game. The Giants snatched the first win by a convincing 27 points, although Gold Coast responded by taking a 30-point victory in their second meeting. As it stands, based on their previous encounters, there can be little comparison made to establish which the better of the newbies is. This clash, their second for the season, will factor in their development and growth over the 2013 season, and ultimately can suggest which of the teams has come along the most in the last year.