After an historically long wait, Round Two of the 2020 AFL season will take place this weekend. After months in the shadow of Covid-19, the return of footy marks the beginning of our return to the light of everyday life. The AFL has scheduled some intriguing contests which will make for some incredible couch surfing over the weekend. Here are a few of the things we are most looking forward to from the AFL’s return.
Heavyweight Title Fight
What better way to re-start the season than with the appetising match up of Collingwood and Richmond. After GWS spoiled their plans of a meeting on Grand Final day in 2019, both teams produced two of the most impressive performances of Round One. After 12 weeks between drinks both teams will be a little rusty but should still be able to put one hell of a show to welcome everyone back to season 2020.
Will Hawthorn remember the way to Kardinia Park?
Friday night is another mouth-watering prospect with Geelong hosting Hawthorn down at GMHBA Stadium. Not having played at Kardina Park since 2006, it has been a long time since the Hawks have made the trek down the highway. If they can remember the way to the ground this looms as another quality encounter between Round One winners. A milestone game for Patrick Dangerfield, will he be the difference between these bitter rivals.
‘Cross-Town’ battles in Queensland
In having to base themselves on the Gold Coast for the next four weeks, Fremantle and West Coast have done a lot of the heavy-lifting in getting the season restarted. While there have been a few mischievous types who have suggest that the Eagles are now the first successful team to ever be based on the Gold Coast, it will be interesting to see how they fare in their first game up north. On paper it would seem that the Eagles would be too strong for the Suns and the Lions too strong for the Dockers, but footy isn’t played on paper.
Carlton, Melbourne, St Kilda, and the Western Bulldogs all entered the season with high hopes. After spending the last 12 weeks stewing over their disappointing first round outings, they now find themselves squaring off with each other. It’s a long way back from 0-2 in a 17 round season which means there will be an extreme spotlight on the losers of the Carlton v Melbourne and St Kilda v Western Bulldogs match-ups this weekend.
Crowds at the Showdown
While it is likely to be forever the smallest crowd in Showdown history, the fact that there will be spectators at the Adelaide Oval this weekend is one of the stories of the round. The Power were one of the more impressive sides in Round One and the Crows one of the worst but this will count for little when these two rivals lock horns. Footage of Adelaide training last weekend suggests they will be up for the fight this week but will it be enough to overcome Port Adelaide celebrating their 150th year in their iconic Prison Bar Jersey?
How will fly-in, fly-out work?
North Melbourne and Essendon will be the first clubs to find out just what effect the fly-in, fly-out regulations will have on teams this year. Both clubs will share chartered flights to and from Sydney to take on GWS and Sydney. After permission being granted during the week, crowds will be in attendance to cheer on the home teams. All four teams were impressive in Round One and if they can rediscover that form could provide a pair of intriguing back to back battles on Sunday.
It will be a weekend of heartwarming comebacks, with a number of players taking the field after a long lay off. Almost a year to the day after his last game, Jack Higgins returns for Richmond on Thursday following brain surgery in 2019. A welcome addition for Damien Hardwick, the Tiger Livewire will be hoping to add to his highlight reel of big moments against Collingwood. The Giants welcome back former skipper Callan Ward, who has not played for over a year since suffering an ACL tear. An even longer wait was endured by Demon Harley Bennell who will play his first game in 1021 days when he takes the field against Carlton. It has been a long battle with injury for the former Sun and Docker who has missed a total of 117 games since his debut in 2011.