AFLW fixture: Five must-watch games in the first five rounds

After what feels like a long time coming, the AFLW season 2022 (#2) fixture has been released.

With a single ladder in place, season seven will launch on August 25 when the fierce rivalry between Carlton and Collingwood will grace Ikon Park in a Thursday night blockbuster, just as they did in the first ever AFLW game.

Round 10 will be a floating round, with timing to be confirmed closer to the time to optimise scheduling outcomes heading into the AFLW finals, and now with an 18-team competition, the finals series will increase from three to four weeks beginning on the weekend of November 4-6 with the NAB AFLW Grand Final to be held on the weekend of November 25-27.

In welcome news for fans, all Saturday games across September have floating start times to allow for double-header opportunities to coincide with the AFL finals series, and Friday night footy will see double-headers across women's and men's competitions, being played for the full 10 weeks.

Round 1 will see the four new AFLW sides run out for the first time on Saturday August 27, in another historic occasion for the league.

We've looked at the fixture to bring you the five must-watch games for the first five rounds of the impending season.

Round 1: Adelaide vs. Melbourne - Norwood Oval, Friday August 26, 7.00pm (ACST)

The season six AFLW Grand Final rematch between the Adelaide Crows and Melbourne will see all eyes on Daisy Pearce's Demons who were desperate to become the first club to win both the men's and women's competition in the same year.

When they met in this year's April Grand Final, it was their first meeting in the big dance. Adelaide had won two previous premierships and made their fourth Grand Final appearance, while Melbourne sought to claim an inaugural senior women's premiership at their first attempt.

Adelaide won the match by 13 points, with star Crow Anne Hatchard named best on ground. Despite fierce interest from local rivals Port Adelaide, she has remained with the powerhouse side. However, prolific triple premiership Crow Erin Phillips took the bait from the neighbouring team and will be a loss to the Crows when they face the Demons.

Round 1: Essendon vs. Hawthorn - ETU Stadium, Saturday August 27, 7.10pm (AEST)

Essendon and Hawthorn will each play their first ever AFLW match at the ETU Stadium in Port Melbourne on the Saturday night. One of the oldest rivalries in Australian football, these expansion teams will be eager to mark their AFLW debuts with a win.

Both senior coaches are already rallying the AFL to have the clash moved to Marvel Stadium due to the limited capacity of 10,000 at North Port Oval.

Essendon have successfully secured some of the best talent in the league with the likes of premiership player Bonnie Toogood from the Western Bulldogs and former Blue and league best and fairest winner Maddy Prespakis.

Hawthorn also has a promising line up with number two draft pick Jasmine Fleming and North Melbourne's 2020 leading goal-kicker Kaitlyn Ashmore among many exciting players on their inaugural list.

Round 4: Essendon vs. Richmond - ETU Stadium, Sunday September 18, 2.10pm (AEST)

For the first time in the history of AFLW, all 18 clubs will host an Indigenous Round clash, spread across Rounds 3 and 4, with this comes the first-ever AFLW Dreamtime match between Essendon and Richmond.

The Tigers have had a tough initiation into the league since they entered the competition in 2020, finishing bottom of their conference, 10th in 2021 and 11th in season six. Only recording their first win in 2021, the much-improved side will be seeking to use their experience against the expansion side who will be bullish inn their first season.

Round 3: Sydney vs. Greater Western Sydney - SCG, Saturday September 10, time TBC

Round 3 will see the first ever Sydney derby played at the SCG no less. These cross-town rivals will no doubt have much to fight for when former GWS players Ally Morphet, Rebecca Privitelli and Lisa Steane run out for the Swans. Sydney will wear the original Marn Grook guernsey to honour the Indigenous Round.

Round 5: Richmond vs. Brisbane - Swinburne Centre Punt Road Oval, Saturday September 24, 11.10am (AEST)

The Tigers will host the Lions at Punt Road Oval on the same day as the men's Grand Final next door at the MCG. The women's match, starting at 11.10am, will be part of the festivities in the Yarra Park precinct.

Two AFLW games will be played on the Thursday night, before four games are held on the Friday in Victoria on a public holiday for the state.

These two teams have remained comparatively undisturbed from the AFLW expansion and draft period, but Richmond will be keen to prove their progress last season can continue.