The 2016 AFL home and away fixture has been released and the Collingwood Magpies have been given a fair draw, from both a playing and financial standpoint. The Magpies will open their season against the Sydney Swans, at a familiar location in ANZ stadium, a location the Pies have a great record at over the past decade. It will be however the final time the two meet in a home and away game at that venue as the AFL will discontinue playing games there after the 2016 season.
Round two sees Collingwood play their first home game of the season, at the M.C.G on a Friday night, versus yet another finalist, the Richmond Tigers. Richmond for much of last year threatened to be a top four contender and with natural improvement from a relatively young list they should be at a similar level of opposition in 2016. The Tigers will be coming off their season opener against Carlton and will have two days of extra rest compared to the Pies. Richmond easily accounted for Collingwood the last time they met.
The third round of the season sees the Magpies play their first day game of the year, this time against St Kilda also at the M.C.G. This game is a Saints home game and will serve two purposes, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of St Kilda's only premiership win in 1966, and it's also likely to be Nick Riewoldts' 300th game. The following week the Pies will return to the M.C.G once again to face Melbourne, a young and developing side that is still a work in progress.
The traditional ANZAC day clash falls on a Monday this year, with the Bombers and Magpies to honour the ANZAC's with a standalone clash in front of over 90,000 people. This will be followed by a second interstate trip in the first 6 weeks, with Collingwood traveling to Subiaco Oval to play last years' runners up, the West Coast Eagles.
There a few little shocks in this fixture for the Pies. The back to back interstate games in rounds 16 and 17 (vs Giants and Crows) seems a little silly. Also of interest to most Pies fans is 3 games at the venue they hate the most, Etihad Stadium. Collingwood fans simply do not go to that ground in big numbers, and a home game versus a tenant, this time North Melbourne, seems like a mistake from the AFL on so many levels. Collingwood as all other sides do, gets 5 sides twice in 2016 and they are the Bulldogs, Tigers, Blues, Eagles and Demons.
It is a fair draw for the Pies though, 5 Friday night games, a lot of high drawing and high exposure games and plenty of games once again at the home of football, the M.C.G.
Here's a breakdown of the 2016 fixture for Collingwood;
MCG – 14
ETIHAD STADIUM – 3
ANZ STADIUM (Swans) – 1
DOMAIN STADIUM (Eagles) – 1
ADELAIDE OVAL (Crows) – 1
GABBA (Lions) – 1
SPOTLESS STADIUM (Giants) – 1
Friday Night – 5
Saturday Afternoon – 6 (including round 23)
Saturday Night - 5
Sunday - 4
Monday – 2 (ANZAC day and Queen's Birthday)
West Coast Eagles
Essendon (very rare occurrence)
Gold Coast Suns
That means that the Pies play only one top 6 side (from 2015) twice, although it is the rampaging West Coast Eagles. Return games against Richmond and the Bulldogs will be fiercely contested with those 2 teams finishing in the 7th-12th bracket with the Pies. The two easy return games are versus Carlton and Melbourne and should result in four wins.
The overall difficulty of the draw is about what was to be expected, avoiding top sides like Hawthorn and Fremantle twice is always a good thing after all.
With the fixture that Collingwood has been given they should return to finals football in season 2016.
View Collingwood's full 2016 home and away fixture here;