Best on Ground: Festival of football to shape 2020 AFL ladder

How much of a hard slog will the festival of footy be?
How much of a hard slog will the festival of footy be?

The festival of football is under way.

The first of 33 games in 20 days was played on Wednesday night with Richmond reasserting itself as a premiership contender with a convincing win against Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium.

It's a unique situation for the AFL. As one round enters, another will start.

The condensed rounds nine to 12 fixtures, where some teams will play off four-day breaks, was put in motion after the escalating coronavirus situation in Victoria forced the league leaders to send 10 teams to interstate hubs for the remainder of the home-and-away season.

It could prove a make-or-break period for clubs chasing a finals berth, particularly in a shortened 17-game season where the stakes are already elevated.

Geelong is one club entering the football frenzy facing an uphill battle.

The Cats are sitting comfortably in third spot with five wins and three losses.

But Chris Scott's aging list has its concerns.

Geelong plays West Coast on Saturday night in Perth before leaving the Western Australian hub for Queensland where it will play North Melbourne (Wednesday), St Kilda (Monday) and Port Adelaide (Friday) in quick succession.

It's a jam-packed schedule with three of the four games against top-eight sides.

The Cats have their injury woes too with captain Joel Selwood nursing a hamstring strain.

It's also not known when the little master Gary Ablett will play again after returning to Victoria to be with his sick son.

The next four games could shape the Cats' season. It looks a challenge but 12 finals appearances in the past 13 seasons mean you write off the "greatest team of all" at your peril.

  • This edition of Best On Ground was written by Warrnambool Standard journalist Justine McCullagh-Beasy


Thursday, July 30

  • Melbourne v Port Adelaide at the Gabba, 7.50pm

Friday, July 31

  • Carlton v Hawthorn at Optus Stadium, 5.40pm
  • Essendon v Brisbane at Metricon Stadium, 8.10pm

Saturday, August 1

  • North Melbourne v Adelaide at Metricon Stadium, 2.35pm
  • St Kilda v Sydney at the Gabba, 5.10pm
  • West Coast v Geelong at Optus Stadium, 8.10pm

Sunday, August 2

  • Gold Coast v GWS Giants at Metricon Stadium, 3.35pm
  • Fremantle v Collingwood at Optus Stadium, 6.10pm
This story Will festival of footy be an uphill battle for some? first appeared on The Standard.