Sport AFL rewards Tasmania with right to host maiden finals games
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AFL rewards Tasmania with right to host maiden finals games

Port Adelaide will host Geelong at Adelaide Oval in the opening game of the AFL finals series. Photo: AAP
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Port Adelaide will be the only club with a true home ground advantage in week one of the AFL finals series after the league decided Tasmania will host finals matches for the first time.

Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne and Sydney, combined with a desire to play the season’s most important matches in front of crowds, led to the league’s decision to play two matches each in Adelaide and Launceston.

Power and Geelong will open the finals series with their qualifying final at Adelaide Oval on Friday night, while minor premiers Melbourne will take on Brisbane at the same venue 24 hours later.

Sydney and Greater Western Sydeny will meet in the first elimination final at Launceston’s UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with the Western Bulldogs and Essendon to do battle in the second knockout fixture at that ground on Sunday.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein recently slammed the AFL for “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to the Apple Isle being awarded its own licence for a team, but welcomed the finals fixtures.

“This is a momentous moment for Tasmanian footy fans, with our state set to host two AFL elimination finals,” Mr Gutwein said.

“This is the first time finals will be played in Tasmania and is a massive coup for our football-loving state.”

Clubs will enter both Tasmania and South Australia under health protocols agreed with the state governments.

Clubs are bracing for the prospect of extended stints on the road during the finals series, with venues beyond week one yet to be locked in.

Perth’s Optus Stadium and Brisbane’s Gabba are in the mix, while AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has forecast a decision on the grand final venue will be made this week.

Optus Stadium is widely tipped to host the grand final and potentially both preliminary finals.

But any matches in Western Australia will require teams to abide by strict quarantine restrictions imposed by the state government.

Week 1 AFL finals

Friday, August 27

Second Qualifying Final: Port Adelaide v Geelong (Adelaide Oval), 7.50pm AEST

Saturday, August 28

Second Elimination Final: Sydney v Greater Western Sydney (University of Tasmania Stadium), 3.20pm AEST

First Qualifying Final: Melbourne v Brisbane (Adelaide Oval), 7.30pm AEST

Sunday, August 29

First Elimination Final: Western Bulldogs v Essendon (University of Tasmania Stadium), 3.20pm AEST

-AAP