The fixture for the 2018 AFL season was released last Tuesday, and looking at what lies ahead for the Bulldogs for next year, Bulldog fans should be rejoicing at how pleasing our 2018 draw looks.
After finishing 10th in 2017, the expectations of next year's fixture was that it should be a bit more easier than it was this years and overall, it will be a very pleasing draw. The Bulldogs will kick off the 2018 campaign with a journey to Canberra to play Greater Western Sydney, however, play six of their first eight games at Etihad Stadium, including a showdown with Jake Stringer and his new club Essendon in round three.
Out of the 22 games that the Bulldogs will play in 2018, they will play 13 of those at Etihad, a venue which the Dogs have managed to play solid footy over the past few years, they won seven of their 11 games at Etihad this year. Furthermore, 17 of their 22 games will be played in Victoria, with two games to be played at Ballarat's Mars Stadium in round seven and round 19 and only two games at the MCG next year - one in round 17 and the other in round 23.
This means that they will only have to travel interstate five times throughout the year. This includes the round one excursion to Canberra, two trips to Western Australia's newly-developed Perth Stadium in rounds five and 18 and two trips to the Adelaide Oval in rounds nine and 13.
Following the disappointing 2017 season, the prime-time slots have been reduced from seven Friday night games to four, which I think is still a very good result. They will play two home games against Carlton (Round six) and Geelong (Round 15) and two away games against Adelaide (Round nine) and Collingwood (Round 10) in this time slot and in addition to this, they will get a Thursday night game with Port Adelaide in Round 13.
Out of the five teams that they play twice next year, only one of those five made it to the final six in 2017, as they will play West Coast twice in round two and round 18, this is a side who I believe is the weakest of that top six. They will also play fellow finals aspirants Port Adelaide and Melbourne twice in what I think will be very interesting encounters as Port Adelaide's off-season has been very busy and Melbourne's addition of Jake Lever and the fact that they missed out on Finals in the final round of this year makes them all the more dangerous. They will also play bottom six teams North Melbourne and Carlton twice. The Bulldogs always seem to have thrilling encounters with North Melbourne and the Bulldogs have not played Carlton twice in a home and away fixture since 2002.
The biggest negative to come out of this fixture, which we have already expressed (I'll put the link below if you haven't seen it), is the fact that the Western Bulldogs will miss out on another Good Friday game after it was seen as a roaring success. They will be replaced by St. Kilda, who will have the game with North Melbourne in round two. Something else that seems to be displeasing quite a few supporters is the fact that the Doggies will play the final four games of the home and away season as the away side, despite all four games to be played at either Etihad Stadium or the MCG.
All in all, this is a very good fixture for the Bulldogs as they prepare to make the push back up the ladder after what many believed was a poor 2017 season and having a draw that some might call soft will definitely help them in their bid to return to the Finals in 2018.
Western Bulldogs' 2018 Fixture (All times shown are Melbourne times)
Round 1 - Sunday, March 25th
GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs - Manuka Oval (1:10pm)
Round 2 - Sunday, April 1st
Western Bulldogs vs West Coast Eagles - Etihad Stadium (3:20pm)
Round 3 - Sunday, April 8th
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon - Etihad Stadium (3:20pm)
Round 4 - Saturday, April 14th
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney Swans - Etihad Stadium (4:35pm)
Round 5 - Saturday, April 21st
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs - Perth Stadium (8:10pm)
Round 6 - Friday, April 27th
Western Bulldogs vs Carlton - Etihad Stadium (7:50pm)
Round 7 - Saturday, May 5th
Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Suns - Mars Stadium (1:45pm)
Round 8 - Saturday, May 12th
Western Bulldogs vs Brisbane Lions - Etihad Stadium (7:25pm)
Round 9 - Friday, May 18th
Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs - Adelaide Oval (7:50pm)
Round 10 - Friday, May 25th
Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs - Etihad Stadium (7:50pm)
Round 11 - Saturday, June 2nd
Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne - Etihad Stadium (1:45pm)
Round 12 - BYE
Round 13 - Thursday, June 14th
Port Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs - Adelaide Oval (7:50pm)
Round 14 - Saturday, June 23rd
Western Bulldogs vs North Melbourne - Etihad Stadium (7:25pm)
Round 15 - Friday, June 29th
Western Bulldogs vs Geelong - Etihad Stadium (7:50pm)
Round 16 - Saturday, July 7th
Western Bulldogs vs Hawthorn - Etihad Stadium (7:25pm)
Round 17 - Saturday, July 14th
Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs - Melbourne Cricket Ground (4:35pm)
Round 18 - Sunday, July 22nd
West Coast Eagles vs Western Bulldogs - Perth Stadium (3:20pm)
Round 19 - Sunday, July 29th
Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide - Mars Stadium (3:20pm)
Round 20 - Saturday, August 4th
St. Kilda vs Western Bulldogs - Etihad Stadium (7:25pm)
Round 21 - Sunday, August 12th
North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs - Etihad Stadium (1:10pm)
Round 22 - Sunday, August 19th
Carlton vs Western Bulldogs - Etihad Stadium (1:10pm)
Round 23 - Date and Time TBA
Richmond vs Western Bulldogs - Melbourne Cricket Ground