Ben Sutton: Save us from Friday night flops

Sportal August 25, 2012, 7:37 am

Friday night's Richmond-Essendon clash was anything but a blockbuster and the AFL should consider implementing the ability to change the fixtures to avoid future flops in prime time.

The coveted Friday night slot is usually reserved for the match of the round as it always draws the highest TV audience.

So far this year we've been treated to some absolute rippers but as the season nears its conclusion we are left with matches that either have a bearing on the finals or don't.

Matches involving two teams that are out of finals contention serve little interest to those outside of the two supporting teams and shouldn't be seen on Friday night.

While the Bombers were technically still in the race for the top eight heading into this round their season was all but cooked after last week's demolition at the hands of Carlton.

And what they served up on Friday night completely justified why they will not be competing in the finals.

They let Richmond dominate the contest and applied next to no pressure as the Tigers racked up a staggering 71 inside 50s 31 more than what Essendon could muster.

That the final margin was only 45 points was an indictment on how bad Richmond were in front of goal and you got the feeling that any decent team would have belted either of those sides quite comfortable based on that performance.

But did anyone really expect it to be a high-quality encounter?

It's a shame that these two teams were given the prime slot this week considering the calibre of other matches in this round.

Sydney v Hawthorn, West Coast v Collingwood and even North Melbourne v Fremantle would have all been better served on Friday night.

But instead the first-versus-second match of the round is lost in that awkward Saturday twilight timeslot.

The AFL should flirt with the idea of having the final five rounds 'floating' to avoid irrelevant matches featuring in the prime slots.

Or if not that they should at least be able to move matches where appropriate.

In the case of this round it would have been easy to swap either the Swans-Hawks clash or the Eagles-Magpies match to Friday night with the Tigers and Bombers moving to Saturday where there is only one match scheduled in Victoria.

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