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Match preview: Port Adelaide v Fremantle

Pick a Winner: Port v Frem Duck and Browny preview the Power v Dockers
Alex Pearce is ready to step up for the Dockers this year - AFL,Port Adelaide Power,Fremantle Dockers
Alex Pearce is ready to step up for the Dockers this year

SUMMARY
This is the first chance to see if the Power's off-season recruiting spree will pay dividends. Former Melbourne utility Jack Watts is coming off a six-goal haul against Adelaide in the JLT Community Series, ex-Geelong speedster Steven Motlop added pace to the midfield while Tom Rockliff will boost the Power's on-ball brigade. After returning to the finals last year, the expectations on the Power are to be a genuine premiership contender, providing their recruits can take them to the next level. Being without the suspended Robbie Gray is a major blow to their attack. For the Dockers, they couldn't have asked for a much tougher start to their season. Captain Nat Fyfe looks primed for a big year and many have tipped him to recapture his Brownlow Medal form of 2015. After finishing 16th and 14th in the past two seasons, it's essential for the Dockers to start the season strongly if they're to return to September action. 

WHERE AND WHEN: Adelaide Oval, Saturday, March 24, 4.05pm ACST

TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

LAST FIVE TIMES
R2, 2017, Port Adelaide 22.13 (145) d Fremantle 8.8 (56) at Adelaide Oval
R13, 2016, Fremantle 12.14 (86) d Port Adelaide 9.15 (69) at Subiaco Oval
R23, 2015, Port Adelaide 18.14 (122) d Fremantle 8.5 (53) at Adelaide Oval
R1, 2015, Fremantle 11.9 (75) d Port Adelaide 10.8 (68) at Subiaco Oval
1SF, 2014, Port Adelaide 15.15 (105) d Fremantle 11.17 (83) at Subiaco Oval 

THE SIX POINTS

  1. It was Robbie Gray’s day when the teams faced off in round two last year, starring with 30 disposals and a career-high six goals. The game was over by half time with the Power leading by 53 points.
  2. The Power was one of the highest scoring sides in 2017 ranked second for points per game with 97. In complete contrast, the Dockers struggled to score, averaging only 73 points.
  3. Port Adelaide holds a narrow advantage over Fremantle recently, winning four games to three. Since 2014, the Power’s last two wins over the Dockers have been by a combined 158 points.
  4. The Power were the No.1 contested marking team in 2017, averaging 137 per game and had the best contested marking player, Charlie Dixon, with a total of 59. Fremantle was ranked fifth-last.
  5. Port Adelaide won eight of 13 matches at Adelaide Oval in 2017, with five wins by more than 50 points. Fremantle struggled interstate last season, losing seven of its 10 games.
  6. Fremantle midfielder Lachie Neale was a big improver in the Schick AFL Player Ratings, finishing last season ranked 10th overall. He's the highest-ranked player on the ground with Port Adelaide star Robbie Gray (8th) serving a one-match suspension. 

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Alex Pearce will play his first premiership game in 672 days after a lengthy recovery from two broken legs. The 22-year-old, who has been labelled a future Dockers captain and elevated to the club's leadership group, will get the tough job on Power key forward Charlie Dixon.   

PREDICTION: Port Adelaide by 32 points.