It is Fremantle's turn to host at Optus Stadium and the Dockers are already under pressure to perform after a disappointing 50-point loss to Port Adelaide in their season opener. There will be a sharp focus on Freo's skills after Ross Lyon's men butchered opportunities against the Power and scored just 60 points. The Dockers were hurt on turnovers and Essendon's foot-to-the-floor playing style could pose tough questions of Freo's defence, especially if the three-pronged tall forward line of Joe Daniher, Cale Hooker and James Stewart fires again after combining for eight goals against Adelaide. How big a boost the Dockers receive from a huge and parochial crowd at their Optus Stadium opener will be intriguing to see, but the Bombers will be keen to spoil the party and get their season away to a flying 2-0 start.
WHERE AND WHEN: Optus Stadium, Saturday, March 31, 5.10pm AWST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
LAST FIVE TIMES
R23, 2017, Essendon 16.11 (107) d Fremantle 14.8 (92) at Etihad Stadium
R7, 2017, Fremantle 17.14 (116) d Essendon 11.13 (79) at Subiaco Oval
R11, 2016, Fremantle 20.6 (126) d Essendon 6.11 (47) at Subiaco Oval
R6, 2015, Fremantle 12.8 (80) d Essendon 7.10 (52) at Subiaco Oval
R4, 2014, Fremantle 18.5 (113) d 9.6 (60) at Subiaco Oval
THE SIX POINTS
1. Essendon's storming six-goal to one finish to overrun Adelaide shouldn't come as a surprise. The Bombers won 18 of 23 final quarters last year.
2. The Dockers were beaten in a number of key areas by Port Adelaide in round one, losing disposals (-81), clearances (-10), inside 50s (-13), contested possessions (-14) and tackles (-19).
3. Fremantle's connection between the midfield and forward line is a concern. The Dockers' 60-point score against Port Adelaide was the 16th consecutive game they've failed to hit the 100-point mark.
4. Essendon's victory in the final home and away round last season was the club's first over the Dockers since round three, 2013. Fremantle won the previous four matches.
5. The Dockers will be determined to build a home ground advantage at Optus Stadium and extend Essendon's run of six consecutive losses in Perth. Freo holds an 11-7 record over the Dons in Perth.
6. Alex Pearce climbed 58 spots in the Schick AFL Player Ratings to 492nd overall after his round one comeback following complications with a broken leg and will have a big job on an Essendon tall forward on Saturday night. Expect the promising key defender to rise with a bullet this season.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …
Nat Fyfe tried his guts out against Port Adelaide but was given no time and space. Freo needs the skipper to put his stamp on Optus Stadium with a vintage performance to lead the club to a first-up victory.
PREDICTION: Essendon by 12 points