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Preview: Port Adelaide v North Melbourne

Matthew Agius  April 3, 2014 2:10 PM

PTV: Last time v Roos - R6, 2013 Highlights from Port Adelaide's narrow loss to North Melbourne
Three against the Crows and three last time we played the Roos, Schulz will be a focal point for the Power this weekend.

Three against the Crows and three last time we played the Roos, Schulz will be a focal point for the Power this weekend.

WITH two wins to open the season, including one at Etihad Stadium, Port Adelaide will look to close the sizeable win-loss gap to traditional bogey side North Melbourne at Docklands on Sunday aftenroon.

Belligerents

PORT ADELAIDE
Year to date: WW
Last five at ground: WWLLL
Currently ranked: 3rd

NORTH MELBOURNE
Year to date: LW
Last five at ground: WLLWW
Currently ranked: 10th

HEAD TO HEAD
Power 8 v 20 Kangaroos

LAST FIVE
Power 1 v 4 Kangaroos

PLAYBILL

AFL Premiership Season - Round 3
North Melbourne v Port Adelaide
Sunday 6 April
First bounce 4:10pm (AEST) / 3:40pm (ACST)
Hashtags: #pafclive #aflnorthpower
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YOU’RE INVITED

Official Port Adelaide pre-game event
Bells Hotel, 157 Moray Street, South Melbourne
From 1:00pm
Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas and club officials in attendance

Official Port Adelaide post-game event
Victory Room
Level 1, Aisle 12, Etihad Stadium
Commencing after conclusion of game
Players, coaches, directors and staff in attendance

TIME MACHINE

Round 6, 2013. A sloppy and inaccurate Power nailed its own coffin in the first quarter against North Melbourne last year, but in what would be a characteristic of its season, surged back late to come within nine points of the Kangaroos in the final quarter. It was a difficult gap to close though, and ultimately proved Port Adelaide's first loss for the season following a record 5-0 start.

PORT ADELAIDE             1.5     6.7     7.9       12.11   (83) def by
NORTH MELBOURNE    7.2     9.4     12.7     14.9     (92)

Best: Boak, Wingard, Gray, Cornes, Jonas
Goals: Schulz 4, Wingard 2, Neade, Renouf, Broadbent, Gray
at Blundstone Arena

VERSUS

Travis Boak v Brent Harvey
These are the 'heartbeat' players of the Port Adelaide and North midfields. Crucial cogs in their respective engine rooms, both can really impact with class and skill and hit goals on their own. Boak was held to account by Sam Kerridge last week but provided the inspiration in key points of the game by winning crucial clearances to get the Power back into the game during the third quarter. Harvey was essential in the Roos' gritty win over the Bulldogs. They might not play against each other, but their presence and impact will be felt if either are left to run loose.

Justin Westhoff/Jay Schulz v Scott Thompson/Jack Ziebell

Westhoff wasn't dominant last week, but he was against the Blues at Etihad and has been particularly effective in recent games at the ground. Against the Crows he provided his usual running presence and was handy at key points as the Power ran forward in the first and third terms. Schulz was very solid in the Showdown and can damage the scoreboard with accuracy in front of the sticks if let loose.

Ziebell is one of North's classier backmen who can chase the Hoff around the park while Thompson was good for the Kangaroos last week and as one of the better defenders in the competition will pay close attention to, most likely, Schulz. 

NUMBER CRUNCH

Score: Power 37.25 (247) v 21.17 (143) Kangaroos
Kicks: Power 451 v 372 Kangaroos
Handballs: Power 280 v 283 Kangaroos
Marks: Power 198 v 170 Kangaroos
Disposals: Power 731 v 655 Kangaroos
Contested possessions: Power 297 v 237 Kangaroos
Frees: Power 31 v 20 Kangaroos
Tackles: Power 143 v 128 Kangaroos
Clearances: Power 74 v 68 Kangaroos
Inside-50s: Power 99 v 84 Kangaroos
Rebound 50s: Power 75 v 76 Kangaroos

FINAL SAY

You'd take a 2-0 start every day of the week, particularly with positive wins over Carlton and a history-making victory against crosstown rivals in the first Showdown at the Adelaide Oval.

But a return trip to Etihad Stadium is not the easiest task for a Power side wanting to continue its good early form, particularly when you take certain records into account.

Port has lost eight out of 28 games against the Roos. Granted, many of these games were lost in the early stages of the Power's AFL life, times when North was winning premierships and making finals with ease. Nevertheless, it is the Power's most lopsided ledger .

The club has typically struggled at Etihad Stadium as well - it currently has a 15-25 record at the ground - but it hasn't lost in two trips to Docklands this year. 

Aside from the club's opening round win over the Blues, the Power also notched a NAB Challenge victory over Essendon with a strong performance.

Key to victory this weekend will be another strong effort forward of centre. 

Team defence, we know, is a core mantra at Alberton and something the Power implemented to good effect at the Crows. When the chips were down, Port Adelaide was able to tough out a third-term momentum swing against it and harrass and pressure the ball out of Adelaide's hands in an emphatic 57-point turnaround.

The football world will be wary of the Power's seeming ability to flick a switch, as it has done in two games this year, and get on top in contested possessions to work the ball forward.

Crucial to a good outcome up forward will be the combination of Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff and John Butcher. 

Butcher was lively and dangerous last week, and it will be difficult for sides to contain three big key forwards; if Butcher can damage the scoreboard more, the Power's midfield will have ample options in attack to feed the ball too.

Speaking of the midfield, it was strong and damaging last week, so with that standard set, Ken Hinkley will demand it be replicated in non-Showdown performances.