Our coverage of Australian Football in 2021 continues with our latest AFL team preview: the Port Adelaide Power. The Power were dominant through the regular season in 2020, before falling a kick short of a grand final berth. Can they back it up on 2021?

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Port Adelaide home guernsey

Season 2020

1st: 14 wins, 3 losses, 136.4%

Finals: Defeated Geelong by 16 points in week 1, bye in week 2, lost to Richmond by 6 points in week 3.

After three 10th placed finishes in four years, it’s fair to say that nobody expected this.

Port sat atop the AFL ladder at the end of round one – a position they didn’t relinquish for the remainder of the regular season. After taking down eventual grand finalist Geelong in the first week of the finals, they eventually fell to the ultimate winners of the competition in Richmond, by a mere six points in the preliminary final. That loss could either haunt the Power, or motivate them to greater heights in 2021.

On the park, Port Adelaide’s defense was formidable, led by captain Tom Jonas. Up forward Charlie Dixon slotted 34 goals and had his best overall season since moving to the Power back in 2015, earning his first All Australian selection in the process.

Most importantly, Port’s impressive youngsters broke out in 2020. Their 2018 trio of first rounders – already looking like a historically impressive haul – of Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters were all amongst the most improved players in the competition and look certain to reach genuine stardom sooner rather than later, especially as stalwart midfielders Travis Boak and Karl Amon settle into the twilight of their own AFL journeys.

Key Ins: Orazio Fantasia (Bombers), Aliir Aliir (Swans), Ollie Lord, Lachlan Jones, Taj Schofield (all draft)

Key Outs: Justin Westhoff, Brad Ebert, Jack Watts (all retired), Wylie Buzza, Tobin Cox, Riley Grundy, Cam Sutcliffe (all released)

Despite some big names in the forward ranks retiring over the off season, the Power are more than capable of covering those holes. Fantasia’s arrival from Essendon is a huge coup. The talented half forward is an elite finisher who plays bigger than his size. He’ll slot straight into Ebert’s old role.

Watts was all but finished as an AFL footballer, but Westhoff was still producing in 2020 – he’s a big loss. The club will be looking to talented up and comer Todd Marshall to claim the vacant centre half forward position. Despite being blessed/cursed with the face of a 14 year old and looking like a reasonable breeze could carry him away, the 22 year old Marshall plays with an intelligence that belies his inexperience. But with draftee Lord and another young forward in Mitch Georgiades breathing down his neck, now is the time for him to step up.

Surrounding those key forwards is perhaps the AFL’s best brigade of small forwards. Fantasia joins Butters and the mercurial Robbie Gray, with further contributions coming from veteran Steven Motlop.

Supplying the bullets for that star studded forward line is a hard nosed midfield, that scratches and claws for every inch of territory. Boak and Ollie Wines sometimes seem like they’re immovable in the contest, opponents bouncing off of them like water on rock. Tom Rockliff remains a ball magnet. The maturation of Port Adelaide’s young midfielders in Butters, Duursma and Rozee complimented the older bodies, elevating Port’s midfield to arguably the best in the AFL.

Defensively, the addition of Aliir from Sydney could prove a masterstroke. He’s an imposing specimen, is Aliir. Tall, strong, quick, clean with the ball both above his head or below his knees, he’s often been the only man standing between the Swans and a thrashing in recent seasons. Playing with an elite unit in Port Adelaide could see him raise his game to All Australian levels.

Prediction: 1st

Despite losing in the finals, Port Adelaide were clearly the best team in the competition on a week-by-week basis. Come finals time, the Tigers may once again come up trumps, but they’ll surely be holding a little something back in the regular season.

The Power, on the other hand, will surely be like a bull at a gate, raring to get into season 2021 and banish last season’s ghosts. Mix that chase for redemption with astute signing in key areas, and another year of maturity for their exciting youngsters, and you have a team that will be extremely tough to topple.