Prestia injured as Demons rucks help down Tigers
Gun Richmond midfielder Dion Prestia is in doubt for round one after straining a pectoral muscle in the Tigers' AFL practice match loss to Melbourne, with a scan this week to reveal the damage.
The triple-premiership star, who was subbed off four times in 2022, didn't return to the field after his second-quarter injury but completed some running drills at halftime.
The outlook was far better for Melbourne, who led at every change and proved too strong for Richmond, running out 50-point winners in the 18.13 (121) to 10.11 (71) clash at Casey Fields.
The Demons flew out of the blocks, playing fast, slick football from the outset and piling on five unanswered goals in the first term.
Melbourne continued to move the ball with precision from the back half throughout, showing a willingness to kick inboard and use overlap handball chains whenever possible.
"Every team's going to try to play a little bit quicker," Melbourne assistant coach Adem Yze told reporters.
"Our forward-line mix is going to help with that, but we've changed a little bit with some of our entries and we'll look to attack the goals a bit more."
Star ruck duo Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy proved a lethal tag-team, combining for six goals in the opening half while sharing the ruck load and marking strongly around the ground.
"They're obviously two quality players so we're just trying to work out their game-time and how often they play forward ... that's still going to be a work in progress," Yze said.
Richmond tough nut Liam Baker declared himself a certain starter for round one, racking up 36 disposals just a fortnight after having surgery to remove his appendix, while former GWS Giant Tim Taranto was among the Tigers' best, finishing with 33 disposals and a goal.
Fellow ex-Giant Jacob Hopper had 23 disposals and spent plenty of time in the engine room for the Tigers, winning nine clearances.
Christian Petracca (32 disposals and a goal) and Clayton Oliver (31 disposals, nine clearances) look set for another big year for the Dees, while former Bulldog Lachie Hunter proved handy, linking up well, nailing a great goal from a tight angle late in the final quarter and finishing with 25 touches.
Tough midfielder Jack Viney and goalkicker Bailey Fritsch "will push for selection for round one", according to Yze, while defender Christian Salem is "less likely" to return for the Dees' March 18 clash against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.
For the Tigers, Richmond defender Robbie Tarrant will be "around the mark" for their round one match against Carlton, as will Marlion Pickett, according to assistant coach Andrew McQualter.