JESSE Hogan put together an imposing second-half burst, booting four goals to be one of many Melbourne players to impress in the club's intraclub match at Casey Fields on Friday morning.
Hogan, 21, fought an intriguing battle against experienced defender Lynden Dunn before working his way into the game.
The reigning NAB Rising Star's work rate was noticeable and he benefited greatly from the 'Blue' team's improved ball movement in the second half.
"Jess had a really good day and especially in the second half when we started moving the ball better. He looks like he's in good nick and he's in for another big year," teammate Jack Viney said after the match.
"I think he can be very good; I know he has the ability to be. If we can get the ball moving the right way it's going to make his job a lot easier. And then who knows, he could be anything."
Christian Salem was the most impressive Demon. His ability to work out of congestion and find teammates in space from the back half was noticeable.
Salem, pick No.9 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, was restricted to just 10 games in his second season due to a number of hamstring issues.
The Demons desperately missed his poise and ball use in defence and he will be an important cog in the way the club moves the ball this season.
"He's always been a terrific player for us but he's probably struggled to get any consistency with his body. He's had a really good pre-season and he showed that he's ready to have a big season," Viney said.
Aaron vandenBerg worked tirelessly around stoppages and laid a couple of big tackles, proving he will only get better in his second year at AFL level.
Jesse Hogan up to four goals. Has been a fascinating duel with Lynden Dunn. pic.twitter.com/kEqplD8Ngx— Ben Guthrie (@BenGuthrie_) February 19, 2016
Jayden Hunt's speed and competitiveness was also impressive. The youngster is yet to debut due to a series of injury issues but there is no doubt he will be in the mix for early games this season.
Viney was prolific through the midfield and Dom Tyson's clean hands around clearances also stood out.
Pegged to play as the third tall up forward this season, Jack Watts used the ball cleverly on a couple of occasions and got involved when the ball hit the deck.
The Demons' top draftee, Clayton Oliver, selection No.4 overall last year, displayed good awareness in traffic and used the ball smartly for the under-strength 'White' team.
Viney said there was plenty to take out of the scratch match.
"It was a good first hit-out. It was a bit scrappy early. People were pretty keen to get their hands on the footy but as the game went on we started to get into how we want to move the footy and there were some good passages of play," Viney said.
Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince were among the notable absentees but the Demons are confident both will be fit to play in the NAB Challenge.
Christian Petracca (toe) and Jack Trengove (foot) are still not quite ready, after long-term injury lay-offs, while Heritier Lumumba continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired ankles.
Ruckman Jake Spencer appeared to be the only casualty out of the match, with the big man rolling his ankle and spending the last part of the game on the bench.
Midfielder James Harmes also came off second best in a head clash, but he returned to the field and was one of the White team's better players.
The injury to Spencer is not thought to be serious and he was walking without a limp after the game.
Melbourne opens its NAB Challenge campaign against Port Adelaide at Playford Alive Oval in Adelaide next Saturday.
Ben Kennedy has been impressive today - won a good amount of the ball and shown plenty of dash.— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) February 18, 2016
James Harmes in the hands of coaches during Melbourne's intraclub. Picture: AFL Media