WHILE some of Richmond's biggest guns drove the Tigers' thumping 71-point win over Hawthorn, assistant coach Brendon Lade found another major positive with the club's exciting cubs keeping the pressure on for spots leading into round one.
Jack Riewoldt, Shane Edwards, Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin and Alex Rance all returned for their first NAB Challenge hit-out with immediate effect at Beaconsfield, as the Tigers romped to a 1.15.5 (104) to 0.4.9 (33) victory over the understrength Hawks.
But the Tigers' spread of talent – particularly in attack – was on full display, with Ben Lennon (three goals), Connor Menadue (two) Daniel Rioli (one) and project key forward Mabior Chol all impressing.
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"Rioli showed a little bit up forward again and had a hand in a couple of goals, which is great," Lade said post-match.
"Lennon played as a key forward and kicked three goals, even Chol running into an open goal and missing it – that was great. Just for a bit of excitement, though, with what he can do.
"To have that speed, agility and athleticism that he's got, you don't find that very often. So we know he's a long way away yet, but he did show some very good signs today."
WATCH: Brendon Lade's full media conference
The Tigers had eight goalkickers on Saturday and Lade said the club was ooking forward to the cap on interchange rotations being reduced to 90 this season to showcase Richmond's attacking talent.
"I think you're going to have to have that (spread of goalkickers) this year. We talk about the rotations going down, so for a lot of teams the flexibility within your team is going to be crucial," said Lade, a seventh-year assistant coach who has taken charge of both pre-season games so far.
"We've got a lot of guys who can play forward, back and midfield. We were looking forward to the rotations coming down for the last couple of years so we could actually see this in action."
The Hawks played with only 12 of last year's premiership team and assistant coach Brett Ratten said the club discovered plenty from their youth.
WATCH: Brett Ratten's full media conference
Tim O'Brien and James Sicily both kicked a goal each as they race to replace Jarryd Roughead on Easter Monday against Geelong.
Daniel Howe (14 touches) continued his push for the best 22, while last year's draftees Blake Hardwick (one goal) and Kieran Lovell showed they weren't overawed by the contest, with Hardwick getting involved in a push and shove with Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin.
"I didn't see it, but if he did that's good. Sometimes people say 'Oh, the kid's got to get 15, 20 or 30 possessions'. But sometimes those little battles that are really important for them in their development," Ratten said.
"Howe tackling Martin, those types of little battles … they feel the strength of the other players and learn a lot more about the AFL system.
"That’s what the NAB Cup's about, is finding out about talent and players you can call on through the year."
Ratten praised O'Brien for his strong aerial contest, with the 21-year-old forward taking five marks after being encouraged to jump for the ball by coaching staff.
"He's a talented kid and he's heading in the right direction and he's taken a little step today," Ratten said.
Ratten couldn't shed any light on Jack Fitzpatrick's knee injury after he limped off the ground in the final term having appeared to hyperextend his leg, although he dismissed fears of a calf knock for Cyril Rioli after the star forward played limited minutes.
"Cyril was down for a half, so he ticks that off, which is good," Ratten said. "He was due to come off with the rotations … so perfect.
"We don’t know yet (about Fitzpatrick), I think he will be OK, but we're not sure yet."