RICHMOND recruits Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy have wasted no time in showing what they will bring to the Tigers after excelling in the club's 19-point win over Adelaide on Friday night.
In both clubs' first JLT Community Series clash, the pair each gathered 21 disposals in the Tigers' 0.14.8 (92) to 0.10.13 (73) win at Etihad Stadium.
After being lured to Punt Road from Gold Coast on a lucrative long-term deal last year, all eyes were on Prestia and he let nobody down in his opening appearance, winning an equal team-high 12 contested possessions and four clearances.
Caddy's move to Richmond happened quickly during last year's trade period and it was clear to see why the Tigers were drawn to the ex-Cat.
His size and strength gave the Tigers a new presence at the stoppages, and he closed out his first game with six marks and a final-quarter goal to show his ability in attack.
Just as the experienced pair excited Richmond fans, a number of the club's younger prospects also showed promising signs.
In his second season Daniel Rioli (16 disposals) gave great dash, speed and class to set up numerous scoring chances, while small forward Jason Castagna kicked three goals. Dan Butler's toughness and zip around the ball also stood out, while Oleg Markov brings pace and a point of difference to the Tigers' mix.
The Crows were missing more senior players than the Tigers, but hung in throughout the contest and will head back to South Australia with a number of positives.
Young defender Harrison Wigg (23 disposals) impressed across half-back with his ball use and composure, while Rory Laird (33 disposals), on the other half-back flank, showed no signs of slowing down his development into one of the game's best rebounders.
The club will also take great confidence from the seamless return to football by Andy Otten, who played his first game since round 20, 2014, after a shocking run of serious knee injuries. Otten moved comfortably in defence and finished with 17 disposals and six marks in a solid display.
Adelaide's improvement this season will need to come from within after its inability to land Carlton star Bryce Gibbs last trade period.
But the reemergence of former Greater Western Sydney speedster Curtly Hampton (16 disposals, two goals) should not be forgotten as part of their premiership assault, particularly after an impressive first-up showing for the Crows after missing last year with injury.
Hampton's smooth movement set up the first goal of the game, to rookie Jonathon Beech, and the Crows looked slick pushing forward. Their 13-point lead at the opening change came as a result of a more dangerous and prominent forward half, epitomized by a classic Eddie Betts checkside goal from the boundary line.
But the Tigers would have been enthused by the run of a bulkier looking Rioli, while Kamdyn McIntosh, who played just six games last year due to an ankle injury, kicked a long goal and showed he would add some bite to their defence this year.
It was another youngster who lit the Tigers' spark in the second term, with second-year forward Castagna booting two goals. His speed and tenacity created chances for Richmond, which used star midfielder Dustin Martin and new clearance partner Caddy in stints in attack as they took a five-point lead into the major break.
A highlight of the match came early in the third term when Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric baulked an opponent in the back half to start a chain of possessions for the Tigers which finished in end-to-end major to Castagna.
It was the first of a five-goal-to-three term for the Tigers, who took a five-point lead into the last change and showed off a more attacking and free-flowing game style. Spearhead Jack Riewoldt's final-minute goal of the last term – his third of the night – iced the win for the Tigers.
Star midfielder Rory Sloane, who the Crows hope to be ready for round one after fracturing his eye socket, led the contingent of notable absentees for Adelaide on Friday night.
Brad Crouch, Scott Thompson, Jake Lever and Kyle Cheney were among the other important Crows missing. Richmond was closer to full strength, with star defender Alex Rance and ruckman Shaun Hampson the key outs.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Richmond: David Astbury might be about to enter the prime of his career. The tall defender played 19 games last season – the most of his career – and took great confidence from that injury-free run. But heading into his eighth season in the AFL, Astbury may be ready to become the intercepting, agile and important backman Richmond needs to stand next to Alex Rance through the season. Astbury was excellent against the Crows, holding Adelaide skipper Taylor Walker goalless and keeping him to just 11 disposals.
Adelaide: Despite the defeat, the Crows will continue to be one of the hardest teams to stop from kicking goals. After leading the competition last home and away season for points scored, Adelaide's attack hasn't lost any impetus. Josh Jenkins (four goals), Eddie Betts and Tom Lynch all played a part on Friday night, while Charlie Cameron and Wayne Milera also showed flashes, all with Walker kept relatively quiet. Crows coach Don Pyke has a formidable forward line in his hands and the club's opening pre-season contest was a nice reminder of just how quickly it can score and how dangerous it can be.
Richmond: Pencil in Dion Prestia to be right near the top of Richmond's disposal winners every time he plays. The midfielder is clean and classy and a step ahead, and had a very solid first showing for the club. Former Cat Josh Caddy finished with 21 disposals, while ruckman Toby Nankervis gathered 15 disposals to go with his 14 hit-outs. Overall the Tigers would have been pleased with the output of their new batch.
Adelaide: Harrison Wigg stole the show for the Crows' new faces, with the smart left-footed defender finding 23 disposals and using them well off half-back. Draftee Myles Poholke was quieter in his first appearance for the Crows (nine touches) but didn't look overawed, while Harry Dear (10) and Jono Beech (one) also had limited influence. More encouraging was the showing of former Greater Western Sydney defender Curtly Hampton who, after spending last year on the sidelines with injury for the Crows, showed real dash and poise with the ball.
Both sides play their second JLT Community Series contests next Sunday, March 5. Richmond will travel to Mount Gambier to face Port Adelaide, while the Crows will take on the Cats at Richmond Oval in South Australia.
RICHMOND 0.1.2 0.4.6 0.9.7 0.14.8 (92)
ADELAIDE 0.3.3 0.5.5 0.8.8 0.10.13 (73)
Richmond: Castagna 3, Riewoldt 3, Lloyd, Griffiths, Vlastuin, Butler, Nankervis, McIntosh, Martin, Caddy
Adelaide: Jenkins 4, Hampton 2, Beech, Kelly, Betts, Douglas
Richmond: Caddy, Prestia, Ellis, Astbury, Castagna, Cotchin, Nankervis
Adelaide: Laird, Wigg, Crouch, Smith, Lynch, Cameron, Otten, Jenkins
Adelaide: Jacobs (stiff back), Ellis-Yolmen (knee), McGovern (knee), Beech (calf)
Umpires: Hosking, Rosebury, Hay, Harris
Official crowd: 7262 at Etihad Stadium