Melbourne have won their opening two games of an AFL season for the first time in four years after grinding out an 18-point victory over St Kilda.
Five consecutive goals to the Demons during the second and third quarters put a wedge between the sides in an error-riddled contest under the roof at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
New co-captain Jack Steele helped drag the Saints back into the contest briefly but the Dees steadied, with livewire Kysaiah Pickett kicking two goals in the 12.19 (91) to 11.7 (73) win.
Compounding St Kilda’s woes was a jaw injury to Jimmy Webster from an errant tackle that saw him substituted out of the match during the third quarter.
The defender joins fellow first-choice selections Dan Hannebery, James Frawley, Rowan Marshall and Jarryn Geary on a long injury list.
Pickett was dangerous around stoppages in Melbourne’s forward half and showed flashes of brilliance, delivering a goal-of-the-round contender during the second term.
The work of midfielders Clayton Oliver (37 disposals), Christian Salem and Christian Petracca (both 30) was important for the Demons.
On an emotional night, St Kilda launched the inaugural Spud’s Game in memory of the late Danny Frawley – an initiative to support and raise awareness for mental health programs.
Jack Viney kicked two first-quarter goals on return from a hamstring injury as the Demons had the better of the play early before Max King (two goals) helped spark a five-goal run for the Saints in a see-sawing start.
Pickett provided the highlight of the first half with a brilliant snapped goal, roving a pack and evading two tackles before kicking truly.
It was one of three goals in a six-minute burst that gave the Dees a four-point lead at the main break.
The trend continued in the third quarter as the sleepy Saints were made to pay for a series of errors in their back half.
Goals to Ed Langdon and Charlie Spargo made it five straight for the Dees, but they didn’t put their collective foot down when given the chance.
Missed shots at goal hurt and dropped marks by Jake Lever and Luke Jackson in defence led to two of Steele’s three goals, cutting the margin to nine points.
Bayley Fritsch kicked a steadier before Tom McDonald and Pickett gave the Demons plenty of breathing space with the first two goals of the final term.
St Kilda midfielders Seb Ross, Jade Gresham and Steele won plenty of the ball but their undermanned team was well beaten.