MELBOURNE has turned up the heat on its intra-club match simulation hit-outs, as the club closes in on its upcoming pre-season encounter with the Tigers and season-opening clash with the Swans.

Captain Max Gawn looks in mid-season form after a dominant match simulation performance on Friday morning, appearing cherry-ripe for the opening bounce of the 2024 AFL season in just under 30 days’ time.

Gawn’s deft ruckwork was on show as he gave silver service to the Melbourne midfield, while also proving damaging up forward with strong marking leading to two set shot goals.

A second-term tap to Tom Sparrow streaking through a forward 50 stoppage to goal on the run was the highlight of the day for track watchers.

Sparrow and Viney were twin wrecking balls in the Melbourne midfield, bouncing around the stoppages with reckless abandon.

Viney and Christian Petracca also linked up to hit the scoreboard, with Petracca at his usual damaging best moving through the midfield and forward lines.

Angus Brayshaw is hitting his stride after a cautious reintroduction to contract training following last year’s finals concussion, playing all four quarters in a solid hit-out.

Melbourne’s experienced brigade were all on song, with Jake Lever and Steven May at their intercepting best.

Fellow defender Trent Rivers also snuck forward for an effortless set shot goal from outside 50.

Jacob van Rooyen and Josh Schache built on their forward chemistry ahead of the ball with both presenting strongly inside 50, with both among the goalkickers on the afternoon.

Second-year forward Oliver Sestan showed promise up forward with some powerful efforts and an early goal.

Matt Jefferson returned to match practice, playing up forward for the first half of the match.

The squad will step out for its first inter-club encounter of the pre-season, next Sunday, February 18 against Richmond.