A NEW-LOOK Ararat outfit has begun the year on the right note, accounting for Nhill at home by 10 goals.
After a disappointing 2013, the Rats had a point to prove - and they made their statement early, kicking seven goals to one in the opening term before winning every quarter on their way to a commanding 58-point victory.
New recruits Tyler Cronin, Daniel Mendes and Beau Cosson all had an impact for the Rats, sharing seven goals, while skipper Alan Batchelor and
Aaron Searle led a consistent midfield effort.
Rats co-coaches Andrew Louder and David Hosking said the side had been targeting an opening round victory.
"That's what we set ourselves to do at the start of the season - we had to win round one, regardless of who we played and we've done that now," Louder said.
"It's really hard to know what the result is going to be like when you don't know the opposition, so we're happy with the end result and we'll move forward from there."
Hosking said the side was already a lot stronger than last year.
"With the guys we've picked up, we're a lot stronger in the midfield now than we were," he said."We won the clearances pretty comfortably and we were much stronger over the footy than we have been in the past.
"There will be a lot of teams that try and push us around this year like they have in the past few years and they won't be able to do it."
The Rats co-coaches believed a consistent team effort and improved forward structure had contributed to the win.
For Nhill, change will have to come quickly, and new coach Shane Grover said he was shocked by the performance.
"It was very disappointing," he said.
"I think Ararat probably gave us a lesson on how to run and move the ball.
"We were very stagnant and you could probably see we don't train together that was probably our biggest killer today.
"They were prepared to work a lot harder than what we were obviously."
New forward line recruit Sam Turmine could not be faulted for effort, while Grover praised Jayden Fischer's tagging in the second half. Mat Jones found plenty of the footy, but the Tigers midfield was soundly beaten.
Grover said he hoped the team would gel together quickly.
He said a number of reserves players could come into the mix for senior selection.
"We've got to go back and work on it," he said. "The reserves had a good win, so obviously there will be a few blokes there looking for selection.
"We're very disappointed, but we've got a long season ahead of us we'll work on it and we'll be back bigger and better."