PORTLAND is feeling the presence of added expectation this season but is embracing the pressure according to captain Daniel Jackson.
The Tigers are set to host North Warrnambool at Hanlon Park in the Hampden League Live Match of the Day on Saturday and will be searching for a fifth successive victory to start the season.
Its hot start comes off the back off a strong 2021 campaign, in which the Tigers had qualified for finals for the first time since entering the competition before COVID-19 ended the season prematurely in an unfortunate twist of fate.
While the playing group was disappointed with that turn of events, Portland’s response has been emphatic so far, recording wins over Warrnambool (39 points), Cobden (47 points), Hamilton Kangaroos (23 points) and Camperdown (76 points) leading into last weekend’s bye.
Jackson, a midfielder, admits there is more eyeballs on his side’s ability to perform this year following last season’s success, but so far he has been pleased with how his team-mates have embraced the challenge.
“Obviously last year was a bit unknown, we weren’t really sure how we were going to go,” he said.
“I think we definitely exceeded expectations last year and playing into this year I think expectations (on us) have been higher.
“That’s probably put on a bit more pressure and we’re probably going into games a bit more nervous when people expect you to win.
“There is a little bit more pressure but the boys have stood up so far this year.”
The clash with North Warrnambool is the first time Portland will face a top five side since round one but a good chance to nonetheless test itself again one of the premier teams of the competition.
The Eagles are aiming to return to the winners’ list following a shock loss to Warrnambool a fortnight ago, with Jackson wary of the 2019 grand finalist’s firepower.
“They’ve all been tough games. You don’t get any easy ones as we’ve learnt playing for a few years now in the Hampden league,” Jackson said.
“North Warrnambool are going to be a very strong side and obviously haven’t played their best footy yet.
“They have a lot of new faces and they’re going to come together and will get the ball rolling soon enough but hopefully not this week.”
In other games this weekend, Warrnambool will host arch rival South Warrnambool, Camperdown welcomes Port Fairy, Koroit faces Cobden and Hamilton Kangaroos take on Terang Mortlake.