Confidence to win in any conditions, home or away, is of vital importance in modern football.
On Saturday, Merrivale proved not only its worth on the big stage with a gritty 13.10 (88) to 11.13 (79) win against fellow contender Panmure in the Warrnambool and District league, but the ability to respond to the challenge away from home.
"It's always nice to head away from home and when you go to Panmure you know what you're going to get, it would have been a good game to watch," Tigers mentor Josh Sobey said.
"Both teams fought to get momentum, and it was hard to get back so once you were on a roll both sides were able to kick goals.
"It wasn't perfect, but you're happy to just get the win and talk to the boys about learning from it - we've got a lot of improvement and learn a lot.
"So I'm sure Banty (Chris Bant) would say the same, they have some areas they want to tweak, and we're the same. We look forward to seeing them again this year."
Sobey said for both sides - who went into the clash undefeated - it was a good look at what each was capable of.
"You enjoy playing the top sides, they had a few out too, so we're wary of that. We enjoyed the contest and had a bit of a laugh after the game," he said.
"We can't remember the last time we travelled up there and played in nice conditions."
The Tigers trailed at quarter time by 14 points but managed to find more time and space, with Sobey acknowledging the need to make some changes.
"There was a bit of a breeze and we didn't quite adjust, our IQ was a little low in the first quarter and they squeezed up and had a good system and once the game opened up and got the ball moving we felt like we weren't too far away," he said.
Kyden Jarvis slotted four for the Tigers with Manny Sandow, James Fary and Matt Hausler all in the best.
Bulldogs coach Chris Bant, out with a hamstring injury, said the score probably flattered his side.
"We were on the wrong side of it, but that's footy I suppose," he said. "Aside from the first quarter they probably controlled the game a bit better, and had a bit more system going up forward. Our goals were more opportunistic at times.
"All credit to them, they've got a good team together."
Down at Nirranda, the Blues' stunning first term ultimately set up a dominant 103-point win against Allansford, 18.21 (129) to 3.8 (26).
With Nick Couch taking the reins as coach in the absence of Brayden Harkness, the Blues raced out to a 66-point quarter time lead, leaving the Cats scoreless.
Danny Craven, John Paulin and James Willsher were named in the best, with sharpshooter Josh Folkes leading the way with four goals.
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