NORTH Warrnambool Eagles are aware taming Portland on its home deck will be a challenge as expectations on the Tigers grow.
The two Hampden league finals contenders will go head-to-head at Hanlon Park on Saturday.
The Eagles (2-2) will be without four top-line players - Tom Batten, Adam Wines, Jarryd Lewis and Jackson Grundy - when they try and stop the undefeated Tigers (4-0).
Portland coach Jarrod Holt, who has replaced the unavailable Jackson Dunlop with creative forward Ty Deans, said the team was embracing expectations in 2022.
"It's not stressful and we're not overawed. We're just going to have a crack and see how our game style stands up against the good sides and from that we'll learn and get better no matter the result," he said.
"In these games we're expected to compete. Even last year (when we were playing Hampden finals for the first time) there was times where we weren't expected against the top couple of sides to compete against them. I think expectations are higher."
Eagles coach Adam Dowie believes the Tigers are a dangerous proposition particularly at Hanlon Park.
"They have always been hard to beat there. Now they will have that bit of extra belief," he said.
"It has deep pockets. When I was at Koroit (as coach), I'd get aerial shots of their ground and have people measuring it.
"It's like a big rectangle."
Dowie said Portland had built a list with strengths multiple facets.
"I look at their jumpers and they remind me of what Colac used to be like (when it played in the league)," he said.
"It's more than the jumpers - Colac used to have young players who were six foot and they could run and they were quick across the ground.
"Portland has always reminded me of Colac, they've got that young talent and they're good movers and their contested footy is good.
"They get lots of numbers back and then run forward.
"Without having a lot of data, they seem to share the goals. They have guys who can bob up."
Dowie said the Eagles had made four changes to the side which defeated Hamilton Kangaroos before the bye.
Batten (illness), Grundy (calf), Wines (suspended) and Lewis (knee) will miss.
Dowie said Lewis had an MRI on his knee and received positive results and was expected to only miss three to four weeks.
Former Tiger Felix Jones returns to the Eagles' senior side along with Austin Sinclair, Nathan Vardy and Jack Johnstone, a lock-down defender who is "as hard as nails".
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