Fresh from a tense five-point victory over North Hobart, improved Tiger Lochie Griggs is under no illusions as to the position his side find itself in.
With three wins, the Tigers sit two games clear of Clarence in fifth spot, and look to be in the box seat for a maiden finals appearance – something the club has never achieved since joining the TSL in 2014.
Although the “F” word is not being consciously discussed at the Twin Ovals, Griggs acknowledges that it is an elephant in the room.
“We try not to talk about it too much but it is at the back of everyone’s minds. It is our sixth year now and we haven’t made finals.”
Despite the hype, Griggs is quick to point out that a maiden finals berth is still a long way away and that improvements must be made.
“I think we have proven that we definitely have the ability to go with the top four sides, but it’s about sustaining it for four quarters.
“It’s about getting four quarters of good footy against those top sides and that’s how we will be able to challenge them. We are still building and we still have lapses as all teams do, but the closer we are as a group and the harder we work on the track, we can definitely give it a crack.”
Saturday’s win over North Hobart was far from simple, with the Demons nearly stealing a draw with a flying shot in the dying seconds.
Griggs was proud of the way his side absorbed the pressure of the Demons and found a way to hold on.
“At three-quarter-time we were licking our lips being a couple of goals ahead, but they came out hard.
“Guys like (Sam) Darley and (Colin) Garland, they’re class. They threw everything at us and it’s a credit to our guys that we were able to hold on and win – we did really well to hold them off at the end.”
Saturday’s result sets up a big test for Griggs and his teammates in round 12, with the Tigers to face the ‘Roos at Blundstone Arena. Griggs knows how important this game shapes up to be.
“Coming into this week against Clarence, it’s going to be our biggest game of the year so far.
“I’d imagine that they know this is a must-win game for them. This is the second time we’ve played them, so they if they win it could come down to that third game we play against them later in the year.
“To win this game would put us in good stead to make the finals, so it is going to be a really exciting game.”
“Every game is winnable for us and this game in particular is a must-win for us, so we will be working really hard and preparing as best we can to knock Clarence off this weekend.”
Griggs, who missed all of last season due to stress fractures in his back, is in fine form, with his starring performance on Saturday encapsulating the key assets of his game.
With great running capacity and a lethal kick, Griggs has become a trusty user across half back and as a defensive wingman, being named in the Tigers’ best players on four occasions. And after an extended period on the sidelines, the 20-year-old is warming to his role within the team.
“This is my third year at the club. I had last season off with a back injury and the year before that I was in the Mariners so I wasn’t playing much club footy.
“It’s been really nice this year to get a bit of consistent form and my body is feeling great as well, so it’s going really well at the moment.
“It was pretty hard mentally to be around the group last season when I couldn’t play, but it’s great now that my body is feeling good and that the group is going well.
” I had an interrupted pre season due to my back but since then I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and it’s been nice to get my hands on the footy. In my new role across half back and on the wing, I feel like I’m at home.
Now in his third season at the club, Griggs acknowledges that the club is improving both on and off the field.
“Since Trent came in last year we have really worked on culture. I think that was something we wanted to work on before footy foremost, we wanted to make sure our culture was strong.
“The group has become really close and the guys we have brought in have come in really well. From the North Hobart guys that came to the club last year in Rhino (Ryan Matthews) and Soup (Will Campbell) to Kieran Lovell and Mickey Paul this year, we are really building something down there and we know that we have the list that can get some success.”