PHARMACIES can expect a rush on sleeping pills for defenders after Warrnambool’s Jason Rowan declared himself the fittest he’s been since becoming a permanent forward eight years ago.
The Warrnambool captain kicked 12.7 in a dominant performance that had even the most ardent Koroit supporters acknowledging his brilliance by the end of the Blues’ 64-point win at Reid Oval on Saturday.
His contested marking over opponents and on the lead was a feature; he took 12 marks inside the forward 50 and had it not been for wayward kicking, including two that hit the post, he would have bettered his career high of 13 goals.
The 27-year-old heaped praise on his teammates for giving him so many opportunities.
“The delivery all year has been sensational,” he said.
“Our midfield is working so hard to get in space which is giving them time to steady up and spot up the key forwards.
“It was a great feeling the way it was coming down and the way Travy (Travis Graham) and Moo (Sam Cowling) are doing their thing. It’s probably the best (cohesion) we’ve had in the forward line in the last three or four years. They just work so hard.”
Rowan, who won six consecutive league goalkicking awards before finishing second last year, said he was reaping the rewards of his best pre-season in years.
After Achilles problems plagued him leading into 2013, he has spent plenty of time working with personal trainer Mick Lilley and boxing trainer Courtney Thompson this year.
“The last few pre-seasons I’ve hardly been out there. It’s the fittest I’ve been since I’ve played forward.”
Rowan’s individual deeds kept interest in a grand final rematch that was over by quarter-time on the scoreboard as the Blues claimed a 15.16 (106) to 6.6 (42) victory.
He kicked 5.4 in the opening term from 10 kicks as the Blues led by five goals. By half-time he had 8.5 from 14 kicks and 10 marks, including nine inside 50 as the margin had blown out to 46 points. After Koroit released Dallas Mooney from guarding Rowan midway through the second term, he had to contend with two defenders. Tim Carter stood beside him as Mooney played as a loose man in front of him.
Jed Turland’s field kicking in the first quarter was decisive as he gave his key forwards silver service. That set the standard as Jackson Bell, Brendan Moore, Kurt Lenehan, Darcy Graham, Josh Walters, Damien McCorkell, Nick Chirnside, Tom Schnerring and Jye Turland all kicked to the advantage of Rowan, Travis Graham and Cowling. The three of them accounted for 21 of the Blues’ 22 marks inside 50.
A calf injury that ended milestone man Chris McLaren’s 250th senior game for Koroit at the 26-minute mark of the first term didn’t help, as Mooney, Carter and Tim Martin on Travis Graham, were under siege.
Blues coach Scott Carter said his defenders were also impressive with Tim O’Keeffe making life difficult for Sam Dobson (1.1), who was forced to work as far up as half-back for possessions as he was starved of opportunities, and Peter Corredig, who took the points at centre half-back on Ethyn Zimmer.
Koroit coach Adam Dowie was in awe of Warrnambool’s performance.
“They way they played, I was shaking my head a bit,” Dowie said.
He said a positive for the Saints was the second half where they held Warrnambool to 4.9. That came after the Saints dropped a man back to fill the space in front of Rowan.
“When you do that you might hold but I don’t think you will win the game,” he conceded.
“They push back so well into defence and with that extra one loose in their back line it just makes it harder then for us to score.”
Koroit captain Isaac Templeton was a tireless worker in the midfield for the Saints while Martin battled hard on Graham and teenager Jayden Brennan had some quality possessions.