COACH Adam Dowie wanted his players to deliver a performance that would change perceptions of his side after a last-start 64-point thumping. He got it with an emphatic 62-point win over Cobden on Saturday.
What he didn’t count on was ruckman Jeremy Hausler making a statement of his own in the 19.13 (127) to 9.11 (65) result.
The 23-year-old produced a career-best goal haul of 7.1 and one out of bounds on the full, playing predominantly in a deep forward role.
The 197-centimetre Hausler was a standout in a prolific forward set-up that included marking options Sam Dobson (3.2), Ethyn Zimmer (1.3) and medium-sized teenager Jesse White (5.2).
“I’m done with the ruck,” Hausler laughed after the match. “I love it (playing forward).”
Hausler had Nathan Meade’s return from leg injuries to thank for the opportunity to play in attack. Meade, who missed the heavy loss to Warrnambool, rucked for the majority of the day, allowing Hausler, Dobson and Zimmer to stretch Cobden’s undersized defence.
“I hope he stays fit,” Hausler said.
Hausler, who made his interleague debut last week, entered the match with seven goals in six games this season.
“I’ve been missing a few the last few weeks,” Hausler said.
“I started working on my run-up at training and changed it and then changed everything and I still wasn’t happy.
“All this week I might have had two shots at training. I thought ‘I’m over-thinking this’. I didn’t think about it, I just kicked the footy.”
Dowie’s decision to start Hausler forward had instant success. He kicked the opening goal of the game and two in the first term. With Cobden starting star big man Paul Hinkley at centre half-forward, Bombers coach Stephen Hammond was forced to throw Hinkley into defence before quarter-time in a bid to stem the scoreboard pain.
But Koroit’s opening 4.4 to 0.2 — the second time in consecutive games Cobden has been goal-less in the first quarter — set the tone of the match.
Hammond gave his players a verbal ear-bashing at quarter-time and they responded, kicking 4.6 to 1.1 in the first 21 minutes of the second quarter as they cut the margin to three points. Cobden was a different side with Hinkley in the ruck, Tim Horan and Brendan Richardson forward, as Sam Harkin and Brody Mahoney were finding plenty of the ball.
But as quickly as Cobden had brought the game alive, Koroit killed off the challenge with three goals deep in time-on to take a 23-point lead into half-time. The first came from an errant kick-in and the second came from a turnover in the middle of the ground.
It was Cobden’s best period of the game. It had 16 inside 50s to six in the second term for 4.6 while Koroit managed 4.3 from seven entries.
Those three goals to end the half were the start of 10 consecutive majors for Koroit as midfielders Isaac Templeton, Jayden Brennan, Levi Nagorcka and veteran Joe McLaren off half-back set up decisive forward thrusts. The Saints kicked 7.2 to 0.3 in a dominant third term.