COMPETITION leading goal-kicker Jason Rowan knows his forward line buddies will play a crucial role in Merrivale's charge towards Warrnambool and District league finals.
Rowan (nine goals), Kyden Jarvis (seven) and Jyron Neave (five) combined for 21 goals as the Tigers trounced bottom-placed Dennington 24.6 (150) to 4.3 (27) on Saturday to improve their win-loss record to 10-3.
Key forward Rowan has kicked 75 goals in 2019 with Jarvis' 50 majors putting him second on the league goal-kicking table.
Neave sits equal sixth with 28 goals to his credit.
Rowan said the trio was working as a cohesive unit.
"Between the three deep forwards, we've kicked nearly 150 goals this season," he said.
"I think if you rely on one sole forward, it's easy to stop. This year we've added more avenues to goal.
"Kyden has just turned 21 and Jyron is 20 I think. They are unbelievable players; they have so much talent.
"They're great in the air even though they're small but even more dangerous when the ball is on the ground."
Rowan said the emergence of Jarvis and Neave had taken "a little bit of pressure off myself".
"All of a sudden teams have to start thinking 'gee, these guys are starting to kick goals, we can't afford to double team one person'."
The Tigers have a bye next week before facing finals hopeful South Rovers, reigning premier Nirranda and flag fancy Kolora-Noorat on the run home.
Rowan believes their wins against Russells Creek and Dennington in wet conditions have given them belief they can adapt.
"We've ticked the box that shows we can handle the wet and tough conditions," he said.
"It's something Merrivale hasn't done for a few years and it's good to know whatever weather comes our way that we can adapt."
Dennington coach Mick Phillips was impressed with Merrivale, saying "they are every chance to play in a grand final".
"They are pretty well drilled. (Comparing from) the first time we played them, it looks like they've had 15 weeks playing together," he said.
"They were pretty slick and have the best forward in the league (Rowan) and best backman in the league (Todd McLean).
"'Rowy' has kicked 100s in the Hampden league and Todd was in a premiership team last year with Koroit."
Phillips praised midfielder Ben Thornton, "who was clearly our best", and defender Jackson Creed for their efforts against the Tiger juggernaut.
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