This is Nic Nat’s World. We just live in it.
Nobody has summed up the effect Nic Natanui can have on a game better than Chris Scott did post game on Saturday. “The problem with kicking goals against West Coast is the ball goes back to the middle,” Scott joked. “They’re certainly not disparaging remarks to the guys who competed against him [Natanui] in the hoops tonight. “I’m not saying you can’t compete with him, but we’ve just got great respect for the champion he is.
“I think the shortened games really help him (and) the centre-bounce rules help him but it’s hard not to be mesmerised with some of the stuff he can do.” One example resulted in a Josh Kennedy goal in the final quarter. At a ball up in the Eagles attacking 50, Naitanui put a charging Kennedy into acres of space with a deftly weighted hit out to his advantage.
How the Game Was Won
Despite kicking the first goal of the game, West Coast spent the rest of the first half a step off the pace. Geelong who came into the game in good form and with a distinct plan to disrupt the Eagles ball movement, made all the running and took a 16-point lead into the long break.
The Eagles were able to lift their game in the third quarter but had managed to claw back just two points as the quarter headed deep into time on. With the siren imminent, Brendon Ah Chee snuck past Jack Henry to mark a long Andrew Gaff bomb at the top of the goal square. His goal after the siren, saw the margin cut to eight and the Eagles take an important boost into the three quarter time huddle.
With the game in the balance, Josh Kennedy stood tall for the Eagles. He would kick two goals either side of a controversial effort to Cat Sam Simpson to have his team within two points after 10 minutes. His fellow tall Jack Darling would put them in front two minutes later before both teams traded behinds as the game neared its conclusion. In the end it would be Kennedy who would have the final say in the frantic finish. A strong pack mark and goal with a minute left on the clock finally securing the four points in a thrilling encounter between the two teams.
What the Coaches Said
While pleased with his teams performance, Adam Simpson admitted to some uncertainty about where the Eagles sat as the competition entered it’s condensed fixture. “I’m not quite sure you do know during (a normal) season either (where you sit). I think you just try and win and get on with the next game,” he said post-match. “We don’t look at the fixture or the draw, we look at wins and losses and the next week. I think every club would be the same.
“We’ve always said we want to qualify for finals as quick as we can – I’m not even sure what that means now with a shorter season, but we’ve just got to keep winning and taking our opportunities. Tonight could have gone either way. We respect Geelong really, really highly. Very powerful brand and two pretty strong teams going against each other tonight.”
“We’ll take this win and move on.”
Chris Scott took the glass half full approach to his team’s defeat in his post match press conference. “I thought it was a good game. I suspect it was a situation of two pretty good teams going at each other and I thought we had control of the game for large periods,” he said. “They’ve obviously got some weapons that are clear for everyone to see and when they have the game on their terms, they’re very hard to stop. We’ve got no excuses but we are optimistic about what we might look like; being able to choose two genuine ruckmen.
“It’s always bitterly disappointing when you lose a game like that, but I think in the fullness of time, we’ll come away more positive than negative around our performance.”
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WEST COAST 3.0 4.2 7.6 11.7 (73)
GEELONG 4.0 7.0 9.2 10.4 (64)
West Coast: Kennedy 4, Sheed 2, Darling 2, Ryan, Cripps, Ah Chee
Geelong: Tuohy 2, Hawkins 2, Menegola, Duncan, Dangerfield, Parfitt, Miers, Simpson
West Coast: Kennedy, Naitanui, Sheed, Yeo, Kelly, Shuey
Geelong: Stewart, Duncan, Dangerfield, Tuohy, Guthrie, Menegola
West Coast: Edwards (concussion)
Geelong: Constable (concussion)