West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui put on a star display as the Eagles came from 22 points down to beat Geelong by nine points in Perth on Saturday night.
Geelong coach Chris Scott says it’s hard not to be mesmerised by Nic Naitanui after watching the West Coast ruckman destroy his side.
Naitanui was arguably best afield at Optus Stadium, with his 34 hitouts and three centre clearances proving pivotal in the 11.7 (73) to 10.4 (64) triumph.
With recognised ruckmen Rhys Stanley and Darcy Fort sidelined, Geelong used Esava Ratugolea and Mark Blicavs against Naitanui.
Although the duo tried their best, Naitanui’s deft ruck taps and bullocking work at ground level helped produce numerous goals.
“No one can compete with Nic Nat when he’s completely up and going and he’s got everything on his terms,” Scott said.
“The problem with kicking goals against West Coast is the ball goes back to the middle.
“It’s hard not to be mesmerised with some of the stuff he can do. I’m a fan, I’m sure you guys are as well.”
Eagles coach Adam Simpson described Naitanui’s performance against Geelong as special.
“He brings everyone into the game, including the crowd,” Simpson said.
“We’re lucky we’ve got him, because he’s hard to stop. I can’t speak highly enough for Nic and what he does for our club and our community.
“I’m really proud of him.”
West Coast’s fifth win on the trot improved their season tally to 6-3, leaving them in the thick of the battle for top-four spots.
Eagles forward Josh Kennedy continued his hot form by booting four goals against Geelong, taking his season tally to a league-leading 22 as the race for the Coleman medal heats up.
West Coast will be back in action next Sunday when they host Carlton at Optus Stadium.
Geelong (5-4) dropped to sixth ahead of Wednesday’s clash with North Melbourne at the Gabba.
The Cats’ only win from their three games in Perth came against Fremantle, but Scott was proud of their efforts, especially against West Coast.
Not only were Geelong without a recognised ruckman against West Coast, but they were also missing Joel Selwood, Jack Steven, Luke Dahlhaus, and Gary Ablett.
“I think it’s been a more successful three weeks than that (1-2 record). It feels like we’re building something,” Scott said.
“I think tonight gave us a little bit of confidence that we’re not out of touch with the best teams in the comp.”
Scott expects Selwood to return against the Kangaroos, but Steven is no guarantee given the careful training and management plan the Cats have set out for him.