Eagles beat Bombers, Naitanui stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles beat Bombers, Naitanui stars

13/02/2010 12:51:02 AM Comments (0)

Emerging ruckman Nic Naitanui led West Coast into the second round of the NAB Cup after a dominant performance in his side's 35-point win over Essendon in Perth on Friday night.

The Bombers kicked just three goals after half time as the Eagles ran out winners, 1.16.12 (117) to 0.12.10 (82), in front of a crowd of 23,860 at Subiaco Oval.

Naitanui dominated ruck contests and kept Eagles midfielders Brett Ebert, Matt Priddis and Daniel Kerr well-supplied and engineered the second-term fightback.

He played direct, running forward with the ball to set up attacks, often after collecting the ball himself from a ruck contest.

But it was his tackling ability, closing speed and appetite for a contest that impressed most, and he was responsible for several turnovers, either from free kicks or forcing the ball loose.

Essendon were often happy to chip it around outside the 50m arc and look for a scoring opportunity rather than go to a contest, which proved effective in the first half.

After West Coast kicked two goals in the first three minutes, the Bombers midfielders, led by Mark McVeigh and Jobe Watson, began to get their hands and the footy and slow momentum.

Gaps appeared in the Eagles defence and Jason Winderlich, Angus Monfries and Mark Williams, in his first game for the Bombers after being traded from Hawthorn, reaped the benefits.

Essendon capitalised on West Coast's errors and there were many of them after the fast start, as players dropped chest marks and fumbled under pressure.

When Williams kicked his second goal early in the second term, the margin moved out to five goals and the Bombers were well in control.

An Andrew Embley goal sparked the revival before Naitanui brought Eagles supporters to their feet snapping a goal from deep in the right pocket to reduced the margin to a goal.

Just before the main break, Embley was awarded a goal but the decision was changed to a behind after the field umpire saw the ball hit the post on the replay.

The third term belonged to the Eagles, who hit the front with a nine-point goal after Naitanui was awarded a 50m penalty.

While the Eagles still made plenty of handling errors, their midfielders hurt Essendon with hard running out of Essendon's backline.

Ashley Hansen and Josh Kennedy pushed up the ground and created space for forwards Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski to run into, and they had seven goals for the term.

While Essendon had several players who worked hard in midfield, led Watson and McVeigh, they lacked a dominant forward.

Young 194cm forward Michael Still began well but, like many of his teammates faded as the game wore on.

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