Wobbly Eagles beat Geelong in Perth

Nic Naitanui took a mark-of-the-year contender as West Coast overcame a major case of the goalkicking wobbles to post a 56-point win over Geelong at Domain Stadium.

The Eagles entered Sunday’s match with the most accurate goalkicking record this season.

But that was blown to shreds in the first half as they sprayed their way to 4.17, with two other shots going out on the full.

Geelong were lucky to be in the match at that point, with the deficit just nine points.

But their good fortune evaporated after half-time as West Coast found their range to run out 16.24 (120) to 10.4 (64) winners.

In an added blow to the Cats, ruckman Rhys Stanley was subbed off at half-time with a knee injury, while forward Mitch Clark didn’t last much longer after picking up a calf complaint during the third quarter.

Naitanui provided the highlight of the match when he soared onto the shoulders of 200cm teammate Callum Sinclair to take a spectacular pack grab.

The Eagles ruckman held on to the ball as he crashed head-first to the turf, before going back to nail the goal.

The result kept West Coast (7-2) in second spot on the table, while Geelong are precariously placed at 4-5 ahead of next Saturday’s clash with Essendon.

West Coast dominated play in the opening half, winning the inside-50m count 33-15 to produce plenty of goalscoring opportunities.

But finding the middle of the sticks proved tricky.

Two weeks ago, West Coast booted 12.0 in a single quarter to blow Gold Coast out of the water.

But against Geelong in perfect conditions, the Eagles sprayed 2.11 in the second term as a glut of opportunities went begging.

Josh Hill had 0.3 to his name by half-time, while Sinclair (0.2) and Jamie Cripps (0.2) were among a host of others also guilty of missing gettable shots.

Geelong’s only avenue towards goal was on the counter punch – and they made the most of their limited opportunities.

Tom Hawkins booted two goals in the first half, while Steve Johnson nailed a beauty from the boundary line.

West Coast’s score stretched to 4.19 early in the third quarter, before Hill finally broke a run of nine behinds with a goal on the run.

The Eagles scored freely from that point on to record their sixth straight victory.

Kennedy finished with six goals, while Naitanui was also influential.

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