NAB Cup, Round 1: Eagles and Bombers get season off to a flying start

By Steve Healy

Naitanui… Naitanui.

He was the star of the night, the crowd pleaser; he was almost worth the price of admission. But even more astonishing, arguably, was the thirteen goals scored by the Eagles to turn the game around midway through the second quarter. One thing’s for sure: West Coast are going to be contenders this season, or at least more so than last year. They have finally found the key to post-Cousins-and-Judd success.

All day I was looking forward to footy returning, it was the only thing on my mind, as school passed me by. Finally it came: 8:30, TV on, paper for scoring, which all means footy.

The game began so cleanly, Naitanui tap, Masten kick, Hansen mark, and a goal from 45. Kennedy marked and goaled again and they had two goals within two minutes. At the other end, Michael Still showed Essendon supporters a sign of things to come by slotting a goal from the boundary line.

Winderlich added to the insult, as did Monfries and Reimers, and all of a sudden the Bombers were up in the possession count 27-65. Naitanui set one up for Kennedy, who brought the margin back to seven points. A down-field free gave Winderlich his second, Jetta snapped a goal and Monfries marked a wobbly Watson kick and put his second one high through the sticks. The quarter time score is 3.0 18 to 7.1 43, no need to bring an extra digit in place yet, but all in all an accurate quarter, which apart from a Remiers poster, was blemish-less. New Captain Jobe Watson had stamped an influence on the game early, picking up 12 possessions. The Bombers led the possession count 60-111.

The second quarter began, and finally a goal came for the Eagles, courtesy of a snap from Matt Rosa. Mark Williams kicked his first goal in red and black, before following with a brilliant snap directly afterwards. The Eagles were down by 30. They needed something to get the home crowd cheering. It was Naitanui. Following running goals from Masten and Embley, Naitanui ripped a cracking tackle and took a screamer in the space of a minute and a half. LeCras kicked another, before Naitanui kicked a ripper from the boundary line. The crowd were on their feet now. The strangest goal umpiring decision ever seen follows. The ball was bouncing lose in the West Coast goal square, it clearly hit the post between the umpires legs, but the umpire claimed it was still in after Embley soccered a goal. The decision was reversed, fans were furious even though they saw the mistake clearly on the scoreboard. At Half Time the Eagles still trailed 0.8.5 53 to 0.9.3 57. Naitanui had 13 pieces of the footy while Watson had 20, double any other Essendon player.

As the second half began, it all unravelled for the Bombers. Hansen got a lucky free kick and put the Eagles in front; Naitanui got a 50-metre penalty and kicked the only super goal for the night from 40 out directly in front. Young Will Schofield kicked a goal; LeCras squeezed another one through, before kicking another long goal from the boundary line. All of a sudden, the margin was 28 points! A scramble in the goal square saw Naitanui win out again, kicking his third goal, and Nicoski got another goal as a direct result of a scuffle after the Naitanui goal. The three quarter time siren blew and the square was 1.14.8 101 to 0.9.6 60.

It was clear that the Bombers were dead, but they did try and put some pressure on the scoreboard in the last. Kennedy kicked a goal. Naitanui kicked another, grabbing it out of the ruck and snapping, putting the Eagles 52 points ahead. This gave the Eagles an unbelievable 13-goal streak. However, it was broken when Williams kicked his third for the Bombers, giving the Essendon fans hope that he could be their key for season 2010. Zaharakis kicked another good goal, before Jetta kicked his second, and the margin was back to 35 points. It would’ve been a good result for me if the Eagles had kicked another point (I tipped them by 36), but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The siren sounded, the Eagles had a first up win, winning 1.16.12 117 to 0.12.10 82. Watson had the most possessions on the ground with 32; while Masten and Priddis led the Eagles load with 24 each, 19 of those handballs for the latter.

It was a great game to open footy for 2010, and it definitely displayed some young talent, like Number 7 Draft pick Brad Sheppard and Luke Shuey, who were the two subs for the Eagles but picked up 21 possessions combined in a quarter and a half. Chris Masten also showed a lot, as did many of the West Coast forwards. Youngsters like Kyle Hardingham, Travis Colyer and Michael Still were all quiet for the Bombers, but had a good crack. Jobe Watson definitely showed why he was picked as Captain. But on this particular night, there was one man who was head and shoulders above the rest:

Nic Naitanui.

West Coast  0.3.0  0.8.5 1.14.8 1.16.12 (117)

Essendon  0.7.1  0.9.3  0.9.6  0.12.10 (82)


West Coast: Naitanui 3, 1, LeCras 3, Kennedy 3, Hansen 2, Rosa, Masten, Schofield, Nicoski, Embley.

Essendon: M.Williams 3, Jetta 2, Monfries 2, Winderlich 2, Still, Zaharakis, Remiers.


West Coast: Naitanui, Masten, Ebert, Embley, Priddis, Kennedy, LeCras.

Essendon: Watson, M.Williams, McVeigh.

My Votes: 3. Nic Naitanui (WCE), 2. Jobe Watson (ESS), 1. Chris Masten (WCE).

Umpires: Vozzo, Stevic, Sully, Pannell.    Crowd: 23,860 at Subiaco.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

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