West Coast star Nic Naitanui makes instant impact with opening minutes goal against South Fremantle

Samantha RogersThe West Australian
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Nic Naitanui gets a handpass away.
Camera IconNic Naitanui gets a handpass away. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

You couldn’t script it!

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has had the perfect start to his football return, kicking a goal in the first two minutes for the Eagles’ WAFL side in their clash with South Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park.

After attending the first centre bounce, a perfect palm from Naitanui got the Eagles the opening clearance, with the Bulldogs already on the backfoot after in-form ruckman Hamish Free was a late out with illness.

WAFL - West Coast vs South Fremantle. Pictured - West Coast's Nic Naitanui and South Fremantle's Jimmy Miller contest the bouncedown
Camera IconWest Coast's Nic Naitanui and South Fremantle's Jimmy Miller tussle. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

A boundary line throw-in saw Naitanui tap it straight down midfielder Zane Trew’s throat for the Eagles’ first inside 50.

Moments later, the 32-year-old won a free kick in the goal square and made no mistake to score the opening goal of the game.

West Coast's Nic Naitanui tries to avoid the tackle from South Fremantle's Zach Strom.
Camera IconWest Coast's Nic Naitanui tries to avoid the tackle from South Fremantle's Zach Strom. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

It took just minutes for Greg Clark, who came into the side after being an unused emergency for West Coast’s AFL side against Essendon on Friday night, to kick truly from 35 out on an angle to give West Coast their second.

Naitanui remained on the field for the first six minutes of the game, coming to the bench to be relieved by Luke Strnadica.

West Coast's Nic Naitanui avoids the tackle from South Fremantle's Zach Strom.
Camera IconWest Coast's Nic Naitanui avoids the tackle from South Fremantle's Zach Strom. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

The three-time All-Australian is expected to play around 80 minutes.

West Coast - who are winless so far in 2022 - are boosted by the highest number of AFL-listed players seen in the club’s reserves side this season.

West Coast's Nic Naitanui tackles South Fremantle's Zach Strom.
Camera IconWest Coast's Nic Naitanui tackles South Fremantle's Zach Strom. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

There are 14 on the field against the Dogs, including Alex Witherden - who was the unused medical sub against the Dons.

Jackson Nelson and Isiah Winder also the scoreboard in the first term, holding the visitors goalless until the 24-minute mark of the opening quarter, with stand-in ruck Jimmy Miller scoring the Dogs’ first.

West Coast's Nic Naitanui celebrates a goal.
Camera IconWest Coast's Nic Naitanui celebrates a goal. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

Meanwhile, Patrick Naish leads the disposal count with nine touches, while Xavier O’Neill and Winder have six disposals each.

The Eagles entered the first break with an 18-point lead, with inactive players Campbell Chesser and Tom Cole, as well as versatile small Jamaine Jones spotted near the club’s huddle.

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