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Nic Naitanui laments lost opportunity after West Coast’s semi-final loss to Geelong

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui has downplayed the effect of Willie Rioli’s ASADA investigation had in their 20-point semifinal loss to Geelong tonight.

The premiership forward was in the Tiwi Islands with his family after being provisionally banned while the Eagles took on the Cats in the cut-throat final, falling short after a four-goal to one last term.

Naitanui admitted the Rioli situation was tough, but did not believe it contributed to the loss.

“I think the club dealt with it pretty well,” Naitanui told Seven after the game.

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“Obviously Willie is pretty distraught and has gone home, but the incident is what it is.

“In due course they will deal with it. I thought as a group the boys dealt with it well and moved on.”

Naitanui said West Coast were simply beaten in the contests by a harder Geelong.

The 201cm ruckman believed when Geelong were on top on the scoreboard in the first and final terms, the Cats were the better side in the clinches.

Esava Ratugolea and Nic Naitanui and Esava Ratugolea battle it out.Esava Ratugolea and Nic Naitanui and Esava Ratugolea battle it out.
Camera IconEsava Ratugolea and Nic Naitanui and Esava Ratugolea battle it out.Picture: AFL Photos

“We fought back in the second and third quarter, but they got on top of us in the end,” he said.

“They have some bigger bodies in (Patrick) Dangerfield and (Joel) Selwood who like to crack in.

“Our contest, we were getting it done in other areas, but in and around the footy they were a little bit better than us.”

VideoTom Hawkins marked and kicked a goal early in the final term, but Eagles players were adamant the ball was touched.

Naitanui said the team had not reflected on the game as of yet, but would look into how it was lost in the coming days.

“The boys really stood up,” he said.

“We got it played in our front half and were lucky to get some goals. We just have to do it for a longer period.”

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