Sam De Koning stops Aaron Naughton, Geelong Cats beat Western Bulldogs, fallout, reaction, Mitch Duncan, Chris Scott post-match press conference

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Stopping one of the best attackers in the game – check.

Emerging cat Sam De Koning’s reputation continues to grow, stopping Western Bulldogs star Aaron Naughton in Geelong’s 13-point win at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

De Koning held Naughton to just one goal as the young defender picked up his biggest scalp yet a week after his career-best performance against the Crows where he earned the Rising Star nomination.

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The 12-man final efforts came crucially in a game where Tom Stewart was substituted in the second quarter with a concussion to leave a Cats backline missing Jake Kolodjashnij and Jack Henry even more under-equipped.

Talk to foxfooty.com.au After the match, Geelong star Mitch Duncan, who himself was one of the best players on the pitch with 29 touches, eight marks, 685 yards gained and a goal, was delighted to see his young team-mate flourish.

De Koning held Naughton to one goal (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

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“I kind of always knew it was coming. He always showed traits, but probably never got settled into a position in the first two years,” Duncan said of De Koning to foxfooty.com.au.

“To settle into a position he is able to learn his craft and we just tell him to support his instincts and support his talent because it works for him.

“Obviously he plays the system well, he really only has to play on his direct opponent, but he loves to get out and make marks and he just backs up in the air. He’s great to play with him, especially now that he’s a bit more defensive, you really appreciate him.

At 202cm, the dynamic De Koning is truly a unique talent who can play both in the air and on ground level.

Geelong coach Chris Scott also marveled at how well De Koning had developed this season to become a mainstay in the team’s back six as his confidence grew over the weeks.

“He’s had a really good pre-season and trained exclusively as a key back – which wasn’t the case 12 months before. And it’s been a really tough time for any AFL player who doesn’t hasn’t been in the senior squad every week because the lower tiers have been decimated and it’s been hard to get some continuity,” he told reporters after the game.

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“I think there’s an argument that he’s playing the way he is because he’s gained some experience as a key striker (and) as a ruckman, but over the last six months the specificity of what he did really helped.

“But I didn’t expect we were going to play him Round 1. We thought he was showing really good composure there and didn’t look out of place. its depth. It really gets accelerated from there.

“When most young key-position players come into the AFL, they’ve never played against men before, so that’s a big step forward. There was a bit of a learning curve for him.

“Our development coaches, James Kelly, work a lot with him, Matty Egan, Harry Taylor…but most of the credit goes to Sam, there’s no doubt.”

The victory sees the Cats go bye at 8-4 and climb into the top four – if only momentarily.

And Duncan stressed how crucial it was to knock another team out of the top eight, especially to prevent the Dogs’ fierce comeback.

“I think it was pretty big in the scheme of things,” Duncan added.

“The way it went – ​​we had the upper hand early on and then they definitely got the better of us in the second and third quarters. Being able to fight back and put the game back on our terms in the last quarter was pretty nice.

“To be honest, we were just trying to stick to our method. The momentum in football these days is so big, so you just have to get back to doing what you do best in the style that we want to play.

“We just tried to get the game back on our terms by doing the right things that hold up for our game.”

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