Jarrod Chapman was a pillar down back.
There is never a good way for a winning streak to hit the skids. And most often it is not anticipated.
As Scott Holbrook and the Lifenet A-Reserves targeted a fifth successive premiership there was a degree of confidence they could get the job done, particularly in the knowledge that they had been 10-goal victors over Curtin University-Wesley a couple of weeks earlier.
But Holbrook knew it was not a done deal; that winning every game on the way to the Grand Final accounted for little and that it would come down to the day.
He was acutely aware that 12 months earlier the roles were reversed, with North Beach going in as overwhelming under-dogs and then coming away with the flag. He steeled his players in the need to play at their best and that Wesley would be a dangerous foe.
As it transpired the Beach found it difficult to play at their optimum, losing in a similar fashion to the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade a week earlier in the preliminary final against Kingsway. They owned the territory battle for most of the game, held their opponents scoreless for half of it, but simply could not hit the scoreboard themselves.
The backline was sublime, but transition into the attacking 50 was sloppy and connection with the forwards non-existent. The result was a heart-breaking loss, 4.3 (27) to 3.5 (23).
The backlines of both teams were on top, with the Beach defensive effort led resolutely by the experienced heads of Ben Sweeny and Jarrod Chapman while Matt Raynor, Jack Merson and Jackson Martino also stood up.
Another outstanding finals effort by Tim Edwards.
Through the midfield, wingman Tim Edwards was exceptional working hard both ways while Josh Stott had his moments on the wing and later in the ruck as Holbrook tried to generate some match winning run.
Ruckman Josh Chapman also worked hard and was influential, especially in the early part, while Ben Johnson worked hard in the forward line and Nathan Adler kicked two of his team’s three goals.
Shannon Lucassen and James Canty provided run and spark, but it was a day when things just did not get going. And having failed to capitalise on the share of the ball they owned the door was ajar at three-quarter time.
The Beach had led all day and were 10 points in front at the last change, but Wesley-Curtin were kicking with the aid of a significant breeze. They kicked three of their four goals in the final quarter and the Beach could not find a way through.
Significantly, the Curtin-Wesley A-Grade team, also strong winners in the qualifying and second semi-finals also looked flat in the grand final as Kingsway won for the first time in their history.
Curtin-Wesley 0.0 1.3 1.3 4.3 27
North Beach 0.2 1.3 3.5 3.5 23
Goals – North Beach: Adler 2; Edwards.
Best – North Beach: Edwards, Jarrod Chapman, Sweeny, Raynor, Stott, Johnson.
The toughest call coaches at any level have to make is the one informing an individual they won’t be taking the field in a Grand Final.
There is no easy way to deliver that message. It is gut-wrenching no matter how many times you’ve had to do it.
Last night at Charles Riley Reserve Lifenet A-Reserves coach Scott Holbrook and his cohort sat down to select the team for tomorrow’s Grand Final against Curtin University-Wesley at Steel Blue Oval. You didn’t need to be sitting around the white board to understand the depth of that discussion.
They knew that no matter how hard they tried, 25 simply would not go into the 22 positions available.
This situation is not foreign to Holbrook. He has guided his team to the last six Grand Finals at this level, winning four in succession. There are always players who are desperately unlucky and informing a couple of loyal soldiers they had not made the cut, carried with it a heavy burden and an equally heavy heart.
Football is an emotional game and personal connection within the group is generally the cornerstone of success. Without unity it is rare to triumph and it has been a key to this team over several years.
Of course, they will come together as one tomorrow unified in their quest to achieve a rare feat of five on the trot. That would be some accomplishment, given the seasonal turn-over of players.
There are the stalwarts who are old hands at this premiership caper – the likes of captain Nic Bowe, defender Ben Sweeny, midfielders Tim Edwards, Adam Swain, powerhouse Jarrod Chapman and forwards Jordan Webster and Ben Johnson – but there are also a few “newbies’ in this line-up.
Shannon Lucassen, a pacy and talented young wingman who had a taste of senior football this year is still in his teens, Kade McKenzie and James Canty are also new to the club this year while Jack Merson, Jackson Martino, Caolan O’Connell and Matt Raynor have risen from the colts.
This an exciting group that has further under-pinned the unprecedented and unmatched depth at the club.
They play in a Grand Final a week after the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade and the Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves claimed premierships. Sadly, the fifth grade could not mirror the success and were denied a flag last Saturday.
The O’Rourke Realty A-Grade were also within a kick of being on the main stage tomorrow, but alas they couldn’t find their best at the clutch moments.
The A-Reserves were unbeaten through the course of the season and then crushed Wesley convincingly in the second semi-final. They understand better than most that what has gone before is meaningless because 12 months ago they suffered a horrible belting from the same opponent in the second semi-final. Fourteen days later they claimed an unlikely triumph with a remarkable form reversal.
The club will be broadly represented around Bassendean tomorrow, bringing their voices as North Beach searches for a classical last hurrah to the 2021 campaign.
North Beach v Curtin University-Wesley, Steel Blue Oval, 12.15pm
Nic Reid in a hot contest against Kingsway.
If there is one wish a team going into a cut-throat final has at the forefront of the collective mind, it is to play at their optimum. To take their best into a game and force the opposition to play better to get past them.
That wish was not granted for the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade when they played Kingsway in a preliminary fin al at Kingsway Reserve last Saturday.
The effort could not be questioned, they went down swinging, but just couldn’t quite move through the gears to find top range. In a dour, scrappy affair where goal-front inaccuracy was a by-product of clunky ball movement, the Beach posted 4.15 (39) to exit when Kingsway kicked 6.9 (45).
The Beach had opportunities and dominated for long periods, but found converting those chances proved difficult on a day when a flukey breeze swept across the ground.
After Kingsway controlled the first 15 minutes of the game, North Beach wrested back control and on balance had greater ascendancy, but 3.11 in the second and third quarters left Kingsway in the contest.
At three-quarter time scores were level – 3.13 to 4.7 – and again North Beach owned territory and possession but could not create scoreboard pressure. The Roos pushed forward and kicked the first goal of the term and while the Beached pressed hard, goals remained elusive.
The arm wrestle continued and the Beach were a goal down with a few minutes to play before skipper Mitch Dwyer produced an amazing courageous and inspiring act. Running with the flight of the ball through the centre square.
His eyes never deviated off the football and was cleaned up by an opponent coming the opposite direction. After that bone rattler, having spent a few seconds on his haunches sucking in deep breaths of recovery, amazingly Dwyer got to his feet to contest the ensuing stoppage.
Remarkably, he read the ball off that contest before wearing another tackle.
Having sat on top of the table for so much of the season it was a shattering defeat that sees the A-Grade outfit looking on at tomorrow’s grand final.
While it did not go according to plan, there were a number of strong performances including that from defenders Christian Bottechia and Daniel Leishman, young midfielders Dylan Brockbernd and Lachlan Scurria and forward Nic Reid, who kicked three of the team’s four goals.
Meanwhile at nearby Richard Guelfi Reserve, the Beyond Tools E2-Grade suffered a heart-breaking Grand Final loss to Lynwood-Ferndale, the game swinging on a couple of umpiring decisions.
After a bright start, the Beach could not sustain the effort and were over-run as the Panthers swept to 31-point victory – 9.8 (62) to 4.7 (31).
At half time the Beach remained in the contest, but fell away after the main break and it was a disappointing end to the season.
Again Fletcher Cooke set the standard while Mitch Tobin, Dean Wilson, Tim Langsford, Connor Pollard and Ben Pedulla all made solid contributions, while Liam Dolling kicked two of his team’s four goals.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Kingsway 2.4 4.5 4.7 6.9 45
North Beach 0.2 2.8 3.13 4.15 39
Goals – North Beach: Reid 3; Mackenzie.
Best – North Beach: Bottechia, Brockbernd, Scurria, Leishman, Reid, Hooper.
Beyond Tools E2-Grade
Lynwood-Fern 2.0 4.2 7.3 9.8 62
North Beach 2.2 2.4 3.5 4.7 31
Goals – North Beach: Dolling 2; Pedulla, Luck.
Best – North Beach: Cooke, Tobin, Wilson, Langsford, Pollard, Pedulla.
Coach Jack Flynn and captain Joel Brown after claiming the C5-Reserves premiership.
Familiarity, the proverb suggests, breeds contempt. That might be the case in a broad brush application, but in a football sense it could not be further from the truth.
Particularly with the rivalry that has been built between North Beach and Curtin University-Wesley in the C5-Resereves in recent seasons.
They have created the strongest of rivalries, acquired a deep respect and understanding of each other and that knowledge was used to good effect when the Beast Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves completed a stellar season with a premiership.
The North Beach fourth grade team led from start to finish on the way to an emphatic 32-point victory – 10.9 (69) to 5.7 (37).
In a rematch of last year’s Grand Final and the third consecutive time that North Beach had clashed with Wesley at the pointy end of this season, both teams had a strong insight into the other’s methodology.
The Beach went in with two changes, with key defender Liam Vardy and key forward Brendan Collins both returning from injury. It was obvious before the game that a lot of the younger players were nervous but the older heads on the team helped settle their nerves.
The game began with intensity expected with a flag on the line, both teams attacking the ball ferociously, and bodies were flying everywhere. Wesley Curtin had two very good intercept players being their ruckman and their CHB who had hurt North Beach throughout the year.
The Beach adjusted, were clinical with their ball movement, resisting the temptation of bombing it long, avoiding the two big Wesley Curtin players and getting a crumbing goal at full forward thanks to wingman Reef Samuels who was outstanding on the day.
The first half was relatively tight on the scoreboard, but throughout the second quarter North Beach began to dominate the game, without capitalising on the scoreboard. At the start of the second half captain Joel Brown implored his teammates to “do something they had never done” in the second half.
He led by example at the first centre clearance taking three running bounces through the middle of the ground and kicking the ball inside 50. Tully Wickstein then also took the game into his own hands kicking three goals in the second half to help put the game out of reach for Wesley.
David Purser was brilliant through the middle and was ably assisted by ruckman Ryan Clapham who did not rest all day. Nic Baroni once again had a great game playing as a lockdown defender on a very dangerous opponent. Isaac Seidner and Ben McAulliffe were also strong contributors.
This was a terrific win by a team who was on top of the ladder since round two. Throughout the year over 40 players represented the club in this team and they all played a major part in the premiership.
Best Carpet Cleaning C5-Reserves
North Beach 3.1 6.4 9.6 10.9 69
Curtin-Wesley 2.2 4.2 4.5 5.7 37
Goals – North Beach: Wickstein 4; Samuels, Rollo, Ryan, B Collins. Seidner, Dunjey.
Best – North Beach: Brown, Wickstein, Samuels, Purser, Clapham, Baroni, Seidner, McAuliffe.
Best on ground – Tully Wickstein
As if winning a premiership was not motivation enough.
As the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade lined up for the national anthem ahead of their grand final showdown, they could have glanced down their line of teammates to the end of the queue. There, in his wheelchair, sat Glen Hinkley.
The man who has coached this team for the last six years has had a particularly testing time in the last six weeks. Scans after a seemingly innocuous tumble at training revealed a more sinister issue, requiring surgical intervention to a hip problem.
He was unable to coach for a number of weeks, calling on club legend Bill Duckworth to fill the void, and this was his return game. Duckworth, who took the thirds to consecutive grand finals in 2014-15 after his decorated A-Grade career, was there in support as the club’s third grade outfit chased an elusive flag.
The challenge for the lower grades, which complicates the matter of converting opportunities during a finals series, is that the opposition can sometimes appear like chameleons.
They may wear the same colours, but the faces can change markedly as players move up and down according to the fortunes of their more senior teams.
But the consistency of the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade remained true and culminated with an emotional and precious flag.
For the last eight years they have been in contention and it was not until last Saturday that Hinkley and his charges broke through for a well-deserved premiership courtesy of a 25-point victory over Trinity Aquinas – winning 10.6 (66) to 6.5 (41).
From the first bounce down, the midfields of both North Beach and Trinity Aquinas went head to head and the intensity and physicality did not waiver for the four quarters.
The difference being the capacity of the Beach midfield being able to step up a gear at vital stages and take control of the game.
The backline was superb, again allowing the opposition to score just six goals for the game. Matt Holden was dominant across half back in the first half until getting concussed while taking a courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball. Shane Duckworth and Riley Hinkley were too good for the TA key forwards while Matt Seaton mopped up everything at ground level.
Up forward, the Cameron brothers almost outscored TA themselves with five goals between them while Jordan Brooks and Nathan Torre worked hard for four quarters to provide targets.
However, it was the North Beach engine room that ultimately determined the result. Tom De Courtenay was magnificent in the ruck and was the best big man on the ground. His ruckwork gave Matt Irvine and Nick Marsh the opportunity to set up attacking forays while Jayden Black and Alex Thomson won clearances all over the ground with their insatiable appetite for the hard ball.
The wide open spaces of Gosnells Oval complemented the running capacity of the classy Nic Wells, who won best on ground honours, Brayden Quinn and the ever-inspiring captain, Craig Hall.
North Beach 2.3 5.5 7.5 10.6 66
Trinity Aquinas 2.1 2.1 4.5 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: M Cameron 3; J Cameron 2; Brooks, Irvine, Quinn, Torre, N Wells.
Best – North Beach: N Wells, De Courtenay, Irvine, Marsh, Quinn, Holden.
Best on ground: Nic Wells