BEACH LIFTS PRESSURE LEVELS
Going into finals football it is widely accepted that regardless of the level of the competition the intensity will rise a few degrees.
It is a question of which team handles the tempo better, makes fewer errors as a result and capitalises on the opportunities.
When the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team travelled to Bill Grayden Reserve to play Trinity Aquinas in the WAAFL first semi-final they knew they would need to find another gear. The reigning premiers boast some big names with big game experience and the Tigers were expecting some heat.
But rather than waiting to see what the Boomers would bring, it was the Beach that set the high water mark in terms of the pressure. They were pro-active, rather than reactive and took on the challenge.
A brilliant start was the cornerstone of a victory – 10.8 (68) to 8.3 (51) – that propelled the Beach into next Saturday’s preliminary final against Fremantle CBC.
From the outset the pressure from the Beach was manic, closing down the time and space that TA’s required to use the ball effectively.
Only for a brief period, in the second half of the second quarter, did the Boomers get the game on their terms, kicking four goals in succession to be just two points in arrears at the main break.
They also led twice for brief periods in the third quarter, but the mindset and commitment of the Beach was relentless, so much so that Trinity Aquinas, with the game on the line, could not score in the final quarter.
There were stars everywhere for the Beach in an inspired team performance, all the meritorious because they were down a man before half-time when Nathan Dwyer strained a groin. That situation was compounded when Kyle Cranley received a yellow card.
It was in that period, when the Beach was reduced to two rotations from the bench, that Trinity Aquinas made their big move.
But the Tigers were unshakeable and led by midfield stars Sam Lamont, Dan Leishman, Chris Bryan and Beau Witheridge, they were both resilient and relentless.
Young ruckman Josh Chapman also had an impact while Nic Reid, Ryan Ekert and Cranley provided contests up forward and both Tim Edwards and Dylan Campbell consistently helped locked the ball in with ferocious tackling pressure.
While those players were effective in the offensive aspect, they were all part of the team defence strategy too. And in the back half, Tom Hooper, Michael Taylor and Matt Irvine were exceptional.
Hooper had the task of curbing former Fremantle forward Ryan Murphy, who traditionally plays well against the Tigers, and was outstanding in his defensive role, holding his opponent to just one goal.
Irvine and Taylor did their bit as defenders, but also launched many an offensive thrust from the back half.
It was an outstanding team performance where every player contributed. They will need more of the same next week in the preliminary final against CBC at Morris Buzzacott Reserve.