By Gary Stocks
The swell was up at the beach on Saturday and North Beach rode it into the A-Grade and A-Reserve grand finals.
Long time North Beach stalwarts had never seen a crowd of its equal, with local fans swarming to community football in large numbers to Charles Riley Reserve and seeing the home side endure in both senior grades.
While the A-Grade combination has taken the last six premierships to the Beach, it is the first time since 2003 that both senior teams have made the ultimate game of the season.
With maestro Bill Duckworth calling the shots, the A-Grade team coasted to a 72-point victory over northern suburbs rival Whitford while the A-Reserves held off a fast-finishing Trinity Aquinas to fall in by two points.
In the main game on the program, the Tigers imposed themselves from the outset with veteran Chris Perkin kicking three of his game tally of five goals in the opening term. After that start, which gave the Beach a 19-point quarter-time advantage, Whitford never threatened as the Beach’s remarkable recent success continues.
Perkin, aiming for a 10th individual premiership medal, was imposing up forward and in conjunction with Shane Paap provided a two-pronged attacking edge to which Whitford had no answer.
That pair capitalised on the industrious midfield work of the dynamic Matt O’Donnell, wingman Steve Bandy, who threw off the effects of a bout of influenza which affected him mid week, the hard-nosed Kyle Riemann and the defensive work of Aaron Jarvis.
Again the back six was outstanding with Jarvis setting the tone and ably assisted by Anthony Ingham, Luke Smith and Reece Cunningham.
It was a game where all players contributed as North Beach controlled play throughout. Matt Power was hard at it through the middle while John Turner and Dean Brennan were also important contributors.
After that imposing start, North Beach never allowed their rivals into the game, winning every quarter on the way to a 16.15 (111) to 5.9 (39) triumph.
The A-Reserves encounter was much closer than it should have been with North Beach failing to translate match control into scoreboard pressure, leaving the door ajar for an accomplished opponent who almost belted their way through.
Leading by 15 points at three-quarter time, the Tigers had not made the most of opportunities (12 scoring opportunities to five) and Trinity Aquinas almost stole the match. After trading punches in the last quarter, TAs rattled on three goals in succession to draw within a kick.
They went within a whisker of snatching victory when a late shot at goal just failed by millimetres to carry the distance.
That would have been a travesty because North Beach was the outstanding team for most of the game, thanks largely to the energy and class of Luke Hendricks, the dependability of Brent Stockden, the discipline of Michael Italiano, the ruck work of Chris Gooch and the attacking presence of Steve Wattleworth.
Wattleworth and Greg Pires kicked a couple of goals each and provided some important guidance when their youthful teammates threatened to lose their heads, eventually hanging on to win 7.7 (49) to 7.5 (47).
A-Grade 2nd Semi-Final
North Beach 4.4 7.7 10.12 16.15 111
Whitford 1.3 2.6 4.7 5.9 39
Goals – North Beach: Perkin 5; O’Donnell 3; Riemann, Brennan, Paap 2; McGinnity, Turner 1.
Best – North Beach: Bandy, Perkin, Riemann, Jarvis, C Pearce.
A-Reserves 2nd Semi-Final
North Beach 3.0 3.4 5.7 7.7 49
Trinity Aquinas 2.0 2.1 3.2 7.5 47
Goals – North Beach: Waddleworth, Pires 2; Bell, Brooks, Billi 1.
Best – North Beach: Hendricks, Stockden, Italiano, Gooch, Wattleworth.