By Gary Stocks
The North Beach A-Grade season goes on the line this Saturday in a cut-throat final against Collegians at Charles Riley Reserve.
The Beach find themselves in the first semi-final after losing last week’s qualifying final against University last Saturday and will be looking for a vastly improved effort this week.
Against University at McGillivray Oval, North Beach essentially lost the game in the last 10 minutes of the first quarter when the Scholars split the game open with some hard run and finished it off accurately in front of goal.
That gave Uni a virtual five-goal lead at the first break and they held on to win by a similar margin.
North Beach had good periods and challenged in the second and third quarters, edging to within a couple of goals before University found the answers and kicked away to win 12.10 (82) to 8.3 (51).
Jamie Sajich was outstanding in defence, ruckman Joe Boys worked hard throughout, Andrew Langsford relished the challenge and Ben Heap provided some run on a wing, but too many players fell short of their individual bench marks.
It was a similar story in the Phil Scott Colts elimination final, when North Beach could not find the answers against Collegians.
Again the opposition set up a comprehensive win in the first quarter when they hit the ball hard, found space, worked cohesively as a team and North Beach could not match the intensity, desire or team play.
The Beach produced a more competitive second half, but the game was gone at the point and it provided a disappointing end to a season which had provided some high points.
That leaves the A-Grade and A-Reserves as the only North Beach teams flying the flag in the finals and they will both play at home on Saturday – the A-Reserves stepping up their premiership defence with a qualifying final show-down with University.
Michael Pratt and his team enjoyed last Saturday off, training at North Beach before heading to University to watch the A-Grade encounter as well as catching the North Fremantle-University clash, the winner advancing to this week’s contest.
The selection panel will have some interesting decisions to make, with midfielder Kyle Riemann, forward Cale Potts and ruckman Alex Hack all pushing their cause for inclusion.
Potts missed last week’s game with a family bereavement, while Hack and Riemann were left out because of nagging injuries. Bill Duckworth and his band of confidantes will think long and hard about the structure required to topple Collegians and maintain an amazing record that has seen the Beach win the last seven premierships in succession.