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.