By Gary Stocks
The frustration of being so close, but narrowly missing victory was tempered by the belief that North Beach is capable of mixing it with the best after a fortnight of searching tests teams in the WAAFL A-Grade competition.
Backing up from the challenge of confronting Collegians in round four, the Beach faced Trinity-Aquinas at Bill Grayden Reserve on Saturday and lost a nail-biter.
While winning was infinitely more desirable, the Beach does take away some positives, having measured up against top shelf opposition and being within reach in both games.
Against T-A, the Beach produced an inspired second half and had victory in their finger tips, leading by two goals with a few minutes remaining, before the ladder leader found a way to win and clawed their way to a thrilling one-point win.
While the defeat represented the second successive loss for the Tigers against quality opposition, coach Bill Duckworth would doubtless have been heartened by the performance. He would have been disappointed with decision errors and skill execution foibles in the dying minutes, but otherwise would have been reasonably happy.
Down by 21 points at half-time and in danger of being blown away by Trinity-Aquinas, the Beach rallied, reduced the margin to just seven points and then took control in the last quarter. In a high calibre game, Trinity-Aquinas responded and kept their unbeaten record intact.
Ruckman Alex Hack continued his good form with another solid four-quarter effort while experienced midfielder Kyle Riemann produced the grunt and energy to kick North Beach into life while Josh Pearce was also in good touch.
While the A-Grade team met the challenge, but failed to win, the A-Reserves responded again to the contest against quality opposition.
Following a similar pattern in recent matches against teams likely to be finals opponents, the well-drilled combination again made light of many changes to its structure and were never seriously threatened on the way to a 19-point triumph.
Significantly, Tim Langsford, returning from a long-term injury, Matt Irvine, in his first game for the year, Andrew Langsford, Marc Welsh and ruckman Liam Vardy were important factors in the Michael Pratt coached team retaining its unbeaten record.
Unfortunately, the two colts teams fell well short of the mark with disappointing displays.
The Phil Scott Colts, after a good first quarter, dropped away badly and conceded seven last quarter goals on the way to a 77-point loss.
It was no better for the Brett Jones Colts, who failed to score after quarter time.
The D1 and D1 Reserves were also among those conquered by Trinity-Aquinas, although they were more competitive than the colts.
The D1 Grade was out-pointed by 10 goals, with the youthful combination finding it tough against their more experienced opposition. Ben DeRosa was effective in the ruck while Chris Douglas and Shane Duckworth also worked hard.
After being goal-less in the first half the D1-Reserves dug deep and fought the game out to the end before losing by 25 points.
Jack Collins, Mark Langsford and Dean Wilson set a terrific example which was followed by their teammates.
The E2 team produced a solid victory against Whitford with Cain, Tim Elliott and Shaun Reynolds strong and consistent across the four quarters as the Beach eked out a solid 12-point victory.
North Beach 2.1 4.3 8.6 11.8 74
Trinity-Aquinas 2.1 7.6 9.7 11.9 75
Goals – North Beach: Witheridge 3; Underwood 2; Bandy, Harwood, Holden, Ingham, Riemann, Wilson 1.
Best – North Beach: Hack, Riemann, J Pearce
North Beach 5.2 5.8 6.9 8.13 61
Trinity-Aquinas 0.1 1.1 4.3 6.6 42
Goals – North Beach: Bowdal, Sitters, Faithfull 2; Mead, Taylor 1.
Best – North Beach: T Langsford, Irvine, A Langsford, Welsh, Vardy.
Phil Scott Colts
Trinity Aquinas 2.2 6.5 7.10 14.13 97
North Beach 2.0 2.1 3.1 3.2 20
Goals – North Beach: Begley 2; Baker 1.
Best – North Beach: B Collins, Zampogna, Messenger.
Trinity-Aquinas 6.2 7.4 12.4 14.5 89
North Beach 1.1 3.1 3.3 4.4 28
Goals – North Beach: Foreman 2; Binks, Campbell.
Best – North Beach: DeRosa, Douglas, S Duckworth, M Collins, Hurley.
Trinity-Aquinas 3.0 4.3 4.6 7.7 49
North Beach 0.1 0.3 2.3 3.6 24
Goals – North Beach: Christie, Pope, Botica 1.
Best – North Beach: J Collins, Wilson, M Langsford.
Brett Jones Colts
Trinity-Aquinas 1.5 8.7 10.11 14.14 98
North Beach 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 7
Goals – North Beach: Grapiglia 1.
Best – North Beach: Fitzroy, Clapham, Galvin.
North Beach 3.2 4.6 4.9 7.11 53
Whitford 2.0 2.2 4.4 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: Perris 2; Smith, Cole, Braccia, Gangemi, Manokow 1.
Best – North Beach: Cain, Elliott, Reynolds, Manokow.