The last time the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team won the Perth Football League grand final, Shane Paap was part of the successful team.
That was in 2010 when the Beach won their seventh successive flag under the tutelage of Bill Duckworth, their 10th in 12 seasons. Paap kicked three goals and was an integral part of a team that completely out-pointed Whitford.
A decade later the Beach is still searching for its 14th A-Grade premiership and Paap is now at the helm, trying to usher in another successful era as his team lines up against arch rivals Scarborough in what looms as an intriguing battle.
In his third season as senior coach, he went agonisingly close to taking his team to a grand final in 2018, denied by a miraculous goal in the dying seconds of the preliminary final and then lost an elimination final last year.
In this truncated season, the two clubs have met just once, resulting in a solid victory for the Beach over the Sea Eagles.
Everyone knows that accounts for little, especially after Scarborough’s gutsy win over Curtin University-Wesley, who finished at the top of the table after the qualifying rounds before losing by a point to North Beach and then 10 points in the preliminary final.
The advantage for Paap and his charges is that they enjoyed the week off to refresh and re-set while Scarborough and Wesley slugged it out in atrocious conditions last Saturday.
The secret to success for Paap and his team this year has been its belief and unity. They have hung tough in difficult circumstances, have persevered in tight matches and have generally found a way. That should give them great confidence going into the most significant match of the season.
Again they will look to ruckman Kyle Cranley and midfielders Adam Cockie, Joey Deegan, who won the CJ Jamieson Medal for the best player in the competition, Steve Mansfield and Craig Hosakins to lead the way.
From defence they will seek the rebound and running power of Dan Leishman to have an influence while Luke Symonds and Ned Halley will have important assignments against dangerous Scarborough forwards Mark Re and Scott Worthington.
The inventive James Garcia, captain Mitch Dwyer and Beau Witheridge, who played in that 2010 premiership will also look to hit the scoreboard.
For the fifth successive season Scott Holbrook will have the Lifenet A-Reserves in the grand final as he hunts four straight premierships. In 2016 they were denied by just four points against University but he has steered his team to success in the last three grand finals.
If the club can win with both games, it will be the first time in a decade they have won the two senior premierships. And Holbrook a long-time servant of the club and multiple A-Grade premiership player, was a member of the reserves team on that day.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach v Scarborough, Steel Blue Oval, 2.45pm
Curtin University-Wesley v North Beach, Steel Blue Oval, 12.35pm
Finals footy is rarely aesthetically pleasing. It’s about getting the job done, rather than worrying about smooth transition and precise skill execution.
It’s usually about winning the contested footy, edging the ball forward in any way possible. And then finding a way to finish off the grunt work.
There has been no better example of doing what’s needed than the Lifenet A-Reserves who last week advanced to their fifth successive grand final in what could be best termed the archetypal grinding victory.
The prevailing conditions, strong, squalling winds and sleeting rain made for an unpleasant environment, but that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the Beach as they endured 2.6 (18) to 1.9 (15) against University.
It was never going to be pretty, but the result certainly was in what was a mature and determined performance.
Seasoned campaigners like Nic Bowe, Jarrod Chapman and Ben Sweeny were catalysts in the workmanlike performance while Conor Boylan, Josh Chapman and Travis Burton were at the other end of spectrum and showed the future of the club is in good hands.
The Coast to Coast Imports C5-Grade ran into a quality Curtin University-Wesley outfit in their grand final and found them difficult to counter, losing 10.5 (65) to 2.7 (15).
There were a number of players in the Wesley team that boasted WAFL experience and many others who had played in senior premierships with the club in the middle part of those decade and their experience and class proved insurmountable.
It was not through want of trying, however, and the Beach gave all they had.
The boys arrived ready to play. The warm-up was on point and the boys seemed excited. After the national anthem, our co-captains Joel Brown and Aaron Miller went up and shook hands with the umpires and the opposition captain.
Unfortunately the Beach lost the toss and a significant breeze gave Wesley the early advantage out of the gate and they took it with both hands. At the first break North Beach trailed 3.2 to 0.1 and were playing catch-up thereafter.
While the Beach dominated the second quarter in terms of possession and time in forward 50, they did not convert chances in front of goal, kicking 1.5 to Wesley Curtin’s 1.1, which was a major factor.
After half time, the focus was based on limiting Wesley Curtin’s influence with the wind. That was achieved, scoring 1.2 apiece, but after losing key target Tom Orford to a serious ankle injury in the third quarter, the Beach was a man down on the bench.
The wind subsided and although the Beach fought valiantly and tried to attack at all stages, Wesley took advantage of turn-overs and were destructive on the counter-attack.
North Beach 0.1 0.1 2.2 2.6 18
University 0.2 0.7 0.9 1.9 15
Goals – North Beach : Tothill, Foley.
Best – North Beach: Boylan, Bowe, Jarrod Chapman, Sheeny, Josh Chapman, Burton.
Coast to Coast Imports C5-Reservces
Curtin-Wesley 3.2 4.3 5.5 10.5 65
North Beach 0.1 1.5 2.7 2.7 19
Goals – North Beach: Adler, Christie.
Best – North Beach: Evans, O’Donoghue, Sullivan, Brown, Adler, B Irvine
Coach Joel Gray and captain Ben Hodge celebrate victory. Photo – Grante Lorje Photography
In his own words
By Joel Gray
Blustery conditions in Bentley awaited the Indian Ocean Hotel Brett Jones Colts on the day of the big dance. Our boys had been hoping this day would come around all year and finally it had arrived. The camaraderie, spirit and belief amongst the group was as strong as it had ever been all season. Just one game away from glory. So simple to imagine, an entirely different thing to realise.
North Beach decided to kick with the breeze in the first quarter but things did not quite go to plan. Whilst the contest was fierce and pressure intense it was Collegians who handled the heat better initially. They were first to the ball at almost every contest with their half back line proving difficult to break through and providing plenty of rebound run.
North Beach would go into quarter time two and a bit goals down, having only scored one point after seemingly squandering our first crack with the breeze. As the quarter time huddle formed the weather only strengthened with rain beginning to spit and the wind getting stronger.
An uphill battle in the second quarter faced our Tigers boys but not one player doubted we were up to the challenge. Collegians struck first blood quickly in the second and established a formidable three-goal lead.
But this setback only spurred our boys to lift to another gear. Harry Quayle won the tap at the centre bounce and Mitch Hunt roved beautifully to send the Beach forward. Zach Farrell laid a crucial tackle deep in the forward pocket and won himself a holding the ball decision before coolly slotting the snap from the tightest of angles.
North Beach were on the board and there was no looking back. The midfield guns began to gain ascendancy at the coal face and backman Karl Sauerwein was able to shut down Collegians’ most dangerous forward and repel the next few entries.
Brendan Naylor, one of our shining lights from the first quarter, made it his mission to find us a way forward any way he could with gut busting running up and down the wing all quarter.
Things were starting to go our way and when Jacob Irwin slotted a remarkable set shot from 45m out hard against the boundary it was obvious something pretty special was in motion. A brilliant effort to win the second quarter against the breeze and go into half time only a goal down had swung the course of events.
The third quarter was all North Beach. Forward entry after forward entry was demoralising the Collegians defenders but the Tigers couldn’t quite capitalise on the scoreboard.
Champion midfielder Connor Pollard put together one of the most dominant displays of the season and had the ball on an absolute string from half time onwards. Ben Tindall’s pace and grit was too much for the Collegians forward line to contain and North Beach’s half forward line began to get off the chain.
Beach’s courageous captain Ben Hodge was able to pick off an errant kick out of Collegians backline before delivering a laser guided bullet to the chest of centre half forward James Quinn 30m out from goal.
Quinn would go back to slot it and level the scores as the massive North Beach supporter contingent went nuts on the boundary line.
Another centre clearance from Pollard honoured Lachie McLeod’s strong lead from half forward who was able to win a push in the back free kick. A bit of lip from the Collegians defender gave McLeod a set shot 20m out to put Beach in the lead for the first time all day and he made no mistake.
At three quarter time North Beach could taste victory but we were still only a goal up and would be kicking against the breeze in the last term.
A dogfight ensued in the fourth with neither side prepared to give the other an inch. North Beach key backman Blair Wilson put together one of the most masterful displays of defensive marking you will ever see, intercepting four or five long kicks inside the Beach back 50.
Jacob Della Santa showed class and skill to shrug off a would be tackler, before selling candy to another and taking a left handed bounce mid step to send Beach inside forward 50 in what was one of the highlights of the match.
The best of all would come not long after when Jacob Irwin laid an extraordinary holding the ball tackle in the forward pocket right in front of the massive contingent of North Beach supporters on the boundary. After kicking a critical goal in the second he went back and slotted the even more impossible sealer from right on the boundary 40m out.
Collegians managed one late reply with a minute to go but the damage had been done and North Beach ran down the clock until the final siren. It was an incredibly satisfying victory and one that won’t soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
North Beach 0.1 2.2 4.3 5.5 35
Collegians 2.2 3.2 3.2 4.3 27
Goals – North Beach: J Irwin 2; Quinn, Farrell. McLeod.
Best – North Beach: C. Pollard, J. Irwin, H. Quayle, B. Naylor, B. Wilson
Ben Sweeny…has led from the front for the Lifenet A-Reserves all season
Two venues south of the river will be the centre of North Beach’s attention this week as two teams play off for premierships and another attempts to qualify for the grand final.
While the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade use the week to prepare for the big dance next week after winning a gripping second semi-final last week, the Lifenet A-Reserves return to South Oval in an effort to join the senior team on the competition’s biggest day.
Out-pointed by a quality Wesley-Curtin outfit last week, Scott Holbrook will be looking for a response from his charges against University at South Oval tomorrow.
After winning three premierships in succession at this level, the Beach will be looking to find their best form again. Players like Nic Bowe, Ben Sweeny and Conor Boylan, who have set benchmarks all season, will be looking to lead from the front.
Meanwhile, at Wyong Reserve, two teams are hunting premiership pennants.
The Indian Ocean Hotel Brett Jones Colts will confront Collegians in the grand final at Wyong Reserve and the Coast to Coast Imports C5-Reserves will be playing for similar rewards against Curtin University-Wesley.
The Brett Jones Colts will be looking to Lachie McLeod to lead the charge along with others like Ben Hodge, George Mortimer, James Quinn and Mitch Hunt.
The C5-Reserves have been led brilliant by Jack Steel throughout the year, evidenced by his win in the competition fairest and best count, while Nathan Adler has been a reliable focal point up forward and others like Brennen Irvine, Joel Brown and Ben Evans have been strong contributors throughout this abbreviated 2020 campaign.
Fixtures, Saturday September 19
North Beach v University, South Oval, 1.05pm
Coast to Coast Imports C5-Reserves
Curtin University-Wesley v North Beach, Wyong Reserve, 12.35pm
Indian Ocean Hotel Brett Jones Colts
North Beach v Collegians, Wyong Reserve, 10.25am
Captain Mitch Dwyer was inspiring for the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade against Curtin University-Wesley.
The O’Rourke Realty A-Grade advanced to their second grand final in four years with a gripping one-point victory over Curtin University Wesley at South Oval last Saturday.
After skipping away to a 28-point advantage in the middle of the last quarter, there were heart palpitations for the North Beach faithful as Curtin rattled on four quick goals in the dying minutes, before the Beach held on to win 9.12 (66) to 10.5 (65).
It would have been a travesty for the Beach to have lost a game they controlled for most of the day and doubtless coach Shane Paap and his players will focus on the brand of footy that saw them kick away to be in a commanding position.
That was based around effort, pressure and intensity, forcing the opposition into error with their committed approach to both the ball and their opponents.
The triumph was built around the work of ruckman Kyle Cranley, who was outstanding and demonstrated why he is regarded as the best big man in the competition. Runner-up in the CJ Jamieson Medal to teammate Joey Deegan on Wednesday night, Cranley was effective at stoppages, but also worked hard around the ground.
Defenders Liam Catalfamo and Dan Leishman provided strong rebound out of the back half, while Ned Halley continued his ultra-consistent season, and Adam Cockie was a bull around stoppages.
Veterans Mitch Dwyer and Beau Witheridge were energised and James Garcia was lively in the forward half.
Wesley will now play Scarborough in the preliminary final, with the winner earning the right to play North Beach for the premiership at Steel Blue Oval next Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Lifenet A-Reserves, they had a bad day against a talent-laden opposition, with Wesley Curtin dominating the second semi-final to win by 56 points.
North Beach finished the qualifying season undefeated and earned the double chance. They used their life line and remain in the hunt for a fourth successive flag under Scott Holbrook.
Little went right from the outset and will now play University to earn another crack at Wesley.
Experienced leaders Nic Bowe and Ben Sweeny were resilient while Conor Boylan and Oskar Tothill also stood out.
The Plasterwise Phil Scott Colts started well in their first semi-final against Trinity Aquinas, failed to get maximum return on the scoreboard and then faded to an eight-point loss.
While a disappointing defeat, the Beach had the majority of its team playing their first season of colts which augurs well for the future.
Ruckman Craig Bothe, midfielder Alex Thompson, Lachlan Scurria and Jarrod Thompson all made strong contributions, but they could not match the energy and drive of their opposition.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach 3.2 6.5 7.10 9.12 66
Curtin-Wesley 2.0 4.0 6.2 10.5 65
Goals – North Beach: Leishman, Lamont 2; Gill, Mansfield, McGuinness, Dwyer, Garcia.
Best – North Beach: Cranley, Catalfamo, Leishman, Halley, Cockie, Dwyer, Witheridge, Garcia.
Curtin-Wesley 2.1 4.2 5.4 8.9 57
North Beach 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 1
Best – North Beach: Bowe, Sweeny, Boylan, Tothill.
Plasterwise Phil Scott Colts
Trinity Aquinas 1.1 3.2 4.6 7.9 51
North Beach 2.4 3.5 5.5 6.7 43
Goals – North Beach: Brooks 2; Kirkpatrick, J Thompson, Tunnis, Eaton.
Best – North Beach: Bothe, A Thompson, Scurria, J Thompson, Brown, Bellouard.
Aaran O’Connell…another strong contribution for the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade
The higher stakes of finals football are matched by the emotions of victory and defeat.
The ecstasy of victory carries spirits and energy through the roof; the despair of losing crashes them through the floor.
Unfortunately for the Hybrid Linings C5-Grade and the Coast to Coast Imports C5-Reserves, they felt the kick of both feelings last Saturday.
The C5-Reserves won a pulsating preliminary final victory over University, driving scenes of sheer joy post-match. A couple of hours later and the vibe could not have been more stark when the C5-Grade dipped out of the competition after a gripping loss to North Fremantle.
Just a few weeks earlier, in the regular season, the C5-Reserves fell to a slick University outfit at McGillivray Oval and with a couple of key injuries to regular defenders, first-year coach Jack Flynn was a little concerned.
But he need not have worried. As a collective, the team covered for the deficiencies and did not allow University’s key forwards to impact the game and scored an impressive 21-point victory – 8.10 (48) to 5.7 (37).
Midfielder Jack Steel, rewarded for a stellar season by winning the competition medal on Wednesday night, led the charge, along with Corey Jennis and Ryan O’Donoghue who were asked to play the key defensive posts.
After an even first half, the Beach exploded in the all-important third quarter on the back of further strong contributions from Caleb Davis, Joel Brown, Matthew Morrison and Nathan Adler, who provided a focal point up forward and kicked three goals.
For the C5-Grade, the loss to North Fremantle was tough to take. They had their chances, but were not quite as adept at capitalising on those opportunities as they would have liked, the end result being a nine-point loss – 7.6 (48) to 9.3 (57).
Again the Beach held sway in a tight first half, but the Maggies dominated the third quarter with the breeze, rattling on a game breaking five goals.
After losing to North Fremantle by just three points a fortnight earlier, coach Glen Hinkley targeted a handful of key opposition players that were influential in that first meeting. And that plan worked – none of those individuals had an influence on the contest.
However, with the Magpies having just one senior side in the finals, and with eight changes to the side they fielded in the previous encounter, other players who escaped the pre-game planning impacted the game.
In the end it was just 12 minutes of football in the third quarter that proved costly.
The Beach were brave and never relented, but they found an opposition who were better on the day.
Importantly, looking forward, two players with a big future at the club, Jamie Bennett and Blake Sawyer, were among the best for the Beach.
Hybrid Linings C5-Grade
North Frem 3.0 4.1 9.2 9.3 57
North Beach 2.1 5.3 6.4 7.6 48
Goals – North Beach: Sawyer 3; Campbell, McColgan, Rollo, Wickstein.
Best – Bennett, Sawyer, A O’Connell, Dwyer, De Rosa, Fitzroy.
Coast to Coast Imports C5-Reserves
North Beach 1.1 3.3 7.7 8.10 58
University 1.2 3.4 3.5 5.7 37
Goals – North Beach: Adler 3; Davis, Tobin, Cahill, Christie.
Best – North Beach: Steel, Jennis, O’Donoghue, Davis, Brown, Morrison, Adler.