By Gary Stocks
It might only be the middle of the WA Amateur Football League season, but the O’Rourke Realty North Beach A-Grade team faces a critical encounter against University at Charles Riley Reserve tomorrow.
In a tight competition, which is becoming crowded at the top end as clubs jockey for a top five finish, this clash with the reigning premier could have a strong bearing on the fortunes of the club as it strives to cement a finals position.
North Beach currently holds fourth position and sits two places above University, although both clubs have four wins from the first seven matches. There are no easy matches in this competition, so the Beach, after the competition bye last week, will be looking to rack up consecutive victories.
That will be aided to some extent by the return of star midfielder Josh Pearce, ruckman Dave Martin, experienced forward Josh McGinnity, midfielder Jon Turner and the elevation of defender Ben Sweeney, who will play his first senior match.
Sweeney is another graduate from last year’s colts team to push into the seniors and will relish his opportunity.
Missing from the team which survived a scare against Hamersley-Carine a fortnight ago are State rover Josh Bollen, tough utility player Dingo Nunan, half-forward Dan Leishman and midfielders Matt Power and Chris Thompson.
If North Beach can overcome the scholars it will create a divide between the two clubs and perhaps provide the impetus to allow the Tigers to get on a roll.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves, unbeaten after seven rounds, will essentially have control of their own destiny in this contest against last year’s premiers, who currently sit in ninth position. If Michael Pratt’s team takes the right attitude into the game, they should win comfortably, but on occasion this year have been slow to start.
The A-Reserves have responded to every challenge, play a systematic and team-oriented brand of football, and could be excused for already having one eye on the finals. But Pratt, his skipper Luke Smith and other senior players are well aware there is much to be done before the business end of the season kicks into gear.
The Nuchange Phil Scott Colts are focusing on developing a similar style of game to the reserves and A-Grade teams and while there is great talent within the ranks, the challenge for the coaching staff has been bringing the individual attributes into a team game.
Against University the boys will need to be at their best, but they do know that at their optimum they can beat anyone in the competition. A number of changes have been made in an effort to find a winning chemistry and the Tigers are up for the assignment.
While the A-grade teams will play at Charles Riley Reserve, the D-Grade and Brett Jones colts will clash with University at McGillivray Oval.
The Townley Group D1-Grade will get an idea if where they sit against the opposition when they clash at 2.30pm. North Beach is perched in second position, two wins and two spots ahead of University and victory would go a long way towards galvanising an all-important top two spot.
The Clipstar D1-Reserves have been a little unlucky, losing several close encounters, and currently sit at the foot of the table despite being competitive in most games.
The Tuck Plumbing Brett Jones Colts are sitting in sixth position and will clash with four-placed University. Separated by only one win, this is the epitome of the eight-point game.
Meanwhile, the Pana’s Pool Care E2 grade will head out to Wanneroo for another important match on what could be a season-defining day for the club. Peter Panagopolous’ team is sitting ion third position and with victory against Wanneroo could create a space between themselves and a potential finals challenger.