By Gary Stocks
It’s going to be a long summer for the O’Rourke Realty North Beach A-Grade team, but others will proudly fly the club flag in the WA Amateur Football League through the finals series.
Indeed, some of the other grades played their initial finals matches last weekend, with the standout performance coming from the Express Bins E2-Grade, who scored a sensational qualifying final win.
While the fifth grade quite rightly basked in the satisfaction of a brilliant victory, the mood could hardly have been more different at the venue for the final A-Grade match of the season.
The Beach went into the last game with an outside chance of sneaking into the finals series, needing a massive win over Whitford to be any chance. Given they had beaten the Warriors by 100 points two weeks earlier, that was not out of the equation.
But mindset is an amazing thing in team sports, the Beach thought victory would be a matter of course and failed to focus on the process before slipping to an embarrassing 10-point loss against a club that will be relegated to B-Grade next season.
The result is that North Beach will miss A-Grade finals action for the first time since 1996. And that stings!
In reality, though, the Beach lost three of its last four games to bottom five clubs and in the end they weren’t good enough. So now it is a matter of picking up the pieces analysing how to rectify the situation and taking the necessary steps to implement the improvement.
On Saturday, after a slow start, the Beach looked on track and in control for various periods of the game, but simply made too many critical errors and Whitford capitalised.
Christian Bottechia rounded off a strong season with three goals, Cody Enders worked hard through the midfield and defenders Anthony Ingham, Scott Ward and particularly Ben Sweeny completed an outstanding break-out season, but the Beach was deficient in too many areas.
Earlier the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves finished off their campaign with a hard-fought win over Whitford, clawing their way to a five-point win.
It was a tense struggle throughout before the Beach produced a spirited final quarter to claim victory – 6.14 to 6.9.
Craig Hall, Ben DeRosa, Chris Wynne and Jackson Harwood worked hard throughout to ensure the Beach achieved the desired result.
The Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts produced the most authorative victory of the day, despatching the Warriors by 74 points in a clinical performance.
That rounded out a quality season which sees the Beach finish second at the end of qualifying matches, earning a place in the qualifying final and being poised to strike.
The Brett Jones Colts started strongly in their qualifying final against Fremantle CBC, but could not sustain the effort and were eventually beaten by 32 points.
They live to fight another day, however, and will this week be engaged in a first semi-final.
The Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves also lost a tense, tight qualifying final against University but certainly did not lose face or confidence with a highly competitive performance.
They eventually fell by 11 points after recovering from a slow start and applying solid pressure around the contest. While the result was disappointing, the endeavour was first class and they, too, will take some energy into next week.
As mentioned previously, the Express Bins E2-Grade exemplified the North Beach spirit, with a brilliant four-point win over Willetton.
After losing to the same opposition by seven goals in the last qualifying round of the season, the Beach produced a remarkable form reversal in the qualifying final and now get the double chance by playing in the second semi-final.
It was a tight contest all day, with scores level at the last change, and the Beach could have made the result more comfortable with better conversion in the last term. Regardless, it was an adrenalin-rushing victory which will give the boys some momentum for the remainder of the finals campaign.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Whitford 5.2 6.5 9.8 12.12 84
North Beach 2.3 8.6 9.8 10.14 74
Goals – North Beach: Bottechia 3; Enders, Davies 2; Lee, McGinnity, Cranley 1.
Best – North Beach: Ingham, Ward, Witheridge, Sweeny, Bottechia.
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach 2.3 3.9 3.12 6.14 50
Whitford 3.1 5.2 5.7 6.9 45
Goals – North Beach: Cownie 2; DeRosa, Harwood, Dwyer, Golisano 1.
Best – North Beach: Hall, DeRosa, Wynne, Harwood.
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 14.15 (99) def Whitford 3.7 (25)
Goals – North Beach: Ekert 3; Csar, Ellis, Harbers, Morgan 2; Bowe, Brown, Lynch 1.
Best – North Beach: Holdman, Harbers, Halley, Dalton, Brown, Bowe, Ekert.
Brett Jones Colts
Fremantle CBC 1.1 5.8 8.11 12.14 86
North Beach 3.1 4.2 6.5 8.6 54
Goals – North Beach: O’Donoghue 3.
Best – North: Mesiti, Batty, Spies.
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
University 4.4 6.9 7.13 10.15 75
North Beach 1.1 4.3 7.9 9.10 64
Goals – North Beach: Kickett 3; Flynn 2; Barry, Bramley, Clapham, Elphick 1.
Best – North Beach: Flynn, Holdman, Elphick, Cavanagh.
Express Bins E2-Grade
North Beach 3.3 5.7 8.8 10.14 74
Willetton 2.5 4.7 8.8 10.10 70
Goals – Jopson 4; Mirabile, Missikos 2; Stretch, Smith 1.
Best – North Beach: Jopson, Harrison, White, Mirabile, Padgett.