By Gary Stocks
North Beach’s two senior teams have the opportunity to play in the WAAFL grand finals in consecutive seasons when they each play in preliminary finals on the weekend.
The North Beach A-Grade team earned the right to a rematch against its qualifying final conqueror, University, through a comprehensive victory against Collegians last Saturday while the A-Reserves will be looking to rebound after a disappointing loss to University.
Both finals will be played at Fremantle Oval on Saturday and a strong contingent of Beach supporters is expected to assist in lifting both teams that are aiming to defend the premierships they won last year.
The A-Grade combination was never seriously threatened against Collegians, the finals-hardened outfit having all the answers from the outset.
They held Collegians to just one goal to three-quarter time and eased off slightly in the final quarter before cruising to a 51-point victory – 11.9 (75) to 3.6 (24).
The backline was led superbly by Jamie Sajich and Luke Smith, while through the midfield Steve Bandy, Ben Heap and Matt Power were exceptional. With those players winning plenty of football and providing strong run, the forwards enjoyed some outstanding service.
Mitch Holbrook and Ben Wilson made the most of those opportunities to kick three goals apiece while Josh McGinnity always looked threatening.
The challenge against University is to reverse a five-goal defeat at McGillivray Oval a fortnight ago, but with Kyle Riemann back in action and a few midfielders in better touch the Beach will enjoy the opportunity, particularly at the neutral venue of Fremantle Oval.
The A-Reserves, who finished on top of the ladder, appeared to have the qualifying final under control until the middle stages of the third quarter, when University rallied.
Leading by 19 points at half-time, the Beach lost direction – and the lead – and in kicking just one goal to seven in the second half slipped to a 20-point loss.
The large contingent of experienced players will be looking to galvanise the team ahead of this week’s challenge against North Fremantle.
Early in the match it seemed North Beach had the opposition’s measure, it was running the ball strongly out of defence, had solid contributors through the midfield, particularly with Robbie McComiskie and Rob Scantlebury in the thick of the action, but then fell away.
Too many players did not sustain the effort in the second half, opening the door for the opposition, which was then kicked wide open with a dominant and tougher attitude after the main break.
Consistency of effort has been the hallmark of this team in the last couple of seasons and coach Michael Pratt will be looking for an even contribution, both from individuals and collectively, against the Maggies on Saturday.
A-Grade 1st semi-final
North Beach 3.1 4.2 8.6 11.9 75
Collegians 1.1 1.4 1.5 3.6 24
Goals – North Beach: M Holbrook, Wilson 3; Bandy, Dwyer, Jarvis, McGinnity, Turner.
Best – North Beach: Sajich, Power, Jarvis, Smith, Heap.
A-Reserves 2nd semi-final
University 1.1 2.3 6.5 9.7 61
North Beach 2.3 5.4 5.4 6.5 41
Goals – North Beach: Sitters, Grifiths, Billi 2.
Best – North Beach: Clark, Duckworth, McComiskie, Irvine.