By Gary Stocks
The North Beach juggernaut hit a speed hump on the way to the WAAFL A-Grade finals when upset by Whitford on Saturday.
The Beach made a sluggish start with only two goals on the board to half-time, was forced into uncustomary skill errors, created by the pressure applied by the opposition, and never really looked like recovering on the way to a 19-point defeat.
While Dean Brennan worked hard in defence, Jimmy Nunan offered some grunt around the contests and Joe Boys did some good work in the ruck, too much was left to too few. Given the pressure on for places in the team a month out from the finals, the effort was difficult to fathom.
Bill Duckworth and his selection panel will have a close look at the composition of this week’s team to tackle arch rival North Fremantle at Charles Riley, particularly given the form of the reserves, who were far too strong for Whitford.
With Joel Fishlock kicking five goals and strong midfield form from Alex Billi, Mitch Dwyer and Matt Allan, there will be a strong case for their elevation next week. Billi, Dwyer and Allan have all had a taste of senior football this year.
So, too, has Michael Italiano who put his name forward with a three-goal contribution.
The victory shores up the A-Reserves position in the top three, earning it all-important double chance.
The E-Grade also hit an unexpected glitch when soundly beaten by Whitford. After an even first half, the opposition controlled the tempo of the game after the long break on the way to a 41-point victory.
The Beach were unusually sluggish, struggled to get their flow-on football together and kicked just one goal in the second half while Whitford rattled on eight.
Dion Jacobs, Michael Collins, Jake Robinson, Blake Hurley and Lloyd Quinlan all worked hard for the Beach, but generally lacked support.
The E-Reserves had earlier started the day positively with a 74-point demolition of Whitford.
With Hayden French and Nathanial Gregoire kicking nine goals between them, the Beach were always in control and other outstanding contributions came from Josh Bubnich, Trevor Lang, “Slimy” Tester, Nathan Holden and Chris McComiskie.
The E-Ressies are sitting a game out of the top six, but has a significantly superior percentage to three clubs directly above them, who have just a one game advantage. The run home will be intriguing, starting with this week’s clash against top side University.
The Phil Scott Colts consolidated their position in the top five, again over-coming a slow and inaccurate start.
Scores were level at half time, although the Beach had produced a wasteful 2.8 to Whitford’s 3.2 but the Beach received better value for effort after the break and had the game in their keeping by the middle of the final term.
Unfortunately, the boys took their foot off the pedal in the last 10 minutes, allowing Whitford to add respectability to the scoreboard by kicking the last three goals and reducing the margin to 19 points.
Adam Miotti was outstanding up forward in conjunction with Jordan Kickett, Keegan Knott chipped in with three goals, while Mitch Christie continue his good form and centre half-back Matt Irvine consistently rebounded the ball forward.
Shane Fulwood and Josh Stott were also under constant notice.
The Brett Jones Colts made a horror start to their contest with University, but fought the game out after trailing by five goals at the first break.
The undermanned Beach had to contend with several “no-shows” which left just the bare 18 but showed strong resolve in eventually losing by 47 points.
Ryan Antonelli, Chad Perris and Rory Herbert all excelled for the Beach while Jordan Dye kicked three goals.
Whitford 3.2 8.3 10.5 11.6 72
North Beach 1.1 2.7 4.8 7.11 53
Goals – North Beach: O’Donnell 2; Reiman, Wilson, Sajich, Witheridge 1.
Best – North Beach: Brennan, J Nunan, Boys, Witheridge, Sajich.
North Beach 4.4 8.4 14.8 16.11 107
Whitford 0.1 2.1 3.1 7.3 45
Goals – North Beach: Fishlock 5; Italiano 3; Couper, Bandy, Wattleworth, Hack, Jaffa, Bell, Thomas 1.
Best – North Beach: Fishlock, Dwyer, Billi, Allan.
Whitford 4.3 5.4 10.5 13.9 87
North Beach 2.1 5.3 5.5 6.10 46
Goals – North Beach: Keeley 2; Quinlan, Collins, Plant, Morling 1.
Best – North Beach: Jacobs, Collins, Robinson, Hurley, Quinlan.
North Beach 12.15 (87) def Whitford 2.1 (13)
Goals – North Beach: French 5; Gregoire 4.
Best – North Beach: Bubnich, Lang, Tester, French, Holden, C McComiskie.
Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 1.3 2.8 6.13 9.13 67
Whitford 2.0 3.2 4.3 7.6 48
Goals – North Beach: Knott 3; Kickett, Miotti 2; Stott, Barber 1.
Best – North Beach: Miotti, Irvine, Christie, Fulwood, Stott.
Brett Jones Colts
University 4.6 6.8 9.9 12.11 83
North Beach 0.0 3.2 5.4 5.6 36
Goals – North Beach: Dye 3; Perris, Howell 1.
Best – North Beach: Antonelli, Perris, Herbert.