By Gary Stocks
The psychology of sport is the most powerful of tools and North Beach will look to recreate the mental edge it enjoyed over Mt Lawley 10 weeks ago when the teams re-engage at Hamer Park tomorrow.
When the two clubs locked horns early in the season at Charles Riley Reserve, the psychological advantage was created by a relentless physical assault.
So single-minded, so tough in the clinches, so united were the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade outfit that they forced their opponents into error. To the extent that sometimes it was the inferred pressure – the presumption that a red and yellow jumper was bearing down – that created the mistake.
That whole of ground defensive effort was probably the best and most glowing example of the doctrine according to David Hynes and the senior coach will be looking to replicate that blueprint against the Hawks tomorrow.
Mt Lawley, it must be said, will be a different outfit to the one that was out-pointed more than two months ago, with former Fremantle rookie and Claremont tall utility Casey Sibosado and former East Perth forward Marcus Rigguero among the inclusions.
That will make for a potent forward structure and the Beach defence will need to be on its mettle to minimise their scoring capacity.
On the back of a solid 15-goal win over the battling Collegians last week, North Beach has made three changes with premier ruckman Joe Boys returning from a three-week absence, along with forward Tim Bowdell and powerhouse midfielder Andrew Nunan.
While the Beach, sitting third and just one win behind Wesley Curtin and University, has a three game break over fourth-placed Trinity Aquinas, it can ill-afford to drop games against clubs sitting below it on the table.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves made the customary seven changes to their line-up and will be looking for a similarly committed performance against the Hawks.
It has been difficult with so many changes from week to week working against the desired continuity within the team, but with one exception, the Michael Pratt-led reserves have been able to produce top quality football to see off all-comers.
They remain at the top of the table, have suffered just one defeat and among their important inclusions are defenders Ben Sweeney and Jake Brazill, as well as ruckman-forward Tom Bowering.
The Nuchange Phil Scott Colts have been motoring along in recent weeks and will be looking forward to this week’s challenge against a Mt Lawley team that over-powered them in the early clash this season.
The Tigers are a vastly different team to the one which represented the club in the first part of the season, have grown to understand the game plan of coach Craig Dalton and are playing with passion and belief.
They harbour hopes of playing finals football and a victory in this match would be another positive stride forward as they target that ambition.
At Charles Riley Reserve, in the penultimate round of matches to be played at the traditional home base, the stakes will also be high.
The Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade will confront Mt Lawley in a match pitting fifth against 10th and it’s a chance for the Beach to consolidate a place in the top five. Doubtless the youthful North Beach combination has the talent and depth to press hard in September, but this is a critical step along that track.
The Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves face a challenge – albeit not insurmountable – against the top-placed Hawks. North Beach sits in fourth position and is capable of issuing a stern challenge to their opponents and the pleasing aspect of their season has been their capacity to shrug off the domino effect of wholesale changes to the grades above them.
The Tuck Plumbing Brett Jones Colts have also made quantum leaps forward in recent weeks and find themselves engaged in what could be a season-defining game against Mt Lawley.
These two teams – along with Trinity Aquinas – are locked in a battle for the final position in the top five. They are each sitting on 16 points, four games adrift of fourth position, so victory would push the Beach into the five for the first time this season.
On a day when all seven teams face matches of high importance, the Hybrid Linings E2-Grade is no exception as it prepares to battle with nearby rival Kingsley at Percy Doyle. It is fourth versus fifth and with aspirations of finishing in the top three, thus earning a double chance come finals, success is high on the agenda.