By Gary Stocks
Fair dinkum, this season has had more ups and downs than a Walt Disney theme park!
The rollercoaster ride that has been 2014 continues tomorrow when North Beach plays arch rival Whitford at MacDonald Reserve, with everything on the line.
After a disappointing loss to West Coast last week, there is no wriggle room. The Beach must win or face the fact that this will be the first time since 1996 that the club has not played finals.
Even if the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team wins the last three games there is no guarantee of a place in the post-season activity, but to win them is the first step. Given the Beach plays Whitford twice in the last three rounds because of a quirk in the WAAFL fixtures, there is the opportunity to leap frog into the final five.
With Whitford in ninth place and facing certain relegation, the Beach could vault from sixth into the top five because Trinity Aquinas and Kalamunda face other twice in the final three rounds as well.
Sandwiched between the two games against the Warriors, the Beach plays Mt Lawley, who sit seventh. So all of those games are winnable, but the contract has to be completed, starting with the first challenge tomorrow.
Stability from week to week has been a problem for much of the season, with an average of around four changes per week, and this game is no exception.
Through unavailability, suspension and injury – combined with the decision to send Nick Bowe back to the Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts to prepare for their finals assault – again there has been some player turnover.
The good news is that experienced wingman Steve Bandy resumes, half-forwards Rob Scantlebury and Jordan Webster and midfielders Chris Wynne and Peter Harvey get their chance. Wynne has been rewarded for his persistence and good form in the reserves to be elevated for his A-Grade debut.
Wynne has been most impressive since he joined the club in pre-season and has barely missed a session, while stringing together a wonderful stretch of form that commanded his place in the seniors.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves, technically, could still sneak into the finals action as they, too, sit in sixth position, but are six points behind University. The scholars play third-placed Swan Athletic twice in the last three games and with Athletic sitting on the bottom of the A-Grade table, they might pour all of their resources into a tilt at the reserves flag.
The Phil Scott Colts will simply looking to build some momentum into their run to the finals as they are virtually assured of a top three finish and a double chance.
The Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade, have had the staggers in the last few weeks, with the injury situation in the higher grades having the domino effect and cascading down the grades.
But two weeks out from finals, Bill Duckworth is sure to get his troops back on track when they confront Mt Lawley.
A similar situation exists in the Hybrid Linings D1-Grade, with North Beach being the competition benchmark, but keen to reproduce the imposing form that saw it dominate the first 10 rounds of the season.
The Brett Jones Colts and the Express Bins E2-Grade are also entrenched in the top three and faces challenges against Mt Lawley and Noranda, respectively in the penultimate round.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Whitford v North Beach, MacDonald Reserve, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
Whitford v North Beach, MacDonald Reserve, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
Whitford v North Beach, MacDonald Reserve, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Percy Doyle Oval, 2.30pm
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Percy Doyle Oval, 12.35pm
Brett Jones Colts
North Beach v Mt Lawley, Percy Doyle Oval, 10.40am
Express Bins E2-Grade
Noranda v North Beach, Lightning Park, 2.30pm