By Gary Stocks
On the surface it’s a dead rubber. North Beach plays Swan Athletic and regardless of the result nothing will change.
The Beach is locked in third place with a guaranteed doubles finals chance, playing either University or Wesley Curtin next week in the qualifying final.
Similarly, Swan Athletic cannot be dislodged from fifth position. They will play Trinity-Aquinas in the elimination final next week. So to look at the final qualifying round match, there is little on the line except pride.
But scratch the surface and there is a bit at stake. It’s about taking momentum into the finals series. It’s about players competing for positions in the best 22 when the sharp end of proceedings begin.
And with four players coming to the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team this week, it’s an opportunity to ensure they are there when everything goes on the line. Youngster Kade Golisano, experienced wingmen Steve Bandy and Ben Heap and talented utility player Michael Taylor have all earned opportunities.
They come in for Mark Foreman, Kyle Riemann and Michael Italiano, who all have niggling injuries, while co-captain Anthony “Chooka” Ingham has been rested.
Golisano has enjoyed an outstanding start to senior football, although he did have a stint in the thirds at one stage, but has earned his opportunity while Taylor has also been rewarded for his consistency with the A-Reserves.
Heap and Bandy have had opportunities previously and have had interruptions with injury, but they have deep knowledge of what it takes to take the game to another level, now that the stakes are raised.
The Credent Financial A-Reserves have been decimated by injury and with top spot secured weeks ago have resisted the temptation to draw from below as the other three senior teams play finals football on Saturday.
It is the first time that all five senior teams have earned that opportunity and is testimony to the work of the coaches and players in those lower grades.
The Nuchange Phil Scott Colts cling to a glimmer of hope that they will force their way into the finals series and the first part of the equation is to beat Swan Athletic. They must also win by the biggest possible margin to make up percentage on fifth placed Wesley Curtin.
Brett Christie has done a great job with a very young Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade team, where the bulk of the squad is aged between 20-22 and they will confront Scarborough in an elimination final.
It is also sudden death for the Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves, who play Wesley Curtin, and the Express Bins E2-Grade, who clash with Kingsley.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Swan Athletic v North Beach, Fawell Park, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
Swan Athletic v North Beach, Fawell Park, 12.35pm
Nuchange Phil Scott Colts
Swan Athletic v North Beach, Fawell Park, 10.45am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
Scarborough v North Beach, Richard Guelfi Reserve, 2.30pm
Hyrbid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach v Wesley Curtin, Richard Guelfi Reserve, 12.35pm
Express Bins E2-Grade
Kingsley v North Beach, Kingsley Park, 2.30pm