By Gary Stocks
The imposing record of the North Beach Amateur Football Club was further galvanised on Saturday when Bill Duckworth steered the A-grade team to its sixth successive title.
The Duckworth era at North Beach added another impressive chapter with a 37-point win over respected rival North Fremantle, giving the club its ninth premiership in 11 years under the direction of the 1984 Norm Smith medallist.
After North Fremantle kicked the first three goals of the game, North Beach gradually worked their way into the match and then dominated in the second half on the way to a resounding 37-point victory – 10.13 (73) to 5.6 (36).
Led by captain Chris Pearce and wingmen Steve Bandy and Ben Heap, the Tigers took control of the midfield and consistently pumped the ball forward where they had a reliable target in full-forward Mitch Holbrook who capped off his game with five goals.
Centre half-forward Ben Wilson also worked tirelessly throughout while veteran Chris Perkin, playing in his ninth premiership, had a strong impact on the game with two goals.
North Fremantle could kick only two goals after quarter-time, with the North Beach defence led by Reece Cunningham, who had the difficult task of matching up Karl Pirrotina, Luke Smith, Anthony Ingham and Jackson Harwood holding sway.
The work of Pearce, after the initial onslaught from the Maggies, was pivotal to the North Beach resurgence. The skipper took it upon himself to change the course of match and other important players began to exert an influence through the midfield.
Aside from Pearce, Bandy (who won the BJ Giles Medal as best afield) and Heap, others like colt Josh Bollen, the experienced Kyle Riemann and Shane Paap also began to get their hands on the footy and if not for some wasted opportunities in attack, would have led at the first change.
By half-time the Beach led by three points and it was clear that their run was proving a handful for North Fremantle. And with the strong defensive effort shutting down the Maggies key forwards, the Beach were poised to pounce.
The work of Cunningham should not be under-estimated, given he was swung onto Pirrotina, who had kicked two first quarter goals, and did not hit the scoreboard again during the match.
It was a strong, disciplined and determined effort in the back half, with all players performing their role.
With the emotional spur of Chris Perkin playing and aiming for his ninth premiership medal, the Beach were always going to be tough to topple and “the king” certainly put his imprimatur on the match. He took several strong contested marks and imposed himself physically on the contest.
As North Beach took control with six goals to one after the main break, it was clear North Fremantle could not match the run or class of its opponent. Duckworth used his bench well, rotating his running players off the bench to ensure there was no let-up in pressure being applied.
It was a satisfying victory for the club and one which further stretches its historic winning sequence. Last year the club eclipsed the record of four successive premierships established by Mt Lawley in the ‘80s and is focused on continuing its dominance of this competition.
North Beach 2.4 4.5 7.8 10.13 73
North Fremantle 3.0 4.2 4.5 5.6 36
GOALS – North Beach: M Holbrook 5; Perkin, Paap 2; Turner 1. North Fremantle: Pirrotina 2; Minervini, B Loby, Phipps.
BEST – North Beach: Bandy, Heap, C Pearce, Cunningham, M Holbrook, Ingham,, Wilson, Bollen. North Fremantle: Mollica, Phipps, Martin, Hall.
BJ Giles Medal: S Bandy (North Beach)