BY GARY STOCKS
One point. One miserable point. The difference between a season boosting victory and a heart-breaking loss.
After an engrossing, tight battle with Curtin University-Wesley the North Beach O’Rourke Realty A-Grade fell short of victory by the barest possible margin – 10.8 (68) to 10.9 (69).
In the moments after the games, as players and coaches work through the debrief, the minds of every individual in the room cast back to specific moments in the match. ‘What if I had’…’What if this had’…
Little moments in games of this nature define results.
While the outcome in this instance was not what the Beach desired, the effort and application could not be questioned. One team had to be on the wrong side of the leger and this time it was the Beach, but there was so much to like about the performance at South Oval.
Their willingness to take the game on was admirable, even if the execution at times was not perfect, but they were relentless. The pressure was through the roof and confidence in what can be achieved in the next six weeks elevated, despite missing out on the W.
Indicative of the style of game the Beach played was that they won almost all of the pressure statistics and were dominant in the handballs received category, testimony their commitment to run and work for each other.
The inclusion of Darby McCarthy proved beneficial, his energy and class up forward a key factor, while Sam Lamont was inspirational through the midfield with Brayden Lawler and Jack Beverley’s grunt and appetite for the contest was outstanding.
The ball use of Nic Wells was eye-catching while the battle between Kyle Cranley and Brock Higgins exemplified the broader contest. Dan Leishman also provided good run out of defence while Hamish Coulton did a great job in closing down Cory Dell’Olio, after he started brilliantly, was another important factor.
The Lifenet A-Reserves produced a solid 27-point victory over Curtin-Wesley, leading at every change and answering every challenge.
It has become a very tight race in the A-Reserves with the top four sides equal on points and Curtin in fifth just two points adrift. So it was a game where working towards a second chance in the finals was important.
The Beach went into the game with a strong team but also with a refined game plan and with the help of the leadership group there was a renewed focus after last week’s loss. The Beach was able to win every quarter in a consistent all-round performance with everyone contributing and playing their role.
Kade McKenzie, Steve Mansfield and Matt Coleman were the core of a dominant midfield, Josh Chappy and Oskar Tothill were outstanding big men and the pressure and run from Nathan Torre in the backline and Dylan Campbell up front meant we were able to leverage off that ascendency.
In terms of the stakes and the opportunity to take giant strides in finishing top three to earn a double chance in the finals series, the Plasterwise Phil Scott Colts match-up was similarly critical.
The Beach started well, their pressure factor was intense, and that was manifested through their ability to hit the scoreboard.
Other than leaving the door ajar when the intensity fell away marginally in the third quarter the Beach always looked to have the opposition’s measure.
The 15-point victory – 10.9 (69) to 7.12 (54) – sees the Beach sitting just two points shy of third place and in a good position to launch in assault in the remaining two qualifying round matches.
Kobi Martin and Justin Prior, so often the barometer for this team, were again at the forefront of the victory while Cody Connell was damaging up forward with four goals and defenders Jared Thompson and Aidan Nguyen consistently repelled opposition forward thrusts.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Curtin Wesley 3.3 6.7 8.9 10.9 69
North Beach 2.2 4.5 7.6 10.8 68
Goals – North Beach: McCarthy 3; Beverley, Hooper 2; Lamont, Garcia, Cranley.
Best – North Beach: McCarthy, Lamont, Coulton, Beverley, N Wells, Lawler.
North Beach 3.0 5.2 8.4 11.6 72
Curtin Wesley 1.2 2.7 5.7 6.9 45
Goals – North Beach: Reid 4; Ekert, Webster 2; McKenzie, Edwards, Swain.
Best – North Beach: McKenzie, Mansfield, M Coleman, Josh Chapman, Tothill, Campbell, Torre.
Plasterwise Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 3.2 5.5 7.6 10.9 69
Wesley Curtin 1.3 2.7 6.9 7.12 54
Goals – North Beach: Connell 4; Newick, Gouge 2; Prior, Coles.
Best – North Beach: Martin, Prior, Connell, Thompson, Nguyen.
Big Wins and Forfeits
Legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud would have loved this one. One hundred minutes of footy; Two hundred and twenty two points scored. It’s a ridiculous ratio of hitting the scoreboard.
Extrapolated a little further, the 34 goals scored by the Hybrid Linings C4-Grade represented a major about every three minutes as they demolished Armadale 34.18 (222) to 3.4 (22). Consider also that there is no time-on and that strike rate is even more amazing.
While the Beach filled their boots to the max, it was obviously a tough day for the Bulls and it was hard not to feel a little empathy for them.
Up until the last minute it was unclear whether Armadale would field a side but with some late scrambling they managed to pull together 20 players.
And that lack of clarity meant they were in disarray at the first bouncedown and as a result, the Beach had a 14 goal opening term. Things got a little better for the opposition after that, but the Tigers still kicked 20 goals to three in the final three stanzas to run out winners by 200 points.
Nathan Adler cashed in on the dominance and kicked eight goals and was well supported by Tully Wickstein (five) and Jordan Brooks (four). Craig Hall was outstanding on the wing and kicked four goals of his own.
Jamie Bennett, Marc Crisp and Caolan O’Connell were terrific in the midfield and were all well serviced by Riley Hinkley in the ruck. Down back, with limited opportunities, Cam Emery reigned supreme across half back.
Unfortunately, given the scramble to field a team in third grade, the fours missed the opportunity to play. At this time of the year, with long trips across the metropolitan area involved, it is not uncommon to see that struggle.
The Beast Carpet Cleaning C4-Reserves won a forfeit and so did the GJ Osplumb E4-Grade when High Wycombe could not muster a team.
The Beyond Tools E1-Grade, however, scored a notable 64-point win over Manning Rippers.
And the Indian Ocean Hotel Brett Jones Colts ensured they would finish the qualifying rounds on top of the table when they breezed past Curtin University-Wesley.
From the first bounce against the third-placed Curtin Uni, the physicality and hardness at the ball set the tone for the encounter in what would become a defensive masterclass.
Led by the impressive backline, the Beach put the shackles on the opposition that denied them access to the football for long periods. The return of skipper Tom Emes was welcome, and Liam Donaghey played his best game for the season.
Ensuring scoreboard pressure as an outcome of territory dominance was difficult in trying conditions but Zach Farrell, Jonas Rocke and Tom Elliott were fantastic up forward.
The victory was the 12th in succession and with only two games remaining the excitement is building rapidly.
Hybrid Linings C4-Grade
North Beach 14.2 23.5 29.14 34.18 222
Armadale 1.0 2.1 2.2 3.4 22
Goals – North Beach: Adler 8; Wickstein 5; Hall, J Brooks 4; M Cameron 3; Crisp, Rollo, J Cameron 2; O’Connell, Hunter, Bennett, Hinkley.
Best – North Beach: Bennett, Emery, Crisp, O’Connell, Hall, Adler.
Beast Carpet Cleaning C4-Reserves
North Beach 15.0 (90) def Armadale (1) on forfeit
Indian Ocean Hotel Brett Jones Colts
North Beach 0.1 3.3 8.5 9.10 64
Curtin Wesley 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 3
Goals – North Beach: Farrell, P Rose, Rocke 2; Donohoe, Elliott, J Smith.
Best – North Beach: Rocke, R Rose, Germana, Farrell, Donaghey, Pullinger.
Beyond Tools E1-Grade
North Beach 9.12 (66) def Manning 2.8 (2)
GJ Osplumb E4-Grade
North Beach 15.0 (90) def High Wycombe 0.1 (1) on forfeit
Historic Win For Beach Women
The Synkro A-Grade Women continue to break new ground, creating another slice of history with a victory over the most dominant force in the competition since the inception of the women’s competition.
North Beach had not beaten Curtin University-Wesley in their five seasons in the competition but broke through for a brilliant victory against the competition lamp lighters at South Oval last Saturday.
It was a terrific start to an eventful day at Curtin Uni’s home base as the Beach produced a highly impressive 21-point victory – 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15).
The success provides the girls with a significant confidence boost, especially winning away from home against a leading contender leading into finals.
Even more meritoriously, this triumph was achieved with two late outs, losing captain Clare Dickson the night before through illness and Eva Popovsky broke her finger at Thursday training.
Everyone played their role and we kept the pressure up the entire game in slippery conditions. The midfield led from the front and dominated clearances, the backs held off the attack all day with Curtin not scoring a goal after half time.
Leading the charge through the midfield were the classy Tessa Anderson, Beth Carey, Steph Ball and winger Abby Maynard, while in defence Hannah Uglow and Lara Turner were outstanding.
The C4-Grade Women had a tough day against Kelmscott with the opposition’s pace and skill proving decisive.
With superior ball use the Bulldogs pegged the Beach down in the back half for most of the day and the Beach fell into the trap of panic kicks into their wall.
On the occasions when they were calm with the footy and ran hard to spread the Beach looked good and transitioned the ball well.
But Kelmscott’s pressure dictated the game and resulted in a 16-point loss in what was a tough day at the office. Lauren Kavanagh was fantastic down back and Jordy Lilford and Sharni Kuenen showed some ability in the midfield which could be crucial in finals with opposition speed a factor.
Synkro A-Grade Women
North Beach 2.1 3.3 4.6 5.6 36
Curtin Wesley 1.0 2.0 2.1 2.3 15
Goals – North Beach: Alaga 2; Maynard, T Jones, Carey.
Best – North Beach: Anderson, Carey, Ball, Maynard, Uglow, Turner.
Kelmscott 2.11 (23) def North Beach 1.1 (7)
Goals – North Beach: Del Fante.
Best – North Beach: Kavanagh, Lilford, Kuenen.