Spirit lifts Beach to prelim

A Collegians player crashes over the top of Sam Palm during the desperate last quarter
A Collegians player crashes over the top of Sam Palm during the desperate last quarter
By Gary Stocks
The famous North Beach spirit was drawn upon on Saturday as the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team worked its way into the WA Amateur Football League preliminary final with a thrilling three-point victory over Collegians at Dalkeith Oval on Saturday.
After losing key players Beau Witheridge and Adrian Clarke to injury a week earlier, the Beach dug deep and produced one of its great finals victories.
There was no premiership flag on the line in this game, but it just might be the stimulus to get another pennant on the crammed walls of the Charles Riley facility.
In a tight, absorbing contest, the Beach prevailed 11.10 (76) to 10.13 (73) at Dalkeith Oval to win its second consecutive sudden-death final after dispensing with Whitford a week earlier. The cut-throat nature of finishing fourth after the qualifying rounds continues again this Saturday against Trinity-Aquinas, where a place in the grand final will be on offer.
During the tense and enthralling battle against Collegians, where the biggest margin of the day was 11 points, North Beach controlled play in the crucial last quarter and had several opportunities to skip to almost three goals clear, but could not convert set shots.
Tired legs saw all of those shots, from within 40 metres, fall short or wide and Collegians took advantage of those misses, pushed forward and converted with a few minutes remaining, bringing the margin inside a goal.
The Beach played tempo football in the desperate final minutes, controlling play and hanging on to advance.
Victory was set up by strong rebound out of defence, led by Ryan Underwood, Anthony Ingham and Tim Langsford, while ruckmen Alex Hack and David Martin worked well in tandem, Aaron Jarvis provided a strong presence through the midfield and up forward, while Josh Bollen, Chris Casey, Steve Bandy and Kyle Riemann offered drive and experience through the middle.
In addition Josh McGinnity was lively up forward, in conjunction with Jackson Harwood and Kyle Holden.
Jason Hall and Andrew Langsford, elevated to replace Clarke and Witheridge, also excelled, Hall kicking two goals and playing a key role in setting up a couple of others. In reality, it was an outstanding team effort, with every player performing his role to get the Tigers over the line.
The Beach will now confront minor premier Trinity-Aquinas, who were shock 67-point losers to University in the second-semi-final. The final margin was not a true reflection of that contest, with University holding just a 14-point advantage at the last change.
Unfortunately, the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves will also need to book a grand final passage through the preliminary final, against North Fremantle, after a disappointing second half fade-out.
The Beach played some quality team football in the first half to establish a 22-point advantage, but a scuffle, involving virtually every player on the ground in the last 30 seconds, disrupted the Beach’s momentum.
Perhaps fearing the consequences of a physical approach, the Beach went into their shells slightly and were over-run as Trinity-Aquinas secured a grand final appearance courtesy of the 11.7 (73) to 9.13 (67) victory.
Far from playing timid football in the second half, the intensity fell only marginally below their usual standards, just a fraction, but it was enough to allow TAs to get their tails up and they rattled on six unanswered goals either side of three-quarter time.
It was the first defeat of the season for the A-Reserves and coach Michael Pratt will ensure they are ready to produce their best football for the sudden death preliminary final.
Ruckmen Simon Pearce and Liam Vardy consistently gave the Beach first use of the ball, Matt Irvine pumped the ball forward consistently, Tim Bowdell and Jon Turner were ubiquitous through the middle and Jake Robinson and Jeff Waldock were solid in defence.
Look for a strong response from the boys this week.
The Townley Group D1-Grade season came to a halt in the preliminary final against North Fremantle, going down by 20 points.
Squandered opportunities and a few defensive errors proved costly as North Beach lost 5.10 (40) to 9.6 (60), with Jamie Cosgrove completing a solid season with a best-on-ground display and support coming from Kent Traeger, Mark Langsford, Michael Collins and Mark Foreman.