By Gary Stocks
The North Beach A-Grade combination finished the qualifying rounds as it needed to with a dominant 72-point over lowly Wembley before taking a week off – the reward for finishing as minor premier.
The Beach were never in trouble against Wembley, who will slip back to B-Grade after a tough season, controlling play from the outset.
With a number of regular A-Grade players resuming, the team had the look of one ready to defend its imposing recent record and goes into the finals series in good shape.
Shane Paap returned to kick five goals up forward, while Aaron Jarvis was again dominant, Josh McGinnity provided some life up forward, Ben Wilson continue his strong vein of recent form and Luke Smith was his usual cool, efficient self in defence.
Ben O’Donnell and Kyle Riemann were outstanding through the midfield while Dean Brennan again appreciated the opportunity to push forward and kicked two goals while Chris Pearce again demonstrated his class. Brennan was able toplay a more attacking role through the return of Anthony “Chooka” Ingham.
The A-Reserves also finished off the qualifying rounds with an emphatic victory, marching to a 81-point triumph over Wembley, finishing the home and away season in second position and preparing for a qualifying final against North Fremantle.
Michael Pratt has his team flying at the moment and they will be keen to capitalise on the opportunity they have created.
Joel Fishlock put aside the disappointment of being left out of the A-grade behind him to kick four goals, while Greg Pires and Steve Wattleworth kicked three each in impressive displays up forward.
They capitalised on the terrific midfield work of Mitch Dwyer, Aaron Thomas and Ben Heap while Chris Gooch and Kent Traeger were also important contributors in a commanding team performance.
Sadly, the E-Reserves season ended prematurely when losing an elimination final to Whitfords at Charles Riley Reserve.
After finishing third, the Beach faced a cut-throat final in a tight 16-team competition and lost a nail-biter by just five points.
The Kane Kuenen coached Tigers led for most of the day, but Whitford kicked three goals to one in the final stanza to survive.
Nathan Duckworth, Lloyd Quinlan, Peter Bird, Hayden Coutts and Michael Collins were the outstanding players for North Beach.
The Phil Scott Colts also prepared for this week’s finals series with a strong victory over Wembley, recovering from a slow start to win by 25 points.
Josh Stott and Chris Mead were efficient up forward, with Keegan Knott and Jordan Kickett, while Jake Robinson continued his good touch and Ben Clarke set the tone for commitment to the contest.
The challenge for the colts in this week’s elimination final will be to get away to a fast start, having trailed Wembley, who will not play finals, by five points at the first break. Trinity-Aquinas will present a strong challenge, with North Beach completing the qualifying rounds in fifth place.
North Beach 3.8 8.13 10.16 14.18 102
Wembley 0.3 1.4 3.10 3.12 30
Goals – North Beach: Paap 5; O’Donnell, Brennan, Boys 2; Riemann, C Pearce, McGinnity.
Best – North Beach: Jarvis, McGinnity, Paap, Wilson, Smith.
North Beach 4.1 8.3 13.5 16.8 104
Wembley 0.1 1.3 2.4 3.5 23
Goals – North Beach: Fishlock 4; Pires, Wattleworth 3; Potts 2; Brookes, Italiano, Thomas, Allan 1.
Best – North Beach: Dwyer, Thomas, Heap, Gooch, Traeger.
Whitford 4.1 6.3 7.6 10.6 66
North Beach 4.3 5.5 8.7 9.7 61
Goals – North Beach: Keeley, Morling 3; Plant, Quinlan, Lorimer.
Best – North Beach: N Duckworth, Quinlan, Bird, Coutts, Collins.
Phil Scott Colts
North Beach 2.4 5.7 8.7 13.7 85
Wembley 3.3 4.6 5.10 8.12 60
Goals – North Beach: Stott, Mead 3; Knott, Kickett 2; Foreman, Robinson, Brooks 1.
Best – North Beach: Mead, Stott, Robinson, Clark, Kickett.