By Gary Stocks
The WA Amateur Football League finals series is in full swing and North Beach remains in the thick of the action, with its three most senior teams all alive in the hunt for premierships.
The O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team plays the first semi-final against Collegians, the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves will tackle Trinity-Aquinas in the second semi-final and the Townley Group D1-Grade will play North Fremantle in the preliminary final.
Unfortunately, they will play at three different venues, but all are expected to give a bold showing.
The A-Grade team will confront Collegians at Dalkeith Oval for the second time in six weeks and will go there with some confidence. The Beach was all over Collegians in the first half of the qualifying round encounter, did not receive reward for effort and eventually fell to a narrow defeat.
The side has grown since then, playing more team-oriented, selfless football and will be up for the challenge.
Unfortunately, this game will need to be won without class midfielder Beau Witheridge, who suffered a knee injury against Whitford in the elimination final, while Adrian Clarke sustained a should injury.
Their absence, however, has created opportunity and the selection panel has responded by elevating emerging pair Andrew Langsford and Jason Hall. Both have shown a capacity to play at the level.
While this is a relatively new-look North Beach combination, finals experience abounds and that should assist the cause.
The A-Reserves have been unbeaten this season and have played some silky football throughout. They will be looking to reproduce their best against Trinity-Aquinas, on their own dunghill at Bill Grayden Reserve.
The inclusion of forward James Sitters and the return of Matt Irvine should provide a fillip with Hall and Langsford being elevated. The A-Reserves, regardless of personnel, have responded to every challenge this season and will be confident about carrying that forward to this contest.
There is a healthy respect for the opposition, who have been traditionally strong in this competition, but they are aware that their best football is superior to their challengers.
The D1-Grade has been top two all year, lost the second semi-final last week (the lower grades are a week further advanced than the A-Grade competitions) and will be looking to rebound against North Fremantle at Charles Riley Reserve.
The threes have been given the honour of being the last North Beach team to play out of the existing changerooms, as this will be the last match played Charles Riley Reserve before the proposed redevelopment begins in February.
North Fremantle has been a formidable opponent at this level for many years and will again represent a significant challenge for the Beach – but one the team is capable on conquering.
The young Tigers will be much wiser for the experience of playing against Trinity-Aquinas in last week’s second semi-final and the return of Brett Rice will certainly assist the cause.
This week’s fixtures
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Collegians v North Beach, Dalkeith Oval, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach v Trinity Aquinas, Bill Grayden Reserve, 12.35pm
Townley Group D1-Grade
North Beach v North Fremantle, Charles Riley Reserve, 2.30pm
By Gary Stocks