By Gary Stocks
Right from the start, Saturday was going to be tough.
From the moment that drops of rain hit the bedroom windows, waking one from a deep slumber at 6am, pounding on the glass panes like river dancers. Lightly and rhythmically, at first. Just tap, tap, tapping but building to a crescendo. Pounding them, horizontally. To the point, one felt, of smashing.
Forecasters had predicted a couple of showers. This was a deluge.
As the morning passed, there was an expectation the rain would ease and that all we would deal with at McGillivray Oval was a fierce breeze and a formidable opponent. It did not subside.
The rain and wind were constants. Never let up for longer than a few minutes.
And the University Football Club was similarly persistent. The Students were relentless in the A-Grade preliminary final and curtailed the O’Rourke Realty North Beach outfit’s campaign.
Things were ominous early. The Scholars won the toss and kicked with a howling gale. We had hoped the coin would fall the other way, give us the chance to start well, apply scoreboard pressure and see if they were good enough to respond.
Build some early confidence within the Beach. Stand tall and proud and ask Uni what they had.
The reverse occurred. Uni kicked early goals, led by 28 points at the first change. They asked questions we could not answer. Not with authority, anyway.
We convinced ourselves that it was a par score at the first break. And it might have been had we been able to make some headway. But we got caught on the defensive side of the ground for big chunks of the second term, kicked two goals, but conceded a couple as well. Status quo.
The endeavour was unquestionable, but the efficiency and skill execution was short of the opposition.
In the end, on a miserable afternoon when the rain and wind lashed the venue, North Beach could make no in-roads on that quarter-time deficit and lost by 32 points.
There were some credible performances. Matt Irvine provided strong and purposeful rebound off half-back, Michael Taylor put his body on the line repeatedly and showed great commitment, Aaron Jarvis tried to show the way, Josh McGinnity and Jamie Sajich were lively in attack.
Just couldn’t do enough to get back into the game and University prevailed 10.7 (67) to 5.5 (35), earning a shot at Wesley Curtin in this week’s grand final.
The day would have been devastating had it not been for the heroics of the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves.
They, too, did it tough but found a way to win. Left it to the last minute, cut it finer than they would have liked but achieved an amazing victory against Fremantle CBC.
It was a dour struggle all day and given the arctic conditions it was hardly a surprise. But the Beach dug deep and will now get the chance to again challenge Trinity-Aquinas.
It was an in-close, physical contest all day and the boys responded accordingly with a character-defining win.
The match winning goal came with less than a minute remaining when Cale Potts converted his third major of the day.
And it was as good as it gets. He received a free for a high tackle, 40 metres out, kicking into the teeth of the gale. Cometh the moment, cometh the man. He lined up, knowing what was at stake, took due care, timed the arrival of boot and ball to perfection and nailed it.
At no other time in any other game on the day did anyone penetrate the breeze to that extent. It was perfect, defying the elements to hit the netting behind the goal, several metres above the ground.
He/they deserved to celebrate and they did.
Michael Pratt and his boys, having suffered a level of anxiety during that afternoon, will take momentum into next week.
Aside from Potts, who was undoubtedly the hero, Sam Green was instrumental after swinging into the middle to apply some physical pressure, supported by Steve Bandy, Ben Heap and Kade Golisano.
Ben Sweeny continued his form down back to provide great rebound and to assist the hard work by Liam Vardy and Michael Schofield.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade Preliminary Final
University 4.4 6.5 9.5 10.7 67
North Beach 0.0 2.1 3.1 5.5 35
Goals – North Beach: Sajich, Foreman 2; Irvine 1.
Best – North Beach: Irvine, Taylor, Jarvis, Sajich, McGinnity, Dwyer.
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach 3.1 3.1 4.3 5.4 34
Fremantle CBC 1.1 2.7 2.8 3.10 28
Goals – North Beach: Potts 3, Bowdell, Italiano 1.
Best – North Beach: Green, Potts, Sweeny, Bandy, Golisano.