By Gary Stocks
In the words of legendary Hawthorn coach John Kennedy, in the big games, the big moments you either step up, or you step down.
The Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts faced that situation at South Oval, Curtin on Saturday in the first semi-final against Trinity Aquinas. After a “soft” preparation heading into the opening final a week earlier, the Beach was not ready for the intensity of finals footy.
Seven days later and it was a different story. And did they step up!
So did the Express Bins E2-Grade, who recovered from a shellacking at the hands of Fremantle CBC last week, to dispense with Willetton in an outstanding team performance in front of a raucous North Beach crowd at Percy Doyle.
The Beach won the preliminary final 9.11 (65) to 3.6 (24), breaking the game open in the second quarter and never looking threatened thereafter.
The victory to the 5s ensures North Beach will be represented in two grand finals next Saturday after the Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade won the second semi-final a week ago.
In the colts encounter, the heat the Beach applied around the contest intimidated their opponents. From the opening bounce until the final siren. They hunted the footy, protected the ball carrier and were ruthless in their ‘team first’ approach.
The result was a thumping 65-point win – 11.7 (73) to 1.2 (8). So determined and committed was the young Beach combination that Trinity Aquinas, a club with a strong history at under-20 level, could not score after half-time.
As is so often the case in the modern game, the trend of the contest was established early, with superiority through the midfield the catalyst for success.
Ruckman Tom DCourtenay gave the midfield first use of the ball and the ground level players relished the service. Joel Brown, in particular, was exceptional, producing a gem of an individual performance. As good as anything one man could provide.
As if making a personal statement to ensure the Beach was rewarded for a solid season with at least one finals victory, he not only won the ball through the middle, but also ran hard into attack and finished off his work with five goals.
His understanding with Nick Bowe so finely tuned that the pair consistently linked up play from the back half to create the transformation from defence into attack, where players like Mitch Cameron and Liam Ellis were always a threat.
Defensively Brennen Irvine, who sat back loose in the early stages of the game and set up the game with his precise kicking, and Jarrod Chapman were resolute and generally made smart decisions and skill executions.
The Beach will now play a preliminary final next Saturday and will take great confidence into that clash with Fremantle CBC.
With support coming from all other grades to Percy Doyle, the fifths took a stranglehold on the game in the second term, with 12 scoring shots the result of a dominant midfield and several options up forward, notably Steve Jopson, Kane Kuenen and Adam Purcell.
Through the midfield Tim Grapiglia and Paul Cavangh also offered plenty of drive, Michael Missikos was a strong target at centre half-forward and Andrew Padgett played a pivotal team role, closing down one of Willetton’s primary play-makers.
In defence Brett Anthony was outstanding, with good support coming from Peter Panagopolous in a disciplined performance in the back half.
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colt
s North Beach 3.1 6.3 8.5 11.7 73
Trinity Aquinas 0.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 8
Goals – North Beach: Brown 5; Cameron 2; Adler, Ekert, Ellis, Harbers 1.
Best – North Beach: Brown, DeCourtenay, Bowe, Evans, Chapman, Irvine, Holdman.
Express Bins E2-Grade
North Beach 1.2 5.10 8.11 9.11 65
Willetton 1.2 1.3 2.5 3.6 24
Goals – North Beach: Jopson, Kuenen, Purcell 2; Mirabile, Missikos, Smith 1.
Best – North Beach: Purcell, Grapiglia, Padgett, Jopson, Anthony, Cavanagh.