It was a case of so close, yet so far for the North Beach Sea Eagles in 2018.
The standout team of the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership competition, the Sea Eagles clinched a second Minor Premiership in three seasons – winning an impressive 14 of their 19 games.
Playing in their first Grand Final since 2016, everything unravelled, however – as they succumbed to a 32-10 loss to the Fremantle Roosters.
But under the guidance of second-year coach, John Hough, North Beach are desperate to go one better in 2019.
Led by skipper Trent Trotter, who returns alongside a bundle of star players including Cairo Takarangi, Kani Solomon and Adam Roy, North Beach believe they are again destined to battle it out for Premiership honours.
“Leading into preseason, that was one of the big talking points – to get there and win this year,” Trotter said.
“Those players, when it’s a big game – they step up.”
Last year’s strong season didn’t stop the Sea Eagles from recruiting this offseason, however, with former Kalamunda Bulldogs front rower Joshua Benjamin signing on to play in maroon and white in 2019.
Benjamin, a former Queensland Cup player and 2011 Ken Allen Medal runner-up adds to an already strong North Beach forward pack containing the likes of Wiremu Paki and Eoghan Lofts.
“A lot of [this season] will be based on the same foundation as last year,” North Beach Assistant Coach Kevin Sadler said.
“We’ve had some change in personnel – some boys bringing something new to the team and I think that’ll really lift us in terms of going that one step further.”
North Beach will be without Josh Toole and Ben Taylor for 2019, however, with Toole relocating and Taylor taking some time away from the game.
The duo’s absence will put extra pressure on the shoulders of young players Jeremy Wallace, Charlie Pulsford and Kahan Joyce-Vaughan.
The Sea Eagles will have to be on the top of their game from the word ‘go’ this season, as they face the toughest trip in WA rugby league when they square off against the Fremantle Roosters at Ken Allen Field in Round 1 this Saturday before returning home to host the Joondalup Giants in Round 2.
Key additions: Joshua Benjamin
Key losses: Ben Taylor, Josh Toole, Chazz Palmer
Round 1 lineup:
1. Kahan Joyce-Vaughan, 2. Tye Saus, 3. Kristian Williams, 4. Kani Solomon, 5. Bradley Sharpham, 6. Jeremy Wallace, 7. Cairo Takarangi, 8. Eoghan Lofts, 9. Trent Trotter, 10. Terelli Whaanga, 11. Joshua Benjamin, 12. Wiremu Paki, 13. Adam Roy, 14. David McCullough, 15. Ben Dickson, 16. Bow Stein, 17. Jayden De Vorms
Coach – John Hough