Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 7

ROUND 7 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action sees the battle for ascendancy around the last finals spot heat up, while those in the top three will hope to get back on winning runs and keep tabs on the undefeated Southern Districts.

TIWI BOMBERS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will be looking to claim a second consecutive win when after breaking its season duck last time out, coming up against a formidable Darwin outfit. The Buffaloes enjoyed a bounce-back victory last round too, overcoming fellow finals contenders Waratah to steer a game clear of the Warriors in third. While it looks a mismatch on paper and ladder position, Tiwi found a groove in their last outing and will have a spring in its step as it faces a Darwin team that is struggling to regain its early season form after hitting a slight speed bump.

The Buffaloes have class on each line, with AFL experience in the form of Joe Anderson and Matt Campbell seeing them through, while ex-Roo Michael Firrito has been a handy recent addition to the back half. The real x-factor on show will come from an in-form Adam Sambono, one of the league’s prime movers who is hot off a best-afield four-goal haul. An exciting clash also looms between two of the NT’s best youngsters in Darwin’s Malcolm Rosas and Tiwi’s Round 6 rising star nominee Jeffrey Simon, who can both win their own ball and stand up against mature bodies. Tiwi will be hoping that its own ex-AFL regular in Austin Wonaeamirri can continue to contribute to the scoreboard, while Simon Munkara will have to do the same up forward with supply from Jason Puruntatameri. Dion Munkara would also be a welcome addition, and could help the Bombers match Darwin’s firepower.

Darwin will be confident of getting back on a winning run here, but the Bombers are always a dangerous opponent and now have that winning feeling. Hopefully it’s a good spectacle to open the round and a TIO Stadium triple-header.

 

WANDERERS v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will face a tough task in building on its only win for the season, battling against premiership contenders Nightcliff on Saturday. The Eagles suffered a loss against the improving Palmerston Magpies in their last bout, and with Tiwi posting its first win of the year, now sit bottom of the table. While Nightcliff also narrowly lost at the hands of a dominant Southern Districts side, they have looked a clear superior unit to most of the competition having even taken Darwin out in Round 5.

The consistent firepower of the Tigers forward of centre makes them tricky opposition, with spearhead Trent Melville looking to bounce back to his usual form after a quiet game last time out. The likes of speedy youngster Liam Holt-Fitz, Brodie Filo and Shaun Wilson have also repeatedly featured in the best, and will have to stand up once again if Nightcliff are to make a return statement. Wanderers don’t necessarily have the same potency around the ground, but will look for a spark from Keelan Fejo and Joel Jeffrey with key figure Marlon Motlop out of the side over the last two weeks along with cousin, Shannon and ex-Sun Liam Patrick, who has only played once.

Another mismatch on paper looms in this fixture, and Nightcliff will surly be breathing fire after a tight loss to the Crocs, but Wanderers will hope to put up a good fight here and climb off the bottom, as it searches for its first win since Round 1.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. ST MARYS
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A battle for the last finals spot looms in the last fixture of Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, with a confident Palmerston clashing against St Marys. The Saints became Tiwi Bombers’ first victim for season 2019, a loss that would hurt greatly given how St Marys had found form of late and were pushing hard for fifth place. On the other hand, Palmerston managed to string a couple of wins together to pip this weekend’s opponent in terms of ladder position, and look a lively part of the tussle for ascendancy from fourth to sixth.

The Magpies’ key man this year has been Bundoora Bulls stalwart Matthew Dennis, who has put in workmanlike performances in some blown-out losses this year. As their form has turned, the likes of Rodney Baird and the dangerous Davey brothers have stepped up, with goal machine Kyle Emery a constant threat up forward. Hoping to quell Palmerston’s new-found firepower will be Saints veteran Raphael Clarke, who has held down the defensive fort all season. Further up the ground, Gippsland Power product Nathaniel Paredes has been dominant, while even younger talent in Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli should provide a bit of x-factor going forward.

This should be the most hotly contested game of the round, with both sides eager to claim that elusive fifth spot and earn a finals appearance. While Palmerston are the form side, St Marys have match-winners on each line that could prove the difference in a close encounter.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. WARATAH
Round 7 – Sunday November 17, 4pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be keen to keep their perfect record in tact when they close out the round against Waratah at Norbuilt Oval. The Crocs have been a class above this season in beating all comers with relative ease, including seeing off their two most dangerous challengers – Darwin, and most recently, Nightcliff. Waratah come in having pushed the Buffaloes all the way last time out, and sit just off the top three as the ‘best of the rest’.

Dean Staunton and Shane Thorne continue to dominate for the Crocs, with draft hopeful Michael Mummery coming into form alongside Charles McAdam. Goalkicking ace Bradley Vallance will also look to bounce back from a goalless return last time out, with the likes of ex-Bomber Leroy Jetta still set to return and provide even more firepower. The key men for Waratah will be Cameron Barrett, who consistently hits the scoreboard alongside Lachlan Collihole and Raven Jolliffe. While they do not do massive damage on the scoreboard, the Warriors have multiple avenues to goal and will need to find them on repeat to match the dangerous Districts lineup.

While this may be a key fixture for Waratah given Palmerston and St Marys are vying for their position in fourth, Southern Districts will be looking to see out yet another victory with as little fuss as possible.

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