IT IS finally here, week one of the NTFL Women’s finals will take place today with three exciting games of footy. Despite earlier reports of a top-five finals series, it will be a top-six competition like the previous year, meaning St Marys will go at least one more round.
The first match will kick off with the heavyweights Palmerston taking on the reigning premiers Waratah. This game will serve as a qualifying match as both teams are looking to grab bragging rights early. Up next the Southern Districts will face off against St Marys in the first elimination final. The Crocs have dished out a hiding to the Saints twice this season, but anything can happen in finals. Lastly, the Darwin Buffettes will meet Pint in the final elimination game. The Buffs have been wounded by the loss of key players this year, so will have to dig deep to beat the Queen Ants who are at full fitness.
WARATAH V PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday, February 23 12.00pm
TIO Oval 2
The Magpies had an average start to the season, but now they look dangerous. This side of youth mixed with experience is sure to give the Warriors a run for their money.
The midfield of both teams is nothing short of classy. Lisa Roberts, Alysha Healy, and Madeline Gault meet Natasha Medbury, Jessica Stassi, and Tabitha May, which should prove to be a classic battle. Waratah ruck, Joanna Kolodziej may dictate in terms of the hit-outs as she has done for most of the year. If the Warriors win the clearances, Amy Chittick and Lauren O’Shea could wreak havoc on the scoreboard. Fortunately for the Magpies, forward, Lisa Mecli has been missing in action. Billie Byers and Jessie Brock might be the perfect matchup against Waratah’s dynamic duo.
As for Palmerton’s forwards, there is no shortage of talent. Freda Puruntatemeri has danced around the best defenders all year. Her speed and skill are well complemented by teammate Shenaida Bush. This pair of speed demons will need a unique opposition to stop them. Puruntatemeri v Puruntatemeri could be Waratah’s answer while Sharona Bishop keeps an eye on Bush. The game could go either way, but one thing is certain, this is the game to watch this Saturday.
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS V ST MARYS
Saturday, February 23 2.30pm
TIO Oval 2
This will be an uphill battle for the Saints, with the Districts having crushed the Saints on two separate occasions this season. Charles Deegan and Taylor Thorn have used their size and speed to run St Marys’ defenders off their legs in the past. Lori Niven and Courtney Webb will need a well-organised backline to contain this problem. The ruck area of the game is where the Districts thrive, with the combination of Ebony Miller and Indy Sleeth better than most teams. Their tap work and ability to cover the ground is a class above the rest. Saints rovers, Natasha Dunn-Richards and Simone Garner may need to shark the tap-outs if their rucks aren’t up to the challenge.
Up forward the Saints have a gun and an issue. The gun is Alana Coombes, who looks to be their most damaging forward, while the problem is Districts’ Lateesha Jeffrey. Her leadership down back has created a solid defense for the Crocs and only the fastest forwards can break it down. Unlike some of Coombes’ partners in attacking 50, they lack the speed she has in spades. The Crocs could not be more favoured to win this match, and on paper they seem to have more talent across the board than St Marys. History looks likely to repeat itself this Saturday unless a miracle happens, so the Saints will be hoping for one.
PINT V DARWIN BUFFETTES
Saturday, February 23 4.30pm
TIO Oval 2
The Buffs have no Brittany Ward, no Tikesea Docherty-Cole, no Jasmine Anderson and no Nicky Anderson, meaning Pint has a huge advantage considering they are going into this match with a full strength team. Machaelia Roberts and Kylie Duggan have been dominant in the centre of the ground, however players like Jemma Iacono and young gun Domonique Carbone need to lift if they want to get the job done. Pint’s Cassie Henderson, Samantha Barnett, and Katie Streeder play as a cohesive unit.
Darwin’s forward line power has been missing over the last few weeks as Celina Whan seems to be carrying the load in attacking 50. Leading goal scorer, Meredith Turner has kicked no majors in her last three games, so will need to produce goals against a strong Pint defense which is no easy task. Queen Ant defender, Erin Hetherington can make life difficult for the Buffs’ forward if the midfield entries aren’t clean. Meanwhile, the Queen Ants forwards have been performing well. Danielle Suddaby has become the new spearhead with the support of Emma Greaves who is in fine form. Add to that talent with Kristen Smidts and Ellie Ryan, the Queen Ants wear a decent crown inside their 50.
Pint has the fitness but Darwin has the experience. It is hard to pick a winner here, but it should be a tight contest.