2018/19 NTFL Men’s Premier League Grand Final preview

TWO sides remain in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, and we preview tomorrow night’s big clash at TIO Stadium.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, March 16, 7.15pm
TIO Stadium

The final game of the NTFL Men’s Premier League season is finally here, with the top two teams making it through to the decider. Both sides have impressive beltings heading into the match, with Nightcliff destroying Tiwi Bombers by 90 points in the semi-finals, while Southern Districts went five goals better with a 120-point humiliation of the Bombers, reversing the result from a fortnight earlier. During the year, both sides won an encounter against the other, with Southern Districts making it six wins in a row following a 17-point win over Nightcliff in Round 6, while the Tigers had a much more convincing 90-point win over the Crocs in the final round of the regular season. It means the Tigers head into the clash with back-to-back 15-goal victories. They have not lost since January, and that was a one-point defeat at the hands of the Bombers. Nightcliff is the strong favourite in this game, with the Crocs needing to repeat their unbelievable game from the weekend to topple the minor premiers.

Jesse Koopman booted six goals in the preliminary final, but has managed just the three goals in two games against the Tigers. Instead, Michael Mummery has averaged three goals per game in the teams’ two encounters, and was in red-hot form on the weekend with five majors as well. Will Farrer can always cause headaches as he did last weekend, but has just the two majors in the two games against the Tigers. For Nightcliff, Brodie Filo snagging five goals in his two games against the Crocs, while Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz have four from their two head-to-heads. Filo and Simon Deery were named in the best on both occasions for the Tigers, while Crocs’ Clinton Gallio and Mummery have been the ones to cause issues for Nightcliff. The Tigers’ attack has been a talking point in season 2019, with Melville slotting 56 goals from his 19 games, ahead of Holt-Fitz (28), Cameron Ilett (24) and Matthew Bricknell (24).

With both sides boasting impressive attacks, the game will come down to a battle of the midfields, where the side that gets on top will likely be crowned premiers. It is difficult to see Nightcliff stumbling given the Tigers’ recent form, but having not played last weekend, a fast start for the Crocs could be the difference if they can contain Nightcliff for long enough. Once the Tigers get on a roll, it will be hard to stem the flow, but more than anything, spectators will see two terrific attacking sides going head-to-head once again. This time though, there is no turning back and only one winner.

2019 Meetings:

ROUND 18: NIGHTCLIFF 21.13 (139) defeated SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 7.7 (49)

GOALS:
Nightcliff: B. Filo 4, J. Butcher 3, T. Melville 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 3, B. Black, R. Morris, S. Wilson, P. Wills, H. Drogemuller.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer, C. McAdam, J. Koopman.

BEST:
Nightcliff: B. Filo, H. Drogemuller, B. Black, R. Morris, P. Wills, S. Deery
Southern Districts: N/A

Nightcliff put a strong statement on its minor premiership, clinching the honour in a top-of-the-table drubbing to earn a week off on top of its double chance. The Tigers blew their nearest rivals away in a 90-point victory, including 12 goals to one in the second half to consolidate the ladder position they have held since Round 13. Ten Tigers managed to claim goals, with four of them bagging three majors and Brodie Filo leading the way with a game-high four to be named best afield. Competition leading goal kicker Trent Melville (three goals) brought his tally to 55, but missed out on being named in the best to the likes of 2019 best and fairest Phillip Wills and runner-up, Simon Deery. On a down day for the Crocs, Michael Mummery (four goals) booted almost half of his side’s total score, while Jesse Koopman and Charlie McAdam were also dangerous without much opportunity. While Nightcliff earned a well-deserved rest, the Crocs host a red-hot Tiwi side with just as much of a scoring threat as their weekend opponents. With its title defence taking a small dent, expect Southern Districts to come out firing in the business end of the competition.

ROUND 6: SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.10 (64) defeated NIGHTCLIFF 7.5 (47)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, W. Farrer, L. Ogden, C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton,
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell, B. Filo, T. Melville, S. Wilson, L. Holt-Fitz, D. Butcher, F. James.

BEST:
Southern Districts: C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton, C. McAdam, S. Smith, S. Martin
Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, C. Holmes, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, B. Filo, S. Deery

Southern Districts maintained their perfect record in season 2019 with a strong win over fellow premiership contenders, Nightcliff in the game of the round. Coming off a rousing win over third-placed Darwin, the Tigers were hoping to claim another win over their close table rivals but the Crocs proved too good once again. Having conceded a first break lead, Southern Districts responded well from there, on, chipping away against constant Nightcliff challenges. The margin got out to 17 points in the end, one of the biggest of the game to see it out.

Draft hopeful Michael Mummery was one of two multiple goalkickers on the day alongside Jesse Koopman with two majors each. Clinton Gallio was named best afield in front of the ever-consistent Shane Thorne and Dean Staunton for the Crocs, with all three also finding the goals. Charles McAdam was another to impress, while youngster Liam Holt-Fitz was the best for Nightcliff alongside the likes of Clayton Holmes, Shaun Wilson and Brodie Filo, while goal-machine Trent Melville was down on his usual best but still managed a goal.

The win pits the Crocs two games clear atop the NTFL table, while Nightcliff are their closest challengers, equal second with four wins alongside Darwin.

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