NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 4 – Saints and Buffs headline TIO triple-header

FINALS contenders St Mary’s and Darwin are set to provide the sole top five clash in Round 4 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. The game headlines what will be a big day of action at TIO Stadium as a triple-header awaits.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WARATAH
Saturday October 26, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah will again look to secure its first official win of the season, but it will prove a tough ask against a Southern Districts side finding its groove. While the Warriors soundly beat Darwin on-field last week, they were stripped of the four points and relegated back down to seventh mid-week after fielding a player not included on the team sheet. The now 0-3 start puts plenty of pressure on the 2018/19 preliminary finalists, with those kinds of deficits hard to overcome as other teams rise. Southern Districts has endured a similarly subdued start to the season, only really clicking into gear last week with a big win over the hapless Palmerston Magpies. Feasting on another winless side will be the goal once again, with some ex-AFL experience set to help out. Former Docker and Sun Michael Barlow joins Ed Barlow on the team sheet, likely to provide for South Australian big-man Sam Barnett up forward. Kicking a winning score should not be an issue for the Crocs, with Barnett’s fellow six-goal hero from last week, Jayden Clarke also named. For Waratah, the player in question last week – Brodie Carroll – slots into the starting 18 to remove all doubt, while Abe Ankers is at the heart of midfield and former Coburg VFL forward Steve Stroobants lines up in a dangerous forwardline. It is hard to look past the Crocs after a great showing last time out, but the Warriors were equally impressive and should make it a good contest.

ST MARY’S vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday October 26, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

The sole top five clash of the round sees Darwin looking to maintain its perfect record against the revitalised St Mary’s side. Both sides should sit at 2-1 after both suffering defeats in Round 3, but Darwin’s unbeaten record was reinstated after Waratah was controversially made to forfeit its win due to an incorrect team sheet. Meanwhile, the Saints recovered from a nine-goal quarter time deficit to sneak ahead of Tiwi last week, but were ultimately outgunned in the thrilling rivalry clash. Both sides look like being contenders when their best 22 is on the park, and should provide plenty of highlights in this clash. The long-awaited return of promising Saints youngster Keiren Parnell headlines the inclusions, with recently delisted St Kilda midfielder David Armitage set to debut. He slots into a forwardline led by fellow former-AFL players Raphael Clarke and Jarrad Waite, who have plenty of goals in them. Goals are not usually hard to come by for Darwin but proved just that last week, and the Buffs may struggle for inspiration again with Joe Anderson and Adam Sambono still absent. A midfield anchored by Patrick Boles is still strong though, and Brayden Culhane is one who has already shown his goalkicking exploits with a bag of six. The Buffs may find it hard again here after a hot opening two rounds, especially against such a strong St Mary’s lineup this week.

WANDERERS vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday October 26, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Fifth spot is up for grabs as current holder Wanderers faces sixth-place Tiwi to round out the TIO Stadium triple-header. The Eagles are unlucky not to have two wins on the board after a promising start to the year, instead settling for six points after drawing with Southern Districts. The Bombers find themselves just behind the Muk Muks after opening their account last week in a high-scoring win over traditional rival, St Mary’s. There are big names and excitement machines on each line for Tiwi, with speedy NT Under-16 representative Preyben Tipiloura set to make his highly-anticipated debut. Ex-Cat Nathan Djerrkura looks like slotting back into the side, giving the Bombers’ raft of goalkicking options even more to look forward to in terms of delivery from midfield. For Wanderers, the bookend pairing of Joel and Jordan Jeffrey has been named once again, with the young talents of Ronald Fejo and Tyrell Lui also set to light up TIO Stadium once again. While Wanderers has made inroads early compared to last season’s effort, the Bombers look to be finding that high-scoring rhythm and will be as dangerous as any side when at full strength – as they almost are here.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. PALMERSTON
Sunday October 27, 4:10pm
PSC BM Oval

The winningest does battle with the winless in Sunday’s sole fixture at PSC BM Oval as Nightcliff plays host to Palmerston to see off Round 4. The Tigers have been near-faultless in their premiership defence thus far, recording three relatively comfortable wins to sit pretty in second spot. Amid a complete opposite run of form, Palmerston sits bottom at 0-3, taking it to teams at times over each defeat but hardly looking like prizing a win. This task will be the toughest of the lot, and could spell trouble for the struggling Magpies. Arresting the skid will be made even more difficult with consistent ruckman Matthew Dennis left unnamed, replaced by Broderick Church. Alwyn Davey‘s likely inclusion should steady the lineup, which will be tested by a very strong Tigers outfit. A dynamic spine of Cam Ilett, Joel Budarick and Liam Holt-Fitz forms the base of a fearsome Nightcliff side which has had little trouble scoring of late. It looks like being a one-sided contest on paper, but do not count Palmerston out of making it competitive once again.

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