NTFL Women’s Premier League preview: Round 17 – Top of the table clash headlines penultimate route

WARATAH and Darwin are set to go head-to-head in a top of the table clash to round out a big weekend of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League action, with finals spots still to be determined. The round kicks off tonight under lights, with three Saturday fixtures capping off the weekend.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. ST MARY’S
Friday February 7, 7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Palmerston hosts the opening fixture of Round 17 under Friday night lights, set to face off against St Mary’s in a game which could propel the Magpies into the top three. After hitting the ground running again following a bye, the Magpies are well placed to climb even further among the final six having already secured post-season security. The Saints’ fate is also all-but sealed, with a finals berth looking unlikely given they have to win in their last two games and hope both Wanderers and Pint cannot pick up another set of points – whether four or two. But a two-pronged Magpies attack featuring Arthurina Moreen (32 goals) and Freda Puruntatameri (16) is in good form of late, and should cause plenty of headaches for the St Mary’s defence which has conceded the second-most points of the nine remaining sides. Given Palmerston’s current standing and form, they should be able to officially end the Saints’ season here with a big win.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday February 8, 2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Two finals-bound sides lock horns at PSC BM Oval as Nightcliff plays host to Southern Districts in the first of three Saturday fixtures. The Tigers’ four-game winning run was comprehensively brought to an end last time out at the hands of Palmerston, another top six side, but Nighcliff’s form heading into the back end of the year suggests it can still make an impact come finals time. Safe in the top six, Nightcliff can throw caution to the wind in this clash against a more fancied opponent, with the potential to even draw level on points with the Crocs on offer. But Southern Districts will come in fresh off a bye and ready to resume its strong season, with its scoring prowess making it primed to blow any side out of the water. Led by competition leading goalkicker Ebony Miller (47 goals) and Tahlia Holtze, the Crocs should fancy themselves to grab a third-straight win, but will have to be weary of post-bye blues.

WANDERERS vs. TRACY VILLAGE
Saturday February 8, 3:00pm
TIO Oval No. 2

Wanderers will look to go a step closer to securing safety in the top six when it faces cellar dweller, Tracy Village in the first of a TIO Oval double-header. The Eagles have slid slightly of late on the back of three-straight losses, going dangerously close to being overtaken by Pint, which beat them in that streak. But Tracy Village is in the midst of a similar trend, losing in its last four outings and 12 of its last 13 – only managing to topple the now-folded Big River Hawks. The Razorbacks have struggled for goals throughout a lowly campaign, but the Muk Muks have hardly blown sides away with its percentage sitting at just 76. Morgan Johnston and Shekeine De Satge will have to again lead the Eagles with finals security on the line, and some time to turn their form around.

DARWIN BUFFETTES vs. WARATAH
Saturday February 8, 5:00pm
TIO Oval No. 2

A top-of-the-table clash is left til last in Round 19 as Darwin and Waratah do battle on Saturday evening. After suffering just their second loss for the season over a month ago, the Warriors are proving it to be a mere speed-hump with four-consecutive wins following the surprise result. The Buffs also experienced a similar result in the last month – incidentally against the same opponent, Nightcliff – but boast three wins in their last four outings as the clear second-best side in the competition. This fixture will ultimately serve as not much more than a finals preview given Waratah has already wrapped up the minor premiership, but should be a corker given the talent in either squad. Lauren O’Shea, Jenna Singh, and Lisa Roberts have all been influential for the Warriors in finding the big sticks, while Tayla Hart-Aluni has been terrific for the Buffs across 15 games along with Kylie Duggan and Dominique Carbone. That is only a slither of the potential talent on show, with significant bragging rights up for grabs.

Bye: Pint

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