THE top two-ranked Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League regular season sides won through to the grand final on the weekend, with reigning premier Waratah set to once again do battle with Southern Districts in the decider. Both sides were made to earn their spot in semi finals decided by a combined 14 points, as each challenger proved worthy in the 2019/20 post-season.
WARATAH 4.2 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 5.7 (37)
PINT 0.1 | 2.4 | 2.5 | 4.5 (29)
Waratah: S. Nalder 2, M. Yarran, L. O’Shea, J. Singh.
Pint: J. Baumer 2, R. Fecht , E. Pechey.
Benchmark side, Waratah qualified for an incredible eighth-straight grand final after holding on to beat a pesky Pint outfit by eight points at TIO Stadium. The Warriors managed to pick up the pieces from their qualifying final loss to Southern Districts in the previous week, storming out of the blocks to set up the win and a deserved shot at the premiership cup. Four goals to nil in the opening term ensured the reigning premiers looked ominous against the sixth-ranked Queenants, but to the underdogs’ credit, they were not going to fold that easily. Pint enacted the first momentum shift with a two-goal to nil second quarter to keep touch with the ‘Tahs, before the winners again turned the tide after half-time to extend their advantage. In the last chance saloon, Pint only just fell short of a remarkable turnaround, with its two-goal final term not enough to trim the 19-point three-quarter time margin. All of the key Waratah goalkickers made an impact, with Sue Nalder booting an equal game-high two majors to lead Lauren O’Shea, Madison Yarran, and Calder Cannons listed Jenna Singh on the scoresheet. Pint leading goalkicker Jessie Baumer claimed two of her own to end her season on a positive note, with Rhiannon Fecht and Erin Pechey also getting among the scoring action. Getting so close to the long-time competition champion is no mean feat for Pint, and the Queenants edged closer and closer to the Warriors with each game against them this season – which should put them in good stead for 2020-21. For Waratah, the chance to again go back-to-back-to-back looms, but a well-poised Southern Districts stands in its way for the second time in as many years.
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.0 | 4.1 | 5.2 | 6.4 (40)
DARWIN BUFFETTES 2.0 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 5.4 (34)
Southern Districts: G. Mulvahil 2, E. Miller, B. Clarke, A. Lewis, S. Hoogeveen-Hill.
Darwin: M. Ellis 2, D. Ah Wang 2, K. Duggan.
Southern Districts: B. Clarke, M. Moussa, G. Stiles, E. Miller, G. Mulvahil
Southern Districts earned a chance at redemption for last year’s grand final loss with its six-point semi final win over Darwin in a TIO Stadium thriller. Much like Waratah was made to do in its semi final triumph, the Crocs had to work to withstand a late flurry from their lower-ranked opponent. Earlier, Districts shook off the persistent Buffs after the two sides entered the first break level at two goals apiece, opening up a handy 10-point buffer at the main break. Another even term followed, with the Buffettes at bay but still just within touch of Districts heading into the final quarter. Again, in the same vein as the first semi final, Darwin’s two-goal term could only set them just short of an unlikely comeback but provided great drama for the neutral. Goals from Delsey Ah Wang helped keep the Buffettes within striking distance early, but the Crocs’ depth of scoring options proved overwhelming in the end. Grace Mulvahil was Districts’ sole multiple goal kicker, providing good fold for competition leading goalkicker Ebony Miller, who was held to just one major. Bella Clarke was the other player named among the best to have also found the big sticks, with Darwin’s prime movers unable to have the same impact in front of goal. The win sees Southern Districts get a second crack at Waratah, and the Crocs have already beaten their main rival this finals series so should come in with serious confidence. For Darwin, a promising season fell off toward the end but provided a bunch of highlights from some seriously talented individuals across the field.