THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season bounced down on Friday night, signalling the start of what is set to be a interesting period in Top-End football. Reigning premier, Nightcliff again got the better of St Mary’s in the much-anticipated Grand Final rematch, while Waratah stormed out of the blocks with a terrific season-opening win over Palmerston under lights at Gardens Oval. All that, and more in our Round 1 wrap.
WARATAH 2.2 | 9.5 | 14.8 | 19.10 (124)
PALMERSTON 1.1 | 4.1 | 4.3 | 8.7 (55)
Waratah: J. McGrath 4, T. Fields 4, K. Kantilla 3, B. Carroll 2, S. Godden, N. Gooch, J. Carmichael, A. Ankers, C. Searle, J. Sutton
Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 4, M. Sutton, C. Williams, D. Stafford, A. McAdam
Waratah: T. Fields, K. Kantilla, S. Godden, B. Orval, N. Stevens
Palmerston: C. Williams, E. Guthrie, L. Flanagan, M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. McMasters
Under new Friday night lights at Gardens Oval, Waratah opened its season on the perfect note with a 69-point win over Palmerston. The game was held as tribute to former Warrior, Alex Aurrichio, who sadly passed away in June this year. Tom Fields, who had been with the big American throughout his footballing journey, honoured his good mate with four goals for the winners in a best-afield display.
The Magpies, last season’s wooden spooners simply failed to match Waratah’s firepower, as the Warriors took hold of the game with 12 goals to three across the second and third terms. Fields, along with a number of key recruits played their part for either side. Port Melbourne gun Callum Searle was terrific across half-back for Tahs, while former Buffalo Chris Williams made a promising start to life in black and white despite the loss. Second-year Warrior Jae McGrath was dangerous up forward with four majors, aided by Kim Kantilla (three goals) and Brodie Carroll‘s two majors from midfield.
Mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis was typically solid for Palmerston, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr showed off his dynamism with high flies and a long-range effort among his four goals. Much was made of the Magpies’ off-season, but it seems as though the team will require a settling-in period to properly gel before making a tilt for finals.
TIWI BOMBERS 5.3 | 8.7 | 13.10 | 14.10 (94)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 8.4 | 18.7 | 24.14 (158)
Tiwi: N. Scagliarini 5, J. Tipiloura 3, A. Byrne 2, H. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, R. Farmer, P. Kantilla
Darwin: B. Foster 6, I. Palmer 4, J. Collinson 3, C. Abala 3, M. Campbell 2, J. Stokes 2, L. McKenzie 2, B. Stokes, M. Coombes
Tiwi: N. Scagliarini, J. Tipiloura, A. Byrne, R. Farmer, P Heenan
Darwin: B. Foster, M. Coombes, I. Palmer, D. Gordon, C Atkinson
Darwin defied the impact of an off-season exodus to take out a high-scoring affair against the Tiwi Bombers on Saturday, thumping their rivals to the tune of 64 points at Gardens Oval. Big bags of goals from Darwin’s Brodie Foster (six) and Tiwi’s Nathan Scagliarini (five) headlined the best performances, as fans were treated to a feast of 38 majors. After conceding a three-point deficit at half time, the Double Blues went on a rampage with 16 goals in the second half to come away comfortable winners in the end.
Young forward Ishmael Palmer (four goals) was also among the Buffs to join in on the goalkicking act, with Joseph Collinson booting three, and former Tiwi player Cade Abala matching the feat. Experienced heads in Matt Campbell and Jarrod Stokes added two majors apiece to help new coach Cameron Stokes to a debut victory, while a fresh face in Dylan Gordon was also among Darwin’s best.
While VFL coup Scagliarini was clearly Tiwi’s best for his performance rotating through midfield, a bunch of fellow goalkickers also featured prominently. John Tipiloura snared three majors, while Geelong-based key forward Angus Byrne managed two in a promising start to his NTFL career. Mainstays Paddy Heenan and Roy Farmer also found the big sticks while being named among the Bombers’ best, but there is plenty of room for improvement for this week’s losers.
WANDERERS 2.3 | 2.7 | 4.8 | 6.11 (47)
S. DISTRICTS 1.1 | 3.4 | 5.4 | 6.7 (43)
Wanderers: B. Culhane 2, S. Thorne 2, S. Bates, B. Eddy
S. Districts: B. Rolfe 3, A. Boseley, D. Staunton, C. McAdam
Wanderers: B. McLean, J. Cubillo, B. Eddy, S. Mannagh, B. Newman
S. Districts: L. Ogden, B. Rolfe, D. Staunton, L. Kiel, P. Gallow, Z. Smith
It was not always pretty, but Wanderers secured a hard-earned win over Southern Districts in a low-scoring thriller decided by just four points. The Eagles were led brilliantly by skipper Braedon McLean, who was assured in defence as the likes of Shane Thorne and Brayden Culhane (both two goals) provided a spark up the other end. Having trailed at half time and the final break, the Muk Muks had it all to do in the fourth term, but overtook the Crocs with two goals to one.
The fixture also served as Joel Cubillo‘s 100th game, which turned out to be a great success. As was a theme in the opening round, Victorian recruits impressed in this clash, with VFL jet Shaun Mannagh and Calder Cannons product Brodie Newman both starring for the Eagles. Former Port Adelaide forward Brett Eddy also started his season well with a goal, and a spot among Wanderers’ best.
New Crocs captain Dean Staunton was among his side’s best contributors, but it was Lionel Ogden who stole the show as Districts’ top player for the day. Billy Rolfe also booted three goals on his club debut as the Crocs’ sole multiple goalkicker. New coach Matt Cannard could not quite push his team over the line for the win, but should have some good talent rotate through the side this season, even without Josiah Farrer.
NIGHTCLIFF 4.7 | 7.9 | 10.11 | 14.13 (97)
ST MARY’S 1.1 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 6.9 (45)
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 2, K. Emery 2, J. Butcher 2, P. Lewis-Smith, B. Filo
St Mary’s: B. Grenfell 2, N. Paredes, D. Walters, T. Gilbert, S. Edwards
Nightcliff: N. Brown, D. Brew, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Boyd, C. Ilett
St Mary’s: J. Paine, B. Grenfell, L. Jellyman-Turner, L. Taylor, S. Edwards, N. Paredes
Reigning premier, Nightcliff sent a message to its competitors with an impressive 42-point win over St Mary’s in what was a rematch of the 2019/20 Grand Final. The Tigers were near their clinical best and simply boasted too much firepower for the Saints to handle. Their class took full toll in the final term, with a four-goal to nil period sealing the result in style.
After another busy off-season, it seems the Tigers are going to be difficult to knock off their mantle as the competition’s top contender. While the likes of Matthew Bricknell and Liam Holt-Fitz went to work up forward with three goals apiece, Nathan Brown was solid as ever down back to claim best afield honours. Veteran Cam Ilett was again prominent, while recent additions Tom Boyd and Dom Brew also featured among Nightcliff’s best half-dozen. Former Palmerston forward Kyle Emery also managed a pair of goals upon his return to the den.
For St Mary’s, former Brisbane forward Jackson Paine was named best afield ahead of newcomers Brandon Grenfell and Lucas Jellyman-Turner, the latter of whom booted two majors. Usual suspects Shaun Edwards and Nate Paredes were also on form, but could not quite do enough to keep the Saints within touch for four quarters.
Featured Image: Darwin’s Joseph Collinson gets a kick away | Credit: Glenn Campbell/NT News