Author: Michael Alvaro

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 14

A HOTLY contested round of action in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) saw emerging finals contenders, Tiwi Bombers topple a premiership fancy, while Wanderers took a step closer to climbing off the bottom of the ladder, Darwin continued its winning ways, and Nightcliff broke out as clear front-runners with the most convincing win of the weekend.

Southern Districts 8.9 (57)
Tiwi Bombers 12.7 (79)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 3, J. Koopman 2, S. Guilhaus, B. Schwarze, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 5, A. Wonaeamirri 3, A. Tipungwuti 2, H. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, S. Martin, B. Schwarze, D. McLachlan, M. Rosier, S. Rusca
Tiwi: A. Hams, R. Tungatalum, N. Djerrkura, M. Dunn, A. Tipungwuti, W. Puruntatameri

Tiwi Bombers continued its impressive turn of form, overcoming a half-time deficit to hand reigning premiers, Southern Districts its second consecutive loss. The Bombers matched their opponents blow-for-blow in the opener to create a deadlock that was broken by just eight points in the Crocs’ favour going into the main break. But the forward firepower of Ross Tungatalum (14 goals in three games) and Austin Wonaeamirri (seven in two) proved too deadly for the second placed Crocs, being kept to just two second-half goals while conceding seven to go down by 22 points. The elite-level experience of Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura was vital for the winning side, with usual suspects Adam Tipungwuti and Michael Dunn also contributing well to the cause. While they could not quite match the feats of their counterparts, Southern Districts goalsneaks Michael Mummery (three goals) and Jess Koopman (two) played their respective roles, with youngster Beau Schwarze named amongst the best for his fifth-straight outing and Seb Guilhaus also impressing. The win propels Tiwi into fourth place on percentage, equal with Waratah and Palmerston in the race for a finals spot. Meanwhile, the Crocs remain in second despite consecutive losses – two games adrift from leaders, Nightcliff and third-place side, Darwin.

 

Wanderers 9.12 (66)
St Marys 8.9 (57)

GOALS:
Wanderers: T. Motlop 5, B. O’Connell, M. Motlop, L. Patrick, A. Motlop.
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, F. Kinthari 2, R. Clarke 2, B. Rioli.

BEST:
Wanderers: N/A
St Marys: N. Paredes, N. Yarran, S. Edwards, B. Taylor, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

A starring five-goal performance from Thomas Motlop was enough to drag Wanderers over the line in its bottom of the table clash with St Marys in the first game of Saturday’s TIO Stadium double-header. A goalless opening term did not deter the Muk Muks, with Motlop putting them on the board in the second stanza after trailing by an even four goals. With a ten-point half-time margin cut to eight going into the last break, the Eagles had a whiff of momentum and managed to take full advantage, with five goals to two edging them past St Marys in a see-sawing final quarter. The speed and silky ball movement of 2006 AFL Rising Star, Danyle Pearce was crucial for Wanderers in the latter stages, providing chances to the likes of Marlon Motlop, Liam Patrick, and Aaron Motlop – who all contributed to the scoreboard. Nathaniel Paredes was best afield once again for the losing side, booting three goals as the clear standout, alongside Raphael Clarke (two goals), who drifted further forward. Francis Kinthari was the only other multiple goal kicker, with Nick Yarran and Shaun Edwards named in the best six players for the Saints. The win sees Wanderers move level on points with its weekend opponents on four wins, remaining bottom by a sizeable percentage gap and two games away from sixth place.

 

Waratah 5.10 (40)
Nightcliff 13.18 (96)

GOALS:
Waratah: S. Godden 2, H. Kerinaiua, K. Kantilla, E. McConnell.
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 3, T. Melville 3, H. Drogemuller 2, S. Deery, S. Wilson, P. Wills, D. Bowles, L. Holt-Fitz.

BEST:
Waratah: J. Stevens, Z. Westerberg, B. Carroll, E. McConnell
Nightcliff: S. Deery, P. Wills, L. Holt-Fitz, R. Morris, T. Kidney, D. Bowles

Nightcliff is now one step closer to earning an automatic semi-final berth, sitting two games clear atop the ladder after comfortably accounting for Waratah to close out Saturday’s proceedings. The Tigers did not look back after opening up a three-goal buffer in the first term, slowly extending their lead as the battle wore on to come out with the eventual 56-point victory. The final margin could well have been blown out further, with the winners misfiring for 2.9 while keeping Waratah to a sole point in the fourth quarter. Matthew Bricknell snapped his run of two goalless games with a bag of three to match the feat of Tigers spearhead Trent Melville – whose season tally is up to 46. Despite the goal feats, Simon Deery was named Nightcliff’s best, Phillip Wills and Liam Holt-Fitz, who all managed to also find the goals. For the Warriors, Sam Godden was the only multiple goal kicker with two as Joel Stevens was judged their best, while Zach Westerberg and Kim Kantilla also stood up in the losing effort. While Nightcliff are sitting pretty after another win, Waratah slips out of the top four for the first time since Round 1 after loss number eight, in the middle of three clubs on 24 points vying for the last two finals spots.

 

Palmerston Magpies 9.7 (61)
Darwin Buffaloes 11.8 (74)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, M. Perry 2, J. Wunungmurra, A. Lonergan, A. Davey, E. Frank
Darwin: L. Thomas 5, A. Sambono 3, J. Clarke, D. Johnston, J. Stokes

BEST:
Palmerston: M. Dennis, S. Miller, S. Talbot, M. Bunworth, J. Rhodes, M. Perry
Darwin: L. Thomas, K. Maroney, J. Stokes, P. Boles, K. Williams, P. Campbell

An equal round-high bag of five goals from ex-AFL goalsneak Lindsay Thomas helped guide Darwin Buffaloes to a narrow win over the rising Palmerston Magpies side. Despite conceding an early lead, the Buffaloes edged in front and stayed there for the remainder of the game, with a five-goal second term setting up the 13-point victory. Excitement machine Adam Sambono backed up his four-goal effort in the previous round with another three to join Thomas as the key goal threats. Kyle Emery (10 goals in three games) was the Magpies’ best answer to that with his three, while Mishai Perry (two) rounded out the multiple goal kickers. While Thomas was clearly best-on, Kevin Maroney was again recognised for his efforts alongside Jarrod Stokes and Kelvin Williams. Matthew Dennis was unsurprisingly the Magpies’ best once again, with Samuel Talbot and Mitch Bunworth also thereabouts. Palmerston finds itself breathing down the neck of Tiwi and Waratah in the race for the last finals spot, with all sides on 24 points. On the other hand, the Buffaloes now look certain to claim a second finals chance after regaining their early season form and opening a two-game gap to fourth place.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 13

WITH all sides settled back in for the new year, 2019’s second round of action could see potential movement towards the bottom end of the ladder, while the game of the round pits the first and third sides against each other, which promises to be an epic tiebreaker. 

 

WANDERERS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will hope to skip on to another winning run after storming back into finals contention when it clashes with bottom side, Wanderers to open the round. The Bombers find themselves just a game out of the top five after pummelling fifth place Palmerston to ring in the new year. With most of its big guns firing, Tiwi will look to the likes of Adam Tipungwuti and Ross Tungatalum to pile the hurt unto the Eagles, having combined for nine goals in Round 12. It may only take one gun to fire for the Bombers, with Wanderers continuing to struggle in front of goal. A nine-goal loss at the hands of ladder-leaders, Southern Districts and no multiple goalkickers does not make for pretty reading for Muk Muk fans, but the recent impact of Stanley Tipiloura and Liam Patrick has been promising with stars Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop absent. It will be a tough ask for Wanderers to halt a rolling Bombers side, especially with a finals spot looming, but they will count themselves in with a good chance.  

 

ST MARYS v NIGHTCLIFF
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 5pm
TIO Stadium

St Marys will be looking to keep touch with the top five and push away from the cellar door when it faces Nightcliff in Saturday’s evening fixture. The task will not come without challenge though, as a surging Nightcliff side’s eyes fixed firmly on snatching top spot as the regular season nears its close. The Saints’ finals aspirations were handed a blow last week as they suffered a loss to more efficient finals contenders, Waratah, but they are still well and truly in the hunt with only four points keeping them from a finals berth. The Tigers’ hunt has been much more streamline, currently sharing top spot having only been beaten twice thus far, with imperious powers up front in the form of Trent Melville, John Butcher and Michael Hagan putting unreachable totals on the board, while the engine room including Liam Holt-Fitz and Cam Ilett keeps their supply steady. All of Raphael Clarke‘s experience down back will be needed to thwart those threats for the Saints, while Nathaniel Paredes will have to be the main source of supply to goal threats Ben and Brayden Rioli if they are to stand any chance. Still, it could be an opportunity for the Tigers to get their claws out and gain a much-needed percentage boost. 

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Having finally bettered its rival before the break, Darwin Buffaloes will be keen on getting another leg up on Southern Districts when they do battle in Saturday’s final game. The Buffaloes’ head of steam was blown to the side last week as Nightcliff bettered them, but their form is undeniable and they should come into this game with confidence. Young star Malcolm Rosas continues to shine, with NT legend Darryl White proving a more-than-capable inclusion of late up forward. Gun midfielder Adam Sambono will look to hit the scoreboard after a more quiet display last week, helping leader Matt Campbell to put some pressure on the free-scoring ladder leaders. The Crocs were relatively unchallenged by bottom side, Wanderers last week, but did more than enough to seal the win. Consistent performers Dean Staunton and Richard Tambling will again have to lead the way, with Beau Schwarze and Michael Mummery the key exponents of x-factor. This looms as an absolute belter, and could well play out as a shoot-out as the sides come in 1-1 in the head-to-head battle this season. Do not miss. 

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. WARATAH
Round 13 – Sunday January 13, 4pm
Asbuild Oval

A chance to both prove its worth as finals contenders and consolidate a spot in the top five looms for Palmerston Magpies as it faces finals bound Waratah to see out the round. While the Magpies went down to a sharpshooting Tiwi side, the Warriors put in a shift as they have done all year as they beat St Marys to pick up another vital set of four points. With the chance to go equal-fourth, Palmerston gun Matthew Dennis will have to be the number one once again, with the goal threat of Alwyn Davey and Kyle Emery working a charm up forward recently. Waratah has been more even across the board this year, with Kim Kantilla a constant in front of goal alongside Samuel Weddell, while Abraham Ankers and Nicholas Gooch provide solidity up the field. With big finals implications on the line either way, the stars of the show will have to stand up, and it may well be that the ones who shine brightest will help their side over the line. 

 

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 11

THE last round of action before a three-week break produced a raft of upsets, setting up a clear top five and now poising two sides equal at the top of the ladder.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 9.13 (67)
WANDERERS 14.15 (99)

GOALS:
Tiwi
: J. Munkara 4, T. Tambling 2, M. Cooper, H. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, S. Tipiloura 4, J. Tipiloura 2, S. Meyer, S. Bates, D. Weetra, W. Walters.

BEST:
Tiwi: 
A. Hams, J. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, B. Palipuaminni, J. Munkara, S. Babui
Wanderers: T. Motlop, W. Yunupingu, S. Tipiloura, C. Niki, J. Jeffrey

Wanderers claimed a minor upset to kick the round off, overcoming a half-time deficit to better a falling Tiwi Bombers side. Wayward kicking meant the Eagles did not quite take advantage of a strong start, posting 1.6 while keeping Tiwi goalless. The Bombers looked like making their opponents pay in the second term after snatching a one-goal buffer, but Wanderers promptly hit back after the main break with ten goals to four seeing the Muk Muks cruise to a 32-point victory. Exciting youngster Joel Jeffrey again showed his potential to boot an equal game-high four goals, matched by Stanley Tipiloura. John Tipiloura was also amongst the goals with two, but it was Thomas Motlop who was named best for the winning Eagles. Ex-West Coast players Ashton Hams and Tom Swift lined up for the Bombers and while the former was judged their best, the pair’s AFL experience was not enough to help overcome Wanderers. Jack Munkara snared four goals to be named in the best alongside regulars Dion Munkara and Jason Puruntatameri, but the likes of Jeffrey Simon and Austin Wonaeamirri were unable to provide their usual spark to help the Bombers’ cause. While The Eagles remain bottom, they draw level on points with their weekend opponents, finding some much-needed confidence heading into the new year.  

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.8 (74)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 8.10 (58)

GOALS:
Darwin:
 D. White 3, C. Williams 2, C. Atkinson, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, A. Sambono, D. Paull, J. Stokes.
Southern Districts: L. Dale 2, D. McLachlan, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, C. McAdam, M. Mummery.

BEST:
Darwin:
 K. Maroney, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson, M. Corrie
Southern Districts: L. Dale, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, L. McGregor, B. Schwarze, R. Tambling

A sensational final quarter fightback saw Darwin Buffaloes snatch victory from ladder leaders Southern Districts to go clear in third place. After giving up a three-goal lead at the first break, the Buffaloes trailed for almost the entire match and by 13 points at the final turn. Turning it on when it mattered, Darwin conjured six goals to one to see out the game and claim an unlikely win after being down on form in recent weeks. NT legend Darryl White was the main source of goals with three, with Chris Williams (two) the only other Buffalo to bag multiple goals. Kevin Maroney was named best alongside the reliable Ryan O’Sullivan and Shaun Ahmat, with the Darwin side undoubtedly buoyed by winning despite quieter games from usual stars Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas. Meanwhile, Lee Dale was the only Croc to score multiple goals – enough to earn best-afield honours for the ladder leaders. White’s ex-teammate Jared Brennan was also thereabouts for Southern Districts, alongside the likes of Richard Tambling and Beau Schwarze. The loss hardly puts a dent in the Crocs’ ladder position, but sees them now share top spot, while Darwin consolidates its finals spot – climbing to outright third and finding some form as the season hots up.

 

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.9 (81)
ST MARYS 6.8 (44)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
 M. Bricknell 4, B. Grewar 2, S. Wilson 2, T. Melville 2, H. Williams, P. Wills.
St Marys: J. Musgrove 2, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, M. Liddy, J. Long.

BEST:
Nightcliff:
 P. Wills, B. Grewar, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, M. Bricknell, S. Deery
St Marys: N. Paredes, B. Taylor, B. Rioli, K. Delahunty, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

Nightcliff did enough to join Southern Districts in equal first with a comfortable win over St Marys, making them the only favourites to come out of the round with a win. Leading from the first bounce, the Tigers kept St Marys to just three goals after the first break, while putting enough of a total next to their own name throughout four consistent quarters. Matthew Bricknell kicked his second bag of four goals for the year to lead the way, followed by Trent Melville, Shaun Wilson, and Blake Grewar with two each. The latter two joined Phil Wills in the best, marking a solid attacking effort for the in-form Tigers. Nathaniel Paredes was again named best for the Saints, with Ben Taylor, Ben Rioli and Kieran Delahunty unsurprisingly not far behind. Stalwart Raphael Clarke had his hands full down back, but was also recognised for his efforts. The win sees Nightcliff join the Crocs on top of the ladder, behind by only percentage as the form team of the competition. Meanwhile, the Saints drop out of the top five but hold a good enough percentage to see them jump back in with a win after the break.

 

WARATAH 13.10 (88)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.5 (89)

GOALS:
Waratah:
 M. Newton 7, M. Blake 2, R. Jolliffe, S. Tatupu, T. Toma, K. Kantilla
Palmerston: M. Perry 4, A. Davey 2, S. Brock, B. Church, E. Frank, M. Dennis, R. Warfe, J. Grabowski, J. Patrick, A. Davey

BEST:
Waratah:
 M. Newton, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma, J. McCarthy, N. Gooch
Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Lampton

A starring seven-goal effort from ex-Dee Michael Newton wasn’t enough to drag Waratah over the line against Palmerston Magpies, going down by the narrowest of margins in a thriller to see out proceedings in 2018. The Magpies looked to have set up a comfortable position with an eight-point half time lead, but were stunned by an eight-goal third term from the Warriors, before finding seven goals of their own in the last quarter to claim a remarkable win at the death. With Newton booting over half of their goals, Matthew Blake (two) was the only other multiple goal kicker for the Warriors, while Tom Toma also found the goals to be named in the best alongside Zach Westerberg a the losing effort. Ezekiel Frank was Palmerston’s best, with Bundoora products Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis also important in the win, while Mishai Perry (four goals) and Aaron Davey (two) provided the scoring threat. Palmerston jumps into the finals spots on the back of its big win, level on points with its weekend opponents to sit a game outside of third. 

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 11

IN the last round before a break over the new year, sides will be looking to snatch ascendancy from close opposition. Battles for first place, finals berths and escaping the wooden spoon are all hotting right up, making each game an eight-pointer for the respective teams.

 

TIWI BOMBERS v. WANDERERS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Tiwi Bombers and Wanderers will be looking to bounce back from consecutive losses when they clash to open the round via a TIO Stadium triple-header. After boosting their stocks with two-straight wins in Rounds 6-8, the Bombers have been bettered by the top two sides more recently, going down to a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. Meanwhile, the Eagles went down to St Marys to remain bottom, with only their weekend opponents at a reachable distance to leapfrog should they earn a sizeable win here. While they have struggled in front of goal all year to post the worst points tally thus far, the Muk Muks are not always as absent down back and will need to hold up strongly again this week. The likes of Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop have done the business in previous rounds, and should find the goals again here. Tiwi’s own firepower of Dion Munkara and Ross Tungatalum have been close to kicking bags in recent rounds without completely taking over, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri providing great consistency as they look to pick their season back up. Despite sitting a game from bottom, Tiwi are arguably the form side from fifth to eighth, and will be confident in climbing out of a rut with a win. For Wanderers, this is a great opportunity to find some form against a side with a similar form line, with the greater hope of climbing out of the cellar door on offer.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The build-up to the last time Darwin Buffaloes and Southern Districts met was much different, with the hype around a grand final rematch all the way back in Round 1 poising the two clear-best sides against each other. While the Crocs remain kings of their swamp, Darwin has suffered a massive slide through the mid-part of the season – earning just two wins in its last six outings. After finally going down in Round 7, Southern Districts has come back with a point to prove and looks to be back to its menacing best. Last time out, a bag of five goals from Jess Koopman helped the Crocs to a comfortable victory over Tiwi, hands from Leroy Jetta (seven goals in three games) and Shane Thorne (15 in eight) proving vital in their mini revival. Another important cog was the two-game contribution of ex-AFL highlight reel Jared Brennan, whose absence leaves a hole in Districts’ defence that Darwin will look to exploit. The Buffaloes sorely missed their own firepower last week, with the likes of Matthew Campbell, Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas all missing. If they are to have any chance here against a powerful Crocs’ 22, Darwin will need all the experience and class they can manage, with the risk of sliding out of the top four becoming greater with each loss.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. ST MARYS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A scarily good Nightcliff side will be hoping to stay in touch with Southern Districts, while also keeping St Marys out of the top four when they clash to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. In last week’s featured game, an even spread of goals saw the Tigers comfortably account for fourth-place Waratah in a dominant 113-point victory. St Marys also entered the winners list as it got up over Wanderers in another decent team display, keeping the Saints just a game from third and right in the finals mix. Nathaniel Paredes continues to be the Saints’ best, booting three goals while Raphael Clarke swung forward effectively to claim two on his return to the side. The x-factor of Maurice Rioli jnr and Shane Yarran could also provide headaches for Nightcliff here, but its the Tigers forward line that look most likely of dictating the result. Leading goalkicker Trent Melville will look to build on his tally of 38, with help from Cam Ilett (seven goals in last two games), Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell (both 15 goals) making for a seriously dangerous goal threat. Nightcliff really needs to maintain its winning run if it is to catch the Crocs, but the Saints can put a dampener on their opponents’ hopes with a win, while having the opportunity to break away as clear fifth if results go their way.

 

WARATAH v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 11 – Sunday December 16, 4pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat last time around when it faces Palmerston Magpies to see out Round 11 on Sunday. Having met a Nightcliff side on an absolute mission, the Warriors where simply overwhelmed by the Tigers’ power, and Palmerston will hope to swoop on the weaknesses shown in that display. The Magpies managed an upset win over another down-on-form finals contender in Darwin last weekend, so will hope for a repeat of that effort to finish both the round and 2018 action with a statement. Having only registered four goals in its last effort, Waratah will need to build heavily on that if it is to have a return win, and could do so with Palmerston holding the second-worst defensive record this season. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla have been the go-to’s of late for the Warriors, but they’ll have to match the efforts of Magpies spearhead Kyle Emery – who has 21 goals to his name this year. Ian Milera’s recent addition has provided another forward dimension for Palmerston, with Nigel Lockyer jnr running the engine room alongside ruckman Matthew Dennis. Waratah will have to show a massive turn of form to get up here, but have the capable talent at hand to remain entrenched in the established top four and keep the likes of Palmerston at bay. While they don’t quite have the percentage to jump higher, the Magpies could well jump into a finals spot with a win here.

 

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 10

WITH a mid-season break on the horizon, sides continued to tussle for spots and momentum as two top-four contenders suffered defeats and fifth spot remains up for grabs.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.10 (76)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 19.12 (126)

GOALS:
Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti 2, P. Heenan 2, D. Munkara 2, W. Huddleston, R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, J. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 5, L. Jetta 3, S. Smith 2, D. Staunton 2, H. Wheeler, C. McAdam, W. Farrer, L. Dale, B. Rusca, J. Farrer, S. Thorne.

BEST:
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, B. Palipuaminni, J. Cooper, C. Tipuamantimirri
Southern Districts: D. Staunton, L. Dale, B. Schwarze, J. Koopman, W. Farrer, C. McAdam

Southern Districts retained its strong position at the top of the NTFL ladder with a comfortable win over a Tiwi side finding form at an unfortunate time. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing, the Crocs flexed their muscle in the third term with seven goals to two to stretch their 34-point hal- time lead out to 64 points going into the final break. While the Bombers managed to see out the game with five goals, the margin was far to big to bridge and Tiwi went down by an even 50 points. Jess Koopman was the star with five goals, while Leroy Jetta chimed in with three and the multiple goalkickers were rounded out by Sam Smith and Dean Staunton‘s hauls of two each. The latter was also named best afield, with Charlie McAdam and Lee Dale also chiming in for the winning side. Jason Puruntatameri was again the standout for the Bombers, while Dion Munkara hit the scoreboard with two majors and was matched by Adam Tipungwuti and Patrick Heenan. While he didn’t manage a bag, Ross Tungatalum was also lively alongside the likes of Liam Woodcock-Nowlan and Bradley Palipuaminni. Having claimed consecutive wins and clawed free of the wooden spoon spot, Tiwi has now suffered losses to the top two sides in its last two outings to be set back in the pack. Meanwhile, the Crocs keep their spot at the top and again look hard to beat.

 

ST MARYS 14.11 (95)
WANDERERS 6.11 (47)

GOALS:
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, R. Clarke 2, M. Jeffery 2, S. Rioli 2, N. Yarran, T. Saunders, F. Kinthari, M. Ferguson, J. Harvey
Wanderers: N/A

BEST:
St Marys: B. Taylor, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, J. Harvey, S. Rioli, T. Saunders
Wanderers: N/A

St Marys returned to the winners list with a timely victory over bottom side, Wanderers to remain frontrunners to fill the last finals spot. The Saints put in a consistent team shift to never really look challenged, opening up a four-goal lead at the main break and more than doubling their score in the third term to all but put the game to bed entering the final change of ends. A dour last quarter saw only one goal scored apiece, but Saints players would not have been too unhappy given the position they have now earned. Nathaniel Paredes was outstanding once again for St Marys with three majors, only beaten to best-on honours by Ben Taylor. The ever-reliable Ben Rioli was also thereabouts despite not hitting the scoreboard, with Raphael Clarke successfully swinging forward for two goals and Shannon Rioli matching the feat. With the likes of Davin Ferreira, Tom and Aaron Motlop shouldering much of the load, the Eagles simply could not match it from the get-go. The loss leaves the Muk Muks bottom of the ladder, still only a game and percentage away climbing out of the league’s cellar. Meanwhile, the Saints look to be the best of the rest in terms of the finals race as they hold onto fifth, but don’t quite have the percentage to jump into the top four with a win next week on account of their percentage.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.8 (80)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.16 (100)

GOALS:
Darwin: N/A.
Palmerston: M. Perry 3, I. Milera 3, K. Emery 2, J. Marshall , J. Grabowski, B. Church, R. Marika, J. Patrick, M. Bunworth.

BEST:
Darwin: N/A
Palmerston: J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, A. Diamond, M. Bunworth, N. Lockyer Jnr, E. Kelly

Palmerston continues to press for a finals berth after claiming a deceptively dominant win over top-four contender Darwin Buffaloes to see out Saturday’s triple-header. After storming out of the blocks with seven first-quarter goals, Palmerston were reigned right back as Darwin bridged the gap to just three points at the main break. The wasteful Magpies were not made to pay in the second half as their 5.9 and astute defence were enough to see off the Buffaloes by just 20 points – despite having 10 more scoring shots. Ian Milera bettered his Round 9 tally of two goals with three this time out, joined by Mishai Perry (three goals) and Kyle Emery (two) as multiple goalkickers. Despite their goals, they were each beaten out to best-on honours by Bundoora Bulls duo Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis, with the former’s first game in the league reigniting a deadly Northern Football League partnership in the centre square. The consistent Nigel Lockyer Jnr also found his typical spot in the best, with Mitch Bunworth continuing his good form, too. The Buffaloes’ slide continues, and it was more so down to the stars missing rather than who was left on the field. The likes of Matthew Campbell, Adam Sambono and Joe Anderson were all sorely missed, despite Darwin looking efficient in front of goal. They remain clear in the top four, but have lost touch with the top two sides and could even fall out of the finals spots with consecutive losses going into the break. The Magpies are a team that could snap that spot up, with a percentage boost the only thing required for them to step into fifth spot.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 21.15 (141)
WARATAH 4.4 (28) 

GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, T. Melville 3, J. Tsitas 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. Hagan 2, D. Butcher 2, S. Deery, P. Wills, C. Holmes, J. Peris, H. Drogemuller, M. Bricknell
Waratah: R. Jolliffe, B. Carroll, Z. Westerberg, K. Kantilla

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz, J. Miles, C. Ilett
Waratah: S. Tatupu, Z. Westerberg, R. Jolliffe, N. Gooch, B. Carroll

Nightcliff continued its steep ascent to the top of the NTFL standings as it easily accounted for fellow finals contenders, Waratah to see out the round with a bang. The Tigers made their intentions known with 14 first half goals to two, spreading them equally over the two terms. While they could only manage half of that tally in the second half, the second-place side kept Waratah to just 2.2 in the first and third quarters and kept the scoreless in the other two to culminate their 113-point winning margin. Cam Illet was the leader inside 50 with four goals, boosting his recent tally to seven in three games, while Trent Melville (three goals) was again in the action and four others claimed two each. Three of them – James Tsitas, Michael Hagan and Liam Holt-Fitz were also named in the best, as has been the case for much of the year, alongside Hugo Drogemuller and Jonathon Miles. Raven Jolliffe was a shining light for the Warriors, finding the goals and being named their best. Nicholas Gooch also had somewhat of a return to form, while Zach Westerberg and Shem Tatupu were the others to stand up. The Tigers remain second, a game from first but 12 points clear of the next best sides. Waratah looks to have lost momentum going into the break, but remains safe in the finals spots despite heat coming from below in recent weeks.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 10

WITH the finals race getting tighter as each week passes, the mid-table bottleneck looks certain to be shaken up this week with sides itching to get back into form and build a run heading into the back end of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 2pm
Tiwi Oval

Southern Districts will hope to put a sizeable dent in Tiwi Bombers’ top four hopes with another emphatic win to open the round away from home. The Bombers were previously on a three-game win streak after opening their account in Round 6, but were brought to a halt at the hands of a fearsome Nightcliff side. The Crocs meanwhile look to have regained the early-season form that saw them break multiple games clear at the top, with four points and a handsome percentage acting as their buffer as things stand. An 111-point thumping of Palmerston last time out puts them in good stead against an in-form team here, as the Bombers remain a dangerous opponent. With arguably its best side forming in the last two weeks, Southern Districts will look to the former-AFL class of Richard Tambling (five goals in Round 9) and Jared Brennan to star once again alongside regulars Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance forward of centre. There are plenty of moving parts in the Crocs lineup, with the likes of Jess Koopman coming off a bag of six goals and Seb Guilhaus showing consistent form alongside Dean Staunton. As has been the story all year, the firepower of the Crocs needs to be matched, and Bomber forwards Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri will have to be the ones to stand up if the Bombers are to steer away from falling short as they did against Nightcliff. Jason and Harley Puruntatameri will also have to have big games further up the field to help Tiwi’s cause in an important match-up that has implications on the Bombers’ finals spot.

ST MARYS v. WANDERERS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will be hoping to join St Marys in the race for fifth spot when they open TIO Stadium’s Saturday evening double-header. The wasteful Saints missed a trick last time out as they fell just short of the stumbling Darwin Buffaloes, but will have a good amount confidence coming up against the bottom side given they are not entirely out of form. Meanwhile, the Eagles will be disappointed with their Round 9 showing given they finally broke through for their second win of the season in the previous week, and they have the chance to scrape off the bottom of the ladder with a win here. With Davin Ferreira in irresistible form after five goals last week, anything is possible for the Muk Muks. Add the recent form of Thomas Motlop and John Tipiloura to the mix and Wanderers have the potential to put up a fight. The Saints have proven to be no easy-beats in recent weeks though, even picking up two wins in their last five games to hold firm in the NTFL ladder’s middle ground. Mathias Liddy will need to be good in front of goal again this week, while the likes of Ben Rioli and Nathaniel Paredes in midfield should provide great consistency alongside the flair of young gun Maurice Rioli jnr. With wavering scoring form on both parts, this clash could well either provide a shootout or a low-scoring affair – but the side that takes its chances will undoubtedly come out on top in what looks like a close one.

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A return to form is in the midst for both Darwin Buffaloes and Palmerston Magpies as they do battle to round out Saturday’s action. The Buffaloes breathed a collective sigh of relief as they narrowly got over the line against St Marys last week on account of accurate goalkicking, returning to the win column after two straight defeats. Meanwhile, Palmerston have lost three consecutive games and despite putting up a competitive effort against in-form side Nightcliff, were beaten comprehensively at the hands of a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. With both outfits keen to break clear of deadlocks with rival sides on the ladder, expect the kitchen sink to be thrown in an attempt to get over the line. With young star Malcolm Rosas spending time at Gold Coast and Brisbane, Adam Sambono will need to step up and provide that X-factor, with the likes of Matthew Campbell and Javadd Anderson in good form, while Joe Anderson looks to slot back into the side. For Palmerston, the same core group of players have provided unwavering consistency throughout the year, with Matthew Dennis holding his ruck spot down and Rodney Baird and Samuel Talbot solid year-round. Kyle Emery will hope to step up after drawing a blank last week, while Samuel Autio should provide good fold for him as he has done over the last two weeks. It may not be pretty, but a win for either side would serve as a nice confidence booster going into the back half of the season as finals spots become hotly contested.

NIGHTCLIFF v. WARATAH
Round 10 – Sunday December 9, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

Third-placed Waratah will be looking to close the gap on weekend opponents Nightcliff when they clash at PSC BM Oval to close out the round in what as shaping as a thriller. The Tigers had it tough in Round 9 as they clawed over the line against Tiwi, but hold the most consistent run of form out of all sides having won three consecutive games. Waratah have done well to hang with the top four sides, benefitting from a Darwin slump to move to third and close within striking distance of the established top two. With plenty of experience in the form of Cam Ilett and ex-AFL listed forward John Butcher heading the side in recent weeks, while Liam Holt-Fitz has provided good spark alongside Shaun Wilson. Spearhead Trent Melville will have to step up this week after going goalless last time out, with Waratah forward Cameron Barrett coming off a round-high six goals. The addition of Kim Kantilla has been handy, and the impact of Raven Jolliffe will be key this week, too. American big-man Alex Aurrichio has also come into form of late, and should provide some sturdiness in the ruck or defence against a dangerous Tigers line-up. Despite second being poised against third, Nightcliff will be confident coming into this one, and it will be a key game in keeping touch with Southern Districts. Waratah will also want to avoid dropping points and falling behind Darwin once again, so expect some desperate footy.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 9

EACH of the bottom four sides suffered defeats in a round which proved to be a tipper’s paradise in Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, leaving the ladder relatively unchanged.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.11 (83)
TIWI BOMBERS 10.16 (76)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan 2, H. Drogemuller, S. Wilson, F. James.
Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, L. Wale-Buxton 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Burgess, M. King.

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Miles, K. Riley, L. Holt-Fitz, G. Greenoff, J. Budarick, M. Hagan
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton, H. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, R. Tungatalum, S. Dyke

A strong opening term proved all the difference for Nightcliff in its narrow win over the in-form Tiwi Bombers in the game of the round. The Tigers kept their opponents goalless in the first quarter to help open a 21-point lead which they managed to hold for most of the match. It was on the final straight where Tiwi made its biggest surge, falling seven points short to the second-placed side despite scoring 4.5 to Nightcliff’s 2.2. The Tigers had contributors across the board, with legendary veteran Cam Ilett, ex-Port forward John Butcher, Liam Holt-Fitz and Michael Hagan each booting two goals, with the latter two named among the best. Jonathon Miles was adjudged the most valuable player afield, with Joel Budarick returning to form and Gavin Greenoff also thereabouts. For the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri was reliable as ever, while newcomer Liam Wale-Buxton also proved his star debut performance was no fluke with two goals. Ross Tungatalum and Dion Munkara were others to claim two majors and round out the best players in a valiant team effort. The result bears little consequence on the ladder, with both sides staying put in second and fifth respectively, with Tiwi still level with St Marys and Palmerston and two wins away from cracking the top four.

 

WANDERERS 12.5 (77)
WARATAH 16.8 (104)

GOALS:
Wanderers: D. Ferreira 5, J. Tipiloura 3, M. Totham, J. Cubillo, S. Bates.
Waratah: C. Barrett 6, R. Jolliffe 3, K. Kantilla 3, S. Weddell 2, B. Minkulk, J. McKenzie.

BEST:
Wanderers: T. Brimacombe, D. Ferreira, T. Motlop, J. Tipiloura
Waratah: C. Barrett, B. Carroll, R. Jolliffe, M. O’Donnell, A. Aurrichio

Waratah claimed an important win in its bid to consolidate a finals spot with a comfortable enough 27-point win over bottom-placed Wanderers. With both sides converting well in front of goal on account of a spearhead goal-off, the match was evenly poised going into the main break with Waratah holding a three-point lead. The Warriors managed to pull away from the deadlock in the second half though, with nine goals to five seeing them over the line. Cameron Barrett was the star of the day, booting six goals in a dominant display for Waratah, beating out Wanderers’ Davin Ferreira’s total of five. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla snared three each, with Samuel Weddell rounding out the multiple goalkicker with his two. John Tipiloura took the opportunities that Ferreira didn’t manage to snare to claim three majors, with Tyler Brimacombe adjudged the Eagles’ best alongside Thomas Motlop despite not hitting the scoreboard. The win sees the Warriors wedged two games above fifth place in equal-third, but two games below Nightcliff in second. Their strong finals position is a far cry from Wanderers in last, but the Muk Muks are only a win away from re-joining the race for the last finals spot.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.5 (77)
ST MARYS 8.14 (62)

GOALS:
Darwin: M. Campbell 3, A. Sambono 3, J. Anderson 2, P. Boles, J. Stokes, A. Punch.
St Marys: T. Frawley 3, M. Liddy 2, N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, S. Rioli.

BEST:
Darwin: R. O’Sullivan, K. Maroney, C. Williams, J. Briston, C. Stokes, J. Stokes
St Marys: N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Rioli, B. Taylor, J. Puautjimi, N. Yarran

Darwin kept pace with fellow top four contenders Waratah with a hard-fought 15-point win over St Marys to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. The Buffaloes’ 11-point quarter time lead was a constant throughout the game, as the Saints couldn’t quite manage to break through and bridge the gap between their more efficient opponents. St Marys’ inefficient tally of 8.14 proved the difference in the end, with its four more scoring shots wasted in a tight finish. Maurice Rioli jnr earned a rising star nomination for his efforts – booting a goal and finishing in the best half-dozen players for the second time in three games for the Saints. With Darwin’s very own young star Malcolm Rosas currently making himself comfortable at the Gold Coast Suns, the experienced head of Matthew Campbell (three goals) and Javaad Anderson (two goals) helped to maintain their form, with livewire Adam Sambono also booting three, while Ryan O’Sullivan was named best-on for the second game running with help from the consistent Kevin Maroney. Tom Frawley found form for St Marys with three goals, but Nathaniel Paredes was his side’s best as he also managed to claim a goal. Nicholas Yarran is another who has shown promising form of late, and was also named in the best. Despite the win, Darwin falls below Waratah to fourth place on percentage, while St Marys remain in the thick of a mid-table bottleneck as it fights for fifth place with Tiwi and Palmerston. Wins will be paramount to the Saints’ cause from here on out, with Tiwi in hot form and a two-game gap opening between fourth and fifth.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 24.9 (153)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 5.12 (42)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, R. Tambling 5, C. Gallio 3, M. Mummery 2, B. Vallance 2, W. Farrer, B. Rusca, C. McAdam, D. Staunton, I. Wyatt, J. Farrer.
Palmerston: S. Autio 2, J. Marshall, J. Lampton, B. Church.

BEST:
Southern Districts: R. Tambling, J. Brennan, J. Koopman, S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, C. Gallio
Palmerston: S. Talbot, R. Baird, J. Marshall, S. Autio, A. Diamond, M. Dennis

Southern Districts looks to be back to its destructive best after a dominant 111-point win over second-bottom Palmerston in the round’s final fixture. The Crocs were as shrewd as ever, with arguably their best 22 for the year returning a stellar performance. Starting as they wished to go on, the Crocs booted 15 opening half majors to Palmerston’s four, not giving the Magpies a sniff throughout the entire contest. While Jess Koopman was the round’s equal-leading goal scorer with six, former number four draft pick Richard Tambling was named best afield with his haul of five, returning multiple goals for the first time this season alongside Clinton Gallio, who booted three. With usual goal threats Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance also thereabouts with two goals each, and Jared Brennan slotting in seamlessly up the field, it was a complete performance from the reigning premiers. Samuel Talbot was again the best for Palmerston with Rodney Baird not far behind, while Samuel Autio was the only multiple goalkicker with two. Last year’s bottom side Palmerston now flirts with the possibility of falling back down the cellar door with Wanderers holding a greater percentage despite being a win behind. Southern Districts on the other hand, maintains its four-point lead atop the table, and looks to have regained its early season form.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 9

WITH the race for finals spots heating up, Round 9 hosts a few ‘eight-pointers’ as the ladder starts to take shape coming up to the halfway mark of the season.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 9 – Saturday December 1, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

In what is set to be the game of the round, the two form teams of the competition, Nightcliff and Tiwi, do battle on Saturday to open this weekend’s proceedings. With both sides on win streaks and competition for finals spots heating up, this bout between two attacking powerhouses is set to produce fireworks. The Tigers have regained their rhythm after going down to Southern Districts in Round 6, winning their last two games to sit four points outside of first place. Meanwhile, the Bombers have now won three on the trot after opening their account in the same round, including wins over fellow finals hopefuls Darwin and Waratah. There is class around the ground for Nightcliff, with the recent addition of former Port forward John Butcher proving handy, adding to the consistent danger of Trent Melville, Mathew Bricknell and Joel Budarick going forward. Speedster Liam Holt-Fitz should also be a feature, providing run from the back half. For Tiwi, Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri have been ever-reliable, but they’ll look towards the likes of Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum, and youngster Jeffrey Simon to provide the firepower to match Nightcliff. With finals repercussions set to come from a result either way, expect both sides to throw the it all on the line to grab an important four points. If the shootout in their previous encounter is anything to go by, this will be a high-scoring affair.

 

WANDERERS v. WARATAH
Round 9 – Saturday December 1, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will be looking to claim consecutive wins when it comes up against finals hopefuls, Waratah in Saturday’s evening fixture. The Eagles are fresh off a stunning upset victory over Darwin, and despite remaining bottom of the ladder, are only a win off being tied for fifth. Waratah was brought back down to earth after their own upset win over Southern Districts in Round 7, going down to a surging Tiwi outfit in a close one. It’s an important game for the Warriors in particular, as results could see them fall right back into the pack after holding on to fourth place for most of the year. For the Eagles, a run of form is within reach and they could soon scrape off the bottom if things go their way. Joel Jeffrey was the key man last time out, but Wanderers may be without him for this one, leaving it up to the form of Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop to find goals. Ex-Roo and Crow Sam Gibson‘s recent cameo has come to an end, but the Eagles will hope that Liam Patrick can have a good run at it up forward after returning to the side. On the other side of the coin, Waratah’s Tom Toma found form of late and will look to have an impact alongside Jaxon Neagle and Cameron Barrett going forward, supported by Timothy Mosquito and Nick Gooch further back. With a bottleneck forming from third to eighth, this will be a key game in the grand scheme of things despite it not looking like a thriller on paper.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. ST MARYS
Round 9 – Saturday December 1, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

The final game in Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header pits two sides coming off losses against each other, with Darwin and St Marys looking to re-enter the winners list. The Buffaloes have now suffered consecutive surprise defeats after going down to bottom side, Wanderers last time out, and could slide heavily with a loss hear. On the other hand, the Saints were beaten by a Southern Districts side breathing fire after a loss, but can still jump into a finals spot if they get over the line here. With young gun Malcolm Rosas out of the side, Jed and Javadd Anderson have stepped right up in his absence and will be key figures alongside the returning Adam Sambono. The leadership of Matthew Campbell has also been important of late, and that is an aspect that St Marys has missed with Raph Clarke missing. The Saints’ firepower is still there though, with Brayden and Ben Rioli constantly shining alongside Nathaniel Paredes. They will also hope that young Maurice Rioli jnr can strut his stuff this time out in an effort to compete with the Buffaloes’ forward threat. Darwin will inevitably come out hard, looking to prove a point as it looks to break away from the mid-table pack once again. St Marys will provide stiff competition despite being hard to read, but it is a good opportunity to the Saints to get up over a usually strong side.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 9 – Sunday December 2, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will hope to extend its lead atop of the NTFL ladder when it clashes with Palmerston to close out the round. The Crocs bounced back well from their Round 7 loss with a convincing win over St Marys in their last bout, putting their usual scary form on show once again. Palmerston have been a touch more inconsistent, suffering two straight losses after finding consecutive wins. The last fixture between the two was a landslide victory for Southern Districts, but the Magpies will be confident of competing much better having settled into the season. Michael Mummery was fantastic in Round 8 with four goals, but Shane Thorne has undoubtedly been the Crocs’ form player alongside the likes of Dean Staunton and recent inclusion, Seb Guilhaus from the ruck. The injection of AFL experience in the form of Jared Brennan, Richard Tambling and Leroy Jetta makes them an even scarier prospect for the Magpies, who will look to their own AFL stars in the Davey brothers to add some class. Kyle Emery will provide the goals up forward, with Matthew Dennis shouldering ruck duties, and Rodney Baird and Nigel Lockyer jnr providing cool heads up the field. Another one-sided affair looks likely on paper given Southern Districts’ recent inclusions, but Palmerston always pose a threat with the injections of class they have on each line.

AFL Draft review: Sydney

THE Swans came into the draft knowing they would have to match a very early bid for Academy product Nick Blakey, and did so with the forward taken at number 10. With somewhat of a gift under its belt, Sydney opted for some inside grunt and a couple of outside runners given the likes of Gary Rohan and Dan Hannebery departed during trade period. The Swans then rounded out their draft haul with three high-upside selections in their rookie and category-b slots.

National Draft:

 

Nick Blakey – Key Forward/Utility

The bid for Blakey was rumoured to have possibly come as early as pick five, but was eventually lodged at number 10 through GWS. Nonetheless, there was no way the Swans weren’t going to match whatever bid came for the promising key forward, who turned down father-son eligibility with both Brisbane and North Melbourne. In Blakey, the Swans get a readymade future replacement for Buddy Franklin in the key forward mould, with the potential for him to be unleashed further up the ground in any position. With clean hands both overhead and on the ground, Blakey is a prototypical forward with phenomenal pace for his size and enormous scope once he can build on his frame and gain even greater consistency.

James Rowbottom – Inside Midfielder

Rowbottom is a safe bet at pick 25 as one of the best inside midfielders in the draft pool. The Oakleigh Chargers product is a hard tackler, and his average of 5.8 clearances per TAC Cup game was bettered only by seventh pick, Bailey Smith. As competitive as he is consistent, Rowbottom enjoyed a stellar season in Oakleigh and Vic Metro colours, and Sydney were pretty keen on snapping him up just outside of the first round – trading its future second round selection in order to do so. Readymade and solid as they come, Rowbottom could provide midfield depth from the get-go, while also being an apt future replacement for some of their ageing stars. As the nephew of Collingwood and Richmond champion Brian Taylor, he will undoubtedly be a commentator’s favourite.

Justin McInerney – Outside Midfielder/Defender

Versatile Northern runner Justin McInerney was somewhat of a surprise selection as the first and only Knight off the board in the National Draft, but fits a clear need for the Swans on the outside. With the ability to provide damaging fold on the wing with his running power and penetrating kick, or cover off half-back with his strong overhead marking, McInerney is a high-upside improver at a good height who could come on strong in the future. While he is still raw and has room to improve in terms of consistency, McInerney has shown a competitive edge, apt work-rate and attitude for both the Knights and school side, Marcellin. He may well slot in nicely alongside the likes of Ryley Stoddart across half-back given his kicking efficiency, with Callum Mills set to spend more time in the midfield.

Zac Foot – Outside Midfielder

Dandenong premiership player Zac Foot is another prolific outside runner who has come on rapidly over the past year to storm into National Draft selection. Having been overlooked by the Stingrays in 2017 and playing locally with Langwarrin for the entirety of his bottom-age year, Foot fought his way back into the fold and eventually earned Vic Country representative honours. Foot’s strengths are clear to see, as he uses his elite coverage of the ground to both break the lines going forward and provide damaging pressure going the other way. Clean at ground level and with his kicking, Foot is an elite carrier of the football who can become a notable 100 meter player if he continues on his upward trend. Like McInerney, Foot also possesses the work-rate and attitude that the Swans always seem to be after, so will fit a need for his new side, twofold.

 

Rookie Draft:

 

Durak Tucker – Medium Defender

Having missed most of this year after rupturing his ACL, West Australian Durak Tucker is one who the Swans would have been glad to see slide under the radar. At pick 12 in the rookie draft, the Swans made another high-value, high-upside selection and will have been keen to hedge their bets on Tucker’s potential. A versatile intercepting defender, Tucker is strong overhead and covers the ground quickly – meaning he has the capability to cover both small and tall opponents. Given the steep rise of the likes of Luke Ryan as intercept mark machines down back, Sydney will hope that Tucker can quickly fit that mould and provide good fold for their best six defenders. Tucker has also by all accounts approached his rehab with vigour, so could be one who comes on quickly in his growth from a quite light-on prospect, and will inevitably have to prove his durability and match fitness over his first pre-season.

Harry Reynolds – General Defender/Midfielder

Sandringham’s Harry Reynolds is yet another prospect with high potential who came on quite quickly, quite late on. While he is raw and slight at this stage, Reynolds has a high ceiling on account of both his versatility and athletic base. Reynolds impressed towards the back end of the year after overcoming a range of injuries previously, providing plenty of run off half back at good pace and showcasing his potential for a move into the middle with impressive clearance work. His hands in-close are clean and efficient, but given his current status as more of a driving half-back, Reynolds will look to improve on his kicking efficiency (53 per cent in the TAC Cup) in order to become more damaging. With the Swans’ midfield stars heading towards the back-end of their careers, Reynolds is certainly one for the future who can build on his frame and hone his craft in the NEAFL before breaking through.

Kurt Tippett 

Having retired at the end of 2017, Tippett has been rookie listed in order to fulfil a financial settlement.

Cat B Rookie:

 

Sam Wicks – Utility/General Forward

The Swans had a free shot here at an academy member, with Sam Wicks a product who impressed in the Academy Series but missed out on Allies selection. Wicks didn’t fret following the snub, putting in good showings for the Swans in the NEAFL and showing enough to warrant a Category B Rookie spot. A big-bodied utility, Wicks spent a good amount of time in the forward half, booting 12 goals across the season and earning a NEAFL rising star nomination. A low-risk pick, the Swans would not have hesitated in providing an opportunity to an academy product who has been there from the start.

Summary:

The Swans approached the draft with an eye firmly focussed towards the future, building stocks in positions that need depth with high-upside selections late on that could provide huge value, but won’t hurt too much if they don’t work out. With ageing stars in the midfield and one particular prodigy looking a straight-swap up forward, Sydney look to be in a good position to challenge once again for finals in years to come.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 8

ROUND 8 action has seen the race finals race blown wide open, with just four points separating third from seventh. The mid-table bottleneck sees the top two break away, Wanderers has been left on the bottom despite a huge upset win.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 10.15 (75)
NIGHTCLIFF 14.10 (94)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, S. Autio 2, J. Marshall , M. Perry, A. Diamond, A. Lonergan, E. Frank
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, S. Wilson 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, B. Filo, J. Peris, F. James

BEST:
Palmerston: S. Talbot, M. Stokes, N. Lockyer Jnr, S. Autio, M. Bunworth, M. Dennis
Nightcliff: F. James, N. Brown, M. Bricknell, G. Greenoff, P. Wills, D. Bowles

A lightning start from Nightcliff was enough to see them over the line against a rejuvenated Palmerston line-up by 19 points in the Round 8 opener. The Tigers stormed out of the blocks with 6.6 in the opening term while keeping the Magpies goalless, showcasing their near-unstoppable firepower forward of centre. In good form coming into the fixture, Palmerston duly hit back in the second and third terms but were somewhat wasteful, with their 6.10 over the two quarters still leaving them with a 14-point deficit to claw back. Nightcliff proved too strong though, continuing to tick the scoreboard over in the face of Palmerston’s onslaught and earning the four points despite registering one less scoring shot.

The usual suspects were again amongst the goals for the winners, with Trent Melville snaring his second bag of four in as many weeks, while Shaun Wilson and Mathew Bricknell were the other two multiple goalkickers with three and two respectively. Faron James was named their best, with Nathan Brown again amongst the votes and Cam Ilett and Liam Holt-Fitz dangerous going forward. Kyle Emery was a shining light up forward with three majors, but missed out on best-six honours. Samuel Talbot continued his good form to be judged their best, while ex-AFL star Mathew Stokes was thereabouts alongside the ever consistent figures of Matthew Dennis and Nigel Lockyer jnr.

The win sees Nightcliff strengthen its position in the top two, only one game off league-leaders Southern Districts. Meanwhile, the Magpie’s second-straight loss drops them to second bottom on percentage, but equal fifth with two other sides on three wins.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.15 (81)
WARATAH 9.8 (62)

GOALS:
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 3, D. Munkara 3, B. Palipuaminni, M. Cooper, P. Heenan, H. Puruntatameri, C. Burgess
Waratah: T. Toma 3, A. Ellis 2, T. Mosquito, C. Barrett, M. Blake, J. Neagle

BEST:
Tiwi: C. Burgess, D. Munkara, J. Monigatti, M. Dunn, R. Tungatalum, J. Puruntatameri
Waratah: N/A

Tiwi Bombers secured its third consecutive victory with a hard-fought 19-point win over Waratah in front of an adoring home crowd. The in form team of the competition, Tiwi maintained a consistent lead throughout the game despite a third quarter test where the margin came to within just over a goal. Having handed Southern Districts its first loss for the year in Round 7, Waratah were unlucky to come up against just as fierce opposition for a second-straight week, but brought it right to the Bombers for the entire contest.

Ross Tungatalum was amongst the goals for Tiwi, joining the in-form Dion Munkara with a bag of three to be named amongst the best as the only two multiple goalkickers. Christian Burgess was judged best afield in his first appearance for the season, with Jason Puruntatameri, Jack Monigatti and Michael Dunn also continuing their consistent form to feature in the votes. For the Warriors, Thomas Toma was their key goalkicker with three, while Andre Ellis was the only other to boot multiple majors. Amongst the goals again were also the likes of Jaxon Neagle, Cameron Barrett and Timothy Mosquito, providing spark and pace forward of centre in the absence of last week’s heroes Michael Newton and Abraham Ankers.

The Bombers’ run of form puts them into equal-fifth, just one game away from this week’s opponents and with a five per cent buffer on sixth place. Waratah hang on to fourth position to remain firmly within the finals race, but will now be sweating on good results coming its way with three contenders breathing down its neck.

 

ST MARYS 4.5 (29)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 11.10 (76)

GOALS:
St Marys: B. Rioli 2, J. Quinn, S. Dann.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer 2, S. Thorne 2, J. Koopman 2, D. McLachlan.

BEST:
St Marys: S. Richardson, M. Musgrove, B. Ah Mat, B. Rioli, T. Saunders, L. Stapleton
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, S. Smith, M. Pemberton

St Marys again failed to earn consecutive wins, falling to a resurgent Southern Districts side keen to prove last week’s shock loss was a mere one-off. It was a slow start, with both sides failing to find the big sticks in the opening term, while the Crocs eventually broke away with three goals to nil in the second quarter to open up a 23-point lead on their goalless opponents. The Saints finally broke their goal drought in the third with two of their own, but couldn’t stop Southern Districts from piling on eight second-half goals to run out comfortable 47-point winners.

Michael Mummery was the star for the Crocs, booting four majors after firing a blank in the previous week. Despite his haul, Mummery missed out on a best slot to the likes of Shane Thorne, who slotted two goals, recent addition Sebastion Guilhaus, and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. Ben Rioli continues to provide a shining light for the Saints, this week claiming half of his side’s goals – albeit in a low total. Simon Richardson was judged best in the losing side, with Mitch Musgrove finding some form and Braxton Ah Mat putting in another shift alongside Tylah Saunders.

The win sees Southern Districts bounce back from its first loss of the season, maintaining a four-point lead over Nightcliff atop the table with an intimidating percentage of 175. Meanwhile, St Marys find themselves lodged between Tiwi and Palmerston in sixth as one of the three sides with three wins for season 2019.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.10 (76)
WANDERERS 13.8 (86) 

GOALS:
Darwin: J. Anderson 3, C. Williams 3, J. Stokes 2, J. Anderson, J. Clark, S. Anderson.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, T. Motlop 2, D. Ferreira 2, J. Priest 2, M. Mununggurritj, L. Patrick, A. Cook.

BEST:
Darwin: J. Anderson, P. Boles, C. Williams, D. Williams, K. Maroney, J. Briston
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey, J. Cubillo, D. Ferreira, S. Gibson, A. Cook

Wanderers pulled off the upset of the round with a defiant 10-point win over third-placed Darwin. The Eagles came out firing with 10 goals to three in the first half setting the base for an impressive victory. The four points wouldn’t come without a challenge though, as the proud Buffaloes side fought back with eight goals to three in the second half, but fell just short of the Eagles’ established margin. Having been beaten resoundingly by Tiwi in the previous round, Darwin look to be in the midst of a surprising mid-season slump.

Sixteen year-old star Joel Jeffrey was outstanding, with his four goals earning him best afield honours. Thomas Motlop and Jobastin Priest were the other multiple goalkickers with two each, while Davin Ferreira produced a play of the round contender with one of his two majors. Ex-Roo and Crow Sam Gibson didn’t manage to hit the scoreboard, but was also named amongst the best alongside Joel Cubillo for Wanderers. Darwin’s best in the loss was Joe Anderson, while Javadd Anderson and Chris Williams both managed to claim bags of three goals to also be thereabouts.

While they picked up a huge result here, the Eagles remain stuck to the bottom of the ladder – one game behind Palmerston, St Marys and Tiwi. Darwin’s second consecutive loss puts them back in the pack somewhat, equal-third with Palmerston and just a game off dropping out of the top four despite their impressive percentage.