Author: Michael Alvaro

Weekend preview: NTFL – Preliminary Final

PRELIMINARY finals action is set to hit the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League as Tiwi and Southern Districts do battle once again for the chance to meet Nightcliff in the big dance.

TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-9) v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5)
Preliminary Final – Saturday March 9, 7pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Southern Districts 2, Tiwi Bombers 2

Rd 3: Southern Districts 13.13 (91) defeated Tiwi 10.7 (67)
Rd 10: Tiwi 11.10 (76) defeated by Southern Districts 19.12 (126)
Rd 14: Southern Districts 8.9 (57) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (79)
QF: Southern Districts 10.5 (65) defeated by Tiwi 13.8 (86)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2 (1-1 in finals)
Tiwi: 3-2 (1-1 in finals)

Tiwi and Southern Districts are set for their second finals clash in three weeks as they play off for a spot in the NTFL grand final on Saturday. Both sides have now taken full advantage of their second finals chance, as the Crocs bounced back to knock Waratah out of contention and Tiwi went down heavily to a roaring Nightcliff side. The premiership dream is still well and truly alive for both sides despite earlier speed bumps, and the history between the two teams this season suggests it will be a lively encounter. The Crocs accounted twice for Tiwi comfortably enough early in the regular season, but the head-to-head ledger now sits level as the Bombers got their own back with wins over their weekend opponents in Round 14 and the qualifying final. The chance to rectify those recent losses will play as motivation for Southern Districts, on top of the opportunity to play off and defend its 2018 premiership. With identical form lines in almost every way, it is hard to split the sides as they stand, and it truly looked like Tiwi had peaked at the right time before its massive loss last week. The Crocs have been similarly shakey in big games, going down to each finals contender at least once this year despite a more consistent season overall. Both sides will lean on their firepower forward of centre, with Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery spearheading the Crocs attack, while Jason Puruntatameri and Austin Wonaeamirri come into the game with 17 finals goals between them. Given the free-scoring nature of these two up to this point, expect some fireworks and a cracking contest as they put it all on the line for the chance to play off in a grand final.

Team of the Week: AFLW – Round 5

ADELAIDE and Geelong make up a third of the Round 5 Draft Central Team of the Week for AFL Women’s, with several individual performances helping them to crucial wins in Conference A and B respectively. Fellow winners, Fremantle and Carlton have three representatives each after impressive displays over conference rivals, while Melbourne surprisingly only have two players featuring, despite owning the round’s biggest winning margin. The Dees join a pack of three others with two nominees, while Brisbane and GWS each have a sole player included after comprehensive losses.

Emma Kearney cracked the 30-disposal mark with an outstanding 31 possession, 10 clearance and eight mark game to headline the individual feats this week. Incredibly, her and Jess Duffin’s standout games came in a losing effort. That came at the hands of the Crows, with Erin Phillips (23 disposals, seven inside 50s, six clearances, two goals) again leading the way for a surging Adelaide side as Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall followed suit in terms of ball-winning, and Danielle Ponter proved dangerous up forward to make it four Crows in the starting 18.

Geelong was another big winner, with the standout being Richelle Cranston’s 22 disposal game in the engine room, while Kate Darby impressed inside 50 for three goals. 2018 draftee, Olivia Purcell was unlucky to be relegated to the bench in this side, with her 20 disposal and 10 tackle performance another highlight. Jessy Keeffe was Brisbane’s sole representative from that game, shining in the ruck despite the Lions managing the lowest ever team score in AFLW history.
Carlton skipper, Brianna Davey had arguably the most influential game of the round, willing her side on to victory in an incredible all-round display that yielded a perfect 10 from the coaches. Fellow Blues midfielder, Madison Prespakis kept up her terrific form to also be named, with the much-improved Pies pair of Jaimee Lambert and Ash Brazill also named. Melbourne’s Maddison Gay was another to crack a perfect 10, with teammate Tegan Cunningham’s three goals crucial to their win, much like Kellie Gibson for Fremantle. The Dockers overcame the Dogs despite the best efforts of nominees, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti, with Dana Hooker and Kiara Bowers putting in monumental shifts.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Semi finals

THE minor premiers stamped their authority as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Mens Premier League’s number one contenders with a sizeable win earning them a grand final spot. Meanwhile, a finals rematch faces the defending champions, the Crocs after they took advantage of their double chance with a bounce-back win.

NIGHTCLIFF 22.17 (149)
TIWI BOMBERS 9.5 (59)


GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 5, J. Butcher 4, L. Holt-Fitz 4, H. Drogemuller 2, M. Bricknell, K. Niki, M. Hagan, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Melville, P. Wills
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 5, R. Tungatalum 2, D. Munkara 2

BEST:
Nightcliff:
H. Drogemuller, P. Wills, J. Butcher, B. Filo, C. Holmes
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, W. Puruntatameri, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, A. Tipungwuti

Nightcliff roared into the grand final with a 90-point drubbing of Tiwi to only further firm the minor premiers as flag favourites. The Tigers ran rampant in their forward half throughout the game, putting through a minimum of five goals in each term to overwhelm a previously in-form Tiwi side. Despite last week’s come from behind heroics, the Bombers hardly looked a chance after Nightcliff’s fast start, finding themselves 61 points down at the main break after the Tigers piled on six goals in each term. The result was inevitable from there, but Nightcliff continued on its merry way with another 10 goals to consolidate the eventual winning margin. Veteran Cam Ilett led Nightcliff’s 11 individual goal kickers with a bag of five, with John Butcher and Liam Holt-Fitz snaring four and Hugo Drogemuller claiming two majors to be named best afield. Meanwhile, ex-Dee Austin Wonaeamirri was one of the few Bombers to continue his good form, slotting an equal game best of five goals to make up over half of Tiwi’s score. Ross Tungatalum also chimed in with two majors alongside Dion Munkara, with the likes of Jason Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti named in the best in the losing effort. While Nightcliff now take the simple route to the grand final, Tiwi goes on to face Southern Districts for the second time in three weeks for a chance at redemption and the ultimate glory.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.11 (89)
WARATAH 6.10 (46)


GOALS:
Southern Districts: D. McLachlan 2, J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, E. Barlow 2, J. Brennan, B. Schwarze, W. Farrer, M. Rosier, C. Gallio
Waratah: S. Godden, K. Kantilla, H. Kerinaiua, S. Weddell, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma

BEST:
Southern Districts:
S. Martin, E. Barlow, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, J. Farrer, S. Stewart
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts leant fully on its double chance with a confidence building 43-point win over Waratah to move onto the preliminary final round. While the Warriors did well to match it with their opponents for a little over a half, the Crocs pulled away with eight goals to two after the main break to put the result beyond doubt. Four of Southern Districts’ nine goal kickers managed bags of two, including spearhead Jess Koopman and the exciting Michael Mummery. Ed Barlow contributed around the ground and also claimed two majors, but was beaten out for best-afield honours by Sean Martin, while the returning Jared Brennan was also handy with his finals experience. Waratah simply could not match the Crocs’ firepower, but still had six seperate scorers in a low total. Usual suspects Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua found the goals, with best and fairest Sam Godden also pitching in. While the Warriors’ strong late-season run coming to an abrupt end, Southern Districts look a strong chance to go back-to-back, but will have to get past Tiwi next week for a chance to play-off in the grand final.

Weekend Previews: NTFL – Week 2 finals

JUST four teams remain in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League division with Nightcliff and Tiwi Bombers fighting for a spot in the decider. In the other game, Southern Districts takes on Waratah to remain in contention for the 2018/19 premiership.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 15-3) v. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-9)
Semi Final – Saturday, March 2, 4:30pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Nightcliff 2, Tiwi 1

Rd 4: Tiwi 14.13 (97) defeated by Nightcliff 22.12 (144)
Rd 9: Nightcliff 12.11 (83) defeated Tiwi 10.16 (76)
Rd 15: Nightcliff 10.12 (72) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (73)

Last-five form:
Nightcliff: 4-1
Tiwi: 4-1, 1-0 in finals

The two form sides of the competition are set to do battle in a mouth watering semi final clash to open a super Saturday of NTFL post-season action. After a week off, minor premiers Nightcliff play host to a red-hot Tiwi outfit that knocked off reigning premiers, Southern Districts last week. The Tigers have looked almost invincible at times this year, earning a double-chance having beaten every other side and crushing Southern Districts in the final regular-season round. Their 4-1 form line is identical to the Bombers though, and if they have showed any sign of weakness over the back half of the year, it was in their Round 15 loss against this weekend’s opponents. Having only gone down to teams still in finals contention, not much has stood in the way of Nightcliff to this point. That could all chance at the hands of Tiwi this week though, with the Bombers chomping at the bit to build on last week’s big win over the Crocs. A team which rises for the big occasions, Tiwi has built its remarkable late-season run on a lethal forward line and some ex-AFL experience through the midfield. Nightcliff boasts answers in both facets, with the competition’s leading goal kicker in Trent Melville and a midfield mix of experience and youthful exuberance making for an evenly poised match-up. With a spot in the grand final up for grabs, expect some free-flowing action and a show of fireworks inside both forward 50s as these two deadly sides throw down the gauntlet as the point end of the season approaches.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5) v. WARATAH (4th, 9-9)
Semi Final – Saturday, March 2, 7pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Southern Districts 1, Waratah 1

Rd 7: Southern Districts 9.15 (69) defeated by Waratah 14.7 (91)
Rd 17: Waratah 10.3 (63) defeated by Southern Districts 14.15 (99)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2, 0-1 in finals
Waratah: 4-1, 1-0 in finals

Southern Districts faces a tough task in its attempt to bounce back from consecutive losses, with a surging Waratah side standing in the way of a possible preliminary final berth. Second place in the regular season, the Crocs backed up from a strong 2018 season where they dropped just one game and deservedly lifted the cup. While season 2019 has painted a different story, Southern Districts has remains a team to beat and has a wealth of valuable finals experience. Waratah has been just as consistent as a top-five feature this season, and lays claim to wins over fellow finals contenders in the last five weeks – including its most recent double demolition of Darwin. The two sides also have an interesting bit of history between them this season, as the Warriors handed the Crocs their first loss for the season back in Round 7 – a loss which the reigning premiers managed to rectify in the penultimate home and away round. Despite the overall scene set in 2019, Waratah could well be considered favourites coming into this clash, but its most recent loss came at the hands of Southern Districts, and that has to play on the Warriors’ minds. A typically robust side, Waratah’s usual even spread of goal kickers has expanded in recent weeks, but will be tested against the might of a dangerous Crocs attack that has produced the second-best total score this year. Either way this battle falls, it is set to be another entertaining one, with one side hitting form at the right time and another looking to replicate what they produced earlier in the year.

U18 Girls season preview: Sandringham Dragons

DEALT a tough draw to open season 2018, Sandringham Dragons were 1-2 after going down to both of the eventual grand finalists in their first three games. Come the end of the regular season, the Dragons were unlucky to have just missed out on a grand final berth as they built some serious momentum and finished in third at 7-2. Girls Head Coach, Tamara Hyett said her side was unfortunate not to meet those teams with some form under its belt, but built into the season well and marks it as a success given the immense personal development shown by individual players.

“You try and develop a really good rapport amongst the players and it just took us a couple of rounds to get going but I think ideally you try and compete against the best when you’re at your best and unfortunately we weren’t in the first couple of rounds,” she said. But I think we proved that we were a good side by season’s end. “From where we came from, from day one and especially Round 1 to how all of our players developed throughout the season, I think it was good reward with the finishing result, just missing out on the grand final. I think the pleasing thing was that every girl improved throughout the season – you measure success by individual improvement, well at least we do, and so it was a successful year.”

The respective journeys of the Dragons’ two eventual draftees serve as evidence of that individual improvement, as both Eleanor Brown and Abbie McKay now boast AFL Women’s experience. Brown grew on and off the field throughout the year and made the wing her own on the back of pure dedication – something Hyett says the Dragons staff were deeply impressed by.

“Eleanor had a stand-out year on the wing and every game she just grew in confidence – from someone who was quite reserved and shy, to then becoming quite vocal, backing herself going for marks and things like that was great to see and I think she’s someone that we probably had to hold back a bit because she wanted to work and wanted it so bad that she was doing probably too much with extra sessions and things like that. But it was just rewards for the effort and improvement that she showed across the year,” she said.

A more natural footballer with the pedigree to suggest so, McKay has gone on to become the AFLW’s first ever father-daughter draftee, as well as the first father-daughter pick to grace the field as she ran out for Carlton in Round 4. Given talent aside, Hyett said McKay showed great determination to improve once she realised how far she could go.

“(Abbie) is a natural footballer so if she wanted to get drafted, she’d get drafted, and she did. I think she realised how good she could be, especially playing for Victoria at the championships – she’s just a natural footballer. A pretty driven girl internally, doesn’t show much externally but internally she’s pretty driven and we saw on the weekend that she made a seamless transition really into AFLW so that’s a credit to her and her ability to want to improve and want to be out there,” she said.

In a team sense, Hyett is not looking to change much heading into the new season – sighting fundamental skills as a key area for fast-tracking the development of each player, while also giving them the freedom to express themselves on-field.

“We’re probably focused a little bit more on the fundamentals because we have had a whole new batch basically and I don’t think you can do enough skills work. As far as the structure of the program, it’s very similar, we’re very lucky we’re well resourced with our strength and conditioning department and also the physios and things like that,” Hyett said. “I think from a pure footy sense that something we’ve focussed more on is the fundamentals and we want the girls to play with flair – I think that’s one thing that we’ve changed since we’ve just given the girls license to go off and show us what you can do, we want to see them at their best, not playing a defensive style at all.”

Should the new top four finals structure have been in place last year, the Dragons may have been better poised to challenge Geelong and Northern than they were earlier in the season, but they are set to face a similar fate as a clash with the reigning premiers awaits in Round 1. Hyett is not fazed by the challenge though, with promising players coming on across each age group set to put them in good stead for the early-season bout.

“I think it’s the best thing (playing Geelong), you want to see where you’re at early in the season and playing the defending champions is an ideal first round match-up for us and it’ll be a good gauge. Hopefully the work we’ve done in the off-season and from last year has been good and you never know but success is not really measured in wins and losses but I think a lot of our girls have grown and hopefully that’ll show up on Sunday,” she said.

Leading the pack are three outstanding top-age talents, with a raft of middle-agers also set to poise Sandringham as one of the competition’s stronger sides. A solid pre-season has built on the already admirable fitness base of those leaders, with each Dragon looking to keep standards at a relative high.

“I think the pleasing thing was that the girls that are backing up from last year have, as of day one of pre-season, come back improved physically – fitness-wise and also the fundamentals skill-wise,” she said. “Then we’ve got a really good balance of new young players as well as some top-age players who have come in so I think it’s a really balanced squad and hopefully we can all gel together and go really well.

Skipper Molly Denahy Maloney is one who sets the tone for her teammates in training and on matchday.

“I think our captain leads by example. She just grows and grows every session, she’s a fantastic leader who sets the standard physically and vocally as well,” Hyett said. “On and off the field when she speaks, everyone listens and her skills and determination I think will set her up for a really good year.”

Fellow top-agers, Margie Purcell and Sophie Rothfield are also coming on strong, impressing Hyett with their mix of grit and class while taking their games to the next level.

“Someone like Margie was pretty raw last year – started half-forward and ended up rotating on a wing,” she said. “Her game’s gone to the next level, her skills, her outside run and she’s really tough.
“She’s a really great pressure player, uses her speed without the ball but when she gets the ball in hand she takes off and adds a little bit of flair and toughness at the same time,” she said. “Then you’ve got someone like Soph’ who’s just got natural talent and if she puts it all together, anything’s possible – she’s got raw talent.”

A raft of middle-age talent is also something Hyett is excited by, with a range of players filling out the core of the team and looking to make a real impact.

“Girls like Alice Burke who won our best and fairest, they’re just constantly improving and learning about footy,” Hyett said. “So, footy IQ and their game sense is increasing, as well as the foot skills so I think Alice is in for a good year, she’s part of our leadership group as well. “Someone like Eliza McNamara has unbelievable speed, she’s just an athlete… I think she wears bruises with pride but also her skills have improved out of sight – the same with Winnie Laing, tough as nails and her skills have improved as well.”

Sarah Hartwig is also one who has impressed, holding down a spot in the side as a 16-year-old last year. Hyett said her continual progress has been impressive in the back half, epitomising the overall squad growth shown in the skill stakes.
“Probably our number one defender, Sarah Hartwig who has still got two years in the program and she takes a key forward, backs herself and very rarely gets beaten,” she said. “So those girls have all gone to a new level too as far as skills go which is what we want them to improve on. They’re all really good athletes and just constantly improving on skills and footy IQ and game smarts.”

With a practice match win over the Knights to build on, Sandringham looks a contender once again and may well be a side to benefit from the new finals structure with a host of talent across the field set to hold them in good stead for 2019.

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 5

WITH three rounds remaining, it is becoming vitally important to come home with four points as conferences are really taking shape.

BRISBANE vs. GEELONG
Saturday, March 2, 4.45pm
Moreton Bay Sports Complex

A battle between the top two sides of Conference B looms as Brisbane meets Geelong for the first time in AFLW, with the 2-2 Cats travel north in hope of pouncing on top spot. The Lions’ greater percentage holds them clear of their weekend opponents for now and barring a draw, we will have an outright leader atop the Conference B standings after this clash. While both sides returned to form with wins last time out, a 7.7 Round 4 scoreline puts the Lions in good stead for this bout given the Cats were held goalless in the second half against Carlton on the same day. Goalsneak Jess Wuetschner has led the way in that department Brisbane, with six goals helping her to equal-second for the competition. As part of more astute defensive unit, Geelong’s Phoebe McWilliams and Mia-Rae Clifford hold the best hauls for their side with three majors each, so this should prove an interesting battle between attack and defence.

H2H: Brisbane 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 1-1-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

CARLTON vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, March 2, 7.10pm
Ikon Park

Traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood do battle once again at Ikon Park, with the travelling Magpies still searching for an AFLW win against their nemesis, as well as in season 2019. Waywardness cost the Blues in their last outing, but a star-studded forward line boasting the likes of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio will hope to bound back into form here. The marking power of Harris will no-doubt be challenged by Magpies netball convert, Ash Brazill, who is second in the competition for intercept possessions (31). Up the other end, Collingwood’s lack of a real target inside forward 50 has been a sore spot, with last week’s score of 27 its highest for the season. If they are to stand a chance in this Conference B clash, the Magpies will need to lock down well in defence and take their chances going the other way.

H2H: Carlton 2 | Collingwood 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Carlton 4-1-2 | Collingwood 0-3-0

Last time they met: Carlton 3.4 (22) defeated Collingwood 2.2 (14) at Ikon Park, Round 1 2018.

In the second time these two teams opened the season, Carlton prevailed once agin in a much tighter, eight-point win over their arch rivals. In a game best remembered for future Rising Star winner Chloe Molloy‘s debut – she had 20 disposals and completely nullified Darcy Vescio in defence – the Blues were more effective inside 50. Captain Brianna Davey amassed 16 disposals, four marks, two clearances, three rebounds and two tackles. Danielle Hardiman (12 touches and three rebounds) was solid, while Gab Pound and former Magpie, Nicola Stevens both amassed 11 touches and four rebounds. For the Magpies, Molloy had six more disposals than any other Pies player and also had four rebounds, while Jaimee Lambert – also making her Collingwood debut – was next best with 14 touches.

GWS GIANTS vs. MELBOURNE
Sunday, March 3, 2.05pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS hosts Melbourne in a game that could prove vital for the Dees’ finals aspirations in Conference A. A much tighter Conference B ladder poises GWS in fourth, identical to their weekend counterparts’ standing, but a big win could propel the Giants into second come the round’s end. The home side will also come in with a bill of confidence having edged out the Magpies for their first win last time out, and will hope to make it two on the trot here. Conversely, Melbourne fought valiantly in a loss to the currently invincible Kangaroos, and a win would put them firmly back into the top two mix. The Dees will look to get back to winning ways after having won consecutively before Round 4, with the likes of Karen Paxman, Lauren Pearce, and Elise O’Dea enjoying terrific seasons through the midfield thus far. Rebecca Beeson is right up there with Paxman and O’Dea in the disposal count, and will look to combine with the class of Alicia Eva to make the engine room battle an even one. The Dees are also usually a healthy scoring side, so look for that to be a feature too.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 1-3-1 | Melbourne 0-1-0

Last time they met: Melbourne 7.3 (45) defeated GWS GIANTS 6.3 (39) at Casey Fields, Round 1 2018.

Melbourne had to come from behind to get the job done in a thrilling contest against the GIANTS at Casey Fields in the opening round last year. They trailed at every break, but booted three of the last four goals to claim the victory. Daisy Pearce was the top ball winner with 19 disposals, seven clearances and five inside 50s, while Elise O’Dea had 17 as well as five inside . 50s, four rebounds and five tackles. Lily Mithen (15 disposals) and Bianca Jakobsson (14) were other Demons who performed well in the victory. For the GIANTS, Courtney Gum was superb with 17 disposals (12 contested), four clearances, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Alicia Eva and Jacinda Barclay both recorded 14 disposals, with the latter slotting two majors.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. ADELAIDE
Sunday, March 3, 4.05pm
Avalon Airport Oval

A top of the table clash looms in Conference A as Adelaide looks to join the undefeated North Melbourne on 16 points atop of the ladder. Adelaide are the only other side who can boast a winning run of over three game, with the Crows’ only loss coming in Round 1 by the slimmest of margins on the back of a 1.11 score. Meanwhile, the Kangaroos have proved a powerhouse since entering the competition, with their lowest score thus far a more than respectable 38, coming last round. The Dees proved their biggest challenge by far on that day, with an otherwise average winning margin of almost 31 points. Since Round 1, the Crows have proved to be no slouches in front of goal either, with three scores over 57 points leading to handy victories and a percentage of 168. The goalkicking prowess on either team is easily identified by the fact that new ‘Roo Emma King and Crows forward Stevie-Lee Thompson each lead the goalkicking charts with seven goals apiece. Both sides boast versatile midfields along with their scoring power, with the likes of Ebony Marinoff and Erin Phillips dominating for the Crows with good meterage and a link into forward 50, while Emma Kearney has led superbly from Jamie Stanton, Jenna Bruton, and Jess Duffin for the ‘Roos. The undoubted game of the round, this one should be a belter between two form sides used to winning.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Adelaide 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Adelaide 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

FREMANTLE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, March 3, 6.05pm
Fremantle Oval

Third plays fifth in this Conference A clash between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs, with both sides coming off Round 4 losses. The 3-1 Dockers hold a superior record to the Dogs, and will be looking to breaking the top two of the conference with a win here. The Bulldogs hold the second-worst percentage of the whole competition, but could move up off the bottom of Conference A with four points and results pending. Both sides possess shining lights up forward, with Katie Brennan an established star of the game and leading the competition for contested marks as a link into forward 50 for the Dogs. Meanwhile, Ebony Antonio has been electric for Freo, leading the way in terms of goals and score involvements. In another key comparison, the home side’s hard-nosed midfield duo of Dana Hooker and Kiara Bowers meets the dynamism of Bulldogs pair Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti, with their run and carry a crucial piece of the puzzle this fixture throughs up. Either way, this bout will help give the Conference A ladder some shape, and could prove make or break for the Bulldogs.

H2H: Fremantle 0 | Western Bulldogs 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 4-3-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-0-0

Last time they met: Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49) defeated Fremantle 3.5 (23) at Whitten Oval, Round 1, 2018.

For the second consecutive year, the Western Bulldogs were all over Fremantle and had no trouble putting them away at Whitten Oval to start what was going to be a memorable year. Fremantle booted three goals to two in the second half, but it was to no avail as they went down by 26 points. Ellie Blackburn was best on ground with 23 disposals, seven marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Emma Kearney ably assisted with 18 touches, six marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds. Katie Brennan slotted three goals in the victory, while Brooke Lochland managed one to go with her 13 touches and six marks. For the Dockers, Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan both had 12 touches but were the only ones into double figures in what was a disappointing game for Dockers fans.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Finals Round 1

ROUND 1 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals absolutely delivered, with the two winners taking full advantage of their hot form, while one side will have to rely on its double-chance to progress further.

WARATAH 21.7 (133)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 8.12 (60)

GOALS:
Waratah: A. Ankers 4, S. Godden 3, T.Toma 3, S. Tatupu 2, Z. Westerberg, H.Kerinaiua, B.Minkulk, S.Flanegan, K.Kantilla, B.Carroll, C.Barrett, J.Gardner.
Darwin: J. Clarke 3, J. Clark, M. Campbell, P. Boles, M. Bradley, B. Culhane.

BEST:
Waratah: N/A
Darwin: N/A

A clinical performance after quarter time helped Waratah to a comprehensive 73-point elimination final win against Darwin to open post-season proceedings. In what was almost an identical result to the Warriors’ 76-point drubbing of the Buffs in Round 18, the winners put on a show in front of goal to earn a semi-final shot against Southern Districts. Both sides came out strong in the opening stages, with the Warriors holding a slender three-point margin at the first break despite having two less scoring shots. It was one way traffic from there on, with a seven-goal second stanza setting up an even five-goal margin going into half time as Darwin continued to misfire. 12 goals to five after the main break put the nail in the coffin for the Buffs, who lost five games in a row to end what, at one stage, looked like a promising season. The Tahs had a good spread of goalkickers with 12 individual scorers, as Abraham Ankers led the way with four majors. Sam Godden and Tom Toma were not far behind with three each, as Shem Tatupu rounded out the multiple goal kickers with his bag of two. Jalen Clarke stood up in that regard for Darwin with three goals, while the returning Matt Campbell also hit the scoreboard. While Darwin will regroup and look forward to going around again next year, Waratah moves on to face another early-season favourite – Southern Districts. The Crocs have also shown weaker form of late, but are always dangerous forward of centre and more than capable of matching the new-found firepower of Waratah. Having been a feature of the top four all year, the result is nothing short of what the Warriors deserve, but they will no doubt be looking to go one better next week.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 10.5 (65)
TIWI BOMBERS 13.8 (86)

GOALS:
Southern Districts:
S. Thorne 2, S. Rusca 2, W. Farrer, C. Gallio, J. Koopman, R. O’Brien, D. Staunton, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 6, A. Wonaeamirri 4, D. Munkara, S. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts:
D. Staunton, S. Rusca, S. Thorne, J. Farrer
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, M. Dunn, W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, A. Wonaeamirri

A surging come from behind effort has seen Tiwi roll on into a semi-final fixture against Nightcliff, downing the highly fancied Southern Districts by 21-points. Down by as much as 27-points in the second half, the Bombers never gave up hope and snatched the win on the back of a swarm from their forward 50 mosquito fleet. Dion Munkara stole the headlines and some social media airtime with his goal celebration late on, with Austin Wonaeamirri‘s goal to clinch the lead also not to be outdone in the highlight stakes. The ex-Dee was instrumental with four goals, but it was Ross Tungatalum who again led the way in front of goal with a bag of six. The Crocs were not too far behind, but shared their goals a touch more with eight players troubling the scoreboard – including Shane Thorne and Steve Rusca with two each. Both were named in the Crocs’ best handful of players, with Dean Staunton deemed the most valuable. With both sides at relatively full strength, Tiwi passed this test with flying colours and will fancy itself in with a huge chance of toppling the Tigers after their week off for a shot in the big dance. In the week’s other game, Southern Districts will hope to take full advantage of its second chance in finals as it meets a red-hot Warriors side in what should be a belter.

Weekend Previews: NTFL – Finals Week 1

WITH the regular season come and gone, finals time is upon us in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. While there already seems to be two form sides across this week’s Elimination and Qualifying finals, nothing is certain as each team puts it all on the line for a chance at ultimate glory.

WARATAH (4th, 9-9) v. DARWIN BUFFALOES (5th, 8-10)
Elimination Final – Saturday, February 23
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head (1-1):
Rd 6: Darwin 12.11 (83) defeated Waratah 10.10 (70)
Rd 18: Waratah 19.9 (123) defeated Darwin 7.5 (47)

Last-five form:
Waratah: 3-2
Darwin: 1-4

Waratah and Darwin will both be hoping to keep their seasons alive in a high-stakes elimination final to open the 2019 post-season. In what is an immediate rematch of their Round 18 clash, there will be little margin for error for either team as they look to make good on being entrenched in the top five all year. The Warriors will be quietly confident of repeating their Round 18 effort, having downed an out of form Buffs side by a massive 76 points. Darwin’s late-season form has been a worry for a number of weeks leading up to this point, losing its last four games – including bouts against the bottom two teams – to end the home and away fixtures. Coming into the finals with a negative record would be unusual if the competition were not so even, and one would be forgiven for forgetting that Darwin were once considered a top contender this year having beaten Southern Districts twice. On the flip side, Waratah has been a far more consistent figure in the finals race, remaining in the top five from Round 2 to 17 in a season of solidity. With the Buffs defence proving leaky of late, Henry Kerinaiua (seven goals in two games) will be looking to build on a fruitful couple of weeks and two solid outings against Darwin during the regular season. Darwin’s once revered firepower remains a threat too, with the likes of Adam Sambono boasting a four-goal haul against the Warriors, and young star Malcolm Rosas showing flashes of brilliance inside 50. That typical Darwin flair gives them a chance against any side as the Buffaloes have already proven, but the consistency of Waratah usually bodes well for a strong finals output. Either way, Darwin will be keen to bring its A-game and prove Waratah’s big win last time out merely was a one-off. The loser of the day’s other game awaits the winner of this one in the semis, with a chance to progress to the preliminary round up for grabs.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5) v. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd 9-9)
Qualifying Final – Saturday, February 23
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head (2-1):
Rd 3: Southern Districts 13.13 (91) defeated Tiwi 10.7 (67)
Rd 10: Tiwi 11.10 (76) defeated by Southern Districts 19.12 (126)
Rd 14: Southern Districts 8.9 (57) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (79)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2
Tiwi: 4-1

Southern Districts and Tiwi do battle on Saturday to determine who will face top side, Nightcliff in the semi finals for a chance to automatically qualify for the big dance. The Bombers snatched third spot from the grasp of Waratah in Round 18, with a resounding 87-point win over St Marys granting them the required percentage advantage. It has been a sensational turnaround for the third-place side after starting the year 0-5, going on to win three-straight games and eventually, four of its last five. While the Crocs have slipped up a couple of times of late, they have not released their grip on a top-two spot since Round 2, losing only to each fellow finals contender (twice against Darwin). The firepower in each attack is what stands out between the two sides, so the respective defences are set to play key roles in deciding the battle. Southern Districts has the edge in both departments given its superior win/loss record, conceding 400 less points overall and also scoring 78 more. On the day, the likes of Croc livewires Jess Koopman (34 goals, seven against Bombers) and Michael Mummery (26 goals) will hope to outgun Tiwi’s Ross Tungatalum (40 goals, eight against Crocs), who has six hauls of over four goals this year. Nathan Djerrkura has also been a welcome late-edition for Tiwi, boosting the engine room. He faces a battle with fellow ex-AFL listed player, John Butcher as part of an overall midfield battle that should provide some highlights. The recent form of Tiwi is hard to ignore, but the collective two seasons the reigning premiers have compiled is nothing to scoff at, and they will be keen to have something to show for it. Expect fireworks here with a whole lot to prove on each end, with either side keen to get one back over Nightcliff next week.

Number Crunching: AFLW – Round 3

A record-breaking effort from Adelaide star, Ebony Marinoff was the highlight in a round of big individual performances across AFLW. The Round 3 edition of number crunching reveals who fared best in each stat, including a nod to the players who managed to dominate multiple areas.

The epitome of dominance this week was Marinoff, who helped herself to a record 33 disposals against the Cats to eclipse Emma Kearney‘s pervious feat of 30, and Erin Phillips‘ club record of 28. The versatile Crow also managed round-highs in uncontested possessions (20), kicks (18), and goal assists (two), while placing second for inside 50s (eight) and clearances (seven) in one of the more remarkable individual AFLW games to date.

Her closest rival in the disposals department was teammate, Anne Hatchard (27) who led the way in contested possessions (16) and handballs (18). North Melbourne’s Jenna Bruton fell just short of Marinoff’s kicks stat to have 17, but beat her out in the inside 50 count with a league-best of nine. Another to better Marinoff’s efforts was Demon, Lauren Pearce who managed an impressive nine clearances to lead the way from four players on seven.

One of those was GWS Giant, Rebecca Beeson who was the highest ball-winner of those to record a disposal efficiency of 90 per cent. Melbourne’s Meg Downie was one of 15 players to go at 100 per cent, claiming the most amount of ball of them all with eight disposals.

Beeson’s teammates, Yvonne Bonner (eight marks) and Erin McKinnon (26 hit-outs) dominated the air, with McKinnon only beaten out by Cat, Erin Hoare (29 hit-outs) in the ruck stakes. It took two Blues talls to nullify the impact of McKinnon though, with Breann Moody and Alison Downey combining for 34 taps to eclipse the Giant’s efforts. Fellow Blue, Tayla Harris also had a good day out, putting on a marking clinic to be one of three players with six marks – including a round-high four contested and equal-best of three inside 50 to go with three goals.

Harris was joined by young Carlton gun, Madison Prespakis on three majors, along with two others who managed the feat. They were all outdone in front of goal though by AFLW newcomer, Courteney Munn who booted four goals in an incredible breakout performance for the ‘Roos. On the flip-side, Fremantle’s Ashley Sharp had the dishonour of being the only player to notch three behinds, while three others had two.

It is hard to go past Marinoff in terms of the week’s best all-round performers, but teammate Phillips put her hand up with 19 disposals (14 contested) at 84 per cent, six tackles, four clearances, three goals, two assists to snap up a perfect 10 coaches votes. Another to do so was Round 2 Rising Star nominee, Prespakis, who had 21 disposals (14 contested) at 76 per cent, seven clearances, three goals, two assists. Undeniably a round for top individuals, with a good dose of free-flowing footy.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 18

THE final round of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League regular season threw up a host of one-sided results, with an anticlimactic top of the table clash headlining the shock scorelines heading into finals.

Tiwi Bombers 17.18 (120)
St Marys 4.9 (33)

GOALS:
Tiwi:
A. Wonaeamirri 4, J. Puruntatameri 4, S. Munkara 3, B. Palipuaminni, S. Tipuamantmirri, P. Heenan, R. Mungatopi, R. Tungatalum, C. Burgess.
St Marys: B. Nicholls 2, M. Liddy 2.

BEST:
Tiwi:
C. Burgess, J. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Tungatalum, M. Dunn, A. Darcy
St Marys: J. Long, J. Long, B. Rioli, B. Nicholls, N. Yarran, T. Frawley

Tiwi stormed into third place with a resounding win over cellar dwellers, St Marys to open a super Saturday of NTFL football. The Bombers were at their lethal best forward of centre, with stars Austin Wonaeamirri and Jason Puruntatameri each bagging four majors, joined by Simon Munkara (three goals) as multiple goal kickers. The percentage gained in the 87-point drubbing was enough to put serious pressure on fellow finals contenders, Waratah and Darwin in the day’s next fixture, and ended up being more than enough to see Tiwi snatch a bronze placing. Despite the exploits of the usual Bomber suspects up forward, Christian Burgess was named best for the winners, with Nathan Djerrkura not far behind in continuing his awesome late-season form. St Marys finally succumbed to the wooden spoon spot in the final round after holding out for so long, with the effort left to too few. Jack Long put in a best-on shift for the Saints, backed by Ben Rioli and Nick Yarran in another low-scoring effort. Baden Nicholls and Mathias Liddy shared St Marys’ four goals evenly as the only Saints to trouble the scorers – which has been a sore spot for the side all season. While St Marys’ season is over, Tiwi storms on into what could well be a fruitful finals campaign, with the Bombers looking like one of the competition’s two form sides. They face Southern Districts on Saturday after a disappointing week for the Crocs, and will fancy themselves a huge chance of going deep this year.

Waratah 19.9 (123)
Darwin Buffaloes 7.5 (47)


GOALS:
Waratah:
H. Kerinaiua 4, T. Toma 2, S. Godden 2, J. Arundell 2, C. Barrett 2, Z. Westerberg 2, L. Davies, B. Carroll, S. Tatupu, B. Minkulk, K. Kantilla.
Darwin: A. Sambono 2, D. Johnston 2, M. Rosas, D. Paull, P. Boles.

BEST:
Waratah:
T. Toma, Z. Westerberg, H. Kerinaiua, S. Godden, C. Barrett
Darwin: N/A

A ten goals to one second half helped Waratah impressively account for Darwin, setting up an immediate rematch in the first round of finals. The Warriors spread the goals around with a massive 11 individual goal kickers – including six with multiple majors. Henry Kerinaiua led the way with a bag of four, while Tom Toma, Sam Godden, Cameron Barrett and Zach Westerberg (all two goals) made up the remainder of the best handful of players. Their opponents simply fell away after the main break, but the Buffs showed enough in the first half to suggest they can trouble the Warriors next time around. The brilliance of Adam Sambono deep forward put two goals on the board, while young gun Malcolm Rosas showed off his typical flair with a classy goal on the back of a spinning one-handed pick up. Still, the absence of considerable experience for Darwin has culminated in a disappointing back end of the year, as the Buffaloes now look to pick the pieces back up and break through for an unlikely win. The clash next week should prove a better contest than this one, but Waratah will come in with untouchable confidence on the back of its comfortable win.

Nightcliff 21.13 (139)
Southern Districts 7.7 (49)


GOALS:
Nightcliff:
B. Filo 4, J. Butcher 3, T. Melville 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 3, B. Black, R. Morris, S. Wilson, P. Wills, H. Drogemuller.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer, C. McAdam, J. Koopman.

BEST:
Nightcliff:
B. Filo, H. Drogemuller, B. Black, R. Morris, P. Wills, S. Deery
Southern Districts: N/A

Nightcliff put a strong statement on its minor premiership, clinching the honour in a top-of-the-table drubbing to earn a week off on top of its double chance. The Tigers blew their nearest rivals away in a 90-point victory, including 12 goals to one in the second half to consolidate the ladder position they have held since Round 13. Ten Tigers managed to claim goals, with four of them bagging three majors and Brodie Filo leading the way with a game-high four to be named best afield. Competition leading goal kicker Trent Melville (three goals) brought his tally to 55, but missed out on being named in the best to the likes of 2019 best and fairest Phillip Wills and runner-up, Simon Deery. On a down day for the Crocs, Michael Mummery (four goals) booted almost half of his side’s total score, while Jess Koopman and Charlie McAdam were also dangerous without much opportunity. While Nightcliff earned a well-deserved rest, the Crocs host a red-hot Tiwi side with just as much of a scoring threat as their weekend opponents. With its title defence taking a small dent, expect Southern Districts to come out firing in the business end of the competition.

Palmerston Magpies 9.10 (64)
Wanderers 16.12 (108)


GOALS:
Palmerston: M. Williams 2, A. Davey 2, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Jeffrey, B. Church, M. McMasters
Wanderers: N/A

BEST:
Palmerston:
M. McMasters, M. Dennis, S. Talbot, K. Garling, M. Perry (Jnr), J. Rhodes
Wanderers: N/A

A rollercoaster season came to an end for Palmerston on a dour note, going down handily to Wanderers to close out the home and away season. Given the Magpies’ finals hopes were all but over coming into the bout and Wanderers were playing to escape bottom, this game was put down as a relative dead-rubber – but produced an entertaining contest. In another second-half landslide, the Muk Muks came out 44 points to the good of their opponents after opening a slimmer four-goal buffer in the first two terms. The three-pronged inside 50 threat of Joel Jeffrey, Dillen Brown, and Beau O’Connell set up a good base for the Eagles to work off, and Palmerston simply could not scrounge the score required to keep up. Mark Williams and Alwyn Davey were the only Magpies to register multiple goals, with Michaelis McMasters named their best and Matthew Dennis boasting another placing in the best to bring his total to 17 in 18 games. The win drags Wanderers away from the cellar door for the first time since Round 5 in the round that matters most, while Palmerston ended up in sixth – four points away from a finals berth.