Category: Northern Territory

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 15 – Four separate venues host defining round

FOUR separate venues host what is set to be the first round in a finals-defining last month of the regular season, with four of the top five sides again going head-to-head amid heavy jostling for position. St Mary’s, currently sitting second, could be the main benefactor as it readies to face current wooden-spooner Palmerston, but there is plenty to play out in Round 15 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-5) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 8-6)
Saturday January 25, 2:00pm
Tracy Village

Third spot is up for grabs as Tiwi Bombers and Darwin Buffaloes do battle at Tracy Village, with the Buffs looking to arrest a two-game losing skid. The game also marks the end of a tough month of fixtures for the travelling side, and another set of four points here could even keep Darwin in the hunt for second spot. With jostling for position among the top five becoming much more intense, the Buffs look to be going all out for their third meeting with the Bombers. Joe Anderson and Brodie Foster come back into the side to push Jarrod Stokes into midfield under the ruckmanship of Stephen Tahana, while Adam Sambono looms as another possible inclusion having been named on the extended bench. But Tiwi is seldom short of their own big names, and the Bombers’ bench alone is one to behold. Former AFL midfielders Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura feature alongside Greensborough pair Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle, while Collingwood VFL star Lachlan Howe could also come into the already stacked side. This could be an all-out shootout judging by the line-ups, and with plenty of big names scattered across the field, is a must-watch for neutrals. Tiwi will come in as favourite given its form, but should be wary of the Buffs – who can beat any side on their day.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 13-1) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 7-6-1)
Saturday January 25, 4:00pm
TIO Stadium

An out-of-form Southern Districts faces the toughest of tasks in regaining its mojo, with reining premier Nightcliff next on the agenda. The Crocs come in having lost three-consecutive games and four of their last five, all against top five opposition in an ominous omen for this clash. Two previous losses to Nightcliff in this campaign bode no better for Southern Districts, with its slide to fifth spot perhaps the product of a tough draw. But this should be the Crocs’ final regular season hurdle with three bottom sides awaiting, and there should be plenty of class at their disposal despite the absence of Michael and Ed Barlow. Richard Tambling retains his spot in the heart of midfield, set to link up with Josiah Farrer in the engine room. The forward rotation will also be important for Districts, with Jeff Garlett, Dean Staunton, and Beau Schwarze set to move through there alongside spearheads, Will Farrer and Sam Barnett. With such firepower, this looms as a danger game for the somewhat undermanned Tigers, who lose John Butcher and James Tsitas for this match. But there is plenty of class remaining, with Liam Holt-Fitz‘s form leading the likes of Trent Melville and Kaine Riley among a host of other consistent performers. While the Tigers have earned favouritism for every game this season having beaten every team in the league, the Crocs could well pull off a remarkable return to form.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-13) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 10-4)
Saturday January 25, 5:00pm
Cazalys Arena

A better-stocked St Mary’s will hope to return to the winners list in its clash with the lowly Palmerston Magpies on the road, with second spot the Saints’ to lose at this point. Coming off a crushing loss to league-leader, Nightcliff, the Saints look poised to bring in some serious talent in hopes of recapturing the form which saw them string together five-straight wins. With Jack Long and Shaun Edwards remaining a key part of St Mary’s spine, ex-Blue and ‘Roo Jarrad Waite looks set to join Jackson Calder inside forward 50 while Nate Paredes and Nick Yarran return on the outside. Those inclusions make the proposition a whole lot harder for Palmerston, but the Magpies have been able to turn to some ex-AFL experience of their own with Aaron Davey joining brother and coach, Alwyn in the side. Alwyn Davey Jnr also remains in the starting line-up, with Russell Davey again making it a true family affair. But it remains quite a one-sided contest on paper, and St Mary’s hunger should be heightened given its disappointing outing last time out against Nightcliff. It could be over early, which would be ideal for the Saints as they look to maintain a percentage advantage with second spot looming as tough to hold on to.

WARATAH (6th, 4-10) vs. WANDERERS (7th, 3-10-1)
Sunday January 26, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Two bottom three sides get a standalone Sunday slot as Waratah and Wanderers clash for the third time this season, with the ledger sitting at one win apiece. The Warriors’ Round 14 win over Palmerston will have them licking their lips at the opportunity to snare another set of four points, especially given Wanderers’ current eight-game losing streak. But much of this fixture’s outcome relies on the crop available to either side, with Waratah looking a top five side at its best, and Wanderers needing all the pieces to be put together to stay on top. The Warriors could well field a very strong line-up, with Abe Ankers, Michael Newton, Brodie Carroll, and Kim Kantilla all named – albeit with a heavily extended bench. In response, the Muk Muks have included Braedon McLean, Davin Ferreira, Joel Jeffrey, Beau O’Connell, and five of the Motlop clan to make up a near-full strength side and put some intrigue into this clash. It should be a close one despite the wavering form of either team, with pride still on the line despite finals hopes being firmly out of the question. The winner could finish as the best of the rest.

NTFL Women’s Premier League Preview: Round 15 – Magpies get first bye of season in race to finals

ROUND 15 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s will see plenty of exciting matches, with this round ultimately heating up the race to finals with only four matches left in the season. With a relatively even ladder this season, every team from fifth to eighth on the ladder could still realistically make finals with wins to finish the season. Though still an outside chance, with fifth and sixth only two wins ahead of seventh and three ahead of eighth, the likes of Nightcliff and Wanderers will need to take every opportunity they have to ensure they don’t get forced out of finals contention. 

Big River Hawks have unfortunately withdrawn from the competition after player unavailability lead to three successive forfeits, breaching AFLNT regulations. All teams scheduled to take on the Hawks over the next four rounds will receive byes, with Palmerston Magpies sitting out this week.

Tracy Village v. Southern Districts
Round 15 – 25/1/20
12:00pm
Tracy Village

Tracy Village will have a tough one this week when they open the round, taking on Southern Districts at home to hopefully get their third win on the board for the season. Sitting in third, the Crocs will want to bring back some of their early-season consistency to breach the top two, only sitting one win behind the Buffettes and realistically with a good chance to rack up some more wins to end the season on a high. Last time these sides met the Crocs only conceded one behind for the match, meaning that they will look to continue that form but will also have a hungry Razorbacks outfit to contend with up forward to go one better than their Round 5 efforts. Tahlia Holtze and April Lewis will look to continue their solid form for the season, collecting six and four bests nominations respectively, while Ebony Miller is sure to make an impact with 37 goals on her tally for the season so far. Lisa-Maree Toner has been consistent for the Razorbacks despite the side’s slow season, while Gabrielle Young will hope for another solid match on the board.

Pint v. St Mary’s
Round 15 – 25/1/20
2:00pm
MCG

In the second match of the round the seventh-ranked Queen Ants will take on the eighth-placed Saints in what is the closest match of the round, with both sides needing wins over the coming weeks to catch a glimpse of finals contention. Based on their percentage Pint should get the chocolates this time around despite St Mary’s getting the win last time they met, with a better win rate and ability to put points on the board. But the Saints cannot be discounted, with some solid form this season with an ability to score quickly, making for a massive contest. For the Saints, Nikita Long will hope to continue her consistency on the field with 13 matches under her belt for the season while Sharna Edwards will want to put her best foot forward under pressure from Pint. For the Queen Ants, Jasmyn Hewett, Casey Morris and Jessie Baumer have been solid options inside 50 while the likes of Emma Greaves and Erin Hetherington have impressed throughout the season, steadying the side throughout.

Nightcliff v. Darwin Buffettes
Round 15 – 25/1/20
2:00pm
TIO Stadium

Nightcliff will need to be at their best this round when they take on the Buffettes who have returned to their early season form with impressive wins over the past two weeks. Last time they met the Buffs reigned supreme in a 31-point victory, with the side well and truly on a roll with victory making for an interesting matchup this time around given the Tigers are currently on a three game winning streak, including one against the reigning premiers and ladder-leaders, Waratah. Only sitting two wins behind Darwin and with plenty of talent at their disposal, Nightcliff will want to prove they have what it takes to go far this season with a win against the second-ranked Buffettes. Nightcliff high-flyers, Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey will want to continue their combined stellar form, with the pair both picking up nine best on ground nominations this season so far. The likes of Mickayla Ward and Jacqueline Anyon-Smith have some real firepower between them so will hope to put some real pressure on the scoreboard, while plenty of other forwards are also able to have an impact. The Tigers will have a hard time stopping the likes of Kylie Duggan and Tayla Hart-Aluni who are as consistent as they come, especially in a side of dominant performers. 

Waratah v. Wanderers
Round 15 – 26/1/20
2:00pm
Gardens Oval

With a week off last round, Waratah will be out for blood against sixth-ranked Wanderers who are sitting in a similar position to Nightcliff, needing wins over the next few rounds to ensure a finals berth. Last time these sides met the ‘Tahs came out on top with relative ease in a somewhat inaccurate clash, booting 12.10 (82) to Wanderers’ 5.7 (37). Waratah will want to continue their impressive form heading into the last few rounds of the season to remain at the head of the ladder and with a plethora of forward options the Wanderers will have their work cut out for them defensively to try and stem the flow long enough to get a ninth win on the board. Wanderers’ Shekeine De Satge and Morgan Johnston have been stellar throughout the season, both earning nine best on ground nominations for their efforts. De Satge is the leading goalkicker with 13 for the season so far, so will hope to add to her tally this week against a tough opponent. Waratah’s Lauren O’Shea, Jenna Singh and Lisa Roberts will look to add to their respective goal tallies for the season, having combined for 41 goals and 14 best on ground nominations this season.

NTFL Women’s Premier League wrap: Round 14 – Buffettes back at best with 76-point win

ROUND 14  of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s saw some interesting results, with not much turnover of ladder positions despite some key wins. Waratah had a week off this week thanks to a third consecutive forfeit from Big River Hawks.

PINT 2.2 | 4.3 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)
WANDERERS 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS

Pint: J. Downey 2, C. Evans 2, C. Morris, E. Greaves, K. Smits, K. Streader.
Wanderers: S. De Satge 2, L. Lloyd, S. Armitstead, T. Davern.

BEST

Pint: N/A
Wanderers: S. Armitstead, G. Halkitis, T. Davern, M. Johnston, S. De Satge

Pint were clinical against the Wanderers this round, booting a goal for every one the Wanderers did and creating a real chase of a game to register their sixth win of the season. While they still sit below the Eagles on less wins, this is a big one for the Queen Ants’ confidence after a close loss to Nightcliff last round. It was a relatively even start before Pint managed to pull away in the second, making the most of their opportunities with ball in hand and finding some good space inside 50. The second quarter was clinical, and while Pint conceded three goals from the Eagles while booting four in the second half, it was really that second quarter effort that pushed them over the line. Wanderers’ Shekeine De Satge was impactful as ever with two goals on the board but it was the form of Pint’s Jacqueline Downey and Cara Evans who both kicked two that provided a nice buffer for the home side. Wanderers named Sophie Armitstead in the bests this week, booting a major and using her game smarts to find the ball, though was caught off guard at times by a lively Pint outfit. Wanderers are sure to be ruing this missed opportunity to leap into the top five, still even with Nightcliff on wins and losses making for a very interesting run home. 

DARWIN BUFFETTES 4.1 | 6.4 | 8.4 | 13.5 (83)
ST MARY’S 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS

Darwin Buffettes: T. Hart-Aluni 4, J. Dodsworth 4, D. Ah Wang 3, M. Taylor, D. Carbone.
St Mary’s: N/A.

BEST

Darwin Buffettes: J. Dodsworth, T. Hart-Aluni, J. Iacono, K. Duggan, D. Carbone
St Mary’s: N/A

The Buffs never looked like losing this round, back to their old tricks with a phenomenal 76-point victory over St Mary’s. The Saints seemed shellshocked, unable to cope with the wealth of talent across the field on top of the forward pressure the Buffettes so easily apply. Three Buffettes took home a bag of goals, with Tayla Hart-Aluni and Johanna Dodsworth leading the charge on four, while Delsey Ah Wang booted three. Dodsworth and Hart-Aluni were listed in the best once more and for good reason, while familiar names in Kylie Duggan and Dominique Carbone also graced the list thanks to an overall dominant team effort. For the Saints, Nikita Long was consistent as ever while Sharna Edwards did her best despite the onslaught.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 6.7 (43)

GOALS

Palmerston Magpies: A. Moreen 3, J. Brock, F. Puruntatameri.
Southern Districts: E. Miller 2, K. Patterson, A. Lewis, M. Breed, M. Moussa.

BEST

Palmerston Magpies: Y. Roe, N. Medbury, A. Moreen, B. Byers, T. May, J. Brock
Southern Districts: T. Holtze, B. Hayne, A. Lewis, H. Engelhardt, C. Deegan

Palmerston are another side that will be frustrated with missed opportunities this week after going down to Southern Districts in a relatively tight occasion. While it wasn’t the highest scoring game of the round, it was a tight defensive effort from both sides that really highlighted the toughness of this match-up. While Districts got away with the lead at every change, Magpies were never far behind – mostly just one goal behind, if that, with an uncharacteristically accurate approach to the big sticks. However Districts proved that sometimes it’s a case of quantity over quality, with seven behinds for the match giving them the buffer they needed to deny the Magpies a chance of pulling the margin back. Arthurina Moreen was clinical as ever inside 50 with three goals and her name in the Palmerston bests, and while fellow key forward Ebony Miller was not quite as prolific as usual with only two to her name, it was a real shared effort inside 50 from the Districts that got them over the line, with Tahlia Holtze and Brooke Hayne unstoppable across the field. Magpies’ Yasmen Roe and Natasha Medbury put in the hard yards but to no avail, with a full field effort from the Crocs just too good this time around.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.3 | 7.5 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
TRACY VILLAGE 0.1 | 1.3 | 3.4 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Nightcliff: M. Ward 3, E. Morrison 2, E. Wolsey 2, J. Anyon-Smith.
Tracy Village: N/A.

BEST

Nightcliff: E. Morrison, E. Wolsey, L. de Hommel
Tracy Village: N/A

Nightcliff will be chuffed with this solid win over Tracy Village, with an impressive four goal first quarter ultimately telling the tale of this match-up. While Tracy Village defied the odds and only conceded one goal from the Tigers in the second half, it was their slow start that really ruined any chance of coming back into the match that lost them this battle. Mikayla Ward was stellar for Nightcliff with three more goals added to her season tally, while fellow regular performers in Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey booted two of their own on their way to a joint ninth time listed in the bests. The likes of Lisa-Maree Toner and Zhoe Clarke put in solid performances respectively in the tough battle, maintaining their consistency and creating opportunities for the Razorbacks to head to goal.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 14 – Tigers roar to big win over Saints

NIGHTCLIFF sent a clear message to its Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League opponents on Saturday, claiming an authoritative win over St Mary’s in a lacklustre top of the table clash. Elsewhere, results saw Southern Districts drop all the way back to fifth, while Waratah notched just its fourth win against fellow bottom three battler, Palmerston. With the top five now set, the race for finals supremacy begins.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.3 | 6.6 | 7.10 | 9.14 (68)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.4 | 5.7 | 11.9 | 17.12 (114)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, D. Barry 2, J. Clarke, K. Dingo, J. Innes, D. Hall.
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 3, J. Best 2, A. Hams 2, D. Kruse 2, R. Tungatalum 2, M. Kantilla 2, N. Djerrkura, P. Heenan, C. Abala, S. Munkara.

BEST:

Southern Districts: T. Holman, D. Staunton, J. Watts, M. Pemberton, C. McAdam, D. McLachlan
Tiwi: R. Baird, N. Djerrkura, X. Grant, J. Monigatti, C. Luff, A. Hams

Southern Districts’ hunt for a top two spot has been dealt a major blow, with the Crocs no match for an in-form Tiwi Bombers outfit. The Bombers’ enacted a second half blitz, overcoming a five-point half time deficit to kick away to the eventual 17.12 (114) to 9.14 (68) victory in style.

As the top four status of the clubs coming in would suggest, the opening exchanges were hotly contested as Tiwi edged to a slight advantage at the first break. After the Crocs hit back to find a lead of their own in the following stanza, it was all Tiwi in a 12-goal to three second half as their firepower and run across the board proved too hot to handle. As is often an indicator of their best form, the Bombers had 10 individual goalkickers, with six of them finding the big sticks on more than one occasion. Ex-Melbourne livewire Austin Wonaeamirri led the way with a team-high three majors, with fellow goal-getters Nathan Djerrkura and Ashton Hams named in the best half-dozen players behind Rodney Baird – all of whom played further afield. Will Farrer found some form after going goalless last time out, collecting a handy bag of three majors while Dylan Barry snared two in his return to the senior side. Thomas Holman and Charlie McAdam were also among the Crocs’ best in the losing effort, with plenty to improve on heading into the all-important final home-and-away month.

It does not get any easier next week for Southern Districts though with Nightcliff waiting in the wings, but consecutive fixtures against the bottom three sides thereafter could see the Crocs bounce back into the top three pending other results. Tiwi will hope to prevent that while looking to break into the top two themselves, but face a tough run against three fellow top four sides in the run home.

WARATAH 4.2 | 9.4 | 11.6 | 18.12 (120)
PALMERSTON 0.4 | 2.6 | 9.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:

Waratah: H. Kerinaiua 3, J. Beugelaar 3, W. Gorman 3, B. Carroll 2, M. Graham 2, K. Kantilla 2, N. Gooch, M. Blake, B. Zobel.
Palmerston: T. Freeman 3, D. Nichols 2, A. Davey, J. Berry, W. Shadforth, D. Gaykamangu , K. Holt-Tubbs.

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Palmerston: W. Shadforth, S. Brock, E. Frank, M. Chester, J. Berry, A. Davey

Waratah brought Palmerston back down to earth with a thud after its maiden win in Round 13, inflicting a 53-point belting on its fellow bottom three side. The Warriors were far too good throughout, withstanding a third term Palmerston swoop to run out 18.12 (120) to 10.7 (67) winners.

The Warriors burst out of the gates with a four-goal to nil opening term, followed up by another block of five to Palmerston’s two in building a 40-point half time buffer. But that was where the game looked to be turning for the Magpies as they piled on seven majors to cut the deficit to eleven points, heading into the final turn with a heap of momentum in hopes of a second-straight win. It was not to be, with Waratah holding strong and proving attack is the best form of defence on the back of seven fourth quarter goals. An impressive six of Waratah’s nine goalkickers booted multiples, with Henry Kerinaiua leading a trio of Warriors to claim an equal game-high three goals. Brodie Carroll snared a double upon his successful return to the line-up, while Kim Kantilla was also not far away from the action. Tom Freeman quadrupled his season goal tally with a haul of three for Palmerston, but was shaded in the Magpies’ best by fellow goalkickers Wade Shadforth, Jack Berry, and Alwyn Davey. It was another case of not being in the hunt for long enough for Davey’s side, conceding costly flurries of goals despite enjoying their own spurts of momentum.

The Magpies’ quest to scrape themselves off the bottom of the ladder will be a difficult one given they face four top five opponents in the upcoming month, but a win in any of those games would help end the year on a high. The Warriors may fancy themselves for consecutive wins as they take on the struggling Wanderers next time out, but have a similarly formidable run home otherwise.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.1 | 7.4 | 12.4 | 14.11 (95)
WANDERERS 1.2 | 4.4 | 7.7 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Darwin: B. Hogan 4, I. Palmer 3, D. Shillabeer 3, J. Stokes 2, C. Williams 2, M. Quinn.
Wanderers: W. Williams 2, T. Motlop 2, S. Motlop, D. Braun, B. O’Connell, K. Stephens, L. Dyer.

BEST:

Darwin: B. Hogan, I. Palmer, J. Stokes, S. Foster, D. Shillabeer, D. Lines
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, A. Motlop, L. Dyer, M. Garton, W. Williams

Darwin remains in the hunt for a top two spot after brushing Wanderers aside with a 32-point win on Saturday night. The lights stayed on all the way through this time to shine on the Buffs’ form, as they maintained a steady pace in the 14.11 (95) to 9.9 (63) result.

The Eagles did not get the all-important start they were after given their second half form of late, but the three-goal half time gap was enough to keep them in with a fighting chance. It proved elementary for the Buffs though as they answered each challenge to coast to victory in the end, looking reasonably comfortable without setting the world alight to consign Wanderers to an eight consecutive defeat. Former Port Melbourne forward Billy Hogan was on song with four goals in a breakthrough outing, followed by bags of three from Darren Shillabeer and Ishmael Palmer with skipper Jarrod Stokes also lively. Warwick Williams and Thomas Motlop were the only Eagles to kick multiple goals (two each), with youngster Beau O’Connell starring alongside Aaron Motlop to be named his side’s best in the losing effort. The fall has been steep for Wanderers, which now finds itself dislodged from the sixth place that it has held for most of the 2019/20 season.

Winning chances will run thin for the Eagles towards the end of the year, so a fixture against Waratah next week could be their last realistic shot at a set of four points. They could play spoiler against the three top five opponents, which will serve Darwin well. The Buffs face a mixed bag in the lead up to finals, set to do battle with the other two bottom three sides while also having to face St Mary’s and Tiwi. In any case, there is not much movement to be made.

NIGHTCLIFF 2.0 | 8.4 | 10.8 | 14.13 (97)
ST MARY’S 0.2 | 0.4 | 1.7 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz 3, J. Butcher 2, K. Winter-Irving 2, B. Filo 2, S. Wilson 2, J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, T. Melville.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, R. Jordon, S. Lampton.

BEST:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, K. Winter-Irving, J. Kickett, M. Hagan, S. Wilson, B. Arnold
St Mary’s: T. Davies, J. Long, S. Edwards, A. Long, R. Jordon, J. Long

Nightcliff stamped its authority as the clear competition benchmark, disposing of an undermanned St Mary’s to the tune of 65 points in a top of the table clash. The Saints had no answer for the reigning premier’s firepower forward of centre, hardly making a dent in the 14.13 (97) to 4.8 (32) loss.

After some scrappy opening exchanges, Nightcliff scraped ahead by two goals while keeping the Saints goalless, continuing the theme into the second term while extending their lead to an even eight goals heading into the main break. The Saints’ first goal finally came after half time, and they added another three in the fourth quarter to no avail as the Tigers had free reign over the scoreboard. Liam Holt-Fitz was again electric forward of centre, booting a game-high three goals while big man Kyle Winter-Irving and ex-Port forward John Butcher were terrific in bagging two each. Nate Paredes was one of St Mary’s’ sole forms of resistance as he bagged two of his side’s four goals, but was overlooked in the best six with Thomas Davies, Jake Long, and Shaun Edwards all achieving the honour instead. Fans will be looking forward to the two hopefully tussling at full strength come finals time, with the ledger now squared at one win apiece.

The minor premiership is now all but officially sewn up for Nightcliff as it holds a 12-point lead in top spot, and have two of the bottom three sides in its midst. On the other hand, St Mary’s will have to fight to maintain its top two spot with just four points separating it from a rampant Tiwi side. Two clashes against bottom three sides of their own should put the Saints in good stead.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 14 – Top two clash headlines finals-refining weekend

FOR the second time in as many weeks, the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League’s top four sides will face off in a finals-defining round of action. This time, the top two square off while third and fourth do battle as the race for ascendancy among the top five heats up.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4th, 7-5-1) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 8-5)
Saturday January 18, 2:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts hosts Tiwi in the weekend’s first top four clash, with the Crocs hoping to reclaim the top three spot they have long held this season. But Tiwi has already proven to be stiff opposition for the Crocs, with a Round 7 meeting between the sides yielding a 35-point Bombers victory. But much has changed since that last outing, with Tiwi coming from outside the top five to cement itself in the top three as it stands and standing now as a much more formidable opponent. It was somewhat of a shock result in November, but the Bombers come in as favourites given their four-game win streak. It may not be that simple though, with their run-in to a month of football against the remaining top five coming after comparatively more comfortable fixtures.

Both sides come in relatively settled, with many of their big names enjoying a consistent run of game time. Jeff Garlett and Richard Tambling are two of those for Southern Districts, possessing the class going forward which can perfectly counteract the damaging Bombers. Add to that the competition’s leading goalkicker, Will Farrer and his midfield-forward brother, Josiah at the feet of Sam Barnett, and you have a dynamic side forward of centre. But the Bombers are one of the most dynamic sides across the park, able to damage opposition with their pace. While last week’s five goal hero Tom Bell is out of the side, along with Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle, Tiwi looks set to regain Ashton Hams in what is still very much a stacked line-up. As arguably the hottest side in the competition right now, the Bombers need to capitalise on their winning form ahead of a tough few weeks.

WARATAH (7th, 3-10) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-12)
Saturday January 18, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off its maiden win for season 2019/20, Palmerston will fancy itself a real chance at going back-to-back when it faces fellow bottom three side, Waratah at TIO Stadium. The Magpies were terrific last time out in a win they were made to earn – 12 weeks in the making – and should come in with similar energy given the buoyancy a wins gives a team. On the other hand, Waratah has suffered two heavy losses to quality opposition since the mid-season break, seeing its finals aspirations dwindle even further. But a massive Round 7 win against the Magpies should give the Warriors great hope of snapping their three-game losing run with a fourth win, and there is nothing to lose at this point.

Waratah’s Kim Kantilla is a man in serious form at the moment, coming of a four goal haul in last round’s loss and booting half of his side’s majors the week before. He and Henry Kerinaiua have been the main source of inspiration inside attacking 50, and the two should get some good service with Brodie Carroll named on an extended bench alongside bigman, Alex Aurrichio. The quartet will be crucial with Abe Ankers‘ name left off the team sheet. Skipper Aaron Lonergan will lead his Magpies out alongside playing coach, Alwyn Davey, whose son (Alwyn Jnr) remains in the line-up. Up forward, spearhead Keiden Holt-Tubbs takes up his usual position, but will not be joined by fellow Round 13 three-goal hauler, Leigh Williams. Pride and bragging rights are the only thing left on the line for the two sides at this point, so the chance of adding to their slim winning tallies should make it a good contest.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (5th, 7-6) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-9-1)
Saturday January 18, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is do or die for Wanderers in term of a finals berth as it prepares to face fifth-placed Darwin in a Saturday night showdown. The Eagles are well adrift from the finals pack, but still stand a mathematical chance of making the top five if they can pull off some remarkable wins. After going down to Palmerston last week to extend their losing run to seven games, the Muk Muks will be desperate to get one back over the side which started that streak all the way back in Round 7 – Darwin. The Buffs have had form troubles of their own, going down in three of their last four outings, but have faced the best opposition possible in the only four sides ahead of them. This fixture marks a much lighter run to the end of the home-and-away season and, hopefully for them, a return to form.

The want for a win will only be compounded by the occasion, with much-loved skipper Jarrod Stokes running out for his 150th senior game in Buffs colours. He will be joined in the side by playing coach, Matt Campbell and Darwin spearhead Daniel Stafford in what should form a formidable full forward line at some point in the game. Wanderers’ typical show of young talent will again feature Mark White up forward, who will look to make up the Eagles’ own dangerous forward line alongside Joel Jeffrey and Beau O’Connell. But with Darwin’s side littered with seasoned vets and finals experience, it will prove a challenge for the Eagles to keep their legs and concentration throughout the entire contest.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 12-1) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 10-3)
Sunday January 19, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Arguably the game of the round will receive a standalone Sunday slot, with Nightcliff hosting St Mary’s in a top-of-the-table blockbuster. A thorn in the reigning premiers’ side, St Mary’s is the only team to have beaten Nightcliff this season – in Round 7 – and sit just close enough to make the race for the minor premiership interesting. With eight points separating the two teams coming in, a win for the Saints would put the pressure right on Nightcliff, but a loss would all but put an end to their hopes of snatching first place come season’s end. Winning has clearly been no issue for either side to this point, with Nightcliff remaining undefeated in the seven games since its sole loss, while St Mary’s is on a five-game winning run.

The Tigers should be up for the occasion, looking to claim the final scalp in their 2019/20 season collection, and should have a some handy additions to lean on with John Butcher, James Tsitas, and Jayden Shaw all named on an extended bench. As one of the more dynamic and experienced sides, they should have all the tools to rectify Round 7’s result. But the Saints are no slouches, coming in with a spine consisting of Shaun Edwards, Jake Long, Maurice Rioli Jnr, and Jackson Paine, despite missing the likes of Davin Ferriera and Nick Yarran. With talent littered across the park and so much to play for, this looms as must-see viewing for all NTFL fans.

NTFL Women’s Premier League Preview: Round 14 – Battle of the key forwards in Magpies-Districts match

HEADING into the home stretch, the race for finals in the Northern Territory Football League Women’s is getting tighter with no team undefeated after 13 rounds. Southern Districts will look to bounce back after a frustrating loss last week while Big River Hawks will hope to field a team for the first time this year after forfeiting in both Round 12 and Round 13.

Pint v. Wanderers
Round 14 – 18/1/20
2:00pm
MCG

Wanderers will need to go big this week against Pint after receiving an unprecedented forfeit last round from Big River Hawks. Last time they met, Wanderers were quick to start but were not really in it for the second half of the match, allowing Pint to dominate the contest and ultimately going down by 33 points. The Wanderers now sit in fifth, however, with eight wins behind them and the confidence to reign supreme if they put their minds to it, it could be a real tough contest for the Queen Ants. Pint will hope for Jasmyn Hewitt to continue her strong form, having only played eight matches for the season but booting 10 goals. Emma Greaves and Cara Evans have also been solid with 12 matches apiece, with consistency and cleanliness to boot. For the Wanderers, Morgan Johnston and Shekeine De Satge are among the key performers, with De Satge the leading goalkicker with 11 from her 13 matches.

Waratah v. Big River Hawks
Round 14 – 18/1/20
5:00pm
TIO Oval 2

Waratah will hope for another big win this week but the more pressing issue will be whether Big River Hawks can field a team this round after forfeiting their past two encounters. With skill and scoring ability on their side, Waratah will want to capitalise on every opportunity against the Hawks to continue the stellar form that has them sitting atop the ladder for the seventh round in a row – and not to mention trying to go one better than their last match against the Hawks that saw a whopping 162-point victory for the ‘Tahs. Waratah have improved their accuracy in front of goal in recent weeks so will want to continue that form, with the likes of Lisa Roberts sure to be right in the contest alongside fellow performers in Rebecca Pryer and Lauren Shea. For the Hawks, look to Crystal Browne and Deanna Peckham to put in the hard yards while Jayde De La Coeur will hope to put her second goal of the season on the board.

Darwin Buffettes v. St Mary’s
Round 14 – 18/1/20
5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin Buffettes will want to go one better after narrowly defeating the Southern Districts last round, and this match against St Mary’s is no better opportunity with the Saints sitting in eighth compared to the Buffs in second. The Buffettes are teetering in their spot in the top two, only holding on thanks to dominant form at the beginning of the season and really making this match a do-or-die clash if they want to maintain their hold on the competition. For the Saints, a solid performance is required this week after a sloppy loss against Waratah which featured plenty of missed opportunities. The Buffettes impressed early in the season with their ability to share the load around and are no different now, with plenty of key players who can impact the contest. The likes of Tayla Hart-Aluni and Kylie Duggan are up there with regular solid performances while Dominique Carbone and Jemma Iacono are not far behind with continued execution week after week. For the Saints, consistency has been an issue with not one player taking the field in every single game, though Nikita Long and Sharna Edwards have played 12 from 13 matches to prove they have the game smarts to pull through.

Palmerston Magpies v. Southern Districts
Round 14 – 18/1/20
7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Southern Districts will have their work cut out for them this week, taking on the Magpies who have been impressive in recent weeks and throughout the season overall. The Districts are not having it quite as easy however, coming off a loss last week to fellow top four side Darwin and their win first of 2020 against mid-tier Pint. Sitting at third and fourth on the ladder expect a close contest with both sides able to whip out stellar form and come from behind to take victory. Iesha Ronberg and Billie Byers have been key performers for the  Magpies, and with the likes of Arthurina Moreen (27 goals) and Freda Puruntatameri (12) inside 50, Ronberg and Byers have done their job well to  ensure the footy gets to them regularly. Southern Districts have their own sharpshooters to contend with however, with the league’s leading goalkicker Ebony Miller (35 goals in 10 games) creating a formidable option in front of goal with accuracy and skill to boot. Tahlia Holtze has also been a consistent performer, listed in the bests on five occasions.

Nightcliff v. Tracy Village
Round 14 – 19/1/20
2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

In the final game of the round, Nightcliff will want to continue their strong start to 2020 when they take on the lowly Tracy Village. The Razorbacks have a lot to prove against the Tigers after going down by 22 points last time they met, and will need to take advantage of every opportunity to get over Nightcliff this time around given they have won their past two encounters in 2020 so far. Coming off a big loss in Round 13, the Razorbacks will need to stay in control of the footy and with Nightcliff able to find space with ease, it will not be an easy job. Nightcliff  have the ability to jump up the ladder if results go their way this round, meaning they will look to the likes of Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey who have kept up the consistency throughout the season. Victorian, Mickayla Ward has contributed well since joining the side, with seven best on ground nominations from nine matches and eight goals to her name, combining well with youngster Shantel Miskin-Ripia who can swing as a key position player where required to bolster the versatile side. Tracy Village will hope the likes of Alexandra Biggs and Gabrielle Young continue to step up to prove the side can do more than just roll with the punches.

NTFL Women’s Premier League wrap: Round 13 – Tigers, Buffettes win tight as Magpies, Tahs produce smashings

IT was another round of ladder defining games in the Northern Territory Football League Women’s (NTFLW) with Southern District dropping their clash against Darwin Buffettes. Round 13 also saw a host of close matches paired with a couple of blowouts highlighting the variety of competition within the league. For a second week in a row the Big River Hawks forfeited gifting the Wanderers a win to cap off an exciting round of action.

PINT 2.0 | 4.0 | 4.0 | 4.0 (24)
NIGHTCLIFF 2.0 | 2.1 | 4.3 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:
Pint: J. Baksh, R. Fecht , J. Baumer, E. Pechey.
Nightcliff: J. Steppacher, J. Anyon-Smith, E. Wolsey, S. Politis.

BESTS:
Pint: N/A
Nightcliff: E. Morrison, M. Ward, H. Turnbull

It was a tantalising battle between Pint and Nightcliff with the two sides going toe to toe for the entirety of the match. Pint looked to have got the jump on the away side in the second quarter establishing an 11-point lead before Nightcliff wrestled momentum back in the third to hold a three-point buffer heading into the final change. Despite neither side registering a major in the fourth quarter Nightcliff did enough to secure their seventh win of the year and create a two game gap between seventh while sitting one game out of the top four. Pint failed to score after half time credit to the increased pressure applied by Nightcliff. Jacqueline Anyon-Smith hit the scoreboard for Nightcliff while Jessica Steppacher booted another major in her sides win. Emma-Lou Wolsey continued her purple patch of form once again finding the scoreboard while the likes of Eliza Morrison and Mickayla Ward were named in the bests credit to their efforts against Pint. It was a tough loss for the seventh placed Pint who were looking to leapfrog their opponents, but despite the loss Rhiannon Fetch and Jessie Baumer played their role contributing to their overall score.

WARATAH 2.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 11.4 (70)
ST MARY’S 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.4 | 4.6 (30)

GOALS:
Waratah: J. Singh 3, T. O”Hehir 2, S. Nalder 2, T. Cunningham 2, B. Martin, M. Cooper.
St Mary’s: N/A.

BESTS:
Waratah: L. Roberts, M. Cooper, P. Cox, C. Fabris, R. Pryer
St Mary’s: N/A

Despite the relatively even start to the game, Waratah blew their opponents away in the last term piling on a whopping 36 points to stamp their authority on the competition. Waratah held the lead from the get go with St Mary’s forced into chase position early and ultimately unable to peg the margin back. The Tah’s were accurate in front of goal making the most of their opportunities and most importantly sharing the load around highlighting their plethora of options inside forward 50. Jenna Singh has hit the scoreboard in her previous two outings and did not disappoint, once again contributing three goals. Her efforts were rivalled by teammates Tarryn O’Hehir and Sue Nalder who both slotted two goals. Meanwhile Timaya Cunningham continued her hot form from the previous round booting two goals to get her side well and truly over the line. Rebecca Pryer worked tirelessly while Lisa Roberts was consistent as ever named in the bests once again proving just how crucial she is to Waratah’s line-up. St Mary’s struggled to combat the power of Waratah but the likes of Aaliyah Bailey stood tall while Rachel and Shannon Ponter the sister of Adelaide’s Danielle Ponter also left their mark on the game.

TRACY VILLAGE 0.3 | 0.4 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 3.2 | 5.8 | 8.12 | 13.15 (93)

GOALS:
Tracy Village: N/A.
Palmerston Magpies: A. Moreen 5, F. Puruntatameri 3, A. Seubert 2, I. Ronberg, T. Jeffrey, N. Medbury.

BESTS:
Tracy Village: N/A
Palmerston Magpies: B. Byers, T. Jeffrey, A. Moreen, F. Puruntatameri, I. Ronberg, G. Garling

The Magpies put on a dominant display against Tracy Village who simply could not match their opponents going down by 83-points. Tracy only scored one goal after half time adding salt into their wounds as the Magpies went on to add 55 points to their end total highlighting their convincing performance. It was always going to be a difficult task for the ninth placed Tracy Village up against the higher ranked Magpies and it showed with Palmerston capitalising on their opportunities despite being a bit wayward in front of goal. The Magpies were led by Arthurina Morren who booted five goals taking her tally to 10 in the past three rounds while Freda Puruntatameri proved she was no slouch winning plenty of the ball and converting three majors. The goal scoring options were endless with Alisha Seubert bagging two in her first game and Iesha Ronberg also inflicting scoreboard pain to make it a complete effort by the Magpies heading into the final stretch of the home and away season. Bonnie McDougall notched up her 11 game for the season while Lisa-Maree Toner made her presence felt in her sides crushing loss.

DARWIN BUFFETTES 4.0 |6.1 |6.1 |8.2 (50)
SOUTHERN DISTRICT 1.4 | 2.5 |4.6 |6.7 (43)

GOALS:
Darwin Buffettes: E. Miller 3, M. Breed, M. Moussa, A. Lewis.
Southern District: N/A.

BESTS:
Darwin Buffettes:  B. Hayne, B. Clarke, T. Holtze, M. Breed, D. Lee-Feeney
Southern District: N/A

The clash of second versus fourth lived up to the hype with the game going down to the wire in the final game of the round. In the end, it was the higher placed Darwin Buffettes that prevailed against Southern District credit to their increased accuracy in front of goal. District will be ruing their missed opportunities peppering the goals but unable to hit the maximum. The Buffettes had control of the match from the very beginning skipping out a 14-point lead in the opening term before gradually extending it at half time. But District was not going to lie down mounting a comeback after half time to get within seven, the eventual losing margin. Ebony Miller has been unstoppable in the forward 50 for Southern District in recent weeks and this game was no different booting another three goals while youngster Mattea Breed also showcased her skills across the board nailing a major and being named in the bests. Maria Moussa and April Lewis also got in on the scoring action with one goal apiece but their efforts were not enough to push their side over the line. For a third week in a row Bella Clarke put her best foot forward earning a mention in the bests while Tahlia Holtze plied her trade. With yet another win under their belts the Buffettes will be able to sleep easy with the likes of Tayla Hart-Aluni, Dominque Carbone and Kylie Duggan all working tirelessly and using their skill to have an impact.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 13 – Magpies claim maiden win

PALMERSTON’S maiden win of the 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season headlined an otherwise straightforward round of action, with Tiwi rising to third and the top two sides separating from the trailing pack.

TIWI BOMBERS 6.2 | 10.4 | 15.6 | 23.9 (147)
WARATAH 5.2 | 6.7 | 9.10 | 13.12 (90)

GOALS:

Tiwi: T. Bell 5, H. Puruntatameri 5, S. Munkara 3, J. Best 2, J. Simon 2, A. Wonaeamirri 2, A. Darcy 2, C. Molyneux, N. Djerrkura
Waratah: K. Kantilla 4, H. Kerinaiua 3, A. Ankers 2, J. Schaper, M. Graham, K. McBean, M. Bordignon

BEST:

Tiwi: J. Monigatti, T. Bell, N. Djerrkura, C. Molyneux, H. Puruntatameri, N. Riddle
Waratah: N/A

Tiwi continued its rise up the NTFL ladder on Saturday, thumping Waratah by 57 points to jump two places into third spot. The Bombers were too slick on the outside, running away in the second half with a clinical 23.9 (147) to 13.12 (90) victory.

While four-goal hero Kim Kantilla posted the game’s first goal for Waratah, it was all Tiwi immediately after as an Austin Wonaeamirri double spurred the Bombers to the next six majors. Harley Puruntatameri also wreaked havoc inside forward 50 with two classy finishes of his own, but Waratah pegged the margin back late with four unanswered goals to trail by a sole goal at quarter time. A slower second term did not stop Tiwi from again kicking away with the final three majors of the stanza, before the Warriors mounted another comeback after the main break via some more Kantilla magic. The margin got back to within a goal, but Tiwi again had the legs to finish the term and doubled its 32-point three-quarter time lead to run out comfortable winners.

Tom Bell joined Puruntatameri with a bag of five goals come the final siren, and Tiwi’s best half dozen had a distinct Greensborough feel about it as Bell’s Northern Football League teammates Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle were also named. The likes of Molyneux were fed all day by bigman Jack Monigatti, with the pair combining for the South Australian’s first term stoppage goal. For Waratah, Kantilla’s solo efforts going forward were terrific alongside Henry Kerinaiua, who bagged three goals, while the returning Abe Ankers also made a difference moving forward. But the Warriors’ win over Tiwi in Round 6 seems a world away now, with the Bombers mounting a top two charge while Waratah battles to be the best of the rest.

ST MARY’S 1.1 | 5.3 | 8.6 | 10.10 (70)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 1.3 | 5.6 | 7.9 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Salmon 3, S. Edwards 3, J. Paine, M. Rioli Jnr, R. Jordon, L. Larson
Southern Districts: J. Farrer 4, J. Innes, S. Barnett, J. Clarke, D. Staunton

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Salmon, T. Davies, J. Long, S. Edwards, A. Long, J. Paine
Southern Districts: N/A

St Mary’s picked up another scalp in its promising 2019/20 campaign, made to earn a vital 13-point win over Southern Districts in their top four clash. The 10.10 (70) to 8.9 (57) victory was the Saints’ fifth in a row, and sees them move eight points clear in second place with 10 wins.

The four points were gained amid some scrappy exchanges, most notably in the first term where the sides could only manage a goal apiece. Josh Innes‘ goal after the quarter time siren put the Crocs two points to the good, and the second quarter produced a similar story – albeit with more scoring. Just as quickly as the Saints got on a three-goal run, the Crocs bounced back with four of their own to again snatch the lead at the second break by under a goal. But it was the third term where the tide started to shift as St Mary’s got on top, only to be discounted by some energy from resting midfielder Josiah Farrer inside forward 50, which kept Southern Districts well within striking distance. It was tit-for-tat in the final term as a fourth Farrer snap kept the margin at five points at the midway point, but St Mary’s strength across the ground and superior legs got it over the line.

While his brother, William leads the Crocs’ goalkicking tally, Josiah Farrer was Southern Districts’ source of inspiration in front of the big sticks with four opportunistic goals. It was otherwise all single goalkickers for the Crocs, who could not make full use of Michael Barlow‘s ball winning prowess further afield. The Saints were led up forward by Joseph Salmon and ex-GWS utility Shaun Edwards, who booted three goals apiece while Jackson Paine and Jacob Long were also impressive. A chance to knock Nightcliff off for a second time looms for the Saints, who can make the minor premiership race interesting with the right result. Meanwhile, the Crocs continue a trying month with assignments against two top three sides next up as they slip down to fourth, as wins become paramount for finals positions.

WANDERERS 3.1 | 6.2 | 9.5 | 13.7 (85)
PALMERSTON 2.4 | 5.6 | 10.9 | 14.9 (93)

GOALS:

Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, B. O’Connell 3, S. Bates, W. Williams, E. Colley, A. Motlop, J. Jeffrey, T. Motlop
Palmerston: K. Holt-Tubbs 3, L. Williams 3, C. Timms 2, W. Shadforth, K. Emery, A. Davey, J. Patrick, R. Stone, J. Berry

BEST:

Wanderers: B. O’Connell, J. Jeffrey, A. Motlop, M. Motlop, D. Dos Santos
Palmerston: K. Holt-Tubbs, K. Emery, C. Timms, W. Shadforth, J. Berry, L. Williams

Palmerston broke through for a much-deserved maiden win of its 2019/20 campaign, outlasting Wanderers to come out eight-point winners. The Magpies were made to earn it too, trailing at the first two breaks before hitting the front when it mattered in the 14.9 (93) to 13.7 (85) result.

As has been the case for most of the Eagles’ season, they started brightly and found their way in front with three goals in each of the opening two terms. But the two-point half time margin was not nearly enough as they began to run out of legs, with Palmerston determined to earn its first set of four points. A nine-goal second half helped the Magpies to their highest score for the season, good enough for that elusive first win with another bottom three side next on the agenda.

There was somewhat of a family theme across both camps as three of Palmerston’s Daveys – Alwyn, Alwyn Jnr, and Russell lined up against Wanderers’ five Motlops and three Jeffrey brothers – Jordan, Joel, and Jai. AFL Academy member and Gold Coast SUNS trainee Joel Jeffrey was by far the pick of the bunch, booting a game-high four goals to lead the Muk Muks’ scoring effort alongside fellow youngster Beau O’Connell (three goals). The two were named their sides’ best players, with Keidan Holt-Tubbs claiming that honour for the Magpies on the back of another bag of three. Kyle Emery was another difference-maker as he returns to his best form further afield, while playing-coach Alwyn Davey was also influential. The Magpies will fancy themselves to make it two-consecutive wins against Waratah next time out, while Wanderers will have to face Darwin in hopes of snapping a seven-game losing run.

NIGHTCLIFF 5.2 | 10.6 | 12.8 | 12.8 (80)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.1 | 5.2 | 7.5 | 7.5 (47)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz 3, T. Melville 3, L. Sharp 3, B. Arnold, C. Ilett, K. Winter-Irving
Darwin: D. Stafford 4, J. Stokes, C. Williams, L. McKenzie

BEST:

Nightcliff: B. Filo, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett, M. Hagan, P. Wills, K. Winter-Irving
Darwin: N/A

An untimely power outage saw Nightcliff only have to work for a little over three quarters to earn its twelfth win of the season, downing Darwin by 33 points on Saturday night. But the Tigers were well on top as the lights went out on Darwin’s chances of a comeback with 17 minutes gone in the third term, gifting the 12.8 (80) to 7.5 (47) result to Nightcliff with play unable to resume and more than half the game having already been played out.

The Tigers looked ominous from the opening bounce, booting the first three goals of the game before Daniel Stafford chimed in with a much-needed major for the Buffs. But it did little to thwart the ladder leaders’ momentum as they quickly extended a 25-point quarter time lead to 37 early in the second stanza. Darwin simply could not string goals together as Nightcliff answered every challenge, maintaining that five-to-six goal buffer all the way to the main break. It proved match-defining, with the goal-for-goal trend continuing right until the game’s premature end.

Stafford proved Darwin’s only real form of resistance as he snagged four goals to edge closer to the top of the league’s goalkicking standings, joined for inspiration inside 50 by skipper Jarrod Stokes. The man at the top of those standings is Nightcliff’s Trent Melville, who added three goals to his tally alongside the electric Liam Holt-Fitz and consistent Lachlan Sharp, proving the winners’ superior firepower. But it was Brodie Filo who was named the Tigers’ best afield, with bigman Kyle Winter-Irving also impressive. Nightcliff will go on to face the only side it is yet to beat in St Mary’s, while Darwin will look to rebound against Wanderers with a leaner month ahead.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 13 – Top four do battle in bumper weekend

A ladder-defining round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League football is set to take place on Saturday, with the top four sides tussling it out for ladder supremacy. With just six rounds left to play out, eight-point games like these will prove vital.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. WARATAH
Saturday January 11, 1:30pm
Tracy Village

The Tiwi Bombers will look to widen the gap to a fledgeling trailing pack when they take on Waratah at Tracy Village to open Round 13. A favourable draw after the mid-season break sees the Bombers take on a second-consecutive bottom three side, with a very handy 16-point buffer on their weekend opponent already fairly ominous. On the other hand, Waratah’s tough return from the break may only be compounded in this fixture after going down by 138 points to Nightcliff last week. Despite looming as a top five threat at their best, the Warriors have rarely been able to put it together this season and sit well behind in the finals race.

But some very handy inclusions could help the struggling Warriors bounce right back against a talented Bombers outfit, with ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton named at full forward and Thunder captain Abe Ankers featuring on an extended bench. Kim Kantilla has been the main source of inspiration for Waratah forward of centre, so will again have to find the goals in the face of Tiwi’s overwhelming scoring prowess. A Bombers forward 50 spine of ex-AFL talent in Austin Wonaeamirri and Tom Bell looks promising, while Bell’s Greensborough teammates Nick Riddle and Charlie Molyneux take up respective spots in defence and midfield. It only adds to the Bomber’s already impressive depth, providing some stability among the pace and forward drive. Form puts these two sides at opposite ends of the ledger, but do not count the Warriors out if they can get it right.

ST MARY’S vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday January 11, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The first top four clash of the weekend takes place in the opening game of a TIO Stadium triple-header, as St Mary’s does battle with Southern Districts. While the second placed Saints hit the ground running in 2020 with a big win over Wanderers, the third placed Crocs fell just short against Darwin in a thriller. Needless to say, a win is important for both sides as they play catch-up in the finals race. St Mary’s will be made to work to keep within striking distance of Nightcliff in first, while Southern Districts’ charge for second may come down to the wire as it faces the current bottom three sides to see out the regular season. With this the start of a tricky month for either team, dropping points is not an option.

St Mary’s will have to lean on its depth as Nate Paredes and Jackson Calder loom as key outs, but the inclusion of Shaun Edwards to a forward 50 already boasting Shannon Rioli, Maurice Rioli Jnr, and Leroy Larson is an exciting proposition. Up the other end, Jake Long and Kieren Parnell will combine to provide intercept marking and classy foot skills. For Southern Districts, an ex-AFL midfield trio of Richard Tambling, Jeff Garlett and Michael Barlow looks impressive on paper, with William Farrer and Sam Barnett great targets to kick to inside 50. With a more settled lineup of late, a win for the Crocs here could be the catalyst they need to push on and become a true premiership threat, having previously fallen short of fellow top three sides. With huge talent on each line for either side, this one could go either way.

WANDERERS vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday January 11, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is a case of do-or-die for Wanderers as it faces Palmerston with its hopes of pushing for a finals spot fading fast. Sitting 14 points adrift of a rising Tiwi Bombers side in fifth, the Eagles have lost their last six outings after what was a promising start to the season. Their last win fittingly came over Palmerston all the way back in Round 6, with the chance to repeat the act key in keeping their finals aspirations alive. But the Magpies will come into the game with hope of bringing its winless run to an end, presented with perhaps their most feasible chance of doing so. The gap between either sides’ best and worst is sizeable, so the team that can pull it all together has a greater opportunity to pick up a rare set of four points.

Wanderers’ spine of Jordan Jeffrey, Braedon McLean, and Joel Jeffrey has worked well, and played a big part in keeping last week’s outing against St Mary’s a competitive one for over half of the game. But the Eagles’ youthful side has often run out of legs, so will need to produce a four quarter effort to return to the winners list here. Palmerston’s lineup is starting to get back to full strength, with Alwyn Davey stringing games together alongside the likes of Kyle Emery, Misha Perry, and recruit Jack Berry. But Adam Diamond looms as a key out, with the engine room building as a key area as a heap of talent lines up at the bookends. Clashes between sixth and eighth are not always ones to attract the eye, but this could well be the closest bout of the round.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday January 11, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

First plays fourth in the round’s second top four clash as Nightcliff looks to knock off Darwin for the second time this season. The two sides met back in Round 6 as the Tigers ran out 23-point winners, hardly putting a foot wrong in their premiership defence to date with just one scalp evading them. The Buffs have had a slightly more turbulent time of it over the course of 12 rounds, only just extending its positive record with a key win over Southern Districts following two-straight defeats. While Nightcliff has been a figure of consistency throughout and will inevitably be favourite to defend its crown, it is a matter of peaking at the right time for Darwin, and a win here would do wonders for that.

The Buffs will go in with a typically settled lineup, spearheaded by Daniel Stafford and made even more dangerous with Joe Anderson and Jarrod Stokes alongside him inside forward 50. Brodie Foster is a key out from last week’s side, but the Tigers will be without their own goalkicking hero from Round 12 in John Butcher. The likes of Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz nonetheless possess great forward craft, so will go a long way to ensuring Darwin’s defence has its hands full. The versatility of Nightcliff’s lineup and multiple scoring avenues constantly prove too much for its opposition, and may well get the Tigers over the line once again. But with the stakes so high and Darwin looking like turning the corner, anything can happen.

NTFL Men’s Premier League review: Round 12 – Buffs prevail in dramatic eight-pointer

THE new year tossed up some predictable results in Round 12 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, but Darwin and Southern Districts played out a cracker in the weekend’s sole top five clash. While the Buffs closed the gap on their weekend opponents in the race for a top three spot, the remaining finals-bound sides went about solidifying their standing in the top five.

ST MARY’S 1.4 | 6.10 | 9.12 | 14.17 (101)
WANDERERS 1.3 | 2.4 | 5.7 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Salmon 3, N. Paredes 2, L. Larson 2, J. Long, R. Jordon, M. Rioli Jnr, N. Yarran, R. Smith, B. Slater, R. Miller
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 2, M. Cooper, T. Motlop, B. McLean

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Smith, T. Davies, R. Jordon, N. Yarran, J. Salmon, N. Paredes
Wanderers: N/A

It was business as usual for St Mary’s as it trounced Wanderers by 63 points to open Round 12 on Friday night. In a contest that was largely competitive until midway through the third term, the Saints kicked away against a tiring Eagles side to cap the 14.17 (101) to 5.8 (38) result.

After a tight opener, the Saints looked to be pulling away to a straightforward victory after jumping out to a five-goal half time lead. But the Muk Muks gave their all to mount a short-lived comeback after the main break, booting the first three goals of the term to draw back within four points of the finals-bound Saints. Unfortunately, the Eagles spent all their fuel tickets on the fightback, leaving nothing left to edge in front as St Mary’s ruthlessly pulled away with five goals to nil in the final quarter. There were still positives to be drawn from the loss for Wanderers, with the returning Joel Jeffrey showing off all of his talent in the air and at ground level to go with two classy goals, while Braedon McLean’s energy in the middle was terrific in the third term. For the winners, 10 individual goal kickers were led by Joseph Salmon‘s three majors, but it was Ryan Smith who was named best afield as the likes of Thomas Davies and Nick Yarran also contributed.

Winning form is good form for the Saints, especially with two of its fellow top three sides immediately ahead on the fixture list and other sides closing in on second place. For Wanderers, the last chance finals saloon opens with a game against the winless Palmerston, which is now a must-win with Tiwi 14 points adrift in fifth.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 8.4 | 11.6 | 13.9 (87)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 6.7 | 12.10 (82)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Stafford 5, B. Foster 3, K. Campbell 2, J. Stokes 2, D. Miles
Southern Districts: D. Hall 3, W. Farrer 2, J. Farrer 2, D. McLachlan, R. O’Brien, B. Schwarze, D. Corbett, M. Barlow

BEST:

Darwin: N/A
Southern Districts: N/A

Southern Districts has been made to rue a miss after the siren in its dramatic five-point loss to Darwin Buffaloes in a top five eight-pointer. Rory O’Brien pulled his set shot to level the scores after marking a Michael Barlow kick 25 metres from goal, sealing the unfortunate 13.9 (87) to 12.10 (82) loss.

The result looked dead and buried as David Miles kicked truly into an open goal late in the third term, punishing the Crocs for their inability to convert up the other end. A fifth goal to Daniel Stafford in the final term to push the margin back out to 11 points with under 10 minutes left looked to again have sealed the result, but it did not deter the Crocs as they doubled their goal tally in a single stanza. It proved futile in the end as O’Brien failed to convert and snatch the draw, but made for great viewing on the neutral end. Earlier, Stafford and Brodie Foster combined for seven of the Buffs’ eight first half goals, with skipper Jarrod Stokes also extending his influence to the scoreboard. Davin Hall led the response for Southern Districts with three majors in just his fourth game for the season, while Josiah and William Farrer also chimed in with two apiece as Barlow found plenty of the ball to very nearly prove a game winner.

Three more top five opponents lie ahead for Southern Districts, with each result massive in deciding positions three to five. Meanwhile, the next few weeks will be a mixed bag for Darwin, set to test its premiership credentials against the competition’s benchmark next week, while also facing two bottom three opponents in the following rounds.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.4 | 13.5 | 19.7 | 25.11 (161)
WARATAH 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Butcher 6, R. Mu 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, C. Ilett 2, M. Hagan 2, J. Budarick, N. Brown, B. Arnold, D. Bowles, S. Wilson
Waratah: K. Kantilla 2, D. Simpson

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Wilson, K. Riley, R. Mu, J. Butcher, P. Wills
Waratah: N/A

The mid-season break only heightened Nightcliff’s hunger for goals as the reigning premier put on a scoring masterclass against Waratah, winning to the tune of 138 points. 12 Tigers found the goals in the 25.11 (161) to 3.5 (23) romp as the ladder leaders dominated across the ground.

A four-goal opening term was Nightcliff’s lowest-scoring period, following it up with nine majors and six in each quarter after half time to see out the huge victory. While their ruthlessly precise finishing inside 50 was ultra-impressive, the Tigers were just as good further afield as they kept the Warriors goalless across the second and third terms, while only conceding a high of two in the final period of play. Waratah had to wait until seven minutes into the fourth quarter for its second six-pointer, ending a massive period of unanswered goals. John Butcher was the Tigers’ chief destroyer with his half-dozen majors, but two non-scoring players – Kaine Riley and Phillip Wills – made their impact felt up the ground to be named in the best behind Shaun Wilson. Kim Kantilla again proved hot to handle as one of the few Warriors to stand tall, booting two of his side’s three majors in the absence of some of their prime movers. Daniel Simpson also found room for a celebration after finding the big sticks in the final term despite the massive margin.

It does not get any easier for Waratah with Tiwi next on the agenda, but respite should come with consecutive fixtures against fellow bottom three sides to round out January. Up the other end of the ladder, a month of competing against top five opponents could dislodge Nightcliff from first place, but the Tigers have already proven their worth against the best of the rest.

PALMERSTON 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.7 | 7.10 (52)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.3 | 9.7 | 10.10 | 16.17 (113)

GOALS:

Palmerston: K. Emery, K. Holt-Tubbs, L. Roberts, L. Williams, R. Warfe, D. Nichols, C. Timms
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 3, H. Puruntatameri 3, D. Munkara 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Abala 2, P. Heenan, A. Tipungwuti, A. Darcy, N. Riddle

BEST:

Palmerston: K. Emery, D. Gordon, J. Berry, J. Rhodes, M. Perry (Jnr), J. Damaso
Tiwi: D. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri, N. Riddle, D. McLinden, J. Puruntatameri, J. Monigatti

Tiwi was quick to shake off Palmerston in Round 12’s final fixture, overpowering the Magpies to come out 61-point winners. Both sides had trouble converting at times, but the Bombers’ wealth of opportunities proved far too much for the struggling Magpies in the 7.10 (52) to 16.17 (113) loss.

After very nearly overcoming the Bombers in Round 5, Palmerston looked like providing a good challenge to its opponent once again, keeping touch for just over a quarter. But Tiwi soon clicked into gear with six goals to two to set up the win, consolidating with another half-dozen majors in the final term to pretty up the scoreboard. Both sides had at least seven individual goalkickers, but it was the Bombers’ five multiple goalkickers which proved the difference as no Magpie managed to trouble the scorers more than once. Austin Wonaeamirri and Harley Puruntatameri each booted a game-high three goals, but it was Dion Munkara who was judged best afield for the winners. Kyle Emery impressed for the Magpies, but he was unable to provide the goals needed alongside usual goal-getter Keidan Holt-Tubbs as the Bombers well and truly outgunned them with speed and class across the ground.

A twelfth loss sees Palmerston still 12 points adrift of seventh, but the opportunity to grab a breakthrough win may come knocking with two bottom three match-ups set for the Eagles upcoming fortnight. Waratah is next up for Tiwi, but the tough month following that fixture makes it a must-win for the Bombers as hopes dwindle among the bottom three.