Tag: aaron davey

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 8

A HOTLY contested weekend of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action saw three games decided by four goals or less, as all eight top flight teams took to the field on Saturday. Southern Districts and Waratah were among the big winners with notable upsets over genuine finals contenders, while St Mary’s soared past Tiwi in easily the most one-sided game of the round. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 0.3 | 1.5 | 8.10 | 8.12 (60)
ST MARY’S | 5.3 | 9.5 | 17.7 | 21.13 (139)

GOALS:

Tiwi: A. Bryne 2, R. Tungatalum 2, A. Tipungwuti, J. Wilson, M. De Wit, T. Babui
St Mary’s: B. Tedcastle 4, J. Long 3, N. Paredes 3, J. Landt 2, S. Edwards 2, J. Calder 2, B. Grenfell 2, R. Smith, L. Raymond, A. Wilson

BEST:

Tiwi: M. De Wit, N. Scagliarini, F. Carroll, R. Tungatalum, J Monigatti
St Mary’s: D. Landt, J. Williams, B. Tedcastle, L. Taylor, J. Landt, A. Long

St Mary’s staved off a shootout with Tiwi to come away 79 point victors on Saturday afternoon, marking an authoritative start to the Round 8 action. The Saints stormed out to an even eight-goal lead at the main break before Tiwi made its move with seven goals during the third term. There was just one problem for the Bombers, or eight, as St Mary’s piled on as many majors in return to keep well ahead in the contest. It proved Tiwi’s final surge as the Bombers remained goalless in the final quarter, seeing St Mary’s run out 21.13 (139) to 8.12 (60) winners.

The Saints had little trouble kicking a winning score in the absence of Jackson Paine, with Beau Tedcastle (four goals) one of seven St Mary’s players to find the big sticks on more than one occasion. Nate Paredes was among that list and kicked a goal of the week contender, while Dylan Landt proved a key part of the win. Mason De Wit was again outstanding for Tiwi from defence, while gun forward Ross Tungatalum made a handful of himself through midfield alongside Nathan Scagliarini and Fletcher Carroll. The result sees Tiwi languish in last at 0-8, while St Mary’s jumps to third with its 5-3 record.

WANDERERS | 3.3 | 6.5 | 9.6 | 12.9 (81)
PALMERSTON | 3.3 | 6.4 | 9.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, S. Bates 2, B. O’Connell, R. Fejo, J. Cubillo, T. Motlop, D. McFarlane
Palmerston: T. Kunoth 4, A. McAdam 2, J. Mentha, M. Dennis, S. Lampton, A. Davey

BEST:

Wanderers: D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson, A. Motlop, J. Cubillo, D. Thompson
Palmerston: E. Guthrie, A. Davey, M. Dennis, R. Armstrong, T. Kunoth, S. Jewell

Wanderers survived an almighty scare at the hands of Palmerston on Saturday evening to scrounge a 13-point win at TIO Stadium and move clear atop the Premier League standings. There was nothing to split the two sides come the first and third breaks, as Palmerston’s dash and dare continued to worry a defensive Wanderers outfit. After trailing by three goals in the third term, the Muk Muks drew back level and continued their momentum into the deciding quarter to earn the 12.9 (81) to 10.8 (68) victory, thanks largely to claiming six of the last seven goals.

Brett Eddy again topped the scoresheet with five majors for Wanderers, with Simon Bates the only other Eagle to snare multiple goals (two) – including the sealer. The likes of Dane McFarlane and Brydan Hodgson were again prominent in the Eagles’ seventh win along with Josh Cubillo. Toshie Kunoth did most of the damage for Palmerston with his bag of goals, but it was Eric Guthrie, Aaron Davey, and ruckman Matthew Dennis who inspired the Magpies’ effort from the engine room. Palmerston is no better placed with its 1-7 record, while Wanderers sits pretty in first place with opposite figures.

NIGHTCLIFF | 1.1 | 3.1 | 3.3 | 8.6 (54)
S. DISTRICTS | 2.4 | 3.6 | 4.11 | 9.13 (67)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz, A. Jorgensen, S. Wilson, P. Wills, W. Wheeler
Districts: J. Tsitas 3, L. Kiel 2, J. Dahlhaus 2, J. Farrar, D. Staunton

BEST:

Nightcliff: A. Jorgensen, M. Rivett, W. Wheeler, C. Ilett, D. Bowles, P. Wills
Districts: L. McGregor, J. Tsitas, J. Dahlhaus, D. Robertson, J. Clark, J. Laba

Southern Districts claimed the scalp of the season so far with a 13-point road win over Nightcliff on Saturday night. The Crocs ensured to spoil their adversaries’ party under lights, with the reigning premiers celebrating their maiden game among the newly installed Nightcliff Oval luminance. It proved a scrappy, low-scoring affair from the outset but Districts proved the team in control to lead at every break. As good sides do, Nightcliff hit back when it mattered to move within striking distance, but the effort proved futile as Districts sealed the deal to win 9.13 (67) to 8.6 (54).

Against his old side, James Tsitas was impactful as ever with three important goals and plenty of disposals, while Luke Kiel was the one to steady his side at the death. Michael Bowden and Liam McGregor also played important roles in the win, which sees the Crocs move one step closer to the top five. Cam Ilett booted three majors for Nightcliff as the Tigers’ lone multiple goalkicker, with the likes of Mack Rivett, Daniel Bowles, and Willie Wheeler continuing their good stretch of form. Nightcliff now drops back to second, but remains every bit the premiership contender despite another slip-up.

WARATAH | 3.2 | 8.5 | 10.5 | 13.5 (83)
DARWIN | 0.2 | 2.4 | 7.5 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

Waratah: R. Turnbull 3, J. Sutton 3, C. Arnold 2, M. Blake 2, C. Searle 2, T. Fields
Darwin: M. Lochowiak 3, J. Collinson 2, S. Ahmat 2, I. Palmer 2

BEST:

Waratah: Z. Westerberg, R. Turnbull, C. Searle, J. Sutton, T. Fields, B. Carroll
Darwin: J. Stokes, R. Pendlebury, T. Eldridge, M. Lochowiak

Waratah broke through to knock off top opposition on Saturday night, defeating Darwin by 13 points to see out the weekend’s action. After building a 37-point lead at the main break, Tahs were made to earn their keep in the second half as Darwin rallied to get the margin back to within a couple of goals. The Warriors were up to the task and notched a key victory, reading 13.5 (83) to 9.6 (60) on the final scoreboard. In a rare quirk, all bar one of the goalkickers found multiple majors as Waratah proved efficient inside attacking 50.

Robert Turnbull stood up for Waratah in the absence of Abe Ankers to boot three majors from midfield, aided well by Jake Sutton who matched the feat. Mihail Lochowiak also did so for Darwin and could have compounded his damage at crucial moments with more accurate conversion. Tahs ruckman Zach Westerberg again proved giant in the win, while the likes of Callum Searle and Tom Fields contributed strongly. Jarrod Stokes was adjudged Darwin’s best ahead of Lochowiak, Ryan Pendlebury, and Tim Eldridge. Waratah is now just a game adrift from Darwin on the ladder, as both sides take up top five spots.

Featured Image: Jesse Clark flies for Southern Districts | Credit: Glenn Campbell/NT News

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 8

THE NTFL Men’s Premier League finals frontrunners will look to continue ticking over their win columns, with three of the top five sides set to take on teams on the outer. Meanwhile, Darwin and Waratah lock horns in the closest clash on ladder position, rounding out a full Saturday of action and the TIO Stadium triple-header. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-7) vs. St Mary’s (4th, 4-3)
Saturday November 21, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi and St Mary’s are set to meet for the second time this season when they do battle at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Saints notched their first win for the campaign back in Round 3 against the Bombers, trumping their rivals by 51 points at the same venue. Since, they have improved to 4-3 and climbed into finals contention, while Tiwi remains winless after seven games despite showing glimpses of form. Saints spearhead Jackson Paine looks like missing this clash, leaving Jackson Calder to headline the forward 50. The Bombers should have plenty of firepower with Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri named on the same attacking line, while the likes of Nathan Scagliarini and Harley Puruntatameri are no stranger to the goals. In midfield, Nate Paredes and Shaun Edwards will have their hands full with Tiwi’s Fletcher Carroll and Adam Tipungwuti, while Mason De Wit will be the Bombers’ defensive driver, much like Dylan Landt for the Saints.

Wanderers (2nd, 6-1) vs. Palmerston (7th, 1-6)
Saturday November 21, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers’ push for top spot continues as the Muk Muks take on Palmerston at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The 6-1 Eagles have proven one of the competition’s most improved sides over the first seven rounds, and have the wood over Palmerston having won by 48 points in their Round 4 clash. For all the Magpies’ promise, they currently languish in seventh with just one win on the board, coming against bottom-placed Tiwi. But some positive news for Palmerston sees Eric Guthrie free to play after an appearance at the tribunal, which he escaped with a reprimand. Aaron and Alwyn Davey are also poised to take the field, while Sandy Brock‘s return to the backline will be a welcome one. Wanderers is flying and boasts a settled lineup, but will be missing Warwick Williams for this clash. Still, Brodie Newman has held up the defence superbly, while Brett Eddy and Simon Bates run riot up forward and Beau O’Connell hits his straps. Their attacking threat and midfield strength should again prove too much for Palmerston.

Nightcliff (1st, 6-1) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 3-4)
Saturday November 21, 6:30pm
Nightcliff Oval

Nightcliff will hope to maintain its business as usual approach on Saturday night as it hosts Southern Districts under lights. This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season, with the reigning premiers looking strong as ever and Districts slowly climbing the ranks. While the Tigers have laid waste to most adversaries, the Crocs have been ultra-competitive across the season thus far and could have gained a positive record if not for some tight losses. Round 7 Rising Star nominee Jay Dahlhaus has been one of many Crocs to find form, combining well with the likes of Andrew Boseley and Luke Kiel in the attacking half with service from the reliable James Tsitas and Dean Staunton. Nightcliff has its own forward firepower though, with Liam Holt-Fitz fresh off an electric return and looking to have more of the same impact alongside fellow dynamic goalkickers Kyle Emery and Trent Melville. Dom Brew also faces a big task in midfield, with his defensive pressure key to blanketing the run of Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr.

Waratah (5th, 3-4) vs. Darwin (3rd, 5-2)
Saturday November 21, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin and Waratah will look to end Round 8 on a high as they provide the weekend’s sole top five clash at TIO Stadium on Saturday night. The Buffs’ early-season form saw them soar to top spot, though they have faltered a touch of late with their two losses coming in the last three weeks – albeit against top two sides. Similarly, three of Waratah’s four losses have come in the last month of action, with one dealt at the hands of Darwin by six points in Round 4. Double Blues midfielder Jalen Clarke looks set to return to the fold, joining the in-form Jarrod Stokes in midfield. Brodie Foster is a glaring absentee from the team list though, perhaps forcing Mihail Lochowiak to shift forward with Ryan Pendlebury covering the back six. Waratah should be up for a good fight, with the likes of Callum Searle and Dylan Collis providing good value this season, while Brodie Carroll has led from the front.

Featured Image: Southern Districts’ Jay Dahlhaus gets a kick away | Credit: Celina Whan AFLNT/Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season is set to bounce down tonight, as Waratah takes on Palmerston at Gardens Oval. After an off-season which saw the points and fly-in rules adjusted, but a raft of players putting pen to paper across all eight clubs, this year’s instalment promises to raise plenty of intrigue and produce even more quality.

In our club-by-club season preview, we take a look at how each side may stack up for the upcoming campaign, touching on the potential new signings and important factors for each team, while also serving a reminder of where they each left off.

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

2019/20 finish: 5th, 10-8 – lost elimination final to Southern Districts by 71
Round 1 fixture: vs. Tiwi Bombers @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

After an up and down 2019/20 season, the Darwin Buffaloes will hope to hold onto the finals place it managed to secure last time out. The Double Blues stormed out of the gates, but struggled to find the required consistency later in the season and exited the finals with barely a whimper against Southern Districts.

Consistency may well be a difficult feat to manage once again, with a coaching change and max exodus of players putting the Buffs in a tough position. While interstaters Brodie Foster and Ryan Pendlebury have recommitted, with outgoing coach Matt Campbell also set to remain onboard in a playing capacity, Darwin has lost a series of big names. New coach Cameron Stokes will have to plug gaps left by last year’s leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford, best and fairest winner Chris Williams, and utility Zak Stephenson, who have all switched to Palmerston.

Exciting goalkickers Brayden Culhane (Wanderers) and Adam Sambono (Tiwi) have also moved through the exit door, leaving a big shoes for new recruits to fill. Much will also be expected of young gun Antonio James, who is fresh off a starring South Australian school football season with Westminster. Fellow youngster Isaac Seden-Kurnoth will also garner plenty of attention, providing the green shoots Darwin may be after during a transitional period along with Ishmael Palmer and Tim Eldridge.

Nightcliff:

2019/20 finish: 1st, 17-1 – won Grand Final over St Mary’s by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. St Mary’s @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

Nightcliff begins its back-to-back premiership defence with a 2019/20 Grand Final rematch against St Mary’s, which should serve as a good measuring stick for the Tigers’ motivation and team cohesion after another big off-season. Premiership hero Trent Melville may have played his final NTFL game in last year’s decider, but the reigning premiers have a bunch of regulars and new recruits to cover any potential losses.

The Tigers’ notoriously deep pockets have lured a number of big-name VFL players, along with a host of Victorians from prominent local/regional leagues, and even the NAB League. Fresh off a strong WAFL season with Claremont which could yet end in premiership glory, Nightcliff junior Ryan Nyhuis would prove the cherry on top of the Tigers’ numerous recruits, along with former Palmerston gun, Kyle Emery.

Homegrown talent remains too, with the likes of Ryan Mu, and Liam Holt-Fitz enjoying steep rises, while Cam Ilett goes around for his 21st season, and Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo lines up once again. It is hard to see the Tigers falling off given the scary depth they possess once again, and it should be a cracking season for fans of the yellow and black.

Palmerston:

2019/20 finish: 8th, 1-17
Round 1 fixture: vs. Waratah @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston outfit is poised to bounce back strongly from a season which saw them finish last in 2019/20. Strong inter-league recruiting sees them well placed to potentially make a run for finals, with the back-end of the competition evening up this year. A trio of Buffaloes; Daniel Stafford, Chris Williams, and Zak Stephenson should add to the Magpies’ spine, along with returning junior Tyrrell Lui.

Young talent should be in good shape too, with Lui joined by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Sandy Brock as pillars up either end, while Jonty Patrick returns from SANFL Under 18s duties with Central Districts. The Davey family connection of Alwyn, Russell, and potentially Aaron adds experience, along with mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis, who has recommitted to the Magpies. That’s not to mention Alywn’s twin sons, who should also run through the Premier League side.

A steady start against Waratah in the season opener should put them in good stead, serving as a decent test of where the side will be at in 2020/21.

Southern Districts:

2019/20 finish: 3rd (4th), 10-7-1 – lost preliminary final to Nightcliff by 37
Round 1 fixture: vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Southern Districts will hope the momentum of a spirited finals charge will carry on into season 2020/21, with quite a steady squad remaining in tact for Matt Cannard‘s first year at the helm. Other sides may fancy themselves to move past the Crocs given their relatively quiet off-season, though a strong core and some handy fly-ins should keep Districts within the finals hunt.

The news of Josiah Farrer‘s ACL tear is a big blow to the Crocs’ premiership hopes, though Will Farrer remains as a goalkicking midfielder, while Charlie McAdam and Dean Staunton are other mainstays who can steady the ship. Young outside bolter Brandon Rusca looked primed for a big year after spending some time with the Gold Coast SUNS, while Brodie Lake may sneak some game time in before the AFL Draft. Fellow youngsters Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus have also moved up from Victoria, with Clark a solid defender who captained the Geelong Falcons last year, while Dahlhaus is cut from the same cloth as cousin, Luke.

With a couple more relocating coups, Southern Districts should be able to enjoy some good form throughout the year. Having made a name as one of the competition’s premier teams across the last few years, the Crocs will be hungry not to fall out of the leading pack.

St Mary’s:

2019/20 finish: 2nd, 14-4 – lost Grand Final to Nightcliff by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Nightcliff @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

After a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to go one-better in season 2020/21 after staying busy in the off-season. A number of big names remain, including Shaun Edwards, Jackson Calder, and Jackson Paine, and Nate Paredes, with Raphael Clarke also set to feature. Ben Long will be a handy addition once his WAFL campaign ends, while returning stars Ross Tungatalum and Anthony Davis promise to add a new dimension to the Saints’ side. Will Hams is another experienced head set to enter the fold, boasting AFL experience.

Add to that recruits of former VFL, NAB League, and Geelong Football League players, and St Mary’s should again prove to be a force in this year’s competition. The recommitment of many stars who helped the club climb off a bottom-place finish in 2018/19 is great to see, with the depth of the squad now right up there with Nightcliff ahead of what should be an exciting season for Saints fans. Having come from a long way back last year, they should start right at the forefront, especially if they can knock the Tigers off in Round 1.

Tiwi Bombers:

2019/20 finish: 4th (3rd), 11-7 – lost semi final to Southern Districts by 40
Round 1 fixture: vs. Darwin @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

One of last year’s most exciting teams, the Tiwi Bombers will be out to make good on their straight-sets finals exit in 2019/20, starting with a Round 1 grudge match against Darwin. The Bombers have added some handy interstate quality, while also managing to secure the services of prolific goalkicker Adam Sambono from the Buffaloes. A major out, though, will be former AFL midfielder Nathan Djerrkura, who moves to Wanderers.

The Bombers’ speed and ease of transition will again put them in good stead this year, with the likes of Harley Puruntatameri and Henry Kerinaiua running the lines, while Jeffrey Simon adds class through the middle or up either end. Tiwi’s mainstays are always important too, and should help secure their side a finals spot once again in 2020/21, but it’ll be tight. Fans will also hope to see a bit more of Cyril Rioli too, after his successful cameo last time around.

Wanderers:

2019/20 finish: 7th 3-14-1
Round 1 fixture: vs. Southern Districts @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Wanderers will look to address and improve on a massive drop-off in form towards the end of last season, as the Muk Muks begin a fresh campaign against Southern Districts tomorrow night. The Eagles’ stocks see them primed for a finals tilt, with the likes of Nathan Djerrkura and Brayden Culhane coming in from rival clubs, while Josh Cubillo and Marlon Motlop are set to feature more prominently as Jonas Niki and Clifford Jamahl make their returns.

In terms of interstate recruits, the Eagles have also dipped into the Victorian pool with a mix of experienced and young players entering the fold, set to line up as soon as in Round 1. The Eagles also lay claim to 2019/20 Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Braedon McLean, but the hole Joel Jeffrey will leave come AFL Draft time is a big one to fill.

Still, the Muk Muks will fancy themselves to improve greatly after showing some great promise early last year, and face a very good test first up against the Crocs.

Waratah:

2019/20 finish: 6th 5-13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Palmerston @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

After an inconsistent season saw them finish best of the rest in sixth, the Warriors have plenty to prove in their 2020/21 campaign. Along with Nightcliff, Waratah has been one of the busiest clubs during the off-season, luring a mass amount of players from all kinds of leagues and levels in Victoria. Young key forward Ned Stevens also returns as a big coup, taking some of the goalkicking pressure of zippy midfielder/forward Kim Kantilla.

The likes of state leaguers Brodie Carroll and Callum Searle also line up for the Warriors, with Jae McGrath another important player to commit to the cause. As usual, Abe Ankers will be the key man, and all involved will hope he can run out more frequently this time around. Expectations will be high for a healthy rise this season considering Waratah’s various coups, but making the next step is always tough, especially with others improving around them.

Featured Image: Nightcliff celebrates its 2019/20 premiership | Credit: AFLNT

NTFL Men’s Premier League: Round 17 – Bombers look for three-peat over Saints

THE penultimate Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League round features just one fixture between two top five sides, but it promises to be a cracker nonetheless with the bottom three teams looking to play the cat among the pigeons against finals-bound opponents. The minor premiership, wooden spooner, and final five might already be wrapped up, but there is still plenty to play for over another weekend of NTFL action.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. WARATAH
Friday February 7, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin and Waratah resume their mini-rivalry under Friday night lights at TIO Stadium, with the Buffs continuing their push for top three qualification. The fourth-placed Buffaloes have not been able to string consecutive victories together since Rounds 7 and 8, going 4-4 in their eight matches since amid a tricky late-season draw. Meanwhile, the Warriors were only officially ruled out of finals contention last week in their loss to St Mary’s, ending a two-game winning run in the process. While the records show the ledger between these sides to be 2-0 in favour of Darwin, the Warriors were controversially stripped of a Round 3 win over the Buffs due to a team sheet error. So with the actual scales showing even, this should be an entertaining grudge match as Waratah looks to foil Darwin’s post-season plans for a second season running. But Daniel Stafford‘s inclusion for the higher-ranked side is a timely one with both Brodie Foster and Darren Shillabeer absent, set to link up with the in-form Ishmael Palmer and Isaac Seden-Kunoth inside 50. Darwin skipper Jarrod Stokes is again set to miss, easing the pressure on Waratah’s back six a touch. But the Warriors will also come in slightly undermanned, with Henry Kerinaiua, Brodie Carroll, and Abe Ankers all among the absentees. It could still prove to be a danger game for the Buffs, who should take nothing for granted heading into the finals with winning form always the best form.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday February 8, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Southern Districts’ slim hopes of cracking the top three lie mostly in other results, but the Crocs still have to get past Palmerston this weekend to keep them alive with a finals spot already sewn up. A horror run of form ended last week for Districts as it comfortably accounted for Wanderers, with its lighter run to the post-season against the bottom three continuing here. Palmerston’s short-lived success in Round 13 has been quickly forgotten amid another string of losses, confirming the Magpies’ second wooden spoon in three seasons with a couple of rounds still to play out. Despite there being little to lose for either side, both come in with reasonably strong line-ups as opportunities on to impress run thin. The Crocs have been settled across the last few weeks at the selection table aside from sweating on Michael and Ed Barlow‘s availability, and come in with a typically deadly midfield-forward rotation boasting Richard Tambling, Jeff Garlett, and Josiah Farrer. For Palmerston, Keidan Holt-Tubbs is a key out but will be replaced in the ruck by returning bigman Matthew Dennis, while Aaron Davey replaces his suspended brother and coach, Alwyn Davey, and Kyle Emery remains at the heart of midfield. While many would consider this clash a foregone conclusion given the combined 152-point discrepancy between the two sides in their clashes this season, there is enough class in the Magpies team to test Southern Districts should all go to plan.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. WANDERERS
Saturday February 8, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Nightcliff will be out to maintain its strong momentum heading into finals when it hosts Wanderers at PSC BM Oval on Saturday. The formlines of these two sides could hardly be more opposite, with the Tigers excelling in their flag defence to notch up nine consecutive wins and the minor premiership to boot, while the Muk Muks have lost in 10-consecutive outings to sit a lowly seventh. The two previous meetings between these sides have gone as expected too, with the Tigers clocking up a combined 137-point winning margin in Round 3 and 8 triumphs to only further consolidate their status as clear favourite. While the young and exuberant Wanderers side will come in near full strength and on the hunt for an upset, the Tigers have maintained their starting side in hopes of getting a solid run into the post-season. Under-18 standout Joel Jeffrey could spend some time in the midfield having been named in the centre, with Shannon Motlop a handy inclusion to add to the likes of Beau O’Connell and Braedon McLean in the engine room rotation. Danny Butcher and James Tsitas are the most notable inclusions for Nightcliff with much of its core remaining, and competition leading goalkicker Trent Melville also set to feature. This game could go one of two ways; if Nightcliff want to continue to make statements as the competition benchmark, it will, but if Wanderers come out and throw caution to the wind, it could really bring it to the table-toppers.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday February 8, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round is again left til last as traditional rivals and premiership contenders Tiwi and St Mary’s go head-to-head on Saturday night. With Tiwi two games off the Saints in third place, a win would keep the Bombers in with a sniff of snatching second spot in Round 18, while a loss could also see them fall back out of the top three and into the elimination final zone. As one of the form sides of the competition, the Bombers have only gone down to Nightcliff – twice – in their last 10 outings, storming up the ladder and within striking distance of the Saints. Having already toppled their rival twice in a couple of unlikely results, much of the momentum is with the red and blacks. But the much-improved Saints are no easy-beats, triumphing in seven of their last eight games to have second spot all-but wrapped up. Despite a superior standing, St Mary’s could well be considered the underdog in a third clash between the sides, coming in with a slightly weaker side. While the core of Shaun Edwards, Jake Long, Jackson Paine, Jackson Calder, and Tom Davies remains, there is still a bit of strength to come back into the Saints line-up in the lead-up to finals. On the other hand, the Bombers have strengthened their side with the inclusions of Greensborough pair Tom Bell and Charlie Molyneux, while its attacking 50 boasts the likes of Adam Tipungwuti, Harley Puruntatameri, and Austin Wonaeamirri – all of whom have been finding the big sticks of late. The clash needs little sprucing, and should provide plenty of highlights if recent history is anything to go by.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 16 – Danger games await final five

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finalists all-but decided, each of the final five will be hoping to avoid any slip-ups on their way to the post-season. Just one Round 16 fixture is set to be played out between finals-bound sides, making this weekend one with a bunch of danger games.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-14) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 8-7)
Friday January 31, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is now or never for Darwin in its last-ditch attempt to snatch a top three spot, with cellar dweller Palmerston standing in the way of a much-needed set of four points. The Buffs have not been able to string together consecutive wins since completing a streak of three against the Magpies in Round 9, and have struggled to match it against fellow top five opponents. But Matt Campbell‘s side has fared much better against the current bottom three, going 6-0 so far and looking to add to that record here. Palmerston’s season has not produced many highlights, but a heartbreakingly narrow loss to the Buffs in that Round 9 meeting should provide a boost in confidence for the 1-14 Magpies. The class of Alwyn Davey, Aaron Davey, and Kyle Emery from on and behind the ball will be key to Palmerston’s success, with skipper and focal point Aaron Lonergan awaiting their delivery at full forward. He may find himself marked by the returning Ryan Pendlebury, who comes in to buff Darwin’s back six, while the likes of Campbell and Joe Anderson will have added responsibility with captain Jarrod Stokes missing from the team sheet. While the Buffs may see this as an opportunity to boost their percentage and keep touch with Tiwi, they should take nothing for granted in a game they simply must win.

TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 10-5) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 14-1)
Saturday February 1, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round kicks off a super Saturday of NTFL football, with three of the four weekend fixtures to be played across the afternoon and evening. Two of the league’s hottest sides in Tiwi and Nightcliff do battle, with the Bombers looking to sew up a top three berth and the Tigers out to officially wrap up the minor premiership. This will be a real test of Tiwi’s premiership credentials with six-straight wins under its belt, but Nightcliff remains the only side the Bombers are yet to overcome, falling to the all-conquering Tigers in Rounds 2 and 9. While the Bombers are set to come in a touch undermanned in terms of interstate starpower, mainstays in the form of Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara, and Harley Puruntatameri should provide that typical Tiwi dash and dare going forward, while Nathan Djerrkura remains at the heart of midfield. Tiwi’s starting forward line looks formidable on paper, but Nightcliff’s defence is as stingy as any, while also possessing the firepower to score big. Competition leading goalkicker Trent Melville is one who can help match Tiwi’s forward threat alongside Liam Holt-Fitz in the absence of John Butcher and Lachlan Sharp, while a raft of experienced heads steady the ship further afield. It is set to be a hot contest, and a good test for either side just a few weeks out from finals.

WARATAH (6th, 5-10) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 11-4)
Saturday February 1, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah faces a tough ask in maintaining its unlikely turnaround towards finals, set to clash with the second-ranked St Mary’s on home turf. Consecutive wins have mathematically kept the Warriors in the hunt for fifth spot, but it all depends on whether they can win their three remaining games, and if Southern Districts lose all three of theirs. The Saints come in having only gone down to Nightcliff in their last seven outings, looking like a genuine premiership contender to sit safe in a double chance spot. While top three qualification is very nearly sewn up, a win would officially do it for last year’s wooden spooners. Much of the Saints’ strength will lie in their midfield this week, boasting the likes of David Armitage, Will Hams, Shaun Edwards, Jackson Geary, and Nate Paredes, while Maurice Rioli Jnr could also roll through there in the forward rotation. With Brodie Carroll and Abe Ankers set to miss, Waratah will hope to outgun the Saints through the likes of Jae McGrath and Mitchell O’Donnell inside 50, while Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua provide the creativity moving forward. It may seem a foregone conclusion on paper, but the Warriors’ form suggests they could prove tricky for the Saints to handle.

WANDERERS (7th, 3-11-1) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 7-7-1)
Saturday February 1, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Southern Districts will look to put any doubt over its top five spot to rest and get back to a positive record when it faces Wanderers to see out Round 16. The Crocs have had a tough time of it of late, going down in all of their last four outings – albeit against the top four sides – sliding down to fifth and almost out of top three contention. But with three games against the bottom sides to see out the regular season, starting here, the Crocs could seal an unlikely spring out of the elimination final slots. A team in an even worse rut at the moment is Wanderers, out to snap a nine-game losing run dating back to Round 6, having previously looked like a finals contender. The young Muk Muks have been lively in patches and have some terrific talent, but have not been able to stay in games for long enough. That should play into the hands of Southern Districts, with the experienced Ed Barlow and Michael Barlow set to join Richard Tambling through midfield, while their own prodigy in Brodie Lake should also make a difference. Wanderers engine room partnership of Braedon McLean and Beau O’Connell is set to resume, but will be tested greatly at the coalface. In a boost to the Eagles’ forward line, ex-Croc Shane Thorne makes his Premier League return to support the goalkicking prowess of Joel Jeffrey. Wanderers have nothing to lose, and should go at the Crocs with freedom given winning form is everything to Southern Districts heading into finals.

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 Men’s Premier League preview: Round 12 – Teams return from mid-season break

FOOTBALL is back in 2020 as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season resumes under Friday night lights ahead of a huge triple-header on Saturday. In the game of the round, Darwin and Southern Districts play off in an eight-pointer while the remaining top five sides meet opponents further off the pace.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-7-1)
Friday January 3, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

St Mary’s will be looking to extend its three-game winning run into the new year when it faces Wanderers to open Round 12 under Friday night lights. The Saints did not dwell on a second loss to Tiwi in Round 8, bouncing back to claim three wins on the trot and go clear in second heading into the mid-season break. While St Mary’s’ form has been consistent, Wanderers’ path has been less linear as the young side battles to regain its early-season form. The Eagles are set for a big boost as Gold Coast SUNS trainee Joel Jeffrey looks primed to return to the lineup, and he may be used up both ends as Victorian twin towers Jackson Paine and Jackson Calder have been named inside forward 50 for the Saints. The AFL experience of recent weeks is not quite as prominent for St Mary’s, but Jake Long is set to feature alongside potential 2020 Richmond father-son, Maurice Rioli Jnr. Opportunities will be limited for Wanderers as it pushes to reclaim a top five spot, and the Saints should pose a tough test as one of the genuine premiership contenders. Expect St Mary’s experience to come into play as the four quarters wear on.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 6-5) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 7-3-1)
Saturday January 4, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round opens a huge Saturday triple-header at TIO Stadium, with Darwin and Southern Districts battling it out for top five supremacy. The Buffs have only defeated one of the current top five sides – Tiwi, all the way back in Round 1 – and come in having gone down to two of them right before the break. The Crocs fared slightly better in the build up to 2020, albeit having gone down comfortably to Nightcliff, but should take confidence in having already beaten the Buffaloes in Round 5. Both sides come in well stacked, with Southern Districts naming the likes of Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow, Jeff Garlett, and Richard Tambling, not to mention a forward line boasting the competition’s leading goalkicker in Will Farrer. Matt Campbell will lead his side in response, with the prolific Adam Sambono poised to return, Brodie Foster another likely inclusion, and Joe Anderson set to feature up forward alongside Daniel Stafford. While the Crocs’ side jumps off the page and their form has been telling at times, Darwin can beat anyone at its absolute best. The Buffs will need to bring exactly that if they are to stay in the top two hunt.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 10-1) vs. WARATAH (7th, 3-8)
Saturday January 4, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

League leaders Nightcliff will aim to pick up where it left off in 2019, with bottom three opponent Waratah first on the agenda in the new year. The Tigers have been near-perfect in their premiership defence thus far, only going down to the second-ranked side and beating every other opponent through 11 rounds. While they will be looking for more of the same, a change of fortunes will be what Waratah is after as it looks to latch onto the heels of the top five. There has been a sizeable gap between the Warriors’ best and worse, with the absence of key players proving telling – and it could well be the case in this game. With Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll not named in the squad, spearhead Kim Kantilla looks set for some added midfield time having been named as ruck rover. There should be no such issues for the versatile and deep Nightcliff side, with most of the key Tigers players set to feature. Trent Melville will look to push into top spot in the goalkicking charts on the back of a potential percentage booster, while Kaine Riley is one of many who will hope to continue their great form. The Tigers are always formidable, and will prove another tough ask for the Warriors in this fixture.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-11) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (5th, 6-5)
Saturday January 4, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston’s new year resolutions will be clear heading into its first match of 2020, with the Tiwi Bombers first on the agenda in Round 12’s final fixture. While they have gone close a couple of times, the Magpies have mostly been well off the pace this season and sit bottom of the league as the only side yet to crack a win. Meanwhile, the Bombers have flown up into the top five after an indifferent start to their campaign, maintaining a positive record and now looking to extend the gap to sixth. This matchup could provide a great opportunity to do so given Wanderers and Waratah’s difficult assignments, but Palmerston’s lineup suggests it will be up for the fight. Alwyn Davey will lead his side on-field alongside brother, Aaron and son, Alwyn Jnr, while Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will also look to make an impact going forward. Tiwi’s side is stacked as usual, featuring the AFL experience of Tom Bell, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ashton Hams to go with their formidable list of usual suspects. While it looks a mismatch on paper, anything can happen after the break and the Magpies will be hungry to rectify a disappointing 2019.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 6 – Sambono returns as top four square off

FOUR different venues host each game in Round 6 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, with fixtures between the top four sides headlining what is set to be a cracking weekend of football.

WARATAH (7th, 0-5, 55%) v. TIWI BOMBERS (6th, 2-3, 72%)
Saturday November 9, 2:30pm
Gardens Oval

A bottom three clash opens Round 6 as the winless Waratah hosts Tiwi at Gardens Oval on Saturday afternoon. Despite putting up competitive efforts in most games thus far, including a win which was later revoked, the Warriors are one of two sides languishing without any premiership points after a handful of efforts. Missing key talent and the former-AFL firepower of others, it has been a tough initiation to season 2019/20 for Waratah. But that could all change with a win over the Bombers, who are looking to build a win streak and break into the top five. Much-hyped coming into the season, Tiwi has been a touch lacklustre thus far but still provided two highlights for the year in each of its two wins – beating rivals St Mary’s in a high-scoring thriller and having Cyril Rioli Jnr make his long=awaited return last week.

The Bombers’ hopes of another headline win will be made difficult by Waratah’s likely inclusions, with key players Abe Ankers and Steve Stroobants joining Brodie Carroll and Henry Kerinaiua in the side to give the Warriors plenty of forward drive. The Bombers have not named Rioli after his to-plan debut, but Victorian Charlie Molyneux looks like being a handy replacement in midfield. There are still plenty of stars in the side in any case, with the likes of Adam Tipungwuti, Nathan Djerrkura, and Austin Wonaeamirri providing class on each line. Youngsters Jeffrey Simon and Preyben Tipiloura also keep their spots, giving the Bombers plenty of flair.

It is hard to look past the Bombers on paper, but their unpredictable nature against Waratah’s more consistent base makes this clash one which should be close.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 5-0, 185%) v. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 3-2, 169%)
Saturday November 9, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Ladder leader Nightcliff plays host to Darwin at PSC BM Oval on Saturday twilight in the first of two mouth-watering top four bouts. The Tigers’ premiership defence has been near-faultless thus far, notching an impressing 5-0 record having dispatched of each opponent to come their way. While you can only beat who is put in front of you, wins over the bottom two sides coming into this clash does not make for an ideal run-in to such a high stakes game, but more testing wins over finals hopefuls Wanderers and Southern Districts should put Nightcliff in good stead nonetheless. On the other hand, Darwin’s promising start has since hit a couple of road blocks, and the Buffs are lucky to still hold their positive record. Last week’s heartbreaking loss to Southern Districts will be fresh in the memory, with Darwin raring to go as some key players return.

Adam Sambono is the most notable inclusion for Darwin, named at full forward for his first game back after a 12-goal haul in Round 1. With Joe Anderson and Brayden Culhane named in the same forward 50, Darwin all of a sudden looks more like the attacking powerhouse it has been of late. Goalsneak Trent Melville will look to lead Nightcliff’s effort to outgun the Buffs after a four-goal effort last time out, especially with Brodie Filo left unnamed. Kaine Riley has been in good form further afield, with NT stalwart Cam Ilett and VFL-listed James Tsitas others who will be important to the cause.

The Tigers have undeniable class across the field and are the team to beat overall, but do not discount the Buffaloes in this clash given the boosts made to their forward half.

PALMERSTON (8th, 0-5, 51%) v. WANDERERS (5th, 2-2-1, 86%)
Saturday November 9, 5:00pm
Palmerston Oval

Wanderers will look to keep clear of the chasing pack with a win as it travels to face Palmerston on Saturday evening. The Muk Muks are yet to string consecutive wins together, but have shown plenty of promise with their young list and will look to notch a third win against their third bottom-three opponent in Palmerston. On the other hand, the winless Magpies had their hearts broken last week as they gave up a five-goal buffer to lose in a count-back to Tiwi last week. Their slimmest losing margin to that point was 30 points, with heavy losses coming in Rounds 3 and 4 and the gulf in class evident. But last week’s effort will leave the fire burning for Palmerston, and the opportunity to play spoiler awaits.

The Magpies’ spine is bookended by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Ezekiel Frank, with the pair looking to prop up a side which is set to go in without the class of former-AFL jets Alwyn and Aaron Davey at ground level. The Eagles will have no such worries in that department as ex-Port player Brett Eddy comes into the lineup, surrounded by young excitement machines in Joel Jeffrey, Ronald Fejo, Tyrell Lui and Beau O’Connell in a side slightly short on pure talls.

Waratah’s young talent has gotten them through a couple of real tests thus far, and they will need to be switched on to come out on top in a clash they are expected to win. Palmerston should give it a proper crack though, especially with a bottom two clash just around the corner.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 3-1-1, 139%) v. ST MARY’S (2nd, 4-1, 131%)
Sunday November 10, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Arguably the game of the round will be left until last as Southern Districts hosts St Mary’s at Norbuilt Oval in Sunday’s only fixture. The Crocs are rising after four undefeated rounds, scraping home by three points over fellow finals hopeful, Darwin in Round 5. Having only gone down to the 5-0 Nightcliff, this game will give neutrals an idea of whether Southern Districts will be the reigning premier’s nearest challenger. The Saints technically hold that mantle at this stage as they sit in second spot at 4-1, with a surprise loss to Tiwi splitting those wins. This will be St Mary’s third-straight bout against a top five opponent having won comfortably in the last two weeks against solid opposition.

The Crocs’ ability to kick big scores has started to come back into the fray of late, with South Australian Sam Barnett providing a focal point for the likes of Ed Barlow and Dylan McLachlan to hit up from further afield. Add the dangerous Beau Schwarze and Will Farrer to the mix and Southern Districts boasts a strong forward 50 once again this week. But if any side can claim having class on each line, it is St Mary’s, and the Saints have seldom been overwhelmed thus far. Possessing weapons of their own in the form of Raphael Clarke, Jake Long, Nick Yarran, and Nate Paredes, the visitors will bring so much valuable experience to Sunday’s clash.

The Saints have improved out of sight since last year and the Crocs are only just reaching that level again, so expect them to meet somewhere in the middle and provide an entertaining game of football.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 5 – Cyril stars in Tiwi Islands thriller

CYRIL RIOLI‘s fairytale return hallmarked a dramatic round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, with the former Hawthorn star attracting all eyes to Bathurst Island on Saturday afternoon. Elsewhere, Southern Districts leapfrogged Darwin, while finals hopefuls St Mary’s and Nightcliff both won handily.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.0 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 5.3 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, D. McLachlan 2, B. Schwarze 2, J. Clarke, J. Farrer, S. Barnett.
Darwin: D. Stafford 2, J. Anderson, A. Stokes, T. Eldridge, M. Quinn, J. Stokes, C. Williams, P. Boles.

BEST:

Southern Districts: D. McLachlan, N. Horbury, D. Williams, Z. Smith, B. Lake, K. Dingo
Darwin: P. Campbell, D. Maymuru, S. Tahana, M. Quinn, P. Boles

Southern Districts claimed a dramatic three-point win in the Round 5 opener to leapfrog Darwin into third place. The Crocs fought back from trailing narrowly at every break to clinch the lead when it mattered most to clinch the 10.6 (66) to 9.9 (63) victory.

A high-scoring first term saw nine goals scored, but was levelled by a one-goal second term where Southern Districts claimed the sole major. The Buffs’ two-point half-time lead doubled out to four heading into the final turn, but was not enough as the surging Crocs ran home with three goals to two to snatch the spirited win.

Southern Districts’ William Farrer led the goalkicking stakes with a game-high three majors, followed by best-afield player Dylan McLachlan and Beau Schwarze (both two). That feat was matched by Daniel Stafford for Darwin, who was his side’s sole multiple goalkicker. Paul Campbell was named the Buffaloes’ best alongside the consistent figures of Mark Quinn and Patrick Boles, while the less heralded lights of Nathan Horbury and Damian Williams joined Brodie Lake and Keegan Dingo in the Crocs’ best six.

Both sides will go on to face fellow top four opponents next time out in what looms as an exciting round, with Southern Districts poised to face St Mary’s, while the Buffs are set to do battle with the undefeated Nightcliff Tigers.

TIWI BOMBERS 4.0 | 4.2 | 6.5 | 11.13 (79)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 6.4 | 10.5 | 12.5 (77)

GOALS:

Tiwi: J. Best 3, M. Kantilla 2, H. Puruntatameri, P. Tipiloura, T. Tambling, P. Heenan, A. Darcy, C. Rioli.
Palmerston: N/A.

BEST:

Tiwi: C. Jones, H. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, D. McLinden, W. Stuart, J. Puruntatameri
Palmerston: N/A

A last gasp Rioli goal helped Tiwi claim a miraculous come-from-behind win over Palmerston on Bathurst Island, keeping Palmerston winless. The Magpies looked on track to break their duck in wet conditions, but had their hearts broken as the Bombers crawled into the lead with a last minute behind to make it 11.13 (79) to 12.5 (77).

There was a touch of drama as the scoreboard read 12.6 (88) apiece, but a recount ensured Tiwi got the four points and the home crowd went away happy. It came after Palmerston had controlled much of the middle period of the game, breaking ahead to the tune of over two goals in the second term amid wet conditions. But the eventual 24-point three quarter time buffer was mown down with help from Rioli and co. as the Bombers finally clicked back into gear to claim the unlikely result.

Jake Best snared another bag of three goals, joined by Matthew Kantilla as the Bombers’ sole multiple goalkickers, with Christopher Jones named their best afield. Harley and Jason Puruntatameri joined Adam Tipungwuti as consistent figures to also make up the Tiwi best six. Steven Lorenzo was lively up forward alongside the influential Keidan Holt-Tubbs with multiple goals in the second term, while ruckman Matthew Dennis was one Magpie who impacted around the ground and Aaron Davey starred with his ball use going forward.

Palmerston’s search for win number one heads home to Palmerston Oval next time out, while Tiwi will look to continue its upward trend when it clashes with the league’s other winless team, Waratah in Round 6.

WANDERERS 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.5 | 8.7 (55)
ST MARY’S 4.3 | 5.6 | 8.8 | 12.9 (81)

GOALS:

Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, D. Ferreira 3, E. Colley.
St Mary’s: D. Johnstone 4, T. Gilbert 2, N. Paredes, R. Clarke, W. Hams, J. Cullen, B. Slater, L. Larson.

BEST:

Wanderers: N. Sedgwick, J. Jeffrey, D. Weetra, B. McLean, W. Williams
St Mary’s: W. Hams, R. Clarke, N. Yarran, T. Davies, T. Gilbert, L. Larson

St Mary’s stamped its authority as a genuine premiership contender with a 26-point win over fifth-place Wanderers at TIO Stadium. The Saints were simply better for longer in the 12.9 (81) to 8.7 (55) result, leading at every break on the back of their superior depth.

A one goal apiece second quarter was the only stanza where St Mary’s failed to notch at least three majors, with consistent scoring matching an equally shrewd defensive effort for most of the contest. The Eagles managed to tick over a few consolation goals late in the piece as the sides shared eight goals evenly to close out the game, but were ultimately outgunned and lacked the same range of threats going forward.

The ex-AFL class of Will Hams and Raphael Clarke again proved telling alongside the run of Nicholas Yarran, while Thomas Davies and Tom Gilbert both continued their runs of form to be named among the best. Dylan Johnstone booted four goals to lead the Saints’ line, with prodigious talent Joel Jeffrey matching the feat for Wanderers. Davin Ferreira chimed in with three as the Muk Muks’ only other real goal threat, but both were beaten out to best-afield honours by Nicholas Sedgwick in the loss.

Wanderers will look to rebound against last-placed Palmerston on the road in Round 6, fancying its chances of maintaining a gap in the last finals spot. Meanwhile, St Mary’s is set for a proper test as it readies to face Southern Districts at Norbuilt Oval in what will be a real eight-pointer.

WARATAH 6.1 | 8.3 | 9.6 | 9.6 (60)
NIGHTCLIFF 5.5 | 8.9 | 12.10 | 16.13 (109)

GOALS:

Waratah: N/A
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, B. Filo 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, L. Sharp 2, M. Hagan, P. Wills, S. Wilson, J. Kickett, C. Ilett

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Nightcliff: C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, T. Melville, K. Riley, J. Budarick, B. Filo

A big second half effort helped Nightcliff maintain its perfect record with a 49-point win over Waratah to round out the weekend’s action. The Tigers’ roaring finish was another reminder of their credentials, with the 16.13 (109) to 9.6 (60) result looking easy in the end.

Waratah found themselves ahead after a high-scoring bolt from the blocks from both sides, booting six goals to five in the opening term. The Warriors were pegged back quickly though as Nightcliff took the lead heading into half-time and never looked back, sealing the win with eight goals to one after the main break in a big scoring effort.

Trent Melville was one of the stars of the show, booting four goals and taking an eye-catching hanger to lead the Tigers’ charge alongside Brodie Filo (three goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (two), and Lachlan Sharp (two). Stalwart Cam Ilett beat them all out to best-afield honours though, with Kaine Riley and Joel Budarick also getting among the action without finding the goals. Jae McGrath and Henry Kerinaiua resumed their dangerous partnership up forward, but could not spark the Warriors for long enough as they eventually fell away.

The winless Warriors could fancy a breakthrough win over fellow bottom three side Tiwi at home next week, while Nightcliff hosts Darwin in what should be a ripping clash between two finals hopefuls.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 5 – Rioli to make long-awaited debut

TWO games with top five implications take place in Round 5 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, as the competition table starts to take shape. A clash between Tiwi and Palmerston also sees teams outside of the finals spots given a chance to begin their game of catch-up in the race for finals.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4th, 2-1-1, 146%) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (2nd, 3-1, 194%)
Friday November 1, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Two sides in rising and falling form respectively meet as Southern Districts and Darwin Buffaloes open Round 5 under Friday night lights. While technically 3-1 on the offical NTFL standings, the Buffs have entered a sudden skid after making an ominous start to the season, going down in consecutive weeks. Still sitting pretty in second on the back of a forfeit win, Darwin’s spot could be relinquished with a loss given Southern Districts sits just half a game behind the 3-1 Buffs and St Mary’s. The Crocs look to have found their groove after a slow start which saw them drop points to reigning premier Nightcliff and an exciting Wanderers unit, catching up immediately with wins by a combined 135 points.

They will be as strong as in previous weeks, going in again with the pairing of Ed and Michael Barlow through midfield and with in-form key forward Sam Barnett providing the focal point inside 50. The likes of Brodie Lake, Charlie McAdam and Jayden Clarke all have class to offer on each line too, making the Crocs as formidable as any side. The Buffs will be lifted by the return of Joe Anderson, who slots in at centre half-forward on the team sheet, looking to provide inspiration alongside dangerous young goalkicker Brayden Culhane. Either side is enduring very different form coming into the clash, with Southern Districts the team looking to pounce on a potential top two berth.

TIWI BOMBERS (6th, 1-3, 67%) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-4, 43%)
Saturday November 2, 1:30pm
Tiwi Oval

A chance to start catching the leading pack is up for grabs as Tiwi and Palmerston do battle in a stand-alone game at Tiwi Oval on Saturday. There was reasonable hype surrounding the Bombers coming into season 2019/20, but they have failed to delivery as consistently as they would have liked given the talent at their disposal each week. The draw has not done them any favours though, facing every top five side bar Southern Districts thus far and doing well – outgunning St Mary’s in an absolute shootout but going down handily otherwise. The Magpies’ formline is much more linear, albeit far less fruitful too, with a smallest losing margin of 30 points telling the tale of their season. The gap in firepower between the two sides here stands as being the most telling factor, with Tiwi looking to get the swoop on the Magpies with a big score.

Former Hawthorn star and Tiwi favourite son Cyril Rioli is set to make his long-awaited return to the islands, named on the wing in a stacked Bombers lineup. He adds to the ex-AFL experience of Nathan Djerrkura with Austin Wonaeamirri absent, and will look to set an example for Under-18 stars Jeffrey Simon and Preyben Tipiloura. The Magpies have a couple of handy additions of their own, naming Aaron Davey in defence, Nigel Lockyer Jnr up forward, and Matthew Dennis in the ruck after a rare week off. The high-scoring potential of Tiwi should give Palmerston a few headaches, but the Magpies need to lift fast if they are any chance to climb the ladder.

WANDERERS (5th, 2-1-1, 90%) vs. ST MARY’S (3rd, 3-1, 128%)
Saturday November 2, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The second top five clash of the round sees Wanderers take on St Mary’s at TIO Stadium in what shapes as being the game of the weekend. A beefed up Saints squad has taken to the 2019/20 campaign with aplomb, only losing out to rivals Tiwi but getting back on the winners list last time out. Wanderers looks like being their biggest test yet though, with wins over bottom-two teams Palmerston and Waratah prettying up that 3-1 record. The Muk Muks have compiled a decent run of form of their own, only dropping points to 2018/19 grand finalists Nightcliff and Southern Districts to this point. Their youthful exuberance has put them in good stead, making for exciting contests and dare that is hard to come by in more experienced teams. That experience is something St Mary’s has in spades, coming of late from some former AFL guns.

Young talent is the Eagles’ theme once again, with Beau O’Connell boosting an exciting lineup which features the likes of Joel Jeffrey and Davin Ferreira. Former-Sun Liam Patrick is another welcome addition to the forward 50, possibly pushing Jeffrey up the ground. While the Saints will momentarily lose Jarrad Waite, they maintain a level of AFL experience with Will Hams named in midfield. Nick Yarran will look to move into the engine room with a trio of Longs named in defence, while young prospect Keiren Parnell is set to provide dash off the wing. These are two of the more enjoyable sides to watch and look evenly matched on paper, but expect St Mary’s raft of experience to play a key part in deciding this contest.

WARATAH (7th, 0-4, 55%) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 4-0, 185%)
Sunday November 3, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah will hope its ‘0’ will finally go as it hosts reigning premier Nightcliff at Gardens Oval in Sunday’s only fixture. The Warriors’ breakthrough win over Darwin was revoked, meaning they join Palmerston as one of two winless sides after four rounds. The game of catch-up, if not hard enough at 0-4, will be made even more difficult in the face of Nightcliff’s form. The undefeated Tigers have given little to each of their opponents thus far while also booting over 119 points in three of their four outings. It means they are again the team to beat at this early stage, already overcoming two top five sides in relatively comfortable fashion.

Abe Ankers‘ continued absence will make the job even tougher for Waratah, with Brodie Carroll and Michael Graham looking to fill the void through midfield. The in-form Jae McGrath will have to carry an even heavier load too, as ex-VFL forward Steve Stroobants has not been named. While not at full strength, the Tigers still have no shortage of firepower to rotate forward from midfield as they look to keep their perfect premiership defence record in tact. It is hard to look past Nightcliff in any game, but the Warriors should put up a good fight here against the odds.