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NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 3 – Wanderers face Nightcliff in lone top five clash

ONLY one game in Round 3 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League will be played between teams in finals spots, with Wanderers facing reigning premier Nightcliff on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, both Southern Districts and Palmerston have the chance to grab their first win of the season, and St Mary’s will look to stay undefeated.

TIWI BOMBERS (8th, 0-2) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Teams with polar opposite formlines meet to kick off Round 3 as Tiwi plays host to St Mary’s at TIO Stadium. The topped-up Saints have been excellent so far in toppling Waratah and Palmerston, but will face a tricky task in upholding their form against an underperforming Bombers unit. Both teams had a good amount of build-up coming into the season, but Tiwi’s production has been levels off that of its weekend opponent. To be fair to the Bombers, fixtures against Darwin and reigning premier Nightcliff to start the year arguably poised them with the toughest early draw, but their best started to come to the fore in the second and third terms against Nightcliff after the Tigers got the jump on them. Slow starts seem to be a theme for the bottom-placed side, which had to dig itself out of a similar rut in the opening stages of last season. St Mary’s ended up being the side to claim the dreaded wooden spoon, but all signs point toward a more positive outcome this time around.

The talent on either side is undeniable, stacked with famous NT names throughout. Saints leader Raphael Clarke has made a starring start to the year alongside smaller types in Nicholas Yarran, Nathaniel Paredes, and the returning Jackson Geary. Ex-AFL midfielder Will Hams has also been a welcome addition to what is a re-energised Saints line-up looking to crack back into its rightful top-end spot. Former-Saint Michael Dunn has bagged multiple goals in both of his games thus far and will provide good opposition alongside Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri. They will look to new recruit Michael Mummery, Round 2 rising star nominee Jeffrey Simon, and Harley Puruntatameri to provide some added spark, with the Bombers’ x-factor something that sets them apart. That unpredictability against some of St Mary’s proven quantities will be key to this contest, and we could well get a belter.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 0-1-1) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (7th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

One team’s zero is set to go, as the winless Southern Districts and Palmerston do battle at Norbuilt Oval in the weekend’s only game away from TIO Stadium. Given the 0-2 Magpies sit without any points altogether, the Crocs would be smelling blood in the water at the opportunity continue their trend of going one-better in each passing game. A draw against Wanderers last time out was less than ideal though, with the Crocs unable to truly click into gear for four quarters despite showing some promising signs in their Round 1 grand final rematch. Another less-than-ideal situation is that they will be without William Farrer for at least this fixture after he became the first NTFL player to be charged under the Auditory Offences matrix for umpire abuse. It serves as another blow to the Crocs’ firepower, which is already missing ex-AFL star Leroy Jetta and now-Bomber Michael Mummery from last year’s campaign. They will have to turn to Josiah Farrer, Beau Schwarze and Brodie Lake, as well as the experience of 100-gamer Charlie McAdam for inspiration in this clash, with Palmerston boasting a few tricky customers.

The Magpies were competitive despite falling short of Darwin by almost four goals in Round 2, slowly building on a disappointing opening round showing. State combine invitee Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been the standout with three goals in both games so far, while Bundoora stalwart Matthew Dennis has transferred last year’s form to this season. All three Davey boys were absent last time out for the Magpies in what was a blow to their creativity forward of centre, so a combination of them back in the side would do a world of good. Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will look to up their output to match the Crocs too, with the inability to kick a winning score one of the things holding Palmerston back from the better teams as it stands. If Southern Districts can find its groove and get on top early, watch out, otherwise expect to see the Magpies compete again for four quarters.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (1st, 2-0) vs. WARATAH (6th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Another clash of opposing form is set to go down in Saturday’s evening game between Darwin and Waratah, with the former looking to remain atop the NTFL ladder. The Buffs have made an inspired start to the season for a second campaign running, sparked by big bags of goals from Adam Sambono (12 goals) and Brayden Culhane (six) in either game. While Sambono was absent in Round 2, his return would spell serious trouble for the struggling Warriors as it would free the likes of Joe Anderson and Patrick Boles to wreak havoc further afield. Lee Mununggurr and Antonio James are others who can excite, making Darwin a real handful for any side in the competition with their star-power across the board.

On the other hand, Waratah has struggled to exit second gear after an outstanding 2018/19 campaign and had its depth tested far more with the absence of Abe Ankers last week. He remains the key man for them with his scoreboard impact from midfield, despite some of the scoring load eased by VFL-listed small forward Steve Stroobants. Scoreboard assistance is sure to come in the form of Henry Kerinaiua and Kim Kantilla, with Cam Barrett, Sam Godden and ex-Bendigo Pioneer Laine Fitzgerald looking to make an impact further afield. The Warriors have been unlucky to come up against three in-form teams to start the season, but will be sure to give it a red-hot crack if their consistency last season is anything to go by. The memory of their 2018/19 thrashings of Darwin late in the season would also be fresh and serve as apt motivation, with the Buffs looking like a true premiership contender at this point. Expect their class to shine through, but to be tested depending on who is available.

WANDERERS (4th 1-0-1) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (3rd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

The game of the round will be the last for the weekend, as Wanderers and Nightcliff battle it out to remain undefeated. It serves as the only fixture this week between two teams in finals spots, with the Tigers one of three 2-0 sides while Wanderers suffered the first blemish to its record with a draw to Southern Districts last time out. If football math ever worked, this would be a time to use it given both sides have already faced the Crocs, with the Tigers managing to get the better of them in Round 1’s grand final rematch. But that kind of analysis is hardly useful this early in the piece, and does not take into account the x-factor that Wanderers can bring. Under-17 star utility Joel Jeffrey leads the way in that department, followed closely by Round 1 Rising Star nominee Ronald Fejo Jnr. Both have been impactful thus far, particularly up forward, with consistency of Shane Thorne and spark of Davin Ferreira set to come into play too in the absence of experienced star Marlon Motlop from last campaign. There is still a raft of players of the same name making a difference this time around, and the Muk Muks will need all of their talent to continue Wanderers’ promising start.

Nightcliff remains the biggest test in the competition though, starting with a perfect record against good opposition despite not yet clinching that top spot. The Tigers’ scoring power is scary and comes from a raft of players, including the likes of NT legend Cam Ilett, with others like Trent Melville, Matthew Bricknell and Wade Derksen still due to claim a big bag. Ex-Port forward John Butcher is another who can come back into the side and slot through multiple goals, making Nightcliff’s forward threats every bit as deep as any other side. It could be a case of the ultra-consistent and high-scoring Tigers bringing Wanderers back down to earth, but do not be surprised to see the Eagles give the reigning premier a good run on the back of some confidence gained over the first two rounds.

NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 2 – Eagles and Crocs play out season’s first draw

IT only took two rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action for the first draw of the year, seeing 2018/19 grand finalist Southern Districts remain winless, while reigning premier Nightcliff continued its ideal start along with St Mary’s and Darwin.

TIWI BOMBERS 1.1 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.7 (85)
NIGHTCLIFF 8.4 | 9.9 | 12.15 | 18.17 (125)

GOALS:

Tiwi: G. Cunningham 4, J. Best 3, H. Puruntatameri 2, P. Heenan, M. Dunn, D. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti.
Nightcliff: L. Evans 4, H. Williams 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett 2, T. Kidney, K. Winter-Irving, B. Filo, P. Wills.

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, G. Cunningham, D. Kruse, P. Heenan, J. Puruntatameri, H. Puruntatameri
Nightcliff: K. Riley, B. Filo, L. Evans, T. Kidney, J. Heard

Nightcliff’s perfect flag defence remains in tact for a second week after the Tigers comfortably accounted for Tiwi by 40 points to open the round. A late Bombers charge was not enough to soar past the league’s premier side, with Nightlciff’s six-goal final term prettying up the 18.17 (125) to 13.7 (85) scoreline.

Signs were ominous early as the winners broke out to a seven-goal lead at quarter time, but to Tiwi’s credit the margin was trimmed well over the next two quarters to see the Tigers head into the final turn just 21 points to the good. The difference in efficiency in front of goal looked like being a telling factor as Nightcliff failed to truly make the most of its chances, but a much-improved 6.2 in the final term was more than enough to see the Tigers coast home. Their firepower was on full show as they outgunned the dangerous Bombers, with Liam Evans (four goals) leading a brigade of five multiple goal kickers. Kaine Riley was recognised as best afield, with Brodie Filo lively alongside goal-getters Trent Melville and Harry Williams. For Tiwi, the familiar name of Adam Tipungwuti was again best, followed by Gerrard Cunningham who starred up forward with four majors. David Kruse was also again among the best, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri also pitching in.

Tiwi’s search for its first win continues next week as the Bombers face the undefeated St Mary’s, making for a tough test in what has been another slow start for the much-hyped side. Meanwhile, the near-faultless Nightlciff move on to face fellow undefeated team Wanderers in Round 3, looking to blanket the Eagle’s promising start.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.12 (66)
WANDERERS 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, J. Farrer 3, J. Clarke, B. Schwarze, I. Wyatt, B. Ngalkin.
Wanderers: S. Thorne 2, S. Bates, D. Thompson, K. Thompson, B. Motlop, R. Fejo, J. Jeffrey.

BEST:

Southern Districts: C. McAdam, M. Bowden, Z. Smith, J. Farrer, T. Holman, K. Dingo
Wanderers: N/A

Southern Districts and Wanderers played out season 2019/20’s first draw, tussling to an entertaining 9.12 (66) apiece result. The sharing of points means the Crocs remain without a win despite two consecutive grand final appearances of late, while Wanderers maintains its unbeaten start.

The result may not have gone his side’s way, but it was a successful milestone game for Charlie McAdam, who was named best-afield in his 100th outing for the Crocs. Josiah Farrer booted three goals in an influential display, matched by Will Farrer‘s game-high bag of three to go with solid shifts from Michael Bowden and Zachary Smith. Wanderers shared around the goals a touch more, with former-Croc Shane Thorne (two goals) the lone multiple goal kicker. Youngsters Joel Jeffrey and Ronald Fejo Jnr showed their class to again hit the scoreboard but were better held after outstanding opening round performances, with the true forward strength of either side struggling to shine through. In a game of ebbs and flows, the Crocs just managed to step up at the right time after a long goalless patch and held on with the ball deep in the Eagles’ half late-on to snatch an unlikely draw.

The Muk Muks face a daunting task in backing up their early form as they ready themselves for a battle with Nighcliff on Saturday night, while Southern Districts will fancy its first win when it hosts fellow winless side Palmerston in a twilight fixture at Norbuilt Oval.

PALMERSTON 4.0 | 6.4 | 8.5 | 10.7 (67)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 4.4 | 5.9 | 10.13 | 14.15 (99)

GOALS:

Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 3, K. Holt-Tubbs 2, J. Brauman 2, R. Ashley, M. Dennis, K. Emery.
Darwin: B. Culhane 6, C. Williams 2, W. Baird 2, T. Eldridge, P. Boles, A. Stokes, C. Stokes.

BEST:

Palmerston: B. Launer, J. Brauman, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. Dennis, D. Gordon, L. McDonald
Darwin: C. Williams, W. Clarke, J. Niki, J. Anderson, P. Boles

Darwin continued its storming start to the season with a well-earned 32-point win over Palmerston on Saturday evening. It took a special performance in front of goal from Brayden Culhane to help the Buffs run away 14.15 (99) to 10.7 (67) winners in a physical contest.

The Magpies stuck with the Buffs after sharing eight goals evenly in the first term, even sneaking ahead by a single point at the main break. But as the players tired in the second half, Darwin’s class shone through as the Double Blues kept the Magpies comfortably at bay with replies to each momentum shift. The win was made even sweeter given the absence of Round 1 12-goal hero Adam Sambono, Culhane’s six goals accounting for that. William Clarke put in a big shift against Matthew Dennis in the ruck too, while Joe Anderson excelled in a more forward role along with fellow experienced Buffs Christopher Williams and Patrick Boles. Nigel Lockyer Jnr was again a highlight for Palmerston as he posted another three majors for the losing side, but fellow goal kicker Jack Brauman was named best alongside Blake Launer. Kyle Emery was also influential under Dennis’ ruckwork, with both finding the goals.

A winless Waratah is next in line to face a confident Darwin side, with the Buffaloes making an early case to be Nightcliff’s biggest title challenger this year. On the other hand, Palmerston travels to face Southern Districts in a bout that will – barring a draw – give either side their first win for the season.

WARATAH 7.8 (50)
ST MARY’S 13.14 (92)

GOALS:

Waratah: S. Stroobants 4, S. Godden, C. Barrett, K. Kantilla.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, D. Johnstone 2, S. Rioli 2, J. Cheek 2, J. Quinn, R. Smith, T. Anderson, L. Larson, L. Ferreira.

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
St Mary’s: T. Anderson, J. Geary, N. Paredes, N. Yarran, W. Hams, J. Cheek

St Mary’s became the fourth side to go two-from-two as it overcame a disappointing Waratah by 42 points to see out the round. The Saints’ wealth of class and experience proved too much for the Warriors as they stormed to the 13.14 (92) to 7.8 (50) win, guided by nine individual goal kickers.

The Saints have been ultra-impressive thus far and were only helped by the addition of former-AFL midfielder Will Hams to the lineup for this game. He, along with fellow Saints returnee Jackson Geary, was productive as the likes of Nathaniel Paredes and Josh Cheek found the goals with two majors each, while Tom Anderson was named best with Nicholas Yarran not far behind. VFL-listed small Steve Stoobants entered the competition with a splash for the underperforming Warriors, booting a game-high four goals as their main form of resistance. Their prime movers in Sam Godden, Cameron Barrett and Kim Kantilla each also hit the scoreboard, with the absence of midfield leader Abe Ankers proving telling in the loss.

Waratah’s search for a win will only be made harder in Round 3 as it faces a fearsome-looking Darwin side, hoping to rekindle some of the form which saw the Warriors trump the Buffs convincingly in their last two meetings in season 2018/19. Meanwhile, the Saints will go on to face another winless side in Tiwi, but it should prove a decent challenge for the rising St Mary’s team.

NTFL Men’s Premier League: Round 2 preview – Round 1 winners face opening weekend losers

IN a satisfying set of events for the neutral, each 1-0 team is set to face off with a 0-1 side in Round 2 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. Given last week’s mixed bag of results, finalists from last year will be looking to get on the board, while other will be hoping to continue on their upward trends.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. NIGHTCLIFF
Saturday October 12, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Nightcliff will hope to continue its ideal premiership defence when it faces heavy Round 1 loser Tiwi Bombers to open the weekend’s play.

The Tigers were made to earn their opening win last time out in a grand final rematch, overcoming Southern Districts by nine points to compile to Crocs’ misery. On the other hand, Tiwi’s first outing for season 2019/20 did not quite go to plan as the Bombers conceded 24 goals in a 113-point loss to Darwin.

The Tigers’ ruthlessness inside 50 and wealth of options when it counted made the difference in last week’s win, while helping to heap misery on their lesser-ranked opponents last year. Tiwi will hope to not fall into that hole and be easily overcome for the second-straight week, with plenty of class remaining in its side and the coup of Palmerston junior Rodney Baird set to bolster the defence. The likes of Michael Mummery, Brayden Rioli, and Jeffrey Simon hardly got going for the Bombers in Round 1, but what is just as ominous is the fact that Nightcliff has Wade Derksen, Joel Budarick and Matthew Bricknell who can all make the same kind of greater impact this week.

There is plenty of firepower on either side and the experience of both midfields also makes for an interesting battle. The Tigers will come in as unbackable favourites, but Tiwi has plenty to offer and will be dangerous in full flight.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday October 12, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will look to avoid a rare 0-2 start when it hosts a rejuvenated Wanderers side in the round’s sole fixture away from TIO Stadium.

The Crocs went close to making good on last year’s grand final loss in a Round 1 rematch against Nightcliff, but went down by under two goals in a game where they enjoyed spurts of success. Winners in Round 1, the Eagles found themselves on the better end of the momentum game against 2018/19 preliminary finalist Waratah, with young gun Joel Jeffrey running the show up forward.

The x-factor of Jeffrey, rising star Ronald Fejo Jnr, and class of Davin Ferreira will do well to match the more experienced forward might of Nightcliff, which will inevitably create a wealth of scoring opportunities. Beau Schwarze and Brandon Rusca are sure to get going, while Will Farrer has already reminded us of his nous in front of goal. The two sides are arguably at different stages of their team development, but Wanderers’ mix of exuberance and experience in the front half should pose some problems for the highly-fancied Crocs.

Expect last year’s grand finalists to come out hard, with their pressure set to pose questions to the Muk Muks’ finishing inside 50, which luckily did not trouble them last week.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday October 12, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

First comes up against second-last when an ominous looking Darwin Buffaloes faces Palmerston on Saturday evening.

The Buffs kicked off their season in style with a thumping win over the much-hyped Tiwi Bombers, with Adam Sambono notching a remarkable 12 goals. On the other hand, Palmerston looks destined for another slow start after going down to last season’s wooden spooner St Mary’s in Round 1.

Darwin’s depth of experience will strike fear into any side, but will be particularly tricky for Palmerston given the Magpies’ lack of major ex-AFL class. Alwyn Davey leads that field though and will hope to have another strong outing alongside his twin sons Alywn Jnr and Jayden, while state combine attendee Nigel Lockyer Jnr will have to shoulder a heap of responsibility going forward. For the Buffs, Sambono leads the way from Joe Anderson, Jarrod Stokes and Christopher Williams, providing a wealth of scoring options from further afield.

The depth of Darwin looks like being too much for the Magpies at this stage of the season, but write any team off in this league at your own peril.

WARATAH vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday October 12, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

In the final game of the round, St Mary’s will seek to continue its resurgence when it does battle with Waratah under the TIO Stadium lights.

The Saints were terrific in Round 1, earning a comfortable victory over fellow 2018/19 bottom-three side Palmerston. The return of Jackson Geary has proven a handy one already, with a more filled-out squad led brilliantly by Raphael Clarke. They have the famous names; Shannon Rioli, Jack Long, Jacob Long and Nick Yarran to go with the electric Nathaniel Paredes and Braxton Ah Mat, ensuring Clarke and co have improved service and support going forward.

For Waratah, the emergence of home grown talent is said to be what will take them further this year after a preliminary final berth, but a Round 1 stumbling block came in the form of Wanderers. Not to be deterred, Abe Ankers should lead the side well again after a five-goal haul, with TAC Cup graduate Laine Fitzgerald and Sam Godden providing support. The Warriors will be leaning on the heavy momentum shifts this league can bring to get the edge in this game, with their consistent side looking for that first win.

Waratah has more proven products on paper over time, but the experience and added depth of St Mary’s should cause a few headaches all the same.

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap: Round 1 – Sambono boots 12 in Buffs’ Tiwi romp

THE 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) season got underway on the weekend and produced a truly mixed bag of results. While Southern Districts was unable to make good on its grand final loss in a rematch against Nightcliff, the Darwin Buffaloes put their dour end to last season behind them, while Waratah and St Mary’s also picked up confidence-inducing wins.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 2.2 | 11.5 | 19.7 | 24.13 (157)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.3 | 3.3 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Darwin: A. Sambono 12, J. Anderson 3, C. Williams 3, B. Corey Culhane 2, J. Anderson, J. Stokes, J. Clarke, D Miles.
Tiwi: L. Wale-Buxton 2, P. Heenan, C. Abala, M. Kantilla, A. Wonaeamirri.

BEST:

Darwin: B. Stokes, K. Williams, A. Sambono, J. Anderson, C. Williams, P. Boles
Tiwi: D. Kruse, A. Tipungwuti, L. Wale-Buxton, R. Pupangamirri, N. Djerrkura, R. Tungatalum

A remarkable 12-goal haul from Adam Sambono propelled Darwin Buffaloes to a resounding 113-point opening round win over the highly-touted Tiwi Bombers. The Buffs look to have ironed out the issues that saw them go down by a similar margin in last year’s finals series, with Sambono booting half of his side’s 24 goals in the 24.13 (157) to 6.8 (44) romp.

Joe Anderson joined Sambono as the other Darwin leader to stand up with three majors of his own, matched by Christopher Williams and rounded out by Brayden Corey Culhane’s two. Despite their efforts, it was Bradley Stokes and Kelvin Williams who were recognised as the Buffs’ best, while David Kruse claimed the same plaudits from the Bombers’ camp. Usual suspects Adam Tipungwuti, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ross Tungatalum also provided good ball-winning value in the heavy loss, while Casey Demon Liam Wale-Buxton was Tiwi’s only multiple goal kicker with two.

Remiss of the final scoreline, Tiwi led at the first break by seven points, with Darwin’s combined 17 goals to one in the second and third terms setting up the big win. The result was well beyond doubt heading into the final term, but the ruthless Buffs poured on a further five goals to Tiwi’s two to finish off ensure they breached the 100-point margin mark.

Bouncing back will be a tough ask for the Bombers as they prepare to face reigning premier Nightcliff in Round 2, while Darwin will be in the hunt for consecutive wins when it faces Round 1 losers Palmerston next time out.

NIGHTCLIFF 6.1 | 7.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 6.2 | 9.3 | 10.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: L. Sharp 4, J. Butcher 3, B. Filo 2, K. Niki, C. Ilett, P. Wills, B. Bell
Southern Districts: W. Farrer 4, S. Barnett 2, T. Brook 2, J. Clarke 2, J. Farrer, J Innes

BEST:

Nightcliff: B. Filo, R. Morris, L. Sharp, K. Winter-Irving, B. Bell
Southern Districts: D. Williams, T. Brook, W. Farrer, Z. Bin Busu, J. Farrer

It was a case of déjà vu in the grand final rematch as Nightcliff got its title defence off to a winning start to the tune of nine points against Southern Districts. The Tigers overcame deficits at the first two breaks to close better in the 13.10 (88) to 12.7 (79) result.

A high-scoring opener saw the sides share twelve goals evenly, with the Crocs finding a bit of breathing space at half time on the back of three goals to one in the following term. But the Tigers managed to chip away in the third quarter and match Southern Districts’ efficiency in front of goal before less-clinical final term saw them edge over the line and truly pick up from where they left off in the 2018/19 season.

Lachlan Sharp (four goals), ex-Port Adelaide forward John Butcher (three), and Brodie Filo (two) were all effective around goal for Nightcliff, with Filo named best afield along with Roger Morris. The Crocs had one more multiple goal kicker than the Tigers but could not match their depth of contributors, with Will Farrer (four goals), Sam Barnett (two), Timothy Brook (two), and Jayden Clarke (two) all getting on the board. Damian Williams was named best for them, with Zorran Bin Busu the only other non-goal kicker to also be named among the best dozen.

Nightcliff will look to build an early unbeaten streak next week when it faces Tiwi in Round 2, with the Bombers coming off a loss in excess of 100 points. On the other hand, the Crocs will have their hands full with Round 1 winner Wanderers next time out, looking to prove their credentials with four points.

WARATAH 1.2 | 8.4 | 10.7 | 13.8 (86)
WANDERERS 3.7 | 7.9 | 11.12 | 15.14 (104)

GOALS:

Waratah: A. Ankers 5, J. McGrath 3, A. Aurrichio 2, K. Kantilla, L. Davies, L. Fitzgerald,
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 5, D. Ferreira 2, L. Patrick 2, T. Motlop, L. Dyer, R. Fejo, J. Arratta, S. Bates, S. Thorne

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Wanderers: N/A

Wanderers overcame some early inaccuracy to outlast 2018/19 preliminary finalist Waratah and open its season with an uplifting 18-point win. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout, but the Muk Muks’ firepower inside 50 proved too much as they pulled away to finish 15.14 (104) to 13.8 (86) victors.

The Warriors looked to have overcome a slow start as they took a one-point lead into half time with goals coming thick and fast, but it would be the only break they could do so in as the Eagles hit back to immediately. The momentum switched again as they notched 4.3 to Waratah’s 2.3 in what was a match-defining third term, but the Warriors still had a sniff heading into the final stanza. That hope was quashed despite Waratah getting the better of the final stages overall, with Wanderers doing just enough to keep their consistent opponents at bay.

Two men did most of the damage in terms of goals – one coming from each side. Prodigious talent Joel Jeffrey continued the form that saw him star on the MCG in the Under-17 Futures game with a dynamic five-goal haul, matched by Waratah powerhouse Abe Ankers. Jae McGrath (three) and Alex Aurrichio (two) also bagged multiples for the Warriors, while Davin Ferreira kicked two classy goals alongside ex-Sun Liam Patrick. Wanderers’ Ronald Fejo Jnr also earned the Round 1 Rising Star nomination.

The Eagles will have to quell a Southern Districts side breathing fire in Round 2 to maintain their perfect record, while Waratah will hope to get on the board when it faces Round 1 winner St Mary’s on Saturday night.

ST MARY’S 1.4 | 2.8 | 6.12 | 10.15 (75)
PALMERSTON 0.3 | 3.4 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke 2, D. Johnstone 2, J. Geary, S. Rioli, R. Smith, B. Ah Mat, J. Cooper, J. Quinn
Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 3, A. Lonergan, D. Marshall, J. Davey

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke, J. Geary, T. Davies, N. Paredes, J. Salmon, J. Long
Palmerston: N/A

2018/19 wooden spooner St Mary’s began its quest to climb from the bottom in ideal fashion, downing Palmerston by 30 points to round out the weekend. The Saints overcame inaccuracy throughout the match to solidify the 10.15 (75) to 6.9 (45) final score, and the margin clearly could have been much more.

As was a similar theme throughout two of the weekend’s other games, Palmerston managed to get on top in at least one quarter of play, but could not maintain the effort as they tired in the second half and struggled to score. There were no such issues for the Saints as they managed to boot eight majors in a match-winning second half performance.

St Mary’s leader Raphael Clarke was best afield with his two majors, matched in the goal stakes by teammate Dylan Johnstone. Jackson Geary and Nathaniel Paredes were others to contribute well, with the former also hitting the scoreboard for the winners. It proved a busy couple of days for state combine invitee Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who managed to snare three goals just a day after his fitness testing in Melbourne. Debutant and future Essendon father-son prospect Jayden Davey also found the goals as one of three Magpies to do so in the final term after Lockyer’s big first half.

Palmerston faces the daunting task of taking on a rampant Darwin side in Round 2 to rectify its form, while the Saints will look to go 2-0 when they clash with Waratah at TIO Stadium.

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekend preview: Round 1 – Grand Final replay highlights TIO round

A GRAND final replay between reigning premiers Nightcliff and runners-up Southern Districts headlines the opening round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. All four games are played at TIO Stadium with two on Saturday and two on Sunday.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday, October 5, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

It has been a long seven months for Tiwi Bombers, having to stew on a disastrous 20-goal loss in the preliminary final to Southern Districts last season. After a shaky start to the 2018/19 season, the Bombers picked up in the second half to storm home with all the momentum and justify their third placed finish on the table. Unfortunately they could get nowhere near the Crocs on the day and will want to make the best possible start this year with a Round 1 victory over Darwin Buffaloes. The Buffs finished fifth last season and are usually strong starters so could get an early win on the board given the youth that is coming through the Darwin program. Cyril Rioli is by far the biggest name in the NTFL and the Bombers will unleash him at some stage this season, but it will depend on when he wants to run out, however his knowledge as an assistant coach will be invaluable. Outside of the Cyril magic, the Bombers have been steadily improving with experienced former AFL talents in Nathan Djerrkura and Austin Wonaeamirri, as well as Ross Tungatalum, Dion Munkara, Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri, it would be hard to write them off as a premiership contender this season. For Darwin, experienced leader Adam Sambono has been named in the side alongside Antonio James. Joe Anderson has also returned to play in the game with both sides evenly match in terms of talent.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, October 5, 7.00pm
TIO Stadium

The match of the round will likely be the grand final replay between the Tigers and Crocs as the Tigers raise their flag from last season in front of their opponents from that day. It should fire the Southern District players up in the prime time night game that will have all spectators on the edge of their seat. Nightcliff was the clear standout team last season, finishing two wins and plenty of percentage ahead of the Crocs, and should look to start the season how they finished off. The Districts received a massive boost with Keegan Dingo re-registered back in the NTFL, but the huge inclusion for the Tigers was Bendigo Football League goalkicking machine Lachlan Sharp named for Round 1, having booted 133 goals from 19 games this year in Victoria. With the likes of former Port Adelaide forward John Butcher and the talented Trent Melville, the reigning premiers will be hard to contain up forward. On the other side, Damian Williams has also been named for Southern Districts having crossed from Darwin and is expected to provide some forward line power for the Crocs to counter that of the Tigers. In what could add some spice to the Grand Final replay, former Tigers, Faron James and Devin Lines are among those in line to switch to the Crocs. Nightcliff go in as favourites given the firepower, but the match is won and lost in the midfield.

WARATAH vs. WANDERERS
Sunday, October 6, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah and bottom two side Wanderers go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon with the Warriors seeing this game as a must-win to start off their season. They tended to drop games they should not have last season, while claiming wins against top teams in an inconsistent year. If they can lift their performance when they are not at the top of their game, they will likely challenge any team on their day and give the Wanderers something to worry about in this clash. For the Wanderers, last season was one that was ultimately disappointing with just the six wins, and with three losses against the Warriors, the Wanderers will be very keen to break that winning drought against their opposition. After a surprise year in 2018/19, the Warriors will head into this game as favourites with Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll leading the charge into the new season, while Liam Patrick and Brett Eddy have been named in the Wanderers’ forward line for the opening game, meaning Waratah cannot take the side too lightly. A tough one to pick the winner.

ST MARY’S vs. PALMERSTON
Sunday, October 6, 5pm
TIO Stadium

In the final game of the round, 2018/19 NTFL wooden spooners take on sixth placed Palmerston who unfortunately missed out on finals narrowly last season. The Magpies lost four of their last five games to tumble out of fifth spot, and split their head-to-head with St Mary’s as both teams recorded a win apiece – the Magpies’ victory coming in Round 17 and one of only two this calendar year. The Saints had just the five wins last season, and fell away in the second half of the season, defeating Darwin Buffaloes by 37 points in Round 15 as their only triumph since December 8. Palmerston recently picked up Frankston Dolphins’ talent Dylan Gordon after he crossed from Darwin, with the fly-in player available for limited games. The Magpies will welcome back Kyle Emery inside 50 with the dominant goalkicker joined by Rodney Baird and Nigel Lockyer as players who continued to cause heachaches for the opposition. Throw in fly-in talent Matt Dennis, as well as Alwyn Davey and Ezekiel Frank and the Magpies could swoop into a finals spot this year and get an early win here. Davey will also have the rare honour of running out alongside his twin sons, Alwyn Jnr and Jayden.