Tag: Adam Sambono

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 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.

2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League season preview

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition set to get underway on the weekend, we take a look at the eight teams competing for the ultimate prize over the summer.

DARWIN BUFFALOES

Last season: 5th
Win-loss: 8-10
Points: 32
Percentage: 94.6

The Buffs are coming in off an indifferent 2018/20 campaign that saw them scrape into finals after a promising start. They were eliminated in a crushing 73-point elimination final loss to Waratah after going down to the Warriors in Round 18 as well, finally folding after struggling to reclaim the early-season form that had them pegged for another top two finish. Having captain-coach Matt Campbell and star players Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas Jnr shuffle in and out of the side at times did not help the Buffaloes in their search for some consistency, but the talent base is certainly there. Ex-Blue Anderson and highly rated junior Sambono are poised to feature prominently again under Campbell’s tutelage, while Rosas Jnr’s availability hinges on his AFL Draft hopes. Those three are all capable of seeing a heap of the ball and having important touches, with the consistent figures of Shaun Ahmat and Kevin Maroney set to again add that stability to the lineup each week. With Rosas seemingly moving on to the elite system, the young gun in Darwin’s crop this year is Antonio James. James featured for two straight years for the NT Thunder’s Under-16 side and was part of the Under-18 NAB League squad without playing, making him a good chance to feature for them in the upcoming season. The Buffs will be keen to see how he goes at Premier League level, with his enthusiasm and pace from defence helping him to stand out to this point. After a disappointing finish to last season, the storied club will hope to reach the heights they did in 2017/18 and sneak back into that top two. They certainly have the top-end talent to challenge, and should provide some highlights along the way.

Players to watch:

Joe Anderson
Adam Sambono
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Shaun Ahmat

Young gun:

Antonio James

NIGHTCLIFF

Last season: 1st
Win-loss: 15-3 (Premiers)
Points: 60
Percentage: 166.08

The reigning premiers took home their fourth premiership cup last season, and in doing so moved one clear of Palmerston and Southern Districts to outright fifth on the overall premiership table. It was a dominant year for the Tigers, only losing thrice on their way to an outright minor premiership and getting up by 22 points over then-reigning premiers Southern Districts in the grand final. Trent Melville was the side’s spearhead, booting 56 goals from his 20 games to finish as the league’s leading goal kicker, but Nightcliff had a wealth of scoring threats. Melville will suit up again alongside the likes of Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell up forward, with big-man and NT Thunder representative Hugo Drogemuller a chance to feature up either end. The Budarick brothers, Jess and Joel will also be important between the arcs for the Tigers, with Joel turning out for the NT’s Under 18 academy this year. Jess appeared for the Thunder in the NEAFL this season and should add to his games tally this time around, adding to Nightcliff’s list of promising youngsters. Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Jamie Jones and Ned Stevens are also on that list after playing a part in the NT’s Under 16 campaign this year, putting the reigning premiers in good stead to feature well again and into the future. Their depth is solid, and their firepower is almost unmatched.

Players to watch:

Jess Budarick
Trent Melville
Matthew Bricknell
Hugo Drogemuller
Liam Holt-Fitz

Young gun:

Joel Budarick

PALMERSTON

Last season: 6th
Win-loss: 7-11
Points: 28
Percentage: 70.57

The Palmy Army experienced much more joy in 2018/19 after claiming the wooden spoon in season 2017/18, with a vastly-improved sixth place finish – just one win outside of the finals spots. The Magpies had their depth tested with ex-AFL players like Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey, and Ezekiel Frank missing chunks of games throughout the year, while Matthew Stokes only appeared in a two-game cameo. All four of those stars provided great value though and could do so again in this year’s competition to aid a bunch of regulars who stood out. Victorian ruck veteran Matthew Dennis featured among the best for all but one of his 18 games last year and could go around again, with VFL player Dylan Gordon set to make his NT return. He joins the likes of prolific goalsneak Kyle Emery, as well as the ever-improving Nigel Lockyer and consistent figures of Samuel Autio and Samuel Talbot. Add youngster Jason Baird to the mix and so much of the Magpies’ firepower comes in their forward movers, despite not being able to post the biggest scores last year. Up the other end, their defence was the leakiest in 2018/19 and will need some tightening if Palmerston is to continue its upward trend.

Players to watch:

Kyle Emery
Matthew Dennis
Dylan Gordon
Samuel Talbot
Nigel Lockyer

Young gun:

Jason Baird

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

Last season: 2nd
Win-loss: 13-5 (Runners-up)
Points: 52
Percentage: 147.36

So close, yet so far, the Crocs battled hard throughout the season and looked at times like premiership favourites, particularly after a 20-goal smashing of Tiwi Bombers in the preliminary final. But as they found out, the Grand Final is a different ball game, going down to Nightcliff by 22 points. That does not take away from the dominance the Crocs have had over the competition during the last two seasons, with a ton of depth and some scary firepower. Ex-AFL players Leroy Jetta, Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow and Jared Brennan were all terrific over multiple games for the 2017/18 premiers, adding arguably the highest level of ex-professional class. Goals came aplenty through the likes of Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery, while Bradley Vallance, Dean Staunton, Charles McAdam, and Beau Schwarze were others to combine their scoreboard impact with ball winning. They should all be important figures again if Southern Districts is to have another flag tilt, providing a consistent base throughout the year with a raft of other stars coming in and out of the team. It is always hard to look past the Crocs on paper and given the ability they have to blow teams away, expect them to be right up there once again this season. With young gun Brodie Lake also one of the NT’s big hopes for next year’s draft, they have some future talent to nurture too.

Players to watch:

Jess Koopman
Michael Mummery
Dean Staunton
Ed Barlow
Brandon Rusca

Young gun:

Brodie Lake

ST MARY’S

Last season: 8th
Win-loss: 5-13
Points: 20
Percentage: 78.14

The NTFL powerhouse side was publicly in financial trouble over the off-season, but is back in the league to try and bounce back from its poor season last year. After missing the 2017/18 Grand Final for only the second time since 2002/03, the Saints went through a rebuilding phase last season dropping to the bottom of the table. With nine more premierships than its nearest rival, expect this successful club to move back up the ladder in season 2019/20. Former Gippsland Power prospect Nathaniel Paredes was the Saints’ shining light last season, featuring in the best 10 of 15 times and booting 20 goals in the process. A host of famous names and relations also fill out the side, with Ben Rioli and Jacob Long sure to join prodigious youngsters Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli – pending their availability. Nicholas Yarran and Raphael Clarke would be handy returns after solid 2017/18 seasons, along with the likes of Mathias Liddy. St Mary’s is renowned for producing top talent, and NT Under 16 representative Preyben Tipiloura is an exciting type to come through further this year alongside Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli, while Kieren Parnell is another rising star set to make his long-awaited injury return. Given the club’s strong history and the raw talent set to be displayed, expect St Mary’s to be a riser this year – the only was is up from last season after all – and a couple more former-AFL coups could help.

Players to watch:

Nathaniel Paredes
Maurice Rioli Jnr
Jacob Long
Ben Rioli
Kieren Parnell
Brayden Rioli

Young gun:

Preyben Tipiloura

TIWI BOMBERS

Last season: 3rd
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 101.72

Tiwi very nearly became one of the better stories out of last season as their run in the back-end saw them earn an unlikely preliminary final berth. Although they were soundly beaten while searching for a grand final spot, the journey there was something to behold. It came long after a slow start to the season, with a raft of experienced and reliable players helping the famous Bombers click into gear. They were awesome in front of goal at times, and that is only set to be helped this year with the return of favourite son Cyril Rioli, who joins as a player-coach. The prospect of having him run around alongside fellow ex-AFL players Austin Wonaeamirri and Nathan Djerrkura, as well as Ross Tungatalum is scary and sure to bring plenty of excitement to the league. Add to that club stalwarts Jason Puruntatameri, Dion Munkara and prolific young guns Adam Tipungwuti and Jeffrey Simon, and you have a fun side destined for big things. The improvement they showed last year should only be built on this time around, and there is no reason why the Bombers cannot fly back to the top of the NTFL with a continuance of their form. Do not be surprised to see Tiwi go in as one of the flag favourites, and there will certainly be plenty of expectation given how dangerous they look on paper in the forward half.

Players to watch:

Cyril Rioli
Ross Tungatalum
Austin Wonaeamirri
Jason Puruntatameri
Dion Munkara
Nathan Djerrkura
Adam Tipungwuti

Young gun:

Jeffrey Simon

WANDERERS

Last season: 7th
Win-loss: 6-12
Points: 24
Percentage: 74.22

A somewhat down 2018/19 season saw Wanderers narrowly escape the bottom of the ladder with a final round victory over Palmerston, despite only winning half the amount of games they lost in the 18-game season. It looked a justified ladder position given they were second-to-last for both points scored and conceded, but there are some promising signs pointing to the future for the Muk Muks. They are set to field young stars aplenty, with NT Under-18 representative Beau O’Connell one who could team up with Davin Ferreira through midfield alongside the experience of Marlon Motlop. John Tipiloura is another lively youngster, as is Mark White, who starred up forward in the 2019 Under 16 Division 2 carnival. But arguably the best of the lot is 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Joel Jeffrey, who was a regular for Wanderers last year and played out on the MCG in the Under-17 grand final curtain raiser. If he is available before his top-age year, look out for his high marking up either end of the ground. While the immediate impact of their talent has not quite translated to results just yet, expect to see the Eagles sore in years to come.

Players to watch:

Beau O’Connell
Marlon Motlop
Joel Jeffrey
Davin Ferreira
John Tipiloura

Young gun:

Mark White

WARATAH

Last season: 4th
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 100.44

Waratah is a team which surprised some last year, holding strong with its local talent to cap a consistent year off in fourth place with an even record – hardly ever looking like missing out on finals throughout the season. Anchoring the side in midfield was Abraham Ankers, who will be key again in this campaign alongside fellow NT Thunder squad member Brodie Carroll, who played 16 games last year. Zach Westerberg, Cameron Barrett, and Henry Kerinaiua were others to hold down spots, and another possible cameo from ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton could spell some more goals. Newton’s two games aside, Waratah is one of the teams with the fewest ex-AFL experience, making their exploits even greater. Andrew Moore could change that factor slightly as he is poised to sign for the Warriors, and Matthew Green could have the effect of a new signing after only featuring a couple of times last season. Watch for Under 18 Allies representative Ben Jungfer if available, given he is Adelaide-based, with his clearance work outstanding. With a lot of other sides improving, it will be a battle for Waratah to maintain their form, but they have the stock to match it with the best once again.

Players to watch:

Abraham Ankers
Matthew Green
Brodie Carroll
Andrew Moore
Cameron Barrett

Young gun:

Ben Jungfer

Weekend Previews: NTFL – Finals Week 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 18

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

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

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

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

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

Waratah 19.9 (123)
Darwin Buffaloes 7.5 (47)


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

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

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

Nightcliff 21.13 (139)
Southern Districts 7.7 (49)


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

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

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

Palmerston Magpies 9.10 (64)
Wanderers 16.12 (108)


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

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

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

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 17

THE penultimate round of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League sets up an exciting end to the home and away season, with first place yet to be decided, three teams still vying for third spot, and two teams looking to avoid the wooden spoon.

Darwin Buffaloes 8.15 (63)
Tiwi Bombers 12.7 (79)

GOALS:
Darwin: A. Sambono 4, J. Stokes 2, D. Johnston, B. Culhane.
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 4, R. Tungatalum 4, A. Tipungwuti 2, C. Burgess, H. Puruntatameri.

BEST:
Darwin: P. Boles, C. Stokes, M. Corrie, K. Maroney, J. Anderson, A. Sambono
Tiwi: N. Djerrkura, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, H. Puruntatameri, S. Dyke, R. Mungatopi

Tiwi handed Darwin its third straight loss in the opening game of the weekend, drawing level with the Buffs on points heading into the final regular season round. The Bombers could only manage a one-goal lead at the opening and main breaks, but ruthlessly broke the game open in the third term with 6.0 to establish a game-winning lead. The 20-point buffer proved a bridge too far for Darwin, going down by 16 points and adding to what reads as a concerning pre-finals form line. While the returning Adam Sambono (four goals) made it look easy in front of goal for the Buffaloes, his teammates had a more troublesome time of it – as the 8.15 scoreline would suggest – with Jarrod Stokes the only other to bag multiple goals. Patrick Boles was named best-on for the third-consecutive time, with consistent Buffs teammates Joe Anderson and Kevin Maroney also important in the losing effort. The clinical Bombers had no such issues inside 50 as Austin Wonaeamirri and Ross Tungatalum helped themselves to four goals apiece, while Adam Tipungwuti contributed two of his own. Ex-AFL player Nathan Djerrkura was again named amongst the best for the winners, with Jason Puruntatameri providing a solid hand as Tiwi look to be one of the bigger finals threats. While Darwin hold onto third place by a handy four per cent, both Tiwi and Round 18 opponents, Waratah could overtake them altogether and prevent consecutive bronze-placings if they lose another.

 

St Marys 8.8 (56)
Palmerston Magpies 11.13 (79)

GOALS:
St Marys: M. Liddy 2, B. Rioli 2, H. Moloney 2, C. Vigona-Ross, M. Jeffery.
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, S. Talbot 2, M. Perry, M. Dennis, J. Wunungmurra, E. Frank, J. Thompson, B. Church.

BEST:
St Marys: A. Long, H. Moloney, B. Rioli, J. Long, G. Dhurrkay, B. Ah Mat
Palmerston: L. McDonald, S. Talbot, E. Frank, M. McMasters, M. Dennis, S. Daye

A last-ditch St Marys fightback was not enough to prevent Palmerston from keeping its near-impossible finals mission alive, as the Magpies earned a 23-point win to secure a minimum of sixth place. A steady start saw Palmerston push out to a three-goal lead by the half-time break, but four third-quarter goals saw the margin break to 37 . points heading into the last turn. The Saints made sure to make their opponents earn the four points with four goals in reply during the final stanza, but the winners steadied with two of their own to consolidate the final margin of almost four goals. Kyle Emery was again the focal point inside 50 for Palmerston with three goals, bringing his season total to 39, while Samuel Talbot chimed in with two as the only other multiple goal kicker. Matthew Dennis‘ remarkable season continued as he was named in the best alongside the likes of Talbot, Ezekiel Frank, and best afield, Liam McDonald. St Marys had three players boot two majors, with Heath Moloney and Ben Rioli among them to also be named amongst the best for their efforts. Anthony and Jack Long were also thereabouts in the losing effort, injecting a level of excitement to the game. While finals is out of the question, St Marys’ fate is not quite sealed, with the possibility of falling to last spot if Wanderers get up in Round 18 and the Saints lose. Meanwhile, Palmerston is clawing onto hope of a big win against Wanderers in the final round, while hoping that Darwin can beat fifth-place Waratah handsomely enough to level the percentage.

 

Waratah 10.3 (63)
Southern Districts 14.15 (99)

GOALS:
Waratah: H. Kerinaiua 3, S. Tatupu 2, D. Simpson, B. Carroll, E. McConnell, J. McKenzie, L. Davies
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 3, J. Farrer 3, E. Barlow 2, B. Vallance, M. Mummery, B. Rusca, D. Staunton, R. Tambling, S. Rusca

BEST:
Waratah: Z. Westerberg, A. Ankers, B. Carroll, S. Flanegan, N. Gooch
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, M. Pemberton, S. Rusca, J. Farrer, J. Koopman, S. Stewart

Southern Districts remains a chance of snatching top spot in the final round, keeping a persistent Waratah side at bay to run-out 36-point victors. An even start did not deter the Crocs, but the fifth-place Warriors also made a game of it in the second a third terms with good efficiency, while also forcing the reigning premiers to work for each score. As has been the case for this season’s lowest scoring side, the Warriors just were not able to put a winning score on the board and match opposition firepower. Jess Koopman and Josiah Farrer each slotted three goals to lead the way for Southern Districts, with Ed Barlow pushing further forward in his two-goal effort. While the likes of Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance also hit the scoreboard, it was Seb Guilhaus and Steve Rusca who were named amongst the best. Henry Kerinaiua matched the goalkicking efforts of Koopman and Farrer with his three, as Shem Tatupu joined him with multiple goals for the Warriors. As is often the case, Zach Westerberg and Abraham Ankers stood up for Waratah to be named in the best half-dozen, with Nicholas Gooch also influential. Despite the loss, Waratah plays off for third against Darwin and has all but sealed its finals spot, while Southern Districts sets up a play-off for top spot against Nightcliff to close out the season.

 

Nightcliff 10.12 (72)
Wanderers 9.2 (56)

GOALS:
Nightcliff: H. Drogemuller 3, P. Wills, M. Bricknell, D. Butcher, K. Niki, L. Holt-Fitz, S. Wilson, T. Melville
Wanderers: A. Motlop 3, S. Motlop 2, A. Weetra, B. O’Connell, J. Motlop, D. Ferreira

BEST:
Nightcliff: S. Deery, H. Drogemuller, P. Wills, K. Riley, D. Butcher
Wanderers: J. Wilson, M. Totham, G. Marika, B. O’Connell, R. Fejo

The race for top spot is set to go down to the wire despite another regulation Nightcliff win, as the Tigers accounted for Wanderers in their top-verses-bottom clash to see out the round. A strong start proved the difference as a 20-point quarter time lead only narrowly eclipsed the 16-point final margin, with a five-goal second term the highlight for the Muks Muks. An even spread of eight individual goal scorers was capped by Hugo Drogemuller‘s bag of three for Nightcliff, but Simon Deery‘s efforts saw him named best for the table-toppers. Aaron Motlop matched Drogemuller’s haul, with Shannon Motlop claiming two and the returning Davin Ferreira also hitting the scoreboard. Joshua Wilson was named Wanderers’ best though in the gallant effort, marking his first appearance in the best this season after 14 games. While Nightcliff’s fate at one end of the table is up for grabs in Round 18, the Eagles face a similar situation as they play off to avoid last spot. They face a Palmerston side keen for a big win, while second-bottom St Marys play Tiwi in a fixture with strong finals ramifications.

Weekend preview: NTFL – Round 17

THE penultimate round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) action could prove key in the race for spots at either end of the ladder, with top spot still up for grabs and places between third and sixth in the air as the final five remains undecided.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Darwin Buffaloes and Tiwi Bombers will be looking to bounce back from Round 16 losses and strengthen their respective finals spots when they meet in the round’s opener. The Buffs fell embarrassingly to bottom side, Wanderers last time out in a game where they sorely missed the firepower of Adam Sambono and leadership of Matthew Campbell. They may well rue lacking that scoring influence again here given Tiwi’s potency forward of centre, despite leading goalkicker Ross Tungatalum (35 goals) only managing one major last week and next best, Dion Munkara (24 goals) currently absent. While the Bombers’ hot run of form and streak of four wins came to an abrupt end last week, they will be keen to knock Darwin off to complete the feat of beating the competition’s top three sides. It is now a question of whether Tiwi peaked a few weeks too early, while on the other hand, the Buffaloes look yet to have peaked as they constantly fall to sides below them despite overcoming Southern Districts twice recently. This may well prove to be a shootout between two sure finals contenders who can beat anyone on their day, with undeniable talent forward of centre on both sides.

 

ST MARYS v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston will be looking for a considerable percentage boost in a last ditch effort to scrape into finals as it clashes with second-bottom, St Marys in Saturday’s evening game. The Magpies suffered a humbling loss at the hands of Nightcliff in their last outing, not doing any favours to their record as the side with the most points conceded. While it was much of the same for the Saints as they went down to Southern Districts, a win could see them dash Palmerston’s finals chances and leapfrog them into sixth place with one foul swoop, while also keeping away from the cellar door. Despite conceding the most points of any team, Palmerston may not be troubled so much down back as their weekend opponents have scored the second-fewest points across the year. Still, the consistency of Ben Rioli alongside the dual-threat of Nathaniel Paredes and Nick Yarran streaming forward could cause some serious headaches for Palmerston. The Magpies have weapons of their own though, with Matthew Dennis putting in a giant season in the ruck, while Kyle Emery (36 goals) is always a chance of kicking a bag. Former-AFL experience may also be a factor in this clash, with the figure of Raphael Clarke always steadying for the Saints, while Palmerston will look to Alwyn Davey for a spark. While it may well be a low-scoring affair, this clash looks to be a close one with neither side at the peak of their powers.

 

WARATAH v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A chance to consolidate finals places is up for grabs when Waratah and Southern Districts do battle under lights on Sunday, with both sides coming off strong wins in the previous round. While they may have looked somewhat out of sorts recently, the Warriors remain a key finals contender and affirmed that notion by downing the in-form Tiwi Bombers in an impressive display. Another win at the weekend would finally see them confirm a finals berth, but it remains a matter of which spot they will take up from third, down to fifth. The Crocs’ finals position has been far more telegraphed throughout the season, hardly straying from the top two spots and remaining well in contention for claiming the minor premiership. While that may well be decided in the final round, the reigning premiers cannot afford to look past Waratah this week given how they look to have regained some form. Still, if the Crocs did not already look threatening enough with six players having booted over 15 goals, the newly reunited midfield partnership of ex-Bulldogs Ryan Griffen and Ed Barlow worked a charm last time out and makes Southern Districts very hard to beat.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. WANDERERS
Round 17 – Sunday February 10, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

A battle between first and last is set to close out the weekend’s action, with both Nightcliff and Wanderers surprisingly coming off wins coming into the penultimate round. Depending on whether Southern Districts claim a win, Nightcliff’s final-round clash with the Crocs could still decide top spot given the reigning premiers’ slight percentage advantage. But with a game in hand on their rivals, the Tigers would not be blamed for complacency here should the Crocs lose on Saturday. Wanderers will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups, with a decent run of form giving them a chance to climb off the bottom of the ladder on points and as high as sixth if results fall their way. First-against-last fixtures seldom hold any ramifications for either side, but this one may well prove different as ladder positions remain tight going into the last two round of the season. With Nightcliff possessing the competition’s leading goalkicker in Trent Melville (51 goals), a much-needed percentage boost could be in order, but Wanderers have proven of late to be anything but a pushover and could throw a spanner in the works.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 16

WITH two rounds left to play in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, the ladder is finally taking shape. While the top and bottom two sides look all but cemented, the tussle for spots from third to sixth is only heating up.

 

WARATAH 12.13 (85)
TIWI BOMBERS 10.6 (66)  

GOALS:
Waratah: S. Tatupu 4, B. Zobel, S. Godden, K. Kantilla, S. Weddell, A. Ankers, C. Barrett, B. Minkulk, S. Flanegan.
Tiwi: P. Puautjimi 3, P. Heenan 2, J. Simon, T. Tambling, R. Tungatalum, A. Wonaeamirri, H. Puruntatameri.

BEST:
Waratah:
 A. Ankers, Z. Westerberg, S. Godden, S. Weddell, J. McCarthy
Tiwi: W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, J. Simon, H. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Mungatopi

Waratah reclaimed clear fourth spot with an important win over fellow finals contenders, Tiwi Bombers to open the round. Having dropped out of the top four for the first time since Round 1, the Warriors looked like winning throughout the match after booting 5.7 in a free-flowing first term. Despite a third quarter fightback from the in-form Bombers where the margin was cut to within two goals, Waratah held on in the eight-point affair and is a lock for a finals berth. Shem Tatupu was the star in front of goal for the winners with a game-high four goals as their only multiple goal kicker, but it was Abraham Ankers who claimed a second-straight best afield honour. Zach Westerberg was also thereabouts for Waratah, while Sam Godden and Samuel Weddell where also named amongst the best having hit the scoreboard. While usual suspects Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri were kept quiet with just two goals between them, Pio Puautjimi (three goals) stood up to lead the efficient Tiwi forward line, with Patrick Heenan also slotting two majors as second best in the losing effort. William Puruntatameri was named best for the Bombers, with youngster Jeffrey Simon also showing signs alongside the ex-AFL listed Nathan Djerrkura. Tiwi now slips back to fifth – a game and 30 per cent clear of Palmerston, but will be confident of pushing its weekend opponent for fourth given the Warriors tough draw to see out the regular season.

 

WANDERERS 11.2 (65)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 2, J. Box 2, G. Marika 2, N. Mansell, T. Motlop, M. White, B. O’Connell, A. Weetra.
Darwin: J. Clarke, P. Boles, D. Shillabeer, J. Anderson, L. Philpott, M. Rosas, D. Paull.

BEST:
Wanderers: N/A
Darwin: P. Boles, D. Johnston, J. Anderson, C. Atkinson, K. Maroney, C. Williams

Wanderers caused a massive upset in the second of Saturday’s TIO Stadium fixtures, storming out of the blocks to overcome a wasteful Darwin Buffaloes side. The Eagles set up a lead which proved unassailable in the first term with six goals to one, slotting only five more for the remainder of the game while doing their best to thwart a weakened Buffaloes attack. Wanderers’ 11.2 made Darwin’s 7.13 final score look particularly regretful, and it made all the difference on the day as the Muk Muks hung on for an unlikely 11-point victory. It was an even spread of goal kickers for the hosts, with teenage star Joel Jeffrey, Gabriel Marika and James Box all contributing two goals in a strong team effort. It was a different story for Darwin, with Patrick Boles and Joe Anderson the only players amongst seven individual goal kickers to also be named in the best. Another teen sensation, Malcolm Rosas also found the goals, but the missing flair of Adam Sambono and experience of Matthew Campbell to suspension was too much to cover for the Buffaloes. Wanderers still sit bottom despite claiming its second win in three rounds, while Darwin’s grip on third place has loosened as Waratah join them on 32 points to set up a mouthwatering Round 18 clash between the sides. Still, the Buffaloes’ strong percentage should guarantee them finals, while Wanderers would need a miracle to snatch fifth from this position.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 14.13 (97)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 3.5 (23)

GOALS:
Nightcliff: T. Melville 3, P. Wills 2, S. Miles, N. Brown, J. Miles, S. Wilson, D. Butcher, R. Morris, J. Thrum, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz.
Palmerston: K. Emery 3.

BEST:
Nightcliff: P. Wills, B. Black, D. Butcher, J. Miles, J. Budarick, S. Deery
Palmerston: J. Rhodes, M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, J. Damaso, L. McDonald, R. Stone

Nightcliff looks set to storm to minor premier status as it chalked another comfortable win, and put a major dent in Palmerston’s finals hopes to see out Saturday’s triple-header. The ladder leaders held a steady lead of 28 points going into the main break, but sealed the game with two goals to nil in the third quarter, and put the cherry on top with another six majors in the final stanza to prop up the final margin to 74 points. The competition’s second-leading goal kicker, Kyle Emery played a lone hand for the Magpies with his side’s only goals (three), but missed out on being named in the best half-dozen players. James Rhodes was judged their best, with the ever-consistent Matthew Dennis and Nigel Lockyer Jnr also playing their parts in a disappointing losing effort. For the mighty Tigers, Trent Melville matched Emery’s haul to extend his lead to 15 atop the goalkicking charts, while Phillip Wills was the only other to snare multiple goals with two as he was named best afield. The Tigers will also be buoyed by the efforts of players outside their usual best, with Beau Black performing well in just his third game alongside Danny Butcher and Jonathon Miles. It may well come down to a final-round clash against Southern Districts that decides top spot, but Nightcliff look comfortable there with a four-point buffer, while Palmerston will need results to go its way if it is to snatch fifth spot.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.13 (91)
ST MARYS 7.3 (45)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 3, J. Koopman 3, D. Staunton 3, B. Vallance 2, L. Ogden, J. Brennan.
St Marys: J. Long 3, T. Saunders 2, S. Rioli, L. Stapleton.

BEST:
Southern Districts: M. Rosier, E. Barlow, D. Staunton, S. Martin, J. Koopman, M. Bowden
St Marys: B. Rioli, N. Yarran, J. Long, T. Frawley, A. Long, H. Moloney

A comfortable win has seen Southern Districts keep its minor premiership hopes alive, coming out 46-point winners over the lowly St Marys to remain just a game behind ladder-leaders, Nightcliff. While they grasped a second finals chance rounds ago, the Crocs still look hungry to claim top spot and are set to be led by a forward line close to running absolutely rampant. Leading goal kicker Jess Koopman bagged three goals alongside Michael Mummery and Dean Staunton, with Bradley Vallance (two goals) just falling short of the feat as the Crocs more than doubled St Marys’ score. The strength of Southern Districts’ forward 50 was only helped by the inclusion of ex-AFL star Ryan Griffen, who was reunited with former Bulldog teammate, Ed Barlow in the Crocs midfield. Matthew Rosier beat both of them out to be adjudged best afield, with Ben Rioli named the Saints’ most valuable player. Nick Yarran continued his rich vein of form, but it was Jacob Long (three goals) who stood up most inside the forward 50 as Tylah Saunders also slotted two majors. The Saints remain second bottom despite Wanderers’ win, with the slimmest of chances of making finals. Meanwhile, Southern Districts could well reclaim first place over the last two rounds, with a Round 18 clash with Nightcliff likely to decide the matter.