Tag: Austin Wonaeamirri

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 9 – Race for fifth hots up on super Saturday

ROUND 9 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League bounces down under Friday night lights, before a super Saturday poises top five teams Nightcliff and Tiwi against each other in what shapes as the game of the weekend.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Friday November 29, 7:00pm
Palmerston Oval

The Darwin Buffaloes will look to press on with their top two charge when they travel to take on the winless Palmerston Magpies under Friday night lights. A big win over Waratah last time out means Darwin comes into this clash with consecutive victories, eyeing off a top two berth as just eight points split second and sixth. With Palmerston languishing in last and without a win to this point, this is the kind of game the Buffs’ simply must win if they are to remain a premiership contender. Joe Anderson is one of the only movers in a settled Darwin line-up, named in defence as the likes of Darren Shillabeer, Brodie Foster, and Matt Campbell take up forward 50 spots. Speaking of, Alwyn Davey sneaks into Palmerston’s forward pocket, hoping to add class on the full forward line alongside Ezekiel Frank and Keidan Holt-Tubbs, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been named on the bench. The Magpies will be hoping to rectify some poor previous form in front of a home crowd, but the Buffs are always tough opposition and have found a rhythm once again.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday November 30, 2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Two of the NTFL’s form sides meet on Saturday afternoon as Nightcliff and Tiwi do battle at PSC BM Oval, with finals implications in play. The Tigers continue to set the competition benchmark despite slipping up a couple of weeks ago against St Mary’s, and inadvertently helped Tiwi jump into fifth place with a big win over Wanderers in Round 8. The Bombers claimed a handy win of their own in the same weekend, trumping the Saints for a second time this season to make for an interesting equation of football maths in this fixture. Something that needs no working out is that Nightcliff’s side is omnipotent, with former-Williamstown duo Willie Wheeler and Leigh Masters continuing their NTFL stint, adding to the goal threat posed by Cam Ilett, Trent Melville, and Liam Holt-Fitz. The Bombers will hope to outgun their opponents though, naming Adam Tipungwuti up forward alongside Austin Wonaeamirri and Ross Tungatalum, while still possessing plenty of drive up the field. It shapes as being the game of the round, and a win for Tiwi would keep the minor premiership race interesting.

ST MARY’S vs. WARATAH
Saturday November 30, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The opportunity to bounce back from disappointing respective losses is up for grabs for both St Mary’s and Waratah as they meet at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Saints endured a second upset defeat at the hands of traditional rival, Tiwi last time out, but remain in the top two hunt on the back of a much-improved start to the season. Waratah’s year to date has been a touch more hit-and-miss, and the Warriors were outclassed by Darwin after a couple of strong showings helped them break through for consecutive wins – their only ones for the season. Maurice Rioli Jnr is the most exciting inclusion among a star-studded Saints line-up, named on the bench while David Armitage and Michael Manteit make up the ex-AFL numbers. Meanwhile, Steven Stroobants is a handy addition for the Warriors to add to the firepower Kim Kantilla brings, but they look like going in without Abe Ankers in a huge blow to their chances. St Mary’s has looked formidable on paper all season, and that is no different this week as they look to prey on a bottom three opponent.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday November 30, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will hope to snap a two-game losing run when it closes out the round against Southern Districts on Saturday night at TIO Stadium. Both sides have endured wild momentum swings in their seasons thus far, but the Crocs have found a way to win more often and sit pretty in second spot. They would be even closer to the top had it not been for a draw in the first meeting between these two teams, with the result also a factor in Wanderers’ position just outside of the top five. With Tiwi on the up and the top four relatively settled, a win is crucial for the young Muk Muks line-up. They will have to perform without star swingman Joel Jeffrey this week, with NT Under-16 Mark White coming into the forward line to join Beau O’Connell and Davin Ferreira. The Crocs will back in their own forward firepower, with Ed Barlow named inside 50 alongside Beau Schwarze and Will Farrer, while Richard Tambling is also set to go around again. Those names make Southern Districts hard to pass up, but Wanderers can cause plenty of headaches.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 8 – Buffs move to third as in-form sides claim victories

NIGHTCLIFF got back on track after a rare loss, Southern Districts and Darwin got past their lowly ranked opponents, while Tiwi Bombers’ ripping form continued with yet another win in this round’s action of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

WANDERERS 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)
NIGHTCLIFF 6.2 | 11.5 | 14.7 | 16.12 (108)

GOALS:

Wanderers: W. Williams 2, D. Thompson, D. Weetra, R. Fejo.
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 4, L. Sharp 4, J. Butcher 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, T. Melville.

BEST:

Wanderers: C. Haley, K. Stephens, B. McLean, W. Williams, D. Thompson
Nightcliff: K. Riley, L. Masters, J. Butcher, W. Wheeler, J. Peris, J. Budarick

Top-of-the-table Nightcliff continued its terrific season after bouncing back from a rare loss last week to hand down a smashing to Wanderers who slipped down to sixth by the end of the round. Nightcliff burst out of the blocks to pile on six goals to two in the opening term, and led by 50 points at half-time. The team refused to take the foot off after the main break, booting five goals to two to run out 73-point winners in the first game at TIO Oval. Matthew Bricknell and Lachlan Sharp booted four gaols apiece, while former Port Adelaide forward, John Butcher kicked three majors and was named among the best. Talented high flyer Liam Holt-Fitz booted two majors for the Tigers, while Kaine Riley and Williamstown players, Leigh Masters and Willie Wheeler were named in the reigning premiers’ best. For Wanderers, Warwick Williams was the sole multiple goalkicker with two majors, named among the best with Charlie Haley and Kade Stephens. Wanderers take on Southern Districts on Saturday night at TIO Stadium, while Nightcliff host the in-form Tiwi Bombers.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.0 | 2.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 (43)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 1.3 | 5.5 | 9.12 | 14.18 (102)

GOALS:

Palmerston: W. Shadforth, D. Gaykamangu , B. Church, M. Chester, T. Freeman, A. Diamond.
Southern Districts: S. Barnett 3, D. Williams 2, C. McAdam 2, B. Schwarze, D. Hall, M. Joshua, T. Holman, K. Dingo, M. Rosier, J. Farrer.

BEST:

Palmerston: J. Berry, A. Diamond, R. Mungatopi, M. Chester, S. Brock, W. Shadforth
Southern Districts: M. Rosier, B. Lake, J. Farrer, C. McAdam, S. Barnett, T. Holman

Southern Districts kept in touch with Nightcliff following a 59-point victory over cellar dwellers, Palmerston Magpies. The Magpies poor start to the season continued with their eighth straight loss, while the Crocs are up and about having won five and drawn one from as many encounters as the Magpies. It was the underdogs who started strongly booting two goals to one in the opening term, but it was all the Crocs from there, leading by 19 points at half-time, then slamming home nine goals to four in the second half to skip away to the comfortable win on the road. The Crocs had no shortage of goalkickers with Sam Barnett (three majors), Charles McAdam (two) and Damian Williams (two) all getting on the board. Matthew Rosier was handed best on ground honours, while teenage star Brodie Lake and Josiah Farrer were also named among the best. For the Magpies, Jack Berry was named best on ground, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ small forward Dale Cox also featured in the side, with Adam Diamond and Randy Mungatopi named in Palmerston’s best. Next weekend, Palmerston looks to break its winless drought against Darwin, while the Crocs host Wanderers.

WARATAH 2.0 | 4.4 | 8.4 | 10.9 (69)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.7 | 3.12 | 10.14 | 14.17 (101)

GOALS:

Waratah: K. Kantilla 5, B. Zobel, M. Newton, L. Fitzgerald, A. Ankers, M. Blake.
Darwin: D. Stafford 5, J. Stokes 3, D. Shillabeer, M. Coombes, B. Culhane, C. Williams, B. Hogan, M. Campbell.

BEST:

Waratah: N/A.
Darwin: I. Seden-Kurnoth, C. Williams, D. Stafford, B. Hogan, C. Atkinson

Fourth placed Darwin Buffaloes overcame some terrible inaccuracy in the first half of their clash with Waratah to get back on track for a 32-point win at TIO Stadium. The Buffaloes were able to leapfrog St Mary’s who went down in the next match, sitting percentage ahead of the Saints and only two points behind second placed Southern Districts. For Waratah, the Warriors remain six points away from sixth spot, and their season is slipping away. Darwin looked a bit shaky early despite leading at each break, but booted three goals from 15 scoring shots in the first half to hold a narrow two-point lead at the main break. They got their act together after that, as the Buffaloes booted 11.5 to Waratah’s 6.5 to record the solid victory. It was a shootout up both ends with Darwin’s Daniel Stafford and Waratah’s Kim Kantilla booting five majors apiece, but Stafford had more support around him. Jarrod Stokes kicked three majors and was one of eight individual goalkickers, while Kantilla was the only multiple goalkicker from Waratah’s six. Isaac Seden-Kurnoth and Chris Williams were named best on ground for their contributions in Darwin’s big win. Abe Ankers and Laine Fitzgerald were among the goalkickers in the Eagles side. Next weekend, Waratah takes on St Mary’s, while Darwin travels to Palmerston to meet the last placed Magpies.

ST MARY’S 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.6 | 7.8 (50)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.4 | 7.9 | 9.10 | 12.12 (84)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: S. Rioli 2, N. Paredes, J. Geary, L. Larson, T. Saunders, J. Cheek.
Tiwi: J. Best 4, A. Wonaeamirri 3, J. Monigatti 2, M. Kantilla, R. Tungatalum, D. Munkara.

BEST:

St Mary’s: B. Rioli, L. Larson, T. Davies, L. Daly, J. Geary, J. Cheek
Tiwi: A. Hams, L. Wale-Buxton, C. Jones, R. Baird, R. Puruntatameri, J. Puruntatameri

In the final game of the round, Tiwi Bombers’ great form of late continue with a vital 34-point win over St Mary’s. The game was considered an “eight-point” match with St Mary’s able to extend the gap between fourth and fifth out to 10 points, and 14 clear of the Bombers, while instead, Tiwi cut the deficit to just four points and percentage away from the top four. Tiwi controlled the match after a tight start, leading by 10 points at quarter time and 28 points by half-time. Whist the Saints managed to keep in touch after the main break, the damage was done and the Bombers celebrated a great win. Jake Best (four goals), Austin Wonaeamirri (three) and Jack Monigatti (two) all kicked multiple goals for the visiting side, as Shannon Rioli added two for St Mary’s. Former Essendon player, Ashton Hams was named best on ground and really impacted the contest, as did Liam Wale-Buxton and Rodney Baird. For the Saints, Ben Rioli was named the best, while Leroy Larson and Nathaniel Paredes both booted goals in defeat. Next week, the Tiwi Bombers travel to test themselves against Nightcliff, while St Mary’s host a must-win game against Waratah.

Credit: NT News

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 6 – Stroobants stars in Warriors’ maiden win

WARATAH officially got on the board in Round 6 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, winning out in a bottom three clash. Meanwhile, Wanderers took advantage of Darwin’s slip-up to jump into fourth place, while Nightcliff extended its gap at the top with another grinding win.

WARATAH 5.5 | 12.8 | 19.8 | 21.15 (141)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.4 | 7.5 | 13.7 | 15.8 (98)

GOALS:

Waratah: S. Stroobants 6, H. Kerinaiua 5, K. Kantilla 3, A. Ankers 3, J. Beugelaar 2, B. Carroll, B. Minkulk.
Tiwi: G. Cunningham 4, L. Wale-Buxton 3, D. Munkara 2, A. Wonaeamirri 2, R. Puruntatameri, J. Simon, J. Pupangamirri, H. Puruntatameri .

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Tiwi: N/A

Steve Stroobants booted Waratah to its maiden official win in season 2019/20, kicking six goals in a high-scoring affair. The breakthrough win also saw the Warriors claim the Maurice Rioli Cup, with home fans treated to the entertaining 21.15 (141) to 15.8 (98) result.

Stroobants was joined by Henry Kerinaiua (five goals), Kim Kantilla (three), and Abe Ankers (three) in an impressive list of multiple goalkickers for Waratah, with influential skipper Brodie Carroll also finding the big sticks on one occasion. It was the same case for Tiwi as Gerrard Cunningham led the way with four majors, followed closely by bigman Liam Wale-Buxton (three), the zippy Dion Munkara (two) and ex-Dee Austin Wonaeamirri (two). Both sides were relatively on form inside forward 50, but Waratah’s 13 more scoring shots proved its higher rate of production.

An early three-goal buffer was the difference for most of the bout for Waratah, with the Warriors repeatedly breaking away and being reigned back in each term. The Bombers managed to boot the opening goals in quarters two and three and even cut the margin to just 14 points in the latter term through Wale-Buxton, but the hosts had all the answers and continued to pile on goals of their own throughout. A 7.0 to 6.2 third quarter was the showcase period of play for the game, highlighting the clinical scoring abilities of either side in the open contest.

Both sides find themselves stuck in the bottom three, one and two games adrift from the finals spots. Waratah will fancy its chances of further bridging the gap as it takes on a lowly Palmerston next time out, while Tiwi faces a tough ask in rebounding against the red-hot Southern Districts on Saturday afternoon.

NIGHTCLIFF 1.2 | 7.3 | 10.4 | 14.5 (89)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 6.6 | 8.9 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: D. Joyce 4, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett 2, L. Sharp 2, K. Niki, B. Arnold, S. Wilson, T. Melville.
Darwin: D. Stafford 3, J. Stokes 2, S. Ahmat, A. Sambono, P. Boles, C. Williams.

BEST:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas, K. Riley, D. Joyce, J. Budarick, D. Bowles, L. Holt-Fitz
Darwin: P. Boles, I. Seden-Kurnoth, D. Maymuru, C. Williams, D. Stafford

The Tye-Bonson Memorial Shield went to Nightcliff on Saturday as the Tigers found a way once again, beating Darwin by 23 points to keep their perfect record in tact. The reigning premiers built into the game well after a slow opener to lead at every other break in the 14.5 (89) to 9.12 (66) victory.

A six goals to three second stanza saw Nightcliff claim the lead at the main break, not looking back to almost mirror its score perfectly in the following half with a wealth of class in front of goal. The 14.5 effort was matched by sound defence too, with the Tigers not allowing the Buffs more than three goals in each term and keeping them to two in a tense third. As has constantly been the case, the undefeated side was better for longer and outlasted its opponent to salute for a sixth time in season 2019/20.

Nightcliff’s James Tsitas and Darwin’s Patrick Boles were recognised as best afield for their respective sides in the memorial match, both continuing solid runs of form in recent weeks. Speaking of, Kaine Riley and Liam Holt-Fitz were also named among the Tigers’ best half-dozen for the third consecutive game, while Dylan Joyce booted four goals and Cam Ilett backed up with another two. Adam Sambono only managed the one goal on return for Darwin as Daniel Stafford‘s three majors led the effort, with Chris Williams the only other goalkicker to also be named in the Buffs’ best.

The Tigers’ lead at the top was extended to six points as the previous top four all played off, also boasting 42 percentage points more than its nearest rival with third placed St Mary’s up next. Darwin will look to bounce back from sliding to fifth as it faces the new fourth place side, Wanderers on Saturday evening in what is sure to be a cracker.

PALMERSTON 2.5 | 2.5 | 4.7 | 7.9 (51)
WANDERERS 7.6 | 7.6 | 11.8 | 12.11 (83)

GOALS:

Palmerston: K. Holt-Tubbs 4, R. Marika, C. Timms, K. Groves.
Wanderers: B. Eddy 3, K. Smith Thompson 2, M. Cooper 2, K. Fejo 2, J. Jeffrey, R. Fejo, B. O’Connell.

BEST:

Palmerston: K. Holt-Tubbs, S. Brock, A. Lonergan, B. Launer, J. Berry, L. Dhurrkay
Wanderers: B. McLean, L. Dyer, C. Baird, K. Fejo, R. Fejo

Wanderers climbed into fourth with a comfortable 33-point win over Palmerston on the road to close out Saturday’s proceedings. Five of the Muk Muks’ goalkickers found the big sticks more than once as they simply had too much for the winless Magpies in the 7.9 (51) to 12.11 (83) result.

The lead was built early-doors as Wanderers zipped out to a 31-point buffer at the main break, looking every bit the finals-bound side. The Magpies had few answers as the battle wore on and could not bridge the gap enough as they continued to leak goals. The final score was prettied up by three late Palmerston majors, but the home side was still well adrift as the final siren sounded to put its sixth defeat in the books.

Keidan Holt-Tubbs was a shining light once again for the Magpies, booting over half of his side’s goals (four) in the loss to be named their best afield. Blake Launer was also among the best for the second time in three games, while the likes of Sandy Brock and Aaron Lonergan also stood up. For the Eagles, former-Port player Brett Eddy snared three goals on debut, but it was Braedon McLean who was named their best. Ronald and Keelan Fejo both found the goals and were influential, with youngsters Beau O’Connell and Joel Jeffrey also hitting the scoreboard.

Wanderers will look to lock down fourth spot next week as it takes on the newly removed Darwin in Round 7, while a bottom two clash beckons for Palmerston, presenting the Magpies’ another good opportunity to get on the board in recent weeks.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 6.1 | 7.2 | 11.7 | 12.9 (81)
ST MARY’S 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.5 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: D. Barry 3, W. Farrer 3, E. Barlow 3, D. Williams, J. Farrer, S. Barnett.
St Mary’s: J. Calder 3, N. Paredes 2, J. Long, A. Parry, B. Slater, J. Long, S. Rioli.

BEST:

Southern Districts: E. Barlow, T. Holman, N. Rokahr, D. McLachlan, R. O’Brien, Z. Smith
St Mary’s: L. Larson, S. Rioli, N. Yarran, A. Hill, R. Smith, A. Parry

Southern Districts continued its surge up the NTFL ladder, overcoming fellow finals hopefuls St Mary’s by 12 points in Sunday’s lone fixture. The 12.9 (81) to 10.9 (69) scoreline did justice to the closeness of the bout, with one dominant period for the Crocs enough to see them over the line and into second place.

A trio of Crocs – Dylan Barry, Will Farrer, and Ed Barlow – each claimed a hat-trick of goals to lead the winning effort, with Barlow the sole multiple goalkicker to also feature among the best. Dylan McLachlan and Zach Smith continued their good runs of form to also be thereabouts, while Nikolaus Rokahr bobbed up in the best for the second time in three games. For St Mary’s, Jackson Calder was the only player to hit three goals in a more even scoring spread, with Nate Paredes the only other multiple goalkicker. Shannon Rioli pitched in with an important major and was named among the best with Nicholas Yarran, but both were behind Leroy Larson as the Saints’ most influential player.

While the Crocs’ fast start set up a two-goal buffer which they would hold for much of the match, a four-goal to nil third term made all the difference in setting up the win. With the four points all but beyond them, the Saints finished the better of the two sides but left too much for too late as they fell by that telling two-goal margin.

St Mary’s will have to back up with another top four clash in Round 7 as the undefeated Nightcliff awaits, with a win crucial to keep within touch of the Tigers. Meanwhile, the Crocs will fancy their chances of a fifth consecutive win as they face Tiwi next time out and look to take advantage of the St Mary’s/Nightcliff result.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 3 – Clinical Bombers hand Saints first loss

A HIGH-SCORING round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action saw three one-sided results and a thrilling shootout between traditional rivals. Reigning premier Nightcliff is the sole remaining undefeated side, while Palmerston is the only team still without a win.

TIWI BOMBERS 10.3 | 12.4 | 15.5 | 20.7 (127)
ST MARY’S 1.3 | 10.4 | 15.7 | 17.11 (113)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 4, A. Wonaeamirri 4, R. Farmer 2, H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, J. Simon 2, G. Cunningham 2, J. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan.
St Mary’s: S. Rioli 3, A. Wilson 2, R. Clarke 2, L. Larson 2, J. Waite 2, N. Paredes, J. Salmon, J. Box, T. Gilbert, R. McMurray, B. Ah Mat.

BEST:

Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, H. Puruntatameri, C. Molyneux, D. Munkara, C. Luff
St Mary’s: T. Davies, B. Slater, T. Gilbert, R. Clarke, H. Labastida, J. Long

Tiwi got on the board at the third time of asking in season 2019/20, putting on a clinical goalkicking display to outgun traditional rival St Mary’s. The Bombers held strong when it mattered in a game of heavy momentum swings, kicking out to the efficient 20.7 (127) to 17.11 (113) final score.

The winners stormed out of the blocks with an incredible 10 goals to one to start the game, a total they matched over the entire next three terms. But the Saints were not going to take it lying down after quarter time, bouncing back with nine goals in response to head into the main break an even two-goals down, eventually hitting the front in the third term. Just when St Mary’s looked set to complete a remarkable turnaround of over 50 points, the game delivered another twist as the Bombers soared once again to close out the entertaining bout on top.

Richmond AFL star and Saints junior Daniel Rioli watched on as his uncle Shannon booted three goals for St Mary’s, while younger brother Brayden suited up for his second game in Tiwi colours. The Tigers forward was impressed by Tiwi youngster Jeffrey Simon, who was one of five Bombers to boot two majors. Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri led the goalkicking stakes with four each though, while best-afield Jason Puruntatameri managed one and Adam Tipungwuti slotted the goal of the round. Former Blue and Roo Jarrad Waite‘s two debut goals proved far from enough for the Saints, with fellow ex-AFL player Raphael Clarke matching his feat in the losing effort. He was named among the best with Thomas Davies once again, along with Tom Gilbert in his first game for the year.

Both sides will go on to face Round 3 losers next time out, with St Mary’s playing host to Darwin while Tiwi matches up against Wanderers in games that could decide the early order of the ladder. Both St Mary’s and the Buffs suffered their first defeats this weekend, so will hope to return to the winners list.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.6 | 7.9 | 16.13 | 21.18 (144)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 1.2 | 1.5 | 3.7 | 7.9 (51)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: J. Clarke 6, S. Barnett 6, E. Barlow 3, D. Corbett 2, J. Farrer 2, N. Rokahr, D. Williams.
Palmerston: B. Church 2, S. Brock, D. Marshall, A. Davey, K. Sevallos-Seden.

BEST:

Southern Districts: S. Barnett, J. Farrer, B. Rusca, E. Barlow, N. Rokahr, J. Clarke
Palmerston: D. Gordon, J. Berry, D. Cox, R. Stone, B. Launer, C. Timms

Southern Districts broke through for its first win of the season in style, trumping Palmerston to the tune of 93 points to secure a momentary spot in the top four. The Crocs looked to be back to their free-flowing best in the 21.8 (144) to 7.9 (51) result, posing too many threats for the hapless Magpies.

After a steady opener which saw just three goals kicked, it was all Southern Districts as the Crocs piled on at least five goals in each of the remaining three quarters – including nine in the third. With stars all over the park for the winners and a lack of the same firepower hindering Palmerston, a breaking of the dam wall seemed inevitable and the margin could have been far worse had the Crocs kicked straight with their 39 scoring shots.

South Australian state-leaguer Sam Barnett was named best afield on the back of his six-goal haul, a feat matched by Jayden Clarke inside the same 50 arc. Ex-AFL midfielder Ed Barlow showed his class with three majors from further afield, while consistent goalkicker Josiah Farrer booted two and Brandon Rusca earned the Round 3 Rising Star nomination. On the losing end, Dylan Gordon and Blake Launer were again named among the Magpies’ best, with Broderick Church their sole multiple goalkicker (two) as spearhead Alwyn Davey managed one major.

Palmerston’s search for its first win continues at PSC BM Oval on Sunday against undefeated reigning premier Nightcliff – a tough assignment for any side, let alone the one in eighth place. Meanwhile, Southern Districts will look to solidify a top five spot when it does battle with fellow Round 3 winner Waratah next time out.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.2 | 1.5 | 2.6 | 3.9 (27)
WARATAH 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.10 | 12.12 (84)

GOALS:

Darwin: C. Stokes, T. Eldridge, D. Shillabeer.
Waratah: J. McGrath 3, A. Ankers 2, M. Graham 2, A. Moore 2, K. Kantilla, B. Carroll, H. Kerinaiua.

BEST:

Darwin: C. Williams, B. Stokes, T. Eldridge, C. Stokes, J. Saveka
Waratah: N/A

Shades of last season’s late form came to the fore as Waratah broke through for an emphatic first win against the highly-fancied Darwin Buffaloes. The Warriors quelled the Buffs’ scoring threats on-route to a 57-point victory, with the two sides looking near-unrecognisable compared to their previous form in the 12.12 (84) to 3.9 (27) result.

It was a case of the Warriors leading at every stage, not looking back after gaining an early advantage against the wind. While they squandered a few chances in a seven-goal to two second half, the scoreboard pressure and even spread of hardened contributors proved too much as they clamped down on the Buffs to come out handy winners in the end.

Abe Ankers was the main man in the first half, winning a ton of the ball early while helping to break the game open with two goals in the second term. Ex-AFL forward Andrew Moore was also impactful through the middle and up forward with two majors of his own, while Jae McGrath led the way with three and Kim Kantilla looked lively with one. Two of Darwin’s three goalkickers also featured in the best handful of players for their side, with Cameron Stokes and Tim Eldridge featuring well alongside Christopher Williams and Bradley Stokes in the uncharacteristically low-scoring loss. To make matters worse for the Buffs, experienced hand Joe Anderson faces time off after being reported for striking, with Adam Sambono still absent.

That will make their next assignment against fellow 2-1 side St Mary’s tough, with both teams looking to rekindle the form they produced over Rounds 1 and 2. Waratah’s assignment is just as tricky, with the reinvigorated Southern Districts up next after its own breakthrough victory.

WANDERERS 3.4 | 4.5 | 5.6 | 8.7 (55)
NIGHTCLIFF 5.3 | 8.7 | 14.11 | 17.17 (119)

GOALS:

Wanderers: D. Ferreira 4, J. Jeffrey, K. Fejo, J. Sattler, M. Motlop
Nightcliff: B. Filo 4, B. Grewar 2, L. Evans 2, J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, K. Niki, L. Holt-Fitz, T. Melville, P. Wills, M. Bricknell

BEST:

Wanderers: N/A
Nightcliff: D. Bowles, B. Filo, M. Hagan, K. Riley, M. McGregor

Nightcliff secured its status as the sole remaining undefeated NTFL side with a dominant 64-point victory over Wanderers to see out the round. The Eagles could not quite hang with the reigning premier for long enough as the Tigers mixed astute defence with flooding attacks in the 17.17 (119) to 8.7 (55) result.

While Davin Ferreira booted and equal game-high four goals for the Muk Muks, they lacked the same contributors across the board with only half the amount of Nightcliff’s ten individual goal kickers. The likes of Joel Jeffrey and Keelan Fejo again showed their class to hit the scoreboard, but were outdone by the likes of Brodie Filo (four goals) and Michael Hagan (two) up the other end. Daniel Bowles was named the Tigers’ best, leading a pack consisting of Filo, Hagan, Kaine Riley, Marly McGregor, and Geelong VFL product James Tsitas.

It was the Tigers’ superior depth that saw them shake off the Eagles after a start which gave the losers a sniff. But Nightcliff’s six-goal to one third term saw the result all but settled as the persistent four-goal margin was shattered. A strong, albeit inaccurate finish confirmed the result and brought a halt to Wanderers’ early-season momentum.

An exciting match-up awaits as the Eagles ready themselves for Tiwi on Saturday, with the two sides set to put forth strong attacking lineups. Nightcliff’s perfect record looks likely to remain in-tact too with bottom-placed Palmerston awaiting in a battle between 3-0 and 0-3 teams.

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 wash-up: NTFL – Preliminary final

IT was a record-breaking day in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) preliminary final. For Southern Districts, they earned a spot in the NTFL decider against Nightcliff, racking up the highest preliminary final winning margin on record. Even more remarkably, turning the tables on the Tiwi Bombers who defeated the Crocs just a fortnight earlier. It was a day to forget for the Bombers who suffered back-to-back finals losses combining 210 points on what had been a terrific season. But now just two teams remained and it would be Southern Districts who would have a crack at Nightcliff in the grand final next weekend.

From the start, Southern Districts looked to be in control and a different side to the one that dropped the first round final to the Bombers. Both sides were able to get on the board in the opening term, with Tiwi squandering some opportunities with two goals from six scoring shots, while the Crocs were almost perfect with four from five to take a nine-point advantage into the first break.

The second term saw Southern Districts begin to put the foot down in what was eventually a memorable win, as the Crocs piled on four goals to one. They were the ones to miss a few second quarter opportunities, kicking four behinds, while the Bombers made good on their one chance from Ross Tungalatum. The defensive pressure dropped off after the main break, with the Bombers’ scoring cut right down aside from a one-minute patch where Patrick Heenan – his second of the contest – and Austin Wonaeamirri got on the end of goals to reduce the deficit to seven goals.

That was where the hope ended for the Bombers however as the Crocs stormed home to kick 13 unanswered goals from the 16th minute of the third term to the final siren. Jesse Koopman was unstoppable up forward with six majors, named best on ground for his haul. William Farrer converted five opportunities including the opening goal of the game and a cheeky mid-air shot in the third term, while Michael Mummery also booted a bag of five.

The trio was among 11 individual goal kickers for the Cros, including Josiah Farrer and Ed Barlow who were also named in the best, as were Steven Stewart and Sebastion Guilhaus. The Crocs now set their sights on Nightcliff next weekend with the Tigers hardly putting a foot wrong this season. The top two sides have made it through to the NTFL decider, and after both had thumping wins to earn their spot, it will be interesting to see how the game plays out.

TIWI BOMBERS 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.7 | 5.10 (40)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.1 | 8.5 | 14.6 | 25.10 (160)

GOALS:


Tiwi: P. Heenan 2, H. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, A. Wonaeamirri.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, M. Mummery 5, W. Farrer 5, J. Brennan 2, C. McAdam, R. O”Brien, D. Staunton, B. Schwarze, E. Barlow, S. Thorne, J. Farrer.

BEST:


Tiwi: Not supplied.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman, S. Stewart, S. Guilhaus, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Farrer

Weekend preview: NTFL – Preliminary Final

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

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

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

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

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

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