Tag: Austin Wonaeamirri

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.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Semi finals

THE minor premiers stamped their authority as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Mens Premier League’s number one contenders with a sizeable win earning them a grand final spot. Meanwhile, a finals rematch faces the defending champions, the Crocs after they took advantage of their double chance with a bounce-back win.

NIGHTCLIFF 22.17 (149)
TIWI BOMBERS 9.5 (59)


GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 5, J. Butcher 4, L. Holt-Fitz 4, H. Drogemuller 2, M. Bricknell, K. Niki, M. Hagan, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Melville, P. Wills
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 5, R. Tungatalum 2, D. Munkara 2

BEST:
Nightcliff:
H. Drogemuller, P. Wills, J. Butcher, B. Filo, C. Holmes
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, W. Puruntatameri, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, A. Tipungwuti

Nightcliff roared into the grand final with a 90-point drubbing of Tiwi to only further firm the minor premiers as flag favourites. The Tigers ran rampant in their forward half throughout the game, putting through a minimum of five goals in each term to overwhelm a previously in-form Tiwi side. Despite last week’s come from behind heroics, the Bombers hardly looked a chance after Nightcliff’s fast start, finding themselves 61 points down at the main break after the Tigers piled on six goals in each term. The result was inevitable from there, but Nightcliff continued on its merry way with another 10 goals to consolidate the eventual winning margin. Veteran Cam Ilett led Nightcliff’s 11 individual goal kickers with a bag of five, with John Butcher and Liam Holt-Fitz snaring four and Hugo Drogemuller claiming two majors to be named best afield. Meanwhile, ex-Dee Austin Wonaeamirri was one of the few Bombers to continue his good form, slotting an equal game best of five goals to make up over half of Tiwi’s score. Ross Tungatalum also chimed in with two majors alongside Dion Munkara, with the likes of Jason Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti named in the best in the losing effort. While Nightcliff now take the simple route to the grand final, Tiwi goes on to face Southern Districts for the second time in three weeks for a chance at redemption and the ultimate glory.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.11 (89)
WARATAH 6.10 (46)


GOALS:
Southern Districts: D. McLachlan 2, J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, E. Barlow 2, J. Brennan, B. Schwarze, W. Farrer, M. Rosier, C. Gallio
Waratah: S. Godden, K. Kantilla, H. Kerinaiua, S. Weddell, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma

BEST:
Southern Districts:
S. Martin, E. Barlow, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, J. Farrer, S. Stewart
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts leant fully on its double chance with a confidence building 43-point win over Waratah to move onto the preliminary final round. While the Warriors did well to match it with their opponents for a little over a half, the Crocs pulled away with eight goals to two after the main break to put the result beyond doubt. Four of Southern Districts’ nine goal kickers managed bags of two, including spearhead Jess Koopman and the exciting Michael Mummery. Ed Barlow contributed around the ground and also claimed two majors, but was beaten out for best-afield honours by Sean Martin, while the returning Jared Brennan was also handy with his finals experience. Waratah simply could not match the Crocs’ firepower, but still had six seperate scorers in a low total. Usual suspects Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua found the goals, with best and fairest Sam Godden also pitching in. While the Warriors’ strong late-season run coming to an abrupt end, Southern Districts look a strong chance to go back-to-back, but will have to get past Tiwi next week for a chance to play-off in the grand final.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Finals Round 1

ROUND 1 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals absolutely delivered, with the two winners taking full advantage of their hot form, while one side will have to rely on its double-chance to progress further.

WARATAH 21.7 (133)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 8.12 (60)

GOALS:
Waratah: A. Ankers 4, S. Godden 3, T.Toma 3, S. Tatupu 2, Z. Westerberg, H.Kerinaiua, B.Minkulk, S.Flanegan, K.Kantilla, B.Carroll, C.Barrett, J.Gardner.
Darwin: J. Clarke 3, J. Clark, M. Campbell, P. Boles, M. Bradley, B. Culhane.

BEST:
Waratah: N/A
Darwin: N/A

A clinical performance after quarter time helped Waratah to a comprehensive 73-point elimination final win against Darwin to open post-season proceedings. In what was almost an identical result to the Warriors’ 76-point drubbing of the Buffs in Round 18, the winners put on a show in front of goal to earn a semi-final shot against Southern Districts. Both sides came out strong in the opening stages, with the Warriors holding a slender three-point margin at the first break despite having two less scoring shots. It was one way traffic from there on, with a seven-goal second stanza setting up an even five-goal margin going into half time as Darwin continued to misfire. 12 goals to five after the main break put the nail in the coffin for the Buffs, who lost five games in a row to end what, at one stage, looked like a promising season. The Tahs had a good spread of goalkickers with 12 individual scorers, as Abraham Ankers led the way with four majors. Sam Godden and Tom Toma were not far behind with three each, as Shem Tatupu rounded out the multiple goal kickers with his bag of two. Jalen Clarke stood up in that regard for Darwin with three goals, while the returning Matt Campbell also hit the scoreboard. While Darwin will regroup and look forward to going around again next year, Waratah moves on to face another early-season favourite – Southern Districts. The Crocs have also shown weaker form of late, but are always dangerous forward of centre and more than capable of matching the new-found firepower of Waratah. Having been a feature of the top four all year, the result is nothing short of what the Warriors deserve, but they will no doubt be looking to go one better next week.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 10.5 (65)
TIWI BOMBERS 13.8 (86)

GOALS:
Southern Districts:
S. Thorne 2, S. Rusca 2, W. Farrer, C. Gallio, J. Koopman, R. O’Brien, D. Staunton, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 6, A. Wonaeamirri 4, D. Munkara, S. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts:
D. Staunton, S. Rusca, S. Thorne, J. Farrer
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, M. Dunn, W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, A. Wonaeamirri

A surging come from behind effort has seen Tiwi roll on into a semi-final fixture against Nightcliff, downing the highly fancied Southern Districts by 21-points. Down by as much as 27-points in the second half, the Bombers never gave up hope and snatched the win on the back of a swarm from their forward 50 mosquito fleet. Dion Munkara stole the headlines and some social media airtime with his goal celebration late on, with Austin Wonaeamirri‘s goal to clinch the lead also not to be outdone in the highlight stakes. The ex-Dee was instrumental with four goals, but it was Ross Tungatalum who again led the way in front of goal with a bag of six. The Crocs were not too far behind, but shared their goals a touch more with eight players troubling the scoreboard – including Shane Thorne and Steve Rusca with two each. Both were named in the Crocs’ best handful of players, with Dean Staunton deemed the most valuable. With both sides at relatively full strength, Tiwi passed this test with flying colours and will fancy itself in with a huge chance of toppling the Tigers after their week off for a shot in the big dance. In the week’s other game, Southern Districts will hope to take full advantage of its second chance in finals as it meets a red-hot Warriors side in what should be a belter.

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 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.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 15

A mid-table arm-wrestle has ensued with three sides battling for the last two finals positions in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. Darwin will be looking to consolidate its third place, with Waratah best placed to snatch fourth as its closest competition meets the top two sides.

ST MARYS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 15 – Friday, January 25, 7pm
TIO Stadium

St Marys will be looking to steer clear of equal-last spot when it clashes with an in-form Darwin Buffaloes side to open the round. The Saints find themselves separated by percentage only to last-place Wanderers, who got the wood over them in the previous round. Darwin, meanwhile, are back on a solid winning run having knocked off Southern Districts twice in the last four rounds, while only going down to ladder-leaders, Nightcliff in that time. The inclusion of Lindsay Thomas in the new year has been key for the Buffaloes, with the former North Melbourne and Port star booting five goals last week to drag his side over the line, while livewire Adam Sambono has also fronted in the resurgence. The experience of Matt Campbell and consistency of Kevin Maroney up the field will also be important for the Buffaloes if they are to continue on their way, and the potential match-up of Darryl White against St Marys’ Raphael Clarke could be key. The Saints have been buoyed by the form of Nathaniel Paredes (three best-afield in four games), while Nick Yarran and youngster Brayden Rioli also look to be coming into form they have shown glimpses of. It looks to be an uphill battle here for St Marys given Darwin’s firepower, but four points will be crucial to them if they are to have one last tilt at the finals and keep clear of the cellar door.

 

WARATAH v. WANDERERS
Round 15 – Saturday, January 26, 4pm
Gardens Oval

A spot back on the winners list is up for grabs for Waratah when it faces bottom-placed Wanderers in Saturday’s sole fixture. The Warriors have gone down in consecutive games, seeing them slip out of the top four for the first time since Round 1 in what has been a consistent season thus far. The Muk Muks are two games away from the deadlock from fourth to sixth place, but managed a confidence-boosting win over second-bottom St Marys last time out to level them on points with their most recent opponents. Neither side is particularly renowned for their prowess in front of goal, but posses key assets around the big sticks who can deliver big performances. Kim Kantilla and Sam Godden have consistently troubled the scoreboard for Waratah, while Thomas Motlop is coming off a clutch five-goal performance in last week’s win for Wanderers. Eagles fans have also enjoyed the inclusion of former-Sun Liam Patrick, but that ex-AFL talent is something that the Warriors have been short of with Michael Newton only featuring twice – booting 13 goals in those outings. With both sides keen for four points given their respective positions, expect the usually low-scoring sides to provide a greater output in front of goals to snatch the four points.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 15 – Sunday, January 27, 2pm
PSC BM Oval

Arguably the two form sides of the competition meet when Nightcliff and Tiwi Bombers do battle on Sunday. The ladder-leading Tigers have won their last eight games, including a tight affair against Tiwi in Round 9, when the Bombers were on another winning run. The visitors have looked irresistible over the last two rounds, smashing Wanderers by over 100 points and toppling top-two fancies Southern Districts in what has been a rich vein of form, setting up what promises to be another thriller between the two sides. Nightcliff’s forward threats of Trent Melville and Matthew Bricknell continue to fire and will have to produce in this game, with Tiwi’s Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri booting 22 goals between them in the last three games. The midfield battle could also prove key, with Nightcliff guns Liam Holt-Fitz and John Butcher also able to hit the scoreboard from up the field. Bomber inclusions Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura have added enough class to match the Tigers in that area, so we may well be set for an absolute shoot-out. With an abundance of ex-AFL talent on both lists, this could be a game we look back on at the end of the year as an NTFL classic. Playing the role of spoilers in this clash, the Tigers will hope to quell the Bombers’ surge, but this Tiwi side could make a real statement about their finals credentials with a win here.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 15 – Monday, January 28, 4pm
Asbuild Oval

A chance to consolidate finals spots is on the line for both Palmerston and Southern Districts when they meet on Monday afternoon to see out the round. The Magpies were unlucky not to come away with a win last week, falling narrowly to the free-scoring Darwin Buffaloes, but remain well within the hunt for either fourth or fifth spot in the finals equation. Their opponents, Southern Districts have been a constant in the top two this year and currently look to be the clear second-best side despite falling twice to third-place unit, Darwin. With both sides coming off losses, this will be a good chance for both a confidence and percentage boost respectively. Palmerston’s Matthew Dennis has been among the best players in each of his 14 games, proving to be a key cog around the ground with his big frame and admirable leadership. Having led many a finals campaign with Bundoora in the Northern Football League of Melbourne, he will no doubt continue to be a feature as the year wraps up alongside Davey brothers Alwyn and Aaron, as well as Kyle Emery up forward. The Magpies will be without Sam Talbot and Sam Autio due to suspension, with Crocs guns Beau Schwarze, Richard Tambling and Seb Guilhaus ones who can take advantage of their absence. Michael Mummery and Jess Koopman are also in good form, and will be key if Southern Districts is to flex its muscle and overpower the ‘Pies. There is a fair bit on the line for the Palmerston side, so expect them to put it right to the Crocs, who looked down last week.