Tag: Beau Schwarze

Credit: Ivan Rachman/NT News

NTFL Men’s Premier League update: Round 7 – Waratah claims opening Indigenous Round win

WARATAH kicked off the inaugural Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Indigenous Round with a bang, setting the tone for a big weekend of action. Fans will be treated to another two top five clashes, with Darwin hosting Wanderers before St Mary’s takes on Nightcliff tonight, while Tiwi will hope to bring a halt to Southern Districts’ run in the afternoon game.

WARATAH 3.2 | 8.4 | 13.7 | 17.10 (112)
PALMERSTON 0.0 | 0.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 (23)

Waratah won convincingly in the first ever NTFL Indigenous Round fixture, thumping Palmerston by 89 points at TIO Stadium under Friday night lights. The win is the Warrior’s second in as many weeks, consigning fellow bottom two battler Palmerston to its seventh defeat via a 17.10 (122) to 3.5 (23) scoreline.

A goalless first half from the Magpies meant there was no answer for Waratah’s physicality and nous around goal, with the Warriors piling on eight unanswered majors to head into the main break 50 points to the good. It was smooth sailing from there as the Warriors put on another nine goals to finish the game, with Palmerston finally getting on the board in the third term and finishing just shy of a four-goal total – its lowest for the season. Kim Kantilla lead the onslaught with six goals, joined in the best by the likes of Timothy Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua, and Brendon Minkulk.

With two wins under their belts, the Warriors will be looking to build a top five charge when they face Darwin next time out after having a Round 3 win against the Buffs revoked for a team sheet mishap. Meanwhile, Palmerston’s search for a maiden win continues into Round 8 as it hosts Southern Districts on Saturday evening.

ROUND 7 PREVIEW:

TIWI BOMBERS vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday November 16, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will be looking to play spoiler in Southern Districts’ rise to the top when the two sides clash to open Saturday’s proceedings. The heat is on the sixth placed Bombers with Waratah’s win meaning the Warriors are breathing down their neck in the bottom two. A bounce-back win would help Tiwi keep pace with the finals pack, while four points would see the Crocs keep touch with the undefeated Nightcliff in the race for top spot. The Bombers have been exiting in patches but have not been able to produce consistently enough, and the Crocs will snap up any chance they get in small lapses of concentration.

Much of the Tiwi core remains with Rodney Baird, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ross Tungatalum all named down the middle, with speedsters Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara, and Richard Puruntatameri named on an extended bench, while Brayden Rioli returns and Jeffrey Simon slots into midfield. They all have what it takes to help take down the Crocs, but will be matched in class by the likes of Ed Barlow and Charlie McAdam in Southern Districts’ midfield, while the forward quartet of Sam Barnett, William Farrer, Dylan McLachlan and Beau Schwarze is sure to cause headaches.

The Crocs are back to their damaging best and keep finding wins, but do not count Tiwi out of the contest with its eye-catching lineup.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. WANDERERS
Saturday November 16, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

A third-consecutive top five clash awaits Darwin as it faces Wanderers on Saturday evening with both sides hoping to solidify their finals standing. The Buffs risk falling behind in the finals race as the midway point of the season approaches, with Waratah and Tiwi sure to turn up the heat from the bottom three. They are also coming in off losses to the top two sides, while Wanderers will be buoyed by two wins in its last three outings. The Muk Muks have been unable to string their wins together, and one over Darwin here would come in handy as they look to leave the trailing pack in their wake.

Adam Sambono again comes out of the Darwin lineup, with Joe Anderson returning to midfield after a forward stint, joined in there by last week’s best afield, Patrick Boles. Matt Campbell is a handy addition, set to feature up forward alongside young goalsneak Brayden Culhane. But Wanderers have their own rising stars inside 50 in the form of Beau O’Connell and Davin Ferreira, while versatile tall Joel Jeffrey has been named in midfield. Ex-AFL experience also comes in spades as Marlon Motlop, Liam Jurrah, and Liam Patrick all look primed to feature for the Eagles.

While Darwin has been on a skid in the win column, the Buffs’ true form is difficult to measure having faced the top two sides. Wanderers is in the same boat, but has arguably shown more extended form and come in as favourite with its superior ladder position.

ST MARY’S vs. NIGHTCIFF
Saturday November 16, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round will again be left until last as St Mary’s pushes to climb back into the top two and hand Nightcliff its first defeat all in one fell swoop on Saturday night. The Saints have improved out of sight from last season, but have faced a couple of hurdles this season in an otherwise consistent six rounds. The formline is much more linear on the Tigers’ end however, enjoying a streak of six-straight wins to open its premiership defence. The result of this contest is set to answer the open question of which side will be Nightcliff’s closest flag threat, and the Saints look primed to take that mantle.

But St Mary’s will have to pull it off without their leader, Raphael Clarke, replaced by Victorian spearheads Jackson Paine (ex-AFL) and Jackson Calder in the key forward spots. The midfield trio of Shannon Rioli, Nate Paredes, and Nick Yarran should also work a treat against the likes of John Butcher and James Tsitas. Those two, along with legendary utility Cam Ilett and the in-form Liam Holt-Fitz will be key for the Tigers, with their perfect record set to face its biggest test in this outing.

It is always hard to look past Nightcliff, but this game should be a cracker and has real implications on the pointy end of the NTFL ladder heading into the mid-season period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 4 – Tigers remain unbeaten

NIGHTCLIFF remains the sole undefeated side after four Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rounds, while Palmerston and Waratah continue to search for their first wins. Elsewhere, St Mary’s put Darwin’s first official loss on the board in the weekend’s only top five clash.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 7.2 | 9.5 | 13.10 | 16.13 (109)
WARATAH 3.1 | 7.3 | 9.3 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: S. Barnett 2, B. Dawe 2, S. Stewart 2, R. Owen-Skender, D. McLachlan, J. Farrer, W. Farrer, L. Ogden, B. Ngalkin, J. Clarke, T. Brook, B. Schwarze, D. Williams
Waratah: J. McGrath 4, S. Stroobants 3, J. Fallon, M. Graham, J. Schaper

BEST:

Southern Districts: N/A
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts continued its work into form, outlasting Waratah to win by 42 points in the Round 4 opener. The Crocs stayed strong under a couple of Waratah surges, keeping ahead at every break in the 16.13 (109) to 10.7 (67) result.

A deadly 10-minute spurt in the first term proved more than the difference for Southern Districts, with an impressive seven individual goalkickers getting on the board in the second half of the opening term. The goals somewhat dried up after that as Steve Stroobants chimed in to bring the margin back to seven points in the next stanza, only to see the Crocs run away with the game comfortably amid 34-degree heat. Ultimately, it was Waratah’s lack of options which cost them dearly as Southern Districts’ brigade of dangerous forwards helping themselves to 29 scoring shots.

Norwood products Sam Barnett and Brady Dawe teamed up to snare two goals apiece for the winners, with Barnett’s repeat leads and high marking impressing the Aboriginal TV Channel 4 crew. At ground level, it was the likes of Josiah Farrer, Beau Schwarze and a bandaged Jayden Clarke who compounded the damage throughout, while ex-Sun and Docker Michael Barlow enjoyed a steady entry into the NTFL through midfield. For Waratah, Stroobants was superb with his three goals, giving the Warriors a sniff heading into half time. He was beaten out by Jae McGrath‘s game-high four goals though, accounting for seven of their side’s 10 majors.

Next up for the surging Crocs is a grudge match against the Darwin Buffaloes, who suffered their first official loss this weekend. Meanwhile, Waratah’s search for a first official win heads to Gardens Oval as the Warriors play host to an unbeaten Nightcliff.

ST MARY’S 4.4 | 6.6 | 10.10 | 12.12 (84)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.0 | 7.1 | 7.3 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Waite 3, R. Clarke 3, N. Paredes 2, N. Yarran 2, L. Larson, A. Parry
Darwin: B. Culhane 5, T. Swan, S. Tahana, P. Boles, D. Stafford

BEST:

St Mary’s: D. Armitage, J. Waite, T. Gilbert, R. Clarke, J. Long, T. Davies
Darwin: C. Stokes, P. Boles, B. Culhane, D. Lines, M. Quinn, S. Tahana

Second time proved a charm in consigning Darwin to its first loss, as St Mary’s bettered the Buffs by 22 points on Saturday. The Saints were consistent throughout, with a four-goal to nil third term proving the key period as they ran out 12.12 (84) to 9.8 (62) winners.

St Mary’s maintained a satisfyingly linear scoreline, booting 4.4 in the first and third terms while adding 2.2 in the second and fourth to end at an even 12.12. Former-St Kilda duo Raphael Clarke and David Armitage were outstanding for the Saints, with Clarke notching three goals alongside ex-Roo and Blue Jarrad Waite, while Armitage earned best afield honours from midfield. The usual suspects of Nicholas Yarran and Nate Paredes were impactful, each finding the goals to go with their damaging forward run. New recruit Tom Gilbert also worked into the team well, named among the best handful for St Mary’s.

For the now 3-1 Darwin, young forward star Brayden Culhane kicked his second big bag for the year (five) as the Buffs’ main treat, with only four of his teammates also finding the goals. The likes of Cameron Stokes and Patrick Boles provided their usual output after Darwin’s slow start, but the team as a whole could not keep it going for long enough as St Mary’s capitalised on quiet patches. Others to impress were Mark Quinn and Stephen Tahana, but the Buffs were sorely missing a bit of spark to get them going against the much-improved Saints.

Darwin’s attempt to rebound will come against Southern Districts, a tough ask for any side at the moment, while St Mary’s faces Wanderers in a battle of two very exciting teams vying for finals berths.

WANDERERS 1.3 | 7.5 | 9.8 | 10.12 (72)
TIWI BOMBERS 4.3 | 5.6 | 7.8 | 8.10 (58)

GOALS:

Wanderers: S. Bates 2, M. Cooper 2, J. Jeffrey 2, M. Motlop, D. Thompson, J. Tipiloura, D. Weetra
Tiwi: G. Cunningham 2, R. Tungatalum 2, J. Simon, J. Best, P. Heenan, D. Munkara

BEST:

Wanderers: N/A
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Baird, B. Palipuaminni, S. Babui, L. Howe

Wanderers brought Tiwi back down to Earth in Round 4, grinding out a 14-point win on Saturday night to stay clear in the top five. The Bombers started better, but were outdone for the remaining three terms as they went down 10.12 (72) to 8.10 (58).

Exuberance of youth has been a key asset of the Eagles’ resurgence, and Michael Cooper was this time at the forefront as he earned the Round 4 Rising Star nod for his two-goal effort. Under-17 gun Joel Jeffrey needs no introduction, and he matched Cooper’s effort alongside Simon Bates to lead the winners’ forward charge. Overcoming a slowish start, the Muk Muks booted six goals to one in the second term to claim the lead, never looking back in what was an arm-wrestle of a second half with both sides only managing three goals apiece.

Jason Puruntatameri and ex-Cat Nathan Djerrkura were again outstanding for Tiwi, with Rodney Baird one to also stand up in the loss and Sylvani Babui returning his best outing for the year. Gerrard Cunningham booted two majors to take his tally to eight in three games, while Ross Tungatalum also found the goals twice to round out the multiple goalkickers. It was a down display from the Bombers against an equally-promising side in Wanderers, with ground still to make up outside of the top five as they fall six points behind the pack.

Another night game is in the midst for Wanderers, with the Eagles’ fixture against St Mary’s in Round 5 shaping as being the most exciting of the weekend. The Bombers will fancy their chances of bouncing back against the winless Palmerston, but cannot take anything for granted in their current position.

NIGHTCLIFF 2.5 | 8.7 | 13.13 | 19.18 (132)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, L. Evans 3, T. Melville 3, M. Hagan 3, J. Kickett 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, D. Bowles, G. Moniz Wakefield
Palmerston: N/A

BEST:

Nightcliff: T. Kidney, D. Bowles, M. Hagan, K. Riley, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett
Palmerston: N/A

Nightcliff’s perfect premiership defence rolls on as it recorded a thumping 101-point win over Palmerston on Sunday to round out the weekend’s proceedings. The Tigers booted at least five goals in each of the last three terms to romp to the 19.18 (132) to 4.7 (31) result, proving far too strong for the winless Magpies.

It was not always smooth sailing for the Tigers though, only managing to etch out a four-point lead at the first break as the sides evenly shared four majors. But it was party time from then-on as Nightcliff piled on 17 goals to Palmerston’s two to breach the 100-point margin upon the final siren. The heavy loss sees Palmerston languishing in last place with a percentage of 43.1, joined by Waratah after the Warriors’ Round 3 win was revoked.

NT legend Cam Ilett was again terrific with a game-high four goals – equalling the Magpies’ tally – joined in the best handful of players by fellow goalkickers Michael Hagan (three) and Liam Holt-Fitz (two) in the best among six Tigers to find the goals on more than one occasion. Tyson Kidney, Daniel Bowles and Kaine Riley all again put in big performances to continue their form, while Trent Melville bagged three majors in his standout game for the season thus far.

Palmerston’s campaign to get on the board continues in Round 5 against fellow bottom-three side Tiwi, while Nightcliff will look to keep its distance at the top and remain undefeated when it travels to face another winless side in Waratah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 – Round 15

TIWI Bombers’ fantastic form continued on the weekend with a thrilling one-point victory over premiership favourites Nightcliff, while Darwin will be ruing a loss to bottom two side, St Marys. In other results, Waratah breathed a sigh of relief by overcoming cellar dwellers Wanderers, while Southern Districts got the job done against Palmerston Magpies in the final game of the round.

ST MARYS 2.2 | 4.4 | 10.6 | 15.10 (100)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 7.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

St Marys: N. Paredes 5, M. Liddy 3, L. Stapleton 3, C. McDonald, L. Ferreira, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Nicholls
Darwin: H. Ahmat-Watkins 2, J. Clarke, T. Clarke, F. Bruce, S. Anderson, D. Paull, Z. Stephenson, D. Stafford.

BEST:

St Marys: N. Paredes, L. Stapleton, N. Yarran, L. Ferreira, H. Moloney, M. Liddy
Darwin: P. Boles, J. Anderson, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson

A best on ground performance from Saints’ star, Nathaniel Paredes has kept St Marys’ slim finals hopes alive. The talented midfielder booted a game-high five goals in the 37-point win, as his side booted an impressive 11 goals to two after half-time to run away with the contest. Mathias Liddy and Luke Stapleton booted three goals apiece, with the latter also among the best, as was Nicholas Yarran and Leonard Ferreira. For Darwin, Hassan Ahmat-Watkins slotted two goals, while Patrick Boles and Joe Anderson was the Buffaloes’ best in the victory.

 

WARATAH 4.0 | 6.2 | 8.6 | 9.10 (64)
WANDERERS 3.4 | 6.5 | 8.6 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:

Waratah: C. Barrett 2, S. Weddell 2, K. Kantilla 2, M. Blake, D. Simpson, J. Wray.
Wanderers: Not supplied.

BEST: 

Waratah: A. Ankers, T. Toma, J. McKenzie, C. Barrett, S. Weddell
Wanderers: Not supplied

Waratah kept its finals hopes strong with an important nine-point win over a plucky Wanderers outfit. The Warriors trailed at times throughout the first half and were level at the final break, before booting the only goal of the final term to secure the narrow victory. Sam Weddell, Cameron Barrett and Kim Kantilla all booted two goals, while Abraham Ankers was named best on ground in the victory. Thomas Toma and Jordie McKenzie were also among Waratah’s best in the win. The loss ruled the Eagles out of a late finals run and will be hoping to just finish the season off on a high in the last few rounds.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 2.4 | 6.5 | 7.7 | 10.12 (72)
TIWI BOMBERS 2.3 | 6.5 | 9.6 | 11.7 (73)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: B. Grewar 2, J. Butcher 2, T. Melville 2, B. Black, L. Holt-Fitz, S. Wilson, D. Butcher.
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 3, S. Munkara 3, C. Burgess, J. Munkara, M. Cooper, D. Munkara, N. Djerrkura.

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Deery, J. Butcher, B. Grewar, J. Budarick, N. Brown, S. Wilson
Tiwi: A. Hams, N. Djerrkura, J. Puruntatameri, M. Cooper, R. Tungatalum, C. Luff

Tiwi Bombers’ giant-killing run continued on the weekend, knocking off Nightcliff by a solitary point after dismantling Southern Districts last week, to sit in fourth spot. It was the Tigers’ turn to feel the Bombers’ wrath in a tight contest. Bombers’ star, Ross Tungatalum booted three goals in the win – including the game winner – as did Simon Munkara. Ashton Hams‘ ripping form of late continued with another best on ground performance, while Nathan Djerrkura and Jason Puruntatameri were among the best for the Bombers. Blake Grewar, John Butcher and Trent Melville all booted multiple goals for the losing side, while Simon Deery was deemed the ladder leaders’ top player on the day.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 9.5 (59)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 5.3 | 8.9 | 13.10 | 16.17 (113)

GOALS:

Palmerston: I. Milera 2, K. Emery 2, M. Perry, J. Lampton, J. Wunungmurra, M. McMasters, J. Thompson.
Southern Districts: B. Schwarze 3, E. Barlow 3, J. Brennan 2, J. Farrer 2, L. Ogden 2, B. Vallance, M. Duffy, J. Koopman, M. Mummery.

BEST:

Palmerston: J. Wunungmurra
Southern Districts: J. Farrer, S. Guilhaus, R. O’Brien, C. McAdam, E. Barlow, J. Brennan

Southern Districts booked itself a place in the top two after a big win over finals hopefuls, Palmerston Magpies on Monday. The Crocs seized the opportunity of a Nightcliff loss to keep in touch with top spot,  and the nine-goal win helped them snap a run which saw them lose to both Darwin and Tiwi Bombers. Beau Schwarze was again a key up forward booting three goals, as did Ed Barlow, while former Brisbane excitement machine, Jared Brennan also slotted multiple goals. Josiah Farrer was named best on ground for his two-goal effort, while Sebastion Guilhaus and Rory O’Brien were also impressive in the win. Jamanie Wunugmurra was a shining light for the Magpies, while Palmerston’s goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery booted two goals, as did Ian Milera.

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.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 14

A HOTLY contested round of action in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) saw emerging finals contenders, Tiwi Bombers topple a premiership fancy, while Wanderers took a step closer to climbing off the bottom of the ladder, Darwin continued its winning ways, and Nightcliff broke out as clear front-runners with the most convincing win of the weekend.

Southern Districts 8.9 (57)
Tiwi Bombers 12.7 (79)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 3, J. Koopman 2, S. Guilhaus, B. Schwarze, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 5, A. Wonaeamirri 3, A. Tipungwuti 2, H. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, S. Martin, B. Schwarze, D. McLachlan, M. Rosier, S. Rusca
Tiwi: A. Hams, R. Tungatalum, N. Djerrkura, M. Dunn, A. Tipungwuti, W. Puruntatameri

Tiwi Bombers continued its impressive turn of form, overcoming a half-time deficit to hand reigning premiers, Southern Districts its second consecutive loss. The Bombers matched their opponents blow-for-blow in the opener to create a deadlock that was broken by just eight points in the Crocs’ favour going into the main break. But the forward firepower of Ross Tungatalum (14 goals in three games) and Austin Wonaeamirri (seven in two) proved too deadly for the second placed Crocs, being kept to just two second-half goals while conceding seven to go down by 22 points. The elite-level experience of Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura was vital for the winning side, with usual suspects Adam Tipungwuti and Michael Dunn also contributing well to the cause. While they could not quite match the feats of their counterparts, Southern Districts goalsneaks Michael Mummery (three goals) and Jess Koopman (two) played their respective roles, with youngster Beau Schwarze named amongst the best for his fifth-straight outing and Seb Guilhaus also impressing. The win propels Tiwi into fourth place on percentage, equal with Waratah and Palmerston in the race for a finals spot. Meanwhile, the Crocs remain in second despite consecutive losses – two games adrift from leaders, Nightcliff and third-place side, Darwin.

 

Wanderers 9.12 (66)
St Marys 8.9 (57)

GOALS:
Wanderers: T. Motlop 5, B. O’Connell, M. Motlop, L. Patrick, A. Motlop.
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, F. Kinthari 2, R. Clarke 2, B. Rioli.

BEST:
Wanderers: N/A
St Marys: N. Paredes, N. Yarran, S. Edwards, B. Taylor, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

A starring five-goal performance from Thomas Motlop was enough to drag Wanderers over the line in its bottom of the table clash with St Marys in the first game of Saturday’s TIO Stadium double-header. A goalless opening term did not deter the Muk Muks, with Motlop putting them on the board in the second stanza after trailing by an even four goals. With a ten-point half-time margin cut to eight going into the last break, the Eagles had a whiff of momentum and managed to take full advantage, with five goals to two edging them past St Marys in a see-sawing final quarter. The speed and silky ball movement of 2006 AFL Rising Star, Danyle Pearce was crucial for Wanderers in the latter stages, providing chances to the likes of Marlon Motlop, Liam Patrick, and Aaron Motlop – who all contributed to the scoreboard. Nathaniel Paredes was best afield once again for the losing side, booting three goals as the clear standout, alongside Raphael Clarke (two goals), who drifted further forward. Francis Kinthari was the only other multiple goal kicker, with Nick Yarran and Shaun Edwards named in the best six players for the Saints. The win sees Wanderers move level on points with its weekend opponents on four wins, remaining bottom by a sizeable percentage gap and two games away from sixth place.

 

Waratah 5.10 (40)
Nightcliff 13.18 (96)

GOALS:
Waratah: S. Godden 2, H. Kerinaiua, K. Kantilla, E. McConnell.
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 3, T. Melville 3, H. Drogemuller 2, S. Deery, S. Wilson, P. Wills, D. Bowles, L. Holt-Fitz.

BEST:
Waratah: J. Stevens, Z. Westerberg, B. Carroll, E. McConnell
Nightcliff: S. Deery, P. Wills, L. Holt-Fitz, R. Morris, T. Kidney, D. Bowles

Nightcliff is now one step closer to earning an automatic semi-final berth, sitting two games clear atop the ladder after comfortably accounting for Waratah to close out Saturday’s proceedings. The Tigers did not look back after opening up a three-goal buffer in the first term, slowly extending their lead as the battle wore on to come out with the eventual 56-point victory. The final margin could well have been blown out further, with the winners misfiring for 2.9 while keeping Waratah to a sole point in the fourth quarter. Matthew Bricknell snapped his run of two goalless games with a bag of three to match the feat of Tigers spearhead Trent Melville – whose season tally is up to 46. Despite the goal feats, Simon Deery was named Nightcliff’s best, Phillip Wills and Liam Holt-Fitz, who all managed to also find the goals. For the Warriors, Sam Godden was the only multiple goal kicker with two as Joel Stevens was judged their best, while Zach Westerberg and Kim Kantilla also stood up in the losing effort. While Nightcliff are sitting pretty after another win, Waratah slips out of the top four for the first time since Round 1 after loss number eight, in the middle of three clubs on 24 points vying for the last two finals spots.

 

Palmerston Magpies 9.7 (61)
Darwin Buffaloes 11.8 (74)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, M. Perry 2, J. Wunungmurra, A. Lonergan, A. Davey, E. Frank
Darwin: L. Thomas 5, A. Sambono 3, J. Clarke, D. Johnston, J. Stokes

BEST:
Palmerston: M. Dennis, S. Miller, S. Talbot, M. Bunworth, J. Rhodes, M. Perry
Darwin: L. Thomas, K. Maroney, J. Stokes, P. Boles, K. Williams, P. Campbell

An equal round-high bag of five goals from ex-AFL goalsneak Lindsay Thomas helped guide Darwin Buffaloes to a narrow win over the rising Palmerston Magpies side. Despite conceding an early lead, the Buffaloes edged in front and stayed there for the remainder of the game, with a five-goal second term setting up the 13-point victory. Excitement machine Adam Sambono backed up his four-goal effort in the previous round with another three to join Thomas as the key goal threats. Kyle Emery (10 goals in three games) was the Magpies’ best answer to that with his three, while Mishai Perry (two) rounded out the multiple goal kickers. While Thomas was clearly best-on, Kevin Maroney was again recognised for his efforts alongside Jarrod Stokes and Kelvin Williams. Matthew Dennis was unsurprisingly the Magpies’ best once again, with Samuel Talbot and Mitch Bunworth also thereabouts. Palmerston finds itself breathing down the neck of Tiwi and Waratah in the race for the last finals spot, with all sides on 24 points. On the other hand, the Buffaloes now look certain to claim a second finals chance after regaining their early season form and opening a two-game gap to fourth place.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 14

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win her would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dionysius Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceeded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Joliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the middle is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin Maroney, Joe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win here would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dion Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

 

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

 

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Jolliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the ruck is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin MaroneyJoe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.