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Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Semi Finals

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals series rolls on this weekend, with two exciting semi final match-ups set to take place at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. St Mary’s will look to avoid a straight sets exit when it takes on Waratah, while Nightcliff enters the postseason against Wanderers as they play off for grand final qualification. We take you through the key numbers and players in both games ahead of what should be a cracking day of NT football.

SEMI FINAL 1

St Mary’s vs. Waratah
Saturday March 6, 4:15pm
TIO Stadium

St Mary’s will look to avoid a straight sets finals exit when it takes on Waratah in Saturday’s first semi final, which serves as a knockout bout. The Saints ranked second during the home-and-away rounds and began to hit hot form in the second half of the season, but were stunned by a surging Wanderers side last week. Waratah showed its potential with a terrific win over Darwin in their elimination final meeting, but will have to produce plenty of class to overcome the green machine. The Saints have taken out all three meetings between these sides in 2020/21, progressively lifting the margin with each game to hold an aggregate lead of 85 points. That will matter little if they fail to properly reload and rebound, with Tahs as good as any side on paper. Expect a physical contest in midfield and some tall timber to impact up forward.

H&A Records:
St Mary’s:
14-4 (2nd)
Waratah:
10-8 (4th)

Last week:
St Mary’s: lost to Wanderers by 20 
Waratah: 
beat Darwin by 26

Last 5:
St Mary’s: 4-1 
Waratah: 
2-3

2020/21 meetings:
Round 7 – St Mary’s by 13
Round 11 – St Mary’s by 24
Round 16 – St Mary’s by 48

Most games:
St Mary’s: Jacob Long (19)
Waratah:
Brodie Carroll, Nicholas Gooch (19)

Most goals:
St Mary’s:
Jack Landt, Jackson Calder (30)
Waratah:
Cameron Arnold (20)

SEMI FINAL 1

Nightcliff vs. Wanderers
Saturday March 6, 6:45pm
TIO Stadium

Minor premier, Nightcliff continues its premiership defence by entering this year’s finals series against Wanderers on Saturday night. The Tigers have once again proven the competition’s benchmark this season and after a week off, remain the team to beat. Last week’s bye could work one of two ways; either giving Nightcliff an edge in terms of freshness, or seeing the Tigers beaten to the punch early. Wanderers’ form in its qualifying final win came as a surprise to some, with the Muk Muks’ drive in transition and potent forwardline difficult to stop. Nightcliff beat Wanderers in their Round 3 meeting, but a thrilling draw seven rounds later is perhaps more a sighter of how things may pan out here. The Eagles will be without defender Braedon McLean through suspension, which could prove costly in their quest to knock off Nightcliff.

H&A Records:
Nightcliff:
15-2-1
Wanderers: 
12-5-1

Last week:
Nightcliff: Bye
Wanderers: 
beat St Mary’s by 20

Last 5:
Nightcliff: 5-0
Wanderers:
3-2

2020/21 meetings:
Round 3 – Nightcliff by 10
Round 10 – draw

Most games:
Nightcliff: Dom Brew, Kyle Emery, Shaun Wilson (18)
Wanderers: Brodie Newman, Dane McFarlane (19)

Most goals:
Nightcliff:
Kyle Emery (56)
Wanderers:
Brett Eddy (69)

Image Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Finals Week 1

WEEK one of the 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals series was run and won on the weekend, with Waratah and Wanderers picking up wins in their respective match-ups. The Warriors disposed of Darwin in an elimination bout, while Wanderers shocked St Mary’s under lights, though both sides move onto the semi final round. That, and more in our weekend wrap.

WARATAH 4.2 | 7.2 | 10.4 | 13.6 (84)
DARWIN 2.0 | 5.2 | 7.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS:

Waratah: W. Collis 3, A. Moloney 2, C. Arnold 2, B. Carroll, J. Simson, A. Ankers, R. Turnbull, H. Kerinaiua, A. Kirby
Darwin: B. Foster 3, J. Collinson 2, C. Abala 2, T. Eldridge, M. Kennedy

Waratah outmuscled Darwin on Saturday evening to enter week two of finals, coming up trumps to the tune of 26 points at TIO Stadium. The Warriors excelled at the coalface with dominant ball winners and gave Darwin plenty of headaches with their tall timber in attack, but did arguably their best work down back to keep the dangerous Double Blues at bay. With a four-quarter team performance, Tahs ran out 13.6 (84) to 9.4 (58) winners and will face St Mary’s in next week’s semi final.

The tall duo of Zach Westerberg and Arnold Kirby did well to provide first use to the likes of Robert Turnbull and Abe Ankers in midfield, with the latter three also hitting the scoreboard. Will Collis made his chances count with three majors, which was an equal game-high feat alongside Darwin spearhead Brodie Foster. Jarrod Stokes provided plenty of dash from midfield for the Buffs, while Timothy Eldridge was reliable as ever and Cade Abala snared two majors to highlight his contribution.

ST MARY’S 3.2 | 5.8 | 7.12 | 8.18 (66)
WANDERERS 5.1 | 9.3 | 12.5 | 13.8 (86)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: S. Edwards 3, J. Landt 2, J. Paine, J. Calder, D. Landt
Wanderers: B. Eddy 6, S. Bates 3, D. Thompson, J. Cubillo, E. Simpson, J. Priest

Wanderers stunned St Mary’s on Saturday night with a 20-point qualifying final victory at TIO Stadium, just a week removed from the Saint’s 79-point triumph in the final home-and-away round. In what was a 99-point turnaround from that Round 18 meeting, Wanderers did most of the damage before half time, booting nine of their 13 majors and setting up an unassailable lead. An inaccurate St Mary’s did not have enough to match the Muk Muks’ firepower, resulting in the 13.8 (86) to 8.18 (66) scoreline.

The forward partnership of Brett Eddy (six goals) and Simon Bates (three) proved lethal for Wanderers, serving as a massive benefactor of creative and extractive excellence from Shaun Mannagh and Dane McFarlane in midfield. Down back, Brodie Newman and Braedon McLean cut off plenty and provided good drive on the rebound. Shaun Edwards (three goals) was one of St Mary’s shining lights with his spark on the uptake, while Jack Landt was also superb in the loss as his side’s other multiple goalkicker. The Saints will lean on their double chance and face Waratah next week, while Wanderers takes on rested minor premier, Nightcliff in the semi finals.

WEEK TWO FIXTURES

Semi Final 1:
St Mary’s vs. Waratah
Saturday March 6, 4:15pm
TIO Stadium

Semi Final 2:
Nightcliff vs. Wanderers
Saturday March 6, 6:45pm
TIO Stadium

Image Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 16

ROUND 16 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League saw the top sides flex their muscle as they up the ante just a fortnight out from finals time. Among the big results, St Mary’s and Wanderers defeated fellow finals-bound opponents to keep the top two race alive between them, while Nightcliff has all but officially sewn up another minor premiership and Southern Districts picked up a consolation victory. That, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS 1.0 | 3.0 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 6.5 | 13.9 | 18.14 | 23.18 (156)

GOALS:

Tiwi: F. Vigona-Daniel 3, B. Rioli 2
Districts: B. Rolfe 5, J. Farrar 4, L. Kiel 3, M. Barlow 2, J. Dahlhaus 2, J. Bailey 2, T. Demamiel, E. Barlow, L. Bugeja, C. McAdam, J. Ross

BEST:

Tiwi: B. Rioli, F. Vigona-Daniel, J. Monigatti, P. Heenan
Districts: E. Barlow, M. Barlow, B. Rolfe, L. Kiel, J. Farrar, J. Dahlhaus

Southern Districts crushed a severely undermanned Tiwi Bombers by 123 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, making for the Crocs’ sixth win for the season. While the crushing 23.18 (156) to 5.3 (33) result means little in the grand scheme of things, it serves as a rewarding consolation for Districts, who have clearly been the best side outside of finals contention.

Ed and Michael Barlow were instrumental upon their maiden outings in Crocs colours for the season, putting their side on the front foot from midfield and setting the tone for a dominant victory. Having started with six goals to one in the opening term, the Crocs found themselves over 11 goals ahead at the main break despite some typical Tiwi spark and resistance. In the end, the Bombers simply could not keep up against a Districts side which outclassed and outmuscled them.

Billy Rolfe dined on five goals for the victors, followed closely by Jonathan Farrar‘s four as 11 Crocs found the big sticks. Among them, Luke Kiel and Jay Dahlhaus were terrific, while young gun Tom Demamiel also impressed. Brayden Rioli booted a couple of late majors for Tiwi, with Francis Vigona-Daniel (three goals) the only other goalkicker for their side.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.4 | 12.8 | 17.11 | 26.13 (169)
PALMERSTON 0.1 | 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: K. Emery 6, B. Filo 4, J. Hammond 3, T. Melville 3, S. Wilson 3, R. Nyhuis 2, A. Moniz Wakefield, N. Brown, P. Wills, D. Bowles, K. Riley
Palmerston: A. McAdam, F. Wilson

BEST:

Nightcliff: K. Emery, B. Filo, R. Nyhuis, S. Wilson, K. Emery, N. Brown
Palmerston: M. Dennis, E. Guthrie, S. Lampton, K. Annand, R. Warfe

Nightcliff’s finals preparation is well and truly cooking with gas, after the Tigers dismantled Palmerston to the tune of 155 points at Nightcliff Oval on Saturday night. The 26.13 (169) to 2.2 (14) result sees the reigning premiers only needing a draw in the last two games to secure yet another minor premiership, while Palmerston remains rooted to second-last spot.

The scoring feast was led by former-Magpie Kyle Emery, who snagged six goals for the victors to bring his season tally up to 54. He was one of 11 goalkickers for Nightcliff, with Nichols Medal winner Brodie Filo (four goals) right among the action alongside the likes of Trent Melville, Shaun Wilson, and Ryan Nyhuis – all of whom also bagged multiple goals. 150-gamer Nathan Brown put the cherry on top of his milestone game with a six-pointer of his own.

Familiar faces in Matthew Dennis and Eric Guthrie again put their hands up in a heavy defeat for Palmerston, who have only overcome the winless Tiwi Bombers this season. While they restricted the Tigers for much of the first term, the floodgates opened swiftly and saw an irresistible amount of traffic pass through in the one-sided encounter.

WARATAH 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.7 | 2.8 (20)
ST MARY’S 2.1 | 6.2 | 9.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Waratah: W Collis 2
St Mary’s: J. Landt 3, N. Paredes, D. Landt, J. Calder, S. Rioli, D. Walters, S. Edwards, L. Ferreira

BEST:

Waratah: A. Moloney, W. Collis, B. Carroll, R. Turnbull, D. Collis
St Mary’s: K. Parnell, D. Landt, L. Jellyman-Turner, R. Clarke, J. Landt, N. Paredes

St Mary’s picked up an important win against Waratah on Sunday, excelling despite greasy conditions to salute by 48 points at Gardens Oval and bring an end to Tahs’ four-game winning run. The Warriors’ last loss came against St Mary’s and the Saints continue to be a thorn in their side after the 10.8 (68) to 2.8 (20) result, sending a strong statement of intent with finals just around the corner.

The Saints opened up a 21-point buffer at half time and pulled away thereafter with four goals to Waratah’s nil, showcasing outstanding skill in the wet to outclass their opponents with clean hands and excellent efficiency. Jack Landt finished with a game-high three goals for the victors, while Will Collis (two goals) was Waratah’s sole goalkicker for the day.

Further afield, Nate Paredes set the tone in midfield with desperate contested work, while Lucas Jellyman-Turner was influential on the rebound and Kieren Parnell earned plaudits from his coaches. Alex Moloney was among Waratah’s best alongside Brodie Carroll and Robert Turnbull, as the Warriors’ top two hopes have all but officially been dashed with two games to play.

WANDERERS 1.0 | 2.1 | 5.2 | 8.4 (52)
DARWIN 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

Wanderers: M. Totham 3, B. Eddy 2, J. Cubillo 2, D. McFarlane
Darwin: M. Hagan, M. Campbell, C. Abala, N. Cooper

BEST:

Wanderers: M. Motlop, M. Totham, J. Cubillo, B. McLean, B. Newman, D. McFarlane
Darwin: J. Stokes, K. Williams, B. Archard, K. Maroney, T. Eldridge

Wanderers’ hopes of a top two finish remain alive after the Muk Muks trumped Darwin by 23 points at Tracy Village on Sunday. Scores were tied at half time but the Eagles soared after the main break with six goals to Darwin’s two to run out 8.4 (52) to 4.5 (29) winners and round out a rain-soaked weekend of NTFL action.

Marcus Totham kicked a game-high three goals as both sides were serviced by four respective goalkickers, with Wanderers spearhead Brett Eddy remaining on top of the competition-wide charts after adding another two majors. Fellow Eagle Josh Cubillo was the only other multiple goalkicker, as the likes of Marlon Motlop and Dane McFarlane led from midfield and were backed by Braedon McLean and Brodie Newman in defence.

The ever-reliable Jarrod Stokes was among Darwin’s best, while Kelvin Williams and Ben Achard also put their hands up for the Double Blues. Veteran forward Matt Campbell was again in the goals with a single major, in what were tough conditions for forwards. The Buffs can only move as high as fourth with wins in their final two outings, but have guaranteed a finals spot.

Image Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s midseason review: St Mary’s, Tiwi Bombers, Wanderers, Waratah

WITH the NTFL Men’s Premier League season coming to a halt over the Christmas period Draft Central casts an eye over how the teams are tracking, some of their key contributors throughout the season so far and how they are shaping up for the rest of the season.

St Mary’s

Position: 2nd
Win-loss-draw: 9-3-0
Percentage: 130.68%

There is not much separating St Mary’s and the top of the table Nightcliff with the two sides sitting on the same number of wins (nine) showcasing just how tight the battle for first place is. They have enjoyed a recent run of hot form sitting on a six game winning streak with their last loss coming against Darwin Buffaloes back in Round 6 highlighting their ability to effectively close out games. When the season resumes in January, the Saints are set to face Palmerston as they look to keep their winning ways intact.

Sitting in the top tier of the ladder it is no surprise that the Saints have a plethora of key contributors both on the scoreboard and around the ground in general. Leading the way in front of goal is Beau Tedcastle who in his 10 games this season has managed to slot 23 majors while Jackson Paine has also been a handy option with 21 goals in six games displaying his ability to kick a bag. Jackson Calder is another livewire up forward for St Mary’s amassing 15 goals for the season so far. Nate Paredes is a formidable force both in front of the big sticks with 12 majors and across the ground making it into the bests five times. In terms of consistent performers, Dylan Landt well and truly leads the way with seven bests while Jack Landt is not far off the pace with six.

Tiwi Bombers

Position: 8th
Win-loss-draw: 0-12-0
Percentage: 58.66%

It has been an unsuccessful season for the Bombers with Tiwi yet to register a win and suffering some hefty losses throughout their campaign. They have gotten close to sides in patches but simply do not have the fire power to go toe-to-toe with them as shown by their nine point loss to Palmerston in Round 10 while also challenging Nightcliff in Round 9 but once again falling short. Their job does not get any easier after the break faced with Waratah in Round 13.

Leading the way with five goals to his name is Nathan Scagliarini while Harley Puruntatameri has also proven to be a handy source of goals in his nine appearances with four majors. Angus Byrne is known to hit the scoreboard every now and then, but has not played since mid-November while John Tipiloura is a consistent figure for the side featuring in all 12 games and recognised in the bests.

Wanderers

Position: 3rd
Win-loss-draw: 8-3-1
Percentage: 116.09%

Sitting in third spot on the ladder the Wanderers are firming as strong contenders for finals with their ability to win ugly and close out games. They came close to toppling Nightcliff back in Round 10 registering a draw showcasing their capacity to mix it with the best and push sides to their limits. The last five games have been somewhat of a mixed bag of results recording two losses and two wins and will be hoping to recapture their winning ways in Round 13 with a victory against Southern Districts.

Brett Eddy is a dominant force inside 50 able to slot them with great ease and dictate the flow of the game given his innate goal sense. Eddy leads the pack for Wanderers with 49 goals to his name while the next best is Simon Bates with 26 from 12 appearances. The goalkicking tallies drop off after that with no other player reaching double digits showcasing the reliance the side has on their two-pronged attack. Brodie Newman has been a star all season and has been rewarded for his efforts named in the bests nine times, with Eddy hot on his heels with seven. Dane McFarlane is an excitement machine as is Braedon McLean with the two regular best on grounds.

Waratah

Position: 4th
Win-loss-draw: 7-5-0
Percentage: 122.30%

Waratah are steadily building and hold good stead heading into the break, currently sitting fourth on the ladder thanks to their seven wins and five losses. They have had some strong performances downing bottom of the ladder teams convincingly and will be hoping to continue their way up the ladder. In their past five games Tahs have managed four wins and a loss with the defeat coming at the hands of St Mary’s. Waratah will be hoping for a percentage boosting win in Round 13 up against Tiwi Bombers.

There are a plenty of viable options inside 50 with Cameron Arnold leading the goalkicking tally for Waratah with 15. Jake Sutton can find the goals with relative ease thanks to his 14 goals while Jae McGrath and Callum Searle are the only other two players reaching double-figures for goals with 12 and 10 respectively. Abraham Ankers is a consistent figure for Waratah as is teammates Brodie Carroll and Robert Turnbull.

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 11

THE RACE for the final top five spot is set to heat up again in Round 11 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, as Waratah and Darwin look to take out premiership contenders and fend off a chasing Southern Districts. Meanwhile, Wanderers will look to boost its percentage against the winless Tiwi Bombers as it battles for top spot, opening a TIO Stadium double-header on Saturday. That, and more in our weekend preview.

Wanderers (2nd, 7-2-1) vs. Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-10)
Saturday December 12, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers and Tiwi open the Round 11 proceedings at league headquarters on Saturday afternoon, serving as the first fixture in a TIO Stadium double-header. The Muk Muks are fresh off a frustrating draw against fellow frontrunners Nightcliff, with only percentage separating them from the Tigers at this point. Against the 0-10 Tiwi Bombers, a chance to bridge that gap presents, though the bottom side is getting closer and closer to registering points in 2020/21. The Bombers look like going in without Allen Christensen and Ross Tungatalum though, two players who could have proven game-winners. Without them, Tiwi’s run-and-gun style will do well to breach a Wanderers defence consisting of young gun Brodie Newman, Braedon McLean, and Warwick Williams, while competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy lurks up the other end. A midfield battle between Tiwi’s Fletcher Carroll and gun Eagle Dane McFarlane also looms, with both players among the best Premier League performers thus far.

Southern Districts (6th, 4-6) vs. Palmerston Magpies (7th, 2-8)
Saturday December 12, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be out to keep in touch with the top five when it locks horns with Palmerston at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday. The Crocs went down in disappointing fashion last week, while their weekend opponents made it two from two against Tiwi and registered a rare win for season 2020/21. Sitting sixth and seventh respectively, time is running out for either side to make something of their current campaigns. Having unfortunately been overlooked at the AFL Draft, Brodie Lake has been named in Districts’ extended squad alongside young forward Tom Demamiel. Lake should provide some good versatility and depth to the lineup, while Demamiel might help steer the Crocs’ forwardline back to some scoring form after managing just four majors last week. Alwyn Davey features among Palmerston’s side, with Chris Williams another big name set to return for the Magpies through midfield.

St Mary’s (3rd, 7-3) vs. Waratah (4th, 6-4)
Saturday December 12, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

A clash with heavy finals ramifications is set to go down at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening as St Mary’s and Darwin lock horns in what looks likely to be game of the round. Both sides are riding win streaks which see them edging into the premiership race; with the Saints’ four-game run beginning with a win over Waratah in Round 7, while the Warriors have recently taken out Wanderers and Darwin en route to fourth spot. Raphael Clarke returns to the St Mary’s fold as fellow leader Shannon Rioli goes the other way, but the Saints lineup has looked well settled in recent weeks. Waratah’s balanced side was bolstered by new signing Darcy Lang last week, and backman Lynden Dunn is said to be another former-AFL inclusion this time around as Tahs look to prove their credentials as a serious contender at the top.

Nightcliff (1st, 7-2-1) vs. Darwin Buffaloes (5th, 6-4)
Saturday December 12, 6:30pm
Nightcliff Oval

Both Nightcliff and Darwin will be looking to make a swift return to the winners list when they do battle at Nightcliff Oval to see out Round 11 on Saturday night. The Tigers have gone 1-1-1 in their last three outings but remain top of the pile in their premiership defence. After a fast start, Darwin’s early streak was brought to a halt by Nightcliff in Round 5 and more recently, the Buffs have lost three of their last four matches. Dylan Gordon looms as a handy addition for Darwin with young guns Isaac Seden-Kurnoth and Antonio James also in the mix for a return. Tom Boyd has been named in Nightcliff’s squad as Danny Butcher again looks to break the grade, pointing towards great squad depth. Veteran Cam Ilett has been in good goalkicking form of late, not to mention Kyle Emery, who has booted 33 majors this season. He should have an entertaining shootout with Double Blues spearhead Brodie Foster, who lays claim to 27 majors thus far.

Featured Image: Wanderers’ Beau O’Connell in action against Tiwi | Credit: Justin Kennedy/NT News

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 10

THE TOP four Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League sides are set to square off in Round 10, making for a definitive weekend of action among the finals contenders. In a cool quirk, the fixture sees first take on second, third clash with fourth, fifth meeting sixth, and seventh locking horns with eighth as four separate venues play host to each game on Saturday. With that being the case, there looms a great chance for leading sides to gain some much-needed breathing space from their rivals. All that, and more in our weekly preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-9) vs. Palmerston Magpies (7th, 1-8)
Saturday December 5, 1:30pm
Wurrumiyanga Oval

A bottom of the table clash kicks off Round 10 as Palmerston makes the early trip to Wurrumiyanga Oval to take on Tiwi. If it were not for the Round 2 clash between these sides they would both remain winless, but Palmerston got on the board that day via a 73-point trouncing. This time, the Bombers are on home turf and will hope to build on the improvements which have seen them get within a goal of their opponents twice in the last three weeks. While the Bombers have lost more games by over 50 points (five), it is Palmerston which holds the greater average losing margin at 51.6 points, compared to Tiwi’s 44.8. Given the amount of punishment received by both sides thus far, they should be hungry as ever for a rare win.

The Bombers come in with a strong side on paper too, boasting competition stat leaders Fletcher Carroll (average disposals, clearances) and Mason De Wit (rebound 50s) along with the in-form Adam Sambono and dangerous forward pairing of Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri. Tiwi’s run and gun style has sucked in even the best of sides, so should again prove effective here. Tyrrell Lui is back in Palmerston’s defence, which may well come under fire should Matt Dennis and his centre bounce partners in Chris Williams and Eric Guthrie fail to get going. The versatility of Nigel Lockyer Jnr should also prove a handy wildcard for the Magpies, who will need a bit of dynamism to keep the Bombers guessing.

St Mary’s (3rd, 6-3) vs. Darwin Buffaloes (4th, 6-3)
Saturday December 5, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

The weekend’s first top four clash takes place as St Mary’s and Darwin do battle at league headquarters, looking to separate their equal 6-3 records. After a lacklustre opening fortnight, the Saints have gone on to win six of their last seven games, with their only hiccup coming at the hands of Darwin in Round 6. Their three-consecutive wins since then still read better than Darwin’s 1-2 effort, with the Buffs’ early season form tapering off a touch before another redemptive win over Palmerston last week. Just four per cent separates the two sides after nine rounds, with the Saints scoring a touch less overall but maintaining a tighter defence.

St Mary’s should fancy itself in the midfield battle, with Nate Paredes teaming up with Daly Andrews and Nick Yarran, while the likes of Dylan Landt and Shaun Edwards can also rotate through the engine room. The Saints will have to be wary of Darwin’s front six though, with Matt Campbell in fine scoring form and supported well by Ishmael Palmer, Brodie Foster, and Michael Hagan, among others. Shannon Rioli and young Beau Tedcastle loom as key forms of firepower in St Mary’s response under spearhead Jackson Calder, making for a lively kind of contest.

Nightcliff (1st, 7-2) vs. Wanderers (2nd, 7-2)
Saturday December 5, 6:30pm
Nightcliff Oval

Nightcliff and Wanderers are set to headline the Round 10 fixtures in a top-of-the-table clash under lights at Nightcliff Oval, with clear supremacy at the pointy end up for grabs. Both sides are locked at an even 7-2 record apiece, so needless to say this game looms as an important one in the minor premiership race. The Tigers got home by 10 points in the Round 3 meeting between these two teams and were the only side to have beaten Wanderers up until last week. It means that both clubs have dropped points in one of their last two outings and will be itching to return to top form for this clash.

Danny Butcher and Kaine Riley loom as fantastic additions for Nightcliff having been named in the extended squad, but like most weeks face stiff competition for spots. Among the standouts of late, veteran Cam Ilett has booted eight goals in his last two games, with Kyle Emery the other to notch a bag of five last week. Midfielders Dom Brew, Daniel Bowles, and Brodie Filo have also consistently featured among the Tigers’ best. Wanderers has looked just as settled in 2020/21, with competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy in fearsome form, supported by Simon Bates while Dane McFarlane runs the midfield and Braedon McLean leads from defence alongside Warwick Williams and Brodie Newman. Victorian coup Shaun Mannagh should also be a handy inclusion for the Muk Muks in what promises to be a ripping contest.

Waratah (5th, 5-4) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 4-5)
Saturday December 5, 6:30pm
Gardens Oval

Southern Districts will be out to keep touch with the top five when it takes on Waratah at Gardens Oval, rounding out the weekend’s action. The Crocs had strung together a handy run of four wins in five matches after a 0-3 start, but had their run to the finals spots halted last week by St Mary’s. Meanwhile, Waratah looks every bit a premiership smoky after accounting for Nightcliff in a stunning upset last time out, making it two wins on the trot. With one game already separating these two sides, another loss for Districts would see its finals hopes narrow that little bit further.

Darcy Lang is a big name featured on Waratah’s team list, with the recently delisted Carlton midfielder/forward jumping straight into the Warriors’ lineup. He should provide some handy forward momentum alongside Abe Ankers and Robert Turnbull, with Michael Newton ready to return and spearhead Tahs’ attack. Stat leaders James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr have been prolific for the Crocs and should contribute to a tight midfield battle, while Andrew Boseley heads the forwardline and Ed Barlow looks to string some form together having returned to the fold.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 3 clash between Nightcliff and Wanderers | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 9

NIGHTCLIFF roared back to the top of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League standings in Round 9, reaffirming its dominance over the competition at the halfway point of the season. Wanderers relinquished top spot in an upset loss to Waratah, who look every bit the finals contender, while St Mary’s and Darwin continue to motor on within the top five after solid victories of the own. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 4.1 | 7.2 | 10.7 | 15.10 (100)
NIGHTCLIFF | 4.4 | 10.10 | 14.11 | 17.13 (115)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Young 3, A. Tipungwuti 3, A. Wonaeamirri 2, H. Puruntatameri 2, T. Babui, B. Kantilla, J. Tipiloura, B. Palipuaminni, P. Heenan
Nightcliff: K. Emery 5, C. Ilett 5, T. Melville 2, S. Wilson, R. Mu, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz, M. McGregor

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, F. Carroll, J. Monigatti, R. Young, J. Puruntatameri
Nightcliff: C. Ilett, D. Brew, A. Moniz-Wakefield, K. Emery, B. Filo, J. Bowen

Nightcliff reclaimed top spot with a 15-point win over Tiwi at Wurrumiyanga Oval on Saturday, surviving a late scare to come away 17.13 (115) to 15.10 (100) winners. Having been beaten at the jump, the Tigers managed to work to a quarter time lead and began to control the game with poised play amid the hosts’ frantic pace. By three quarter time, their lead was 28 points and Tiwi would have to do something drastic to enforce a turnaround. The Bombers did their best with five majors in the final term, but Nightcliff was able to hold off the charge with cool heads in the dying stages.

While inaccuracy prevented Nightcliff from roaring further ahead, Cam Ilett and Kyle Emery had enough chances to sink five shots through the big sticks each. The Bombers had one more individual goalkicker (nine overall) than their opponents, led by three from Adam Tipungwuti and Robert Young. Dom Brew and Mack Rivett again got their hands dirty in midfield for the victors, while Fletcher Carroll worked to conjure Tiwi’s fightback. Andy Moniz-Wakefield was another to impress for the Tigers and Ryan Mu slotted a goal of the year contended from the boundary.

S. DISTRICTS | 4.2 | 4.3 | 7.5 | 7.7 (49)
ST MARY’S | 2.2 | 2.7 | 8.9 | 11.11 (77)

GOALS:

S. Districts: J. Farrar 2, J. Tsitas, J. Bailey, A. Boseley, L. Kiel, J. Bell
St Mary’s: S. Rioli 2, D. Landt 2, J. Long, R. Smith, B. Tedcastle, N. Paredes, J. Landt, J. Calder, B. Grenfell

BEST:

S. Districts: Z. Smith, M. Bowden, A. Boseley, J. Clark, L. Ogden, D. Robertson
St Mary’s: D. Landt, N. Paredes, A. Long, T. Saunders, B. Grenfell, R. Smith

St Mary’s secured a 28-point victory over Southern Districts at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday, a result which agonisingly sees the Crocs remain just outside of the top five places. The hosts got the better start as wet conditions ensured just six goals would be kicked in the first half, all of which came in the opening term. But St Mary’s flicked the switch after half time, piling on nine goals to clinch the 11.11 (77) to 7.7 (49) win. Having snatched the lead with one period to play, the Saints buried their opponents by keeping them goalless in the last quarter.

In a game where both defences shone, Southern Districts’ was eventually breached heavily as returning skipper Shannon Rioli inspired his side with two third term goals. Dylan Landt matched the feat and was prominent alongside Nate Paredes in midfield, benefitting from the ruckwork of Brandyn Grenfell. Jonathan Farrar finished as Districts’ lone multiple goalkicker, but it was the likes of Zach Smith, Jesse Clark, and Lionel Ogden who proved most impactful for the Crocs. At 4-5 and now a game adrift the finals places, pressure is mounting on Southern Districts to make something of season 2020/21, while St Mary’s firms as a premiership contender.

WARATAH | 3.2 | 9.5 | 12.7 | 18.11 (119)
WANDERERS | 2.2 | 4.4 | 9.5 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:

Waratah: C. Arnold 4, J. Sutton 3, H. Kerinaiua 2, J. Simson 2, R. Turnbull 2, D. Collis, J. Stevens, C. Searle, B. Carroll, J. McGrath
Wanderers: B. Eddy 3, S. Bates 2, E. Simpson, B. Newman, J. Erlandson, B. O’Connell, D. Thompson

BEST:

Waratah: R. Turnbull, A. Ankers, C. Arnold, J. Stevens, H. Kerinaiua, N. Gooch
Wanderers: B. McLean, D. Thompson, B. Newman, B. Eddy, M. Motlop

Waratah has emerged as a serious finals threat after downing Wanderers by 52 points at on Saturday, with the 18.11 (119) to 10.7 (67) result seeing the Muk Muks removed from top spot. In front of a home crowd at Gardens Oval, the Warriors pulled away in terms two and four with a combined 12 goals to three across the two periods, making for a lop-sided final scoreline. Despite getting back to within four goals at the end of the third quarter, Wanderers simply did not have an answer for Waratah’s hardened attack on the ball and clean use on the break.

Midfield maestros Robert Turnbull and Abe Ankers were unsurprisingly instrumental in the victory, with the former also booting two goals. Cameron Arnold kicked a game-high four majors, with three coming in the first half, while Jake Sutton finished with three of his own. Competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy spearheaded the Muk Muks’ third quarter fightback with three major scores as the likes of Marlon Motlop and Dray Thompson came into the game from midfield. Braedon McLean and Brodie Newman were also important for Wanderers, holding up a heavily pressured defence.

DARWIN | 2.2 | 6.5 | 9.10 | 13.11 (89)
PALMERSTON | 3.3 | 3.4 | 4.5 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

Darwin: M. Campbell 4, I. Palmer 3, J. Clarke 2, B. Foster 2, M. Kennedy, C. Atkinson
Palmerston: B. McDonald 2, R. Armstrong, J. Harvey, T. Kunoth, A. McAdam

BEST:

Darwin: M. Kennedy, M. Campbell, M. Lochowiak, R. Pendlebury, K. Maroney, L. McKenzie
Palmerston: M. Dennis, N. Lockyer, B. McDonald, C. Williams, T. Kunoth

Darwin bounced back from a slow start, and scratchy recent run of form overall to defeat Palmerston by 44 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday night. The Buffs found themselves seven points behind at the first interval, but managed four goals to Palmerston’s nil in the second term to set up a 19-point buffer come half time. The steady scoreboard pressure mounted and eventually saw Darwin come away comfortable 13.11 (89) to 6.9 (45) winners, consolidating the Double Blues’ spot in the top five.

A number of inclusions and magnet shuffles sured up Darwin’s side, with the experienced Matty Campbell booting four goals to headline them. Midfielder Jalen Clarke and goalsneak Brodie Foster were also in that mix and booted two majors each, while Max Kennedy thrived in the engine room and Mihail Lochowiak continued to show his wares in the front half. Matthew Dennis again led from the front for Palmerston, as the duo of Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Brandon McDonald proved dynamic up forward. The latter snared two majors as his side’s lone multiple goalkicker.

Featured Image: Darwin’s Matt Campbell looks to wrap up Palmerston’s Aaron Davey | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 7

ROUND 7 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League is headlined by a top-of-the-table clash between Darwin and Wanderers, two of the three sides tied with 5-1 records. The high-stakes bout will close the show on Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, with the weekend’s only standalone game poising Palmerston against Nightcliff at Cazalys Arena. Find out which players are poised to make all the difference, and more in our weekend preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-6) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 2-4)
Saturday November 14, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s search for a maiden win in season 2020/21 returns to TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, when the Bombers meet a Southern Districts side on the up. Both teams are showing signs of improvement after lacklustre early-season form, though the Crocs are a little further along having already notched a couple of wins. Two of those have come in their last three outings, including a 58-point drubbing of the Bombers in Round 4. That was one of Tiwi’s four losses of over 50 points in the first month of the season, though a bunch of big name recruits and returnees have seen the Bombers cut those margins over the last fortnight.

Former Geelong and Brisbane midfielder Allen Christensen remains in the Tiwi lineup after booting three goals on debut, set to line up in midfield alongside the in-form Fletcher Carroll. With Ashton Hams also in the side, the Bombers should have plenty of firepower in that department. The likes of Adam Tipungwuti and Adam Sambono should also aid their forward drive in the absence of Harley Puruntatameri. Southern Districts’ one-two punch of James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr has worked wonders its engine room, with Andrew Boseley spearheading a potent attack. Meanwhile, Oakleigh Chargers graduate Lachlan Bugeja has been named in the side, joining fellow NAB Leaguers Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus as the Crocs push for top five status.

St Mary’s (5th, 3-3) vs. Waratah (4th, 3-3)
Saturday November 14, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

An important top five clash takes place at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening as St Mary’s does battle with Waratah. The Saints looked to be turning their season around with three-consecutive wins, before they ran into Darwin last week and fell back to an even keel. Waratah boasts the same 3-3 record but sits a place higher that St Mary’s in fourth, having only narrowly gone down to premiership fancies Darwin and Nightcliff (twice). The Warriors’ win-loss trend sees them due for a win this time out, with a return to the winners list and the chance to keep touch with the top three up for grabs. It is the first time these two teams will meet this season, with plenty to play for either way.

Some handy inclusions look likely to spruce up both lineups, starting with Daly Andrews for St Mary’s. The 20-year-old Victorian is fresh off a fantastic season with South Adelaide at senior SANFL level and will slot straight into midfield alongside Nate Paredes. After managing just one goal last week, spearhead Jackson Paine will also be out to do some damage, while the likes of Jackson Calder and Nick Yarran may have to earn their way back into the side. Waratah will be buoyed by the return of Michael Newton up forward, set to form a formidable partnership with Jae McGrath. His inclusion sees Thomas Graham swing down back, adding to Waratah’s tall stocks across the ground. Tah’s midfield depth should also match up well against the Saints, making for a tight contest overall.

Palmerston Magpies (7th, 1-5) vs. Nightcliff (3rd, 5-1)
Saturday November 14, 7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Nightcliff will look to string together three-consecutive wins for the second time this year when it travels to face Palmerston at Cazalys Arena on Saturday night. The fixture looms as Palmerston’s third home game in four weeks, though that factor has hardly proven advantageous of late given the Magpies have not won since Round 2 – against the winless Tiwi Bombers. Currently seventh at 1-5, the Magpies are running out of time to keep with the finals contenders, despite showing glimpses of form. It has largely been business as usual for the Tigers, boasting an equal-best 5-1 record having only slipped up against St Mary’s in Round 4. The reigning premiers will fancy their chances of keeping the heat on their main premiership rivals.

As if it needed any more firepower, Nightcliff’s forwardline is set for a boost with the inclusion of Liam Holt-Fitz, who is set to join Trent Melville and Kyle Emery in a dynamic front six. Cam Ilett also comes straight back into the lineup and will rotate through there, while Dom Brew looks to continue his dominance of the midfield. Palmerston will be buoyed by the return of Nigel Lockyer Jnr, with the enigmatic swingman likely to aid Daniel Stafford in attack. The midfield battle should be a good one, with Palmerston’s trio of Chris Williams, Eric Guthrie, and ruckman Matthew Dennis set to be tasked with plenty against Nightcliff’s formidable outfit. A good news story could also be the return of Jayden Kickett, who takes his place in Nightcliff’s extended squad, pending final selection.

Wanderers (2nd, 5-1) vs. Darwin Buffaloes (1st, 5-1)
Saturday November 14, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the best Round 7 fixture will be left for last when Darwin and Wanderers lock horns in a blockbuster top-of-the-table clash. The game rounds out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, forming the perfect end to a super day of Premier League action. The Buffs have lead the competition most of the way thus far, going down only to Nightcliff as Wanderers remains the only side they are yet to compete against. The Muk Muks have been fit and firing in 2020/21, with their only loss also coming at the hands of Nightcliff and three-consecutive wins putting them in ideal form of late. With only percentage separating the two sides, this game looms as a crucial factor in the overall minor premiership race.

Matt Campbell is set to bring some experience back to Darwin’s lineup, looking to continue his great scoring form this season as he slots in at half-forward. He joins the likes of Brodie Foster and Ishmael Palmer in the front six, while Sturt recruit Mihail Lochowiak comes into the side up the other end. Meanwhile, star midfielder Jalen Clarke has been named on an extended bench. Braedon McLean is a very handy inclusion for Wanderers, set to feature at half-back alongside recent Rising Star nominee Brodie Newman. There is plenty of firepower up forward too, with leading goalkicker Brett Eddy combining well with Simon Bates, and Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell of late.

Featured Image: Darwin players celebrate during their Round 6 win | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 6

A HEATWAVE is set to hit the Top End this weekend, not that the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League needed any more heat heading into Round 6. Two important top five clashes at TIO Stadium headline what is set to be another super Saturday of football, while Tiwi and Palmerston play host at separate venues. The Magpies lock horns with Southern Districts, as the two sides look to keep touch with the early breakaway finals contenders. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-5) vs. Wanderers (2nd, 4-1)
Saturday November 7, 3:00pm
Gardens Oval

Wanderers’ claim for top five honours continues as the Eagles take on Tiwi at Gardens Oval on Saturday afternoon. With a 4-1 record and two wins on the trot, the Muk Muks have been one of the early success stories this season, a far cry from the fate of Tiwi thus far. After a soaring end to their last campaign, the Bombers sit last at 0-5 and remain the only winless side left in the competition. Big names are arriving to aid the turnaround, and Tiwi managed to keep a losing margin under 50 points for the first time in 2020/21, last week.

The likes of Ashton Hams, Adam Tipungwuti, and Jack Monigatti have strengthened the struggling Bombers’ lineup of late, and former Port Adelaide livewire Jake Neade looks like being the latest inclusion of note. Adam Sambono has also been named in the extended squad, potentially adding some much-needed attacking flair. Wanderers seems a much steadier unit, but still has plenty of class to call upon. Beau O’Connell is waiting in the wings for a return, as are Braedon McLean and Brayden Culhane. The latter two would only add to the strong Eagles bookends, especially with the wombo combo of Simon Bates and Brett Eddy up forward.

Waratah (4th, 3-2) vs. Nightcliff (3rd, 4-1)
Saturday November 7, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

The first game in a top five TIO Stadium double-header sees Waratah take on Nightcliff on Saturday evening, with the two clubs meeting for the second time this season. The Tigers snuck home by 13 points in Round 2 and despite a hiccup against Darwin, look to have regained their usual might as reigning premiers. Waratah has shown plenty of promise and improvement, going down only to two of the top three sides, obviously including Nightcliff. This clash will prove a big test for the Warriors as they look to make the next step from being a finals hope, to a true finals contender.

The Tahs’ improved level of consistency thus far has arrived on the back of top form from the likes of Abe Ankers, Nick Gooch, and Brodie Carroll, while boom VFL recruit Callum Searle has added another dimension to the side. A fresh face in Thomas Graham looks set to enter the senior fold too, coming off some impressive Division 1 and SANFL Reserves form. Daniel Mott and William Wallace remain in Nightcliff’s side after their debuts last week, while core midfielders like Dom Brew, Phillip Wills, and Brodie Filo are all hitting their stride. Kaine Riley could also be in for a return, named in the extended Tigers squad.

Palmerston Magpies (7th, 1-4) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 1-4)
Saturday November 7, 7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Cazalys Arena hosts what is set to prove a crucial clash for both Palmerston and Southern Districts on Saturday night, with both sides clinging onto hope of keeping touch with the top five. At one win and four losses apiece, the two teams have already fallen behind in the finals race but would foster fresh hope of enacting a turnaround – starting with a win here. Palmerston’s sole set of points was earned against bottom side, Tiwi and the Magpies have hardly looked like harnessing the same form despite patches of promise. The Crocs looked to have turned the corner of late despite their record, which consists of losses to Wanderers (twice) and Darwin.

Palmerston’s follower trio of Matthew Dennis, Chris Williams, and Eric Guthrie has proven arguably the most reliable facet of its overall squad, while others have popped up in exciting spurts. A lot of scoring responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Daniel Stafford, especially with wildcard swingman Nigel Lockyer Jnr missing from the side this week. Exciting small, Jonty Patrick should provide some ground level assistance, named for his first senior outing this season. The Crocs look a potent side, with much of their recent attack generated by midfield maestros James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr. Up forward, Andrew Boseley has proven the spearhead, with Luke Kiel and Jay Dahlhaus also impactful inside 50. Combined, they should prove too much for the Magpies.

St Mary’s (5th, 3-2) vs. Darwin Buffaloes (1st, 4-1)
Saturday November 7, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

The second high-stakes top five clash at TIO Stadium sees St Mary’s take on Darwin, making for an exciting finish to the weekend’s action. After a lacklustre opening fortnight, the Saints have pulled off a full 180 to claim fifth spot at 3-2, riding high on the back of a three-game winning run. Darwin has been somewhat of a surprise packet this season, bolting to a 4-0 start before going down to Nightcliff last time out. The Buffs still hold on to top spot and need a win to stay there with the chasing pack breathing down their neck.

Jackson Paine looms as the Saints’ dangerman having booted 19 goals in his last three outings. It means one of Dylan Gordon or Ryan Pendlebury will likely get the all-important lockdown job, with young Beau Tedcastle a small option the Buffs will also have to cover. But Darwin will fancy its own firepower, with Brodie Foster spearheading the attack and joined on the full forward line by Joey Collinson and Ishmael Palmer. The midfield battle between St Mary’s Nate Paredes and Darwin’s Jarrod Stokes also looms as a must-watch, with both men in sensational form after five weeks.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 5 Nightcliff vs. Darwin clash | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 3

TWO rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 3 this weekend. All four games are again set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as St Mary’s takes on Tiwi, while Southern Districts is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Norbuilt Oval. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

St Mary’s vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s milestone men will hope to drag the Bombers off the bottom of the ladder when they face St Mary’s to open the round on Saturday afternoon. The two sides take to TIO Stadium with 0-2 records, as a mix of underperformance and stiff opposition has rendered them winless across the opening rounds. But that is all set to change come this weekend, barring a draw, as the two traditional rivals square off.

If their meetings from season 2019/20 are anything to go by, this bout should be a belter. Tiwi got the better of the Saints in the first two digs, but St Mary’s squared the ledger at 2-2 after solid wins in Round 17 and the qualifying final. The 37-goal Round 3 shootout was the most eye-catching result, making for sensational neutral viewing.

Tiwi 150-gamers Michael Dunn and Dion Munkara will hope all their flair and carry on the outer can propel the Bombers to victory. Fresh off a bag of goals, Harley Puruntatameri should also shine in that department, while prolific talent Adam Sambono is a chance to come into the side. Down back, Mason Dewit has been super on the rebound.

Under 18s wonderkid Beau Tedcastle looks set to make his senior debut for the Saints, a lively small forward who knows where the goals are. Former NAB Leaguer Jeremy Goddard is also poised to make his first Premier League appearance, and both should have terrific support in the form of mainstay figures Raphael Clarke, Nate Paredes, and Shaun Edwards, who have all been in good nick.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday October 17, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

The winless Southern Districts will be out to halt its skidding start to the season when Waratah comes to town on Saturday, with the two sides set to face off at Norbuilt Oval. 0-2 after the opening pair of rounds, Districts will have some young talent come in to bolster their squad. Meanwhile, Waratah sits at 1-1 after last week’s tight loss to Nightcliff, with plenty of positives to take out of its first two outings in season 2020/21. The Warriors side looks much more settled than in their last campaign.

AFL Draft prospect Brodie Lake looms as a big in for the Crocs, with the 18-year-old fresh off a terrific SANFL season with Central District. He promises to add some grunt through midfield or run from defence, on top of the obvious class he possesses. After being named in the best half-dozen players last week, former Geelong Falcons co-captain Jesse Clark looks like being joined in the side by fellow NAB League graduate Jay Dahlhaus. The latter is the cousin of Geelong’s Luke, and is likely to play a similar small forward role.

Sticking with the theme set by their opponents, the Warriors are also set to unleash a former NAB League talent. Murray Bushrangers standout Cam Wild looks like entering the Premier League fold after knocking down the door in Division 1, having also spent time in South Australia with Central District. Tahs boast a pretty solid spine, with the likes of Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll holding down midfield, while Jae McGrath continues to spearhead the forwardline. Victorian Callum Searle has also proven a great addition in defence, giving Waratah balance on each line. It may prove too much for the Crocs to handle.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday October 17, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin will put its perfect record is on the line when it meets the ever-improving Palmerston on Saturday evening, the second game of a TIO Stadium triple-header. Under new coach Cameron Stokes, the Buffs are sitting pretty atop the Premier League table despite a heavy offseason turnover. Meanwhile, the Magpies have already matched their wins tally from last season after victory in Round 2, and look like providing the Double Blues with their toughest assignment to date.

Young utility Tyrrell Lui is fresh off his Rising Star nomination, having provided terrific rebound from defence thus far. He is joined once again in the back six by Sandy Brock, while Chris Williams will look to run the show once again from midfield. He is one of a few ex-Darwin players looking to impress against their former side, with big forward Daniel Stafford another who will be keen to find some form. He will be joined up forward by Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who has been finding the big sticks with ease having booted nine goals in two games.

But Darwin boasts some firepower of its own, with Brodie Foster continuing to set the competition alight. The goalsneak boasts 11 majors across his first two outings, and while Ishmael Palmer may not be there in support once again, Isaac Seden-Kurnoth looms as a major factor inside 50. The experienced Matt Campbell also looks to be in hot form, with Ryan Pendlebury another to settle the side in his defensive duties. Darwin’s mainstays have started the season emphatically and will fancy a third-consecutive win here, but should take nothing for granted against the rising Magpies.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Someone’s ‘0’ will go when undefeated sides Wanderers and Nightcliff do battle at TIO Stadium, making for an exciting finish to a big round of action. The Muk Muks have again started the season well, knocking off two 2019/20 finalists en route to taking on the formidable reigning premier. Nightcliff has been ticking along strongly, too, taking out a Grand Final rematch in Round 1 and managing to halt Waratah’s head of steam last time out with ruthless efficiency.

The returning Kyle Emery has added yet another dimension to the Tigers’ side, with his six-goal haul last week a warning shot for Wanderers defenders. Should 2019/20 Chaney Medal winner Trent Melville also take his spot in the side, this game looms as a must-watch. The likes of Cam Ilett and Daniel Bowles have been reliable as ever, while Phillip Wills is set to celebrate game 200. Victorian recruit Tom Boyd has been superb thus far, and the Tigers will hope former Calder Cannons standout, Daniel Mott can have a similar impact through midfield after strong Division 1 performances.

The Eagles are no slouches either though, with a bunch of high-end talent filling each line. Brett Eddy is fresh off a six-goal haul and has looked sharp up forward, while Braedon McLean has led steadily from defence. Newcomers Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman have given Wanderers an extra edge too, and Michael Mummery is one who could break the game open having gotten some game time under his belt last week. With a good amount of class scattered across either lineup, this should be a cracking contest.

Featured Image: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media