Tag: Brodie Foster

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 13 – Top four do battle in bumper weekend

A ladder-defining round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League football is set to take place on Saturday, with the top four sides tussling it out for ladder supremacy. With just six rounds left to play out, eight-point games like these will prove vital.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. WARATAH
Saturday January 11, 1:30pm
Tracy Village

The Tiwi Bombers will look to widen the gap to a fledgeling trailing pack when they take on Waratah at Tracy Village to open Round 13. A favourable draw after the mid-season break sees the Bombers take on a second-consecutive bottom three side, with a very handy 16-point buffer on their weekend opponent already fairly ominous. On the other hand, Waratah’s tough return from the break may only be compounded in this fixture after going down by 138 points to Nightcliff last week. Despite looming as a top five threat at their best, the Warriors have rarely been able to put it together this season and sit well behind in the finals race.

But some very handy inclusions could help the struggling Warriors bounce right back against a talented Bombers outfit, with ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton named at full forward and Thunder captain Abe Ankers featuring on an extended bench. Kim Kantilla has been the main source of inspiration for Waratah forward of centre, so will again have to find the goals in the face of Tiwi’s overwhelming scoring prowess. A Bombers forward 50 spine of ex-AFL talent in Austin Wonaeamirri and Tom Bell looks promising, while Bell’s Greensborough teammates Nick Riddle and Charlie Molyneux take up respective spots in defence and midfield. It only adds to the Bomber’s already impressive depth, providing some stability among the pace and forward drive. Form puts these two sides at opposite ends of the ledger, but do not count the Warriors out if they can get it right.

ST MARY’S vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday January 11, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The first top four clash of the weekend takes place in the opening game of a TIO Stadium triple-header, as St Mary’s does battle with Southern Districts. While the second placed Saints hit the ground running in 2020 with a big win over Wanderers, the third placed Crocs fell just short against Darwin in a thriller. Needless to say, a win is important for both sides as they play catch-up in the finals race. St Mary’s will be made to work to keep within striking distance of Nightcliff in first, while Southern Districts’ charge for second may come down to the wire as it faces the current bottom three sides to see out the regular season. With this the start of a tricky month for either team, dropping points is not an option.

St Mary’s will have to lean on its depth as Nate Paredes and Jackson Calder loom as key outs, but the inclusion of Shaun Edwards to a forward 50 already boasting Shannon Rioli, Maurice Rioli Jnr, and Leroy Larson is an exciting proposition. Up the other end, Jake Long and Kieren Parnell will combine to provide intercept marking and classy foot skills. For Southern Districts, an ex-AFL midfield trio of Richard Tambling, Jeff Garlett and Michael Barlow looks impressive on paper, with William Farrer and Sam Barnett great targets to kick to inside 50. With a more settled lineup of late, a win for the Crocs here could be the catalyst they need to push on and become a true premiership threat, having previously fallen short of fellow top three sides. With huge talent on each line for either side, this one could go either way.

WANDERERS vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday January 11, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is a case of do-or-die for Wanderers as it faces Palmerston with its hopes of pushing for a finals spot fading fast. Sitting 14 points adrift of a rising Tiwi Bombers side in fifth, the Eagles have lost their last six outings after what was a promising start to the season. Their last win fittingly came over Palmerston all the way back in Round 6, with the chance to repeat the act key in keeping their finals aspirations alive. But the Magpies will come into the game with hope of bringing its winless run to an end, presented with perhaps their most feasible chance of doing so. The gap between either sides’ best and worst is sizeable, so the team that can pull it all together has a greater opportunity to pick up a rare set of four points.

Wanderers’ spine of Jordan Jeffrey, Braedon McLean, and Joel Jeffrey has worked well, and played a big part in keeping last week’s outing against St Mary’s a competitive one for over half of the game. But the Eagles’ youthful side has often run out of legs, so will need to produce a four quarter effort to return to the winners list here. Palmerston’s lineup is starting to get back to full strength, with Alwyn Davey stringing games together alongside the likes of Kyle Emery, Misha Perry, and recruit Jack Berry. But Adam Diamond looms as a key out, with the engine room building as a key area as a heap of talent lines up at the bookends. Clashes between sixth and eighth are not always ones to attract the eye, but this could well be the closest bout of the round.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday January 11, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

First plays fourth in the round’s second top four clash as Nightcliff looks to knock off Darwin for the second time this season. The two sides met back in Round 6 as the Tigers ran out 23-point winners, hardly putting a foot wrong in their premiership defence to date with just one scalp evading them. The Buffs have had a slightly more turbulent time of it over the course of 12 rounds, only just extending its positive record with a key win over Southern Districts following two-straight defeats. While Nightcliff has been a figure of consistency throughout and will inevitably be favourite to defend its crown, it is a matter of peaking at the right time for Darwin, and a win here would do wonders for that.

The Buffs will go in with a typically settled lineup, spearheaded by Daniel Stafford and made even more dangerous with Joe Anderson and Jarrod Stokes alongside him inside forward 50. Brodie Foster is a key out from last week’s side, but the Tigers will be without their own goalkicking hero from Round 12 in John Butcher. The likes of Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz nonetheless possess great forward craft, so will go a long way to ensuring Darwin’s defence has its hands full. The versatility of Nightcliff’s lineup and multiple scoring avenues constantly prove too much for its opposition, and may well get the Tigers over the line once again. But with the stakes so high and Darwin looking like turning the corner, anything can happen.

NTFL Men’s Premier League review: Round 12 – Buffs prevail in dramatic eight-pointer

THE new year tossed up some predictable results in Round 12 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, but Darwin and Southern Districts played out a cracker in the weekend’s sole top five clash. While the Buffs closed the gap on their weekend opponents in the race for a top three spot, the remaining finals-bound sides went about solidifying their standing in the top five.

ST MARY’S 1.4 | 6.10 | 9.12 | 14.17 (101)
WANDERERS 1.3 | 2.4 | 5.7 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Salmon 3, N. Paredes 2, L. Larson 2, J. Long, R. Jordon, M. Rioli Jnr, N. Yarran, R. Smith, B. Slater, R. Miller
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 2, M. Cooper, T. Motlop, B. McLean

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Smith, T. Davies, R. Jordon, N. Yarran, J. Salmon, N. Paredes
Wanderers: N/A

It was business as usual for St Mary’s as it trounced Wanderers by 63 points to open Round 12 on Friday night. In a contest that was largely competitive until midway through the third term, the Saints kicked away against a tiring Eagles side to cap the 14.17 (101) to 5.8 (38) result.

After a tight opener, the Saints looked to be pulling away to a straightforward victory after jumping out to a five-goal half time lead. But the Muk Muks gave their all to mount a short-lived comeback after the main break, booting the first three goals of the term to draw back within four points of the finals-bound Saints. Unfortunately, the Eagles spent all their fuel tickets on the fightback, leaving nothing left to edge in front as St Mary’s ruthlessly pulled away with five goals to nil in the final quarter. There were still positives to be drawn from the loss for Wanderers, with the returning Joel Jeffrey showing off all of his talent in the air and at ground level to go with two classy goals, while Braedon McLean’s energy in the middle was terrific in the third term. For the winners, 10 individual goal kickers were led by Joseph Salmon‘s three majors, but it was Ryan Smith who was named best afield as the likes of Thomas Davies and Nick Yarran also contributed.

Winning form is good form for the Saints, especially with two of its fellow top three sides immediately ahead on the fixture list and other sides closing in on second place. For Wanderers, the last chance finals saloon opens with a game against the winless Palmerston, which is now a must-win with Tiwi 14 points adrift in fifth.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 8.4 | 11.6 | 13.9 (87)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 6.7 | 12.10 (82)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Stafford 5, B. Foster 3, K. Campbell 2, J. Stokes 2, D. Miles
Southern Districts: D. Hall 3, W. Farrer 2, J. Farrer 2, D. McLachlan, R. O’Brien, B. Schwarze, D. Corbett, M. Barlow

BEST:

Darwin: N/A
Southern Districts: N/A

Southern Districts has been made to rue a miss after the siren in its dramatic five-point loss to Darwin Buffaloes in a top five eight-pointer. Rory O’Brien pulled his set shot to level the scores after marking a Michael Barlow kick 25 metres from goal, sealing the unfortunate 13.9 (87) to 12.10 (82) loss.

The result looked dead and buried as David Miles kicked truly into an open goal late in the third term, punishing the Crocs for their inability to convert up the other end. A fifth goal to Daniel Stafford in the final term to push the margin back out to 11 points with under 10 minutes left looked to again have sealed the result, but it did not deter the Crocs as they doubled their goal tally in a single stanza. It proved futile in the end as O’Brien failed to convert and snatch the draw, but made for great viewing on the neutral end. Earlier, Stafford and Brodie Foster combined for seven of the Buffs’ eight first half goals, with skipper Jarrod Stokes also extending his influence to the scoreboard. Davin Hall led the response for Southern Districts with three majors in just his fourth game for the season, while Josiah and William Farrer also chimed in with two apiece as Barlow found plenty of the ball to very nearly prove a game winner.

Three more top five opponents lie ahead for Southern Districts, with each result massive in deciding positions three to five. Meanwhile, the next few weeks will be a mixed bag for Darwin, set to test its premiership credentials against the competition’s benchmark next week, while also facing two bottom three opponents in the following rounds.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.4 | 13.5 | 19.7 | 25.11 (161)
WARATAH 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Butcher 6, R. Mu 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, C. Ilett 2, M. Hagan 2, J. Budarick, N. Brown, B. Arnold, D. Bowles, S. Wilson
Waratah: K. Kantilla 2, D. Simpson

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Wilson, K. Riley, R. Mu, J. Butcher, P. Wills
Waratah: N/A

The mid-season break only heightened Nightcliff’s hunger for goals as the reigning premier put on a scoring masterclass against Waratah, winning to the tune of 138 points. 12 Tigers found the goals in the 25.11 (161) to 3.5 (23) romp as the ladder leaders dominated across the ground.

A four-goal opening term was Nightcliff’s lowest-scoring period, following it up with nine majors and six in each quarter after half time to see out the huge victory. While their ruthlessly precise finishing inside 50 was ultra-impressive, the Tigers were just as good further afield as they kept the Warriors goalless across the second and third terms, while only conceding a high of two in the final period of play. Waratah had to wait until seven minutes into the fourth quarter for its second six-pointer, ending a massive period of unanswered goals. John Butcher was the Tigers’ chief destroyer with his half-dozen majors, but two non-scoring players – Kaine Riley and Phillip Wills – made their impact felt up the ground to be named in the best behind Shaun Wilson. Kim Kantilla again proved hot to handle as one of the few Warriors to stand tall, booting two of his side’s three majors in the absence of some of their prime movers. Daniel Simpson also found room for a celebration after finding the big sticks in the final term despite the massive margin.

It does not get any easier for Waratah with Tiwi next on the agenda, but respite should come with consecutive fixtures against fellow bottom three sides to round out January. Up the other end of the ladder, a month of competing against top five opponents could dislodge Nightcliff from first place, but the Tigers have already proven their worth against the best of the rest.

PALMERSTON 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.7 | 7.10 (52)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.3 | 9.7 | 10.10 | 16.17 (113)

GOALS:

Palmerston: K. Emery, K. Holt-Tubbs, L. Roberts, L. Williams, R. Warfe, D. Nichols, C. Timms
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 3, H. Puruntatameri 3, D. Munkara 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Abala 2, P. Heenan, A. Tipungwuti, A. Darcy, N. Riddle

BEST:

Palmerston: K. Emery, D. Gordon, J. Berry, J. Rhodes, M. Perry (Jnr), J. Damaso
Tiwi: D. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri, N. Riddle, D. McLinden, J. Puruntatameri, J. Monigatti

Tiwi was quick to shake off Palmerston in Round 12’s final fixture, overpowering the Magpies to come out 61-point winners. Both sides had trouble converting at times, but the Bombers’ wealth of opportunities proved far too much for the struggling Magpies in the 7.10 (52) to 16.17 (113) loss.

After very nearly overcoming the Bombers in Round 5, Palmerston looked like providing a good challenge to its opponent once again, keeping touch for just over a quarter. But Tiwi soon clicked into gear with six goals to two to set up the win, consolidating with another half-dozen majors in the final term to pretty up the scoreboard. Both sides had at least seven individual goalkickers, but it was the Bombers’ five multiple goalkickers which proved the difference as no Magpie managed to trouble the scorers more than once. Austin Wonaeamirri and Harley Puruntatameri each booted a game-high three goals, but it was Dion Munkara who was judged best afield for the winners. Kyle Emery impressed for the Magpies, but he was unable to provide the goals needed alongside usual goal-getter Keidan Holt-Tubbs as the Bombers well and truly outgunned them with speed and class across the ground.

A twelfth loss sees Palmerston still 12 points adrift of seventh, but the opportunity to grab a breakthrough win may come knocking with two bottom three match-ups set for the Eagles upcoming fortnight. Waratah is next up for Tiwi, but the tough month following that fixture makes it a must-win for the Bombers as hopes dwindle among the bottom three.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 12 – Teams return from mid-season break

FOOTBALL is back in 2020 as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season resumes under Friday night lights ahead of a huge triple-header on Saturday. In the game of the round, Darwin and Southern Districts play off in an eight-pointer while the remaining top five sides meet opponents further off the pace.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-7-1)
Friday January 3, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

St Mary’s will be looking to extend its three-game winning run into the new year when it faces Wanderers to open Round 12 under Friday night lights. The Saints did not dwell on a second loss to Tiwi in Round 8, bouncing back to claim three wins on the trot and go clear in second heading into the mid-season break. While St Mary’s’ form has been consistent, Wanderers’ path has been less linear as the young side battles to regain its early-season form. The Eagles are set for a big boost as Gold Coast SUNS trainee Joel Jeffrey looks primed to return to the lineup, and he may be used up both ends as Victorian twin towers Jackson Paine and Jackson Calder have been named inside forward 50 for the Saints. The AFL experience of recent weeks is not quite as prominent for St Mary’s, but Jake Long is set to feature alongside potential 2020 Richmond father-son, Maurice Rioli Jnr. Opportunities will be limited for Wanderers as it pushes to reclaim a top five spot, and the Saints should pose a tough test as one of the genuine premiership contenders. Expect St Mary’s experience to come into play as the four quarters wear on.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 6-5) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 7-3-1)
Saturday January 4, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round opens a huge Saturday triple-header at TIO Stadium, with Darwin and Southern Districts battling it out for top five supremacy. The Buffs have only defeated one of the current top five sides – Tiwi, all the way back in Round 1 – and come in having gone down to two of them right before the break. The Crocs fared slightly better in the build up to 2020, albeit having gone down comfortably to Nightcliff, but should take confidence in having already beaten the Buffaloes in Round 5. Both sides come in well stacked, with Southern Districts naming the likes of Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow, Jeff Garlett, and Richard Tambling, not to mention a forward line boasting the competition’s leading goalkicker in Will Farrer. Matt Campbell will lead his side in response, with the prolific Adam Sambono poised to return, Brodie Foster another likely inclusion, and Joe Anderson set to feature up forward alongside Daniel Stafford. While the Crocs’ side jumps off the page and their form has been telling at times, Darwin can beat anyone at its absolute best. The Buffs will need to bring exactly that if they are to stay in the top two hunt.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 10-1) vs. WARATAH (7th, 3-8)
Saturday January 4, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

League leaders Nightcliff will aim to pick up where it left off in 2019, with bottom three opponent Waratah first on the agenda in the new year. The Tigers have been near-perfect in their premiership defence thus far, only going down to the second-ranked side and beating every other opponent through 11 rounds. While they will be looking for more of the same, a change of fortunes will be what Waratah is after as it looks to latch onto the heels of the top five. There has been a sizeable gap between the Warriors’ best and worse, with the absence of key players proving telling – and it could well be the case in this game. With Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll not named in the squad, spearhead Kim Kantilla looks set for some added midfield time having been named as ruck rover. There should be no such issues for the versatile and deep Nightcliff side, with most of the key Tigers players set to feature. Trent Melville will look to push into top spot in the goalkicking charts on the back of a potential percentage booster, while Kaine Riley is one of many who will hope to continue their great form. The Tigers are always formidable, and will prove another tough ask for the Warriors in this fixture.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-11) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (5th, 6-5)
Saturday January 4, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston’s new year resolutions will be clear heading into its first match of 2020, with the Tiwi Bombers first on the agenda in Round 12’s final fixture. While they have gone close a couple of times, the Magpies have mostly been well off the pace this season and sit bottom of the league as the only side yet to crack a win. Meanwhile, the Bombers have flown up into the top five after an indifferent start to their campaign, maintaining a positive record and now looking to extend the gap to sixth. This matchup could provide a great opportunity to do so given Wanderers and Waratah’s difficult assignments, but Palmerston’s lineup suggests it will be up for the fight. Alwyn Davey will lead his side on-field alongside brother, Aaron and son, Alwyn Jnr, while Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will also look to make an impact going forward. Tiwi’s side is stacked as usual, featuring the AFL experience of Tom Bell, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ashton Hams to go with their formidable list of usual suspects. While it looks a mismatch on paper, anything can happen after the break and the Magpies will be hungry to rectify a disappointing 2019.

Mid-season review: NTFL Men’s Premier League

THE mid-season break is in full swing for all Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League clubs and fans alike, with the top five already looking set. We recap how each team has gone thus far in order of the current ladder; highlighting the big wins, losses, and outstanding players.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 10-1, 169%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by six points, Round 9

Worst loss: def. by St Mary’s by 27 points, Round 7

MVP: Kaine Riley

Most goals: Trent Melville (26)

In a premiership defence with just one blemish thus far, Nightcliff has proven it remains the team to beat. Barring a 27-point loss to St Mary’s in Round 7, the Tigers have beaten every side put before them – including fellow top five contenders Southern Districts and Tiwi twice each – constantly outlasting their opponents and finding a way to win. The reigning premier has had four players feature in every game, with Kaine Riley and Trent Melville two of them. Riley has been among the best in eight of those outings, while Melville has booted 26 majors to sit second in the league goalkicking tally. NT veteran Cam Ilett has proven instrumental with his versatility and leadership, with Joel Budarick coming on well and Liam Holt-Fitz forming a dangerous partnership with Melville inside 50. John Butcher has again been a handy recruit, with former-Williamstown VFL pair Leigh Masters and Willie Wheeler also enjoying decent cameos. With a settled lineup and class across the park, the Tigers will be tough to beat in the second half of the season.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3, 138%)

Best win: def. Nightcliff by 27 points, Round 7

Worst loss: def. by Tiwi Bombers by 34 points, Round 8

MVP: Thomas Davies

Most goals: Jackson Calder, Shannon Rioli (15)

It has been a stark contrast to last season’s effort for St Mary’s, with the iconic NTFL club working its way back to the top end of the ladder. A Round 7 win over the otherwise undefeated Nightcliff was a clear season highlight, with a combined 174-point winning margin in Rounds 9 and 10 also right up there. With the highs came a couple of lows with shock losses to traditional rival, Tiwi and another at the hands of Southern Districts momentarily halting the Saints’ train. While regular fixtures Thomas Davies, Shannon Rioli, Nathaniel Paredes, and Leroy Larson have all been instrumental, the injection of AFL experience has also been telling. Jarrad Waite, David Armitage, Will Hams, Jackson Calder, Jackson Paine, and Michael Manteit have all had influential stints, while favourite sons Raphael Clarke, Shaun Edwards, and Jake Long also impacted on their returns. On their day and with a full-strength lineup, St Mary’s is one of the most formidable sides in the league, and could well be the one to dethrone Nightcliff come season’s end.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 7-3-1, 129%)

Best win: def. Darwin Buffaloes by three points, Round 5

Worst loss: def. by Tiwi Bombers by 35 points, Round 7

MVP: Josiah Farrer

Most goals: William Farrer (27)

After an indifferent start to the season, Southern Districts has bounced back to put itself firmly in the premiership frame with a record good enough for third place. A 93-point drubbing of Palmerston kickstarted the Crocs’ season, going on to make it four wins in a row by toppling Darwin and St Mary’s back-to-back. Nightcliff continues to be the thorn in Southern Districts’ side though, going down to the Tigers twice while also dropping points to Tiwi in disappointing fashion. But the positives have been there for the Crocs, boasting the league’s leading goalkicker in William Farrer among a talented forward 50. The likes of Josiah Farrer and Beau Schwarze have rotated well through there, while South Australian Sam Barnett has provided a great focal point. The big names came through late in the piece as Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow, Richard Tambling, and Jeff Garlett all featured, only adding to the Crocs’ ferocity. With a dynamic front half and some experienced difference-makers, Southern Districts is a team capable of plenty on its day, but needs to put it together more consistently now.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 6-5, 126%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by 113 points, Round 1

Worst loss: def. by St Mary’s by 14 points, Round 11

MVP: Christopher Williams

Most goals: Daniel Stafford (17)

Darwin’s season to this point has been somewhat of a rollercoaster, but the Buffs have can still boast a positive record and safety in their top five spot. The Double Blues kicked off their season with a bang, trouncing Tiwi by over 100 points as Adam Sambono bagged an incredible haul of 12 goals. Looking a real flag threat, they improved to 3-0 after a controversial overturned win against Waratah, but were shortly reigned back by consecutive defeats at the hands of the current top three. But in overcoming the opposition they should, the Buffs are well placed heading into the new year. Key forward Daniel Stafford has only been held goalless once to lead his side’s goalkicking with 17 majors, followed by the enigmatic Brayden Culhane (16) and Sambono (13). Now less reliant on Joe Anderson and playing-coach Matt Campbell, Darwin’s leaders in Christopher Williams and Jarrod Stokes have stood up. Patrick Boles has been a great inclusion through midfield, while former-VFL stars Brodie Foster, Ryan Pendlebury and Stephen Tahana have had decent cameos. With their best names on the park, the Buffs look damaging, but there is a gap to bridge between that and their worst. Could be a big riser or faller in the second half of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS (5th, 6-5, 89%)

Best win: def. St Mary’s by 14 points, Round 3

Worst loss: def. by Darwin by 113 points, Round 1

MVP: Adam Tipungwuti

Most goals: Dion Munkara (16)

Rounding out the top five is Tiwi Bombers, another team to have enjoyed some terrific highs and disappointing lows. With a talent-stacked and exciting squad, the Bombers are hard to stop in full flight – just ask St Mary’s, who were on the receiving end in Round 3 as Tiwi got up in an absolute shoot-out. Boasting four wins over fellow finals-bond opponents is no mean feat, but is somewhat dampened by two losses to bottom three candidates, and near misses against Palmerston and Wanderers. Nonetheless, the dashing dare of Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara, and Harley Puruntatameri has excited onlookers, with the reliability of Jason Puruntatameri, Rodney Baird, and Ross Tungatalum making Tiwi a well-rounded unit. Munkara leads an even goalkicking tally, from Austin Wonaeamirri, with features from former AFL midfielders Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura proving handy along with the one-game cameo of Cyril Rioli. Victorian trio Charlie Molyneux, Nick Riddle and Liam Wale-Buxton also hit the ground running to feature in the best at least once each. The potential is there for Tiwi and the names would suggest so, with inconsistency the only issue to iron out as the Bombers mount a finals charge.

WANDERERS (6th, 3-7-1, 79%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by 14 points, Round 4

Worst loss: def. by Nightcliff by 73 points, Round 8

MVP: Braedon McLean

Most goals: Joel Jeffrey (19)

Wanderers slipped out of the finals spots on the back of five consecutive defeats after a promising start, with the mid-season break coming at an ideal time for the young side. A win over Tiwi and draw to Southern Districts in the first four rounds highlighted the Muk Muks’ potential, but a second heavy loss to Nightcliff to go with ones to Waratah and Tiwi means the gap to fifth place is 10 points. The exuberance of youth was clear to see as Joel Jeffrey, Beau O’Connell, Ronald Fejo, and Mark White all impressed in the forward half, with Jeffrey’s absence in the last month proving costly. Jordan Jeffrey, Braedon McLean, and Keelan Fejo have been serviceable, while stints from Liam Jurrah, Brett Eddy, Marlon Motlop, and Davin Ferreira are exactly what the young squad needs. The drop-off was steep, but with a break and time to refresh, Wanderers could be a team to challenge for the top five.

WARATAH (7th, 3-8, 75%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by 43 points, Round 6

Worst loss: def. by 123 points by St Mary’s, Round 9

MVP: Abe Ankers

Most goals: Kim Kantilla (20)

Waratah proved one of the more unlucky sides at the start of the season, searching for a win in the first five rounds before finally breaking through against Tiwi. Points against Darwin were overturned in Round 3 due to a team sheet error, and the Warriors have struggled against top four opposition since. The difference Abe Ankers makes to the side is profound, with the midfield ace booting 16 goals having only played in around half of his side’s games. Kim Kantilla has been terrific up forward with hauls as high as six, teaming up with Henry Kerinaiua and former VFL forward Steven Stroobants to good effect. Midfielder Brodie Carroll has also been reliable, but his side has been less so over the course of 11 rounds. Michael Newton has been one of the few big fish to land at Waratah this year but has not had the same impact as previous seasons, with the Warriors’ home grown talent leading their charge. With some classy players who can break games open, Waratah again looms as a late-season threat to the top five, but is well adrift at 12 points behind fifth.

PALMERSTON (8th, 0-11, 49%)

Best win: Nil

Worst loss: def. by Waratah by 89 points, Round 7

MVP: Jack Berry

Most goals: Broderick Church, Nigel Lockyer Jnr (7)

Stuck at the base of the ladder is Palmerston, still winless after 11 games following a disappointing campaign in 2018/19. While the Magpies have understandably suffered heavy defeats to top-end competition, they have fallen short from winning positions against Tiwi and Darwin in promising displays. A big loss to fellow bottom three side, Waratah in a clash between seventh and eighth compounded the misery, with few highlights to this point. Essendon trainee Nigel Lockyer Jnr was one of them before suffering an ankle injury, while the pair of Broderick Church and Keidan Holt-Tubbs has held up inside forward 50. The debuts of coach Alwyn Davey‘s sons, Alwyn Jnr and Jayden were much-hyped, while Victorian recruit Jack Berry has played a key hand in the part-time absence of Matthew Dennis. Through midfield, Adam Diamond and Aaron Lonergan have been solid with Sandy Brock another consistent contributor. While a win has looked far away at times, there is enough in this Palmerston unit to improve a heap in the second half of the season – the only way is up after all.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 9 – Tigers, Buffs get up in thrillers

WHILE St Mary’s won big in Round 9 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, Nightcliff and Darwin narrowly edged bottom four sides in an action-packed weekend of NT football. In the round’s other game, Southern Districts kicked away to return to the winners list after a tight three quarters.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 11.5 (71)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 2.4 | 3.5 | 5.9 | 10.15 (75)

GOALS:

Palmerston: E. Frank 3, K. Holt-Tubbs 2, D. Gaykamangu, A. Diamond, M. Perry, D. Cox, J. Rhodes.
Darwin: B. Foster 4, J. Clarke 2, C. Williams, M. Quinn, B. Hogan, D. Shillabeer.

BEST:

Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, C. Williams, J. Berry, W. Shadforth, S. Brock
Darwin: L. McKenzie, J. Stokes, B. Foster, C. Williams, D. Lines

It took a final quarter comeback for the ages for Darwin to sneak over the top of Palmerston on the road and hold onto third place. The heartbreaking loss sees Palmerston remain winless, unable to deny the Buffs despite their efficiency in the 11.5 (71) to 10.15 (75) result.

A tight opening term was followed by Palmerston’s best quarter of footy for a long time, seeing the Magpies break out to a 29-point half-time lead on the back of six goals to one. But the Buffs chipped away after the main break to remain within striking distance, pouncing in the final term with 5.6 to one straight goal to snatch victory from the jaws of what would have been a very disappointing defeat.

Brodie Foster proved a handy addition to the Buffs’ forward 50, booting a game-high four majors to lead the line from usual goalsneak Jalen Clarke (two goals). But it was Lachlan McKenzie who was named Darwin’s best, with consistent features Jarrod Stokes and Christopher Williams also influential. Ezekiel Frank and Keidan Holt-Tubbs led the way in an improved scoring effort for the Magpies, with the former named his side’s best player. Adam Diamond, Jack Berry, and Sandy Brock were also named in the best half-dozen for the third game running, with Palmerston starting to form a more settled unit.

The win sees Darwin holt onto third place among what is becoming tight battle for second, with a tough assignment against Tiwi next in its sights. Meanwhile, Palmerston’s search for a win carries on into another round as St Mary’s awaits.

NIGHTCLIFF 2.5 | 3.8 | 8.10 | 11.12 (78)
TIWI BOMBERS 2.0 | 7.2 | 9.4 | 11.6 (72)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: M. Hagan 3, C. Ilett 2, T. Melville 2, L. Holt-Fitz, D. Bowles, L. Masters, K. Winter-Irving.
Tiwi: A. Darcy 3, H. Puruntatameri 2, A. Wonaeamirri 2, A. Tipungwuti 2, C. Molyneux, D. Munkara.

BEST:

Nightcliff: K. Riley, D. Bowles, J. Kickett, M. Hagan, N. Brown, J. Peris
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, C. Molyneux, A. Darcy, R. Baird, H. Puruntatameri

Nightcliff narrowly accounted for a plucky and more efficient Tiwi side to maintain its gap at the top, scraping over the line by six points. The Tigers pulled away when it mattered in the 11.12 (78) to 11.6 (72) result, proving their status as the NTFL’s best.

In what was a game of momentum swings, Nightcliff was able to pull ahead at the ideal time with the two sides level going into the final term. Earlier, the Tigers found themselves three goals adrift at the main break despite managing two more scoring shots for the half, before hitting back with 5.2 to even the ledger. In a tense closer, the reigning premiers managed to hold on to their one-goal buffer after creating enough opportunities to kick away more comfortably.

Both sides managed an even goalkicking spread, with Michael Hagan and Alastair Darcy booting a game-high three goals for their respective teams. Hagan was the only Nightcliff goalkicker to also be named among the best, with Kaine Riley leading the way from Daniel Bowles and Jayden Kickett. It was a slightly different story for the Bombers as Harley Puruntatameri (two goals), Adam Tipungwuti (two) and Charlie Molyneux (one) each troubled the scorers and were impactful overall, while Rodney Baird was solid up the ground.

While four points have been coming in aplenty for the Tigers, the win keeps the chasing pack at bay – eight points adrift – with a top two clash up next. Tiwi’s spot in the top five is at risk next week as the Bombers do battle with another finals-bound side in Darwin, heating up the finals race.

ST MARY’S 6.5 | 12.8 | 19.9 | 25.14 (164)
WARATAH 2.1 | 4.3 | 4.5 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: A. Wilson 6, J. Calder 6, M. Rioli Jnr 3, T. Saunders 2, S. Rioli 2, J. Long, B. Rioli, P. Macfarlane, R. Smith, N. Paredes, J. Cheek.
Waratah: H. Kerinaiua 2, A. Hodgson, T. Schmid, K. Kantilla, W. Gorman.

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Geary, R. Smith, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Rioli, D. Armitage, J. Calder
Waratah: N/A

A comprehensive 123-point drubbing of Waratah was not quite enough to see St Mary’s jump back into third on percentage, but the Saints well and truly sounded a warning to their competition on Saturday. A stacked Saints lineup looked ominous heading into the clash, and lived up to the bill with a 25.14 (164) to 6.5 (41) result.

After a six goals to two opener, the game was all but put to bed at the main break as the Saints led by 53 points, kicking on with another 13 goals to two in the second half to more than double that margin – managing no less than six goals across each quarter in a consistently ruthless performance. With Abe Ankers missing, the Warriors simply struggled for answers throughout, void of midfield grunt while also being shut down well up forward.

Anthony Wilson and Jackson Calder were the stars inside 50 with six goals each, joined by Maurice Rioli Jnr (three goals) as multiple goalkickers to also feature in the best. Jackson Geary was also again among the Saints’ best, joined by ex-St Kilda midfielder David Armitage. Henry Kerinaiua stood up in a losing effort for Waratah with two majors, but his forward partners in Steven Stroobants and Kim Kantilla were unable to truly break the shackles.

While positions have not changed, the result has a big bearing on the top end of the ladder with St Mary’s gaining some much-needed percentage and keeping entrenched in the top four. Another bottom three opponent in Palmerston is up next for the Saints, while Waratah will next face Wanderers as both sides’ finals hopes start to get desperate.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.6 | 8.6 | 8.9 | 13.13 (91)
WANDERERS 1.1 | 2.3 | 7.4 | 9.5 (59)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, B. Schwarze 3, E. Barlow 2, J. Farrer, D. Williams, D. Hall, R. Tambling, N. Horbury.
Wanderers: M. White 3, L. Jurrah 2, D. Thompson, K. Stephens, B. O’Connell, M. Derrick.

BEST:

Southern Districts: J. Farrer, E. Barlow, T. Holman, D. Williams, D. McLachlan, M. Pemberton
Wanderers: L. Dyer, N. Sedgwick, B. O’Connell, D. Thompson, J. Priest

A strong final term helped Southern Districts keep clear in second, outlasting a young Wanderers side to come away 32-point winners. The Crocs were made to withstand a strong Eagles fightback, putting a winning 13.13 (91) to 9.5 (59) score on the board.

A tense opening term saw the Crocs edge in front, but a six goals to one second stanza broke the game open and proved the defining period of play. But the Muk Muks fought back to show all the finals credentials they had in previous weeks, trailing by just 10 points heading into the final turn. That was where the momentum stopped however, as the Crocs stormed home with 4.4 to 2.1 to claim a fighting win.

Will Farrer and Beau Schwarze resumed their forward 50 partnership for the Crocs with three goals apiece, joined by ex-AFL midfielder Ed Barlow (two goals) as multiple goalkickers. Both Farrer and Barlow were also among the winners’ best alongside Thomas Holman and Damian Williams, while Luke Dyer was named Wanderers’ best ahead of Nicholas Sedgwick. Goalsneak Beau O’Connell was also dangerous in the losing effort, while fellow small forward Mark White booted three goals in his second game for the year.

The Eagles will have to turn a losing skid around if they are to climb back into a finals spot, with Waratah next on the agenda after its heavy defeat. Meanwhile, the Crocs are poised for a top of the table clash against Nightcliff next time out in what is set to be a belter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 VFL season preview: Werribee ready to roar

IT is a new season and reigning premiers Box Hill Hawks are the team with a target on their back. We take a look at each of the 15 Victorian Football League (VFL) teams with plenty of new inclusions to excite fans ahead of the season, with Werribee and Port Melbourne tipped to be some of the top sides in the competition.

Box Hill Hawks

Last season: Premiers

The Hawks have brought in a number of big ball winners to their side with tall winger, Mason De Wit and strong mid/forward Jake Frawley heading to the brown and gold with outside runner, Boadie Motton from Gippsland Power. The Hawks have also picked up Nathan Mullenger-McHugh from the Western Bulldogs, and some experience out west in West Perth’s Luke Meadows. Add in Port Melbourne’s Damian Mascitti and the talented but relatively unknown Paddy Anderson from the Hampden League, and the Hawks have brought in some page and power up forward, as well as great midfield depth. Will Hams will be a loss with a number of other players out to play local footy, while former Sandringham Dragon, Georgie Nagle has headed to Port Melbourne. The reigning premiers have built on the list that took them to the cup last season and they are a team to watch in season 2019.

Casey Demons

Last season: Grand Finalists

The Demons have traded around Stingrays, with Riley D’Arcy, Goy Lok and Ali Zijai all heading to Frankston over the summer, but have brought in premiership Stingrays, Jai Taylor and Matthew Gahan for the 2019 season. Gahan offers good movement out of defence, while the lightning quick Taylor will no doubt make it easy for Casey’s social media team to regularly draw out highlights. Heath Briggs joins his brother at the Demons, while Nick Lowden has progressed from Gippsland among a couple of Port Melbourne recruits in Luke Tynan and Anthony Vella. With a few local league players also joining the side including a familiar name with Darcy Fritsch – brother of Melbourne’s Bailey – pulling on the red and blue. It was a heartbreaking loss in the Grand Final last season and the Demons will be keen to go one better this year with the additions.

Coburg Lions

Last season: 15th (Wooden spoon)

Change was afoot at Coburg over the summer with a match day team full of players coming in, and going out of the Lions’ doors. From a VFL perspective, Matthew Harman has crossed from the Northern Blues with Alex Federico to join former Northern Knights teammates, Braedyn Gillard and Mark Baker at the club, while fellow draft prospects last year, Mitch Podhajski – who returns on a full-time basis to the club – Jack Evans and Lucas Cavallaro all switch from Calder to Coburg. Evans and Cavallaro will provide good drive out of defence, while Podhajski will be a dominant force in multiple areas around the ground. Add in former Eastern Ranges outside midfielder Xavier Fry, a couple of Gold Coast NEAFL players in Brodie Foster and Harry Simington and Canberra Demons’ Jack Baker who was close to being drafted last season, and the Lions have really built some serious depth this year. Of the departures, Hisham Kerbatieh, Nick Mellington and Sean Gregory have crossed to the Seagulls, while Tom Condon will try his hand in the SANFL With Sturt.

Collingwood Magpies

Last season: 5th (Elimination final exit)

A relatively settled line-up, the Magpies will have a bitter taste in their mouth after coming close to a double chance, only to be knocked out in the elimination final by Essendon. Adam Oxley has hung around at the club after being delisted by Collingwood’s AFL side, while Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite looms as a massive inclusion who could put his name up in lights with a big season, while Alex Spencer is the other addition coming from Port Melbourne. Marty Hore and Tom Jok were drafted by Melbourne and Essendon respectively, while Gus Borthwick also departs. The Magpies will hope for a better run of injuries this season with the VFL side stretched at times last year given the amount of AFL players required at AFL level.

Essendon Bombers

Last season: 8th (Preliminary final exit)

Essendon have strategically brought in a number of over-age prospects who did have draft interest over the past two years, with key defender Daniel Hanna and Oakleigh Chargers versatile tall, Matthew Day having plenty of draftable attributes but needing to iron out a few things. Jacob Atley will also share time between Essendon and Bendigo Pioneers in his bid to get drafted with Essendon considering him for an AFL list spot last year. Nick Hind was a whirlwind last season but he will now cross to Sandringham to play with St Kilda’s affiliate, while Alex Boyse also departed the club over the off-season after some draft interest. The Bombers have also picked up former Saint, Ray Connellan, as well as Werribee’s Kurt Aylett and Port Melbourne’s Josh Tynan who should all make important contributions to the club.

Footscray Bulldogs

Last season: 9th

Footscray has bolstered its side ahead of the 2019 season, only losing Jamison Shea to Southport, while Will Hayes got his chance for the Bulldogs’ senior side. Richmond’s Nathan Drummond and Geelong’s Ryan Gardner cross to the club after being delisted last season, while former Carlton AFL player, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow has made the move further west after a stint with Port Melbourne. Interestingly, the Bulldogs have raided St Kevin’s to top up their list, with Sam Barnett, Lachlan Farrugia, Gerard Gleeson and Billy Kanakis all signing onto the club this year. Footscray would hope that the inclusions will be enough to reach the finals after narrowly missing out last year.

Frankston Dolphins

Last season: 14th

The Dolphins had moments returning to the competition for the 2018 season, but ultimately just managed the two wins from 18 games in 2018. Unsuprisingly, Frankston has looked to Sandringham Dragons and Dandenong Stingrays for young talent coming through, while also picking up some former Dragons who were delisted by their respective AFL clubs. Nathan Freeman was a feel-good story last year for the Saints, but his AFL time came to an end, as did Sydney’s Angus Styles who was delisted after one year on the rookie list. Former Stingrays, Riley D’Arcy and Ali Zijai, and former Dragon, Goy Lok all return to Frankston, along with potential Brisbane father-son James Rendell, former Mentone Grammar captain, Harry Houlahan, and Stingrays duo, Aaron Darling – who has had two consecutive knee reconstructions – and Lachlan McDonnell who was unlucky to miss out on being drafted last season. The Dolphins will also help develop St Kilda ruck, Sam Alabakis who was allowed to play for Frankston given St Kilda’s ruck depth who will play at Sandringham.

Geelong Cats

Last season: 3rd (Semi-final exit)

Geelong has made minimal changes to its line-up for the 2019 season, with captain Tom Atkins pulling on the senior blue and white hoops so likely to roll through the VFL team this season, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder Aiden Domic, has crossed to Werribee. His Rebels teammate, Charlie Wilson joins the club and will provide some firepower in attack. Gippsland Power key defender Kyle Reid comes into the Cats line-up and with a good season could be a chance to be drafted as a 19-year-old given the Cats’ tendency to draft their own state league players and ageing key defenders, while Aaron Black stays at the club after being delisted. The Cats have also headed to the Goulburn Valley to recruit Nik Rokahr and Luke Smith from the Shepparton Bears. The Cats had a terrific season last year, but fell short in finals, exiting in straight sets at the hands of eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks.

Northern Blues

Last season: 12th

The Northern Blues have bolstered their line-up with some AFL experience, bringing in key defensive duo, Kieran Collins and Alex Johnson. Collins was close to getting a reprieve with the Blues in the AFL, but will bide his time for Carlton’s VFL affiliate, while Johnson was the feel-good story then the heartbreak story of 2018. After multiple knee reconstructions, the former Sydney defender has not given up hope of reaching the highest level again and it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the state league. Hawthorn’s Jonathan O’Rouke also joins the club with some unfulfilled potential, while South Croyden’s Frank Anderson was the name that had a few eyebrows raised when State Combine invites went out last year, but the talented former Eastern Football League star will now get the chance to step up at the higher level.

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Last season: 10th

Not a great deal of change out at North Melbourne, with Alex Morgan staying at the club despite being delisted by the AFL affiliate. Brendan Whitecross will provide invaluable experience after his time at Hawthorn, while former Sydney player, Daniel Robinson also joins the Roos for season 2019. Sam Parson crosses to the club from Box Hill Hawks, while key forward Michael Close, Liam Whelan and Steve Stroobants all depart. The Kangaroos were solid in their debut year last year, finishing 10th and pushing towards a finals birth at times. They did get smashed by the AFL Academy side early in the year, but once North Melbourne gelled, they showed what they were capable of in the competition.

Port Melbourne Borough

Last season: 7th (Elimination final exit)

The 2017 premiers bowed out in the first week of finals last year to eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks. Like most standalone clubs, the Borough have made plenty of changes to their list, with Kieran Strachan the headline departure after being picked up by Adelaide Crows. Robin Nahas has retired and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow heads to Footscray, while Lucas Cook and Luke Tynan have also left. Into the side comes former Collingwood premiership player, Jarryd Blair, as well as a host of Oakleigh Chargers including Charlie Beasley, Jake Gasper and Xavier Fry. Gasper will replace Nahas as the danger inside 50, while Blair and experienced VFL campaigner, Ben Jolley will be the hard men in the middle with the latter the biggest transfer of the summer. Matthew Signorello has returned to Victoria after being delisted by Adelaide, while former Melbourne player, Dion Johnston has also joined the club. Patrick Veszpremi will try his luck at state level again, returning from Pascoe Vale, while Tom Goodwin (Coburg) and Geordie Nagle (Box Hill Hawks) are some of the VFL talent that have changed clubs to Port Melbourne.

Richmond Tigers

Last season: 1st (Semi-final exit)

It was not a good September for Richmond fans at any level considering two minor premiership led to a straight sets exit and a preliminary final exit. After finishing on top of the table in season 2019, the Tigers looked like going all the way, but as they found out, finals is a different ball game, even for the light technicians and despite some controversy over the finals losses – one they were left in the dark and the second was a brilliance passage of play from Nick Hind in the dying seconds being the difference – they will look to rebound in season 2019.

Sandringham Zebras

Last season: 13th

The Zebras had a disappointing season in 2018, recording a bottom four finish and have subsequently overhauled plenty of their list ahead of the 2019 season. They have made Kai Owens a more full-time member of the side, while Sam Sofronidis, Anthony Seaton, Ryan O’Meara and Nick Stamatis all go through the pathway from Dragons to Zebras. Nathan Wright provides some AFL experience, as does Sam Gilbert who has experienced the atmosphere of AFL Grand Final Day, while Port Melbourne’s Dylan Atkins is another with state league experience invaluable to the Zebras cause. A host of local players round out a long list of additions for season 2019.

Werribee Tigers

Last season: 11th

The Tigers might not have had the best season, finishing in eleventh last year, but they had two players head north to ply their trade with the Gold Coast SUNS. Both Sam Collins and Josh Corbett were pre-listed by the SUNS and will forge AFL careers, while Andrew Hooper and Kurt Aylett both head to the Bombers’ VFL side. While they have lost some experience, the Tigers are arguably the team to watch in season 2019, with AFL experience galore, as well as some seriously talented state league and former TAC Cup stars. Michael Barlow and Max Spencer (Gold Coast), Oscar Junker and Daniel Nielson (North Melbourne), Timm House (Geelong) and Jackson Edwards (Adelaide) return after stints on AFL lists, Barlow the most recognisable name of the lot. Jake Riccardi and Scott Carlin join the club on a full-time basis after playing as 19 year-olds last season, while Ryan Hebron and Josh Clayton are NEAFL players who were in the draft conversation. Key position players, Tom Boyd and Hudson Garoni will straighten the Tigers up, while Western Jets have provided four players to the club, with ball winners, Connor Thar and Jack Watkins, key position utility Hamish Murphy and Nick Stuhldreier all coming to the club. The biggest recruit might be off the field, with 2004 AFL Premiership coach, Mark Williams taking the reigns at Werribee.

Williamstown Seagulls

Last season: 4th (Preliminary final exit)

The narrowest of defeats in the Preliminary Final to eventual premiers Box Hill Hawks might have stung over the summer had the National AFL Draft not rolled around.By the end of November, Williamstown’s Ben Cavarra – a player with a well-documented pathways journey – finally found an AFL home at the Western Bulldogs, while Lachlan Schulz and Brett Bewley remained teammates over in the west with Fremantle. By the AFL season start, Michael Gibbons would become a Blue, making it a mammoth four players drafted by the one club over the off-season, then club legend Ben Jolley departed for rivals Port Melbourne. The Seagulls will undoubtedly drop back a bit with the serious talent that has left the club, but will be proud of the development pathway provided. In saying that, they have brought in North Melbourne’s Mitch Hibberd and Collingwood’s Sam McLarty for some AFL experience, while Joel Ottavi, Nick Mellington, Hisham Kerbatieh and Nick Sing cross from other VFL clubs. From the TAC Cup, Stefan Radovanovic will provide speed and power for the Seagulls, while former Collingwood small Ben Kennedy also joins the club, A team to watch with interest to see how they go given the amount of experience out the door, but always a team to keep an eye on.

Predictions:

Premiers: Werribee
Runner-Up: Port Melbourne
Michael Barlow (Werribee)

Under 18 Championships Preview: Allies

THE ALLIES are in their second year of a relatively new Under 18 Championship concept bringing together the best players from the Under 18 Academy Series (Previously the division two championships) to play against the division one teams.

2016 saw top ten draftees Will Setterfield (GWS Giants) and Jack Bowes (Gold Coast Suns) run out for the Allies, playing against division one sides South Australia, Western Australia, Vic Country and Vic Metro.

Last year saw the Allies bookmarked as favourites by some for the title – but struggled coming together just before the championships started, finding it hard to play as a team. This year; a camp as a group and two trial games in the lead up to the division one carnival will hopefully allow the players to adjust to their new teammates and gel as a group.

While the squad on the forefront isn’t as strong as last year, the Allies are expected to put up a fight throughout the carnival.

Greater Western Sydney’s academy has the most members of any division two side, with 12 players included, followed by Gold Coast Academy (10) and Sydney Academy (nine). Northern Territory (seven), Tasmania (six) and Brisbane Lions (four) round out the other division two sides.

Among those named are first round prospects Jarrod Brander and Charlie Spargo (GWS), both of whom were ruled ineligible to be drafted by GWS through the academy system and placed on the open market. Connor Ballenden (Brisbane) is another pegged as a first round talent as one of the best key forwards in the draft.

The squad also includes two father-son prospects for the 2018 draft with Bailey Scott (Gold Coast) who is also eligible for father/son at Geelong and North Melbourne, and Nick Blakey (Sydney – also eligible for father/son at North Melbourne and Brisbane).

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DHu5Xb0zzg[/embedyt]

Players to watch: 

Zac Bailey – Was one of the standouts for the Allies in their trial game against Vic Country – collecting 18 disposals, laying eight tackles and had five clearances. His work inside the contest is very good despite his small frame. Has enough speed to burst from the stoppages and can hit the scoreboard.

Connor Ballenden – The Brisbane Lions Academy member is a strong contested marking forward who plays well out of the goalsquare. Will likely provide some chop out in the ruck for Brayden Crossley and Nathan Richards throughout the carnival. Has a very fluid set shot routine and kicks more goals than he misses.

Jarrod Brander – Brander is a key position tall that can play at either end. His mobility is very good and he reads the flight of the ball well in the air. Has been kicking goals for Geelong Grammar at school football – but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play at centre half back in the Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

Jack Powell – The GWS Academy member is a good two-way runner and is a clean ball user on his right foot. Spreads well from the contest and did some good things in the NAB AFL Academy game at the MCG. Had 16 disposals in the midfield for the Allies in their practice game against Vic Metro.

Charlie Spargo – Small bite-sized midfielder who cracks in hard despite standing at 175cm. Wins the contested ball and is willing to tackle hard to get the ball back. Played for the Allies in 2016, with a strong effort manning Vic Metro’s MVP Andrew McGrath at Etihad Stadium – collecting 15 disposals and laying six tackles.

2018 names to keep an eye on:

Bailey Scott – Good decision maker with ball in hand and wins the ball on both the inside and outside. Marks well overhead and was impressive for Gold Coast in the Under 18 Academy Series. Had 12 disposals and took four marks in the Allies’ trial game against Vic Country. Father-Son prospect to Geelong and North Melbourne, as well as being eligible for Gold Coast through their academy.

Nick Blakey – One of the leading players for the 2018 draft. Not only can play as a tall, but has the ability to push up into the midfield. Moves well and kicks it nicely on his left foot. Likely to play up forward for the Allies. Sydney Swans Academy member and father-son prospect to North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions.

Tarryn Thomas – Starred for Tasmania last year in the Under 18 Championships as an Under 16 player. Had some outstanding moments in the trial game against Vic Metro collecting 17 disposals, showing off his speed across half forward. Had very good vision and awareness to switch the ball deep inside 50 to find a free teammate at the top of the goalsquare. Is part of North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy.

FIXTURES

Round 1: v VIC COUNTRY – June 11th 12.30pm Blacktown
Round 2: v SOUTH AUSTRALIA – June 17th 10.10am Adelaide Oval (FOX FOOTY)
Round 3: v WESTERN AUSTRALIA – June 25th 12.30pm Leederville Oval
Round 4: BYE
Round 5: v VIC METRO – July 5th 2.10pm Simonds Stadium (FOX FOOTY)

Possible Round One team: 

B: Jake Hinds, Jack Payne, Kwaby Boakye
HB: Tom Highmore, Jarrod Brander, Jack Clayton
C: Brodie Foster, Nicholas Shipley, Sam Davidson
HF: James Bell, Nick Blakey, Tarryn Thomas
F: Hugh Dixon, Connor Ballenden, Jack Hardman

FOLL: Brayden Crossley, Charlie Spargo, Jack Powell
INT: Nathan Richards, Luke Robertson, Brendan Myers, Harry Simmington, Zac Bailey

Predictions: 

Finishing prediction: 4th – The Allies should be able to beat Western Australia and their tall forwards may cause headaches for other teams if they can win enough ball in the midfield.

MVP prediction: Charlie Spargo – The tough inside midfielder was the Under 16 Alan McLean Medalist, dominating division two back in 2015. Expect him to crack in hard and win the plenty of the ball.

2017 ALLIES SQUAD

No. Name
DOB
HT (cm)
WT (kg)
Club
1 Charlie SPARGO 25/11/1999 173 73 Murray Bushrangers/Albury
2 Jack HARDMAN 31/12/1999 173 67 Swans/UNSW
3 Brodie FOSTER 3/3/1999 178 74 Suns/Surfers Paradise
4 Laine FITZGERALD 16/1/1999 179 78 Bendigo Pioneers/Balranald
5 Zac BAILEY 23/9/1999 180 68 Southern Districts
6 Jack POWELL 15/7/1999 180 75 Giants/Ainslie
7 Sam DAVIDSON 6/5/1999 180 70 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
8 Luke SKRIVANIC 8/4/1999 182 74 Swans/Pennant Hills
9 Jacob DAWSON 3/11/1999 182 80 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
10 James BELL 10/2/1999 183 75 Swans/UNSW
11 Brendan MYERS 10/2/1999 183 80 Giants/Wagga Tigers
12 Adam SAMBONO 24/4/1997 184 69 Darwin Buffalos
13 Bailey SCOTT 9/7/2000 184 70 Suns/Broadbeach Cats
14 Jack CLAYTON 25/2/1999 184 77 Lions/Wests Juniors
15 Jake BROWN 19/3/1998 185 76 Swans/St George
16 Thomas MUNDY 23/11/1999 185 79 Burnie
17 Jy LANE 21/3/1999 185 78 Murray Bushrangers/Corowa
18 Jake HINDS 7/5/1999 186 78 Launceston
19 Doulton LANGLANDS 29/7/1999 187 80 Murray Bushrangers/North Albury
20 Nicholas HUTCHINSON 21/5/1999 187 80 Hobart City
21 Damien BURKE 21/1/1999 188 83 Suns/Cape York Eagles
22 Tarryn THOMAS 25/3/2000 189 71 North Launceston
23 Luke ROBERTSON 7/5/1998 189 85 Swans/North Shore
24 Kwaby BOAKYE 16/3/1999 188 88 Suns/Broadbeach Cats
25 Harry SIMINGTON 28/3/1999 189 85 Suns/Labrador Tigers
26 Nicholas SHIPLEY 25/6/1999 190 90 Giants/St George
27 Matthew GREEN 5/5/2000 190 67 Sporties Spitfires
28 Harrison CARR 9/2/1998 190 87 Swans/North Shore
29 Michael CARROLL 18/6/1999 191 85 Swans/Pennant Hills
30 Caleb GRAHAM 12/9/2000 192 82 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
31 Tom HIGHMORE 24/2/1998 192 82 Giants/Marist
32 Zac BUECHNER** 5/3/1998 192 90 Clarence
33 Jarrod BRANDER 11/2/1999 194 89 Bendigo Pioneers/Wentworth
34 Nicholas BLAKEY 27/2/2000 194 75 Swans/UNSW
35 Hugh DIXON 26/2/1999 195 92 Kingborough Tigers
36 Jack PAYNE 15/10/1999 195 93 Lions/Noosa
37 Alex PAECH 17/6/1999 196 99 Murray Bushrangers/North Albury
38 Connor BALLENDEN 29/3/1999 199 95 Lions/Wests Juniors
39 Brayden CROSSLEY 16/8/1999 198 105 Suns/Labrador Tigers
40 Nathan RICHARDS 11/2/1999 200 102 Giants/Griffith Swans
42 Timakoi BOWIE 4/4/1999 175 80 Suns/Cape York Eagles
43 Jarrod OSBORNE 29/12/1998 180 79 Swans/Manly
44 Ben SLOAN 27/8/1999 189 80 Lions/Mt Gravatt
45 Rodney BAIRD 1/3/1999 192 72 Palmerston
46 Daniel JOHNSTON 1/12/1999 196 97 Murray Bushrangers/Barooga
47 Tony OLANGO 2/9/1998 200 80 St Mary’s
 ** Zac Buechner was a late inclusion for Tasmania Chayce Jones

Allies announce strong under 18s squad

FOLLOWING the conclusion of the AFL National Under 18s Division Two Championships, the Allies have announced their squad for the upcoming division one championships. Greater Western Sydney’s academy has the most members of any division two side, with 12 players included, followed by Gold Coast Academy (10) and Sydney Academy (nine). Northern Territory (seven), Tasmania (six) and Brisbane Lions (four) round out the other division two sides.

Among those named are first round prospects Jarrod Brander and Charlie Spargo (GWS), both of whom were ruled ineligible to be drafted by GWS through the academy system and placed on the open market, as well as Brayden Crossley and Bailey Scott (Gold Coast) the latter of which is also eligible for father/son at Geelong and North Melbourne, Connor Ballenden (Brisbane) and Nick Blakey (Sydney – also eligible for father/son at North Melbourne and Brisbane).

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DHu5Xb0zzg[/embedyt]

From Matt Balmer’s top 25 Power Rankings, the Allies have Brander (#1), Ballenden (#8), Spargo (#11) and Jack Powell (#15) in the squad. A number of the GWS Academy members are on TAC Cup lists including Brander and Laine Fitzgerald (Bendigo Pioneers); and Alex Paech, Daniel Johnston, Doulton Langlands and Spargo (Murray Bushrangers).

The squad will play their final practice games on Sunday 28th May.

2017 National AFL Under 18s Championships Allies Squad:

NSW-ACT (GWS Academy): Nicholas Shipley, Brendan Myers, Jack Powell, Nathan Richards, Jarrod Brander, Alex Paech, Daniel Johnston, Laine Fitzgerald, Doultan Langlands, Jy Lane, Tom Highmore, Charlie Spargo
NSW-ACT (Sydney academy): Luke Skrivanic, Nick Blakey, James Bell, Michael Carroll, Harrison Carr, Luke Robertson, Jarrod Osborne, Jake Brown, Jack Hardman
Northern Territory: Rodney Baird, Zac Bailey, Matthew Green, Jeremiah Scrutton, Tony Olango, Adam Sambono, Dominic Grant
Queensland (Gold Coast academy): Brodie Foster, Brayden Crossley, Harry Simmington, Jacob Dawson, Bailey Scott, Sam Davidson, Damien Burke, Timakoi Bowie, Caleb Graham, Kwaby Boakye
Queensland (Brisbane Lions academy): Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne, Jack Clayton, Ben Sloan
Tasmania: Chayce Jones**, Tarryn Thomas, Hugh Dixon, Thomas Mundy, Jake Hinds, Nicholas Hutchinson
** Jones has been ruled out through injury and has been replaced by Zach Buechner (Tasmania)