Tag: dion munkara

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekend preview: Round 1 – Grand Final replay highlights TIO round

A GRAND final replay between reigning premiers Nightcliff and runners-up Southern Districts headlines the opening round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. All four games are played at TIO Stadium with two on Saturday and two on Sunday.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday, October 5, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

It has been a long seven months for Tiwi Bombers, having to stew on a disastrous 20-goal loss in the preliminary final to Southern Districts last season. After a shaky start to the 2018/19 season, the Bombers picked up in the second half to storm home with all the momentum and justify their third placed finish on the table. Unfortunately they could get nowhere near the Crocs on the day and will want to make the best possible start this year with a Round 1 victory over Darwin Buffaloes. The Buffs finished fifth last season and are usually strong starters so could get an early win on the board given the youth that is coming through the Darwin program. Cyril Rioli is by far the biggest name in the NTFL and the Bombers will unleash him at some stage this season, but it will depend on when he wants to run out, however his knowledge as an assistant coach will be invaluable. Outside of the Cyril magic, the Bombers have been steadily improving with experienced former AFL talents in Nathan Djerrkura and Austin Wonaeamirri, as well as Ross Tungatalum, Dion Munkara, Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri, it would be hard to write them off as a premiership contender this season. For Darwin, experienced leader Adam Sambono has been named in the side alongside Antonio James. Joe Anderson has also returned to play in the game with both sides evenly match in terms of talent.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, October 5, 7.00pm
TIO Stadium

The match of the round will likely be the grand final replay between the Tigers and Crocs as the Tigers raise their flag from last season in front of their opponents from that day. It should fire the Southern District players up in the prime time night game that will have all spectators on the edge of their seat. Nightcliff was the clear standout team last season, finishing two wins and plenty of percentage ahead of the Crocs, and should look to start the season how they finished off. The Districts received a massive boost with Keegan Dingo re-registered back in the NTFL, but the huge inclusion for the Tigers was Bendigo Football League goalkicking machine Lachlan Sharp named for Round 1, having booted 133 goals from 19 games this year in Victoria. With the likes of former Port Adelaide forward John Butcher and the talented Trent Melville, the reigning premiers will be hard to contain up forward. On the other side, Damian Williams has also been named for Southern Districts having crossed from Darwin and is expected to provide some forward line power for the Crocs to counter that of the Tigers. In what could add some spice to the Grand Final replay, former Tigers, Faron James and Devin Lines are among those in line to switch to the Crocs. Nightcliff go in as favourites given the firepower, but the match is won and lost in the midfield.

WARATAH vs. WANDERERS
Sunday, October 6, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah and bottom two side Wanderers go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon with the Warriors seeing this game as a must-win to start off their season. They tended to drop games they should not have last season, while claiming wins against top teams in an inconsistent year. If they can lift their performance when they are not at the top of their game, they will likely challenge any team on their day and give the Wanderers something to worry about in this clash. For the Wanderers, last season was one that was ultimately disappointing with just the six wins, and with three losses against the Warriors, the Wanderers will be very keen to break that winning drought against their opposition. After a surprise year in 2018/19, the Warriors will head into this game as favourites with Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll leading the charge into the new season, while Liam Patrick and Brett Eddy have been named in the Wanderers’ forward line for the opening game, meaning Waratah cannot take the side too lightly. A tough one to pick the winner.

ST MARY’S vs. PALMERSTON
Sunday, October 6, 5pm
TIO Stadium

In the final game of the round, 2018/19 NTFL wooden spooners take on sixth placed Palmerston who unfortunately missed out on finals narrowly last season. The Magpies lost four of their last five games to tumble out of fifth spot, and split their head-to-head with St Mary’s as both teams recorded a win apiece – the Magpies’ victory coming in Round 17 and one of only two this calendar year. The Saints had just the five wins last season, and fell away in the second half of the season, defeating Darwin Buffaloes by 37 points in Round 15 as their only triumph since December 8. Palmerston recently picked up Frankston Dolphins’ talent Dylan Gordon after he crossed from Darwin, with the fly-in player available for limited games. The Magpies will welcome back Kyle Emery inside 50 with the dominant goalkicker joined by Rodney Baird and Nigel Lockyer as players who continued to cause heachaches for the opposition. Throw in fly-in talent Matt Dennis, as well as Alwyn Davey and Ezekiel Frank and the Magpies could swoop into a finals spot this year and get an early win here. Davey will also have the rare honour of running out alongside his twin sons, Alwyn Jnr and Jayden.

2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League season preview

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition set to get underway on the weekend, we take a look at the eight teams competing for the ultimate prize over the summer.

DARWIN BUFFALOES

Last season: 5th
Win-loss: 8-10
Points: 32
Percentage: 94.6

The Buffs are coming in off an indifferent 2018/20 campaign that saw them scrape into finals after a promising start. They were eliminated in a crushing 73-point elimination final loss to Waratah after going down to the Warriors in Round 18 as well, finally folding after struggling to reclaim the early-season form that had them pegged for another top two finish. Having captain-coach Matt Campbell and star players Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas Jnr shuffle in and out of the side at times did not help the Buffaloes in their search for some consistency, but the talent base is certainly there. Ex-Blue Anderson and highly rated junior Sambono are poised to feature prominently again under Campbell’s tutelage, while Rosas Jnr’s availability hinges on his AFL Draft hopes. Those three are all capable of seeing a heap of the ball and having important touches, with the consistent figures of Shaun Ahmat and Kevin Maroney set to again add that stability to the lineup each week. With Rosas seemingly moving on to the elite system, the young gun in Darwin’s crop this year is Antonio James. James featured for two straight years for the NT Thunder’s Under-16 side and was part of the Under-18 NAB League squad without playing, making him a good chance to feature for them in the upcoming season. The Buffs will be keen to see how he goes at Premier League level, with his enthusiasm and pace from defence helping him to stand out to this point. After a disappointing finish to last season, the storied club will hope to reach the heights they did in 2017/18 and sneak back into that top two. They certainly have the top-end talent to challenge, and should provide some highlights along the way.

Players to watch:

Joe Anderson
Adam Sambono
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Shaun Ahmat

Young gun:

Antonio James

NIGHTCLIFF

Last season: 1st
Win-loss: 15-3 (Premiers)
Points: 60
Percentage: 166.08

The reigning premiers took home their fourth premiership cup last season, and in doing so moved one clear of Palmerston and Southern Districts to outright fifth on the overall premiership table. It was a dominant year for the Tigers, only losing thrice on their way to an outright minor premiership and getting up by 22 points over then-reigning premiers Southern Districts in the grand final. Trent Melville was the side’s spearhead, booting 56 goals from his 20 games to finish as the league’s leading goal kicker, but Nightcliff had a wealth of scoring threats. Melville will suit up again alongside the likes of Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell up forward, with big-man and NT Thunder representative Hugo Drogemuller a chance to feature up either end. The Budarick brothers, Jess and Joel will also be important between the arcs for the Tigers, with Joel turning out for the NT’s Under 18 academy this year. Jess appeared for the Thunder in the NEAFL this season and should add to his games tally this time around, adding to Nightcliff’s list of promising youngsters. Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Jamie Jones and Ned Stevens are also on that list after playing a part in the NT’s Under 16 campaign this year, putting the reigning premiers in good stead to feature well again and into the future. Their depth is solid, and their firepower is almost unmatched.

Players to watch:

Jess Budarick
Trent Melville
Matthew Bricknell
Hugo Drogemuller
Liam Holt-Fitz

Young gun:

Joel Budarick

PALMERSTON

Last season: 6th
Win-loss: 7-11
Points: 28
Percentage: 70.57

The Palmy Army experienced much more joy in 2018/19 after claiming the wooden spoon in season 2017/18, with a vastly-improved sixth place finish – just one win outside of the finals spots. The Magpies had their depth tested with ex-AFL players like Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey, and Ezekiel Frank missing chunks of games throughout the year, while Matthew Stokes only appeared in a two-game cameo. All four of those stars provided great value though and could do so again in this year’s competition to aid a bunch of regulars who stood out. Victorian ruck veteran Matthew Dennis featured among the best for all but one of his 18 games last year and could go around again, with VFL player Dylan Gordon set to make his NT return. He joins the likes of prolific goalsneak Kyle Emery, as well as the ever-improving Nigel Lockyer and consistent figures of Samuel Autio and Samuel Talbot. Add youngster Jason Baird to the mix and so much of the Magpies’ firepower comes in their forward movers, despite not being able to post the biggest scores last year. Up the other end, their defence was the leakiest in 2018/19 and will need some tightening if Palmerston is to continue its upward trend.

Players to watch:

Kyle Emery
Matthew Dennis
Dylan Gordon
Samuel Talbot
Nigel Lockyer

Young gun:

Jason Baird

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

Last season: 2nd
Win-loss: 13-5 (Runners-up)
Points: 52
Percentage: 147.36

So close, yet so far, the Crocs battled hard throughout the season and looked at times like premiership favourites, particularly after a 20-goal smashing of Tiwi Bombers in the preliminary final. But as they found out, the Grand Final is a different ball game, going down to Nightcliff by 22 points. That does not take away from the dominance the Crocs have had over the competition during the last two seasons, with a ton of depth and some scary firepower. Ex-AFL players Leroy Jetta, Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow and Jared Brennan were all terrific over multiple games for the 2017/18 premiers, adding arguably the highest level of ex-professional class. Goals came aplenty through the likes of Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery, while Bradley Vallance, Dean Staunton, Charles McAdam, and Beau Schwarze were others to combine their scoreboard impact with ball winning. They should all be important figures again if Southern Districts is to have another flag tilt, providing a consistent base throughout the year with a raft of other stars coming in and out of the team. It is always hard to look past the Crocs on paper and given the ability they have to blow teams away, expect them to be right up there once again this season. With young gun Brodie Lake also one of the NT’s big hopes for next year’s draft, they have some future talent to nurture too.

Players to watch:

Jess Koopman
Michael Mummery
Dean Staunton
Ed Barlow
Brandon Rusca

Young gun:

Brodie Lake

ST MARY’S

Last season: 8th
Win-loss: 5-13
Points: 20
Percentage: 78.14

The NTFL powerhouse side was publicly in financial trouble over the off-season, but is back in the league to try and bounce back from its poor season last year. After missing the 2017/18 Grand Final for only the second time since 2002/03, the Saints went through a rebuilding phase last season dropping to the bottom of the table. With nine more premierships than its nearest rival, expect this successful club to move back up the ladder in season 2019/20. Former Gippsland Power prospect Nathaniel Paredes was the Saints’ shining light last season, featuring in the best 10 of 15 times and booting 20 goals in the process. A host of famous names and relations also fill out the side, with Ben Rioli and Jacob Long sure to join prodigious youngsters Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli – pending their availability. Nicholas Yarran and Raphael Clarke would be handy returns after solid 2017/18 seasons, along with the likes of Mathias Liddy. St Mary’s is renowned for producing top talent, and NT Under 16 representative Preyben Tipiloura is an exciting type to come through further this year alongside Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli, while Kieren Parnell is another rising star set to make his long-awaited injury return. Given the club’s strong history and the raw talent set to be displayed, expect St Mary’s to be a riser this year – the only was is up from last season after all – and a couple more former-AFL coups could help.

Players to watch:

Nathaniel Paredes
Maurice Rioli Jnr
Jacob Long
Ben Rioli
Kieren Parnell
Brayden Rioli

Young gun:

Preyben Tipiloura

TIWI BOMBERS

Last season: 3rd
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 101.72

Tiwi very nearly became one of the better stories out of last season as their run in the back-end saw them earn an unlikely preliminary final berth. Although they were soundly beaten while searching for a grand final spot, the journey there was something to behold. It came long after a slow start to the season, with a raft of experienced and reliable players helping the famous Bombers click into gear. They were awesome in front of goal at times, and that is only set to be helped this year with the return of favourite son Cyril Rioli, who joins as a player-coach. The prospect of having him run around alongside fellow ex-AFL players Austin Wonaeamirri and Nathan Djerrkura, as well as Ross Tungatalum is scary and sure to bring plenty of excitement to the league. Add to that club stalwarts Jason Puruntatameri, Dion Munkara and prolific young guns Adam Tipungwuti and Jeffrey Simon, and you have a fun side destined for big things. The improvement they showed last year should only be built on this time around, and there is no reason why the Bombers cannot fly back to the top of the NTFL with a continuance of their form. Do not be surprised to see Tiwi go in as one of the flag favourites, and there will certainly be plenty of expectation given how dangerous they look on paper in the forward half.

Players to watch:

Cyril Rioli
Ross Tungatalum
Austin Wonaeamirri
Jason Puruntatameri
Dion Munkara
Nathan Djerrkura
Adam Tipungwuti

Young gun:

Jeffrey Simon

WANDERERS

Last season: 7th
Win-loss: 6-12
Points: 24
Percentage: 74.22

A somewhat down 2018/19 season saw Wanderers narrowly escape the bottom of the ladder with a final round victory over Palmerston, despite only winning half the amount of games they lost in the 18-game season. It looked a justified ladder position given they were second-to-last for both points scored and conceded, but there are some promising signs pointing to the future for the Muk Muks. They are set to field young stars aplenty, with NT Under-18 representative Beau O’Connell one who could team up with Davin Ferreira through midfield alongside the experience of Marlon Motlop. John Tipiloura is another lively youngster, as is Mark White, who starred up forward in the 2019 Under 16 Division 2 carnival. But arguably the best of the lot is 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Joel Jeffrey, who was a regular for Wanderers last year and played out on the MCG in the Under-17 grand final curtain raiser. If he is available before his top-age year, look out for his high marking up either end of the ground. While the immediate impact of their talent has not quite translated to results just yet, expect to see the Eagles sore in years to come.

Players to watch:

Beau O’Connell
Marlon Motlop
Joel Jeffrey
Davin Ferreira
John Tipiloura

Young gun:

Mark White

WARATAH

Last season: 4th
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 100.44

Waratah is a team which surprised some last year, holding strong with its local talent to cap a consistent year off in fourth place with an even record – hardly ever looking like missing out on finals throughout the season. Anchoring the side in midfield was Abraham Ankers, who will be key again in this campaign alongside fellow NT Thunder squad member Brodie Carroll, who played 16 games last year. Zach Westerberg, Cameron Barrett, and Henry Kerinaiua were others to hold down spots, and another possible cameo from ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton could spell some more goals. Newton’s two games aside, Waratah is one of the teams with the fewest ex-AFL experience, making their exploits even greater. Andrew Moore could change that factor slightly as he is poised to sign for the Warriors, and Matthew Green could have the effect of a new signing after only featuring a couple of times last season. Watch for Under 18 Allies representative Ben Jungfer if available, given he is Adelaide-based, with his clearance work outstanding. With a lot of other sides improving, it will be a battle for Waratah to maintain their form, but they have the stock to match it with the best once again.

Players to watch:

Abraham Ankers
Matthew Green
Brodie Carroll
Andrew Moore
Cameron Barrett

Young gun:

Ben Jungfer

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Semi finals

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

NIGHTCLIFF 22.17 (149)
TIWI BOMBERS 9.5 (59)


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

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

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

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.11 (89)
WARATAH 6.10 (46)


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

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

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

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Finals Round 1

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

WARATAH 21.7 (133)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 8.12 (60)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend preview: NTFL – Round 17

THE penultimate round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) action could prove key in the race for spots at either end of the ladder, with top spot still up for grabs and places between third and sixth in the air as the final five remains undecided.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Darwin Buffaloes and Tiwi Bombers will be looking to bounce back from Round 16 losses and strengthen their respective finals spots when they meet in the round’s opener. The Buffs fell embarrassingly to bottom side, Wanderers last time out in a game where they sorely missed the firepower of Adam Sambono and leadership of Matthew Campbell. They may well rue lacking that scoring influence again here given Tiwi’s potency forward of centre, despite leading goalkicker Ross Tungatalum (35 goals) only managing one major last week and next best, Dion Munkara (24 goals) currently absent. While the Bombers’ hot run of form and streak of four wins came to an abrupt end last week, they will be keen to knock Darwin off to complete the feat of beating the competition’s top three sides. It is now a question of whether Tiwi peaked a few weeks too early, while on the other hand, the Buffaloes look yet to have peaked as they constantly fall to sides below them despite overcoming Southern Districts twice recently. This may well prove to be a shootout between two sure finals contenders who can beat anyone on their day, with undeniable talent forward of centre on both sides.

 

ST MARYS v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston will be looking for a considerable percentage boost in a last ditch effort to scrape into finals as it clashes with second-bottom, St Marys in Saturday’s evening game. The Magpies suffered a humbling loss at the hands of Nightcliff in their last outing, not doing any favours to their record as the side with the most points conceded. While it was much of the same for the Saints as they went down to Southern Districts, a win could see them dash Palmerston’s finals chances and leapfrog them into sixth place with one foul swoop, while also keeping away from the cellar door. Despite conceding the most points of any team, Palmerston may not be troubled so much down back as their weekend opponents have scored the second-fewest points across the year. Still, the consistency of Ben Rioli alongside the dual-threat of Nathaniel Paredes and Nick Yarran streaming forward could cause some serious headaches for Palmerston. The Magpies have weapons of their own though, with Matthew Dennis putting in a giant season in the ruck, while Kyle Emery (36 goals) is always a chance of kicking a bag. Former-AFL experience may also be a factor in this clash, with the figure of Raphael Clarke always steadying for the Saints, while Palmerston will look to Alwyn Davey for a spark. While it may well be a low-scoring affair, this clash looks to be a close one with neither side at the peak of their powers.

 

WARATAH v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A chance to consolidate finals places is up for grabs when Waratah and Southern Districts do battle under lights on Sunday, with both sides coming off strong wins in the previous round. While they may have looked somewhat out of sorts recently, the Warriors remain a key finals contender and affirmed that notion by downing the in-form Tiwi Bombers in an impressive display. Another win at the weekend would finally see them confirm a finals berth, but it remains a matter of which spot they will take up from third, down to fifth. The Crocs’ finals position has been far more telegraphed throughout the season, hardly straying from the top two spots and remaining well in contention for claiming the minor premiership. While that may well be decided in the final round, the reigning premiers cannot afford to look past Waratah this week given how they look to have regained some form. Still, if the Crocs did not already look threatening enough with six players having booted over 15 goals, the newly reunited midfield partnership of ex-Bulldogs Ryan Griffen and Ed Barlow worked a charm last time out and makes Southern Districts very hard to beat.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. WANDERERS
Round 17 – Sunday February 10, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

A battle between first and last is set to close out the weekend’s action, with both Nightcliff and Wanderers surprisingly coming off wins coming into the penultimate round. Depending on whether Southern Districts claim a win, Nightcliff’s final-round clash with the Crocs could still decide top spot given the reigning premiers’ slight percentage advantage. But with a game in hand on their rivals, the Tigers would not be blamed for complacency here should the Crocs lose on Saturday. Wanderers will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups, with a decent run of form giving them a chance to climb off the bottom of the ladder on points and as high as sixth if results fall their way. First-against-last fixtures seldom hold any ramifications for either side, but this one may well prove different as ladder positions remain tight going into the last two round of the season. With Nightcliff possessing the competition’s leading goalkicker in Trent Melville (51 goals), a much-needed percentage boost could be in order, but Wanderers have proven of late to be anything but a pushover and could throw a spanner in the works.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 11

THE last round of action before a three-week break produced a raft of upsets, setting up a clear top five and now poising two sides equal at the top of the ladder.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 9.13 (67)
WANDERERS 14.15 (99)

GOALS:
Tiwi
: J. Munkara 4, T. Tambling 2, M. Cooper, H. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, S. Tipiloura 4, J. Tipiloura 2, S. Meyer, S. Bates, D. Weetra, W. Walters.

BEST:
Tiwi: 
A. Hams, J. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, B. Palipuaminni, J. Munkara, S. Babui
Wanderers: T. Motlop, W. Yunupingu, S. Tipiloura, C. Niki, J. Jeffrey

Wanderers claimed a minor upset to kick the round off, overcoming a half-time deficit to better a falling Tiwi Bombers side. Wayward kicking meant the Eagles did not quite take advantage of a strong start, posting 1.6 while keeping Tiwi goalless. The Bombers looked like making their opponents pay in the second term after snatching a one-goal buffer, but Wanderers promptly hit back after the main break with ten goals to four seeing the Muk Muks cruise to a 32-point victory. Exciting youngster Joel Jeffrey again showed his potential to boot an equal game-high four goals, matched by Stanley Tipiloura. John Tipiloura was also amongst the goals with two, but it was Thomas Motlop who was named best for the winning Eagles. Ex-West Coast players Ashton Hams and Tom Swift lined up for the Bombers and while the former was judged their best, the pair’s AFL experience was not enough to help overcome Wanderers. Jack Munkara snared four goals to be named in the best alongside regulars Dion Munkara and Jason Puruntatameri, but the likes of Jeffrey Simon and Austin Wonaeamirri were unable to provide their usual spark to help the Bombers’ cause. While The Eagles remain bottom, they draw level on points with their weekend opponents, finding some much-needed confidence heading into the new year.  

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.8 (74)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 8.10 (58)

GOALS:
Darwin:
 D. White 3, C. Williams 2, C. Atkinson, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, A. Sambono, D. Paull, J. Stokes.
Southern Districts: L. Dale 2, D. McLachlan, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, C. McAdam, M. Mummery.

BEST:
Darwin:
 K. Maroney, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson, M. Corrie
Southern Districts: L. Dale, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, L. McGregor, B. Schwarze, R. Tambling

A sensational final quarter fightback saw Darwin Buffaloes snatch victory from ladder leaders Southern Districts to go clear in third place. After giving up a three-goal lead at the first break, the Buffaloes trailed for almost the entire match and by 13 points at the final turn. Turning it on when it mattered, Darwin conjured six goals to one to see out the game and claim an unlikely win after being down on form in recent weeks. NT legend Darryl White was the main source of goals with three, with Chris Williams (two) the only other Buffalo to bag multiple goals. Kevin Maroney was named best alongside the reliable Ryan O’Sullivan and Shaun Ahmat, with the Darwin side undoubtedly buoyed by winning despite quieter games from usual stars Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas. Meanwhile, Lee Dale was the only Croc to score multiple goals – enough to earn best-afield honours for the ladder leaders. White’s ex-teammate Jared Brennan was also thereabouts for Southern Districts, alongside the likes of Richard Tambling and Beau Schwarze. The loss hardly puts a dent in the Crocs’ ladder position, but sees them now share top spot, while Darwin consolidates its finals spot – climbing to outright third and finding some form as the season hots up.

 

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.9 (81)
ST MARYS 6.8 (44)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
 M. Bricknell 4, B. Grewar 2, S. Wilson 2, T. Melville 2, H. Williams, P. Wills.
St Marys: J. Musgrove 2, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, M. Liddy, J. Long.

BEST:
Nightcliff:
 P. Wills, B. Grewar, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, M. Bricknell, S. Deery
St Marys: N. Paredes, B. Taylor, B. Rioli, K. Delahunty, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

Nightcliff did enough to join Southern Districts in equal first with a comfortable win over St Marys, making them the only favourites to come out of the round with a win. Leading from the first bounce, the Tigers kept St Marys to just three goals after the first break, while putting enough of a total next to their own name throughout four consistent quarters. Matthew Bricknell kicked his second bag of four goals for the year to lead the way, followed by Trent Melville, Shaun Wilson, and Blake Grewar with two each. The latter two joined Phil Wills in the best, marking a solid attacking effort for the in-form Tigers. Nathaniel Paredes was again named best for the Saints, with Ben Taylor, Ben Rioli and Kieran Delahunty unsurprisingly not far behind. Stalwart Raphael Clarke had his hands full down back, but was also recognised for his efforts. The win sees Nightcliff join the Crocs on top of the ladder, behind by only percentage as the form team of the competition. Meanwhile, the Saints drop out of the top five but hold a good enough percentage to see them jump back in with a win after the break.

 

WARATAH 13.10 (88)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.5 (89)

GOALS:
Waratah:
 M. Newton 7, M. Blake 2, R. Jolliffe, S. Tatupu, T. Toma, K. Kantilla
Palmerston: M. Perry 4, A. Davey 2, S. Brock, B. Church, E. Frank, M. Dennis, R. Warfe, J. Grabowski, J. Patrick, A. Davey

BEST:
Waratah:
 M. Newton, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma, J. McCarthy, N. Gooch
Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Lampton

A starring seven-goal effort from ex-Dee Michael Newton wasn’t enough to drag Waratah over the line against Palmerston Magpies, going down by the narrowest of margins in a thriller to see out proceedings in 2018. The Magpies looked to have set up a comfortable position with an eight-point half time lead, but were stunned by an eight-goal third term from the Warriors, before finding seven goals of their own in the last quarter to claim a remarkable win at the death. With Newton booting over half of their goals, Matthew Blake (two) was the only other multiple goal kicker for the Warriors, while Tom Toma also found the goals to be named in the best alongside Zach Westerberg a the losing effort. Ezekiel Frank was Palmerston’s best, with Bundoora products Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis also important in the win, while Mishai Perry (four goals) and Aaron Davey (two) provided the scoring threat. Palmerston jumps into the finals spots on the back of its big win, level on points with its weekend opponents to sit a game outside of third. 

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 11

IN the last round before a break over the new year, sides will be looking to snatch ascendancy from close opposition. Battles for first place, finals berths and escaping the wooden spoon are all hotting right up, making each game an eight-pointer for the respective teams.

 

TIWI BOMBERS v. WANDERERS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Tiwi Bombers and Wanderers will be looking to bounce back from consecutive losses when they clash to open the round via a TIO Stadium triple-header. After boosting their stocks with two-straight wins in Rounds 6-8, the Bombers have been bettered by the top two sides more recently, going down to a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. Meanwhile, the Eagles went down to St Marys to remain bottom, with only their weekend opponents at a reachable distance to leapfrog should they earn a sizeable win here. While they have struggled in front of goal all year to post the worst points tally thus far, the Muk Muks are not always as absent down back and will need to hold up strongly again this week. The likes of Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop have done the business in previous rounds, and should find the goals again here. Tiwi’s own firepower of Dion Munkara and Ross Tungatalum have been close to kicking bags in recent rounds without completely taking over, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri providing great consistency as they look to pick their season back up. Despite sitting a game from bottom, Tiwi are arguably the form side from fifth to eighth, and will be confident in climbing out of a rut with a win. For Wanderers, this is a great opportunity to find some form against a side with a similar form line, with the greater hope of climbing out of the cellar door on offer.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The build-up to the last time Darwin Buffaloes and Southern Districts met was much different, with the hype around a grand final rematch all the way back in Round 1 poising the two clear-best sides against each other. While the Crocs remain kings of their swamp, Darwin has suffered a massive slide through the mid-part of the season – earning just two wins in its last six outings. After finally going down in Round 7, Southern Districts has come back with a point to prove and looks to be back to its menacing best. Last time out, a bag of five goals from Jess Koopman helped the Crocs to a comfortable victory over Tiwi, hands from Leroy Jetta (seven goals in three games) and Shane Thorne (15 in eight) proving vital in their mini revival. Another important cog was the two-game contribution of ex-AFL highlight reel Jared Brennan, whose absence leaves a hole in Districts’ defence that Darwin will look to exploit. The Buffaloes sorely missed their own firepower last week, with the likes of Matthew Campbell, Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas all missing. If they are to have any chance here against a powerful Crocs’ 22, Darwin will need all the experience and class they can manage, with the risk of sliding out of the top four becoming greater with each loss.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. ST MARYS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A scarily good Nightcliff side will be hoping to stay in touch with Southern Districts, while also keeping St Marys out of the top four when they clash to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. In last week’s featured game, an even spread of goals saw the Tigers comfortably account for fourth-place Waratah in a dominant 113-point victory. St Marys also entered the winners list as it got up over Wanderers in another decent team display, keeping the Saints just a game from third and right in the finals mix. Nathaniel Paredes continues to be the Saints’ best, booting three goals while Raphael Clarke swung forward effectively to claim two on his return to the side. The x-factor of Maurice Rioli jnr and Shane Yarran could also provide headaches for Nightcliff here, but its the Tigers forward line that look most likely of dictating the result. Leading goalkicker Trent Melville will look to build on his tally of 38, with help from Cam Ilett (seven goals in last two games), Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell (both 15 goals) making for a seriously dangerous goal threat. Nightcliff really needs to maintain its winning run if it is to catch the Crocs, but the Saints can put a dampener on their opponents’ hopes with a win, while having the opportunity to break away as clear fifth if results go their way.

 

WARATAH v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 11 – Sunday December 16, 4pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat last time around when it faces Palmerston Magpies to see out Round 11 on Sunday. Having met a Nightcliff side on an absolute mission, the Warriors where simply overwhelmed by the Tigers’ power, and Palmerston will hope to swoop on the weaknesses shown in that display. The Magpies managed an upset win over another down-on-form finals contender in Darwin last weekend, so will hope for a repeat of that effort to finish both the round and 2018 action with a statement. Having only registered four goals in its last effort, Waratah will need to build heavily on that if it is to have a return win, and could do so with Palmerston holding the second-worst defensive record this season. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla have been the go-to’s of late for the Warriors, but they’ll have to match the efforts of Magpies spearhead Kyle Emery – who has 21 goals to his name this year. Ian Milera’s recent addition has provided another forward dimension for Palmerston, with Nigel Lockyer jnr running the engine room alongside ruckman Matthew Dennis. Waratah will have to show a massive turn of form to get up here, but have the capable talent at hand to remain entrenched in the established top four and keep the likes of Palmerston at bay. While they don’t quite have the percentage to jump higher, the Magpies could well jump into a finals spot with a win here.

 

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 10

WITH a mid-season break on the horizon, sides continued to tussle for spots and momentum as two top-four contenders suffered defeats and fifth spot remains up for grabs.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.10 (76)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 19.12 (126)

GOALS:
Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti 2, P. Heenan 2, D. Munkara 2, W. Huddleston, R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, J. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 5, L. Jetta 3, S. Smith 2, D. Staunton 2, H. Wheeler, C. McAdam, W. Farrer, L. Dale, B. Rusca, J. Farrer, S. Thorne.

BEST:
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, B. Palipuaminni, J. Cooper, C. Tipuamantimirri
Southern Districts: D. Staunton, L. Dale, B. Schwarze, J. Koopman, W. Farrer, C. McAdam

Southern Districts retained its strong position at the top of the NTFL ladder with a comfortable win over a Tiwi side finding form at an unfortunate time. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing, the Crocs flexed their muscle in the third term with seven goals to two to stretch their 34-point hal- time lead out to 64 points going into the final break. While the Bombers managed to see out the game with five goals, the margin was far to big to bridge and Tiwi went down by an even 50 points. Jess Koopman was the star with five goals, while Leroy Jetta chimed in with three and the multiple goalkickers were rounded out by Sam Smith and Dean Staunton‘s hauls of two each. The latter was also named best afield, with Charlie McAdam and Lee Dale also chiming in for the winning side. Jason Puruntatameri was again the standout for the Bombers, while Dion Munkara hit the scoreboard with two majors and was matched by Adam Tipungwuti and Patrick Heenan. While he didn’t manage a bag, Ross Tungatalum was also lively alongside the likes of Liam Woodcock-Nowlan and Bradley Palipuaminni. Having claimed consecutive wins and clawed free of the wooden spoon spot, Tiwi has now suffered losses to the top two sides in its last two outings to be set back in the pack. Meanwhile, the Crocs keep their spot at the top and again look hard to beat.

 

ST MARYS 14.11 (95)
WANDERERS 6.11 (47)

GOALS:
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, R. Clarke 2, M. Jeffery 2, S. Rioli 2, N. Yarran, T. Saunders, F. Kinthari, M. Ferguson, J. Harvey
Wanderers: N/A

BEST:
St Marys: B. Taylor, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, J. Harvey, S. Rioli, T. Saunders
Wanderers: N/A

St Marys returned to the winners list with a timely victory over bottom side, Wanderers to remain frontrunners to fill the last finals spot. The Saints put in a consistent team shift to never really look challenged, opening up a four-goal lead at the main break and more than doubling their score in the third term to all but put the game to bed entering the final change of ends. A dour last quarter saw only one goal scored apiece, but Saints players would not have been too unhappy given the position they have now earned. Nathaniel Paredes was outstanding once again for St Marys with three majors, only beaten to best-on honours by Ben Taylor. The ever-reliable Ben Rioli was also thereabouts despite not hitting the scoreboard, with Raphael Clarke successfully swinging forward for two goals and Shannon Rioli matching the feat. With the likes of Davin Ferreira, Tom and Aaron Motlop shouldering much of the load, the Eagles simply could not match it from the get-go. The loss leaves the Muk Muks bottom of the ladder, still only a game and percentage away climbing out of the league’s cellar. Meanwhile, the Saints look to be the best of the rest in terms of the finals race as they hold onto fifth, but don’t quite have the percentage to jump into the top four with a win next week on account of their percentage.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.8 (80)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.16 (100)

GOALS:
Darwin: N/A.
Palmerston: M. Perry 3, I. Milera 3, K. Emery 2, J. Marshall , J. Grabowski, B. Church, R. Marika, J. Patrick, M. Bunworth.

BEST:
Darwin: N/A
Palmerston: J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, A. Diamond, M. Bunworth, N. Lockyer Jnr, E. Kelly

Palmerston continues to press for a finals berth after claiming a deceptively dominant win over top-four contender Darwin Buffaloes to see out Saturday’s triple-header. After storming out of the blocks with seven first-quarter goals, Palmerston were reigned right back as Darwin bridged the gap to just three points at the main break. The wasteful Magpies were not made to pay in the second half as their 5.9 and astute defence were enough to see off the Buffaloes by just 20 points – despite having 10 more scoring shots. Ian Milera bettered his Round 9 tally of two goals with three this time out, joined by Mishai Perry (three goals) and Kyle Emery (two) as multiple goalkickers. Despite their goals, they were each beaten out to best-on honours by Bundoora Bulls duo Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis, with the former’s first game in the league reigniting a deadly Northern Football League partnership in the centre square. The consistent Nigel Lockyer Jnr also found his typical spot in the best, with Mitch Bunworth continuing his good form, too. The Buffaloes’ slide continues, and it was more so down to the stars missing rather than who was left on the field. The likes of Matthew Campbell, Adam Sambono and Joe Anderson were all sorely missed, despite Darwin looking efficient in front of goal. They remain clear in the top four, but have lost touch with the top two sides and could even fall out of the finals spots with consecutive losses going into the break. The Magpies are a team that could snap that spot up, with a percentage boost the only thing required for them to step into fifth spot.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 21.15 (141)
WARATAH 4.4 (28) 

GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, T. Melville 3, J. Tsitas 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. Hagan 2, D. Butcher 2, S. Deery, P. Wills, C. Holmes, J. Peris, H. Drogemuller, M. Bricknell
Waratah: R. Jolliffe, B. Carroll, Z. Westerberg, K. Kantilla

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz, J. Miles, C. Ilett
Waratah: S. Tatupu, Z. Westerberg, R. Jolliffe, N. Gooch, B. Carroll

Nightcliff continued its steep ascent to the top of the NTFL standings as it easily accounted for fellow finals contenders, Waratah to see out the round with a bang. The Tigers made their intentions known with 14 first half goals to two, spreading them equally over the two terms. While they could only manage half of that tally in the second half, the second-place side kept Waratah to just 2.2 in the first and third quarters and kept the scoreless in the other two to culminate their 113-point winning margin. Cam Illet was the leader inside 50 with four goals, boosting his recent tally to seven in three games, while Trent Melville (three goals) was again in the action and four others claimed two each. Three of them – James Tsitas, Michael Hagan and Liam Holt-Fitz were also named in the best, as has been the case for much of the year, alongside Hugo Drogemuller and Jonathon Miles. Raven Jolliffe was a shining light for the Warriors, finding the goals and being named their best. Nicholas Gooch also had somewhat of a return to form, while Zach Westerberg and Shem Tatupu were the others to stand up. The Tigers remain second, a game from first but 12 points clear of the next best sides. Waratah looks to have lost momentum going into the break, but remains safe in the finals spots despite heat coming from below in recent weeks.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 10

WITH the finals race getting tighter as each week passes, the mid-table bottleneck looks certain to be shaken up this week with sides itching to get back into form and build a run heading into the back end of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 2pm
Tiwi Oval

Southern Districts will hope to put a sizeable dent in Tiwi Bombers’ top four hopes with another emphatic win to open the round away from home. The Bombers were previously on a three-game win streak after opening their account in Round 6, but were brought to a halt at the hands of a fearsome Nightcliff side. The Crocs meanwhile look to have regained the early-season form that saw them break multiple games clear at the top, with four points and a handsome percentage acting as their buffer as things stand. An 111-point thumping of Palmerston last time out puts them in good stead against an in-form team here, as the Bombers remain a dangerous opponent. With arguably its best side forming in the last two weeks, Southern Districts will look to the former-AFL class of Richard Tambling (five goals in Round 9) and Jared Brennan to star once again alongside regulars Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance forward of centre. There are plenty of moving parts in the Crocs lineup, with the likes of Jess Koopman coming off a bag of six goals and Seb Guilhaus showing consistent form alongside Dean Staunton. As has been the story all year, the firepower of the Crocs needs to be matched, and Bomber forwards Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri will have to be the ones to stand up if the Bombers are to steer away from falling short as they did against Nightcliff. Jason and Harley Puruntatameri will also have to have big games further up the field to help Tiwi’s cause in an important match-up that has implications on the Bombers’ finals spot.

ST MARYS v. WANDERERS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will be hoping to join St Marys in the race for fifth spot when they open TIO Stadium’s Saturday evening double-header. The wasteful Saints missed a trick last time out as they fell just short of the stumbling Darwin Buffaloes, but will have a good amount confidence coming up against the bottom side given they are not entirely out of form. Meanwhile, the Eagles will be disappointed with their Round 9 showing given they finally broke through for their second win of the season in the previous week, and they have the chance to scrape off the bottom of the ladder with a win here. With Davin Ferreira in irresistible form after five goals last week, anything is possible for the Muk Muks. Add the recent form of Thomas Motlop and John Tipiloura to the mix and Wanderers have the potential to put up a fight. The Saints have proven to be no easy-beats in recent weeks though, even picking up two wins in their last five games to hold firm in the NTFL ladder’s middle ground. Mathias Liddy will need to be good in front of goal again this week, while the likes of Ben Rioli and Nathaniel Paredes in midfield should provide great consistency alongside the flair of young gun Maurice Rioli jnr. With wavering scoring form on both parts, this clash could well either provide a shootout or a low-scoring affair – but the side that takes its chances will undoubtedly come out on top in what looks like a close one.

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A return to form is in the midst for both Darwin Buffaloes and Palmerston Magpies as they do battle to round out Saturday’s action. The Buffaloes breathed a collective sigh of relief as they narrowly got over the line against St Marys last week on account of accurate goalkicking, returning to the win column after two straight defeats. Meanwhile, Palmerston have lost three consecutive games and despite putting up a competitive effort against in-form side Nightcliff, were beaten comprehensively at the hands of a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. With both outfits keen to break clear of deadlocks with rival sides on the ladder, expect the kitchen sink to be thrown in an attempt to get over the line. With young star Malcolm Rosas spending time at Gold Coast and Brisbane, Adam Sambono will need to step up and provide that X-factor, with the likes of Matthew Campbell and Javadd Anderson in good form, while Joe Anderson looks to slot back into the side. For Palmerston, the same core group of players have provided unwavering consistency throughout the year, with Matthew Dennis holding his ruck spot down and Rodney Baird and Samuel Talbot solid year-round. Kyle Emery will hope to step up after drawing a blank last week, while Samuel Autio should provide good fold for him as he has done over the last two weeks. It may not be pretty, but a win for either side would serve as a nice confidence booster going into the back half of the season as finals spots become hotly contested.

NIGHTCLIFF v. WARATAH
Round 10 – Sunday December 9, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

Third-placed Waratah will be looking to close the gap on weekend opponents Nightcliff when they clash at PSC BM Oval to close out the round in what as shaping as a thriller. The Tigers had it tough in Round 9 as they clawed over the line against Tiwi, but hold the most consistent run of form out of all sides having won three consecutive games. Waratah have done well to hang with the top four sides, benefitting from a Darwin slump to move to third and close within striking distance of the established top two. With plenty of experience in the form of Cam Ilett and ex-AFL listed forward John Butcher heading the side in recent weeks, while Liam Holt-Fitz has provided good spark alongside Shaun Wilson. Spearhead Trent Melville will have to step up this week after going goalless last time out, with Waratah forward Cameron Barrett coming off a round-high six goals. The addition of Kim Kantilla has been handy, and the impact of Raven Jolliffe will be key this week, too. American big-man Alex Aurrichio has also come into form of late, and should provide some sturdiness in the ruck or defence against a dangerous Tigers line-up. Despite second being poised against third, Nightcliff will be confident coming into this one, and it will be a key game in keeping touch with Southern Districts. Waratah will also want to avoid dropping points and falling behind Darwin once again, so expect some desperate footy.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 9

EACH of the bottom four sides suffered defeats in a round which proved to be a tipper’s paradise in Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, leaving the ladder relatively unchanged.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.11 (83)
TIWI BOMBERS 10.16 (76)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan 2, H. Drogemuller, S. Wilson, F. James.
Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, L. Wale-Buxton 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Burgess, M. King.

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Miles, K. Riley, L. Holt-Fitz, G. Greenoff, J. Budarick, M. Hagan
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton, H. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, R. Tungatalum, S. Dyke

A strong opening term proved all the difference for Nightcliff in its narrow win over the in-form Tiwi Bombers in the game of the round. The Tigers kept their opponents goalless in the first quarter to help open a 21-point lead which they managed to hold for most of the match. It was on the final straight where Tiwi made its biggest surge, falling seven points short to the second-placed side despite scoring 4.5 to Nightcliff’s 2.2. The Tigers had contributors across the board, with legendary veteran Cam Ilett, ex-Port forward John Butcher, Liam Holt-Fitz and Michael Hagan each booting two goals, with the latter two named among the best. Jonathon Miles was adjudged the most valuable player afield, with Joel Budarick returning to form and Gavin Greenoff also thereabouts. For the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri was reliable as ever, while newcomer Liam Wale-Buxton also proved his star debut performance was no fluke with two goals. Ross Tungatalum and Dion Munkara were others to claim two majors and round out the best players in a valiant team effort. The result bears little consequence on the ladder, with both sides staying put in second and fifth respectively, with Tiwi still level with St Marys and Palmerston and two wins away from cracking the top four.

 

WANDERERS 12.5 (77)
WARATAH 16.8 (104)

GOALS:
Wanderers: D. Ferreira 5, J. Tipiloura 3, M. Totham, J. Cubillo, S. Bates.
Waratah: C. Barrett 6, R. Jolliffe 3, K. Kantilla 3, S. Weddell 2, B. Minkulk, J. McKenzie.

BEST:
Wanderers: T. Brimacombe, D. Ferreira, T. Motlop, J. Tipiloura
Waratah: C. Barrett, B. Carroll, R. Jolliffe, M. O’Donnell, A. Aurrichio

Waratah claimed an important win in its bid to consolidate a finals spot with a comfortable enough 27-point win over bottom-placed Wanderers. With both sides converting well in front of goal on account of a spearhead goal-off, the match was evenly poised going into the main break with Waratah holding a three-point lead. The Warriors managed to pull away from the deadlock in the second half though, with nine goals to five seeing them over the line. Cameron Barrett was the star of the day, booting six goals in a dominant display for Waratah, beating out Wanderers’ Davin Ferreira’s total of five. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla snared three each, with Samuel Weddell rounding out the multiple goalkicker with his two. John Tipiloura took the opportunities that Ferreira didn’t manage to snare to claim three majors, with Tyler Brimacombe adjudged the Eagles’ best alongside Thomas Motlop despite not hitting the scoreboard. The win sees the Warriors wedged two games above fifth place in equal-third, but two games below Nightcliff in second. Their strong finals position is a far cry from Wanderers in last, but the Muk Muks are only a win away from re-joining the race for the last finals spot.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.5 (77)
ST MARYS 8.14 (62)

GOALS:
Darwin: M. Campbell 3, A. Sambono 3, J. Anderson 2, P. Boles, J. Stokes, A. Punch.
St Marys: T. Frawley 3, M. Liddy 2, N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, S. Rioli.

BEST:
Darwin: R. O’Sullivan, K. Maroney, C. Williams, J. Briston, C. Stokes, J. Stokes
St Marys: N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Rioli, B. Taylor, J. Puautjimi, N. Yarran

Darwin kept pace with fellow top four contenders Waratah with a hard-fought 15-point win over St Marys to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. The Buffaloes’ 11-point quarter time lead was a constant throughout the game, as the Saints couldn’t quite manage to break through and bridge the gap between their more efficient opponents. St Marys’ inefficient tally of 8.14 proved the difference in the end, with its four more scoring shots wasted in a tight finish. Maurice Rioli jnr earned a rising star nomination for his efforts – booting a goal and finishing in the best half-dozen players for the second time in three games for the Saints. With Darwin’s very own young star Malcolm Rosas currently making himself comfortable at the Gold Coast Suns, the experienced head of Matthew Campbell (three goals) and Javaad Anderson (two goals) helped to maintain their form, with livewire Adam Sambono also booting three, while Ryan O’Sullivan was named best-on for the second game running with help from the consistent Kevin Maroney. Tom Frawley found form for St Marys with three goals, but Nathaniel Paredes was his side’s best as he also managed to claim a goal. Nicholas Yarran is another who has shown promising form of late, and was also named in the best. Despite the win, Darwin falls below Waratah to fourth place on percentage, while St Marys remain in the thick of a mid-table bottleneck as it fights for fifth place with Tiwi and Palmerston. Wins will be paramount to the Saints’ cause from here on out, with Tiwi in hot form and a two-game gap opening between fourth and fifth.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 24.9 (153)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 5.12 (42)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, R. Tambling 5, C. Gallio 3, M. Mummery 2, B. Vallance 2, W. Farrer, B. Rusca, C. McAdam, D. Staunton, I. Wyatt, J. Farrer.
Palmerston: S. Autio 2, J. Marshall, J. Lampton, B. Church.

BEST:
Southern Districts: R. Tambling, J. Brennan, J. Koopman, S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, C. Gallio
Palmerston: S. Talbot, R. Baird, J. Marshall, S. Autio, A. Diamond, M. Dennis

Southern Districts looks to be back to its destructive best after a dominant 111-point win over second-bottom Palmerston in the round’s final fixture. The Crocs were as shrewd as ever, with arguably their best 22 for the year returning a stellar performance. Starting as they wished to go on, the Crocs booted 15 opening half majors to Palmerston’s four, not giving the Magpies a sniff throughout the entire contest. While Jess Koopman was the round’s equal-leading goal scorer with six, former number four draft pick Richard Tambling was named best afield with his haul of five, returning multiple goals for the first time this season alongside Clinton Gallio, who booted three. With usual goal threats Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance also thereabouts with two goals each, and Jared Brennan slotting in seamlessly up the field, it was a complete performance from the reigning premiers. Samuel Talbot was again the best for Palmerston with Rodney Baird not far behind, while Samuel Autio was the only multiple goalkicker with two. Last year’s bottom side Palmerston now flirts with the possibility of falling back down the cellar door with Wanderers holding a greater percentage despite being a win behind. Southern Districts on the other hand, maintains its four-point lead atop the table, and looks to have regained its early season form.