IN the penultimate weekend of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League competition, the final four teams remain to battle it out in the semi-finals for spots in the 2019/20 Grand Final.
WARATAH vs. PINT
Saturday, February 29, 12.30pm
It is remarkable to think that this semi-final is even occurring with the top ranked side and most dominant team of the NTFL Women’s Premier League taking on the sixth ranked side lucky to make it into the finals, but putting in a performance to remember last weekend. Waratah had only dropped two games heading into the finals series, but having lost during the season to their eventual conquerors – Southern Districts – in that time, it was a repeat dose for the reigning premiers. Luckily, and somewhat ironically, losing the game has actually benefited the ‘Tahs given Pint upset Palmerston Magpies in the elimination final. While the system in place is designed for the highest ranked sides to win and therefore the loser of the qualifying final to play third, the upset meant they face a team with eight less wins than them during the season. To be fair to Pint, the last time these sides faced off, the Queen Ants did push Waratah to only go down by 14 points at Gardens Oval. Earlier in the season at the same venue, Waratah won much more comfortably to the tune of 39 points. The ‘Tahs head into the clash with a six-game winning streak prior to the loss to the Crocs last weekend, while Pint had won its past two games since the bye, downing finalists Darwin and Palmerston in successive weeks. Last week, Jessie Baumer was the hero for Pint, booting four goals in a low-scoring two-point win over the Magpies. It was the fast start that got the Queen Ants going, and Katie Streader, Ellie Ryan and Jacqueline Downey all hit the scoreboard in the win. For Waratah, Lisa Roberts is near-unstoppable at her best, booting 20 goals from 18 games and was named amongst the best 11 times. Lauren O’Shea (22 goals from 14 games) and Jenna Singh (19 from 16) have also been impressive, while Rebecca Pryer has been a standout in the back half of the ground with eight times in the best from 16 games. Waratah would be overwhelming favourites to continue its trend of making a grand final every single year, but Pint works well with a backs-against-the-wall approach.
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. DARWIN BUFFETTES
Saturday, February 29, 2.30pm
In the second game of the day, Southern Districts would be somewhat fuming it has to take on a highly talented Darwin Buffettes side. The Buffs’ could well have snuck into third had it not been for a a shock loss to Pint in the last round of the season, but have been shaky in the lead-up to the finals series, dropping games to not only the Queen Ants, but Waratah and Nightcliff in the last month too. The one positive for the Buffettes is the last time these sides faced off, Darwin won by seven points at TIO Stadium, three less than its 10-point win over the Crocs back in Round 4. So unfortunately for the Crocs, they have to find a way to beat their bogey side. In saying that, coming fresh off an impressive win over Waratah is always good for the confidence and had it not been for early forfeits through extra players, the Crocs could have been competing for the minor premiership. The firepower on the Crocs’ side is undeniable with Ebony Miller leading all-comers with 60 snags from 15 games. But after Miller, just one player – Kelsey Patterson – has booted double-figure goals, while Grace Mulvahil is one major away from reaching that feat. Tahlia Holtze has been the standout player this season, while April Lewis and Bella Clarke have also been impressive for the second placed side in 2019/20. For the Buffettes, youngster Tayla Hart-Aluni has slotted a team-high 17 goals at an average of a goal a game and would be one of a number of contenders for the best and fairest. She along with fellow youngster Dominique Carbone, and Kylie Duggan have all been named in the best nine times, while Jemma Iacono has been named in the best seven times. Having lost their best player Machaelia Roberts mid-season to the AFL Women’s competition, the Buffettes have done well to maintain a spot in finals, and will be hoping to defeat the Crocs for a second time here. Southern Districts will start favourites despite the history, though a lot relies on Miller getting good supply up forward.