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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.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 8

ROUND 8 action has seen the race finals race blown wide open, with just four points separating third from seventh. The mid-table bottleneck sees the top two break away, Wanderers has been left on the bottom despite a huge upset win.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 10.15 (75)
NIGHTCLIFF 14.10 (94)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, S. Autio 2, J. Marshall , M. Perry, A. Diamond, A. Lonergan, E. Frank
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, S. Wilson 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, B. Filo, J. Peris, F. James

BEST:
Palmerston: S. Talbot, M. Stokes, N. Lockyer Jnr, S. Autio, M. Bunworth, M. Dennis
Nightcliff: F. James, N. Brown, M. Bricknell, G. Greenoff, P. Wills, D. Bowles

A lightning start from Nightcliff was enough to see them over the line against a rejuvenated Palmerston line-up by 19 points in the Round 8 opener. The Tigers stormed out of the blocks with 6.6 in the opening term while keeping the Magpies goalless, showcasing their near-unstoppable firepower forward of centre. In good form coming into the fixture, Palmerston duly hit back in the second and third terms but were somewhat wasteful, with their 6.10 over the two quarters still leaving them with a 14-point deficit to claw back. Nightcliff proved too strong though, continuing to tick the scoreboard over in the face of Palmerston’s onslaught and earning the four points despite registering one less scoring shot.

The usual suspects were again amongst the goals for the winners, with Trent Melville snaring his second bag of four in as many weeks, while Shaun Wilson and Mathew Bricknell were the other two multiple goalkickers with three and two respectively. Faron James was named their best, with Nathan Brown again amongst the votes and Cam Ilett and Liam Holt-Fitz dangerous going forward. Kyle Emery was a shining light up forward with three majors, but missed out on best-six honours. Samuel Talbot continued his good form to be judged their best, while ex-AFL star Mathew Stokes was thereabouts alongside the ever consistent figures of Matthew Dennis and Nigel Lockyer jnr.

The win sees Nightcliff strengthen its position in the top two, only one game off league-leaders Southern Districts. Meanwhile, the Magpie’s second-straight loss drops them to second bottom on percentage, but equal fifth with two other sides on three wins.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.15 (81)
WARATAH 9.8 (62)

GOALS:
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 3, D. Munkara 3, B. Palipuaminni, M. Cooper, P. Heenan, H. Puruntatameri, C. Burgess
Waratah: T. Toma 3, A. Ellis 2, T. Mosquito, C. Barrett, M. Blake, J. Neagle

BEST:
Tiwi: C. Burgess, D. Munkara, J. Monigatti, M. Dunn, R. Tungatalum, J. Puruntatameri
Waratah: N/A

Tiwi Bombers secured its third consecutive victory with a hard-fought 19-point win over Waratah in front of an adoring home crowd. The in form team of the competition, Tiwi maintained a consistent lead throughout the game despite a third quarter test where the margin came to within just over a goal. Having handed Southern Districts its first loss for the year in Round 7, Waratah were unlucky to come up against just as fierce opposition for a second-straight week, but brought it right to the Bombers for the entire contest.

Ross Tungatalum was amongst the goals for Tiwi, joining the in-form Dion Munkara with a bag of three to be named amongst the best as the only two multiple goalkickers. Christian Burgess was judged best afield in his first appearance for the season, with Jason Puruntatameri, Jack Monigatti and Michael Dunn also continuing their consistent form to feature in the votes. For the Warriors, Thomas Toma was their key goalkicker with three, while Andre Ellis was the only other to boot multiple majors. Amongst the goals again were also the likes of Jaxon Neagle, Cameron Barrett and Timothy Mosquito, providing spark and pace forward of centre in the absence of last week’s heroes Michael Newton and Abraham Ankers.

The Bombers’ run of form puts them into equal-fifth, just one game away from this week’s opponents and with a five per cent buffer on sixth place. Waratah hang on to fourth position to remain firmly within the finals race, but will now be sweating on good results coming its way with three contenders breathing down its neck.

 

ST MARYS 4.5 (29)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 11.10 (76)

GOALS:
St Marys: B. Rioli 2, J. Quinn, S. Dann.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer 2, S. Thorne 2, J. Koopman 2, D. McLachlan.

BEST:
St Marys: S. Richardson, M. Musgrove, B. Ah Mat, B. Rioli, T. Saunders, L. Stapleton
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, S. Smith, M. Pemberton

St Marys again failed to earn consecutive wins, falling to a resurgent Southern Districts side keen to prove last week’s shock loss was a mere one-off. It was a slow start, with both sides failing to find the big sticks in the opening term, while the Crocs eventually broke away with three goals to nil in the second quarter to open up a 23-point lead on their goalless opponents. The Saints finally broke their goal drought in the third with two of their own, but couldn’t stop Southern Districts from piling on eight second-half goals to run out comfortable 47-point winners.

Michael Mummery was the star for the Crocs, booting four majors after firing a blank in the previous week. Despite his haul, Mummery missed out on a best slot to the likes of Shane Thorne, who slotted two goals, recent addition Sebastion Guilhaus, and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. Ben Rioli continues to provide a shining light for the Saints, this week claiming half of his side’s goals – albeit in a low total. Simon Richardson was judged best in the losing side, with Mitch Musgrove finding some form and Braxton Ah Mat putting in another shift alongside Tylah Saunders.

The win sees Southern Districts bounce back from its first loss of the season, maintaining a four-point lead over Nightcliff atop the table with an intimidating percentage of 175. Meanwhile, St Marys find themselves lodged between Tiwi and Palmerston in sixth as one of the three sides with three wins for season 2019.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.10 (76)
WANDERERS 13.8 (86) 

GOALS:
Darwin: J. Anderson 3, C. Williams 3, J. Stokes 2, J. Anderson, J. Clark, S. Anderson.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, T. Motlop 2, D. Ferreira 2, J. Priest 2, M. Mununggurritj, L. Patrick, A. Cook.

BEST:
Darwin: J. Anderson, P. Boles, C. Williams, D. Williams, K. Maroney, J. Briston
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey, J. Cubillo, D. Ferreira, S. Gibson, A. Cook

Wanderers pulled off the upset of the round with a defiant 10-point win over third-placed Darwin. The Eagles came out firing with 10 goals to three in the first half setting the base for an impressive victory. The four points wouldn’t come without a challenge though, as the proud Buffaloes side fought back with eight goals to three in the second half, but fell just short of the Eagles’ established margin. Having been beaten resoundingly by Tiwi in the previous round, Darwin look to be in the midst of a surprising mid-season slump.

Sixteen year-old star Joel Jeffrey was outstanding, with his four goals earning him best afield honours. Thomas Motlop and Jobastin Priest were the other multiple goalkickers with two each, while Davin Ferreira produced a play of the round contender with one of his two majors. Ex-Roo and Crow Sam Gibson didn’t manage to hit the scoreboard, but was also named amongst the best alongside Joel Cubillo for Wanderers. Darwin’s best in the loss was Joe Anderson, while Javadd Anderson and Chris Williams both managed to claim bags of three goals to also be thereabouts.

While they picked up a huge result here, the Eagles remain stuck to the bottom of the ladder – one game behind Palmerston, St Marys and Tiwi. Darwin’s second consecutive loss puts them back in the pack somewhat, equal-third with Palmerston and just a game off dropping out of the top four despite their impressive percentage.