REPRESENTATIVE football returned to the Northern Territory on Saturday as an out-of-season Glenelg outfit took on the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) rep side at TIO Stadium. The NTFL Buffaloes won out by 24 points in a competitive outing played amid soggy conditions, finishing the game strongly with three goals to Glenelg’s nil in the final term.
NT captain Cam Ilett took home the Australia Day medal as best afield, leading a side packed with a mix of local talent and guns from around the nation. Territorians Neil Vea Vea and Marlon Motlop were among the Bays’ most valuable players, providing physicality and spark going forward. The game was the first NT representative fixture in 15 years, and the first hitout against Glenelg in 36 years.
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The hosts readied themselves for battle and came out the better side early, applying smothering defensive pressure and locking the ball in their front half for much of the opening term. It translated to the scoreboard too, as the rushed and undisciplined Bays gifted two goals via 50-metre penalties to trail by 11 points at quarter time.
An elongated team talk at the first break spurred Glenelg into action though, with former Richmond key forward Liam McBean booting his second major and Reid Kuller adding another in quick time to put their side ahead. A Nate Paredes bomb from nothing helped steady the NT, who remained ahead by five points at half time as the sides began to trade goals.
The scoring dried up as the rain began to fall harder in the second half, but that did not stop Lachie Hosie from expertly roving a pack and putting Glenelg back ahead. Both sides showed a bit of feeling as the stakes were raised, with the goal-for-goal streak continuing in term three but resulting in Glenelg gaining the ascendancy as the final turn approached.
It was all NT from there, with the likes of James Tsitas and Abe Ankers popping up to show their class in the clutch moments. The in-season factor proved telling as Glenelg fell away late and went scoreless in the final term, a period which was capped by Shaun Edwards‘ game-sealing snap. The celebratory major made for a game-high lead and put the cherry on top of NT’s terrific showing.
While Ilett earned another piece of silverware for his extraordinary personal collection, ball magnet Dane McFarlane was unlucky not to be recognised as the NT’s best player. Rebounding key defender Brodie Newman was also exceptional, while bigman Matthew Dennis battled hard in the ruck, Harley Puruntatameri was lively up forward, and Paredes had patches of dominance.
Vea Vea’s physicality was a highlight for Glenelg as he rotated forward through the ruck, while Motlop came up clutch with a handy third term goal to aid the Bays’ Territorian influence. McBean proved a reliable target up forward and Hosie was dangerous at his feet, with Brady Searle a handy factor down back and Darcy Bailey influential between the arcs.
Earlier, the NTFL Women’s representative team took on their Glenelg counterparts in an historic meeting between the two sides. The wet weather wreaked havoc but did not stop the Territorians from establishing a three-goal lead in the first half, before seeing out a 28-point victory; 5.5 (35) to 1.1 (7). NT standout Jasmyn Hewett won the Australia Day medal, while Mickayla Ward booted two goals.
The night’s other featured match saw the Alice Springs Redtails defeat Katherine’s Big Rivers Football League side by 50 points in an exciting interleague clash. Nigel Lockyer Jnr was among the victors’ best, booting an equal game-high three majors as his team ran out 12.18 (90) to 5.10 (40) winners, largely credit to their superior fluency with ball in hand.
NTFL BUFFALOES | 3.1 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 9.12 (66)
GLENELG TIGERS | 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.6 | 6.6 (42)
NTFL: B. Eddy, R. Turnbull, C. Ilett, N. Paredes, H. Puruntatameri, J. Stokes, J. Tsitas, A. Ankers, S. Edwards
Glenelg: L. McBean 2, R. Kuller, D. Bailey, L. Hosie, M. Motlop
NTFL: D. McFarlane, B. Newman, M. Dennis, C. Ilett, H. Puruntatameri, N. Paredes
Glenelg: N. Vea Vea, L. McBean, M. Motlop, D. Bailey, R. Kuller, L. Hosie, B. Searle
Australia Day Medal: Cam Ilett (NT)
Featured Image: The NT Buffaloes and Glenelg Tigers join for a photo post-match | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media