Tag: ishmael palmer

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 5

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rolls into Round 5 on the weekend, with all four fixtures set to play out on Saturday. Tiwi and Waratah go head-to-head in the opening clash of a TIO Stadium triple-header, while Southern Districts takes on Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval in a standalone game. Find out all the matchups, who will be out to impress, and more in our weekly preview.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Waratah
Saturday October 31, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah will be looking to return to the winners list when it takes on Tiwi on Saturday afternoon, a team yet to register premiership points at all this season. The Warriors’ win-loss record has them due for a victory this time out, having gone down to the undefeated Darwin Buffaloes in Round 4. Tahs’ two losses have come by a combined 19 points, meaning they have remained competitive throughout a difficult draw. On the other hand, Tiwi has suffered four defeats of over 50 points, looking a far cry from the side which stormed into finals last season.

The suspension of forward favourite Austin Wonaeamirri will not do the Bombers any favours, though a beacon of hope arrives in the return of Ross Tungatalum, who was widely billed to run out for St Mary’s in 2020/21. Ashton Hams and Adam Tipungwuti loom as two more high-class inclusions to a Tiwi side which lost comfortably on home turf last time out. Waratah’s settled lineup looks poised for another big performance, and may be boosted by outgoing Norwood ruck Sam Baulderstone, who measures up at 200cm. As far as imports go, the Warriors have fared well with the likes of Callum Searle and Jae McGrath, while mainstays such as Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll should help their side prove too strong for the struggling Bombers.

Southern Districts vs. Wanderers
Saturday October 31, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be out to convert its maiden victory this season into a streak of winning form, when it hosts Wanderers at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday. The Crocs got on the board last week with a comprehensive 58-point drubbing of Tiwi and look to be building their squad nicely with a distinct Geelong feel. Wanderers has also benefitted from a busy off-season, sitting pretty in second at 3-1 having only gone down to reigning premier, Nightcliff thus far. The Muk Muks returned to the winners list in Round 4 and look a much more competitive side over four quarters than last season.

Southern Districts’ Victorian attacking trio of Andrew Boseley, Luke Kiel, and Jay Dahlhaus combined for 12 goals last week and will be certain to cause plenty of headaches for Wanderers’ defence. Calder Cannons graduate Brodie Newman has settled in extremely well among the Eagles’ back six, helping them maintain a league-best points conceded tally alongside the likes of Warwick Williams and Marcus Totham. Up the other end, Wanderers’ firepower lies with Simon Bates and Brett Eddy, who are both capable of bagging big hauls of goals.

The midfield battle should also be a good one, as Wanderers looks set to unleash Marlon Motlop next to Dane McFarlane, while Round 4 Rising Star Ronald Fejo provides pace on the outer. Even Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell is being kept out of the team upon his return to action. James Tsitas will lead the Crocs’ midfield after a scintillating performance last week, combining with good mate Nikolaus Rokahr and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. With one team in hot form and the other rising, this should be a heck of a contest.

St Mary’s vs. Palmerston
Saturday October 31, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off an emphatic upset victory over Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to extend its winning streak to three when it takes on Palmerston at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The Saints also knocked off Tiwi in Round 3 to currently sit just within the finals placings at 2-2, rectifying what was a lacklustre opening fortnight for the 2019/20 grand finalists. Palmerston has shown glimpses of promise as its lineup begins to gel, but has only defeated the winless Tiwi Bombers thus far. A true test of the Magpies’ improvement should present in this fixture, with the Saints a physical side which can apply good defensive pressure for four quarters.

St Mary’s co-captain Raphael Clarke looks set to return this week, named on the interchange bench with a raft of players ready to step up if required. Up forward, Jackson Paine looms as the dangerman having booted 11 goals in his last two games, aided by the versatile Jackson Calder and young gun Beau Tedcastle at his feet. Daniel Stafford is coming into goalkicking form for Palmerston, with player-coach Alwyn Davey producing vintage performances and Nigel Lockyer Jnr capable of swinging into attack when required.

In the middle, Magpies recruit Chris Williams has been prolific thus far, and is set to go head-to-head with one of the competition’s other dominant ball winners in Nate Paredes. The dynamic Shaun Edwards brings some x-factor to the Saints’ midfield, while Eric Guthrie has been a steady performer for Palmerston. The Magpies’ bigmen in Matthew Dennis and Jack Berry also provide great value, so should make for an even battle through the engine room.

Darwin vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 31, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin faces arguably its toughest test yet when reigning premier Nightcliff rolls into town, hungry to bounce back from a shock loss in Round 4. The Buffs have defied odds and looked incredibly sharp under new coach Cameron Stokes, currently boasting a perfect 4-0 record atop of the Premier League ladder. That undefeated status will be challenged greatly by the Tigers, who looked to be cruising after three rounds before running into a solid St Mary’s side and dropping points for the first time this season. With arguably the two form sides of the competition coming to blows, this fixture firms as the match of the round.

Both teams have been well settled thus far, though a few changes look set to occur on either side. Nightcliff could finally bring in Calder Cannons standout Daniel Mott on the back of his impressive Division 1 form, while William Wallace is another fresh face who looks good value for a start. Willie Wheeler‘s return has been highly anticipated, so his pending selection is a promising sign. Darwin has been forced into at least one change after Jalen Clarke was suspended for head-butting, which could prove a key factor given the Tigers’ midfield strength. Jarrod Stokes remains though, and the Buffs boast plenty of goalkickers in the form of Brodie Foster, Ishmael Palmer, and the experienced Matt Campbell.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 4 St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff clash | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 4

THREE rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 4 this weekend. In a first for the new season, four different venues will be used to hold each fixture, with two games played under lights on Friday night, and the remaining two on Saturday afternoon. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Wanderers
Friday October 23, 7:30pm
Cazalys Arena

Two sides with perfectly opposite records meet as Palmerston takes on Wanderers to open Round 4 proceedings at Cazalys Arena. The 1-2 Magpies moved back into the negative after a loss to Darwin last week, but have shown some promise with a fresh raft of recruits seeming to come together nicely in patches. Wanderers sit pretty at 2-1, with the Muk Muks’ only loss coming by 10 points at the hands of undefeated reigning premier, Nightcliff.

Palmerston key forward Daniel Stafford is one of the moving parts coming into good form, fresh off a four-goal haul against his former side. Fellow ex-Buff Chris Williams has enjoyed a dazzling start to the season along with Eric Guthrie and reliable ruckman Matthew Dennis. The run and rebound of Michaelis McMasters and Tyrrell Lui has also been important thus far, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr will have to get back to scoring form this week to help overcome the promising Eagles.

Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell looks like being a massive in for Wanderers, returning to the Premier League after appearing in Division 1. The likes of Simon Bates and Brett Eddy have already proven their scoring threat, with Victorian imports Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman looking to continue their high-level starts to life in the NTFL. Dane McFarlane and Michael Mummery bring some more potency having gotten some games under their belts, making for a dynamic Wanderers lineup.

St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff
Friday October 23, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A second 2019/20 Grand Final rematch is set to go down within the first month of the new season, as St Mary’s takes on Nightcliff at TIO Stadium. It has been business as usual for Nightcliff, who dispatched the Saints by 52 points in Round 1 en route to remaining undefeated to this point. The Saints have had it harder, losing their first two games before a much-needed drought breaking win came against Tiwi last week.

There have been some green shoots for St Mary’s, most significantly after Under 18 talent Beau Tedcastle kicked three goals on his senior debut last time out. Jackson Paine comes in off a six-goal haul, while the likes of Nate Paredes, Jacob Long, and Shaun Edwards are ticking along nicely. Kieren Parnell looms as a nice addition as the Saints continue to field some fresher faces, including Jeremy Goddard and Charlie Furphy from Victorian. They both have turned out this season, along with Jack and Dylan Landt, who have made an impact.

The Tigers could also blood some imported talent, namely Calder Cannons graduate Daniel Mott after his impressive Division 1 showings. In the top flight, Kyle Emery has justified his switch from Palmerston with 11 goals in the last two games, fronting up well with the likes of Brodie Filo, Daniel Bowles, and Phillip Wills delivering from further afield. Tom Boyd is another looking to continue his good form, with the reigning premiers looking strong as ever.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Southern Districts
Saturday October 24, 12:30pm
Wurrumiyanga Oval

Barring a draw, either Tiwi or Southern Districts will break their duck for season 2020/21 when they square off at Wurrumiyanga Oval on Saturday. While both sides are winless at 0-3, it is the Bombers who sit bottom of the ladder after three losses by over 50 points. The Crocs have shown signs of improvement and amid a tough draw, have had a couple of tight losses. Last week’s heartbreaker against Waratah should serve as adequate motivation.

Districts has a distinct Geelong feel about it this week, with former Nightcliff midfielder James Tsitas lining up alongside good mates Luke Kiel and Andrew Boseley. More recent Geelong Falcons graduates Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus are also set to take the field, having already impressed in the top flight. Nikolaus Rokahr is another brilliant addition, fresh off a solid SANFL season for Norwood.

The Bombers look like banding together some of their favourites once again, with the likes of Cyril Rioli and Austin Wonaeamirri named in hopes of boosting their side’s form. Jack Monigatti also looms as a great inclusion, with the likes of Angus Byrne and Mason Dewit already staking their claims in the squad. Given Harley Puruntatameri, Henry Kerinaiua, and Adam Sambono have also been named, the Bombers look like posing their usual threats of speed and forward firepower.

Waratah vs. Darwin Buffaloes
Saturday October 24, 3:00pm
Gardens Oval

Darwin will once again put its perfect record on the line when it faces Waratah at Gardens Oval on Saturday, with both sides looking to continue their promising starts to the season. The Buffs are top of the table after three rounds, proving a bunch of doubters wrong under new coach Cameron Stokes. Waratah’s only blemish thus far was dealt by Nightcliff, with the Warriors looking a much more settled side in season 2020/21.

The Buffs boss looks to have named himself in the side this week, only adding to the experience and class of Matt Campbell and Jarrod Stokes. Jalen Clarke has been in ripping form for the Double Blues, while the likes of Brodie Foster and Ishmael Palmer will once again look to team up for bags of goals up forward. Isaac Seden-Kurnoth is another to keep an eye on, as well as Ryan Pendlebury down back.

Tahs have had some consistent performers too, with skipper Brodie Carroll coming off a game-winning effort and the likes of Callum Searle down back, Abe Ankers through the middle, and the Collis boys making for an even team spread. Jake Sutton and Jae McGrath are also dangerous up forward, and will be sure to make up a heap of goals in response to Darwin’s potency.

Featured Image: Brodie Newman in action for Wanderers | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 3

TWO rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 3 this weekend. All four games are again set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as St Mary’s takes on Tiwi, while Southern Districts is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Norbuilt Oval. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

St Mary’s vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s milestone men will hope to drag the Bombers off the bottom of the ladder when they face St Mary’s to open the round on Saturday afternoon. The two sides take to TIO Stadium with 0-2 records, as a mix of underperformance and stiff opposition has rendered them winless across the opening rounds. But that is all set to change come this weekend, barring a draw, as the two traditional rivals square off.

If their meetings from season 2019/20 are anything to go by, this bout should be a belter. Tiwi got the better of the Saints in the first two digs, but St Mary’s squared the ledger at 2-2 after solid wins in Round 17 and the qualifying final. The 37-goal Round 3 shootout was the most eye-catching result, making for sensational neutral viewing.

Tiwi 150-gamers Michael Dunn and Dion Munkara will hope all their flair and carry on the outer can propel the Bombers to victory. Fresh off a bag of goals, Harley Puruntatameri should also shine in that department, while prolific talent Adam Sambono is a chance to come into the side. Down back, Mason Dewit has been super on the rebound.

Under 18s wonderkid Beau Tedcastle looks set to make his senior debut for the Saints, a lively small forward who knows where the goals are. Former NAB Leaguer Jeremy Goddard is also poised to make his first Premier League appearance, and both should have terrific support in the form of mainstay figures Raphael Clarke, Nate Paredes, and Shaun Edwards, who have all been in good nick.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday October 17, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

The winless Southern Districts will be out to halt its skidding start to the season when Waratah comes to town on Saturday, with the two sides set to face off at Norbuilt Oval. 0-2 after the opening pair of rounds, Districts will have some young talent come in to bolster their squad. Meanwhile, Waratah sits at 1-1 after last week’s tight loss to Nightcliff, with plenty of positives to take out of its first two outings in season 2020/21. The Warriors side looks much more settled than in their last campaign.

AFL Draft prospect Brodie Lake looms as a big in for the Crocs, with the 18-year-old fresh off a terrific SANFL season with Central District. He promises to add some grunt through midfield or run from defence, on top of the obvious class he possesses. After being named in the best half-dozen players last week, former Geelong Falcons co-captain Jesse Clark looks like being joined in the side by fellow NAB League graduate Jay Dahlhaus. The latter is the cousin of Geelong’s Luke, and is likely to play a similar small forward role.

Sticking with the theme set by their opponents, the Warriors are also set to unleash a former NAB League talent. Murray Bushrangers standout Cam Wild looks like entering the Premier League fold after knocking down the door in Division 1, having also spent time in South Australia with Central District. Tahs boast a pretty solid spine, with the likes of Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll holding down midfield, while Jae McGrath continues to spearhead the forwardline. Victorian Callum Searle has also proven a great addition in defence, giving Waratah balance on each line. It may prove too much for the Crocs to handle.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday October 17, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin will put its perfect record is on the line when it meets the ever-improving Palmerston on Saturday evening, the second game of a TIO Stadium triple-header. Under new coach Cameron Stokes, the Buffs are sitting pretty atop the Premier League table despite a heavy offseason turnover. Meanwhile, the Magpies have already matched their wins tally from last season after victory in Round 2, and look like providing the Double Blues with their toughest assignment to date.

Young utility Tyrrell Lui is fresh off his Rising Star nomination, having provided terrific rebound from defence thus far. He is joined once again in the back six by Sandy Brock, while Chris Williams will look to run the show once again from midfield. He is one of a few ex-Darwin players looking to impress against their former side, with big forward Daniel Stafford another who will be keen to find some form. He will be joined up forward by Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who has been finding the big sticks with ease having booted nine goals in two games.

But Darwin boasts some firepower of its own, with Brodie Foster continuing to set the competition alight. The goalsneak boasts 11 majors across his first two outings, and while Ishmael Palmer may not be there in support once again, Isaac Seden-Kurnoth looms as a major factor inside 50. The experienced Matt Campbell also looks to be in hot form, with Ryan Pendlebury another to settle the side in his defensive duties. Darwin’s mainstays have started the season emphatically and will fancy a third-consecutive win here, but should take nothing for granted against the rising Magpies.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Someone’s ‘0’ will go when undefeated sides Wanderers and Nightcliff do battle at TIO Stadium, making for an exciting finish to a big round of action. The Muk Muks have again started the season well, knocking off two 2019/20 finalists en route to taking on the formidable reigning premier. Nightcliff has been ticking along strongly, too, taking out a Grand Final rematch in Round 1 and managing to halt Waratah’s head of steam last time out with ruthless efficiency.

The returning Kyle Emery has added yet another dimension to the Tigers’ side, with his six-goal haul last week a warning shot for Wanderers defenders. Should 2019/20 Chaney Medal winner Trent Melville also take his spot in the side, this game looms as a must-watch. The likes of Cam Ilett and Daniel Bowles have been reliable as ever, while Phillip Wills is set to celebrate game 200. Victorian recruit Tom Boyd has been superb thus far, and the Tigers will hope former Calder Cannons standout, Daniel Mott can have a similar impact through midfield after strong Division 1 performances.

The Eagles are no slouches either though, with a bunch of high-end talent filling each line. Brett Eddy is fresh off a six-goal haul and has looked sharp up forward, while Braedon McLean has led steadily from defence. Newcomers Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman have given Wanderers an extra edge too, and Michael Mummery is one who could break the game open having gotten some game time under his belt last week. With a good amount of class scattered across either lineup, this should be a cracking contest.

Featured Image: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 2

THREE Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League sides remain undefeated after two rounds of action, while a further three are still on the hunt for their first set of premiership points in season 2020/21. Palmerston was the biggest winner out of Round 2, but it is Darwin who currently holds top spot after another spirited victory. All that, and more in our Premier League weekend wrap.

PALMERSTON | 5.1 | 13.4 | 18.10 | 21.15 (141)
TIWI BOMBERS | 1.1 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 5, T. Kunoth 4, C. Williams 2, J. Berry 2, E. Guthrie 2, F. Wilson, M. Rankine, K. Groves, M. Dennis, M. Chester, J. Harvey
Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 4, N. Ebinger 2, D. Munkara 2, N. Scagliarini, P. Kantilla

BEST:

Palmerston: M. Dennis, E. Guthrie, N. Lockyer Jnr, C. Williams, H. Brown, L. Flanagan
Tiwi: D. Munkara, M. De Wit, R. Puruntatameri, N. Scagliarini

Palmerston recorded its first win of the season on Saturday, consigning Tiwi to consecutive defeats with a 73-point thrashing at TIO Stadium. The Magpies’ formidable-looking mix of mainstays and new recruits clicked at the second time of asking, pouring on 13 goals to the Bombers’ four in the first half en route to a 21.15 (141) to 10.8 (68) scoreline.

Fresh off a four-goal haul in Round 1, Nigel Lockyer Jnr went one-better with five this time out to lead Palmerston’s attack. He was supported well by four majors from Toshie Kunoth, while former-Darwin midfielder Chris Williams was one of three Magpies to snare two goals. Eric Guthrie was one of them, named among his side’s best behind prolific ruckman Matthew Dennis, who also found the big sticks.

Harley Puruntatameri forged Tiwi’s main goalscoring response with a bag of four, while best afield Bomber Dion Munkara managed two. Boom recruit Nathan Scagliarini again proved a class above and booted an eye-catching goal on the run, while fellow Victorian Mason De Wit was also prominent in the loss. Currently sitting bottom of the ladder, there is still plenty of time for Tiwi to catch the leading pack.

NIGHTCLIFF | 4.1 | 8.1 | 12.3 | 13.4 (82)
WARATAH | 0.5 | 4.9 | 7.11 | 9.15 (69)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: K. Emery 6, C. Ilett 2, J. Butcher 2, K. Niki, M. Bricknell, A. Jorgensen
Waratah: J. Sutton 3, J. McGrath 2, S. Godden, J. Carmichael, K. Kantilla, A. Ankers

BEST:

Nightcliff: K. Emery, N. Brown, T. Boyd, J. Peris, C. Ilett, M. McGregor
Waratah: A. Moloney, C. Searle, J. Sutton, A. Kirby, D. Collis

The art of conversion proved a deciding factor as Nightcliff maintained its undefeated premiership defence on Saturday, defeating Waratah 13.4 (82) to 9.15 (69). In front of a home crowd at Nightcliff Oval, the Tigers started brightly with four goals to the Warriors’ one opening term, maintaining a lead throughout to come home 13-point winners despite managing seven less scoring shots than their opponents.

Former Palmerston forward Kyle Emery showcased his dynamism inside attacking 50 with a game-high six goals, while Tigers veteran Cam Ilett and ex-Port Adelaide forward John Butcher each contributed two. Nathan Brown was again strong down back, as newcomer Tom Boyd further proved his worth with another solid outing.

Victorian Jake Sutton led Waratah’s scoring charge with three majors, while Jae McGrath (two) was the only other Warrior to bag multiple goals. Prominent Port Melbourne defender Callum Searle continued his fine start to life in the NTFL, but it was Alexander Moloney who claimed best afield honours for his side. Tahs still sit within the finals places at 1-1 after a solid showing against the competition’s benchmark, while the Tigers sit second via percentage at 2-0.

DARWIN BUFFALOES | 2.4 | 4.6 | 9.9 | 12.11 (83)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 3.1 | 6.4 | 7.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS:

Darwin: B. Foster 5, I. Palmer 3, M. Campbell 2, J. Clarke, J. Stokes
Southern Districts: B. Rolfe 3, W. Farrer 2, M. Bowden, L. Kiel, D. Staunton

BEST:

Darwin: J. Clarke, B. Foster, J. Collinson, M. Campbell, I. Palmer
Southern Districts: L. Kiel, J. Clark, J. Farrar, Z. Smith, K. Jones, C. McAdam

Darwin continues to exceed expectations, claiming a 2-0 start to season 2020/21 with a 12.11 (83) to 8.8 (56) victory over Southern Districts on Saturday evening. The Buffs overcame deficits at the opening two breaks to edge ahead in the third term, before extending their lead with a second-consecutive three-goal to one term to run out 27-point winners at TIO Stadium.

Goalkicking ace Brodie Foster was again right in the thick of the action with five goals, emphatically backing up his bag of six in Round 1. Young gun Ishmael Palmer was another to continue his scoring form with three majors, while classy veteran Matt Campbell added another two to his season tally. Jalen Clarke was among the best Buffs, with Joey Collinson another to perform strongly as new coach Cameron Stokes keeps his perfect record in tact.

In a losing effort, Luke Kiel was again terrific for the Crocs, while 2019 Geelong Falcons captain Jesse Clark proved his worth on debut. The likes of Jonathan Farrar and Zach Smith also stood up as Lionel Ogden celebrated his 150th game, and the goalkicking efforts were led once more by Billy Rolfe (three goals) and Will Farrer (two). After consecutive close losses, the Crocs boast the best percentage of the sides sitting 0-2, falling just outside the finals placings.

ST MARY’S | 4.6 | 6.6 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)
WANDERERS 1.1 | 4.4 | 7.8 | 14.11 (95)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Calder 2, H. Williams 2, J. O’Brien, T. Long, J. Landt, J. Musgrove, T. Gilbert, D. Walters
Wanderers: B. Eddy 6, S. Mannagh 2, S. Bates, M. Mummery, A. Motlop, D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson, B. Culhane

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke, H. Williams, J. Long, L. Taylor, L. Jellyman-Turner, T. Saunders
Wanderers: B. Newman, B. Eddy, W. Williams, B. McLean, S. Mannagh

Wanderers continued its winning form to start the season, knocking off 2019/2020 Grand Finalist St Mary’s in the round’s final fixture on Saturday night. The Muk Muks were jumped at the off, and trailed at each of the first three breaks before flicking the switch with seven goals to the Saints’ two to run away 14.11 (95) to 10.9 (69) winners. The dominant final term showcased Wanderers’ scoring power, while also proving its finals credentials given the opposition.

Brett Eddy was among the goals in a big way with six majors, with VFL coup Shaun Mannagh (two) the only other Eagle to snag multiple goals. Brodie Newman was again outstanding in the winning effort, as the Calder Cannons product was named best afield in front of the aforementioned pair, Warwick Williams, and Braedon McLean. Crafty goalsneaks Brayden Culhane and Michael Mummery also found the big sticks.

Harry Williams was joined by Jackson Calder in contributing two goals to St Mary’s cause, with veteran Raphael Clarke named his side’s best afield. Lachlan Taylor and Lucas Jellyman-Turner were again terrific for the Saints, while Victorians Jack Landt, Dylan Landt, and Liam Fiore showed signs in their NTFL debuts. While the Eagles are soaring, St Mary’s already looks off the pace, with plenty of catching up to do.

Featured Image: Wanderers’ Brodie Newman gets a kick away | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 2

AFTER an action-packed weekend to kick off the season, the 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rolls on into Round 2. All four games are set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as Palmerston takes on Tiwi, while Nightcliff is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Nightcliff Oval.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 10, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Palmerston and Tiwi will be out to rectify Round 1 losses, when they do battle at TIO Stadium in the weekend’s opening fixture. The Magpies were soundly trumped by Waratah last time out, while Tiwi was outlasted by Darwin in a high-scoring shootout. The combined losing margin between the teams in Round 1 was 133 points, so suffice to say, there is plenty of room for improvement either way.

Magpies recruit Daniel Stafford will hope for a far more fruitful outing this time around, having been held to three disposals and a goal against Waratah. Support comes from Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who is fresh off a four-goal haul, while bigman Matthew Dennis will again look to supply Chris Williams with a bunch of opportunities at the stoppages. The midfield battle will be key to any Palmerston success; taking some heat off young defenders in Sandy Brock and Tyrrell Lui, while also providing the dangerous Magpies forwards with quick and favourable entries.

Tiwi’s pace and fluent movement could cause some headaches in transition, with the Bombers’ losing score of 94 from last week still a better effort than what half the other teams managed. Victorian recruits Nathan Scagliarini and Angus Byrne have already shown they’ll be terrific additions to the side, while Mason Dewit was also handy down back in his NTFL debut. The likes of Harley Puruntatameri, Henry Kerinaiua, and John Tipiloura will all need to provide their usual spark going forward, with the Bombers’ wide range of goal sources somewhat depleted compared to last season.

Expect a close contest in this one, with both sides out to notch their first win of the season. Palmerston will understand the importance of getting on the board early, but may need some time to gel having taken in a number of key recruits. The Bombers stand as a fearsome test.

Nightcliff vs. Waratah
Saturday October 10, 4:00pm
Nightcliff Oval

Two-time reigning premier Nightcliff meets fellow Round 1 victor, Waratah on home turf this Saturday, as both sides look to carry on their winning form. As they often do, the Tigers sent a resounding statement to the rest of the competition in their defeat of St Mary’s in last week’s Grand Final rematch, with the usual suspects combining well alongside a range of fresh faces. Waratah also earned a stylish win in the season’s curtain-raiser, thumping Palmerston under the new Gardens Oval lights on Friday night.

The hardness and maturity of Nightcliff’s side continues to shine through, with the likes of Daniel Bowles, Cam Ilett, and Brodie Filo all finding plenty of the ball last week. Dominic Brew‘s 17 disposals, 13 tackles, and seven clearances were also mighty impressive, with the Tigers’ midfield depth and versatility a tough match for any team. Combine that with the sturdiness of Nathan Brown down back, and the goal threat of Liam Holt-Fitz, Kyle Emery, and Matthew Bricknell up forward, and you have a well-balanced unit which boasts a range of weapons.

Waratah’s Ned Stevens is coming off a performance which earned him a Rising Star nod, competing well against Dennis, Palmerston’s established ruckman. He’ll have more of a rotation to face this time out alongside Zach Westerberg. At their feet, the likes of Sam Godden, Dylan Collis, and Joshua Carmichael should provide good forward drive against stiff opposition, along with usual suspect, Abe Ankers. Jae McGrath has proven again that he is able to spearhead the attack, with Brodie Carroll, Tom Fields, and Kim Kantilla all capable of hitting the scoreboard, too.

After such a promising season initiation last week, a true test of Waratah’s credentials will come against the competition’s benchmark. Nightcliff seldom puts in a bad performance, so the Warriors will have to be at their best to outdo the reigning premiers and remain undefeated.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Southern Districts
Saturday October 10, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin proved many a doubter wrong in Round 1, and will look to continue that trend heading into its Saturday evening clash with Southern Districts. The Double Blues stormed away to a 64-point romping over Tiwi, while the Crocs slumped to a narrow four-point loss at the hands of Wanderers. The two sides last met in week one of last year’s finals series, with Districts getting the better of the Buffs on that occasion to the tune of 71 points. But a lot has changed since then and there will be a decent personnel turnover coming into this battle.

Experienced heads in Jarrod Stokes and Matt Campbell continue to serve their Darwin side well along with the returning figure of Brodie Foster, who comes in fresh off a six-goal haul. Ishmael Palmer and Joey Collinson were others to showcase Darwin’s scoring prowess in last week’s effort, with good potential to carry on such form agains the Crocs. Districts have lost some of that firepower and only managed six goals last week, but can rely on the likes of Lionel Ogden and Dean Staunton to drive standards. Billy Rolfe also snared half of his side’s total goals in Round 1, so will have a big role to play once again.

It’d be easy to turn on the Crocs after a disappointing Round 1 result, though Wanderers look a much-improved side and only just got the better of them. Darwin has been a notoriously hot started over the last few seasons, so will hope that trend continues here in what should be a cracking contest.

St Mary’s vs. Wanderers
Saturday October 10, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Season 2019/20 Grand Finalist St Mary’s readies for battle with Wanderers, looking to get on the board in the new campaign. The Saints were again outdone by Nightcliff in their opening game, while a revamped Wanderers snuck home by four points over Southern Districts. A perfect start to 2020/21 is up for grabs for the Muk Muks given the stiff opposition they’ve faced, with St Mary’s hoping it doesn’t fall too far behind the leading pack early on.

Star Victorian recruits Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman were terrific last time out for Wanderers, while familiar faces in Braedon McLean and Brett Eddy will hope to continue their leading of the side. Goals were hard to come by against Districts, but the likes of Brayden Culhane and Shane Thorne should again be thereabouts for the Eagles. The Saints were another side to only manage six goals in Round 1, with the likes of Nate Paredes and Shaun Edwards having to contribute from midfield. The returning Jackson Paine started strongly, while fellow bigman Brandyn Grenfell will again look to impact.

Wanderers is a side on the rise and will have to work hard to get the most out of a couple of tough early-season assignments. St Mary’s will be hungry to hit back hard after last week and have the cattle to do so, led by some experienced campaigners.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 1 Darwin vs. Tiwi clash | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 1

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season bounced down on Friday night, signalling the start of what is set to be a interesting period in Top-End football. Reigning premier, Nightcliff again got the better of St Mary’s in the much-anticipated Grand Final rematch, while Waratah stormed out of the blocks with a terrific season-opening win over Palmerston under lights at Gardens Oval. All that, and more in our Round 1 wrap.

WARATAH 2.2 | 9.5 | 14.8 | 19.10 (124)
PALMERSTON 1.1 | 4.1 | 4.3 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:

Waratah: J. McGrath 4, T. Fields 4, K. Kantilla 3, B. Carroll 2, S. Godden, N. Gooch, J. Carmichael, A. Ankers, C. Searle, J. Sutton
Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 4, M. Sutton, C. Williams, D. Stafford, A. McAdam

BEST:

Waratah: T. Fields, K. Kantilla, S. Godden, B. Orval, N. Stevens
Palmerston: C. Williams, E. Guthrie, L. Flanagan, M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. McMasters

Under new Friday night lights at Gardens Oval, Waratah opened its season on the perfect note with a 69-point win over Palmerston. The game was held as tribute to former Warrior, Alex Aurrichio, who sadly passed away in June this year. Tom Fields, who had been with the big American throughout his footballing journey, honoured his good mate with four goals for the winners in a best-afield display.

The Magpies, last season’s wooden spooners simply failed to match Waratah’s firepower, as the Warriors took hold of the game with 12 goals to three across the second and third terms. Fields, along with a number of key recruits played their part for either side. Port Melbourne gun Callum Searle was terrific across half-back for Tahs, while former Buffalo Chris Williams made a promising start to life in black and white despite the loss. Second-year Warrior Jae McGrath was dangerous up forward with four majors, aided by Kim Kantilla (three goals) and Brodie Carroll‘s two majors from midfield.

Mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis was typically solid for Palmerston, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr showed off his dynamism with high flies and a long-range effort among his four goals. Much was made of the Magpies’ off-season, but it seems as though the team will require a settling-in period to properly gel before making a tilt for finals.

TIWI BOMBERS 5.3 | 8.7 | 13.10 | 14.10 (94)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 8.4 | 18.7 | 24.14 (158)

GOALS:

Tiwi: N. Scagliarini 5, J. Tipiloura 3, A. Byrne 2, H. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, R. Farmer, P. Kantilla
Darwin: B. Foster 6, I. Palmer 4, J. Collinson 3, C. Abala 3, M. Campbell 2, J. Stokes 2, L. McKenzie 2, B. Stokes, M. Coombes

BEST:

Tiwi: N. Scagliarini, J. Tipiloura, A. Byrne, R. Farmer, P Heenan
Darwin: B. Foster, M. Coombes, I. Palmer, D. Gordon, C Atkinson

Darwin defied the impact of an off-season exodus to take out a high-scoring affair against the Tiwi Bombers on Saturday, thumping their rivals to the tune of 64 points at Gardens Oval. Big bags of goals from Darwin’s Brodie Foster (six) and Tiwi’s Nathan Scagliarini (five) headlined the best performances, as fans were treated to a feast of 38 majors. After conceding a three-point deficit at half time, the Double Blues went on a rampage with 16 goals in the second half to come away comfortable winners in the end.

Young forward Ishmael Palmer (four goals) was also among the Buffs to join in on the goalkicking act, with Joseph Collinson booting three, and former Tiwi player Cade Abala matching the feat. Experienced heads in Matt Campbell and Jarrod Stokes added two majors apiece to help new coach Cameron Stokes to a debut victory, while a fresh face in Dylan Gordon was also among Darwin’s best.

While VFL coup Scagliarini was clearly Tiwi’s best for his performance rotating through midfield, a bunch of fellow goalkickers also featured prominently. John Tipiloura snared three majors, while Geelong-based key forward Angus Byrne managed two in a promising start to his NTFL career. Mainstays Paddy Heenan and Roy Farmer also found the big sticks while being named among the Bombers’ best, but there is plenty of room for improvement for this week’s losers.

WANDERERS 2.3 | 2.7 | 4.8 | 6.11 (47)
S. DISTRICTS 1.1 | 3.4 | 5.4 | 6.7 (43)

GOALS:

Wanderers: B. Culhane 2, S. Thorne 2, S. Bates, B. Eddy
S. Districts: B. Rolfe 3, A. Boseley, D. Staunton, C. McAdam

BEST:

Wanderers: B. McLean, J. Cubillo, B. Eddy, S. Mannagh, B. Newman
S. Districts: L. Ogden, B. Rolfe, D. Staunton, L. Kiel, P. Gallow, Z. Smith

It was not always pretty, but Wanderers secured a hard-earned win over Southern Districts in a low-scoring thriller decided by just four points. The Eagles were led brilliantly by skipper Braedon McLean, who was assured in defence as the likes of Shane Thorne and Brayden Culhane (both two goals) provided a spark up the other end. Having trailed at half time and the final break, the Muk Muks had it all to do in the fourth term, but overtook the Crocs with two goals to one.

The fixture also served as Joel Cubillo‘s 100th game, which turned out to be a great success. As was a theme in the opening round, Victorian recruits impressed in this clash, with VFL jet Shaun Mannagh and Calder Cannons product Brodie Newman both starring for the Eagles. Former Port Adelaide forward Brett Eddy also started his season well with a goal, and a spot among Wanderers’ best.

New Crocs captain Dean Staunton was among his side’s best contributors, but it was Lionel Ogden who stole the show as Districts’ top player for the day. Billy Rolfe also booted three goals on his club debut as the Crocs’ sole multiple goalkicker. New coach Matt Cannard could not quite push his team over the line for the win, but should have some good talent rotate through the side this season, even without Josiah Farrer.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.7 | 7.9 | 10.11 | 14.13 (97)
ST MARY’S 1.1 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 2, K. Emery 2, J. Butcher 2, P. Lewis-Smith, B. Filo
St Mary’s: B. Grenfell 2, N. Paredes, D. Walters, T. Gilbert, S. Edwards

BEST:

Nightcliff: N. Brown, D. Brew, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Boyd, C. Ilett
St Mary’s: J. Paine, B. Grenfell, L. Jellyman-Turner, L. Taylor, S. Edwards, N. Paredes

Reigning premier, Nightcliff sent a message to its competitors with an impressive 42-point win over St Mary’s in what was a rematch of the 2019/20 Grand Final. The Tigers were near their clinical best and simply boasted too much firepower for the Saints to handle. Their class took full toll in the final term, with a four-goal to nil period sealing the result in style.

After another busy off-season, it seems the Tigers are going to be difficult to knock off their mantle as the competition’s top contender. While the likes of Matthew Bricknell and Liam Holt-Fitz went to work up forward with three goals apiece, Nathan Brown was solid as ever down back to claim best afield honours. Veteran Cam Ilett was again prominent, while recent additions Tom Boyd and Dom Brew also featured among Nightcliff’s best half-dozen. Former Palmerston forward Kyle Emery also managed a pair of goals upon his return to the den.

For St Mary’s, former Brisbane forward Jackson Paine was named best afield ahead of newcomers Brandon Grenfell and Lucas Jellyman-Turner, the latter of whom booted two majors. Usual suspects Shaun Edwards and Nate Paredes were also on form, but could not quite do enough to keep the Saints within touch for four quarters.

Featured Image: Darwin’s Joseph Collinson gets a kick away | Credit: Glenn Campbell/NT News

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season is set to bounce down tonight, as Waratah takes on Palmerston at Gardens Oval. After an off-season which saw the points and fly-in rules adjusted, but a raft of players putting pen to paper across all eight clubs, this year’s instalment promises to raise plenty of intrigue and produce even more quality.

In our club-by-club season preview, we take a look at how each side may stack up for the upcoming campaign, touching on the potential new signings and important factors for each team, while also serving a reminder of where they each left off.

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

2019/20 finish: 5th, 10-8 – lost elimination final to Southern Districts by 71
Round 1 fixture: vs. Tiwi Bombers @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

After an up and down 2019/20 season, the Darwin Buffaloes will hope to hold onto the finals place it managed to secure last time out. The Double Blues stormed out of the gates, but struggled to find the required consistency later in the season and exited the finals with barely a whimper against Southern Districts.

Consistency may well be a difficult feat to manage once again, with a coaching change and max exodus of players putting the Buffs in a tough position. While interstaters Brodie Foster and Ryan Pendlebury have recommitted, with outgoing coach Matt Campbell also set to remain onboard in a playing capacity, Darwin has lost a series of big names. New coach Cameron Stokes will have to plug gaps left by last year’s leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford, best and fairest winner Chris Williams, and utility Zak Stephenson, who have all switched to Palmerston.

Exciting goalkickers Brayden Culhane (Wanderers) and Adam Sambono (Tiwi) have also moved through the exit door, leaving a big shoes for new recruits to fill. Much will also be expected of young gun Antonio James, who is fresh off a starring South Australian school football season with Westminster. Fellow youngster Isaac Seden-Kurnoth will also garner plenty of attention, providing the green shoots Darwin may be after during a transitional period along with Ishmael Palmer and Tim Eldridge.

Nightcliff:

2019/20 finish: 1st, 17-1 – won Grand Final over St Mary’s by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. St Mary’s @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

Nightcliff begins its back-to-back premiership defence with a 2019/20 Grand Final rematch against St Mary’s, which should serve as a good measuring stick for the Tigers’ motivation and team cohesion after another big off-season. Premiership hero Trent Melville may have played his final NTFL game in last year’s decider, but the reigning premiers have a bunch of regulars and new recruits to cover any potential losses.

The Tigers’ notoriously deep pockets have lured a number of big-name VFL players, along with a host of Victorians from prominent local/regional leagues, and even the NAB League. Fresh off a strong WAFL season with Claremont which could yet end in premiership glory, Nightcliff junior Ryan Nyhuis would prove the cherry on top of the Tigers’ numerous recruits, along with former Palmerston gun, Kyle Emery.

Homegrown talent remains too, with the likes of Ryan Mu, and Liam Holt-Fitz enjoying steep rises, while Cam Ilett goes around for his 21st season, and Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo lines up once again. It is hard to see the Tigers falling off given the scary depth they possess once again, and it should be a cracking season for fans of the yellow and black.

Palmerston:

2019/20 finish: 8th, 1-17
Round 1 fixture: vs. Waratah @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston outfit is poised to bounce back strongly from a season which saw them finish last in 2019/20. Strong inter-league recruiting sees them well placed to potentially make a run for finals, with the back-end of the competition evening up this year. A trio of Buffaloes; Daniel Stafford, Chris Williams, and Zak Stephenson should add to the Magpies’ spine, along with returning junior Tyrrell Lui.

Young talent should be in good shape too, with Lui joined by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Sandy Brock as pillars up either end, while Jonty Patrick returns from SANFL Under 18s duties with Central Districts. The Davey family connection of Alwyn, Russell, and potentially Aaron adds experience, along with mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis, who has recommitted to the Magpies. That’s not to mention Alywn’s twin sons, who should also run through the Premier League side.

A steady start against Waratah in the season opener should put them in good stead, serving as a decent test of where the side will be at in 2020/21.

Southern Districts:

2019/20 finish: 3rd (4th), 10-7-1 – lost preliminary final to Nightcliff by 37
Round 1 fixture: vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Southern Districts will hope the momentum of a spirited finals charge will carry on into season 2020/21, with quite a steady squad remaining in tact for Matt Cannard‘s first year at the helm. Other sides may fancy themselves to move past the Crocs given their relatively quiet off-season, though a strong core and some handy fly-ins should keep Districts within the finals hunt.

The news of Josiah Farrer‘s ACL tear is a big blow to the Crocs’ premiership hopes, though Will Farrer remains as a goalkicking midfielder, while Charlie McAdam and Dean Staunton are other mainstays who can steady the ship. Young outside bolter Brandon Rusca looked primed for a big year after spending some time with the Gold Coast SUNS, while Brodie Lake may sneak some game time in before the AFL Draft. Fellow youngsters Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus have also moved up from Victoria, with Clark a solid defender who captained the Geelong Falcons last year, while Dahlhaus is cut from the same cloth as cousin, Luke.

With a couple more relocating coups, Southern Districts should be able to enjoy some good form throughout the year. Having made a name as one of the competition’s premier teams across the last few years, the Crocs will be hungry not to fall out of the leading pack.

St Mary’s:

2019/20 finish: 2nd, 14-4 – lost Grand Final to Nightcliff by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Nightcliff @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

After a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to go one-better in season 2020/21 after staying busy in the off-season. A number of big names remain, including Shaun Edwards, Jackson Calder, and Jackson Paine, and Nate Paredes, with Raphael Clarke also set to feature. Ben Long will be a handy addition once his WAFL campaign ends, while returning stars Ross Tungatalum and Anthony Davis promise to add a new dimension to the Saints’ side. Will Hams is another experienced head set to enter the fold, boasting AFL experience.

Add to that recruits of former VFL, NAB League, and Geelong Football League players, and St Mary’s should again prove to be a force in this year’s competition. The recommitment of many stars who helped the club climb off a bottom-place finish in 2018/19 is great to see, with the depth of the squad now right up there with Nightcliff ahead of what should be an exciting season for Saints fans. Having come from a long way back last year, they should start right at the forefront, especially if they can knock the Tigers off in Round 1.

Tiwi Bombers:

2019/20 finish: 4th (3rd), 11-7 – lost semi final to Southern Districts by 40
Round 1 fixture: vs. Darwin @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

One of last year’s most exciting teams, the Tiwi Bombers will be out to make good on their straight-sets finals exit in 2019/20, starting with a Round 1 grudge match against Darwin. The Bombers have added some handy interstate quality, while also managing to secure the services of prolific goalkicker Adam Sambono from the Buffaloes. A major out, though, will be former AFL midfielder Nathan Djerrkura, who moves to Wanderers.

The Bombers’ speed and ease of transition will again put them in good stead this year, with the likes of Harley Puruntatameri and Henry Kerinaiua running the lines, while Jeffrey Simon adds class through the middle or up either end. Tiwi’s mainstays are always important too, and should help secure their side a finals spot once again in 2020/21, but it’ll be tight. Fans will also hope to see a bit more of Cyril Rioli too, after his successful cameo last time around.

Wanderers:

2019/20 finish: 7th 3-14-1
Round 1 fixture: vs. Southern Districts @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Wanderers will look to address and improve on a massive drop-off in form towards the end of last season, as the Muk Muks begin a fresh campaign against Southern Districts tomorrow night. The Eagles’ stocks see them primed for a finals tilt, with the likes of Nathan Djerrkura and Brayden Culhane coming in from rival clubs, while Josh Cubillo and Marlon Motlop are set to feature more prominently as Jonas Niki and Clifford Jamahl make their returns.

In terms of interstate recruits, the Eagles have also dipped into the Victorian pool with a mix of experienced and young players entering the fold, set to line up as soon as in Round 1. The Eagles also lay claim to 2019/20 Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Braedon McLean, but the hole Joel Jeffrey will leave come AFL Draft time is a big one to fill.

Still, the Muk Muks will fancy themselves to improve greatly after showing some great promise early last year, and face a very good test first up against the Crocs.

Waratah:

2019/20 finish: 6th 5-13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Palmerston @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

After an inconsistent season saw them finish best of the rest in sixth, the Warriors have plenty to prove in their 2020/21 campaign. Along with Nightcliff, Waratah has been one of the busiest clubs during the off-season, luring a mass amount of players from all kinds of leagues and levels in Victoria. Young key forward Ned Stevens also returns as a big coup, taking some of the goalkicking pressure of zippy midfielder/forward Kim Kantilla.

The likes of state leaguers Brodie Carroll and Callum Searle also line up for the Warriors, with Jae McGrath another important player to commit to the cause. As usual, Abe Ankers will be the key man, and all involved will hope he can run out more frequently this time around. Expectations will be high for a healthy rise this season considering Waratah’s various coups, but making the next step is always tough, especially with others improving around them.

Featured Image: Nightcliff celebrates its 2019/20 premiership | Credit: AFLNT

Finals preview: NTFL Men’s Premier League – Tigers primed for premiership defence

EIGHTEEN rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League football have come and gone, leaving a final five which was clearly ahead of the rest. Reigning premier, Nightcliff will come into the post-season as favourite to defend its crown, but challengers in the form of St Mary’s – the only team to beat them in season 2019/20 – and Tiwi are not far behind. That is not to mention elimination finalists Southern Districts and Darwin, who will both be looking to shake up what is set to be a hotly contested finals series.

REGULAR SEASON RECAPS:

NIGHTCLIFF – 1st, 17-1 (197%)

Leading goalkicker: Trent Melville (41 goals)

MVP: Kaine Riley

Best win: Rd 14, def. St Mary’s by 65 points

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

The Tigers will be unbackable favourites to go back-to-back this year, which would provide a fitting end to their 17-1 regular season – defeating every side on their way to a near-perfect record. The only blemish on said record was a Round 7 loss to second-ranked side, St Mary’s, but was redeemed just seven games later as the Tigers toppled the Saints by a whopping 65 points. Tiwi was the only other side to get within a goal of Nightcliff, with the minor premier taking on each challenge from finals contenders while also proving ruthless against bottom three opponents. Three players; Daniel Bowles, Kyle Winter-Irving, and Trent Melville played every home-and-away game, with Melville returning another massive goal tally (41) to lead the club in that area. Seventeen-game players Liam Holt-Fitz (30 goals) and Cam Ilett (24) also had no trouble finding the big sticks, while bit-parters Lachlan Sharp and John Butcher combined for 36 majors over just six outings each. Kaine Riley deservedly took out the club’s best and fairest award, named in the best half-dozen in 10 of his 17 games. With plenty of experience and stars on each line, it is not hard to see why Nightcliff has so comprehensively become the competition’s benchmark, but the Tigers will need to stay motivated to claim that deserved flag.

ST MARY’S – 2nd, 14-4 (137%)

Leading goalkicker: Jackson Calder & Leroy Larson (24)

MVP: Thomas Davies

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

Worst loss: Rd 3, def. by Tiwi Bombers by 14 points

St Mary’s looms as the biggest challenger to Nightcliff’s throne after a 14-4 regular season which saw it finish three games clear in second. During a much-improved season, the 2018/19 wooden spooners were the only side to beat Nightcliff, while only going down to the finals-bound Tigers, Crocs, and Bombers (twice). Despite those thorns in their side, the Saints were just one of two teams to beat every other NTFL club this season, making them the clear best of the rest. Thomas Davies held down the fort for much of the year to be named among the best 12 times across 17 games, while Leroy Larson and Jackson Calder led the goalkicking with 24 apiece. Calder’s average of 2.4 goals per game was superior, with ex-Roo and Blue Jarrad Waite and Dylan Johnstone also proving handy when available, while mainstays Shannon Rioli and Nate Paredes each booted over 20 majors. The returns of Kieren Parnell, Jake Long, Shaun Edwards, and Jackson Geary all lifted Saints’ spirits, while cameos from even more former-AFL players ensured St Mary’s maintained its level of form. That form is good enough to trump any side and given its already formidable resume, St Mary’s is a genuine premiership contender.

TIWI BOMBERS – 3rd, 11-7 (102%)

Leading goalkicker: Austin Wonaeamirri (30)

MVP: Jason Puruntatameri

Best win: Rd 3, def. Tiwi Bombers by 14 points

Worst loss: Rd 1, def. by Darwin Buffaloes by 113 points

Tiwi recaptured the late 2018/19 form which saw it earn a preliminary final berth, overcoming a shaky start to finish the 2019/20 season in third place. The Bombers left it late too, losing in Rounds 16 and 17 to slide to fourth, but regaining third spot with a tight win over Wanderers. Early signs were shown as the Bombers outgunned St Mary’s in a Round 3 shootout, and their true credentials came to the fore between Rounds 7 and 10, where they went 3-1 against the then top four. It was smoother sailing from then, onwards, with Tiwi one of the more exciting teams to watch. Austin Wonaeamirri led the goalkicking with a season of 30, while a group of nine players littered with mainstays all notched up over 10 majors. Jason and Harley Puruntatameri were instrumental throughout the season alongside North Melbourne VFL signing Adam Tipungwuti, with cameos from Charlie Molyneux, Nathan Djerrkura, Jake Best, and Ashton Hams among the best throughout a top season – not to mention Cyril Rioli‘s Round 5 homecoming. With only the best sides left to face, Tiwi will have to find an extra gear to overcome the top two teams, and have the strength to do so.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS – 4th, 10-7-1 (120%)

Leading goalkicker: Will Farrer (47)

MVP: Josiah Farrer

Best win: Rd 6, def. St Mary’s by 12 points

Worst result: Rd 2, drew with Wanderers

Southern Districts were half a game away from creeping into third place after an indifferent 2019/20 campaign, with a Round 2 draw with Wanderers ultimately costing the Crocs a finals second chance. A rocky start was soon rectified by four-consecutive wins, with Districts able to demolish the teams below them for the most part, but eventually struggling against the rest of the top five. Spearhead Will Farrer ended a stellar season as the competition’s leading goalkicker, bagging a high of eight goals while being held goalless just twice in 16 games. Thomas Holman and Josiah Farrer will be among the leading best and fairest candidates, with the latter the only Croc to play all 18 games. Young guns Brodie Lake, Brandon Rusca, and Beau Schwarze all showed promising signs, with the ex-AFL experience of Ed Barlow, Michael Barlow, Richard Tambling, and Jeff Garlett aiding them. At full strength, the Crocs can match it with anyone, but finding peak form has been an issue for the 2018/19 grand finalists. Three comfortable wins coming in will bode well for Districts, but four-straight defeats before that run will not.

DARWIN BUFFALOES – 5th, 10-8 (118%)

Leading goalkicker: Daniel Stafford (39)

MVP: Christopher Williams

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

Worst result: Rd 3, def. by Waratah (overturned)

The unluckiest side out of Round 18’s results, Darwin will enter the finals series having fallen just one win short of a top three berth. The story of the Buffs’ early season was one of streaks, building short winning runs to go two steps forward, before dropping a step back with consecutive losses. Their second half of the season proved just as inconsistent, but the Double Blues still managed to maintain a positive record a remain one of the teams to beat – dropping 0 points to the eventual bottom three. Daniel Stafford was central to the Buffs’ scoring efforts, booting 39 goals in 12 games with just one goalless outing. Arguable best and fairest favourite Christopher Williams was the only Buffalo to play every game, with Darwin’s forward half its biggest strength. The likes of Darren Shillabeer, Brayden Culhane, and skipper Jarrod Stokes all enjoyed strong seasons, while Brodie Foster and Ishmael Palmer added value in patches. Should all those cogs click in the clutch, Darwin could inflict a couple of post-season upsets, but the Buffs will have to be flawless given their elimination slot.

WEEK ONE PREVIEW:

Southern Districts and Darwin Buffaloes put it all on the line in their elimination final clash to open the post-season, while St Mary’s and Tiwi play off for the chance to face Nightcliff next week in a bumper first round of finals.

The Crocs and Buffs have clashed twice before in season 2019/20, each claiming a win by a combined eight points. Darwin’s victory in their most recent clash effectively proved the difference as Districts missed out on third, adding a little extra spice to this contest with no margin for error in their current situation. Watch for a potential shootout between mercurial forwards Farrer and Stafford, with the outside run and class of Districts potentially granting them more avenues for goal, while the seasoned veterans of Darwin will need to stand up across the ground.

In the featured final bout between St Mary’s and Tiwi, another chapter will be written in the league’s leading traditional rivalry. The two sides have met three times already this season, with the Bombers proving the thorn in St Mary’s side early on, but eventually dropping points in their Round 17 meeting. Tiwi’s firepower has tested the usually well-structured Saints defence before, but the inclusion of Jake Long went a long way to rectifying that last time out. Expect the Saints to back themselves to match Tiwi in that department should they be at full strength, but more likely look to slow the game down and control the tempo. Tiwi’s pace and outside run can match that of any team, but St Mary’s has become renowned for its spread of class on each line.

FIXTURES:

Elimination Final – Southern Districts vs. Darwin Buffaloes
Saturday January 22, 4:30pm @ TIO Stadium

Head-to-head: 1-1

Form: Crocs 3-2, Buffaloes 3-2

Tip: Crocs by 15

Qualifying Final – St Mary’s vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday January 22, 7:00pm @ TIO Stadium

Head-to-head: 2-1 Bombers

Form: Saints 4-1, Bombers 3-2

Tip: Saints by 24

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 18 – Tiwi snatches third despite Crocs’ late lunge

THE fate of the final five was left to the last Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League regular season round, with Tiwi snatching third spot back from Darwin as the Buffs went down to St Mary’s to cap a dramatic pair of fixtures. Elsewhere, Southern Districts and Nightcliff kept the status quo against bottom three opponents, taking winning form into the finals.

WANDERERS 3.4 | 6.7 | 8.11 | 12.14 (86)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.5 | 5.5 | 8.11 | 14.15 (99)

GOALS:

Wanderers: S. Thorne 2, R. Fejo 2, B. O’Connell 2, M. White 2, D. Braun, W. Williams, R. Howard, J. Jeffrey
Tiwi: G. Cunningham 4, R. Tungatalum 2, P. Heenan 2, K. Dunn, L. Howe, J. Simon, C. Jones, H. Puruntatameri, M. Kantilla

BEST:

Wanderers: B. O’Connell, D. Braun, T. Lui, A. Motlop, S. Thorne
Tiwi: L. Howe, R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, M. Dunn, G. Cunningham, R. Baird

Tiwi arrested a two-game losing streak at the perfect time, outlasting Wanderers to qualify for a finals double-chance. The Bombers were made to work for it against a young Eagles side coming off 11-straight losses, finding themselves down at half time and only managing to draw level heading into the final turn. But with experience and some flair of their own at their disposal, the third-ranked Bombers ran home the stronger side to get up 14.15 (99) to 12.14 (86). Gerrard Cunningham collected his third bag of four goals for the season in an impactful display up forward, with Ross Tungatalum and Patrick Heenan snaring two each while Harley Puruntatameri‘s sole major was one for the highlight reel. Lachlan Howe was named the Bombers’ best despite the aforementioned efforts, with Wanderers gun Beau O’Connell again brilliant in a losing effort. The NT Thunder Academy graduate managed two goals, matched by fellow youngsters Ronald Fejo and Mark White, with Tyrell Lui named among the best alongside O’Connell. While the Muk Muks’ poor end to the season would leave a sour taste, this effort showed exactly what the promising squad is capable of. For Tiwi, its 11th set of four points sets up a qualifying final clash with St Mary’s – a game which is sure to attract a whole lot of attention.

ST MARY’S 2.2 | 3.6 | 8.8 | 13.10 (88)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 7.5 | 8.7 | 11.8 (74)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: D. Johnstone 3, J. Waite 3, S. Rioli 2, J. Cheek, N. Paredes, L. Ferreira, L. Larson, A. Parry
Darwin: D. Stafford 4, I. Palmer 2, P. Boles, T. Eldridge, M. Campbell, L. McKenzie, A. Sambono

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Long, J. Long, J. Paine, T. Saunders, D. Johnstone, N. Paredes
Darwin: T. Eldridge, M. Coombes, C. Williams, D. Stafford, P. Boles, L. McKenzie

St Mary’s stepped up in the clutch moment to boot Darwin out of the top three, finishing strongly to edge the Buffs by 14 points. The Saints rallied after a lacklustre opening half, edging ahead at three-quarter time in a four-goal turnaround and eventually kicking away to the 13.10 (88) to 11.8 (74) victory. The win sets up a fourth clash with Tiwi in this weekend’s qualifying final, with the fate of third spot firmly in St Mary’s hands coming into the ultimate round of the regular season. The return of Jarrad Waite proved timely as the ex-Roo and Blue booted three goals alongside Dylan Johnstone to lead the attack, with Shannon Rioli the only other Saint to notch up multiple goals. In response, Daniel Stafford again carried the brunt of the scoring load with a game-high four majors, and Ishmael Palmer continued his good form with two. But much of the good work from either side was done slightly further afield, with Jake Long arguably St Mary’s best alongside Jackson Paine, while Timothy Eldridge and Christopher Williams had their say for the Buffs. With Darwin’s elimination final bout with Southern Districts now sealed, the Saints will take on Tiwi on the same weekend with a chance the two sides could meet again in week two of finals.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.4 | 8.6 | 14.9 | 17.13 (115)
WARATAH 1.1 | 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: J. Brennan 4, W. Farrer 3, E. Barlow 3, D. Barry 2, J. Farrer 2, J. Garlett, J. Watts, N. Horbury
Waratah: T. Mosquito 2, F. Kantilla 2, J. Smith, T. Toma, S. Godden, N. Gooch

BEST:

Southern Districts: E. Barlow, J. Brennan, B. Lake, T. Holman, P. Gallow, J. Watts
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts did all it could to grab the last second-chance spot among the top five, but fell just short despite thumping Waratah by 60 points. The Crocs looked up for the hunt early, managing four goals in each of the opening two terms to set up a 35-point buffer heading into the main break. But the brunt of the damage was yet to come for Waratah as the Crocs went on to pour on another nine goals after half time to come away comfortable 17.13 (115) to 8.7 (55) winners. A near full-strength team aided the Crocs’ cause, spearheaded by former AFL utility Jared Brennan, who put through a game-high four goals on his NTFL return. Competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer was not far behind with three, while best afield Ed Barlow matched the effort. NT Thunder Under 18 Brodie Lake was also influential in a well-rounded team performance that will put the Crocs in good stead heading into finals. On the other hand, the Warriors end their indifferent season on another dour note, but positive cameos from the likes of Timothy Mosquito and Francis Kantilla came in handy in the losing effort. Districts now go on to face Darwin in the elimination final, ranked the better side but with the ledger even between the two sides.

PALMERSTON 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.4 (34)
NIGHTCLIFF 2.3 | 7.7 | 13.13 | 21.16 (142)

GOALS:

Palmerston: R. Davey 2, M. Chester, A. Lonergan, A. Davey
Nightcliff: D. Singh-Lippo 5, C. Ilett 4, T. Melville 3, J. Tsitas 2, B. Arnold 2, K. Riley, J. Peris, J. Kickett, L. Holt-Fitz, M. Hagan

BEST:

Palmerston: N/A
Nightcliff: J. Tsitas, C. Ilett, J. Miles, D. Butcher, S. Wilson, D. Singh-Lippo

Nightcliff and Palmerston finished their regular seasons with perfectly opposite records, as the reigning and minor premier notched its 17th win against the lowly Magpies to the tune of 108 points. The Tigers were dominant across the match, barring an even first term, and created a wealth of scoring opportunities to run out 21.16 (142) to 5.4 (34) winners. With at least six goals in each of the final three quarters, the Tigers overwhelmed Palmerston and did not let up despite the match being a dead rubber, with form vital given they now have a week off in the post-season. Nightcliff junior Declan Singh-Lippo had a breakout game with five goals, with veteran Cam Ilett moving forward for four of his own while club leading goalkicker Trent Melville managed three and best afield James Tsitas, two. There were far less contributors for the Magpies, but Russell Davey claimed a pair of majors as his side’s sole multiple goalkicker, with leaders Aaron Lonergan and Alwyn Davey also finding the big sticks. While a disappointing season for the wooden spooners comes to an end, the Tigers can look forward to a much shorter break of their own before taking on the winner of this week’s qualifying final between St Mary’s and Tiwi.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 17 – Third time lucky as Saints halt Tiwi train

THIRD time proved a charm for St Mary’s in its ongoing rivalry with Tiwi, securing second spot and blowing the race for third place wide open in the process. Elsewhere, the remaining finals-bound sides picked up wins over the bottom three, with just one round left to play in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.4 | 6.10 | 9.11 | 13.17 (95)
WARATAH 0.3 | 2.6 | 4.10 | 5.11 (41)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Wunungmurra 4, I. Palmer 3, D. Stafford 3, N. Cooper 2, L. McKenzie.
Waratah: M. Graham 2, N. Gooch, W. Gorman, J. Schaper.

BEST:

Darwin: C. Atkinson, D. Wunungmurra, K. Kossack, N. Cooper, J. Anderson
Waratah: N/A

Darwin is in prime position to pounce on third place after getting the four points over Waratah for the third time this season, brushing the Warriors aside to the tune of 54 points. The Buffs showed they are every bit the finals contender in what was somewhat of a danger game coming in, coasting home to the 13.17 (95) to 5.11 (41) result. Darwin took advantage of the three-goal buffer it set up in the opening term, notching three majors in each of the next two quarters before a 4.6 to 1.1 final quarter truly extended the margin. Club leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford made a successful return to the Double Blues’ forward 50, booting three goals alongside Ishmael Palmer, while young gun Djamatjama Wunungmurra managed a bag of four on his Premier League debut. Despite their efforts in front of the big sticks, Christopher Atkinson was named the Buffs’ best with a good amount on strength still to return to the fold. For Waratah, Michael Graham was the lone multiple goalkicker with two majors in an undermanned Warriors side, with his side unable to match their opponent’s firepower and class across the ground. Set in the bottom three, Waratah is set to face Southern Districts in the final regular season round, while Darwin faces St Mary’s in its attempt to hold on to third place.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.3 | 9.4 | 12.9 | 19.9 (123)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 3.4 | 5.5 | 6.8 | 7.9 (51)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 8, J. Clarke 2, J. Garlett 2, B. Lake 2, D. McLachlan, M. Bowden, N. Horbury, R. Bull, M. Cannard.
Palmerston: C. Timms 2, J. Taylor, B. Church, J. Filo, M. Dennis, M. Filo.

BEST:

Southern Districts: J. Schofield, D. Staunton, W. Farrer, D. Wehrung, J. Clarke, M. Bowden
Palmerston: J. Filo, K. Emery, M. Dennis, W. Shadforth, S. Brock, R. Stone

Southern Districts remains a chance to jump two spots in the final round and snatch third after trouncing the lowly Palmerston Magpies by an even 12 goals. Spearheaded by competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer‘s eight goals, the Crocs were clinical inside 50 to make from an impressive 19.9 (123) to 7.9 (51) scoreline. After what was a tightly contested opener, the Crocs began to take over territory in the game and kick away, starting with five goals to two in the second term. It was all Districts after the main break too, with the hosts pouring on another 10 goals to two in the second half to pretty up the scoreboard and gain some valuable percentage heading into Round 18. Farrer was excellent throughout as chief destroyer, but compiled the misery late to make both his individual tally and the team margin more impressive. Three other Crocs booted multiple goals (three each), but it was Jayden Schofield who was named the winners’ best alongside Dean Staunton, with Michael Bowden also featuring in the best half-dozen for the third-straight match. In a similar vein, Kyle Emery and Sandy Brock were again influential in the losing Magpies side, but it was first-gamer Josh Filo who was named best afield, while returning bigman Matthew Dennis picked up right from where he left off. The wooden spooners’ disappointing campaign will come to an end next round against Nightcliff, with Waratah awaiting the Crocs as they look to snatch finals superiority.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.2 | 5.4 | 10.5 | 13.9 (87)
WANDERERS 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas 3, B. Filo 2, S. Wilson 2, D. Bowles, J. Peris, M. Bricknell, M. Hagan, T. Melville, L. Holt-Fitz.
Wanderers: B. O’Connell 2, W. Williams, D. Braun.

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Wilson, J. Miles, J. Tsitas, D. Butcher, N. Brown, J. Peris
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, S. Bates, T. Lui, D. Thompson, A. Motlop

Nightcliff consigned Wanderers an eleventh-straight loss, dominating at both ends of the ground to come out 58-point winners on home turf. The Tigers managed to keep the Eagles goalless in a first half shutout, steadily adding to their lead to build to the 13.9 (87) to 4.5 (29) end result. The first half was not as free-flowing as the Tigers would have liked despite their dominance, only managing five goals of their own while denying the Muk Muks. While scoring was easier to come by in the second half as Nightcliff notched eight majors, Wanderers also proved more competitive as it broke through for four goals of its own. Plenty of Tigers got a solid hitout heading into finals, with James Tsitas (three goals) and Danny Butcher both making successful returns to the side, while mainstays Shaun Wilson, Nathan Brown and Jonathan Peris were also named among the best. For Wanderers, Beau O’Connell was again a standout, booting two goals from midfield while fellow youngsters Tyrrell Lui and Dray Thompson also showed promising signs. The Eagles’ last chance to break their losing streak comes against Tiwi, which will see the fixture as a must-win, while Nightcliff can ease into the post-season with a game against wooden spooner, Palmerston awaiting it.

TIWI BOMBERS 2.3 | 2.5 | 4.7 | 5.8 (38)
ST MARY’S 2.2 | 4.7 | 9.8 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 2, A. Wonaeamirri, A. Darcy, P. Heenan
St Mary’s: J. Calder 3, S. Rioli 2, H. Labastida 2, L. Larson 2, N. Paredes, C. James Wilson, J. Paine, D. Johnstone

BEST:

Tiwi: C. Molyneux, R. Tungatalum, C. Jones, R. Baird, J. Puruntatameri, J. Simon
St Mary’s: S. Edwards, L. Larson, J. Paine, S. Rioli, T. Saunders, B. Ah Mat

St Mary’s finally got one back over Tiwi at the third time of asking this season, trumping the Bombers to the tune of 49 points in what could well be a post-season sighter. The Saints were brilliant across the ground, showing fluency on each line to wind up 13.9 (87) to 5.8 (38) winners and officially secure second spot. An even opening term saw the Bombers claim their only lead of the game, albeit by the slimmest of margins, before St Mary’s hit back to sneak in front at the main break while keeping the Bombers goalless. From there on, the Saints tripled the Bombers’ second half goal tally with nine to three in a dominant display, putting the result beyond much doubt with a quick surge after half time. The ex-AFL duo of Shaun Edwards and Jackson Paine showed their class to be two of St Mary’s best, while Jackson Calder booted a game-high three goals and Shannon Rioli, two. South Australian Charlie Molyneux was again best afield for the Bombers upon returning to the lineup, with Ross Tungatalum not far behind as Tiwi’s lone multiple goal kicker and Jason Puruntatameri continuing his good form. St Mary’s could again foil Tiwi’s top three plans if they fall to Darwin next time out, while Tiwi will need to overcome Wanderers if it is any chance to avoid an elimination final berth.