THE last round of action before a three-week break produced a raft of upsets, setting up a clear top five and now poising two sides equal at the top of the ladder.
TIWI BOMBERS 9.13 (67)
WANDERERS 14.15 (99)
Tiwi: J. Munkara 4, T. Tambling 2, M. Cooper, H. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, S. Tipiloura 4, J. Tipiloura 2, S. Meyer, S. Bates, D. Weetra, W. Walters.
Tiwi: A. Hams, J. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, B. Palipuaminni, J. Munkara, S. Babui
Wanderers: T. Motlop, W. Yunupingu, S. Tipiloura, C. Niki, J. Jeffrey
Wanderers claimed a minor upset to kick the round off, overcoming a half-time deficit to better a falling Tiwi Bombers side. Wayward kicking meant the Eagles did not quite take advantage of a strong start, posting 1.6 while keeping Tiwi goalless. The Bombers looked like making their opponents pay in the second term after snatching a one-goal buffer, but Wanderers promptly hit back after the main break with ten goals to four seeing the Muk Muks cruise to a 32-point victory. Exciting youngster Joel Jeffrey again showed his potential to boot an equal game-high four goals, matched by Stanley Tipiloura. John Tipiloura was also amongst the goals with two, but it was Thomas Motlop who was named best for the winning Eagles. Ex-West Coast players Ashton Hams and Tom Swift lined up for the Bombers and while the former was judged their best, the pair’s AFL experience was not enough to help overcome Wanderers. Jack Munkara snared four goals to be named in the best alongside regulars Dion Munkara and Jason Puruntatameri, but the likes of Jeffrey Simon and Austin Wonaeamirri were unable to provide their usual spark to help the Bombers’ cause. While The Eagles remain bottom, they draw level on points with their weekend opponents, finding some much-needed confidence heading into the new year.
DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.8 (74)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 8.10 (58)
Darwin: D. White 3, C. Williams 2, C. Atkinson, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, A. Sambono, D. Paull, J. Stokes.
Southern Districts: L. Dale 2, D. McLachlan, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, C. McAdam, M. Mummery.
Darwin: K. Maroney, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson, M. Corrie
Southern Districts: L. Dale, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, L. McGregor, B. Schwarze, R. Tambling
A sensational final quarter fightback saw Darwin Buffaloes snatch victory from ladder leaders Southern Districts to go clear in third place. After giving up a three-goal lead at the first break, the Buffaloes trailed for almost the entire match and by 13 points at the final turn. Turning it on when it mattered, Darwin conjured six goals to one to see out the game and claim an unlikely win after being down on form in recent weeks. NT legend Darryl White was the main source of goals with three, with Chris Williams (two) the only other Buffalo to bag multiple goals. Kevin Maroney was named best alongside the reliable Ryan O’Sullivan and Shaun Ahmat, with the Darwin side undoubtedly buoyed by winning despite quieter games from usual stars Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas. Meanwhile, Lee Dale was the only Croc to score multiple goals – enough to earn best-afield honours for the ladder leaders. White’s ex-teammate Jared Brennan was also thereabouts for Southern Districts, alongside the likes of Richard Tambling and Beau Schwarze. The loss hardly puts a dent in the Crocs’ ladder position, but sees them now share top spot, while Darwin consolidates its finals spot – climbing to outright third and finding some form as the season hots up.
NIGHTCLIFF 12.9 (81)
ST MARYS 6.8 (44)
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 4, B. Grewar 2, S. Wilson 2, T. Melville 2, H. Williams, P. Wills.
St Marys: J. Musgrove 2, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, M. Liddy, J. Long.
Nightcliff: P. Wills, B. Grewar, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, M. Bricknell, S. Deery
St Marys: N. Paredes, B. Taylor, B. Rioli, K. Delahunty, R. Clarke, T. Saunders
Nightcliff did enough to join Southern Districts in equal first with a comfortable win over St Marys, making them the only favourites to come out of the round with a win. Leading from the first bounce, the Tigers kept St Marys to just three goals after the first break, while putting enough of a total next to their own name throughout four consistent quarters. Matthew Bricknell kicked his second bag of four goals for the year to lead the way, followed by Trent Melville, Shaun Wilson, and Blake Grewar with two each. The latter two joined Phil Wills in the best, marking a solid attacking effort for the in-form Tigers. Nathaniel Paredes was again named best for the Saints, with Ben Taylor, Ben Rioli and Kieran Delahunty unsurprisingly not far behind. Stalwart Raphael Clarke had his hands full down back, but was also recognised for his efforts. The win sees Nightcliff join the Crocs on top of the ladder, behind by only percentage as the form team of the competition. Meanwhile, the Saints drop out of the top five but hold a good enough percentage to see them jump back in with a win after the break.
WARATAH 13.10 (88)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.5 (89)
Waratah: M. Newton 7, M. Blake 2, R. Jolliffe, S. Tatupu, T. Toma, K. Kantilla
Palmerston: M. Perry 4, A. Davey 2, S. Brock, B. Church, E. Frank, M. Dennis, R. Warfe, J. Grabowski, J. Patrick, A. Davey
Waratah: M. Newton, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma, J. McCarthy, N. Gooch
Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Lampton
A starring seven-goal effort from ex-Dee Michael Newton wasn’t enough to drag Waratah over the line against Palmerston Magpies, going down by the narrowest of margins in a thriller to see out proceedings in 2018. The Magpies looked to have set up a comfortable position with an eight-point half time lead, but were stunned by an eight-goal third term from the Warriors, before finding seven goals of their own in the last quarter to claim a remarkable win at the death. With Newton booting over half of their goals, Matthew Blake (two) was the only other multiple goal kicker for the Warriors, while Tom Toma also found the goals to be named in the best alongside Zach Westerberg a the losing effort. Ezekiel Frank was Palmerston’s best, with Bundoora products Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis also important in the win, while Mishai Perry (four goals) and Aaron Davey (two) provided the scoring threat. Palmerston jumps into the finals spots on the back of its big win, level on points with its weekend opponents to sit a game outside of third.