Tag: james tsitas

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL – Round 13

ROUND 13 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in.

Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinions of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.

>> Power Rankings: September Edition

Norwood vs. South Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

He may not have been at his absolute dominant best, but the bottom-ager still managed to impact proceedings with his searing pace and forward running. Murley built into the contest well, stationed at his typical midfield post as others rotated heavily around him. His break-neck acceleration and cleanliness came to the fore in tandem during the latter stages, as Murley gathered ground balls or received out of congestion, before freeing himself of opposition pressure with pure speed and delivering inside 50. He first found the goals in the second term after cooly converting a holding the ball free kick, but Murley’s highlight of the day came as he burned an opponent to win the ball over the back, before steadying and slotting a second major at full flight. There is no stopping him when he gets going, and the talented midfielder finished with 19 disposals, seven inside 50s, and two goals after a steady start.

#4 Henry Nelligan

Nelligan is a player who has no trouble in finding the ball, and that was exactly the case in this outing as he racked up an equal team-high 23 disposals for Norwood. The diminutive ball winner was one of the many Redlegs to rotate through midfield, providing a relevant two-way presence with numerous ground ball gets and a game-high eight tackles. He did well to chain his possessions and bring teammates into the game, while also working back into defence to help out – particularly when South was on top in the first term. Nelligan also has the ability to impress with weaving runs through traffic and outstanding use of his lateral vision, though much of his work came via scrubbed clearances and short-range passes to keep the play moving. A solid day out, nonetheless.

#11 Xavier Tranfa

One of the many prospects to return to SANFL action via the college football scene, Tranfa slotted into Norwood’s midfield well. The Rostrevor skipper also moved through the forwardline, but was arguably most impactful while operating the engine room. While Tranfa tended to bomb hurriedly out of congestion, he also had some nice passages where his agile step and quick, pumping bursts allowed him to exit the contest. The top-ager very nearly hit the scoreboard, as two final-term set shots only just failed to hit the target. He did provide a handy goal assist in the same term though, measuring a nice pass to honour William Warrick‘s lead inside 50. While others found more of the ball, Tranfa made the most of his 16 disposals with six clearances and eight inside 50s among them, as well as a couple of strong contested marks.

Others:

Another school football inclusion, Ethan Schwerdt notched 23 disposals as he slotted into the midfield fold. The Pembroke gun was clean and hard at the ball, also laying seven tackles in a solid outing. Samuel Duke was the other Redleg to have 23 touches, as he was made particularly busy in the early stages before settling Norwood down back. He contributed 10 marks, many of which were intercepts, and 10 rebound 50s. Finn Heard was another big performer for the victors, booting five goals and presenting beautifully up forward as a key position focal point. Half of his eight marks were contested. Rounding out, Michael Cavallaro continued his promising season with 19 touches and 11 marks, linking well between the arcs.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#10 Brayden Cook

Cook is every bit the difference maker for South Adelaide, proving as much despite his five-goal effort being made in vein. While the draft bolter’s finishing has wavered at times among his wealth of opportunities, Cook was efficient as ever inside 50 on this occasion. He sparked the Panthers’ early onslaught with the opening goal of the game, burning an opponent before slotting the ball home. Another was added late in the same term, this time as he anticipated well after a long ball hit the deck. A classy dribble finish made for a third goal in term two, before Cook arrested Norwood’s momentum in the following period with two goals at the death, putting South back in front heading into the final break. Both majors showcased Cook’s incredible class on the ball, and an innate ability to know exactly how to move, to find space and the goals. Swinging him forward from the wing is South Adelaide’s wildcard, and it almost worked once again. Only 13 disposals this time out, but Cook only needs a few moments to make an impact.

#21 Matthew Roberts

It is as if he never left. Another to return to SANFL Under 18s action via the school football competition, Roberts immediately reminded onlookers of his class. Along with Brayden Cook, the bottom-ager was integral to South Adelaide’s blistering start, booting two outstanding goals in the first term. He was simply everywhere, tracking back to intercept in defence, extracting at the coalface, and eventually sneaking forward to bomb home those two majors. Roberts just has the happy knack of being able to find the ball in all parts, which is largely aided by his high-level work-rate. Add courage, the ability to lift a side on his shoulders, and neat use of the ball to those traits, and you have a first round prospect heading into next year’s draft. He copped some nagging opposition attention in the end, but still managed 31 disposals, six marks, six clearances, and two goals.

#33 Arlo Draper

Another bottom-age gun who has proven he is easily up to scratch, Draper continued his terrific form as a primary midfielder for the Panthers. He is already a good size, and uses every bit of his frame to stand up in tackles, most notably in the first term as he dished off to Brayden Cook while being pulled down on the attacking arc. While extracting has largely been his game, Draper also worked hard around the ground to gain an accumulative factor, but was much more suited to the cut and thrust of clearance work. He faded out of the game a touch, but still had a hand in numerous score involvements – including his own set shot which hit the post late in the day. Draper ended with 20 disposals, four clearances, and four inside 50s.

Others:

Max Clifton was another terrific part of the South Adelaide midfield, and attempted to lift when his side needed it. His ability to take the game on through the corridor and deliver forward via foot was again on show, as he managed eight inside 50s from 13 disposals. Jack Flett again showed good signs in defence, popping up for intercept marks and providing some dare on the rebound. He had 20 disposals and seven marks, while Harry Spacie took six marks from his 18 touches in defence. Dylan Brown‘s pressure was another strong point, as he laid six tackles in another valiant effort.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

North Adelaide vs. Sturt

By: Eli Duxson

North Adelaide:

#5 Leo Coates

The key forward had the Ned Grieve matchup all game and kept him accountable, kicking two goals and two behinds, and taking five marks. He scored the first goal of the game after being the recipient of a downfield free kick, and after starting his run up from the cricket pitches, he drilled the set shot and made the distance comfortably from 50 metres. Coates did not seem to be kicked to with long entries, so whether he was not in the right position or caught out with ill-directed kicks, that is certainly an area where he can stamp his authority more in games. When he pushed up the ground, he created contests at the very least and tried to follow up with pressure or blocks. He looked most impressive with slow forward entries as he was able to find space on Grieve and lead out and mark on several occasions. He kicked his second goal this way.

#20 Jayden Davison

The hard-running midfielder worked all game and continued to get to contest after contest. He finished with 27 disposals, one goal, and six clearances as he continues to put up solid performances. He lined up on Tom Powell at most stoppages but continued to hunt the ball himself. Davison had first hands on the ball at most stoppages and with good evasive skills, accurate handballs with either hand, and a relentless work ethic to put in repeat efforts, it was hard to stop his output. He was a little clumsy early over the ball either fumbling or going to ground, but once he got going he looked as clean as anyone. He spent most of the game in the midfield and continued to run hard both ways. His efforts were rewarded in the second quarter as he managed a goal with a quick gather and kick out of congestion. With more than 20 disposals and a goal in four of his previous five matches, Davison has proven himself to be a valuable member of this Roosters outfit.

#22 Lam Simon

Simon did not start the game the way he would have liked, giving away a free kick for high contact in front of goal, gifting Sturt their first goal. From there, it was strength to strength for the defender as he showed off his athleticism and ability to read the play to find his own ball. He clearly had a defence-first mindset though with some good one-on-one spoils, even courageously backing into a pack to fist it away. Once his job was done in defence, his acceleration and attack on the ball enabled him to burst through packs and provide some run-and-carry. His disposal was rushed at times under pressure, so he kicked a lot more than he handballed, but his disposal was neat more often than not. Simon finished with 16 disposals and six marks (three contested) in what was a good day for the North Adelaide defence.

#25 Blayne O’Loughlin

One of the more trusted ball users in the side, the defender ended up with 31 disposals, one goal, eight marks, and seven rebound 50s to help his side get the win they had. While some of his 26 kicks were chips sideways in defence, he also showed a willingness to attack the footy and lead his opponent to the ball, picking the ball up cleanly on the bounce on many occasions. His acceleration and cleanliness make him very damaging and when you factor in his ball use with that left boot, he becomes an exciting player to watch. When he runs off his opponent he manages to impact the contest with a spoil or mark or simply by creating a stoppage. When he does this, he does lose touch easily and although it did not cost him or his side, it is an easy way to give your opponent a freebie if it gets over your head. He capped off his game in the third quarter after receiving a 25-metre penalty to allow him to nail a set shot from 45 metres. While he does accumulate with short sideways kicks, his attack on the ball and ability to set up play from his defensive half is impressive and one to watch for opposition teams.

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

Finlay spent most of his day deep in defence and was the James Borlase matchup when he was playing forward. The key defender spoiled well and tackled strongly as he usually does, but it was his marking that stood out the most. He took two contested marks out of his six, with one of them being in a one-on-one contest with Borlase playing on the back shoulder. He read the flight of the ball well all game and looks to be growing in confidence. In the final quarter he managed to get knee in the back of a Sturt player and take a nice overhead mark. He set up well behind the ball to help the North Adelaide forward squeeze but decided to push forward on one occasion and try to impact the scoreboard. He gathered and wheeled on his left boot and had a shot from 40 metres, but could only manage a behind. Along with his six marks he had 14 disposals and efforts that would not have made the stat sheet.

#38 Dyson Hilder (League)

Hilder found himself on Borlase on a few occasions but with Finlay, he remained solid down back for the Roosters. Also still growing in confidence in his second consecutive game back in the League side, he got on the attack, involving himself in links from deep in defence to clear. His kicking was tidy and he was confident enough to go on either side of his body. Hilder ended up with 13 disposals and four rebound 50s as he looks to hold his spot in the senior side for finals.

Others:

North Adelaide enjoyed two solid victories but in the Under 18’s, James Willis stood out and it was not for his bright blonde hair, but his 23 disposals and two goals. He provided some exciting run while also doing some of the grunt work inside for the Roosters. Thomas Millar was also very serviceable down back being strong in the contest, while distributing the ball efficiently out of his defensive 50. He finished with 17 disposals, eight marks, and five rebound 50s.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Sturt:

#2 Tom Lewis (League)

The 20-year-old enjoyed one of his better games for the season as he found his way to 21 disposals to go with nine tackles and seven clearances. Shifting between the midfield and the forward line, Lewis was not afraid to enforce a physical presence around the contest. His tackle count is indicative of the pressure he applied and him doing most of his work on the inside. He earned multiple free kicks by being the first at the ball and was tidy with his left boot. A brilliant chase down tackle in the final quarter even though Sturt trailed exemplified his effort and capped off a good game for him despite the loss.

#9 Malachy Carruthers

The combine invitee spent much of the day at half-back and was kept busy with 21 disposals and eight marks. He was lively early as he ran out of defence and created width on forward movements for Sturt. He also looked to be poised with ball in hand, opting to handball instead of kicking it to a contest. His marking was impressive, taking one overhead running back with the flight, and another intercept mark in a pack. His disposal looked reliable and his dash and effort to continue Sturt’s surge forward was important. However, he opted to have a shot on goal from a tough position after working hard with repeat efforts, instead of going inboard. Although it was a tough day for his side, his athleticism and ability to read the play looked threatening.

#11 Will Spain

The inside midfielder continues to prove himself as a reliable contributor in the Sturt midfield, but today, he showed off some of his ability on the outside. He spent more time in the forward line and spread hard from some of the stoppages, instead of being the one constantly over the ball or laying tackle after tackle like usual. He had some nice runs through the middle of the ground, showing off his run-and-carry with his smooth movement. Spain finished with 29 disposals, five tackles, and five clearances and continued to remain consistent all game.

#17 Mani Liddy

Liddy did not have the output that we have come to expect from him, but 16 disposals and six clearances is still a serviceable effort. His strength was on display as usual and he did most of his work on the inside with 11 of his disposals being handballs. After a quiet second quarter, he looked much more active in the third which is a good indicator of his resilience and persistence to continue, despite it not coming as easy to him as it usually does.

#18 Tom Powell

One of Sturt’s most highly rated performers put in another big game to end with 35 disposals, 10 clearances, and seven inside 50s. His work rate and speed to burst from stoppages with the ball and create, as well as without the ball to get to a dangerous positions, continues to be his trademark. He puts in long-distance efforts so even if opposition teams think they get the better of him at a stoppage, he will just keep running. His handballs under pressure in-close are very tidy, and he demands respect from his opponents whenever he is around the ball. He often lines up beside or behind the ruckman to enable him to run to hit zones and whenever he did this during the game, a North Adelaide player was right next to him. When he was resting and another Sturt player was in the midfield, they were left alone – a good indicator of the respect that opposition coaches are showing to him. Another big performance from him which we have come to expect and with one game left in the season, we will see if the coaches decide to give him a League chance, or allow him some continuity as his Under 18 side moves into finals.

#29 James Borlase (League)

The key position Borlase returned to the senior side and showed glimpses of why people are so excited about him. The Crows Next Generation Academy prospect split his time between forward and back, although he has been touted as a defender during his time in the pathway programs. As a forward, he presented up the ground well and continued to create contests. His marking looked a little bit inconsistent and he seemed to struggle to find space on leads except for one occasion in the second quarter. After a beautiful delivery, he leant back on the set shot kick from around 40 metres and put it out on the full.

He moved back for the second half and did not get much of a chance to show off his defensive traits in one-on-one contests. He looked to be accountable and found himself on a few different opponents, both taller and shorter than him. He became more attacking in the final quarter; seeming to grow in confidence, clearing the ball, and looking to mark. He reads the flight of the ball well but looked a little tentative with his overhead marking at times. A miskick from a kick-out in the final quarter sent the ball straight back over his head for a goal. His first game back showed he was still a bit rusty, and perhaps he has some development left. There is still a lot to like about him with his versatility, size, and athleticism.

#34 Casey Voss (League)

Voss assumed his role at half-back and managed 21 disposals and five marks. Defensively he was very solid, showing courage on several occasions backing into packs to spoil, but it was his attacking play that was impressive. He is clean and strong over the ball much like his father, and his kicking ability was tidy. He found space very often around the stoppage and seems to want the footy. He had 17 kicks and four handballs but was often the player providing run and being on the end of handballs. After one of his higher disposal games for the season, Voss has been consistent for Sturt and will look to finish his season off strongly.

#46 Jack Henderson (League)

The 21-year-old midfielder has been impressive for Sturt since breaking through into the senior side and had another solid outing with 19 disposals and six inside 50s. One of those inside 50s was to Borlase in the first quarter with a beautiful 40-metre bullet pass which thumped into the forward’s chest. Spending some time all over the ground, Henderson looked best hanging off the contest as his ball use was elite, and his first touch ability aided that well. He showed good speed getting involved in attacking chains and put in repeat efforts to keep pushing the ball forward. If his right-foot kicking was not enough, he also set up a goal with his left, showing plenty of ability.

Others:

Other ball winners for Sturt included Bradley Jefferies (28 disposals, eight clearances) and Lachlan Thomas (24 disposals), while Morgan Ferres was the Double Blues’ major goal scorer kicking four majors. Grieve was down on his usual output, playing the defensive role on Coates and picking up just the nine disposals.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Central District vs. Glenelg

By: Tom Wyman

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald

As has been the case all season, inside midfielder, McDonald was everywhere for the Bulldogs. McDonald’s smart and tireless running patterns allowed him to accumulate the ball en masse, particularly early in the game. The 16-year-old possesses football smarts well beyond his age and read the tap-work of ruckman Wyatt Ryan particularly well. Throughout the season, he has laid some excellent tackles and he did so once again at Prospect Oval, when a textbook tackle was rewarded with a holding-the-ball free-kick. Although lacking penetration at-times, his kicking was predominately effective, hitting up a number of targets on the exterior with his natural left-foot. He refused to give up on a contest and was rarely beaten in contested situations – a testament to his core strength and ball winning abilities. Arguably best-on-ground in the Bulldogs’ win, McDonald finished with a game-high 34 disposals and five marks.

#15 Finn Read

Read played arguably his best game for the season in the Bulldogs’ thrilling win. He booted the opening goal of the game within the first minute of play, then nailed a second against the flow of play late in the third quarter to arrest some of the Tigers; momentum. With the Bulldogs up by just one point late in the final term, Read’s goal at the 25-minute mark all but sealed the deal for Central District. Read was an aerial threat all day across half-forward, taking seven marks including a strong contested grab. His ball use inside 50 was also pivotal in the Bulldogs’ win. He finished the contest with 24 disposals and six inside 50s.

#16 Brodie Lake

The Northern Territory native played an important hand in the win, combining well with Austin McDonald, Wyatt Ryan and Luigi Mondello through the midfield. Lake, who has also spent some time in the Reserves since joining the Bulldogs, attacked the ball with ferocity and looked to use his aerial leap and burst of speed to good advantage when thrown into attack by the Central District coaching staff. Similar to McDonald, Lake’s clearance work was terrific, particularly at centre bounces where he gathered, accelerated away from his direct opponent and thrust the Dogs into attack. Lake finished with 21 disposals, three marks, four tackles, eight clearances and six inside 50s.

#22 Luigi Mondello 

Mondello provided some class through the midfield, to compliment the hard, contested ball-winning of McDonald and Lake. Mondello had some eye-catching moments throughout the contest, with his evasiveness at stoppages, smooth movement through traffic and creative handballing standing out. However the highlight of his game was a fantastic snap goal around the corner, shortly after the half-time break. Although he fumbled on a couple of occasions, his evasiveness and agility were impressive. Mondello finished the game with 20 disposals, four marks, three tackles and two inside 50s.

#39 Wyatt Ryan

The big ruckman once again provided a real presence for his side, in the air and also at ground level. He marked almost everything that entered his air space, including several intercepts. The Bulldogs often looked for him as the target down the line and he hardly let them down, clunking five contested marks and ten grabs in total. However his competitiveness and brute strength were also on display at ground level, where he was able to win the contested ball and send it forward on several occasions. His kicking was up and down, but he hit several targets which ruckman of his age could be hesitant to attempt. He had a good battle with Glenelg’s Calvin Perks and William Wiseman in the ruck and managed to win 28 hit-outs. Ryan’s work rate was exceptional, accumulating 31 disposals all over the ground and sending the ball inside 50 on nine occasions. Clearly one of the Under 18 competition’s best ruckman this season, Ryan was once again terrific for the Bulldogs.

Others:

Cody Gilchrist provided a target up forward, taking several strong marks in attack. He booted three goals from 13 disposals and seven marks. Michael De Jonge hit the scoreboard with two majors to go with 19 touches, four marks, four tackles and three clearances. Jacob Fiebiger (11 disposals and four marks) and Luca Whitelum (16 disposals, six marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) both performed well down back under pressure for Central District.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

Glenelg:

#1 Harry Tunkin

Tunkin was among Glenelg’s most consistent performers despite the frustrating result. In the midfield, he spent time going head-to-head with Austin McDonald, but it was his work forward of centre where he looked most damaging. He slotted a classy goal from 40 metres in the dying minutes of the first term and showed great goal nous and football smarts to follow it up with a goal from a quick hack forward. Despite his smaller size, the Prince Alfred College student applied plenty of pressure, competed well, and finished the day with 22 disposals, six marks, a game-high seven tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#12 Xavier Robins

The Bays were certainly glad to have Robins back from school football duties. He slotted straight into the backline and provided some class and rebound from defence. He read the play well and looked to take the game on with his pace and run-and-carry whenever possible. He displayed nice vision to spot up Harry Tunkin in some space on the grandstand side of Prospect Oval twice within a couple of minutes in the third term and found the ball with ease for the entire game. At stoppages in the defensive 50, Robins had a high impact, winning five clearances. Trusted with the kick-in duties, he used the ball well over a variety of distances and controlled much of the play for the Bays in defence, finishing with 30 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and ten rebound-50s.

#19 Jayden Davis

The bottom-aged Jayden Davis was terrific for Glenelg, particularly in the third term when it was all one-way traffic in favour of the yellow and black. Early on in the game, he found Riley Holder with a beautiful kick inside 50 which led to Harry McInnes’ second goal. He displayed great courage to mark whilst running back with the flight and booted his first goal at the ten minute mark of the third term to trigger a couple of Tigers goals. During the third quarter, his link-up play and delivery inside 50 was outstanding, hitting target-after-target with precision. After setting-up several Bays majors, he booted his second after getting out the back of a marking contest to continue Glenelg’s surge. Davis could have had a third for the term if his long range effort wasn’t touched on the goalline. He finished another strong showing with 19 disposals and ten marks (including three contested).

#21 Riley Holder

The return of centre-half-forward Holder helped straighten the Tigers up and provided a presence around the ground. His hands overhead were a real feature, even managing to outmark Wyatt Ryan in attack before kicking truly. He combined well with fellow key forward Harry McInnes, with Holder getting up the ground and McInnes staying closer to goal. His foot skills, over both long and short distances, were effective and his accuracy in front of goal ensured his capitalised on his work rate. He was thrust into the middle for a short stint to provide a big-bodied presence around the ball but was at his best on the lead. The Glenelg skipper finished with game with 24 touches, 11 marks (including a game-high six contested), three tackles, a couple of clearances and five inside 50s, to further his case as one of South Australia’s premiere centre half-forwards.

Others:

Seven Tigers found in-excess of 20 disposals, including Oscar Clark, who ran well both ways and provided an option on the outside. He finished with 27 disposals, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s. Henry McAuliffe battled hard in the midfield and laid a couple of strong tackles. He won 27 touches and used the ball well. Fresh off an Intercol medal for his performance down back against Rostrevor, Cooper Beecken was valiant in the backline, concluding with 17 disposals. The aforementioned Harry McInnes booted three goals and competed well in the air to take six marks. William Watts (25 disposals, nine marks and a goal) and Hunter Window (21 disposals and six marks) were also among Glenelg’s best performers.

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

WWT Eagles vs. West Adelaide

By: Peter Williams

WWT:

#4 James Tsitas (League)

The former Williamstown star made his presence felt in this game with a mammoth 39 disposals in a clear best on ground performance. While James Rowe and Sam Lowson kicked nine between them, it was the clearance work and class of Tsitas that shone the brightest. In a time where clubs might look to mature-age ready-to-go midfielders, Tsitas showed exactly what he is capable of with a huge performance on-ball. His goal late in the game off the outside of the boot was all class, and he just managed to find so much space around the ground.

Tsitas had a lazy 39 disposals, seven marks, 10 tackles, 10 clearances, five inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal.

#5 Sam Lowson (League)

The former Coburg forward had a quiet first half before coming alive with four second half goals to blow the game right open. He was clever inside 50, kicking one right before the three-quarter time siren, and continually found space and made opportunities out of nothing. He nailed a set shot and missed another, but Lowson was a clear standout in front of goal once Rowe moved into the midfield, and he remained a real danger at ground level and one to watch ahead of the SANFL finals series.

Lowson had 13 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s and four goals on the night.

#16 James Rowe (League)

If you are an aspiring small forward, then highlights of Rowe should be what clubs use to show exactly how you play the role. Every time he went near it he looked dangerous, and he finds space with ease and has some serious wheels when he takes off. But it is more about his anticipation and game sense inside 50 that makes him so damaging. It was obvious the Eagles had set plays in the forward half where teammates would help block for him and he would cruise on through and kick a goal off the stoppage. A couple of times he did it and looked far too easy, and had another great running goal close to the pocket reacting quicker than everyone else. With a couple of set shot goals – and a couple of misses – Rowe was far too dominant for whoever came his way. Deserves a chance at the next level because if you are good enough, you are big enough.

Rowe finished with a massive 5.2 from 19 disposals, four marks, four clearances and two inside 50s.

#19 Zachary Phillips

His ruck work was superb and follow-up work also strong, as Phillips played a solid game across the four quarters. He showed his ability to clunk marks in the air, and provide a target around the ground, as well as showing smarts to tap the ball to a teammate on the wing rather than take possession and be tacked, then receiving the ball back and handballing off again. He had a couple of flying shots on goal that both missed wide, but it was due to his hard running to get to half-forward from initial centre clearances that gave him those chances on goal. He showed quick hands to a teammate when in congestion and was happy to drop back to help play a kick and a half behind play when his side was attacking.

Phillips finished with 20 disposals, nine marks (two contested), 22 hitouts, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#25 Henry Smith

Smith played an almost-game where he continually got to the right positions and worked his opponent under the ball, but could not quite hold the grabs. When battling one-on-one Smith was solid, but when facing a couple of opponents, it was body contact from behind that often caused him to spill the mark. He still worked hard and showed great decision making in the third term to set up a great goal to Cormack O’Reilly with a lovely long kick to the other side of the ground for his teammate to run in and kick a major. He kicked a goal of his own on the run when he saw an open goalsquare and popped it home.

Smith had the 13 touches, three marks (two contested) six hitouts, three inside 50s and one goal to his name.

#28 Nick Mitzithras

Caught the eye midway through the game with his run out of defence and penetrating kick. He had a couple of scrubber kicks but they seemed to still work out, and he was strong in the air as well. One-on-one, Mitzithras held his own, marking in the defensive goalsquare six minutes into the third term, and then early in the fourth, held off an opponent and used momentum to push off him, win the loose ball in front and kick long to the wing. His decision making and disposal generally was pretty good and he was not afraid to take the game on, rebounding on a number of occasions.

Mitzithras had 21 disposals, four marks (one contested) and seven rebounds for the match.

#29 Jay Watson

Always looking lively in the forward half, Watson could have had a massive day out, but just finished with the two goals from six scoring shots. His first goal came from a set shot midway through the second term, and he then set up a teammate not long after with a lovely pinpoint pass inside 50. He continued to try hard throughout the game, and had a set shot that went close to the line but just missed to the right, before kicking truly with a clever snap off the left playing on from a mark close to the boundary. Having a couple of long-range set shots in the final term, one missed to the right and another hit the post, but nonetheless, Watson was always active inside 50.

Watson finished with 2.4 from 21 disposals, five marks (one contested) and four inside 50s.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

The prominent ball winner on the ground, Burgoyne showed his dual-sidedness with an ability to hit targets off his left when required, even though he was a predominant right-footer. Most of his kicks during the match were short, sharp passes without penetration, but with high efficiency. Burgoyne just makes the right decisions and did not go for anything that was unnecessarily risky, but he did open up the game with some neat kicks inboard. His work around the clearances was superb and he was the clear dominant midfielder on the ground with his effectiveness. He set up a number of scoring opportunities with his ball use and his cleanliness both in the air and ground level was terrific. He had a set shot himself from 40 metres, eight minutes into the final term, and showed he possesses a long kick, hitting the post midway up and proving unlucky not to kick the goal.

Burgoyne ended the match with a game-high 35 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances, two inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles.

#34 Lachlan Jones (League)

The Port Adelaide Next-Generation Academy member might have finished with the least touches on his team (seven) but he was far from ineffective. His work rate was high and a lot of the time his running went unrewarded. He would spread from half-back to the wing and kept the ball moving in transition. His ability to cover ground from deep in defence to half-forward was a credit to his running, and he also laid a couple of good tackles in the game. The fact that most of his touches were either rebounds or inside 50s told a tale of his effectiveness in moving the ball.

Jones ended with seven disposals, one marks, two tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds.

#47 Ben Jungfer (League)

The over-age talented midfielder spent time across the ground, winning the ball at half-forward, along the wing, and even at half-forward. He has always been known for his tackling pressure, and he showed it by laying a massive tackle on an opponent in the final term at half-back, earning the plaudits of his teammates. One aspect about Jungfer’s game that really stood out was his composure and ability not to be overawed. The majority of his touches were quick handballs, but he managed to execute generally well and even had a flying shot on goal from 50m which narrowly missed.

For a debut, Jungfer was mighty impressive with 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, two inside 50s and five tackles.

#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)

The over-age talent was willing to take the game on and seriously impressed throughout. He can make the odd mistake, but his metres gained – including a run down the middle with a couple of bounces – more than makes up for it with his determination to break the lines. He is a high-impact player in that regard and he did well off half-back and pushing through the middle throughout the four quarters.

McNeil finished 14 disposals, one mark, three inside 50s, two tackles, two clearances and two rebounds.

Others:

Brayden Calvett was the biggest standout of those not mentioned above, amassing nine inside 50s and six marks from 27 disposals, also booting a goal. O’Reilly (25 touches, seven marks, eight inside 50s and a goal), Max Litster (23 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s) and Zeke Scott (21 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal) were the others to catch the eye.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

West Adelaide:

#4 Cade Kennedy

The bottom-age midfielder was a clear standout for the Bloods, and one of the four-quarter performers. He attacks the ball hard and tracks it well, always having eyes for the footy. There is not much of him, but he is always running hard and often looking to present in defensive 50 from the kick-out and then quickly give-and-go with teammates down the field. He had a memorable moment late in the third term with a huge tackle on Henry Smith to trap the bigman’s arm and win a free. He opened the fourth quarter with a good centre clearance, and whilst he did sell a teammate into trouble in the final term with an extra handball when it should have probably been a kick, Kennedy could hold his head high in that performance in what was a 90-point defeat.

Kennedy ended the game with 30 disposals, 10 marks, seven tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and four rebounds.

#49 Lachlan Squire (League)

Had a tough day at the office having to spend time on competition danger man, James Rowe early. He was good one-on-one, but Rowe was quick at ground level, and Squire was unlucky to give away a free kick close to the boundary line for keeping him in check at one stage. While Rowe certainly took the chocolates in their duel – and it was not just him – Squire showed what he is capable of doing with some lovely long kicks out of defence, and a fierce tackle on Rowe to win a free kick. His defensive pressure and strength standing up in tackles was a feature, having some time in the midfield but predominantly stationed back on the last line and having the kick-out duties.

#59 Hamish Ellem (League)

It was a tough day for the big man who continually presented for the Bloods, having more of an influence late in the game when his marks were starting to stick. He had a few chances going up for grabs in the first two quarters but could not quite bring them down, but once he gained confidence he looked good. He set up a goal to a teammate in the final term, whilst kicking a goal himself in the sixth minute after some good work inside 50. Ellem was not able to have too much time and space when in possession, which is why he ended up with a predominantly handball-focused game, but used his body well in close.

Others:

Eduard Van den berg tried hard for the Bloods’ Under 18s, amassing 31 disposals, six marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, playing in a tough position on the last line. He repelled time and time again for the Bloods, but could not have too much salvation with the relentlessness of the Eagles. Ben Burbridge (23 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles) was good, whilst Edward Faulkner (20 disposals, five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) had a huge run-down tackle in the last term which caught the eye. Zac Venning (15 disposals, four marks and three rebounds) also tried hard, as did Kane Sherlock (18 disposals, eight rebounds and six marks).

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

Featured Image: Sturt’s Morgan Ferres flies for a mark | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Classic Contests: Eight-goal first term helps Falcons eliminate Bushies

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Murray Bushrangers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2012, when the two sides met in a free-flowing elimination final.

2012 TAC Cup, Elimination Final
Saturday September 1, 11:45am
Princes Park

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.1 | 6.3 | 8.7 | 9.8 (62)
GEELONG FALCONS 8.0 | 8.0 | 12.1 | 16.6 (102)

GOALS:

Murray: K. Antonowicz 2, J. Porter 2, J. Cousins, L. Howe, N. Drummond, M. Taberner, T. Clurey
Geelong:
T. Batarilo 3, D. Bond 2, S. Dixon 2, J. Sharp 2, M. Wood 2, L. Taylor, D. Lang, A. Christensen, D. Gardiner, J. Saunders

BEST:

Murray: L. Hampton, J. Cousins, S. Martyn, M. Gibbons, J. Woodcock, M. Brett
Geelong:
T. Gribble, J. Saunders, M. Wood, S. Dixon, J. Tsitas, F. Fort

Draftees in action:

Murray: Tom Clurey, Matt Taberner, Josh Prudden, Nathan Drummond, Michael Gibbons, Jarman Impey
Geelong: Josh Saunders, Mason Wood, Darcy Fort, Lewis Taylor, Nick Bourke, Darcy Gardiner, Darcy Lang, Sam Russell

An eight-goal to nil first term helped set up the Geelong Falcons’ 2012 elimination final triumph over Murray, proving the perfect start to their TAC Cup finals campaign. The Bushrangers went into the clash as a steady favourite having finished fifth at 10-7. Their double-digit win tally was two figures higher than that of Geelong, who landed in eighth spot with an 8-8-1 record.

Form was not exactly kind to either region, as they both failed to win in three of their last six outings. The two sides had met twice before in that season, and the ledger sat at one win apiece after Murray won by 34 points in Round 4, while Geelong snuck home by three points in Round 10. As was the case in those fixtures, this knockout bout would be played on neutral territory.

Clearly out to prove they weren’t making up the numbers, the Falcons shot out of the blocks and put all eight of their first term scoring shots through the big sticks. But it was their turn to go goalless in the second period, as Murray hit back with six majors to keep within reach at the main break, still nine points adrift. The fightback would only spur Geelong back into action though, as the lower-ranked side clicked back into scoring gear with four goals in each of the final two terms to run out comfortable 40-point winners.

Prolific state leaguer Tom Gribble was named Geelong’s best on the day, racking up a monster 40 disposals, while draftees Mason Wood (18 disposals, eight marks, two goals) and Josh Saunders (22 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) were also amongst it. Scott Dixon was another to find both the ball and goals with 22 touches and two majors, while James Tsitas had it 25 times. Other AFL products to feature included Darcy Lang (20 disposals, one goal), Lewis Taylor (17 disposals, one goal), Nick Bourke (22 disposals), and Darcy Fort (26 hitouts).

Even as a bottom-ager, Michael Gibbons managed to accumulate a mountain of possession for Murray, finishing with 30 disposals. Lonnie Hampton (16 disposals) was named the best Bushranger though, followed by Joseph Cousins (10 disposals, five marks, one goal). Among the future draftees afield, Tom Clurey and Nathan Drummond both hit the scoreboard, while Josh Prudden gathered 21 disposals, Jarman Impey had 15, and Matt Taberner booted a goal from his 10 disposals and six marks.

While the Bushrangers’ promising season ended there and then, the Falcons would go on to face Sandringham in the semi finals. They went down by 25 points, with the 2012 season most famous for its famous golden point Grand Final where Jack Macrae won Oakleigh a thriller against Gippsland.

Featured Image: Brian Bartlett/News Corp

SANFL Round 9 preview: Top two look to continue dominance

ROUND 9 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) will see a couple of interesting match-ups across League, Reserves and Under 18s competitions as the pointy end of the season edges ever closer. In the League competition, two ladder-leading sides will looks to continue their form and knock their lower ranked opposition off their game, bordering on top four contention.

North Adelaide vs. Norwood

League: The Redlegs will travel to Prospect Oval to clash with the in form North Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. The Roosters sit alongside Woodville-West Torrens at the pinnacle of the SANFL ladder after two months of action. Meanwhile, the Redlegs sit just outside the top four and appear locked in a battle for a finals spot, after the Tigers ended their four-game winning streak. The Redlegs were competitive against Glenelg early in the match at Coopers Stadium, but a poor second half which yielded just one goal was never going to be enough. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Jacob Surjan‘s North Adelaide continue to get the job done. The red and whites pulled off a miraculous one-point victory after trailing the Bloods late in the final term on Friday night. It was a seesawing affair at Hisense Stadium, but two final quarter goals to Will Combe proved the difference.

The Redlegs managed to win many of the key statistics, including disposals, disposal efficiency, marks and tackles, however Glenelg’s hard-nosed midfield finished plus-9 in clearances and generated 24 scoring shots to 16. A major reason behind the Bays triumph was the performance of Jack Hannath in the ruck, who kept dominant Redleg Sam Baulderstone to just 28 hit-outs – his lowest of the season. This week, Rooster James Craig will go head-to-head with Baulderstone and attempt to nullify his influence. Craig is averaging 30 hit-outs per game but must be weary of Baulderstone’s ability to get involved in general play, having averaged 18.3 disposals at 73 per cent kicking efficiency in eight matches.

North were largely outplayed for much of the game at Richmond, loosing most of the key statistics. But at the end of the night, they prevailed on the scoreboard, the most important statistic of all. The aforementioned Craig provided the Roosters midfielders with first use and they took advantage, smashing the Bloods 22-37 in the clearances. Vice-captains Andrew Moore and Tom Schwarz almost recorded more clearances than the entire West Adelaide side, combining for 17. However it was the rebound and precise kicking of half-back duo Harrison Wigg and Alex Spina which proved decisive. They collected 33 and 27 disposals respectively, and set up a multitude of Roosters scoring shots from defence. This weekend, the Norwood forwards must prevent them from using their excellent kicking to break the lines. However the ‘Legs also boast a strong rebounding game, with Brad McKenzie and Cameron Shenton given the role of turning defence into attack.

Up forward, Norwood big man Tommy Pinyon took two strong contested grabs and kicked two goals but was missing for most of the match, collecting just four touches. Peter Bampton and the Richards brothers, Zac and Josh, were also amongst the goals against the Bays. The Norwood midfield, known for their goalkicking ability, must find a way to push forward and help out in attack against a well-drilled Roosters backline, led by key pillars Cameron Craig, Tanner Smith and youngster Dyson Hilder. At the other end of the ground, the Roosters received a six goal boost from Will Combe and Jarrad Allmond – both of whom are not exactly dominant in front of the sticks. Club leading goal kicker Lewis Hender was kept goalless but smalls Kym LeBois and Robbie Young both slotted majors.

The Roosters won by two points when the two sides met in round two, with Campbell Combe starring through the midfield for North. Norwood will dearly miss Josh Richards, who is expected to spend 4-6 weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury. The Roosters could regain premiership duo Alex Barns and Mitch Clisby for the clash, but midfielder Cam Hewett and Billy Hartung will miss at least another week. If past meetings between the 2018 grand finalists are anything to go by, this should be a very entertaining clash.

Reserves: The Roosters made light work of the Bloods in the reserves on Friday evening to move up to fifth on the ladder. Meanwhile, the ‘Legs were downed by Glenelg by 32 points. North will be looking to mount a surge towards the finals while Norwood continue their search for a second win.

Under-18s: Norwood are certainly the team to beat at under-18s level, after moving one game clear at the top of the ladder with a win over the Bays. Meanwhile, the Roosters pilled on the goals against West to win by 54 points. Norwood bottom-ager Cooper Murley and fellow midfielders Jack Saunders and Michael Cavallaro are names to keep an eye on in the red and the blue, while for the Roosters, the prolific Matthew Borg continues to rack up the touches and Elliott McNamara is coming off a six goal performance. Adelaide’s bottom-aged Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Blayne O’Loughlin is one to watch for Crows fans.

 

Central Districts vs. West Adelaide

League: Round nine features the battle of the battlers, with Central Districts set to host West Adelaide at Elizabeth. The Dogs remain winless at the bottom of the ladder, while the Bloods sit above them with just one victory. However the two sides earned their first premiership points of the season when they couldn’t be separated after at the final siren back in round two. Although the results have not gone their way, the two clubs have fought valiantly and will both be eager to claim victory on Saturday afternoon.

West Adelaide will be kicking themselves for dropping points on Friday night after leading the Roosters late in the fourth term. Over at Peter Motley Oval, the ‘Dogs opened the scoring after just 30 seconds of play thanks to a Jordan O’Brien goal. But the Double Blues, desperate to keep their season alive, kicked away after the first break and never gave the Bulldogs a sniff. Although West tackled well, kicked at 80 per cent efficiency and won more disposals than North, the Bloods were comprehensively beaten in the hit-outs (47-20) and clearances (37-22). Central’s scoring woes continued, booting five goals and 12 behinds. Unlike the Bloods, they were well-beaten around the ground, finishing minus-56 for disposals and a massive minus-50 for marks. Although they were able to win the clearances (44-38), the ‘Dogs are finding it difficult to mount any scoreboard pressure of late.

The Bulldogs and Bloods midfielders have battled hard for little return so far in 2020. This clash features two of the SANFL’s most consistent on-ballers in Bulldog James Boyd and West’s Kaine Stevens. A genuine ball-magnet, Boyd comfortably leads the league in disposals, averaging 31.4 per game. However he is also using it beautifully, going at 89 per cent efficiency, and will almost certainly feature prominently come Magarey Medal night. Stevens also sits inside the top ten for disposals, at an average of 24.9 per game. A stoppage specialist who uses his big body to good advantage through the middle, the 27-year-old has provided West with plenty of experience through the middle and complimented fellow on-ballers Jordon Boyle and Brett Turner. The ‘Dogs have been well-served by the Schiller brothers, Jarrod and Travis, for a number of years now and they remain an important component through the middle with their strong defensive pressure and clearance-winning.

West Adelaide skipper Tom Keough has booted 12 goals so far this year and is the go-to guy up forward. Likely top ten draft pick Riley Thilthorpe has also shown plenty of glimpses of his tremendous talent, playing predominantly up forward with stints through the ruck at various times. The teenager has taken 12 contested marks this season and his size, leap and reach has proven a tough assignment for opposition defenders. John Butcher is the undisputed focal point of the Bulldogs forward line, but youngsters Corey Durdin and the aforementioned O’Brien have also provided impacted the scoreboard. Durdin was kept to just four touches against Sturt before he injured his hamstring, but has pieced together a strong season in difficult circumstances. However, he is expected to miss two weeks with a low-grade hamstring strain.

Boyd has been his side’s leading rebounder, but skipper Luke Habel has been a calming presence for the inexperienced Bulldogs outfit. For West Adelaide, veteran Logan Hill‘s rebound and ball use (95 per cent kicking efficiency) has been a real standout. The 188cm Mitch Duval has also shown good signs since coming into the league side in round three.

In a cruel blow, the Bulldogs will be without Troy Menzel for the remainder of the season after he suffered a serious ankle injury in the loss. He joins brother Daniel on the clubs long-term injury list. Meanwhile, West will be hoping defender Elliott Dunkin (wrist) and Josh Ryan (shoulder) can pass their respective fitness tests in time for the Saturday afternoon clash.

Reserves: Central Districts flexed their muscles with a 46-point win over Sturt in the reserves competition, while the Bloods woes continued, loosing to North by 52-points. Unlike the league side, Centrals reserves have been the highest scoring side, averaging 90 points per game. Expect them to enter this clash full of confidence.

Under-18s: The Bulldogs under-18s caused the upset of the competition so far when they knocked off the second-placed Double Blues by 17 points. Leek Alleer was excellent in the win, finishing with 22 disposals, two goals and four contested marks. Austin McDonald also continues to find the ball at under-18s level after spending the first few weeks of the 2020 season dominating at under-16s level. West Adelaide continue to fight on in what has been a tricky campaign, however Edward Van Den Berg is one to watch in the red and black.

 

Glenelg vs. South Adelaide

League: South Adelaide will head to the bay to face Glenelg at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers and Panthers find themselves inside the top four after eight rounds of SANFL football. Yet while Glenelg have steadied the ship and won three games on the trot, the Panthers find themselves at risk of dropping out of a finals spot following three consecutive losses.

Glenelg recorded less disposals, kicks, marks and tackles than Norwood last round, but got on top in the midfield and generated eight more scoring shots than the Redlegs. The Panthers, on the other hand, played well for much of the game against the Eagles and kept themselves within striking distance. They won the midfield battle and finished plus-32 for marks and plus-20 for disposals, however Jarrad Wright‘s men were left to rue missed opportunities in-front of goal, finishing with six majors and 15 behinds.

In his first game in the blue and white, the terrific performance of ruckman Paul Hunter will have excited the Panthers coaching staff. The former Crow went up against Eagle Jordan West for much of the game and accumulated plenty of the ball in general play. He collected 24 disposals to go with nine marks (three contested), 22 hit-outs, eight inside-50s and an equal game-high nine clearances in what was a complete performance. This week he is set to come up against Tiger Hannath, who impressed with his ability to nullify the influence of Baulderstone.

The Panthers boast an experienced midfield core, led by superstar Joel Cross, former Power defender Matthew Broadbent and hard-nut Nic Schwarz. On the outside, youngster Hayden Sampson has provided some spark with his speed, run and carry. The Panthers have also given talented 17-year-old Jason Horne an opportunity at league level in recent times. However this week they will do battle with arguably the leagues best in-and-under midfielder in Matthew Snook. As tough as they come, Snook is averaging 28.5 disposals, 7.5 tackles and 9.8 clearances per game and currently sits atop the R.O. Sherman Medal count. However he hasn’t been alone. Luke Partington has started to return to his 2019 best in recent weeks and Bradley Agnew‘s defensive pressure has been outstanding all season. The Panthers will know all about Partington’s abilities, given he kicked three goals in a dominant display against them in round two. Billy Stretch also had his best game in the black and yellow against the Redlegs.

Up forward, the Bays dynamic duo of Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds were kept to just one goal apiece at Coopers Stadium. Both capable of kicking a bag, when they are on the key forwards are very hard to stop. The Panthers will again be without key defensive pillar Tom Highmore who is set to another couple of weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Jack Kluske has also found some form in front of the big sticks, kicking five goals in the past four rounds. The Panthers have had an even spread of goal kickers, with smalls Eamon Wilkinson and Beau McCreery combining with big Sam Overall, who slotted three goals against the Eagles – comfortably the leagues best defence.

Down back, Tigers skipper Max Proud has done much of the heavy lifting, with Luke Parks and Michael Virgin providing plenty of rebound from the defensive-50. South Adelaide’s Joseph Haines was held to just eight disposals by Eagle Jack Firns – his lowest count of the season by a considerable margin. Haines has been highly effective this season with his intercept marking, run and carry and penetrating kicking sure to earn him a few Magarey Medal votes. Negating his influence should be high on the agenda of Glenelg coach Mark Stone.

The Tigers beat the Panthers by just five points in their round two encounter, and appear set to enter the re-match with a reasonably clean bill of health. Although draft hopeful Luke Edwards is set to miss another week after suffering a concussion on debut. South Adelaide have four players listed as a ‘test’, including promising teenager Zac DumesnyMark Noble, Jaidan Kappler and Ben Sawford. But, unfortunately, Ben Haren is set to miss 2-3 weeks with a quad strain.

Reserves: After racing out of the blocks at reserves level, Glenelg find themselves in fourth spot on the ladder after recording three losses in the past four games. They should enter this clash as favourites, however, against a Panthers unit which has looked promising at times but struggled for consistency.

Under-18s: The Panthers under-18s will be full of confidence after knocking off the Eagles in a thrilling one-point win at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. All eyes will be on forward/wingman Brayden Cook after his match-winning performance. He continues to rise up draft boards and looks to be a draft smokey. The Tigers have struggled of-late, but watch out for Brodie Edwards, the third son of Crows-legend Tyson, who has accumulated a bit of the ball in recent weeks.

 

Woodville-West Torrens vs. Sturt

League: This week Sturt is provided with the daunting task of taking down the high-flying Eagles, who are still yet to lose since the opening round. The Eagles already possess a match-winning forward line, dour defence and strong, experienced midfield but managed to bolster their on-ball stocks further with the recent signing of James Tsitas from Geelong’s VFL side.

A standout in the VFL for several years, Tsitas made his presence felt in just his second SANFL match on Saturday, laying eight tackles, winning nine clearances and collecting 25 disposals. His side was not dominant on the stats sheet but, as all good sides do, they made South Adelaide pay for their goal kicking inaccuracies. Sturt, on the other hand, recorded a much-needed victory of the Bulldogs at their Peter Motley Oval home. They controlled much of the match on the scoreboard and won most of the key statistical indicators.

A six-goal performance from key forward Jake Sutcliffe was just what the doctor ordered for a Double Blues side which has struggled to kick a winning score all-too-often in season 2020. Better still, two goal-showings from veteran Mark Evans, ruck/forward Dan Fahey-Sparks and small forward Harry Morrison added to the promising display. They will have to replicate their scoring pressure if they are to match it with the potent Eagles offence. James Rowe booted another four goals straight and is clearly the competitions premier small forward. Jack and Nick Hayes were kept relatively quiet against South, but Jake Von Bertouch booted another couple. Firns’ tagging role on Panther Haines was also instrumental in their round eight triumph.

Sturt’s midfield mainstays were all prolific in the win over Central Districts, with skipper James Battersby brilliant at the stoppages, (11 clearances), Sam Colquhoun typically industrial and teenager Casey Voss amongst the leading possession winners once again. However the performances of some fresh faces is what will have really excited coach Nathan GrimaAbe Davis took a few weeks to find his feet at his new club, but has recorded tallies of 26, 31 and 32 disposals in the past three games and is starting to show why Sturt were so keen on recruiting him from South Adelaide. Fellow newcomer Jack Henderson showed some excellent signs in just his second league game and ruckman Darcy Bennett won 32 hit-outs.

They will do battle with an often-underrated Eagles engine room featuring the likes of Tsitas, reigning club champion Jordan Foote, experienced duo Joseph Sinor and Matthew Goldsworthy and Jimmy Toumpas. Youngster Lachlan McNeil has also found his feet at league level this season and is averaging 17.6 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency. Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell’s dash off the half-back line for Woodville-West Torrens has been terrific and teenager Lachlan Jones continues to perform strongly as he pushes for draft selection.

Angus Poole (ribs) and Jarrad Redden (abdominal) have been listed as ‘tests’ for the Eagles. And for the Double Blues, small forward Josh Hone is likely to miss some time after sustaining a foot injury early in the game against the Bulldogs. A win for the Double Blues would be a sensational moral booster, but the ladder leaders present an imposing challenge.

Reserves: The undefeated Eagles reserves just keep getting the job done in the second-tier competition, after easily accounting for the Panther on the weekend. Third-placed Sturt will be looking top bounce back from a hefty-loss at the hands of the second-placed Bulldogs.

Under-18s: The Eagles and Double Blues under-18 sides will be looking to return to the winners list after both recording disappointing losses last round. And there will be plenty of talent on show at Peter Motley Oval, with the likes of Caleb Poulter, Henry Smith and Jase Burgoyne (Eagles) clashing with Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain (Sturt).

SANFL weekly wrap: Round 8 – Bays halt Redlegs’ charge to enter top four

AN action packed weekend of SANFL action saw reigning League premier, Glenelg jump back into the finals placings, as North Adelaide continues to peck at the heels of frontrunner, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) after a great escape. The Eagles are also soaring atop the Reserves standings, while an upset at the hands of Central Districts saw Sturt overtaken by Norwood at the Under 18s level. All that, and more in our Round 8 recap.

>> SCROLL for full results 

West Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

League: West Adelaide 11.9 (75) def. by North Adelaide 11.10 (76)
Reserves:
West Adelaide 3.7 (25) def. by North Adelaide 11.11 (77)
Under 18s:
North Adelaide 17.13 (115) def. West Adelaide 9.7 (61)

Seventh placed League strugglers West Adelaide very nearly pulled off the result of the round, but came up short by the narrowest of margins against their Northern adversaries under Friday night lights. The Bloods looked to have sealed the unlikely win on multiple occasions as they bridged over two goals clear of the Roosters, and they even had their chances to get back on top late in the piece. It was not to be, as North Adelaide ensured it would remain level on points with the table-topping Eagles.

Harrison Wigg was North’s top ball winner with 33 disposals, followed by the likes of Andrew Moore and skipper Alex Spina on 27 apiece. Will Combe‘s four goals were also important, with two coming in the final term. Jordon Boyle and Brett Turner both found plenty of the ball for Westies, while Connor Fairlie and Hugh Haysman provided a key spark when required.

North Adelaide’s Reserves moved a step closer to finals contention as they dispatched of the Bloods by 52 points, while West Adelaide’s Under 18s remain winless after eight outings on the back of another heavy loss. Elliott McNamara did most of the damage in that game with six goals, but Matthew Borg was arguably best afield for his two majors from 36 disposals, as the Roosters came home strong with an eight-goal to one final term.

South Adelaide vs. WWT Eagles

League: South Adelaide 6.15 (51) def. by WWT Eagles 11.6 (72)
Reserves:
South Adelaide 8.2 (50) def. by WWT Eagles 14.9 (93)
Under 18s:
WWT Eagles 12.6 (78) def. by South Adelaide 11.13 (79)

South Adelaide’s Under 18s ensured the Eagles wouldn’t get away with a hat-trick of wins over their club, as rising AFL Draft prospect Brayden Cook inspired them to a dramatic come-from-behind victory. Utilised out of the goalsquare in the closing stages, Cook finished the game with five goals from 22 disposals, while Jack Flett’s last-minute behind decided the result.

Bottom-ager Arlo Draper (19 disposals, one goal) was another to turn the game for Souths through midfield, while Harry Spacie (22 disposals, seven marks) was again prolific for the winners. For WWT, the centre bounce trio of Jase Burgoyne (32 disposals, five clearances), Max Litster (30 and eight), and Caleb Poulter (28 and five) again worked well, but could not quite help their side hold on in the end.

The Eagles fared much more comfortably in the senior grades though; as the Reserves remained undefeated with a 43-point win, while the League side led at the final three breaks to get up by 21 points. James Rowe again got busy with four goals, supported by two from bigman Jake von Bertouch, while Sam Overall booted three for Souths.

With Joseph Haines kept quiet, Joel Cross (24 disposals) was again the Panthers’ leading ball winner, but Victorian WWT mid James Tsitas led all comers with 25. It was a fitting result for Eagles 200-gamer, Matthew Goldsworthy, who found the goals in his memorable milestone outing.

Sturt vs. Central District

League: Sturt 16.11 (107) def. Central District 5.12 (42)
Reserves:
Sturt 9.7 (59) def. by Central District 16.9 (105)
Under 18s:
Central District 10.10 (70) def. Sturt 7.11 (53)

Sturt remains just a game off the League top four after pumping Central District to the tune of 65 points, leaving the Bulldogs winless after eight games. Conversely, Centrals enjoyed another big win in the Reserves, picking up their seventh victory. The Dogs’ Under 18s discovered that when it rains, it pours, as they picked up a second-straight victory, knocking Sturt off top spot in the junior ranks.

The League result was won by way of the Double Blues’ much superior firepower after quarter time, and Jake Sutcliffe was the man to reap the most reward with a game-high six goals. He led a pack of five Sturt multiple goalkickers, with no Bulldogs player able to replicate the feat. James Battersby and Abe Davis were mega through midfield with 33 touches each, while James Boyd and Travis Schiller added a major to their own ball winning exploits for Centrals.

Speaking of ball winning, Tom Powell (39 disposals) continues to lead the way in that department at Under 18s level, but could do little to stop his side slipping to second place with a loss this weekend. Austin McDonald (28 disposals, nine clearances) and NT recruit Brodie Lake (19 disposals, one goal) stood up to the strong Sturt midfield, while Matthew Borlace provided plenty of drive from defence, and Leek Alleer worked well both ways off the wing.

Norwood vs. Glenelg

League: Norwood 5.11 (41) def. by Glenelg 10.14 (74)
Reserves:
Norwood 7.5 (47) def. by Glenelg 12.7 (79)
Under 18s:
Glenelg 8.6 (54) def. by Norwood 13.10 (88)

Glenelg stamped its authority as the reigning League premier, cutting short the glory of Norwood’s winning run to rise back into the top four. The Bays got away early and never looked back, coming out 33-point victors on Saturday night. Luke Partington was back to his best with 31 disposals for the winners, bettered only by teammate Matthew Snook (34 disposals), and followed closely by fellow former-AFL player, Billy Stretch (27).

Tommy Pinyon again found the goals for Norwood with two majors, while Brad McKenzie breached the 30-disposal mark, and Mitch Grigg found it 28 times. Elsewhere, the Tigers went two games clear among the Reserves top four, but again had its depth fall short at Under 18s level. Norwood took full toll, claiming a 34-point win, as well as top spot with a formidable 7-1 record.

Academy guns Henry Nelligan and Cooper Murley combined for 63 disposals and 18 clearances on the inside of midfield, while Michael Cavallaro racked up 32 touches on the outside, and Alexander Scali booted three goals. Riley Davis matched that feat for Glenelg, with William Watts (30 disposals), Kye Dean (26), and Jayden Davis (22) all pitching in to continue their solid runs of form.

Classic Contests: Stacked Chargers edge Falcons in four-point thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Oakleigh Chargers and Geelong Falcons. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2012, when the Falcons pushed a talent-rich Chargers lineup all the way at Warrawee Park.

2012 TAC Cup, Round 13
Saturday July 14, 2:00pm
Warrawee Park

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.4 | 2.8 | 6.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 0.2 | 3.3 | 6.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Oakleigh: J. Billings 2, J. Collopy 2, K. Jaksch 2, J. Kennedy-Harris, L. McDonald
Geelong:
T. Batarilo 2, L. Taylor 2, T. Gribble, M. Wood, A. Christensen, D. Bond

BEST:

Oakleigh: W. Maginness, R. Exon, K. Jaksch, L. McDonald, J. Curran, K. Nolan
Geelong: D. Fort, C. Williams, N. Bourke, L. Taylor, A. Hickey, J. Tsitsas

Draftees in action:

Oakleigh: Marc Pittonet, Jack Macrae, Jack Billings, Sam Collins, Luke McDonald, Tom Cutler, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Kristian Jaksch, Jason Ashby, Will Maginness,
Geelong: Lewis Taylor, Darcy Fort, Mason Wood, Darcy Lang, Josh Saunders, Nick Bourke

16 future AFL draftees took the field as Oakleigh and Geelong battled in Round 13 of the 2012 TAC Cup, with a stacked Chargers lineup looking to gain redemption on home turf. The Falcons had comfortably triumphed in the Round 5 reverse fixture, coming away 42-point winners at Kardinia Park.

That result was part of their even 6-6 record to that point, good enough for eighth spot. Oakleigh was faring slightly better despite the upset, sitting fifth at 7-5. Both sides came in on winning streaks, with Geelong getting home in three-straight close encounters, while Oakleigh took out its previous two outings.

While there was plenty of quality on each line, both teams got off to slow starts and failed to truly get a hold on the scoreboard. The Chargers in particular had failed to capitalise on their weight of early chances, booting 1.4 in each of the opening two terms. On the other hand, Geelong’s three second quarter majors ensured the Falcons would take a lead into half time, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

The game opened up slightly after the main break as Oakleigh’s guns seemed to recover their kicking boots, fixing up in front of goal to reclaim the ascendancy with four goals in term three. The Falcons were sticking right by them though, booting three goals of their own to remain just a goal adrift. That buffer would prove just enough for Oakleigh, who managed to hold on as the two sides sunk a couple of goals each to round out the game.

West Coast draftee Will Maginness was named best afield for the winners, with Kristian Jaksch and Luke McDonald also among the best half-dozen Chargers. Jack Billings (two goals) and Jay Kennedy-Harris also hit the scoreboard. Bigman Darcy Fort was named Geelong’s best, alongside the likes of Lewis Taylor and James Tsistas. Taylor booted two goals, while Mason Wood and Tom Gribble also found the big sticks once each.

The Falcons would stay true to form and go on to finish the regular season in eight with an 8-8-1 record. Sandringham was the team to bundle them out of contention at the semi finals stage. Oakleigh famously went on to win the TAC Cup premiership from sixth that year, accelerating through finals on the back of a 10-7 record to pip Gippsland via Jack Macrae‘s golden point in the decider.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap – Melville boots Tigers to back-to-back flags

NIGHTCLIFF claimed a second consecutive Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League premiership on Saturday night, defeating St Mary’s in a tense decider on the back of Trent Melville‘s five-goal haul. Melville took out the Chaney Medal for the player adjudged best afield, notching half of his side’s majors in the 10.13 (73) to 9.6 (60) triumph. The victory sees Nightcliff go from enduring 54 years without premiership success, to tasting it in back-to-back campaigns.

In a game described as an intense, four-quarter battle by Melville post-match, the Tigers were reigned in each time they looked to extend the lead and made to work for each goal while being tested in defence throughout. It came as no surprise given St Mary’s had beaten Nightcliff twice before this season – the only side to do so – and boast one of the best fly-in lists in the competition. Those recruits and some returning home grown talent helped the Saints soar from bottom in 2018/19 to runners-up this season, falling just short of what would have been an epic turnaround for the NT’s winningest club.

Coming in off a week off, the Saints were somewhat jumped by a hungry Tigers team, conceding the first two goals of the game but still managing to keep touch in a bruising finals initiation. But one of the Saints’ four Under 18s afield, Maurice Rioli Jnr hit back late in the first term to get the ball rolling for his side, and the game opened up slightly. It only lead to Nightcliff again winning the short battle with a four-goal to three second term, building a handy 17-point lead at the main break to put the Tigers in good stead.

Then it was St Mary’s turn to take over as the Saints doubled their goal tally in what looked like a game-saving third term, pouring on four majors to Nightcliff’s one to edge to within a goal at three-quarter time. The aerial presence of Jarrad Waite inside 50 proved crucial, with Jackson Calder the beneficiary of some of his smarts heading towards goal as both players hit the scoreboard. Needing to arrest the momentum, Nightcliff would see itself battle down to the wire to earn the flag its 17-1 regular season deserved.

In an exciting crescendo to the season, the Tigers rallied with three goals to one in the form of a true champion team, with all its recent NTFL finals experience shining through against the younger Saints side. The impact of those youngsters on both sides was still profound, with Rioli Jnr providing a spark and Braxton Ah Mat justifying his spot in the side for St Mary’s, while Ryan Mu booted two goals in an electric display in yellow and black. All the usual suspects stood up for Nightcliff too, with the criminally underrated Kaine Riley, James Tsitas, and Shaun Wilson all putting in shifts worth of best-on-ground recognition. We were promised a corker, and the two talent-rich sides well and truly delivered.

ST MARY’S 1.1 | 4.3 | 8.4 | 9.6 (60)
NIGHTCLIFF 2.3 | 6.8 | 7.12 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Calder 2, N. Paredes 2, J. Waite 2, S. Rioli, M. Rioli Jnr, J. Long.
Nightcliff: T. Melville 5, R. Mu 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan.

BEST:

St Mary’s: N/A
Nightcliff: T. Melville, S. Wilson, D. Bowles, B. Filo, N. Brown, M. Hagan

Chaney Medal: Trent Melville (Nightcliff)

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Grand Final – Back-to-back, or fairytale turnaround?

AFTER 18 regular season rounds and three scintillating post-season weeks, we are down to the final two in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, with Nightcliff and St Mary’s set to do battle in this year’s decider on Saturday night. The greatest storyline coming into the clash will arguably be that of the difference in each clubs’ 2018/19 campaigns; with Nightcliff coming in as the reigning premier, while St Mary’s took out the unfortunate title of wooden spooner last year. In our comprehensive preview, we recap each 2019/20 meeting between the two sides so far, their overall records and form, and take a look at the key players among the final teams.


ST MARY’S vs. NIGHTCLIFF

2019/20 Grand Final
Saturday March 14, 7:15pm
TIO Stadium

KEY STATS

Records:

St Mary’s – 2nd, 14-4 (2-0 finals), 137%
Nightcliff – 1st, 17-1 (1-1), 197%

Leading goalkickers:

St Mary’s – Jackson Calder (33), Shannon Rioli (26), Leroy Larson (24)
Nightcliff – Trent Melville (46), Liam Holt-Fitz (31), Cam Ilett (24)

Grand final records:

St Mary’s – 32-17
Nightcliff – 4-8

Form:

St Mary’s – 5-0
Nightcliff – 4-1

2020 head-to-head:

St Mary’s 2-1 Nightcliff

ROUND 7 – St Mary’s 15.9 (99) def. Nightcliff 11.6 (72)

Goals:

St Mary’s: J. Paine 5, L. Larson 3, N. Paredes 2, J. Calder 2, J. Box, J. Cheek, J. Quinn
Nightcliff: T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, D. Bowles, J. Butcher, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett, K. Winter-Irving, D. Joyce

Best:

St Mary’s: L. Larson, R. Smith, S. Rioli, T. Davies, J. Paine, K. Parnell
Nightcliff: C. Holmes, K. Riley, S. Wilson, P. Wills, K. Winter-Irving, T. Melville

Talking points:

– St Mary’s becomes the first side to beat Nightcliff in 2019/20
– It was made even more remarkable given the Saints came in off a loss
– The loss was Nightcliff’s first since Round 15, 2018/19 (12 games)
– The Saints win despite having one less goalkicker
– Jackson Paine makes a splash in his first game with five goals

ROUND 14 – Nightcliff 14.13 (97) def. St Mary’s 4.8 (32)

Goals:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz 3, J. Butcher 2, K. Winter-Irving 2, B. Filo 2, S. Wilson 2, J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, T. Melville.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, R. Jordon, S. Lampton.

Best:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, K. Winter-Irving, J. Kickett, M. Hagan, S. Wilson, B. Arnold
St Mary’s: T. Davies, J. Long, S. Edwards, A. Long, R. Jordon, J. Long

Talking points:

– Nightcliff gets one back over the Saints in convincing fashion
– Liam Holt-Fitz continues his electric mid-season run of form with three goals
– The win meant Nightcliff had beaten every other team in 2019/20
– The 55-point loss still stands as St Mary’s heaviest for the season
– Some fans dismissed the result due to the inexperienced Saints lineup

SEMI FINAL – St Mary’s 16.7 (103) def. Nightcliff 11.11 (77)

Goals:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, T. Melville 2, L. Sharp 2, S. Wilson, J. Butcher, C. Ilett.
St Mary’s: J. Calder 5, M. Rioli Jnr 4, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Salmon, N. Yarran, S. Rioli, S. Edwards, H. Labastida.

Best:

Nightcliff: N/A
St Mary’s: M. Rioli Jnr, L. Daly, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Calder, T. Saunders

Talking points:

– St Mary’s knocks over Nightcliff for a second time, ending the Tigers’ 11-game winning run
– Maurice Rioli Jnr kicks four brilliant goals to capture the nation’s attention
– Jackson Calder’s five goals takes his finals tally to nine
– Liam Daly’s tagging job on Brodie Filo proves vital
– Four Nightcliff multiple goalkickers not enough for the potent Tigers

KEY PLAYERS

St Mary’s:

Shannon Rioli – A brilliant servant of the Saints over the past few years, and played almost every game this season on the way to 26 goals and a handful of appearances in the best. The Saints will once again look to Rioli for goals and leadership up forward, with his nous inside 50 set to be a factor at the feet of a trio of dangerous talls.

Jacob Long – One of the brightest young stars in the NTFL, Long has flourished this season at senior level with his class and speed on the outside. As one of only two Saints to have played in every game this season, Long has cemented his spot as a must-pick home-grown talent and looks primed for a big top-age season as he pushes into AFL draft contention. Expect him to play a key role again off half-back.

Tom Davies – A rock at the back for St Mary’s this season who was named in the best 13 times in 19 outings, backing up a solid 2018/19 campaign. Expect Davies to have his hands full with a couple of high-end Nightcliff forwards, with his cool head likely to be an important factor amid the typically frantic grand final pace and atmosphere.

Nightcliff:

Brodie Filo – The recently crowned two-time Nichols medalist is one of the league’s premier players, and will be keen to make good on a few down weeks – including being nullified in the semi final clash between these two sides. He may be breathing a sigh of relief with tagger Liam Daly left out of the Saints’ team, but has the class to focus on his own game. His goals from midfield are set to be vital.

Kaine Riley – The Tigers’ best and fairest has been a phenomenon down back this season, consistently putting in shifts in a more unheralded role among a host of Nightcliff stars. Featuring in the best in over half of his 18 games, Riley’s role has not gone unnoticed by those who matter at the minor premiers, and he will again be important given the formidable list of experienced St Mary’s forwards.

Trent Melville – A standout over the last two seasons for the near-unbeatable Tigers, Melville has a knack for notching big bags of goals and making some special plays. He ended the regular season as Nightcliff’s leading goalkicker and has averaged two goals per game against the Saints this year, with his role in the midfield-forward rotation as important as anyones.

TEAMS

St Mary’s:

Full Back – 7. Tylah Saunders, 21. Braxton Ah Mat, 35. Adam Parry
Half Back – 13. Jake Long, 14. Tom Davies, 1. Jacob Long
Centre – 39. Kieren Parnell, 27. Nate Paredes, 11. Nick Yarran
Half Forward – 3. Maurice Rioli Jnr, 8. Raphael Clarke, 9. Shaun Edwards
Full Forward – 30. Jarrad Waite, 10. Shannon Rioli, 24. Jackson Calder
Rucks – 20. Ryan Smith, 28. Rhett Jordon, 23. Jackson Paine
Interchange – 38. Josh Cheek, 15. Jack Long, 22. Joseph Salmon, 5. Henry Labastida, 16. Liam Daly, 2. Jack Geary, 18. Dylan Johnstone, 42. James Quinn, 32. Matt Wilkinson, 36. Aidan Hill, 4. Anthony Long, 12. Leonard Ferreira

In: K. Parnell, J. Waite, R. Jordon
Out: L. Ferreira, D. Johnstone, L. Daly

St Mary’s made the tough call of leaving out Liam Daly, the man who kept Nichols medalist Brodie Filo quiet in the Saint’s semi final win, while also omitting Dylan Johnstone and Leonard Ferreira with some serious talent coming the other way. Homegrown star Kieren Parnell (wing) returns alongside Rhett Jordon (follower) and Jarrad Waite (full forward), with the latter completing a stacked Saints forward line alongside the likes of Jackson Calder, Shannon Rioli, Shaun Edwards, and Raphael Clarke. Young guns Maurice Rioli Jnr and Jacob Long take up flank spots at either end of the field, looking to generate some run and flair on the outside to match the likes of Nate Paredes and Nick Yarran through midfield. Tom Davies and Jake Long will be the rocks in defence, finishing off a formidable spine for the Saints. Not many teams have been able to match the Tigers for starpower over the last three seasons, but St Mary’s is set to do just that with this full-strength lineup.

Nightcliff:

Full Back – 14. Nathan Brown, 26. Marley McGregor, 2. Michael Hagan
Half Back – 10. Cameron Ilett, 22. Daniel Bowles, 5. Kaine Riley
Centre – 3. Jonathan Peris, 33. Shaun Wilson, 12. Joel Budarick
Half Forward – 19. James Tsitas, 20. Trent Melville, 23. Brodie Filo
Full Forward – 6. Liam Holt-Fitz, 30. John Butcher, 17. Lachlan Sharp
Rucks – 8. Kyle Winter-Irving, 11. Phillip Wills, 9. Zac Brain
Interchange – 1. Ryan Mu, 34. Danny Butcher, 31. Hugo Drogemuller, 32. Roger Morris, 53. Brad Arnold, 24. Tyson Kidney, 28. Jonathon Miles, 15. Liam Evans, 4. Matthew Bricknell, 18. Harry Williams, 57. Christos Gikas, 25. Jasper Brain

In: M. McGregor, L. Sharp
Out: J. Kickett, L. Evans

Lachlan Sharp‘s inclusion headlines the two changes made by reigning premier, Nightcliff in its title defence, with the Victorian goalkicking ace returning from suspension alongside Marley McGregor – who slots in down the other end. The heartbreak story lies with Jayden Kickett this year, who misses through injury after 15 games while Liam Evans the other unlucky Tiger to make way – squeezed out of a talented forward line. Leading goalkicker Trent Melville will lead the line at centre half-forward, with Sharp, Brodie Filo, James Tsitas, John Butcher, and Liam Holt-Fitz making up arguably the Tigers’ best front six for the year. Almost every member of that half-dozen will be able to also rotate through the midfield under the ruck craft of Kyle Winter-Irving, with Phillip Wills and Zac Brain the current followers. Down back, mainstays Daniel Bowles, Nathan Brown, and Michael Hagan retain their spots, with veteran Cam Ilett suiting up for yet another premier league grand final, and Danny Butcher set to join him among that back six. The points squeeze has obviously had an impact on both sides, and the Tigers are set to be truly tested man-for-man despite having such a talented lot available.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Preliminary final – Crocs look to extend dream finals run

A PLACE in the 2020 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League grand final is up for grabs on Saturday night, as Nightcliff and Southern Districts set to play off for the chance to challenge St Mary’s in next week’s decider. With both sides set to head in close to full strength and boasting stars on each line, fans should be in for a treat as we near the crescendo of what has been an entertaining post-season to date. Check out the teams, head-to-head stats, and each team’s form in our comprehensive preview.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Preliminary Final
Saturday March 7, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

2020 head-to-head:

Nightcliff 3 – 0 Southern Districts

Form:

Tigers:
4-1

Crocs:
5-0

Finals run:

Tigers:
Semi final: def. by St Mary’s 11.11 (77) to 16.7 (103)

Crocs:
Elimination final: def. Darwin 17.11 (113) to 5.12 (42)
Semi final: def. Tiwi 11.5 (71) to 16.15 (111)

Regular season:

Tigers:
1st, 17-1, 187%

Crocs:
4th, 10-7-1, 120%

Preview:

Nightcliff and Southern Districts are primed to do battle for a spot in the 2020 NTFL grand final on Saturday night, with fairytale team St Mary’s awaiting the winner in the big dance. Having played in last season’s decider, these two sides will be hungry to get back to the biggest of stages and come away with some silverware.

Reigning premiers and again minor premiers this season, Nightcliff enjoyed a stellar home-and-away campaign to notch a near-unblemished 17-1 record. The Tigers were the clear competition benchmark and are thus clear favourite to take out back-to-back flags, but will have to get past the in-form Crocs for a fourth time to even earn the chance. Given they are one of only two sides to have beaten every other competitor this season, the Tigers should be full of confidence heading into this knockout final bout. But a semi final loss to St Mary’s – their second loss to the Saints – may have put a slight dent in that seemingly bulletproof assuredness, serving as Nightcliff’s first defeat in 11 outings.

Southern Districts’ season has featured considerably more hiccups at 10-7-1 come regular season’s end, but the Crocs seem to be peaking at just the right time with backing from some very handy AFL-experienced players. Currently on a five-game winning streak, Districts has been able to back up well for consecutive elimination final scenarios and will have to do so another two times if they are to take out the flag. But the test that Nightcliff provides has proven too tough for the Crocs thus far in 2020; getting within nine points all the way back in Round 1, but going down by a combined 95 points in Rounds 10 and 15. Despite the home-and-away ledger sitting at an ominous 3-0 in favour of the Tigers, the Crocs are in arguably the better form and should push the flag fancies all the way.

Nightcliff come into the clash with a slight blow to its forward 50 structure, as Victorian goal-getter Lachlan Sharp is set to miss due to a suspension picked up last week. But the Tigers still boast plenty of firepower with leading goalkicker Trent Melville named alongside livewire Liam Holt-Fitz and ex-Port forward John Butcher, while James Tsitas is another who can find the big sticks from midfield. Up the other end, best and fairest winner Kaine Riley heads the defence with the likes of Danny Butcher and Cam Ilett making up two more spots in a quality back six. It is hard to deny the Tigers’ dynamism too, with their rotation at either end and into the midfield highlighting their unmatchable depth.

But a department the Crocs should be able to draw level in is the range of scoring options, with competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer spearheading a dangerous attack which has breached 100 points in each of its last five outings. Ed Barlow has been named on an extended bench coming off his seven-goal haul, while Jeff Garlett and league MVP fancy Josiah Farrer are also capable of troubling the scorers. The midfield quality of Richard Tambling, Michael Barlow, and Charlie McAdam on the outside will also be important, while Thomas Holman‘s role across the backline becomes imperative given Nightcliff’s wealth of avenues to goal.

The time to strike is now for Districts, but neutrals should not forget the quality of Nightcliff’s season outside of two losses to the team already lined up in the grand final. The Tigers need only look back at the Crocs’ run to the decider last season after overcoming a finals loss, and will rightly come in as favourite despite Districts’ hot form and considerable class. Whether the Crocs can back up from back-to-back big efforts will be the big test, but winning form is always good form. It should be a cracker for neutrals, and St Mary’s will inevitably be looking on intently at the side it is set to face.

Tip: Nightcliff by 10.

TEAMS:

Nightcliff 

Full Back – 23. Brodie Filo, 10. Cameron Ilett, 22. Daniel Bowles
Half Back – 34. Danny Butcher, 16. Jayden Kickett, 12. Joel Budarick
Centre – 3. Jonathan Peris, 5. Kaine Riley, 8. Kyle Winter-Irving
Half Forward – 6. Liam Holt-Fitz, 2. Michael Hagan, 14. Nathan Brown
Full Forward – 15. Liam Evans, 9. Zac Brain, 30. John Butcher
Rucks – 20. Trent Melville, 33. Shaun Wilson, 19. James Tsitas
Interchange – 11. Phillip Wills, 32. Roger Morris, 1. Ryan Mu, 31. Hugo Drogemuller, 58. Declan Singh-Lippo, 25. Jasper Brain, 18. Harry Williams, 28. Jonathon Miles ,24. Tyson Kidney, 53. Brad Arnold, 26. Marley McGregor, 4. Matthew Bricknell
Southern Districts
Full Back – 34. Charles McAdam, 18. Tom Holman, 6. Brodie Lake
Half Back – 8. Michael Bowden, 11. Josiah Farrer, 22. Jayden Schofield
Centre – 10. Lionel Ogden, 2. Richard Tambling, 3. Nathan Horbury
Half Forward – 4. Dean Staunton, 27. William Farrer, 5. Dylan McLachlan
Full Forward – 30. Jayden Clarke, 26. Michael Barlow, 31. Dylan Barry
Rucks – 25. Patrick Gallow, 9. Jeff Garlett, 17. Rory O’Brien
Interchange – 24. Dan Wehrung, 32. Josh Innes, 15. Keegan Dingo, 1. Jaeden Watts, 13. Damian Williams, 21. Desmond Corbett, 20. Ed Barlow, 12. Matthew Duffy, 14. Beau Schwarze, 16. Zac Smith

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Semi finals – Saints book grand final spot

ST MARY’S defeated Nightcliff for the second time this season to become the first team to book its spot in the 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League grand final, while traditional rival, Tiwi was bundled out in straight sets at the hands of Southern Districts.

TIWI BOMBERS 2.1 | 4.5 | 7.5 | 11.5 (71)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.5 | 7.8 | 10.11 | 16.15 (111)

GOALS:

Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 3, C. Jones 2, A. Hams 2, O. Henry, J. Simon, H. Puruntatameri, K. Dunn.
Southern Districts: E. Barlow 7, W. Farrer 2, J. Garlett 2, D. Staunton 2, M. Barlow, J. Watts, J. Farrer.

BEST:

Tiwi: R. Baird, J. Monigatti, D. Kruse, A. Hams, O. Henry, C. Jones
Southern Districts: E. Barlow, C. McAdam, D. Staunton, K. Dingo, M. Barlow, J. Schofield

Tiwi unceremoniously exited the Premier League finals race in straight sets upon falling to Southern Districts in their knockout semi final bout, going down to the tune of 40 points at TIO Stadium. Seven goals from ex-AFL standout Ed Barlow did most of the damage in ending the Bombers’ promising season, with the third-ranked side outgunned by a peaking Districts unit. To the Crocs’ credit, they never rested on their laurels after opening up a 16-point quarter-time lead, constantly applying scoreboard pressure to keep the dangerous Bombers at bay. Six goals to four in a high-scoring final term capped off a successful effort in front of goal for the winners, with their 31 scoring shots working to overwhelm Tiwi – a rare feat this season. Barlow, and his ‘twin’, Michael were terrific for the Crocs, with mainstays Charlie McAdam and Dean Stanton accelerating their forward momentum. Competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer added two goals to his tally, with Jeff Garlett matching the feat to make up another of the four Districts multiple goalkickers. For the Bombers, Rodney Baird was again among the best in a heavily-pressured defence, while big man Jack Mongiatti and David Kruse capped off stellar seasons with solid shifts. Ashton Hams found the goals (two) for the third-straight game, with Austin Wonaeamirri (three goals) leading the attack. But it was ultimately in vein as the Bombers could not keep up with Districts’ scoring exploits, unable to breakthrough for the burst that would pry the game open. The Crocs’ third knockout final fixture comes as its biggest test thus far though, with a hungry Nightcliff side waiting in the wings.

Fallout:
Southern Districts – vs. Nightcliff, preliminary final
Tiwi Bombers – eliminated

NIGHTCLIFF 2.1 | 5.5 | 10.10 | 11.11 (77)
ST MARY’S 5.1 | 10.2 | 12.5 | 16.7 (103)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, T. Melville 2, L. Sharp 2, S. Wilson, J. Butcher, C. Ilett.
St Mary’s: J. Calder 5, M. Rioli Jnr 4, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Salmon, N. Yarran, S. Rioli, S. Edwards, H. Labastida.

BEST:

Nightcliff: N/A
St Mary’s: M. Rioli Jnr, L. Daly, R. Smith, J. Paine, J. Calder, T. Saunders

St Mary’s has gone one step further on the path to a complete turnaround from last year’s wooden spoon-winning campaign, becoming the first team to qualify for the 2019/20 grand final. The Saints had to knock off Nightcliff for a second time in the process, and did so by 26 points on Saturday night on the back of a clinical display in front of goal. On the other hand, Nightcliff was atypically wasteful inside forward 50 as it struggled to maintain its game of catch-up from the get-go, falling comfortably from just one less scoring shot. The signs were ominous as St Mary’s led by 27 points at the main break with double the amount of goals, but that buffer was cut considerably heading into the last turn. In true form of a champion team, the Saints kept their heads and ran out the better side to become the only team to beat Nightcliff twice in a season since 2017/18, with a number of standout performers coming to the fore. A game-high five goals from Saint, Jackson Calder took his finals tally to nine, but it was Maurice Rioli Jnr who impressed most with his bag of four as the two combined for over half of their side’s score. The pair were two of nine individual St Mary’s goalkickers, but the likes of Liam Daly and Tylah Saunders also made an impact without finding the big sticks. The scoring depth remained deep for Nightcliff despite a touch of inaccuracy, with four players notching two goals each. James Tsitas and Lachlan Sharp were among them, with leading goalkicker Trent Melville also managing the feat as a bunch of key Tigers found the big sticks. Luckily for the Tigers, they will have a second chance at grand final qualification this week against the Crocs, with redemption in the grand final now one of the main motivators.

Fallout:
Nightcliff – vs. Southern Districts, preliminary final
St Mary’s – vs. W of Southern Districts/Nightcliff, grand final

Finals semi-finals preview: NTFL Men’s Premier League – Tigers and Saints to battle for Grand Final spot

A DOUBLE-header at TIO Stadium sees the remaining four sides battle it out in search of keeping their premiership dreams alive. For Nightcliff and St Mary’s, they have a second chance locked in the bank, with a Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Grand Final spot on the line, with the loser through to the preliminary final. For Tiwi Bombers and Southern Districts, there is no turning back for the loser, in the do-or-die final. The winner heads to the preliminary final, while the loser bows out of the 2019/20 finals.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, February 29, 4.30pm
TIO Stadium

In the first game of the double-header, Tiwi Bombers will look to bounce back from a loss against St Mary’s last weekend to face Southern Districts who kept their finals dream alive with a win in the elimination final last round. These sides have met twice thus far, with the third placed Bombers getting up on both occasions. Back in Round 7 at TIO Stadium, Tiwi won by 35 points, before doubling it up with a 46-point victory at Norbuilt Oval showing a capacity to win on the road as well. Aside from two losses to St Mary’s and one to Nightcliff in the past four weeks, the Bombers had won six on the trot, and then finished the season with a 13-point victory over Wanderers. While their end to the season was disappointing, they did play the top two teams for three losses and they should be much better placed here. The Crocs on the other hand have run into form for the finals, winning the past four games and averaging 113 points per game while restricting their opponents to 52.5 points per game. The Puruntatameri‘s will loom as two of the danger players in the Bombers’ side, with Harley booting 21 goals – the third most of any Tiwi player – while Jason has been named in the best a remarkable 14 times from 17 matches. Rodney Baird and Adam Tipungwuti are always dangerous, while Austin Wonaeamirri (32 goals) and Ross Tungatalum (23 goals) are the ones likely to apply plenty of scoreboard pressure. In terms of goalkicking power, William Farrer is by far the standout in this game, slotting 49 goals from 17 games including a haul of eight. Thomas Holman has been the standout player and is arguably leading the Crocs’ best and fairest with 11 times named in the bests, while Josiah Farrer (19 goals) has also got amongst it, as has former AFL player, Ed Barlow. With young gun, Brodie Lake having a superb senior season, the Crocs have the depth and talent to get a win here. In saying that, the Bombers have won on both occasions against the Crocs and should be able to do it again.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday, February 29, 7.00pm
TIO Stadium

While the first game offers plenty to the neutral, the two best sides in the NTFL Men’s Premier League go at it in the night game with reigning premiers, Nightcliff tackling reigning wooden spooners St Mary’s. It has been a remarkable rise from the Saints who have risen from a disappointing season to get back to where they have been throughout their history as the most successful club in the competition. In saying that, it will be a tough ask for the Saints as Nightcliff has been the clear standout side and look likely to defend its title in 2019/20. The last time these teams played, Nightcliff won in a canter, 14.13 (97) to 4.8 (32) at home on PSC BM Oval, which reversed the result from a 27-point loss to the Saints on this very stadium at TIO. That loss turned out to be the only blemish in Nightcliff’s otherwise perfect season and it was the day that former Collingwood and Brisbane Lions forward, Jackson Paine booted five goals and led his side to victory. The Tigers have the most scoring options in the competition with Trent Melville (41 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (30), Cameron Illett (24) and Lachlan Sharp (20) all booting more than 20 goals this season in the yellow and black. Kaine Riley has been a sensation for Nightcliff, named in the best 10 times from a possible 16 games, while Illett and Holt-Fitz will also be pushing for the best and fairest votes. With plenty of inclusions at different times, the likes of Brodie Filo and Michael Hagan have benefited, while VFL player James Tsitas has had an impact when on the park. Jackson Calder has been the dominant goalkicker for the Saints and would be a key player to stop in this final, slotting 28 goals from 11 games, while Shannon Rioli (25) has plenty of majors to his name. Nathaniel Paredes has once against been a force to be reckoned with, booting 22 goals and named among the best five times in a really consistent season. Helped by the inclusion of former AFL players, Paine, Jarrad Waite, Raphael Clarke and Shaun Edwards, they are always a threat to any opposition. However the Tigers should get up in this one because they have been the clear best team all season and are hungry for another flag.