Tag: Liam Holt-Fitz

Nightcliff breaks 54-year premiership drought

NIGHTCLIFF has broken a 54-year premiership drought following its 22-point win over Southern Districts yesterday. Both sides had only won three flags in their Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League histories, but unlike their reigning premier opponents, Nightcliff had not held the cup aloft since the 1958/59 season. Youngster, Liam Holt-Fitz won the TIO Chaney medal for best on ground in the decider, which saw the Tigers salute, 8.13 (61) to the Crocs’ 5.9 (39).

Both sides had been praised for their relentless attack throughout the season, and as their last matches prior to the grand final showed – a combined 210-point winning margin – they are more than capable of putting the foot down in matches. But the first term was more of a dogged affair as Cameron Ilett pounced on a loose ball from a stoppage early to get Nightcliff on the board, before Michael Mummery levelled the scores in the last minute of the term for both teams to sit at 1.3 apiece.

As if a sense of deja vu, Ilett took just 20 seconds to get on the board in the second term and hand the Tigers a huge morale boost early in the quarter. A few minutes later, Rory O’Brien had a huge roost to level the scores, but a great defensive effort by Tigers’ defender, Clayton Holmes on the line saw him get a hand to it and rush it through. A couple of minutes later however, Jesse Koopman – fresh off a six-goal haul in the preliminary final – slotted a major from the most difficult of angles on the boundary line.

Hugo Drogemuller was having an impact on the contest for Nightcliff, while league best and fairest, Phillip Wills was influential through the middle. Jonathan Perris and Matthew Bricknell combined in the tenth minute of the term with Bricknell providing a contest and bringing the ball to ground for Perris to paddle it between his legs back to Bricknell who snapped truly off a step. An opportunistic Holt-Fitz then gave the Tigers the breathing room they needed, receiving the handball running inside 50 and putting on the afterburners for a terrific running goal at top speed.

The pressure was starting to get to the reigning premiers as a comedy of errors saw Steven Stewart completely mis-kick in defence and send it miles out of bounds, only for the Crocs defender to find out the Tigers had a free for holding the man against Michael Bowden. Luckily for the Crocs, Holt-Fitz missed what would usually be a regulation snap for the youngster, hooking it too sharply from 15m out and missing to the right. Nightcliff continued to pepper the goals but missed a few chances. Former Brisbane player, Jared Brennan had a chance for the Crocs with a snap from the boundary but missed.

Even in the dying seconds, the Tigers continued to press, with Danny Butcher putting it to John Butcher‘s best advantage inside 50, but good work from the Crocs’ defenders saw it spoiled, only for Nightcliff to force another turnover with a holding the ball call in favour of Danny who had worked his way across the ground to impact the next contest on the siren. His shot was an awkward torpedo which fell well short of goal and ended the half with the Tigers leading by 14 points.

Former Sydney and Western Bulldogs now Southern Districts player, Ed Barlow had the first meaningful shot of the second half with a long-range bomb from 50m but it just drifted to the right and was punched over the line. O’Brien also missed a golden opportunity from 40m, drifting to the right and reducing the margin to just two straight kicks. Nightcliff had its own rued chances in front of goal however, as Wills was somehow left all alone inside 50, took a couple of steps but missed to the left in a chance that could have seen the margin stretch to 18.

Wills made sure not to make the same mistake twice, taking advantage of a one-on-one contest and perfectly weighted kick from Danny Butcher to get out the back and kick a dribbling ball home for his first major of the contest. The goal had doubled the margin, which now stood at 19 points in the seventeenth minute of the third quarter. The metaphorical nail in the coffin came one minute later when a series of handballs inside 50 saw the Croc defenders worried about recipient Holt-Fitz getting away, catching him high. As Holt-Fitz got up to receive the ball, Stewart knocked him down,  with the teenager making sure the umpire saw it, earning a 50m penalty. While the Crocs defenders let Holt-Fitz know what they thought of his core strength, the young star pumped it through the goals from the spot for his second, and a 25-point lead.

In the dying minutes of the quarter, O’Brien gave the Crocs a sniff with a huge tackle 30m out from goal and subsequent free kick which resulted in the six points, and a 19-point deficit. Holt-Fitz continued to create headaches up the other end as he ran onto a loose ball and tried to kick it off the ground, but the pressure from Zac Smith was enough to rush the teenager into missing the attempt.  But Holt-Fitz could not keep away from the action even if he tried, with the next kick out falling into the lap of Bricknell who snapped the ball into the hole where Holt-Fitz marked, and despite cleverly trying to drop the ball for another free, but he also missed that chance when it cannoned into the post on the siren. The Tigers headed into the final break with a 21-point lead.

Nightcliff’s habit of immediate pressure from the first bounce again paid off, with John Butcher marginally missing out on Ilett’s 20-second goal record the previous term, soccering through a goal in just 25 seconds to give the Tigers a 27-point advantage and the yellow and black army was really starting to believe the premiership drought was over. If they believed by that stage, then the tears would have been flowing when grand final inclusion, Blake Grewar slotted the middle from a long-range set shot in the third minute and the margin stood at what was an unassaible 33-point lead.

O’Brien tried to conjuer something out of nothing for the Crocs down the other end a few minutes later but it was rushed across the line. The defensive pressure and hunger of the Tigers continued right throughout the game as Nightcliff’s Shaun Wilson pinged Josiah Farrer and earned a free kick as the Crocs charged towards goal. Koopman lined up for a huge goal outside 50 shortly after but it was stopped on the line and despite Brennan’s best efforts, the excitement machine gave away a free to Simon Deery on the last line. Brennan also missed another opportunity, as if every Southern Districts behind was a dagger to the heart for the 2017/18 premiers.

While Mummery and Shane Thorne both added goals in the last 10 minutes, it was ultimately just consolation majors as the Crocs went down to the fierce tackling and forward pressure of the Tigers, 8.13 (61) to 5.9 (39). Holt-Fitz was rightly given best on ground for his two goals and multiple other opportuities inside the forward 50, but he was far from alone on the night with a number of Tigers standing out. Among the best were Deery, Illett, Wills, Danny Butcher and Bricknell who all had some sort of impact on the contest for the night. For the Crocs, Dean Staunton was named their best for a four quarter effort, while O’Brien, full-back Sebastion Guilhaus and Sean Martin all played well.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 1.3 | 4.7 | 6.10 | 8.13 (61)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 1.3 | 2.5 | 3.7 | 5.9 (39)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: C. Ilett 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. Bricknell, P. Wills, J. Butcher, B. Grewar.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 2, S. Thorne, J. Koopman, R. O’Brien.

BEST:

Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, S. Deery, C. Ilett, P. Wills, D. Butcher, M. Bricknell
Southern Districts: D. Staunton, R. O’Brien, S. Guilhaus, S. Martin

2018/19 NTFL Men’s Premier League Grand Final preview

TWO sides remain in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, and we preview tomorrow night’s big clash at TIO Stadium.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, March 16, 7.15pm
TIO Stadium

The final game of the NTFL Men’s Premier League season is finally here, with the top two teams making it through to the decider. Both sides have impressive beltings heading into the match, with Nightcliff destroying Tiwi Bombers by 90 points in the semi-finals, while Southern Districts went five goals better with a 120-point humiliation of the Bombers, reversing the result from a fortnight earlier. During the year, both sides won an encounter against the other, with Southern Districts making it six wins in a row following a 17-point win over Nightcliff in Round 6, while the Tigers had a much more convincing 90-point win over the Crocs in the final round of the regular season. It means the Tigers head into the clash with back-to-back 15-goal victories. They have not lost since January, and that was a one-point defeat at the hands of the Bombers. Nightcliff is the strong favourite in this game, with the Crocs needing to repeat their unbelievable game from the weekend to topple the minor premiers.

Jesse Koopman booted six goals in the preliminary final, but has managed just the three goals in two games against the Tigers. Instead, Michael Mummery has averaged three goals per game in the teams’ two encounters, and was in red-hot form on the weekend with five majors as well. Will Farrer can always cause headaches as he did last weekend, but has just the two majors in the two games against the Tigers. For Nightcliff, Brodie Filo snagging five goals in his two games against the Crocs, while Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz have four from their two head-to-heads. Filo and Simon Deery were named in the best on both occasions for the Tigers, while Crocs’ Clinton Gallio and Mummery have been the ones to cause issues for Nightcliff. The Tigers’ attack has been a talking point in season 2019, with Melville slotting 56 goals from his 19 games, ahead of Holt-Fitz (28), Cameron Ilett (24) and Matthew Bricknell (24).

With both sides boasting impressive attacks, the game will come down to a battle of the midfields, where the side that gets on top will likely be crowned premiers. It is difficult to see Nightcliff stumbling given the Tigers’ recent form, but having not played last weekend, a fast start for the Crocs could be the difference if they can contain Nightcliff for long enough. Once the Tigers get on a roll, it will be hard to stem the flow, but more than anything, spectators will see two terrific attacking sides going head-to-head once again. This time though, there is no turning back and only one winner.

2019 Meetings:

ROUND 18: NIGHTCLIFF 21.13 (139) defeated SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 7.7 (49)

GOALS:
Nightcliff: B. Filo 4, J. Butcher 3, T. Melville 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 3, B. Black, R. Morris, S. Wilson, P. Wills, H. Drogemuller.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer, C. McAdam, J. Koopman.

BEST:
Nightcliff: B. Filo, H. Drogemuller, B. Black, R. Morris, P. Wills, S. Deery
Southern Districts: N/A

Nightcliff put a strong statement on its minor premiership, clinching the honour in a top-of-the-table drubbing to earn a week off on top of its double chance. The Tigers blew their nearest rivals away in a 90-point victory, including 12 goals to one in the second half to consolidate the ladder position they have held since Round 13. Ten Tigers managed to claim goals, with four of them bagging three majors and Brodie Filo leading the way with a game-high four to be named best afield. Competition leading goal kicker Trent Melville (three goals) brought his tally to 55, but missed out on being named in the best to the likes of 2019 best and fairest Phillip Wills and runner-up, Simon Deery. On a down day for the Crocs, Michael Mummery (four goals) booted almost half of his side’s total score, while Jesse Koopman and Charlie McAdam were also dangerous without much opportunity. While Nightcliff earned a well-deserved rest, the Crocs host a red-hot Tiwi side with just as much of a scoring threat as their weekend opponents. With its title defence taking a small dent, expect Southern Districts to come out firing in the business end of the competition.

ROUND 6: SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.10 (64) defeated NIGHTCLIFF 7.5 (47)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, W. Farrer, L. Ogden, C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton,
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell, B. Filo, T. Melville, S. Wilson, L. Holt-Fitz, D. Butcher, F. James.

BEST:
Southern Districts: C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton, C. McAdam, S. Smith, S. Martin
Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, C. Holmes, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, B. Filo, S. Deery

Southern Districts maintained their perfect record in season 2019 with a strong win over fellow premiership contenders, Nightcliff in the game of the round. Coming off a rousing win over third-placed Darwin, the Tigers were hoping to claim another win over their close table rivals but the Crocs proved too good once again. Having conceded a first break lead, Southern Districts responded well from there, on, chipping away against constant Nightcliff challenges. The margin got out to 17 points in the end, one of the biggest of the game to see it out.

Draft hopeful Michael Mummery was one of two multiple goalkickers on the day alongside Jesse Koopman with two majors each. Clinton Gallio was named best afield in front of the ever-consistent Shane Thorne and Dean Staunton for the Crocs, with all three also finding the goals. Charles McAdam was another to impress, while youngster Liam Holt-Fitz was the best for Nightcliff alongside the likes of Clayton Holmes, Shaun Wilson and Brodie Filo, while goal-machine Trent Melville was down on his usual best but still managed a goal.

The win pits the Crocs two games clear atop the NTFL table, while Nightcliff are their closest challengers, equal second with four wins alongside Darwin.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Semi finals

THE minor premiers stamped their authority as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Mens Premier League’s number one contenders with a sizeable win earning them a grand final spot. Meanwhile, a finals rematch faces the defending champions, the Crocs after they took advantage of their double chance with a bounce-back win.

NIGHTCLIFF 22.17 (149)
TIWI BOMBERS 9.5 (59)


GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 5, J. Butcher 4, L. Holt-Fitz 4, H. Drogemuller 2, M. Bricknell, K. Niki, M. Hagan, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Melville, P. Wills
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 5, R. Tungatalum 2, D. Munkara 2

BEST:
Nightcliff:
H. Drogemuller, P. Wills, J. Butcher, B. Filo, C. Holmes
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, W. Puruntatameri, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, A. Tipungwuti

Nightcliff roared into the grand final with a 90-point drubbing of Tiwi to only further firm the minor premiers as flag favourites. The Tigers ran rampant in their forward half throughout the game, putting through a minimum of five goals in each term to overwhelm a previously in-form Tiwi side. Despite last week’s come from behind heroics, the Bombers hardly looked a chance after Nightcliff’s fast start, finding themselves 61 points down at the main break after the Tigers piled on six goals in each term. The result was inevitable from there, but Nightcliff continued on its merry way with another 10 goals to consolidate the eventual winning margin. Veteran Cam Ilett led Nightcliff’s 11 individual goal kickers with a bag of five, with John Butcher and Liam Holt-Fitz snaring four and Hugo Drogemuller claiming two majors to be named best afield. Meanwhile, ex-Dee Austin Wonaeamirri was one of the few Bombers to continue his good form, slotting an equal game best of five goals to make up over half of Tiwi’s score. Ross Tungatalum also chimed in with two majors alongside Dion Munkara, with the likes of Jason Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti named in the best in the losing effort. While Nightcliff now take the simple route to the grand final, Tiwi goes on to face Southern Districts for the second time in three weeks for a chance at redemption and the ultimate glory.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.11 (89)
WARATAH 6.10 (46)


GOALS:
Southern Districts: D. McLachlan 2, J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, E. Barlow 2, J. Brennan, B. Schwarze, W. Farrer, M. Rosier, C. Gallio
Waratah: S. Godden, K. Kantilla, H. Kerinaiua, S. Weddell, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma

BEST:
Southern Districts:
S. Martin, E. Barlow, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, J. Farrer, S. Stewart
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts leant fully on its double chance with a confidence building 43-point win over Waratah to move onto the preliminary final round. While the Warriors did well to match it with their opponents for a little over a half, the Crocs pulled away with eight goals to two after the main break to put the result beyond doubt. Four of Southern Districts’ nine goal kickers managed bags of two, including spearhead Jess Koopman and the exciting Michael Mummery. Ed Barlow contributed around the ground and also claimed two majors, but was beaten out for best-afield honours by Sean Martin, while the returning Jared Brennan was also handy with his finals experience. Waratah simply could not match the Crocs’ firepower, but still had six seperate scorers in a low total. Usual suspects Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua found the goals, with best and fairest Sam Godden also pitching in. While the Warriors’ strong late-season run coming to an abrupt end, Southern Districts look a strong chance to go back-to-back, but will have to get past Tiwi next week for a chance to play-off in the grand final.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 15

A mid-table arm-wrestle has ensued with three sides battling for the last two finals positions in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. Darwin will be looking to consolidate its third place, with Waratah best placed to snatch fourth as its closest competition meets the top two sides.

ST MARYS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 15 – Friday, January 25, 7pm
TIO Stadium

St Marys will be looking to steer clear of equal-last spot when it clashes with an in-form Darwin Buffaloes side to open the round. The Saints find themselves separated by percentage only to last-place Wanderers, who got the wood over them in the previous round. Darwin, meanwhile, are back on a solid winning run having knocked off Southern Districts twice in the last four rounds, while only going down to ladder-leaders, Nightcliff in that time. The inclusion of Lindsay Thomas in the new year has been key for the Buffaloes, with the former North Melbourne and Port star booting five goals last week to drag his side over the line, while livewire Adam Sambono has also fronted in the resurgence. The experience of Matt Campbell and consistency of Kevin Maroney up the field will also be important for the Buffaloes if they are to continue on their way, and the potential match-up of Darryl White against St Marys’ Raphael Clarke could be key. The Saints have been buoyed by the form of Nathaniel Paredes (three best-afield in four games), while Nick Yarran and youngster Brayden Rioli also look to be coming into form they have shown glimpses of. It looks to be an uphill battle here for St Marys given Darwin’s firepower, but four points will be crucial to them if they are to have one last tilt at the finals and keep clear of the cellar door.

 

WARATAH v. WANDERERS
Round 15 – Saturday, January 26, 4pm
Gardens Oval

A spot back on the winners list is up for grabs for Waratah when it faces bottom-placed Wanderers in Saturday’s sole fixture. The Warriors have gone down in consecutive games, seeing them slip out of the top four for the first time since Round 1 in what has been a consistent season thus far. The Muk Muks are two games away from the deadlock from fourth to sixth place, but managed a confidence-boosting win over second-bottom St Marys last time out to level them on points with their most recent opponents. Neither side is particularly renowned for their prowess in front of goal, but posses key assets around the big sticks who can deliver big performances. Kim Kantilla and Sam Godden have consistently troubled the scoreboard for Waratah, while Thomas Motlop is coming off a clutch five-goal performance in last week’s win for Wanderers. Eagles fans have also enjoyed the inclusion of former-Sun Liam Patrick, but that ex-AFL talent is something that the Warriors have been short of with Michael Newton only featuring twice – booting 13 goals in those outings. With both sides keen for four points given their respective positions, expect the usually low-scoring sides to provide a greater output in front of goals to snatch the four points.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 15 – Sunday, January 27, 2pm
PSC BM Oval

Arguably the two form sides of the competition meet when Nightcliff and Tiwi Bombers do battle on Sunday. The ladder-leading Tigers have won their last eight games, including a tight affair against Tiwi in Round 9, when the Bombers were on another winning run. The visitors have looked irresistible over the last two rounds, smashing Wanderers by over 100 points and toppling top-two fancies Southern Districts in what has been a rich vein of form, setting up what promises to be another thriller between the two sides. Nightcliff’s forward threats of Trent Melville and Matthew Bricknell continue to fire and will have to produce in this game, with Tiwi’s Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri booting 22 goals between them in the last three games. The midfield battle could also prove key, with Nightcliff guns Liam Holt-Fitz and John Butcher also able to hit the scoreboard from up the field. Bomber inclusions Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura have added enough class to match the Tigers in that area, so we may well be set for an absolute shoot-out. With an abundance of ex-AFL talent on both lists, this could be a game we look back on at the end of the year as an NTFL classic. Playing the role of spoilers in this clash, the Tigers will hope to quell the Bombers’ surge, but this Tiwi side could make a real statement about their finals credentials with a win here.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 15 – Monday, January 28, 4pm
Asbuild Oval

A chance to consolidate finals spots is on the line for both Palmerston and Southern Districts when they meet on Monday afternoon to see out the round. The Magpies were unlucky not to come away with a win last week, falling narrowly to the free-scoring Darwin Buffaloes, but remain well within the hunt for either fourth or fifth spot in the finals equation. Their opponents, Southern Districts have been a constant in the top two this year and currently look to be the clear second-best side despite falling twice to third-place unit, Darwin. With both sides coming off losses, this will be a good chance for both a confidence and percentage boost respectively. Palmerston’s Matthew Dennis has been among the best players in each of his 14 games, proving to be a key cog around the ground with his big frame and admirable leadership. Having led many a finals campaign with Bundoora in the Northern Football League of Melbourne, he will no doubt continue to be a feature as the year wraps up alongside Davey brothers Alwyn and Aaron, as well as Kyle Emery up forward. The Magpies will be without Sam Talbot and Sam Autio due to suspension, with Crocs guns Beau Schwarze, Richard Tambling and Seb Guilhaus ones who can take advantage of their absence. Michael Mummery and Jess Koopman are also in good form, and will be key if Southern Districts is to flex its muscle and overpower the ‘Pies. There is a fair bit on the line for the Palmerston side, so expect them to put it right to the Crocs, who looked down last week.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 14

A HOTLY contested round of action in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) saw emerging finals contenders, Tiwi Bombers topple a premiership fancy, while Wanderers took a step closer to climbing off the bottom of the ladder, Darwin continued its winning ways, and Nightcliff broke out as clear front-runners with the most convincing win of the weekend.

Southern Districts 8.9 (57)
Tiwi Bombers 12.7 (79)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 3, J. Koopman 2, S. Guilhaus, B. Schwarze, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 5, A. Wonaeamirri 3, A. Tipungwuti 2, H. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, S. Martin, B. Schwarze, D. McLachlan, M. Rosier, S. Rusca
Tiwi: A. Hams, R. Tungatalum, N. Djerrkura, M. Dunn, A. Tipungwuti, W. Puruntatameri

Tiwi Bombers continued its impressive turn of form, overcoming a half-time deficit to hand reigning premiers, Southern Districts its second consecutive loss. The Bombers matched their opponents blow-for-blow in the opener to create a deadlock that was broken by just eight points in the Crocs’ favour going into the main break. But the forward firepower of Ross Tungatalum (14 goals in three games) and Austin Wonaeamirri (seven in two) proved too deadly for the second placed Crocs, being kept to just two second-half goals while conceding seven to go down by 22 points. The elite-level experience of Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura was vital for the winning side, with usual suspects Adam Tipungwuti and Michael Dunn also contributing well to the cause. While they could not quite match the feats of their counterparts, Southern Districts goalsneaks Michael Mummery (three goals) and Jess Koopman (two) played their respective roles, with youngster Beau Schwarze named amongst the best for his fifth-straight outing and Seb Guilhaus also impressing. The win propels Tiwi into fourth place on percentage, equal with Waratah and Palmerston in the race for a finals spot. Meanwhile, the Crocs remain in second despite consecutive losses – two games adrift from leaders, Nightcliff and third-place side, Darwin.

 

Wanderers 9.12 (66)
St Marys 8.9 (57)

GOALS:
Wanderers: T. Motlop 5, B. O’Connell, M. Motlop, L. Patrick, A. Motlop.
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, F. Kinthari 2, R. Clarke 2, B. Rioli.

BEST:
Wanderers: N/A
St Marys: N. Paredes, N. Yarran, S. Edwards, B. Taylor, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

A starring five-goal performance from Thomas Motlop was enough to drag Wanderers over the line in its bottom of the table clash with St Marys in the first game of Saturday’s TIO Stadium double-header. A goalless opening term did not deter the Muk Muks, with Motlop putting them on the board in the second stanza after trailing by an even four goals. With a ten-point half-time margin cut to eight going into the last break, the Eagles had a whiff of momentum and managed to take full advantage, with five goals to two edging them past St Marys in a see-sawing final quarter. The speed and silky ball movement of 2006 AFL Rising Star, Danyle Pearce was crucial for Wanderers in the latter stages, providing chances to the likes of Marlon Motlop, Liam Patrick, and Aaron Motlop – who all contributed to the scoreboard. Nathaniel Paredes was best afield once again for the losing side, booting three goals as the clear standout, alongside Raphael Clarke (two goals), who drifted further forward. Francis Kinthari was the only other multiple goal kicker, with Nick Yarran and Shaun Edwards named in the best six players for the Saints. The win sees Wanderers move level on points with its weekend opponents on four wins, remaining bottom by a sizeable percentage gap and two games away from sixth place.

 

Waratah 5.10 (40)
Nightcliff 13.18 (96)

GOALS:
Waratah: S. Godden 2, H. Kerinaiua, K. Kantilla, E. McConnell.
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell 3, T. Melville 3, H. Drogemuller 2, S. Deery, S. Wilson, P. Wills, D. Bowles, L. Holt-Fitz.

BEST:
Waratah: J. Stevens, Z. Westerberg, B. Carroll, E. McConnell
Nightcliff: S. Deery, P. Wills, L. Holt-Fitz, R. Morris, T. Kidney, D. Bowles

Nightcliff is now one step closer to earning an automatic semi-final berth, sitting two games clear atop the ladder after comfortably accounting for Waratah to close out Saturday’s proceedings. The Tigers did not look back after opening up a three-goal buffer in the first term, slowly extending their lead as the battle wore on to come out with the eventual 56-point victory. The final margin could well have been blown out further, with the winners misfiring for 2.9 while keeping Waratah to a sole point in the fourth quarter. Matthew Bricknell snapped his run of two goalless games with a bag of three to match the feat of Tigers spearhead Trent Melville – whose season tally is up to 46. Despite the goal feats, Simon Deery was named Nightcliff’s best, Phillip Wills and Liam Holt-Fitz, who all managed to also find the goals. For the Warriors, Sam Godden was the only multiple goal kicker with two as Joel Stevens was judged their best, while Zach Westerberg and Kim Kantilla also stood up in the losing effort. While Nightcliff are sitting pretty after another win, Waratah slips out of the top four for the first time since Round 1 after loss number eight, in the middle of three clubs on 24 points vying for the last two finals spots.

 

Palmerston Magpies 9.7 (61)
Darwin Buffaloes 11.8 (74)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, M. Perry 2, J. Wunungmurra, A. Lonergan, A. Davey, E. Frank
Darwin: L. Thomas 5, A. Sambono 3, J. Clarke, D. Johnston, J. Stokes

BEST:
Palmerston: M. Dennis, S. Miller, S. Talbot, M. Bunworth, J. Rhodes, M. Perry
Darwin: L. Thomas, K. Maroney, J. Stokes, P. Boles, K. Williams, P. Campbell

An equal round-high bag of five goals from ex-AFL goalsneak Lindsay Thomas helped guide Darwin Buffaloes to a narrow win over the rising Palmerston Magpies side. Despite conceding an early lead, the Buffaloes edged in front and stayed there for the remainder of the game, with a five-goal second term setting up the 13-point victory. Excitement machine Adam Sambono backed up his four-goal effort in the previous round with another three to join Thomas as the key goal threats. Kyle Emery (10 goals in three games) was the Magpies’ best answer to that with his three, while Mishai Perry (two) rounded out the multiple goal kickers. While Thomas was clearly best-on, Kevin Maroney was again recognised for his efforts alongside Jarrod Stokes and Kelvin Williams. Matthew Dennis was unsurprisingly the Magpies’ best once again, with Samuel Talbot and Mitch Bunworth also thereabouts. Palmerston finds itself breathing down the neck of Tiwi and Waratah in the race for the last finals spot, with all sides on 24 points. On the other hand, the Buffaloes now look certain to claim a second finals chance after regaining their early season form and opening a two-game gap to fourth place.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 13

WITH all sides settled back in for the new year, 2019’s second round of action could see potential movement towards the bottom end of the ladder, while the game of the round pits the first and third sides against each other, which promises to be an epic tiebreaker. 

 

WANDERERS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will hope to skip on to another winning run after storming back into finals contention when it clashes with bottom side, Wanderers to open the round. The Bombers find themselves just a game out of the top five after pummelling fifth place Palmerston to ring in the new year. With most of its big guns firing, Tiwi will look to the likes of Adam Tipungwuti and Ross Tungatalum to pile the hurt unto the Eagles, having combined for nine goals in Round 12. It may only take one gun to fire for the Bombers, with Wanderers continuing to struggle in front of goal. A nine-goal loss at the hands of ladder-leaders, Southern Districts and no multiple goalkickers does not make for pretty reading for Muk Muk fans, but the recent impact of Stanley Tipiloura and Liam Patrick has been promising with stars Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop absent. It will be a tough ask for Wanderers to halt a rolling Bombers side, especially with a finals spot looming, but they will count themselves in with a good chance.  

 

ST MARYS v NIGHTCLIFF
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 5pm
TIO Stadium

St Marys will be looking to keep touch with the top five and push away from the cellar door when it faces Nightcliff in Saturday’s evening fixture. The task will not come without challenge though, as a surging Nightcliff side’s eyes fixed firmly on snatching top spot as the regular season nears its close. The Saints’ finals aspirations were handed a blow last week as they suffered a loss to more efficient finals contenders, Waratah, but they are still well and truly in the hunt with only four points keeping them from a finals berth. The Tigers’ hunt has been much more streamline, currently sharing top spot having only been beaten twice thus far, with imperious powers up front in the form of Trent Melville, John Butcher and Michael Hagan putting unreachable totals on the board, while the engine room including Liam Holt-Fitz and Cam Ilett keeps their supply steady. All of Raphael Clarke‘s experience down back will be needed to thwart those threats for the Saints, while Nathaniel Paredes will have to be the main source of supply to goal threats Ben and Brayden Rioli if they are to stand any chance. Still, it could be an opportunity for the Tigers to get their claws out and gain a much-needed percentage boost. 

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 13 – Saturday January 12, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Having finally bettered its rival before the break, Darwin Buffaloes will be keen on getting another leg up on Southern Districts when they do battle in Saturday’s final game. The Buffaloes’ head of steam was blown to the side last week as Nightcliff bettered them, but their form is undeniable and they should come into this game with confidence. Young star Malcolm Rosas continues to shine, with NT legend Darryl White proving a more-than-capable inclusion of late up forward. Gun midfielder Adam Sambono will look to hit the scoreboard after a more quiet display last week, helping leader Matt Campbell to put some pressure on the free-scoring ladder leaders. The Crocs were relatively unchallenged by bottom side, Wanderers last week, but did more than enough to seal the win. Consistent performers Dean Staunton and Richard Tambling will again have to lead the way, with Beau Schwarze and Michael Mummery the key exponents of x-factor. This looms as an absolute belter, and could well play out as a shoot-out as the sides come in 1-1 in the head-to-head battle this season. Do not miss. 

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. WARATAH
Round 13 – Sunday January 13, 4pm
Asbuild Oval

A chance to both prove its worth as finals contenders and consolidate a spot in the top five looms for Palmerston Magpies as it faces finals bound Waratah to see out the round. While the Magpies went down to a sharpshooting Tiwi side, the Warriors put in a shift as they have done all year as they beat St Marys to pick up another vital set of four points. With the chance to go equal-fourth, Palmerston gun Matthew Dennis will have to be the number one once again, with the goal threat of Alwyn Davey and Kyle Emery working a charm up forward recently. Waratah has been more even across the board this year, with Kim Kantilla a constant in front of goal alongside Samuel Weddell, while Abraham Ankers and Nicholas Gooch provide solidity up the field. With big finals implications on the line either way, the stars of the show will have to stand up, and it may well be that the ones who shine brightest will help their side over the line. 

 

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 11

IN the last round before a break over the new year, sides will be looking to snatch ascendancy from close opposition. Battles for first place, finals berths and escaping the wooden spoon are all hotting right up, making each game an eight-pointer for the respective teams.

 

TIWI BOMBERS v. WANDERERS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Tiwi Bombers and Wanderers will be looking to bounce back from consecutive losses when they clash to open the round via a TIO Stadium triple-header. After boosting their stocks with two-straight wins in Rounds 6-8, the Bombers have been bettered by the top two sides more recently, going down to a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. Meanwhile, the Eagles went down to St Marys to remain bottom, with only their weekend opponents at a reachable distance to leapfrog should they earn a sizeable win here. While they have struggled in front of goal all year to post the worst points tally thus far, the Muk Muks are not always as absent down back and will need to hold up strongly again this week. The likes of Davin Ferreira and Thomas Motlop have done the business in previous rounds, and should find the goals again here. Tiwi’s own firepower of Dion Munkara and Ross Tungatalum have been close to kicking bags in recent rounds without completely taking over, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri providing great consistency as they look to pick their season back up. Despite sitting a game from bottom, Tiwi are arguably the form side from fifth to eighth, and will be confident in climbing out of a rut with a win. For Wanderers, this is a great opportunity to find some form against a side with a similar form line, with the greater hope of climbing out of the cellar door on offer.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The build-up to the last time Darwin Buffaloes and Southern Districts met was much different, with the hype around a grand final rematch all the way back in Round 1 poising the two clear-best sides against each other. While the Crocs remain kings of their swamp, Darwin has suffered a massive slide through the mid-part of the season – earning just two wins in its last six outings. After finally going down in Round 7, Southern Districts has come back with a point to prove and looks to be back to its menacing best. Last time out, a bag of five goals from Jess Koopman helped the Crocs to a comfortable victory over Tiwi, hands from Leroy Jetta (seven goals in three games) and Shane Thorne (15 in eight) proving vital in their mini revival. Another important cog was the two-game contribution of ex-AFL highlight reel Jared Brennan, whose absence leaves a hole in Districts’ defence that Darwin will look to exploit. The Buffaloes sorely missed their own firepower last week, with the likes of Matthew Campbell, Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas all missing. If they are to have any chance here against a powerful Crocs’ 22, Darwin will need all the experience and class they can manage, with the risk of sliding out of the top four becoming greater with each loss.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. ST MARYS
Round 11 – Saturday December 15, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A scarily good Nightcliff side will be hoping to stay in touch with Southern Districts, while also keeping St Marys out of the top four when they clash to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. In last week’s featured game, an even spread of goals saw the Tigers comfortably account for fourth-place Waratah in a dominant 113-point victory. St Marys also entered the winners list as it got up over Wanderers in another decent team display, keeping the Saints just a game from third and right in the finals mix. Nathaniel Paredes continues to be the Saints’ best, booting three goals while Raphael Clarke swung forward effectively to claim two on his return to the side. The x-factor of Maurice Rioli jnr and Shane Yarran could also provide headaches for Nightcliff here, but its the Tigers forward line that look most likely of dictating the result. Leading goalkicker Trent Melville will look to build on his tally of 38, with help from Cam Ilett (seven goals in last two games), Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell (both 15 goals) making for a seriously dangerous goal threat. Nightcliff really needs to maintain its winning run if it is to catch the Crocs, but the Saints can put a dampener on their opponents’ hopes with a win, while having the opportunity to break away as clear fifth if results go their way.

 

WARATAH v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 11 – Sunday December 16, 4pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat last time around when it faces Palmerston Magpies to see out Round 11 on Sunday. Having met a Nightcliff side on an absolute mission, the Warriors where simply overwhelmed by the Tigers’ power, and Palmerston will hope to swoop on the weaknesses shown in that display. The Magpies managed an upset win over another down-on-form finals contender in Darwin last weekend, so will hope for a repeat of that effort to finish both the round and 2018 action with a statement. Having only registered four goals in its last effort, Waratah will need to build heavily on that if it is to have a return win, and could do so with Palmerston holding the second-worst defensive record this season. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla have been the go-to’s of late for the Warriors, but they’ll have to match the efforts of Magpies spearhead Kyle Emery – who has 21 goals to his name this year. Ian Milera’s recent addition has provided another forward dimension for Palmerston, with Nigel Lockyer jnr running the engine room alongside ruckman Matthew Dennis. Waratah will have to show a massive turn of form to get up here, but have the capable talent at hand to remain entrenched in the established top four and keep the likes of Palmerston at bay. While they don’t quite have the percentage to jump higher, the Magpies could well jump into a finals spot with a win here.

 

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 10

WITH a mid-season break on the horizon, sides continued to tussle for spots and momentum as two top-four contenders suffered defeats and fifth spot remains up for grabs.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.10 (76)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 19.12 (126)

GOALS:
Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti 2, P. Heenan 2, D. Munkara 2, W. Huddleston, R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, J. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 5, L. Jetta 3, S. Smith 2, D. Staunton 2, H. Wheeler, C. McAdam, W. Farrer, L. Dale, B. Rusca, J. Farrer, S. Thorne.

BEST:
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, B. Palipuaminni, J. Cooper, C. Tipuamantimirri
Southern Districts: D. Staunton, L. Dale, B. Schwarze, J. Koopman, W. Farrer, C. McAdam

Southern Districts retained its strong position at the top of the NTFL ladder with a comfortable win over a Tiwi side finding form at an unfortunate time. While it wasn’t always smooth sailing, the Crocs flexed their muscle in the third term with seven goals to two to stretch their 34-point hal- time lead out to 64 points going into the final break. While the Bombers managed to see out the game with five goals, the margin was far to big to bridge and Tiwi went down by an even 50 points. Jess Koopman was the star with five goals, while Leroy Jetta chimed in with three and the multiple goalkickers were rounded out by Sam Smith and Dean Staunton‘s hauls of two each. The latter was also named best afield, with Charlie McAdam and Lee Dale also chiming in for the winning side. Jason Puruntatameri was again the standout for the Bombers, while Dion Munkara hit the scoreboard with two majors and was matched by Adam Tipungwuti and Patrick Heenan. While he didn’t manage a bag, Ross Tungatalum was also lively alongside the likes of Liam Woodcock-Nowlan and Bradley Palipuaminni. Having claimed consecutive wins and clawed free of the wooden spoon spot, Tiwi has now suffered losses to the top two sides in its last two outings to be set back in the pack. Meanwhile, the Crocs keep their spot at the top and again look hard to beat.

 

ST MARYS 14.11 (95)
WANDERERS 6.11 (47)

GOALS:
St Marys: N. Paredes 3, R. Clarke 2, M. Jeffery 2, S. Rioli 2, N. Yarran, T. Saunders, F. Kinthari, M. Ferguson, J. Harvey
Wanderers: N/A

BEST:
St Marys: B. Taylor, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, J. Harvey, S. Rioli, T. Saunders
Wanderers: N/A

St Marys returned to the winners list with a timely victory over bottom side, Wanderers to remain frontrunners to fill the last finals spot. The Saints put in a consistent team shift to never really look challenged, opening up a four-goal lead at the main break and more than doubling their score in the third term to all but put the game to bed entering the final change of ends. A dour last quarter saw only one goal scored apiece, but Saints players would not have been too unhappy given the position they have now earned. Nathaniel Paredes was outstanding once again for St Marys with three majors, only beaten to best-on honours by Ben Taylor. The ever-reliable Ben Rioli was also thereabouts despite not hitting the scoreboard, with Raphael Clarke successfully swinging forward for two goals and Shannon Rioli matching the feat. With the likes of Davin Ferreira, Tom and Aaron Motlop shouldering much of the load, the Eagles simply could not match it from the get-go. The loss leaves the Muk Muks bottom of the ladder, still only a game and percentage away climbing out of the league’s cellar. Meanwhile, the Saints look to be the best of the rest in terms of the finals race as they hold onto fifth, but don’t quite have the percentage to jump into the top four with a win next week on account of their percentage.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.8 (80)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.16 (100)

GOALS:
Darwin: N/A.
Palmerston: M. Perry 3, I. Milera 3, K. Emery 2, J. Marshall , J. Grabowski, B. Church, R. Marika, J. Patrick, M. Bunworth.

BEST:
Darwin: N/A
Palmerston: J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, A. Diamond, M. Bunworth, N. Lockyer Jnr, E. Kelly

Palmerston continues to press for a finals berth after claiming a deceptively dominant win over top-four contender Darwin Buffaloes to see out Saturday’s triple-header. After storming out of the blocks with seven first-quarter goals, Palmerston were reigned right back as Darwin bridged the gap to just three points at the main break. The wasteful Magpies were not made to pay in the second half as their 5.9 and astute defence were enough to see off the Buffaloes by just 20 points – despite having 10 more scoring shots. Ian Milera bettered his Round 9 tally of two goals with three this time out, joined by Mishai Perry (three goals) and Kyle Emery (two) as multiple goalkickers. Despite their goals, they were each beaten out to best-on honours by Bundoora Bulls duo Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis, with the former’s first game in the league reigniting a deadly Northern Football League partnership in the centre square. The consistent Nigel Lockyer Jnr also found his typical spot in the best, with Mitch Bunworth continuing his good form, too. The Buffaloes’ slide continues, and it was more so down to the stars missing rather than who was left on the field. The likes of Matthew Campbell, Adam Sambono and Joe Anderson were all sorely missed, despite Darwin looking efficient in front of goal. They remain clear in the top four, but have lost touch with the top two sides and could even fall out of the finals spots with consecutive losses going into the break. The Magpies are a team that could snap that spot up, with a percentage boost the only thing required for them to step into fifth spot.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 21.15 (141)
WARATAH 4.4 (28) 

GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, T. Melville 3, J. Tsitas 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, M. Hagan 2, D. Butcher 2, S. Deery, P. Wills, C. Holmes, J. Peris, H. Drogemuller, M. Bricknell
Waratah: R. Jolliffe, B. Carroll, Z. Westerberg, K. Kantilla

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Tsitas, M. Hagan, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz, J. Miles, C. Ilett
Waratah: S. Tatupu, Z. Westerberg, R. Jolliffe, N. Gooch, B. Carroll

Nightcliff continued its steep ascent to the top of the NTFL standings as it easily accounted for fellow finals contenders, Waratah to see out the round with a bang. The Tigers made their intentions known with 14 first half goals to two, spreading them equally over the two terms. While they could only manage half of that tally in the second half, the second-place side kept Waratah to just 2.2 in the first and third quarters and kept the scoreless in the other two to culminate their 113-point winning margin. Cam Illet was the leader inside 50 with four goals, boosting his recent tally to seven in three games, while Trent Melville (three goals) was again in the action and four others claimed two each. Three of them – James Tsitas, Michael Hagan and Liam Holt-Fitz were also named in the best, as has been the case for much of the year, alongside Hugo Drogemuller and Jonathon Miles. Raven Jolliffe was a shining light for the Warriors, finding the goals and being named their best. Nicholas Gooch also had somewhat of a return to form, while Zach Westerberg and Shem Tatupu were the others to stand up. The Tigers remain second, a game from first but 12 points clear of the next best sides. Waratah looks to have lost momentum going into the break, but remains safe in the finals spots despite heat coming from below in recent weeks.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 10

WITH the finals race getting tighter as each week passes, the mid-table bottleneck looks certain to be shaken up this week with sides itching to get back into form and build a run heading into the back end of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 2pm
Tiwi Oval

Southern Districts will hope to put a sizeable dent in Tiwi Bombers’ top four hopes with another emphatic win to open the round away from home. The Bombers were previously on a three-game win streak after opening their account in Round 6, but were brought to a halt at the hands of a fearsome Nightcliff side. The Crocs meanwhile look to have regained the early-season form that saw them break multiple games clear at the top, with four points and a handsome percentage acting as their buffer as things stand. An 111-point thumping of Palmerston last time out puts them in good stead against an in-form team here, as the Bombers remain a dangerous opponent. With arguably its best side forming in the last two weeks, Southern Districts will look to the former-AFL class of Richard Tambling (five goals in Round 9) and Jared Brennan to star once again alongside regulars Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance forward of centre. There are plenty of moving parts in the Crocs lineup, with the likes of Jess Koopman coming off a bag of six goals and Seb Guilhaus showing consistent form alongside Dean Staunton. As has been the story all year, the firepower of the Crocs needs to be matched, and Bomber forwards Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri will have to be the ones to stand up if the Bombers are to steer away from falling short as they did against Nightcliff. Jason and Harley Puruntatameri will also have to have big games further up the field to help Tiwi’s cause in an important match-up that has implications on the Bombers’ finals spot.

ST MARYS v. WANDERERS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will be hoping to join St Marys in the race for fifth spot when they open TIO Stadium’s Saturday evening double-header. The wasteful Saints missed a trick last time out as they fell just short of the stumbling Darwin Buffaloes, but will have a good amount confidence coming up against the bottom side given they are not entirely out of form. Meanwhile, the Eagles will be disappointed with their Round 9 showing given they finally broke through for their second win of the season in the previous week, and they have the chance to scrape off the bottom of the ladder with a win here. With Davin Ferreira in irresistible form after five goals last week, anything is possible for the Muk Muks. Add the recent form of Thomas Motlop and John Tipiloura to the mix and Wanderers have the potential to put up a fight. The Saints have proven to be no easy-beats in recent weeks though, even picking up two wins in their last five games to hold firm in the NTFL ladder’s middle ground. Mathias Liddy will need to be good in front of goal again this week, while the likes of Ben Rioli and Nathaniel Paredes in midfield should provide great consistency alongside the flair of young gun Maurice Rioli jnr. With wavering scoring form on both parts, this clash could well either provide a shootout or a low-scoring affair – but the side that takes its chances will undoubtedly come out on top in what looks like a close one.

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A return to form is in the midst for both Darwin Buffaloes and Palmerston Magpies as they do battle to round out Saturday’s action. The Buffaloes breathed a collective sigh of relief as they narrowly got over the line against St Marys last week on account of accurate goalkicking, returning to the win column after two straight defeats. Meanwhile, Palmerston have lost three consecutive games and despite putting up a competitive effort against in-form side Nightcliff, were beaten comprehensively at the hands of a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. With both outfits keen to break clear of deadlocks with rival sides on the ladder, expect the kitchen sink to be thrown in an attempt to get over the line. With young star Malcolm Rosas spending time at Gold Coast and Brisbane, Adam Sambono will need to step up and provide that X-factor, with the likes of Matthew Campbell and Javadd Anderson in good form, while Joe Anderson looks to slot back into the side. For Palmerston, the same core group of players have provided unwavering consistency throughout the year, with Matthew Dennis holding his ruck spot down and Rodney Baird and Samuel Talbot solid year-round. Kyle Emery will hope to step up after drawing a blank last week, while Samuel Autio should provide good fold for him as he has done over the last two weeks. It may not be pretty, but a win for either side would serve as a nice confidence booster going into the back half of the season as finals spots become hotly contested.

NIGHTCLIFF v. WARATAH
Round 10 – Sunday December 9, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

Third-placed Waratah will be looking to close the gap on weekend opponents Nightcliff when they clash at PSC BM Oval to close out the round in what as shaping as a thriller. The Tigers had it tough in Round 9 as they clawed over the line against Tiwi, but hold the most consistent run of form out of all sides having won three consecutive games. Waratah have done well to hang with the top four sides, benefitting from a Darwin slump to move to third and close within striking distance of the established top two. With plenty of experience in the form of Cam Ilett and ex-AFL listed forward John Butcher heading the side in recent weeks, while Liam Holt-Fitz has provided good spark alongside Shaun Wilson. Spearhead Trent Melville will have to step up this week after going goalless last time out, with Waratah forward Cameron Barrett coming off a round-high six goals. The addition of Kim Kantilla has been handy, and the impact of Raven Jolliffe will be key this week, too. American big-man Alex Aurrichio has also come into form of late, and should provide some sturdiness in the ruck or defence against a dangerous Tigers line-up. Despite second being poised against third, Nightcliff will be confident coming into this one, and it will be a key game in keeping touch with Southern Districts. Waratah will also want to avoid dropping points and falling behind Darwin once again, so expect some desperate footy.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 9

EACH of the bottom four sides suffered defeats in a round which proved to be a tipper’s paradise in Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, leaving the ladder relatively unchanged.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.11 (83)
TIWI BOMBERS 10.16 (76)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan 2, H. Drogemuller, S. Wilson, F. James.
Tiwi: H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, L. Wale-Buxton 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Burgess, M. King.

BEST:
Nightcliff: J. Miles, K. Riley, L. Holt-Fitz, G. Greenoff, J. Budarick, M. Hagan
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton, H. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, R. Tungatalum, S. Dyke

A strong opening term proved all the difference for Nightcliff in its narrow win over the in-form Tiwi Bombers in the game of the round. The Tigers kept their opponents goalless in the first quarter to help open a 21-point lead which they managed to hold for most of the match. It was on the final straight where Tiwi made its biggest surge, falling seven points short to the second-placed side despite scoring 4.5 to Nightcliff’s 2.2. The Tigers had contributors across the board, with legendary veteran Cam Ilett, ex-Port forward John Butcher, Liam Holt-Fitz and Michael Hagan each booting two goals, with the latter two named among the best. Jonathon Miles was adjudged the most valuable player afield, with Joel Budarick returning to form and Gavin Greenoff also thereabouts. For the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri was reliable as ever, while newcomer Liam Wale-Buxton also proved his star debut performance was no fluke with two goals. Ross Tungatalum and Dion Munkara were others to claim two majors and round out the best players in a valiant team effort. The result bears little consequence on the ladder, with both sides staying put in second and fifth respectively, with Tiwi still level with St Marys and Palmerston and two wins away from cracking the top four.

 

WANDERERS 12.5 (77)
WARATAH 16.8 (104)

GOALS:
Wanderers: D. Ferreira 5, J. Tipiloura 3, M. Totham, J. Cubillo, S. Bates.
Waratah: C. Barrett 6, R. Jolliffe 3, K. Kantilla 3, S. Weddell 2, B. Minkulk, J. McKenzie.

BEST:
Wanderers: T. Brimacombe, D. Ferreira, T. Motlop, J. Tipiloura
Waratah: C. Barrett, B. Carroll, R. Jolliffe, M. O’Donnell, A. Aurrichio

Waratah claimed an important win in its bid to consolidate a finals spot with a comfortable enough 27-point win over bottom-placed Wanderers. With both sides converting well in front of goal on account of a spearhead goal-off, the match was evenly poised going into the main break with Waratah holding a three-point lead. The Warriors managed to pull away from the deadlock in the second half though, with nine goals to five seeing them over the line. Cameron Barrett was the star of the day, booting six goals in a dominant display for Waratah, beating out Wanderers’ Davin Ferreira’s total of five. Raven Jolliffe and Kim Kantilla snared three each, with Samuel Weddell rounding out the multiple goalkicker with his two. John Tipiloura took the opportunities that Ferreira didn’t manage to snare to claim three majors, with Tyler Brimacombe adjudged the Eagles’ best alongside Thomas Motlop despite not hitting the scoreboard. The win sees the Warriors wedged two games above fifth place in equal-third, but two games below Nightcliff in second. Their strong finals position is a far cry from Wanderers in last, but the Muk Muks are only a win away from re-joining the race for the last finals spot.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 12.5 (77)
ST MARYS 8.14 (62)

GOALS:
Darwin: M. Campbell 3, A. Sambono 3, J. Anderson 2, P. Boles, J. Stokes, A. Punch.
St Marys: T. Frawley 3, M. Liddy 2, N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, S. Rioli.

BEST:
Darwin: R. O’Sullivan, K. Maroney, C. Williams, J. Briston, C. Stokes, J. Stokes
St Marys: N. Paredes, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Rioli, B. Taylor, J. Puautjimi, N. Yarran

Darwin kept pace with fellow top four contenders Waratah with a hard-fought 15-point win over St Marys to round out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header. The Buffaloes’ 11-point quarter time lead was a constant throughout the game, as the Saints couldn’t quite manage to break through and bridge the gap between their more efficient opponents. St Marys’ inefficient tally of 8.14 proved the difference in the end, with its four more scoring shots wasted in a tight finish. Maurice Rioli jnr earned a rising star nomination for his efforts – booting a goal and finishing in the best half-dozen players for the second time in three games for the Saints. With Darwin’s very own young star Malcolm Rosas currently making himself comfortable at the Gold Coast Suns, the experienced head of Matthew Campbell (three goals) and Javaad Anderson (two goals) helped to maintain their form, with livewire Adam Sambono also booting three, while Ryan O’Sullivan was named best-on for the second game running with help from the consistent Kevin Maroney. Tom Frawley found form for St Marys with three goals, but Nathaniel Paredes was his side’s best as he also managed to claim a goal. Nicholas Yarran is another who has shown promising form of late, and was also named in the best. Despite the win, Darwin falls below Waratah to fourth place on percentage, while St Marys remain in the thick of a mid-table bottleneck as it fights for fifth place with Tiwi and Palmerston. Wins will be paramount to the Saints’ cause from here on out, with Tiwi in hot form and a two-game gap opening between fourth and fifth.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 24.9 (153)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 5.12 (42)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, R. Tambling 5, C. Gallio 3, M. Mummery 2, B. Vallance 2, W. Farrer, B. Rusca, C. McAdam, D. Staunton, I. Wyatt, J. Farrer.
Palmerston: S. Autio 2, J. Marshall, J. Lampton, B. Church.

BEST:
Southern Districts: R. Tambling, J. Brennan, J. Koopman, S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, C. Gallio
Palmerston: S. Talbot, R. Baird, J. Marshall, S. Autio, A. Diamond, M. Dennis

Southern Districts looks to be back to its destructive best after a dominant 111-point win over second-bottom Palmerston in the round’s final fixture. The Crocs were as shrewd as ever, with arguably their best 22 for the year returning a stellar performance. Starting as they wished to go on, the Crocs booted 15 opening half majors to Palmerston’s four, not giving the Magpies a sniff throughout the entire contest. While Jess Koopman was the round’s equal-leading goal scorer with six, former number four draft pick Richard Tambling was named best afield with his haul of five, returning multiple goals for the first time this season alongside Clinton Gallio, who booted three. With usual goal threats Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance also thereabouts with two goals each, and Jared Brennan slotting in seamlessly up the field, it was a complete performance from the reigning premiers. Samuel Talbot was again the best for Palmerston with Rodney Baird not far behind, while Samuel Autio was the only multiple goalkicker with two. Last year’s bottom side Palmerston now flirts with the possibility of falling back down the cellar door with Wanderers holding a greater percentage despite being a win behind. Southern Districts on the other hand, maintains its four-point lead atop the table, and looks to have regained its early season form.