Tag: mark white

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 18 – Super Saturday sees out regular season

THE final Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League round goes down on what is set to be a super Saturday of footy, with all four fixtures taking place on the one day at four separate venues. Three sides are vying for the all-important third place to secure a second chance in finals, while the top two and bottom three are all locked in with one set of games to play.

WANDERERS vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday February 15, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi will consider itself as being in the box seat to snatch back third spot, as it opens the closing regular season round against Wanderers at TIO Stadium. While consecutive losses – albeit to the top two sides – have seen Tiwi slip down to fourth, the Bombers have shown form to suggest they can challenge the very best come crunch time. But in somewhat of a bittersweet story for their season, the Bombers will be without recent North Melbourne VFL signing Adam Tipungwuti as he undergoes his first Victorian pre-season. Tiwi will still come in with a strong lineup heading into finals, with Tipungwuti’s run left for Harley Puruntatameri to generate, while Nathan Djerrkura will make up his class on the ball. Wanderers, looking to end its season on a high amid 11 consecutive losses, also comes in boasting an exciting extended squad, with a heap of young talent set to take the stage once again. Joel Jeffrey has been the standout as the Eagles’ leading goalkicker, set to team up with Liam Patrick inside forward 50. The in-form Beau O’Connell teams up again with Braedon McLean through midfield, with the x-factor of Mark White also in on the extended bench. With plenty of pace lining up across the field, expect a heap of highlights from two clubs which have been notorious for them over the course of this season. It may seem a foregone conclusion with Tiwi hunting a superior finals position and percentage boost, but expect the Eagles to be competitive.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WARATAH
Saturday February 15, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts’ slim chances of snatching third spot boil down to at least getting a result against Waratah in their clash on Crocs’ territory, with the Warriors looking to play spoiler. While Districts struggled to navigate a month of top five match-ups, their run home against the bottom three sides has seen them enter winning form heading into finals, with this another opportunity to extend that run. The Crocs are set to field a relatively strong team too, highlighted by the inclusion of former Brisbane and Gold Coast utility Jared Brennan, while the midfield-forward rotation is also typical strong; featuring Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow, Josiah Farrer, and Jeff Garlett. That is not to mention competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer, who comes in off an eight-goal haul against Palmerston. In response, Waratah is set to field a decent side with leader Abe Ankers named at the heart of midfield, while the trio of Kim Kantilla, Jae McGrath, and Michael Newton headline an exciting front six. They will need to produce plenty of opportunities to overshadow the Crocs’ firepower, with the fifth-ranked side cracking the fabled ton in its last two outings. But Districts should take nothing for granted against the Warriors, who have already proven their ability to be competitive at their best despite enduring a lacklustre season.

ST MARY’S vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday February 15, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

St Mary’s has the opportunity to foil Darwin’s attempt to hold onto third spot when the two sides do battle at Gardens Oval in the Saturday twilight. The Saints have won in eight of their last nine outings to stand as one of the clear top two sides in the competition, and will have a say in deciding which team they will face in the first week of finals. On the other hand, the Buffs have made the most of their opportunities amid a tricky last six weeks, beating the teams they were expected to while also picking up a crucial four points against Southern Districts to sit as the best of the rest heading into finals. Buffs playing-coach Matt Campbell – named on an extended bench – will have a ridiculously strong spine to make use of; with Ryan Pendlebury and Stephen Tahana lining up down back, Daniel Stafford and Darren Shillabeer up forward, while skipper Jarrod Stokes returns to the fold alongside the possible inclusion of Adam Sambono. Cameron Stokes will also beef up an already solid back six, escaping suspension amid an appeal. They will need all the class they can get too, with St Mary’s posting a star-studded team sheet in response. The spine of the team is just as strong, with Tom Davies and Jake Long combining down back, Jarrad Waite and Jackson Calder positioned up forward, while Nate Paredes, Jackson Paine, and Shaun Edwards patrol the engine room with David Armitage also named on the bench. The strength on each line across both sides is clear, and it makes for what promises to be one of the highest-quality NTFL games this season. The Saints will take some beating, but the Buffs have plenty to play for.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. NIGHTCLIFF
Saturday February 15, 5:00pm
Cazalys Arena

First and last place take the field for the final NTFL 2019/20 regular season fixture, as Nightcliff travels to take on Palmerston at Cazalys Arena. The records of either side are, in satisfying fashion, perfectly opposite heading into the ultimate round, with Nightcliff’s comprehensive premiership defence to date juxtaposed by Palmerston’s second wooden spoon in three years. The Tigers have steamrolled their way to 16-1 on the back of 10-consecutive wins, overcoming every side in the competition to set a ridiculously high benchmark. On the flip-side, Palmerston’s peak Round 13 breakthrough victory has been clouded out by another string of losses to end the season – which looks likely to continue here. Most of the Nightcliff stars will get one last run-out before finals, with Trent Melville, Kyle Winter-Irving, and Daniel Bowles all named to make their 18th appearance of the season, while possible best and fairest leader Kaine Riley also features and excitement machine Liam Holt-Fitz will have the opportunity to add to his 29-goal campaign. For the Magpies, Aaron Lonergan will lead out the likes of Sandy Brock, Kyle Emery, and Wade Shadforth alongside playing-coach Alwyn Davey. But in a blow, Palmerston may fall short in the ruck department this week, as bigmen Matthew Dennis, Jack Berry, and Keidan Holt-Tubbs all remain absent. It only makes the going tougher for this year’s cellar dweller, so expect it to be over quickly despite Palmerston’s tendency to show glimpses of form.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 14 – Top two clash headlines finals-refining weekend

FOR the second time in as many weeks, the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League’s top four sides will face off in a finals-defining round of action. This time, the top two square off while third and fourth do battle as the race for ascendancy among the top five heats up.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4th, 7-5-1) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 8-5)
Saturday January 18, 2:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts hosts Tiwi in the weekend’s first top four clash, with the Crocs hoping to reclaim the top three spot they have long held this season. But Tiwi has already proven to be stiff opposition for the Crocs, with a Round 7 meeting between the sides yielding a 35-point Bombers victory. But much has changed since that last outing, with Tiwi coming from outside the top five to cement itself in the top three as it stands and standing now as a much more formidable opponent. It was somewhat of a shock result in November, but the Bombers come in as favourites given their four-game win streak. It may not be that simple though, with their run-in to a month of football against the remaining top five coming after comparatively more comfortable fixtures.

Both sides come in relatively settled, with many of their big names enjoying a consistent run of game time. Jeff Garlett and Richard Tambling are two of those for Southern Districts, possessing the class going forward which can perfectly counteract the damaging Bombers. Add to that the competition’s leading goalkicker, Will Farrer and his midfield-forward brother, Josiah at the feet of Sam Barnett, and you have a dynamic side forward of centre. But the Bombers are one of the most dynamic sides across the park, able to damage opposition with their pace. While last week’s five goal hero Tom Bell is out of the side, along with Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle, Tiwi looks set to regain Ashton Hams in what is still very much a stacked line-up. As arguably the hottest side in the competition right now, the Bombers need to capitalise on their winning form ahead of a tough few weeks.

WARATAH (7th, 3-10) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-12)
Saturday January 18, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off its maiden win for season 2019/20, Palmerston will fancy itself a real chance at going back-to-back when it faces fellow bottom three side, Waratah at TIO Stadium. The Magpies were terrific last time out in a win they were made to earn – 12 weeks in the making – and should come in with similar energy given the buoyancy a wins gives a team. On the other hand, Waratah has suffered two heavy losses to quality opposition since the mid-season break, seeing its finals aspirations dwindle even further. But a massive Round 7 win against the Magpies should give the Warriors great hope of snapping their three-game losing run with a fourth win, and there is nothing to lose at this point.

Waratah’s Kim Kantilla is a man in serious form at the moment, coming of a four goal haul in last round’s loss and booting half of his side’s majors the week before. He and Henry Kerinaiua have been the main source of inspiration inside attacking 50, and the two should get some good service with Brodie Carroll named on an extended bench alongside bigman, Alex Aurrichio. The quartet will be crucial with Abe Ankers‘ name left off the team sheet. Skipper Aaron Lonergan will lead his Magpies out alongside playing coach, Alwyn Davey, whose son (Alwyn Jnr) remains in the line-up. Up forward, spearhead Keiden Holt-Tubbs takes up his usual position, but will not be joined by fellow Round 13 three-goal hauler, Leigh Williams. Pride and bragging rights are the only thing left on the line for the two sides at this point, so the chance of adding to their slim winning tallies should make it a good contest.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (5th, 7-6) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-9-1)
Saturday January 18, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is do or die for Wanderers in term of a finals berth as it prepares to face fifth-placed Darwin in a Saturday night showdown. The Eagles are well adrift from the finals pack, but still stand a mathematical chance of making the top five if they can pull off some remarkable wins. After going down to Palmerston last week to extend their losing run to seven games, the Muk Muks will be desperate to get one back over the side which started that streak all the way back in Round 7 – Darwin. The Buffs have had form troubles of their own, going down in three of their last four outings, but have faced the best opposition possible in the only four sides ahead of them. This fixture marks a much lighter run to the end of the home-and-away season and, hopefully for them, a return to form.

The want for a win will only be compounded by the occasion, with much-loved skipper Jarrod Stokes running out for his 150th senior game in Buffs colours. He will be joined in the side by playing coach, Matt Campbell and Darwin spearhead Daniel Stafford in what should form a formidable full forward line at some point in the game. Wanderers’ typical show of young talent will again feature Mark White up forward, who will look to make up the Eagles’ own dangerous forward line alongside Joel Jeffrey and Beau O’Connell. But with Darwin’s side littered with seasoned vets and finals experience, it will prove a challenge for the Eagles to keep their legs and concentration throughout the entire contest.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 12-1) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 10-3)
Sunday January 19, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Arguably the game of the round will receive a standalone Sunday slot, with Nightcliff hosting St Mary’s in a top-of-the-table blockbuster. A thorn in the reigning premiers’ side, St Mary’s is the only team to have beaten Nightcliff this season – in Round 7 – and sit just close enough to make the race for the minor premiership interesting. With eight points separating the two teams coming in, a win for the Saints would put the pressure right on Nightcliff, but a loss would all but put an end to their hopes of snatching first place come season’s end. Winning has clearly been no issue for either side to this point, with Nightcliff remaining undefeated in the seven games since its sole loss, while St Mary’s is on a five-game winning run.

The Tigers should be up for the occasion, looking to claim the final scalp in their 2019/20 season collection, and should have a some handy additions to lean on with John Butcher, James Tsitas, and Jayden Shaw all named on an extended bench. As one of the more dynamic and experienced sides, they should have all the tools to rectify Round 7’s result. But the Saints are no slouches, coming in with a spine consisting of Shaun Edwards, Jake Long, Maurice Rioli Jnr, and Jackson Paine, despite missing the likes of Davin Ferriera and Nick Yarran. With talent littered across the park and so much to play for, this looms as must-see viewing for all NTFL fans.

Mid-season review: NTFL Men’s Premier League

THE mid-season break is in full swing for all Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League clubs and fans alike, with the top five already looking set. We recap how each team has gone thus far in order of the current ladder; highlighting the big wins, losses, and outstanding players.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 10-1, 169%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by six points, Round 9

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

MVP: Kaine Riley

Most goals: Trent Melville (26)

In a premiership defence with just one blemish thus far, Nightcliff has proven it remains the team to beat. Barring a 27-point loss to St Mary’s in Round 7, the Tigers have beaten every side put before them – including fellow top five contenders Southern Districts and Tiwi twice each – constantly outlasting their opponents and finding a way to win. The reigning premier has had four players feature in every game, with Kaine Riley and Trent Melville two of them. Riley has been among the best in eight of those outings, while Melville has booted 26 majors to sit second in the league goalkicking tally. NT veteran Cam Ilett has proven instrumental with his versatility and leadership, with Joel Budarick coming on well and Liam Holt-Fitz forming a dangerous partnership with Melville inside 50. John Butcher has again been a handy recruit, with former-Williamstown VFL pair Leigh Masters and Willie Wheeler also enjoying decent cameos. With a settled lineup and class across the park, the Tigers will be tough to beat in the second half of the season.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3, 138%)

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

Worst loss: def. by Tiwi Bombers by 34 points, Round 8

MVP: Thomas Davies

Most goals: Jackson Calder, Shannon Rioli (15)

It has been a stark contrast to last season’s effort for St Mary’s, with the iconic NTFL club working its way back to the top end of the ladder. A Round 7 win over the otherwise undefeated Nightcliff was a clear season highlight, with a combined 174-point winning margin in Rounds 9 and 10 also right up there. With the highs came a couple of lows with shock losses to traditional rival, Tiwi and another at the hands of Southern Districts momentarily halting the Saints’ train. While regular fixtures Thomas Davies, Shannon Rioli, Nathaniel Paredes, and Leroy Larson have all been instrumental, the injection of AFL experience has also been telling. Jarrad Waite, David Armitage, Will Hams, Jackson Calder, Jackson Paine, and Michael Manteit have all had influential stints, while favourite sons Raphael Clarke, Shaun Edwards, and Jake Long also impacted on their returns. On their day and with a full-strength lineup, St Mary’s is one of the most formidable sides in the league, and could well be the one to dethrone Nightcliff come season’s end.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 7-3-1, 129%)

Best win: def. Darwin Buffaloes by three points, Round 5

Worst loss: def. by Tiwi Bombers by 35 points, Round 7

MVP: Josiah Farrer

Most goals: William Farrer (27)

After an indifferent start to the season, Southern Districts has bounced back to put itself firmly in the premiership frame with a record good enough for third place. A 93-point drubbing of Palmerston kickstarted the Crocs’ season, going on to make it four wins in a row by toppling Darwin and St Mary’s back-to-back. Nightcliff continues to be the thorn in Southern Districts’ side though, going down to the Tigers twice while also dropping points to Tiwi in disappointing fashion. But the positives have been there for the Crocs, boasting the league’s leading goalkicker in William Farrer among a talented forward 50. The likes of Josiah Farrer and Beau Schwarze have rotated well through there, while South Australian Sam Barnett has provided a great focal point. The big names came through late in the piece as Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow, Richard Tambling, and Jeff Garlett all featured, only adding to the Crocs’ ferocity. With a dynamic front half and some experienced difference-makers, Southern Districts is a team capable of plenty on its day, but needs to put it together more consistently now.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 6-5, 126%)

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

Worst loss: def. by St Mary’s by 14 points, Round 11

MVP: Christopher Williams

Most goals: Daniel Stafford (17)

Darwin’s season to this point has been somewhat of a rollercoaster, but the Buffs have can still boast a positive record and safety in their top five spot. The Double Blues kicked off their season with a bang, trouncing Tiwi by over 100 points as Adam Sambono bagged an incredible haul of 12 goals. Looking a real flag threat, they improved to 3-0 after a controversial overturned win against Waratah, but were shortly reigned back by consecutive defeats at the hands of the current top three. But in overcoming the opposition they should, the Buffs are well placed heading into the new year. Key forward Daniel Stafford has only been held goalless once to lead his side’s goalkicking with 17 majors, followed by the enigmatic Brayden Culhane (16) and Sambono (13). Now less reliant on Joe Anderson and playing-coach Matt Campbell, Darwin’s leaders in Christopher Williams and Jarrod Stokes have stood up. Patrick Boles has been a great inclusion through midfield, while former-VFL stars Brodie Foster, Ryan Pendlebury and Stephen Tahana have had decent cameos. With their best names on the park, the Buffs look damaging, but there is a gap to bridge between that and their worst. Could be a big riser or faller in the second half of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS (5th, 6-5, 89%)

Best win: def. St Mary’s by 14 points, Round 3

Worst loss: def. by Darwin by 113 points, Round 1

MVP: Adam Tipungwuti

Most goals: Dion Munkara (16)

Rounding out the top five is Tiwi Bombers, another team to have enjoyed some terrific highs and disappointing lows. With a talent-stacked and exciting squad, the Bombers are hard to stop in full flight – just ask St Mary’s, who were on the receiving end in Round 3 as Tiwi got up in an absolute shoot-out. Boasting four wins over fellow finals-bond opponents is no mean feat, but is somewhat dampened by two losses to bottom three candidates, and near misses against Palmerston and Wanderers. Nonetheless, the dashing dare of Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara, and Harley Puruntatameri has excited onlookers, with the reliability of Jason Puruntatameri, Rodney Baird, and Ross Tungatalum making Tiwi a well-rounded unit. Munkara leads an even goalkicking tally, from Austin Wonaeamirri, with features from former AFL midfielders Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura proving handy along with the one-game cameo of Cyril Rioli. Victorian trio Charlie Molyneux, Nick Riddle and Liam Wale-Buxton also hit the ground running to feature in the best at least once each. The potential is there for Tiwi and the names would suggest so, with inconsistency the only issue to iron out as the Bombers mount a finals charge.

WANDERERS (6th, 3-7-1, 79%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by 14 points, Round 4

Worst loss: def. by Nightcliff by 73 points, Round 8

MVP: Braedon McLean

Most goals: Joel Jeffrey (19)

Wanderers slipped out of the finals spots on the back of five consecutive defeats after a promising start, with the mid-season break coming at an ideal time for the young side. A win over Tiwi and draw to Southern Districts in the first four rounds highlighted the Muk Muks’ potential, but a second heavy loss to Nightcliff to go with ones to Waratah and Tiwi means the gap to fifth place is 10 points. The exuberance of youth was clear to see as Joel Jeffrey, Beau O’Connell, Ronald Fejo, and Mark White all impressed in the forward half, with Jeffrey’s absence in the last month proving costly. Jordan Jeffrey, Braedon McLean, and Keelan Fejo have been serviceable, while stints from Liam Jurrah, Brett Eddy, Marlon Motlop, and Davin Ferreira are exactly what the young squad needs. The drop-off was steep, but with a break and time to refresh, Wanderers could be a team to challenge for the top five.

WARATAH (7th, 3-8, 75%)

Best win: def. Tiwi Bombers by 43 points, Round 6

Worst loss: def. by 123 points by St Mary’s, Round 9

MVP: Abe Ankers

Most goals: Kim Kantilla (20)

Waratah proved one of the more unlucky sides at the start of the season, searching for a win in the first five rounds before finally breaking through against Tiwi. Points against Darwin were overturned in Round 3 due to a team sheet error, and the Warriors have struggled against top four opposition since. The difference Abe Ankers makes to the side is profound, with the midfield ace booting 16 goals having only played in around half of his side’s games. Kim Kantilla has been terrific up forward with hauls as high as six, teaming up with Henry Kerinaiua and former VFL forward Steven Stroobants to good effect. Midfielder Brodie Carroll has also been reliable, but his side has been less so over the course of 11 rounds. Michael Newton has been one of the few big fish to land at Waratah this year but has not had the same impact as previous seasons, with the Warriors’ home grown talent leading their charge. With some classy players who can break games open, Waratah again looms as a late-season threat to the top five, but is well adrift at 12 points behind fifth.

PALMERSTON (8th, 0-11, 49%)

Best win: Nil

Worst loss: def. by Waratah by 89 points, Round 7

MVP: Jack Berry

Most goals: Broderick Church, Nigel Lockyer Jnr (7)

Stuck at the base of the ladder is Palmerston, still winless after 11 games following a disappointing campaign in 2018/19. While the Magpies have understandably suffered heavy defeats to top-end competition, they have fallen short from winning positions against Tiwi and Darwin in promising displays. A big loss to fellow bottom three side, Waratah in a clash between seventh and eighth compounded the misery, with few highlights to this point. Essendon trainee Nigel Lockyer Jnr was one of them before suffering an ankle injury, while the pair of Broderick Church and Keidan Holt-Tubbs has held up inside forward 50. The debuts of coach Alwyn Davey‘s sons, Alwyn Jnr and Jayden were much-hyped, while Victorian recruit Jack Berry has played a key hand in the part-time absence of Matthew Dennis. Through midfield, Adam Diamond and Aaron Lonergan have been solid with Sandy Brock another consistent contributor. While a win has looked far away at times, there is enough in this Palmerston unit to improve a heap in the second half of the season – the only way is up after all.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 10 – Top of the table clash headlines bumper weekend

A TOP of the table clash headlines a big weekend of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, with Southern Districts looking to close the gap on Nightcliff. St Mary’s and Darwin could benefit from the result of that game and jump into second with wins, while Tiwi will hope to continue its push for finals as Wanderers trail closely.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday December 7, 1:30pm
Tiwi Oval

A fixture with implications on both sides’ finals hopes takes place as Tiwi Bombers host Darwin Buffaloes at Tiwi Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Bombers have thrown themselves into the mix and are in good form of late, going down by just six points to Nightcliff last time out but managing to hold on to fifth place. On the other hand, Darwin snatched a close win over Palmerston in Round 9 to put them up into third on the back of three consecutive victories. With Tiwi hoping to hang onto its top five spot and Darwin looking to break into the top two, there is plenty on the line either way.

The Bombers come in once again with a great lineup on paper, with the likes of Adam Tipungwuti, Brayden Rioli, and Ross Tungatalum resigned to the bench, but they look like being without ex-Cat Nathan Djerrkura for this clash in a blow to their midfield stocks, with Ashton Hams perhaps one to cover. The Buffs have bolstered their line-up with the signing of Ryan Pendlebury, the brother of Scott and an ex-VFL Team of the Year member. He should add value in the back half, adding to the experience of Cameron Stokes and Chris Williams further afield as Matt Campbell and Joe Anderson come out of the side.

While Darwin’s three wins on the trot and ladder position puts them in the category of favourite, Tiwi looks to be in slightly better form going off last week’s effort and should pose plenty of questions to the Buffs defence. It looms as a battle of the Bombers’ speed against some of the Buffs’ strength.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday December 7, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

St Mary’s will look to compound the misery of a bottom three side for the second straight week when it takes on Palmerston in the first game of a TIO Stadium double-header. The Saints have slipped to fourth, but could climb as high as second with results pending and will look to put their best foot forward with a top of the table clash following theirs. Given how St Mary’s handled Waratah last week, the winless Magpies could be in for another long day. But Palmerston’s form last week exceeded its current record, and a couple of close losses would have the Magpies eager to prove their worth.

Alwyn Davey Jnr joins his father in the Palmerston side, with Senior set to line up in midfield under Ezekiel Frank while Adam Diamond shifts to the forward half. They will have their work cut out for them, with the Saints naming David Armitage, Shaun Edwards, and Jackson Paine in midfield, while Jackson Calder is set to team up with the returning Jarrad Waite up forward. It all but guarantees plenty of goals, and plenty of excitement at the least.

On paper, it seems this clash could get ugly given the experience and firepower of the Saints, but do not discount the effort of Palmerston on its better days. Fans can look forward to seeing a heap of ex-AFL players either way, with a few favourite sons taking the field for both teams.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. NIGHTCLIFF
Saturday December 7, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

The game of the round earns a prime time slot on Saturday night as Southern Districts look to get one back on Nightcliff and tighten the minor premiership race. The Crocs started their season with a loss to last season’s grand final foes, but have since steadied the ship and sit six points adrift in second. Such has been Nightcliff’s dominance, the Southern Districts is only one of a couple of sides to have truly challenged the reigning premiers, and will look to go a step further this time around. And with both sides coming in off consecutive wins, it seems an ideal time to do battle.

A couple of very handy ex-AFL players come into the Crocs side, with Jeff Garlett and Jared Brennan named. Garlett should team up nicely with the likes of Will Farrer and Beau Schwarze up forward, while Brennan may slot in up the other end in a key position post. There are no ex-AFL inclusions for the Tigers, who will be without Willie Wheeler, but a forward 50 featuring his ex-Williamstown teammate Leigh Masters alongside Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz has been working a treat. Add the impact of John Butcher, Kaine Riley, and Cam Ilett across the ground, and you have a settled lineup ready for any challenge.

The Tigers will need to be at their best to quell the Crocs, which are snapping at their heels, but should have great confidence having aced all but one test put to them this year. Southern Districts will be hungry for a win with dual-meaning, getting one back while keeping touch at the top.

WARATAH vs. WANDERERS
Sunday December 8, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Wanderers will hope to re-enter the finals fold when it clashes with fellow bottom three side, Waratah in Sunday’s lone fixture. Both sides come in off disappointing losses, with Waratah’s 123-point thumping at the hands of St Mary’s a clear lowlight for the season. Wanderers has strayed after a promising start, looking to rectify a run of three-straight losses. With both teams somewhat underperforming at this stage and the mid-season break coming up, expect them to throw everything at getting a result here.

Abe Ankers is a very welcome addition to the Warriors side which looks like heading in without Brodie Carroll, while Michael Newton is set to resume a dangerous forward trio with Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua at the fall of his aerial contests. Joel Jeffrey is a big out for Wanderers as he takes up training with the Gold Coast Suns, but the Muk Muks still boast dangerous youngsters in the form of Mark White, Beau O’Connell and Ronald Fejo, with all three able to play across every line.

There looks to be a good amount of talent spread across both sides, with plenty of excitement in either attacking 50. Expect some neat highlights and a competitive game between two teams looking to do better than their ladder position would suggest.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 9 – Tigers, Buffs get up in thrillers

WHILE St Mary’s won big in Round 9 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, Nightcliff and Darwin narrowly edged bottom four sides in an action-packed weekend of NT football. In the round’s other game, Southern Districts kicked away to return to the winners list after a tight three quarters.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 11.5 (71)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 2.4 | 3.5 | 5.9 | 10.15 (75)

GOALS:

Palmerston: E. Frank 3, K. Holt-Tubbs 2, D. Gaykamangu, A. Diamond, M. Perry, D. Cox, J. Rhodes.
Darwin: B. Foster 4, J. Clarke 2, C. Williams, M. Quinn, B. Hogan, D. Shillabeer.

BEST:

Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, C. Williams, J. Berry, W. Shadforth, S. Brock
Darwin: L. McKenzie, J. Stokes, B. Foster, C. Williams, D. Lines

It took a final quarter comeback for the ages for Darwin to sneak over the top of Palmerston on the road and hold onto third place. The heartbreaking loss sees Palmerston remain winless, unable to deny the Buffs despite their efficiency in the 11.5 (71) to 10.15 (75) result.

A tight opening term was followed by Palmerston’s best quarter of footy for a long time, seeing the Magpies break out to a 29-point half-time lead on the back of six goals to one. But the Buffs chipped away after the main break to remain within striking distance, pouncing in the final term with 5.6 to one straight goal to snatch victory from the jaws of what would have been a very disappointing defeat.

Brodie Foster proved a handy addition to the Buffs’ forward 50, booting a game-high four majors to lead the line from usual goalsneak Jalen Clarke (two goals). But it was Lachlan McKenzie who was named Darwin’s best, with consistent features Jarrod Stokes and Christopher Williams also influential. Ezekiel Frank and Keidan Holt-Tubbs led the way in an improved scoring effort for the Magpies, with the former named his side’s best player. Adam Diamond, Jack Berry, and Sandy Brock were also named in the best half-dozen for the third game running, with Palmerston starting to form a more settled unit.

The win sees Darwin holt onto third place among what is becoming tight battle for second, with a tough assignment against Tiwi next in its sights. Meanwhile, Palmerston’s search for a win carries on into another round as St Mary’s awaits.

NIGHTCLIFF 2.5 | 3.8 | 8.10 | 11.12 (78)
TIWI BOMBERS 2.0 | 7.2 | 9.4 | 11.6 (72)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: M. Hagan 3, C. Ilett 2, T. Melville 2, L. Holt-Fitz, D. Bowles, L. Masters, K. Winter-Irving.
Tiwi: A. Darcy 3, H. Puruntatameri 2, A. Wonaeamirri 2, A. Tipungwuti 2, C. Molyneux, D. Munkara.

BEST:

Nightcliff: K. Riley, D. Bowles, J. Kickett, M. Hagan, N. Brown, J. Peris
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, C. Molyneux, A. Darcy, R. Baird, H. Puruntatameri

Nightcliff narrowly accounted for a plucky and more efficient Tiwi side to maintain its gap at the top, scraping over the line by six points. The Tigers pulled away when it mattered in the 11.12 (78) to 11.6 (72) result, proving their status as the NTFL’s best.

In what was a game of momentum swings, Nightcliff was able to pull ahead at the ideal time with the two sides level going into the final term. Earlier, the Tigers found themselves three goals adrift at the main break despite managing two more scoring shots for the half, before hitting back with 5.2 to even the ledger. In a tense closer, the reigning premiers managed to hold on to their one-goal buffer after creating enough opportunities to kick away more comfortably.

Both sides managed an even goalkicking spread, with Michael Hagan and Alastair Darcy booting a game-high three goals for their respective teams. Hagan was the only Nightcliff goalkicker to also be named among the best, with Kaine Riley leading the way from Daniel Bowles and Jayden Kickett. It was a slightly different story for the Bombers as Harley Puruntatameri (two goals), Adam Tipungwuti (two) and Charlie Molyneux (one) each troubled the scorers and were impactful overall, while Rodney Baird was solid up the ground.

While four points have been coming in aplenty for the Tigers, the win keeps the chasing pack at bay – eight points adrift – with a top two clash up next. Tiwi’s spot in the top five is at risk next week as the Bombers do battle with another finals-bound side in Darwin, heating up the finals race.

ST MARY’S 6.5 | 12.8 | 19.9 | 25.14 (164)
WARATAH 2.1 | 4.3 | 4.5 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: A. Wilson 6, J. Calder 6, M. Rioli Jnr 3, T. Saunders 2, S. Rioli 2, J. Long, B. Rioli, P. Macfarlane, R. Smith, N. Paredes, J. Cheek.
Waratah: H. Kerinaiua 2, A. Hodgson, T. Schmid, K. Kantilla, W. Gorman.

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Geary, R. Smith, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Rioli, D. Armitage, J. Calder
Waratah: N/A

A comprehensive 123-point drubbing of Waratah was not quite enough to see St Mary’s jump back into third on percentage, but the Saints well and truly sounded a warning to their competition on Saturday. A stacked Saints lineup looked ominous heading into the clash, and lived up to the bill with a 25.14 (164) to 6.5 (41) result.

After a six goals to two opener, the game was all but put to bed at the main break as the Saints led by 53 points, kicking on with another 13 goals to two in the second half to more than double that margin – managing no less than six goals across each quarter in a consistently ruthless performance. With Abe Ankers missing, the Warriors simply struggled for answers throughout, void of midfield grunt while also being shut down well up forward.

Anthony Wilson and Jackson Calder were the stars inside 50 with six goals each, joined by Maurice Rioli Jnr (three goals) as multiple goalkickers to also feature in the best. Jackson Geary was also again among the Saints’ best, joined by ex-St Kilda midfielder David Armitage. Henry Kerinaiua stood up in a losing effort for Waratah with two majors, but his forward partners in Steven Stroobants and Kim Kantilla were unable to truly break the shackles.

While positions have not changed, the result has a big bearing on the top end of the ladder with St Mary’s gaining some much-needed percentage and keeping entrenched in the top four. Another bottom three opponent in Palmerston is up next for the Saints, while Waratah will next face Wanderers as both sides’ finals hopes start to get desperate.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.6 | 8.6 | 8.9 | 13.13 (91)
WANDERERS 1.1 | 2.3 | 7.4 | 9.5 (59)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, B. Schwarze 3, E. Barlow 2, J. Farrer, D. Williams, D. Hall, R. Tambling, N. Horbury.
Wanderers: M. White 3, L. Jurrah 2, D. Thompson, K. Stephens, B. O’Connell, M. Derrick.

BEST:

Southern Districts: J. Farrer, E. Barlow, T. Holman, D. Williams, D. McLachlan, M. Pemberton
Wanderers: L. Dyer, N. Sedgwick, B. O’Connell, D. Thompson, J. Priest

A strong final term helped Southern Districts keep clear in second, outlasting a young Wanderers side to come away 32-point winners. The Crocs were made to withstand a strong Eagles fightback, putting a winning 13.13 (91) to 9.5 (59) score on the board.

A tense opening term saw the Crocs edge in front, but a six goals to one second stanza broke the game open and proved the defining period of play. But the Muk Muks fought back to show all the finals credentials they had in previous weeks, trailing by just 10 points heading into the final turn. That was where the momentum stopped however, as the Crocs stormed home with 4.4 to 2.1 to claim a fighting win.

Will Farrer and Beau Schwarze resumed their forward 50 partnership for the Crocs with three goals apiece, joined by ex-AFL midfielder Ed Barlow (two goals) as multiple goalkickers. Both Farrer and Barlow were also among the winners’ best alongside Thomas Holman and Damian Williams, while Luke Dyer was named Wanderers’ best ahead of Nicholas Sedgwick. Goalsneak Beau O’Connell was also dangerous in the losing effort, while fellow small forward Mark White booted three goals in his second game for the year.

The Eagles will have to turn a losing skid around if they are to climb back into a finals spot, with Waratah next on the agenda after its heavy defeat. Meanwhile, the Crocs are poised for a top of the table clash against Nightcliff next time out in what is set to be a belter.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 9 – Race for fifth hots up on super Saturday

ROUND 9 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League bounces down under Friday night lights, before a super Saturday poises top five teams Nightcliff and Tiwi against each other in what shapes as the game of the weekend.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Friday November 29, 7:00pm
Palmerston Oval

The Darwin Buffaloes will look to press on with their top two charge when they travel to take on the winless Palmerston Magpies under Friday night lights. A big win over Waratah last time out means Darwin comes into this clash with consecutive victories, eyeing off a top two berth as just eight points split second and sixth. With Palmerston languishing in last and without a win to this point, this is the kind of game the Buffs’ simply must win if they are to remain a premiership contender. Joe Anderson is one of the only movers in a settled Darwin line-up, named in defence as the likes of Darren Shillabeer, Brodie Foster, and Matt Campbell take up forward 50 spots. Speaking of, Alwyn Davey sneaks into Palmerston’s forward pocket, hoping to add class on the full forward line alongside Ezekiel Frank and Keidan Holt-Tubbs, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been named on the bench. The Magpies will be hoping to rectify some poor previous form in front of a home crowd, but the Buffs are always tough opposition and have found a rhythm once again.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday November 30, 2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Two of the NTFL’s form sides meet on Saturday afternoon as Nightcliff and Tiwi do battle at PSC BM Oval, with finals implications in play. The Tigers continue to set the competition benchmark despite slipping up a couple of weeks ago against St Mary’s, and inadvertently helped Tiwi jump into fifth place with a big win over Wanderers in Round 8. The Bombers claimed a handy win of their own in the same weekend, trumping the Saints for a second time this season to make for an interesting equation of football maths in this fixture. Something that needs no working out is that Nightcliff’s side is omnipotent, with former-Williamstown duo Willie Wheeler and Leigh Masters continuing their NTFL stint, adding to the goal threat posed by Cam Ilett, Trent Melville, and Liam Holt-Fitz. The Bombers will hope to outgun their opponents though, naming Adam Tipungwuti up forward alongside Austin Wonaeamirri and Ross Tungatalum, while still possessing plenty of drive up the field. It shapes as being the game of the round, and a win for Tiwi would keep the minor premiership race interesting.

ST MARY’S vs. WARATAH
Saturday November 30, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The opportunity to bounce back from disappointing respective losses is up for grabs for both St Mary’s and Waratah as they meet at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Saints endured a second upset defeat at the hands of traditional rival, Tiwi last time out, but remain in the top two hunt on the back of a much-improved start to the season. Waratah’s year to date has been a touch more hit-and-miss, and the Warriors were outclassed by Darwin after a couple of strong showings helped them break through for consecutive wins – their only ones for the season. Maurice Rioli Jnr is the most exciting inclusion among a star-studded Saints line-up, named on the bench while David Armitage and Michael Manteit make up the ex-AFL numbers. Meanwhile, Steven Stroobants is a handy addition for the Warriors to add to the firepower Kim Kantilla brings, but they look like going in without Abe Ankers in a huge blow to their chances. St Mary’s has looked formidable on paper all season, and that is no different this week as they look to prey on a bottom three opponent.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday November 30, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will hope to snap a two-game losing run when it closes out the round against Southern Districts on Saturday night at TIO Stadium. Both sides have endured wild momentum swings in their seasons thus far, but the Crocs have found a way to win more often and sit pretty in second spot. They would be even closer to the top had it not been for a draw in the first meeting between these two teams, with the result also a factor in Wanderers’ position just outside of the top five. With Tiwi on the up and the top four relatively settled, a win is crucial for the young Muk Muks line-up. They will have to perform without star swingman Joel Jeffrey this week, with NT Under-16 Mark White coming into the forward line to join Beau O’Connell and Davin Ferreira. The Crocs will back in their own forward firepower, with Ed Barlow named inside 50 alongside Beau Schwarze and Will Farrer, while Richard Tambling is also set to go around again. Those names make Southern Districts hard to pass up, but Wanderers can cause plenty of headaches.

2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League season preview

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition set to get underway on the weekend, we take a look at the eight teams competing for the ultimate prize over the summer.

DARWIN BUFFALOES

Last season: 5th
Win-loss: 8-10
Points: 32
Percentage: 94.6

The Buffs are coming in off an indifferent 2018/20 campaign that saw them scrape into finals after a promising start. They were eliminated in a crushing 73-point elimination final loss to Waratah after going down to the Warriors in Round 18 as well, finally folding after struggling to reclaim the early-season form that had them pegged for another top two finish. Having captain-coach Matt Campbell and star players Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas Jnr shuffle in and out of the side at times did not help the Buffaloes in their search for some consistency, but the talent base is certainly there. Ex-Blue Anderson and highly rated junior Sambono are poised to feature prominently again under Campbell’s tutelage, while Rosas Jnr’s availability hinges on his AFL Draft hopes. Those three are all capable of seeing a heap of the ball and having important touches, with the consistent figures of Shaun Ahmat and Kevin Maroney set to again add that stability to the lineup each week. With Rosas seemingly moving on to the elite system, the young gun in Darwin’s crop this year is Antonio James. James featured for two straight years for the NT Thunder’s Under-16 side and was part of the Under-18 NAB League squad without playing, making him a good chance to feature for them in the upcoming season. The Buffs will be keen to see how he goes at Premier League level, with his enthusiasm and pace from defence helping him to stand out to this point. After a disappointing finish to last season, the storied club will hope to reach the heights they did in 2017/18 and sneak back into that top two. They certainly have the top-end talent to challenge, and should provide some highlights along the way.

Players to watch:

Joe Anderson
Adam Sambono
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Shaun Ahmat

Young gun:

Antonio James

NIGHTCLIFF

Last season: 1st
Win-loss: 15-3 (Premiers)
Points: 60
Percentage: 166.08

The reigning premiers took home their fourth premiership cup last season, and in doing so moved one clear of Palmerston and Southern Districts to outright fifth on the overall premiership table. It was a dominant year for the Tigers, only losing thrice on their way to an outright minor premiership and getting up by 22 points over then-reigning premiers Southern Districts in the grand final. Trent Melville was the side’s spearhead, booting 56 goals from his 20 games to finish as the league’s leading goal kicker, but Nightcliff had a wealth of scoring threats. Melville will suit up again alongside the likes of Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell up forward, with big-man and NT Thunder representative Hugo Drogemuller a chance to feature up either end. The Budarick brothers, Jess and Joel will also be important between the arcs for the Tigers, with Joel turning out for the NT’s Under 18 academy this year. Jess appeared for the Thunder in the NEAFL this season and should add to his games tally this time around, adding to Nightcliff’s list of promising youngsters. Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Jamie Jones and Ned Stevens are also on that list after playing a part in the NT’s Under 16 campaign this year, putting the reigning premiers in good stead to feature well again and into the future. Their depth is solid, and their firepower is almost unmatched.

Players to watch:

Jess Budarick
Trent Melville
Matthew Bricknell
Hugo Drogemuller
Liam Holt-Fitz

Young gun:

Joel Budarick

PALMERSTON

Last season: 6th
Win-loss: 7-11
Points: 28
Percentage: 70.57

The Palmy Army experienced much more joy in 2018/19 after claiming the wooden spoon in season 2017/18, with a vastly-improved sixth place finish – just one win outside of the finals spots. The Magpies had their depth tested with ex-AFL players like Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey, and Ezekiel Frank missing chunks of games throughout the year, while Matthew Stokes only appeared in a two-game cameo. All four of those stars provided great value though and could do so again in this year’s competition to aid a bunch of regulars who stood out. Victorian ruck veteran Matthew Dennis featured among the best for all but one of his 18 games last year and could go around again, with VFL player Dylan Gordon set to make his NT return. He joins the likes of prolific goalsneak Kyle Emery, as well as the ever-improving Nigel Lockyer and consistent figures of Samuel Autio and Samuel Talbot. Add youngster Jason Baird to the mix and so much of the Magpies’ firepower comes in their forward movers, despite not being able to post the biggest scores last year. Up the other end, their defence was the leakiest in 2018/19 and will need some tightening if Palmerston is to continue its upward trend.

Players to watch:

Kyle Emery
Matthew Dennis
Dylan Gordon
Samuel Talbot
Nigel Lockyer

Young gun:

Jason Baird

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

Last season: 2nd
Win-loss: 13-5 (Runners-up)
Points: 52
Percentage: 147.36

So close, yet so far, the Crocs battled hard throughout the season and looked at times like premiership favourites, particularly after a 20-goal smashing of Tiwi Bombers in the preliminary final. But as they found out, the Grand Final is a different ball game, going down to Nightcliff by 22 points. That does not take away from the dominance the Crocs have had over the competition during the last two seasons, with a ton of depth and some scary firepower. Ex-AFL players Leroy Jetta, Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow and Jared Brennan were all terrific over multiple games for the 2017/18 premiers, adding arguably the highest level of ex-professional class. Goals came aplenty through the likes of Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery, while Bradley Vallance, Dean Staunton, Charles McAdam, and Beau Schwarze were others to combine their scoreboard impact with ball winning. They should all be important figures again if Southern Districts is to have another flag tilt, providing a consistent base throughout the year with a raft of other stars coming in and out of the team. It is always hard to look past the Crocs on paper and given the ability they have to blow teams away, expect them to be right up there once again this season. With young gun Brodie Lake also one of the NT’s big hopes for next year’s draft, they have some future talent to nurture too.

Players to watch:

Jess Koopman
Michael Mummery
Dean Staunton
Ed Barlow
Brandon Rusca

Young gun:

Brodie Lake

ST MARY’S

Last season: 8th
Win-loss: 5-13
Points: 20
Percentage: 78.14

The NTFL powerhouse side was publicly in financial trouble over the off-season, but is back in the league to try and bounce back from its poor season last year. After missing the 2017/18 Grand Final for only the second time since 2002/03, the Saints went through a rebuilding phase last season dropping to the bottom of the table. With nine more premierships than its nearest rival, expect this successful club to move back up the ladder in season 2019/20. Former Gippsland Power prospect Nathaniel Paredes was the Saints’ shining light last season, featuring in the best 10 of 15 times and booting 20 goals in the process. A host of famous names and relations also fill out the side, with Ben Rioli and Jacob Long sure to join prodigious youngsters Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli – pending their availability. Nicholas Yarran and Raphael Clarke would be handy returns after solid 2017/18 seasons, along with the likes of Mathias Liddy. St Mary’s is renowned for producing top talent, and NT Under 16 representative Preyben Tipiloura is an exciting type to come through further this year alongside Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli, while Kieren Parnell is another rising star set to make his long-awaited injury return. Given the club’s strong history and the raw talent set to be displayed, expect St Mary’s to be a riser this year – the only was is up from last season after all – and a couple more former-AFL coups could help.

Players to watch:

Nathaniel Paredes
Maurice Rioli Jnr
Jacob Long
Ben Rioli
Kieren Parnell
Brayden Rioli

Young gun:

Preyben Tipiloura

TIWI BOMBERS

Last season: 3rd
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 101.72

Tiwi very nearly became one of the better stories out of last season as their run in the back-end saw them earn an unlikely preliminary final berth. Although they were soundly beaten while searching for a grand final spot, the journey there was something to behold. It came long after a slow start to the season, with a raft of experienced and reliable players helping the famous Bombers click into gear. They were awesome in front of goal at times, and that is only set to be helped this year with the return of favourite son Cyril Rioli, who joins as a player-coach. The prospect of having him run around alongside fellow ex-AFL players Austin Wonaeamirri and Nathan Djerrkura, as well as Ross Tungatalum is scary and sure to bring plenty of excitement to the league. Add to that club stalwarts Jason Puruntatameri, Dion Munkara and prolific young guns Adam Tipungwuti and Jeffrey Simon, and you have a fun side destined for big things. The improvement they showed last year should only be built on this time around, and there is no reason why the Bombers cannot fly back to the top of the NTFL with a continuance of their form. Do not be surprised to see Tiwi go in as one of the flag favourites, and there will certainly be plenty of expectation given how dangerous they look on paper in the forward half.

Players to watch:

Cyril Rioli
Ross Tungatalum
Austin Wonaeamirri
Jason Puruntatameri
Dion Munkara
Nathan Djerrkura
Adam Tipungwuti

Young gun:

Jeffrey Simon

WANDERERS

Last season: 7th
Win-loss: 6-12
Points: 24
Percentage: 74.22

A somewhat down 2018/19 season saw Wanderers narrowly escape the bottom of the ladder with a final round victory over Palmerston, despite only winning half the amount of games they lost in the 18-game season. It looked a justified ladder position given they were second-to-last for both points scored and conceded, but there are some promising signs pointing to the future for the Muk Muks. They are set to field young stars aplenty, with NT Under-18 representative Beau O’Connell one who could team up with Davin Ferreira through midfield alongside the experience of Marlon Motlop. John Tipiloura is another lively youngster, as is Mark White, who starred up forward in the 2019 Under 16 Division 2 carnival. But arguably the best of the lot is 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Joel Jeffrey, who was a regular for Wanderers last year and played out on the MCG in the Under-17 grand final curtain raiser. If he is available before his top-age year, look out for his high marking up either end of the ground. While the immediate impact of their talent has not quite translated to results just yet, expect to see the Eagles sore in years to come.

Players to watch:

Beau O’Connell
Marlon Motlop
Joel Jeffrey
Davin Ferreira
John Tipiloura

Young gun:

Mark White

WARATAH

Last season: 4th
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 100.44

Waratah is a team which surprised some last year, holding strong with its local talent to cap a consistent year off in fourth place with an even record – hardly ever looking like missing out on finals throughout the season. Anchoring the side in midfield was Abraham Ankers, who will be key again in this campaign alongside fellow NT Thunder squad member Brodie Carroll, who played 16 games last year. Zach Westerberg, Cameron Barrett, and Henry Kerinaiua were others to hold down spots, and another possible cameo from ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton could spell some more goals. Newton’s two games aside, Waratah is one of the teams with the fewest ex-AFL experience, making their exploits even greater. Andrew Moore could change that factor slightly as he is poised to sign for the Warriors, and Matthew Green could have the effect of a new signing after only featuring a couple of times last season. Watch for Under 18 Allies representative Ben Jungfer if available, given he is Adelaide-based, with his clearance work outstanding. With a lot of other sides improving, it will be a battle for Waratah to maintain their form, but they have the stock to match it with the best once again.

Players to watch:

Abraham Ankers
Matthew Green
Brodie Carroll
Andrew Moore
Cameron Barrett

Young gun:

Ben Jungfer

Remember the Names: Top performers from the U16 National Championships

WITH the 2019 Under 16 National Championships run and done, we cast an eye over some of the names you may well see much more of over the next few seasons leading into their draft year in 2021. Our list includes the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from each side across Division 1 and 2, and is broken up into each squad.

South Australia:

Isaiah Dudley (Central District)
166cm | 66kg | 30/04/2003
Small Forward/Midfielder 

Is an absolute excitement machine with his pace and bottomless bag of tricks, often starting inside forward 50 and then getting involved further afield in general play. Having impressed in last year’s championships as an under-ager with his nous around goal, Dudley enjoyed some added midfield minutes and is a tackling machine. His standout game came in SA’s carnival opener against WA, where he collected 27 disposals and booted four goals with some truly special plays. Given his height, Dudley will probably continue on as a small forward as he heads to senior level, but is arguably as talented as anyone in the crop.

Jason Horne (South Adelaide)
184cm | 75kg | 21/06/2003
Balanced Midfielder

The fearless leader took out SA’s MVP award on the back of three very consistent performances, displaying a great balance of mettle and class on either side of the midfield contest. He proved to be one of the more effective extractors throughout, but also sparked a heap of his side’s attacks as he got on his bike away from congestion and lowered his eyes well to hit targets. Also showed he can cause headaches when resting forward, finding the goals in each game and using his strong hands to compete under high balls. 

Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)
183cm | 77kg | 5/07/2003
Inside Midfielder

Was one of the most effective inside ball-winners, following on from his form in the 2018 Under 16 carnival where attended centre bounces and attracted the ball at will. Roberts will surely form a formidable midfield partnership with South Adelaide teammate Horne for years to come, with both uncompromising ball-winners who have that added class. One of the more pleasing parts of Roberts’ game is his ability to also accumulate inside forward 50, as shown in his final two games of the carnival. Had a blinder in SA’s loss to Vic Metro with 31 disposals, five marks, four clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal in the wet.

Vic Country:

Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)
185cm | 78kg | 27/04/2003
Outside Midfielder/Half-Back 

Started the championships with a classy performance on the wing against Vic Metro before later moving to defence to provide that rebounding quality from half-back. The Country co-captain is a damaging user by foot and likes to take the game on to gain significant meterage, weaving his way around the outside and delivering spearing balls forward. Is originally from Lavington but boards at Melbourne Grammar, meaning he will align with the strong Sandringham Dragons program in NAB League, so look out for his set-ups by foot and clean hands in the near future.

Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
181cm | 75kg | 16/09/2003
Inside Midfielder

Hobbs is an absolute bull through the midfield with unrivaled tenacity and aggression at the stoppages. He wins almost all of his ball himself and thrusts it forward with long kicks, but also grew into the carnival with accumulation around the ground and neat spearing kicks to find shorter targets. Was arguably Country’s second-best player behind Rachele, constantly having 25-plus disposals, double digits in tackles and booting a few goals along the way. 

Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
179cm | 73kg | 11/04/2003
Midfielder/Forward

Class with a capital ‘C’, the Country co-captain took out the Kevin Sheehan Medal (Division 1 MVP) and his side’s own MVP award with three sensational performances throughout the carnival. His talent can be summed up with one play in Country’s last game against SA, where he instinctively tapped the ball on over his shoulder to Ben Hobbs at full flight who finished the play off with a goal. Does some freakish things and constantly looks a threat around the ball with his agility and ability to break away from congestion, using both to good effect at forward stoppages. Has obvious leadership quality too and really lifted in trying to drag Country over the line in their loss to WA, having 32 disposals, six marks, four breaches of each arc and 0.3. A star in the making.

Vic Metro:

Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers)
187cm | 76kg | 21/02/2003
Midfielder/Utility

Able to play through the midfield and just about anywhere else he is needed, Andrews’ best qualities are his clean hands and cool head. While he was quieter against SA, Andrews proved his class in his other two outings and in particular with his role against Vic Country – where he started forward and found the goals, went on to spark the engine room, and later provided some solidity in defence to help Metro hold on for victory. Is one who has potential to be further unlocked, but has some really nice traits already.

Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers)
194cm | 80kg | 7/01/2003
Key Forward

Started with a bag of four goals against Country and came back from a quiet game in the wet against SA to claim five against WA and round out a promising carnival. Did a lot of his work close to goal and proved efficient when given chances, finishing well with set shots and snaps as he opened up the angles. Also chimed in with a bit of ruckwork, and it will be interesting to see whether Lukic can rip games apart with marking on the lead and in more contested situations as he develops. 

Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
186cm | 72kg | 28/01/03
Midfielder/Half-Back

Was originally employed off half-back in the first three quarters against Vic Country, but became a permanent midfielder after being thrust into the centre bounces and willing Metro over the line in that game. He skippered his side well over the carnival, adjusting his usually outside game to work in the engine room while still providing his trademark run and damage by foot. May see him ease into NAB League level in the back six, but has proven his midfield quality.

Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)
181cm | 71kg | 27/01/2003
Balanced Midfielder

The Metro MVP was terrific across all three games, claiming best afield honours in two of them and showing off his versatility in the last with 19 disposals, four clearances, four inside 50s and 4.3 against WA. Is a clean extractor from midfield and oozes class in the way he wheels away from traffic, with the added bonus of being clinical around goal from all angles. Will certainly form a damaging midfield trio for Eastern with Tyreece Leiu and Jake Soligo over the next couple of years.

Western Australia:

Max Chipper (Swan Districts)
180cm | 63kg | 9/09/2003
Wing/Outside Midfielder

Better known as ‘Chip’ out on the field, the Swan Districts product is clean and cool in possession, using the ball neatly on the outside to hit targets at will. Unlike a lot of wingmen, Chipper arguably has a better short-range game and joins in at stoppages once the centre bounces play out. Had a really good start to his carnival against SA and finds the ball in all areas.

Judd McVee (East Fremantle)
179cm | 64kg | 7/08/2003
Midfielder

Judd by name and Judd by nature, McVee has that classic burst from the stoppage and showed he is able to hit the scoreboard across three promising games. Was arguably best afield in the first half against Vic Metro before being clamped, standing up in the absence of Lochlan Paton to finish with 16 disposals, seven clearances, four inside 50s and two goals in a promising showing. Is still quite light-on but is not afraid to get stuck in, giving him that valuable balance in midfield.

Blake Morris (Subiaco)
187cm | 68kg | 11/09/2003
Medium-Tall Defender

The WA MVP was an absolute rock in defence for the Black Ducks, proving an intercept machine in the air and as desperate as anyone at ground level. While he often gives up significant size – as seen when matched up on Country’s 196cm/91kg Josh Rentsch – Morris makes up for it with superior reading of the play, a sizeable leap, and the ability to mop up at the fall of the ball. Will be interesting to see whether he continues to play in the key back role or is freed up on the flanks, with a good knack for rebounding also in his locker.

Northern Territory:

Jason Baird (Palmerston)
185cm | 70kg | 29/12/2003
Midfielder/Defender

Played a key role in the Thunder’s resurgence against NSW/ACT with his accumulation across the ground and ability to push forward. He did not quite have the same impact against Queensland as he was forced to double as a key defender at times given the Maroon’s strength in that area, but battled hard and has some handy versatility.

Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Southern Districts)
186cm | 63kg | 16/05/2002
Midfielder/Forward

Collected the NT MVP award for his standout carnival, spending time between midfield and the forward line. Lake played his role well in either position, finding both a good amount of ball and the big sticks – most notably in his game against Division 2 title-winner NSW/ACT where he had 26 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, eight clearances, four inside 50s and two goals. Is a tall and lean midfielder with good hands overhead, so should continue to rotate between roles.

Mark White (Wanderers)
175cm | 65kg | 29/01/2003
General Forward

The tricky forward is a big exponent of taking on the man on the mark, doing it on many an occasion across the carnival to cut distances and get a better look on goal. White is also aggressive around the ball, applying strong pressure albeit while pushing the boundaries. He conveyed a bit of showmanship as he shooshed the Queensland crowd in his final outing and certainly adds a bit of spark when involved in the play.

NSW/ACT:

Joshua Fahey (GWS Giants/Queanbeyan Tigers)
186cm | 77kg | 11/11/2003
General Defender/Midfielder

Fahey is another big character who backs it up with his skill on-field, possessing a cool head and booming left foot which he used to send NSW/ACT forward out of defensive 50 and from midfield. Fahey’s work rate to get on the end of balls and penetrate the attacking 50 was also valuable, and he showed as much with his 24 disposals, six inside 50s and 10 rebound 50s against Tasmania to round out a solid carnival.

Matthew McKenzie (Sydney Swans/St Ives)
182cm | 79kg | 10/10/2003
Midfielder/Forward

Has a deceptively quick first few steps which he used to good effect when running though the midfield, while also providing a strong body at the stoppages. McKenzie racked up a good amount of ball and stayed busy when rotating through the forward 50, showing he can find the goals too. Enjoyed two solid and well-rounded performances in Queensland as one of a few promising St Ives boys.

Sam Stening (GWS Giants/Wagga Swans)
190cm | 72kg | 17/02/2003
Medium-Tall Forward

Stening came to life in an incredible final quarter against NT, while also picking up from where he left off in his next game to fix up some issues in front of goal to slot three majors from 14 disposals and six marks. Is not quite key position height but plays like one, marking well above his head with sticky hands and looking strong at full stretch. Could be a dangerous proposition once he fills out and finds his spot up forward.

Kai Watts (GWS Giants/Inner West Magpies)
178cm | 80kg | 1/02/2003
Forward/Midfielder

The NSW/ACT MVP was a dangerous asset for the Rams, starting forward and moving into the midfield as each game wore on. Watts was not a massive disposal-getter, having between 13-16 in his final two games, but has important touches and makes them count with some good delivery by foot. He gets in good positions close to goal and finds them, as shown in his 16-disposal, two-goal effort against the NT.

Queensland:

Austin Harris (Gold Coast Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin Lions)
175cm | 65kg | 30/04/2003
Defender/Outside Midfielder

Harris’ run and carry was fantastic for Queensland, making him a key contributor on his way to claiming his state’s MVP award. Harris just always found a way to the ball, getting into good areas with a high work rate and pushing forward at every chance. He often finished his runs off with neat kicks and provided a touch of class when in possession.

Daniel Lanthois (Brisbane Lions/Maroochydore)
173cm | 64kg | 12/02/2003
Midfielder

The diminutive and tough ball-winner does just about everything in the engine room, zipping away from stoppages and tackling hard on the rare occasions he doesn’t get his hands on the ball. Lanthois makes up for his lack of size with heart and really digs in around the contest, with one of his better performances coming against Tasmania as he had 18 disposals, 11 tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

Noah McFadyen (Brisbane Lions/Wilston Grange)
186cm | 89kg | 18/03/2003
Medium-Tall Forward

Kicked 14 goals in his three games as the leading tall forward in Division 2, with his sheer strength and positioning deep inside attacking 50 granting him most of his goals. McFadyen took full advantage of the much smaller match-ups he faced against NT to boot 8.2 in one of the performances of the carnival, and could well be the next McFadyen for Brisbane fans to keep an eye on after Connor was drafted in 2018. Will be interesting to keep tabs on his growth and whether he hits true key position size, with his set shot routine looking pretty efficient at this stage.

Tasmania:

Samuel Banks (Southern Academy/Clarence)
184cm | 70kg | 2/04/2003
Midfielder/Half-Back

The Alan McLean medallist (Division 2 MVP) has already impressed enough in Tasmanian circles to feature in the state’s Under 18 NAB League side, and showed his class throughout the carnival. Able to play through midfield or more offensively off half-back, Banks has a penetrating kick which he uses to hit targets others wouldn’t dare try to through the corridor. Is also an apt interceptor in the back half, and was terrific in that role against NSW/ACT as he collected 25 disposals, 10 marks, and five rebound 50s.

Baynen Lowe (North-West Academy/Devonport)
176cm | 65kg | 29/07/2003
Midfielder

Another of the raft of diminutive ball-winners, Lowe is a tireless worker who is mostly sighted quickly booting the ball forward from stoppages. The Devonport product wins most of his disposals himself, showing great speed through traffic while also finding his fair share around the ground. Was fantastic for Tasmania alongside Banks as Tasmania’s highest disposal getters.

George McLeod (Southern Academy/North Hobart)
175cm | 61kg | 11/01/2003
Midfielder/Forward

McLeod mixes his time between the midfield and forward half and works hard, pitching in with little bursts of run and important balls into the forward half. Was just behind Banks and Lowe in terms of output but made his own impact across each game, with one of his standout outings coming against NSW/ACT (23 disposals, 11 marks, seven inside 50s, 2.1)

Under 16 National Championships: Division 2 wrap

NEW South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) replicated Vic Metro’s Division 1 run, going through undefeated over three rounds to claim the Division 2 title. Queensland picked up two wins on home turf to slot into second place, with one of those coming over third-place Tasmania, while Northern Territory was the only side to go through without a win despite showing promise. We recap how each side fared and shed light on some of the better performers throughout the competition.

Northern Territory (0-3)

Results:
Rd 1 – Tasmania 16.13 (109) def. Northern Territory 8.8 (56)
Rd 2 – NSW/ACT 12.10 (82) def. Northern Territory 10.5 (65)
Rd 3 – Queensland 14.9 (93) def. Northern Territory 6.5 (41)

MVP: Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Southern Districts)
Most Goals: Mark White (Wanderers), 7

Despite not picking up a win over their three games, there were plenty of highlights and standouts for NT in this year’s carnival. A 53-point loss against Tasmania kicked off the Thunder’s campaign, with leading goal kicker Mark White enjoying his best game for the carnival to boot an equal game-high four goals. He was the Thunder’s only multiple goal kicker on the day, with Antonio James amongst the best in an under-siege defence and eventual MVP Brodie Lake enjoying a solid start. The NT responded in fine fashion against title-holders NSW/ACT in Round 2, pushing the Rams all the way but going down by 17 points. Two goalless terms told the tale of the see-sawing contest, and it was Lake again who impressed with his 26 disposals, seven marks, eight clearances and two goals. Tyrell Lui was also influential from midfield with 18 disposals, nine clearances and a goal, while undersized ruck Ned Stevens battled hard to have 12 disposals, 25 hitouts and a goal. It was a much improved performance from the Thunder, with a tough game against the hosts to come. It proved just that as they went down by 52 points in Aspley, struggling to match up on the Maroon’s array of tall forward options. At ground level, James again accumulated from defence and Ariki Lowe was busy in midfield with 15 disposals, six clearances and seven inside 50s. On the outside, Preyben Tipiloura showed some flash with his two goals, while Jason Baird stood up in a shift to defence with 12 disposals and five rebounds. It was a tough initiation onto the national stage for these NT youngsters, but there is certainly some talent to burn amongst the group.

NSW/ACT (3-0)

Results:
Rd 1 – NSW/ACT 10.10 (70) def. Queensland 9.5 (59)
Rd 2 – NSW/ACT 12.10 (82) def. Northern Territory 10.5 (65)
Rd 3 – Tasmania 4.10 (34) def. by NSW/ACT 11.9 (75)

MVP: Kai Watts (GWS Giants Academy/Inner West Magpies)
Most Goals: Euriah Hollard (Lavington/Geelong Grammar), 6

Division 2 title winners NSW/ACT responded beautifully to every question raised by their three opponents, holding firm in their first two games and enjoying a more comfortable win in the last. Round 1 saw them matched up against traditional rivals Queensland, overcoming deficits at quarter and three-quarter time to run over the top of the Maroons with a wind advantage. Austin Ball and Euriah Hollard each kicked two goals with Ball named best for the Rams, while the tall duo of Will Edwards and Patrick Voss also impressed. NT provided a good test for the Rams in Round 2, NSW/ACT’s ability to keep the Thunder goalless in two of the four quarters proved the difference. Voss booted four goals, while zippy ball winner Will Sexton was instrumental with 19 disposals, six marks, five tackles and a goal. His disposal effort was matched by rebounding defender Felix Rogers (eight rebounds) and tall forward Sam Stening (five marks, seven inside 50s, 1.5) as the Rams sailed home strongly. After being tested for three quarters against NT, the Rams stormed out of the blocks against Tasmania in Round 3 with an eight-goal to nil first half. The scoring slowed after the main break and Tasmania managed to put together 14 scoring shots, but the Rams were simply too efficient from forward 50 stoppages and resolute in defence. Joshua Fahey led the disposal count with 24 and 10 rebounds with Matthew McKenzie the only other to break the 20-mark (23 disposals, six marks, nine inside 50s). MVP Kai Watts started well up forward with 13 touches and 1.3, while Stening straightened up for 3.0 from 14 disposals and Toby Alker was again solid in midfield. The strength, versatility, and penetration of NSW/ACT’s midfield movers saw them home in each game, with a team balance also making them the clear-best in Division 2.

Queensland (2-1)

Results:
Rd 1 – NSW/ACT 10.10 (70) def. Queensland 9.5 (59)
Rd 2 – Queensland 9.3 (57) def. Tasmania 4.13 (37)
Rd 3 – Queensland 14.9 (93) def. Northern Territory 6.5 (41)

MVP: Austin Harris (Gold Coast Suns Academy/Palm Beach Currumbin)
Most Goals: Noah McFadyen (Brisbane Lions Academy/Wilston Grange), 14

Round 2 and 3 hosts Queensland went unbeaten at home to finish the carnival with a positive record and in second place. Their only loss came in Round 1 to champions NSW/ACT, going down by 11 points despite holding leads at two of the four intervals. Competition leading goal kicker Noah McFadyen was the only Maroon to find multiple majors with four, while ball-winners Bodhi Uwland, MVP Austin Harris and Finn Brown were also all influential. The Maroons bounced back in Round 2 in a game they hardly looked like losing against Tasmania at Metricon Stadium, getting up by 20 points in the end. Harris was again terrific with 19 disposals, seven marks and three clearances, while diminutive and tough midfielder Daniel Lanthois worked hard for 18 touches, 11 tackles and seven clearances. The tall trio of Will Bella (three goals) Jye Lockett (two), and McFadyen (two) all found multiples and caused headaches in the air, with that factor inevitably becoming a theme. The three went on to have a big say in Queensland’s closing win over the NT, with McFadyen’s strength close to goal overwhelming the NT defence as he helped himself to 8.2 from 14 disposals and seven marks. Lockett also parked inside attacking 50 to boot another two goals, while Lochlan Harrop also claimed two majors from 20 disposals. In a familiar tale, Harris and Lanthois again led the disposal count with 23 and 20 respectively to round out outstanding individual carnivals. A good combination of speed and ball winning ability further afield made the straightforward game-plan of feeding the talls up forward very effective, and it made them hard to stop in front of their vocal home fans.

Tasmania (1-2)

Results:
Rd 1 – Tasmania 16.13 (109) def. Northern Territory 8.8 (56)
Rd 2 – Queensland 9.3 (57) def. Tasmania 4.13 (37)
Rd 3 – Tasmania 4.10 (34) def. by NSW/ACT 11.9 (75)

MVP: Baynen Lowe (North-West Academy/Devonport)
Alan McLean Medal: Sam Banks (Southern Academy/Clarence)
Most Goals: Jonty McIvor (North-West Academy/Wynyard), 5

A big opening round win over Northern Territory ended up being Tasmania’s only victory for the carnival, unable to get that same scoring flow going in scores of 37 and 34 across the next two games. Their start unearthed plenty of promise though, with nine individual goal kickers contributing to the 53-point win. Jonty McIvor led the way with four, followed by Darcy Gardner‘s three and two each from Sam Banks and Zac Morris rounding out the multiple goal kickers. Zippy ball-winner and state MVP Baynen Lowe also made a good start, and was just as good in Tasmania’s Round 2 outing against Queensland. The Devils went down by 20 points in a slog, with Lowe’s 20 disposals, nine marks, eight clearances and one goal second only to Banks’ 21 touches and eight inside 50s. George McLeod also had a good game with 18 disposals and 1.2, with Dominic White (14 disposals, four marks) solid in the back half and Gardner (14 disposals, nine tackles, five clearances) also busy. A big first half from NSW/ACT saw Tasmania go goalless to the main break in Round 3, but it was not for a want of trying as the Devils were punished each time they failed to capitalise of gaining territory. They improved to finish with 4.10, as Lowe (27 disposals, seven tackles, seven clearances), McLeod (23 disposals, 11 marks, 2.1), and Jake Dixon (20 disposals, six marks) again worked tirelessly. But it was Alan McLean medallist Banks who was most influential, thriving in a move to half back to have 25 disposals, 10 marks and a combined nine breaches of each arc. With some undeniable class at the top and hard workers throughout, Tassie just fell short of putting together the pieces across the three matches. Banks is certainly one to watch, and has already broken into the Tasmanian NAB League squad like 2018 draftee, Tarryn Thomas.