Tag: Matt Campbell

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.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 12 – Teams return from mid-season break

FOOTBALL is back in 2020 as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season resumes under Friday night lights ahead of a huge triple-header on Saturday. In the game of the round, Darwin and Southern Districts play off in an eight-pointer while the remaining top five sides meet opponents further off the pace.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-7-1)
Friday January 3, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

St Mary’s will be looking to extend its three-game winning run into the new year when it faces Wanderers to open Round 12 under Friday night lights. The Saints did not dwell on a second loss to Tiwi in Round 8, bouncing back to claim three wins on the trot and go clear in second heading into the mid-season break. While St Mary’s’ form has been consistent, Wanderers’ path has been less linear as the young side battles to regain its early-season form. The Eagles are set for a big boost as Gold Coast SUNS trainee Joel Jeffrey looks primed to return to the lineup, and he may be used up both ends as Victorian twin towers Jackson Paine and Jackson Calder have been named inside forward 50 for the Saints. The AFL experience of recent weeks is not quite as prominent for St Mary’s, but Jake Long is set to feature alongside potential 2020 Richmond father-son, Maurice Rioli Jnr. Opportunities will be limited for Wanderers as it pushes to reclaim a top five spot, and the Saints should pose a tough test as one of the genuine premiership contenders. Expect St Mary’s experience to come into play as the four quarters wear on.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 6-5) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 7-3-1)
Saturday January 4, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round opens a huge Saturday triple-header at TIO Stadium, with Darwin and Southern Districts battling it out for top five supremacy. The Buffs have only defeated one of the current top five sides – Tiwi, all the way back in Round 1 – and come in having gone down to two of them right before the break. The Crocs fared slightly better in the build up to 2020, albeit having gone down comfortably to Nightcliff, but should take confidence in having already beaten the Buffaloes in Round 5. Both sides come in well stacked, with Southern Districts naming the likes of Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow, Jeff Garlett, and Richard Tambling, not to mention a forward line boasting the competition’s leading goalkicker in Will Farrer. Matt Campbell will lead his side in response, with the prolific Adam Sambono poised to return, Brodie Foster another likely inclusion, and Joe Anderson set to feature up forward alongside Daniel Stafford. While the Crocs’ side jumps off the page and their form has been telling at times, Darwin can beat anyone at its absolute best. The Buffs will need to bring exactly that if they are to stay in the top two hunt.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 10-1) vs. WARATAH (7th, 3-8)
Saturday January 4, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

League leaders Nightcliff will aim to pick up where it left off in 2019, with bottom three opponent Waratah first on the agenda in the new year. The Tigers have been near-perfect in their premiership defence thus far, only going down to the second-ranked side and beating every other opponent through 11 rounds. While they will be looking for more of the same, a change of fortunes will be what Waratah is after as it looks to latch onto the heels of the top five. There has been a sizeable gap between the Warriors’ best and worse, with the absence of key players proving telling – and it could well be the case in this game. With Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll not named in the squad, spearhead Kim Kantilla looks set for some added midfield time having been named as ruck rover. There should be no such issues for the versatile and deep Nightcliff side, with most of the key Tigers players set to feature. Trent Melville will look to push into top spot in the goalkicking charts on the back of a potential percentage booster, while Kaine Riley is one of many who will hope to continue their great form. The Tigers are always formidable, and will prove another tough ask for the Warriors in this fixture.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-11) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (5th, 6-5)
Saturday January 4, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston’s new year resolutions will be clear heading into its first match of 2020, with the Tiwi Bombers first on the agenda in Round 12’s final fixture. While they have gone close a couple of times, the Magpies have mostly been well off the pace this season and sit bottom of the league as the only side yet to crack a win. Meanwhile, the Bombers have flown up into the top five after an indifferent start to their campaign, maintaining a positive record and now looking to extend the gap to sixth. This matchup could provide a great opportunity to do so given Wanderers and Waratah’s difficult assignments, but Palmerston’s lineup suggests it will be up for the fight. Alwyn Davey will lead his side on-field alongside brother, Aaron and son, Alwyn Jnr, while Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will also look to make an impact going forward. Tiwi’s side is stacked as usual, featuring the AFL experience of Tom Bell, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ashton Hams to go with their formidable list of usual suspects. While it looks a mismatch on paper, anything can happen after the break and the Magpies will be hungry to rectify a disappointing 2019.

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 wrap: Round 11 – Tigers head into break on top

THE mid-season break is among us after 11 rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, as the top five sides sitting pretty with a 10-point gap to those out of finals spots. There were two great comebacks and a couple of blowouts in a mixed weekend, with plenty of highlights as per usual.

TIWI BOMBERS 4.3 | 5.4 | 5.4 | 9.11 (65)
WANDERERS 2.2 | 4.7 | 8.12 | 8.13 (61)

GOALS:

Tiwi: D. Munkara 2, R. Tungatalum 2, A. Wonaeamirri 2, M. Kantilla, J. Simon, J. Monigatti
Wanderers: C. Haley 3, R. Fejo 2, L. Patrick, M. White, B. O’Connell

BEST:

Tiwi: J. Monigatti, D. Kruse, H. Puruntatameri, J. Puruntatameri, N. Riddle, P. Heenan
Wanderers: D. Thompson, B. O’Connell, C. Haley, M. Motlop, E. Colley

Tiwi pulled off a monumental comeback in a game of momentum swings to move 10 points clear of weekend opponent, Wanderers with a four-point win. The young Eagles side fell away once again at the crucial moment, falling short in the 9.11 (65) to 8.13 (61) result with both sides proving inaccurate.

The Bombers were ahead at two of the four breaks with the sides drawing level at half time, but that did not tell the true story of the game, with Wanderers looking good for the four points after adding 4.5 to nil in a dominant third quarter. But a goalless term of their own to follow up brought all the hard work undone as Tiwi again managed a great escape to end the year. It was a case of the usual suspects pulling through for both sides, as the likes of Dray Thompson and Beau O’Connell contributed for the Muk Muks, while Charlie Haley had his best game for the year with three goals. A slightly subdued Tiwi scoring effort was led by Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum, and Austin Wonaeamirri‘s two majors apiece, but Jack Mongiatti, David Kruse, and Nick Riddle were recognised as the best Bombers.

After a real eight-pointer in terms of filling out the top five, Tiwi find themselves well clear with a 10-point gap in fifth to the sliding Eagles as the ladder starts to take shape. The Bombers will look to resume their season in style when they face Palmerston next month, while Wanderers takes on St Mary’s in the new year with the break coming at an ideal time.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 4.1 | 6.3 | 6.6 | 6.9 (45)
ST MARY’S 0.4 | 4.4 | 6.6 | 8.11 (59)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Stafford 3, M. Campbell 2, K. Campbell
St Mary’s: L. Larson 3, A. Parry, R. Jordon, J. Waite, S. Rioli, R. Miller

BEST:

Darwin: D. Stafford, T. Eldridge, K. Maroney, I. Seden-Kurnoth, B. Stokes
St Mary’s: J. Geary, T. Davies, R. Jordon, J. Salmon, S. Edwards, A. Long

An incredible second half turnaround helped see St Mary’s trump fellow finals hopeful Darwin in the round’s other tight contest. The Saints’ top-end class proved too much for the Buffs over time, carrying the winners to an 8.11 (59) to 6.9 (45) win.

The Buffs looked on early, with four goals in the opening term, all while keeping their opponents without a major until after the first break. But the Saints moved within striking distance at half time and would draw level heading into the last turn, completing a lockout second half to move ahead by the eventual 15-point margin. Leroy Larson bagged his second three-goal haul for the season at the ideal time to lead the Saints inside 50, but it was the efforts of Jackson Geary, Thomas Davies, and Shaun Edwards further afield which made all the difference once again. Darwin’s defence did well to keep Jarrad Waite and Jackson Calder to one goal between them, while their own big forward, Daniel Stafford booted three of his own and coach Matt Campbell added two. Kevin Maroney and Bradley Stokes were also back among the best in a tight losing effort.

The crucial win sees St Mary’s end the year in second, now two games clear of Darwin but the same distance away from Nightcliff in first. The going will be just as tough for the Buffs in the new year as they face Southern Districts straight off the bat, while St Mary’s has a dangerous Wanderers to content with come January.

WARATAH 2.2 | 5.4 | 6.6 | 7.9 (51)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.2 | 6.5 | 10.7 | 16.9 (105)

GOALS:

Waratah: H. Kerinaiua 2, D. Simpson, K. Kantilla, A. Raikiwasa, D. Collis, R. Bulluss
Southern Districts: W. Farrer 4, L. Stanbrook 3, J. Garlett 2, B. Rusca 2, D. Barry, J. Farrer, R. Tambling, D. Corbett, D. Staunton

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Southern Districts: D. Staunton, T. Holman, C. McAdam, R. Tambling, B. Rusca, M. Barlow

A stacked Southern Districts side lived up to the billing with an impressive second half romping of Waratah at Gardens Oval. The Crocs simply had too much firepower for their bottom three opponent, kicking away to the 16.9 (105) to 7.9 (51) result.

The Warriors were gallant for a good half of the game, sharing the spoils to quarter time and falling just one goal short heading into the main break. But the floodgates began to open after that as Southern Districts turned it on going both ways, piling on ten goals while keeping the Warriors to just two in a one-sided end to the contest. Will Farrer continued his ominous goalkicking form with another bag of four goals – besting his season average of three per game. He was backed well by Luke Stanbrook (three goals) and Jeff Garlett (two), with Garlett’s ex-AFL Crocs teammates Richard Tambling and Michael Barlow featuring among the best. Henry Kerinaiua was again prominent inside 50 for the losing side, with fellow goalsneak Kim Kantilla finding the goals and former Bendigo Pioneer Laine Fitzgerald proving a welcome addition.

Southern Districts is ten points off the top but safe in the finals zone, with a clash against Darwin after the break one which will have real implications on the finals race. Speaking of, finals is a quest which is slowly slipping away from Waratah, with a big effort needed in the new year if the Warriors are to recover the three-game deficit to fifth – starting with Nightcliff in January.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.2 | 9.5 | 11.11 | 13.13 (91)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 1.0 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: T. Melville 6, L. Holt-Fitz 2, P. Wills 2, R. Mu, C. Ilett, Z. Brain
Palmerston: N/A

BEST:

Nightcliff: B. Filo, M. McGregor, C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, P. Wills, Z. Brain
Palmerston: N/A

The gap from first to last proved vast as Nightcliff trounced Palmerston to the tune of 75 points to see out the round and year of football. With the result beyond reasonable doubt as early as at half time, the Tigers made a statement in the 13.13 (91) to 2.4 (16) result.

Nightcliff opened its account steadily with four goals to one in the first term, but soon overwhelmed the Magpies with another five goals to enter the main break 46 points to the good. The mix of tight defensive efforts and overpowering attack proved the story of the day, with Palmerston running out of answers quickly. Trent Melville was back to his best with six goals as the main avenue up forward, aided once again by Liam Holt-Fitz, while Brodie Filo was named best afield for his efforts. It was a tough day out for the Magpies with just two goals kicked and no points on the board heading into the new year, but spurts of competitive action should put them in good stead for an improved second half of the season.

Tiwi is first up for Palmerston as the Magpies look to start afresh in 2020, with a tight contest in the reverse fixture something to find confidence in. The Tigers will restart against another bottom three opponent in Waratah, with a near-flawless start to the season making them the clear best team thus far.

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 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.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 8 – Traditional rivals square off

TRADITIONAL rivals St Mary’s and Tiwi meet again in Round 8 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, chasing slightly different goals among the top five places. Meanwhile, all four Round 7 losers will look to bounce back as they face off against each other, with Darwin and Waratah resuming their interesting recent duel on Saturday evening.

WANDERERS (5th, 3-3-1) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 6-1)
Saturday November 23, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Seldom do two top five sides meet after respective losses, but that is exactly the case as Wanderers and Nightcliff prepare to do battle on Saturday afternoon. While the Muk Muks have struggled to string wins together in a season full of promise, Nightcliff had been a figure of consistency in its premiership defence before tasting defeat for the first time in Round 7. The Tigers’ loss to fellow premiership contender St Mary’s did not set them back in terms of ladder standing, but Wanderers’ defeat at the hands of Darwin saw the two sides swap spots to put the Eagles in danger of dropping out of the top five should they fare no better in this contest.

While three Motlops have been named in an extended Wanderers side, Marlon Motlop is not one of them. Nonetheless, ex-AFL experience remains in the form of Liam Patrick, while Liam Jurrah and Brett Eddy feature on the 12-man interchange. Nightcliff’s side becomes a touch scarier with the inclusions of former Williamstown pair Willie Wheeler and Leigh Masters, set to inject class in the forward half. The Tigers’ depth and dynamism is clear as the likes of Kaine Riley and Trent Melville look set to start from the pine.

With both sides looking to return to the winners list, it will be a case of who responds best and wants it more. The Tigers remain the team to beat, so should come in as favourites but will have to be switched on against an Eagles outfit keen to remain in the finals hunt.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-7) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 4-2-1)
Saturday November 23, 5:00pm
Palmerston Oval

The remaining two losers out of Round 7, Palmerston and Southern Districts have the opportunity to make amends on Saturday evening as they clash at Palmerston Oval. While the Crocs looked to be angling for a top two spot before an upset loss to Tiwi, the Magpies have been season 2019/20’s cellar dwellers with a winless record to this point. A win would still leave them at least four points behind the pack as their finals hopes dwindle, but it would be a welcome change of fortune in front of home fans. On the other hand, a fifth win would put the Crocs back on track as they push to jump into the top two with St Mary’s and Nightcliff facing slightly tougher fixtures respectively.

The Crocs’ spine looks strong as ever, with the middle strengthened by the rare inclusion of ex-Tiger Richard Tambling, pushing Nikolaus Rokahr to the bench as Josiah and Will Farrer look set to be key absentees. Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston’s side is still without the same real ex-AFL starpower and experience, but forward movers Kyle Emery and Keiden Holt-Tubbs are always dangerous inside 50 and Aaron Lonergan adds value through midfield.

While it would be easy to dismiss this contest based on looks on-paper, the Magpies should be well buoyed by their home support and the chance to finally get on the board. But their opposition is fearsome and will come in fired up after a loss to bottom-three opposition.

WARATAH (7th, 2-5) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 4-3)
Saturday November 23, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah can continue its climb up the NTFL ladder with a third official win for the year, but face stiff opposition in the form of Darwin on Saturday evening. The Warriors have the wood over the Buffs, boasting four consecutive wins over their weekend opponents dating back to last season’s finals series – despite what this year’s records show. While the Round 3 result came somewhat controversially, there can be no debate about Waratah’s recent form over the Buffs. But Darwin look primed to make amends after a big win over fellow finals hopefuls, Wanderers last time out. But Waratah’s 89-point drubbing of Palmerston in the same weekend makes them tough opposition at this stage, and poises the clash as a cracker.

Waratah’s extended bench alone is as formidable as they come, with last week’s six-goal hero Kim Kantilla featuring among the likes of Abe Ankers, ex-Bendigo Pioneer Laine Fitzgerald, and former Melbourne forward Michael Newton. All four add enormous value and experience to the lineup led by centreman, Brodie Carroll. Brayden Culhane and Jalen Clarke are Darwin’s own bench threats, with ex-AFL pair Joe Anderson and Matt Campbell leading the Buffs’ lineup from the forward half.

With experience and class on each line, expect the fourth place side to come in well equipped to turn its fortunes around and solidify a finals spot. But recent results will be fresh in the Warriors’ minds, and an improved starting lineup will make them strong through the mid-season period.

ST MARY’S (2nd, 5-2) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (6th, 3-4)
Saturday November 23, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Potentially the game of the round again features St Mary’s, as it looks to rectify an early-season loss to Tiwi when the two sides meet to close out Round 8. The Bombers enter Saturday night’s clash in good form after a solid win over Southern Districts last time out, and can be further assured by a fighting shootout victory over the Saints in Round 3. But St Mary’s come in having shown just as formidable form in a win over the previously undefeated Nightcliff, stamping its authority as a genuine premiership threat.

While Nicholas Yarran looks like being a key absentee this week, Saints club legend and eight-time premiership player Peter McFarlane has been named in a forward line featuring former Collingwood-listed utility Michael Manteit, while draft hopeful Kieren Parnell starts on a wing. They will all be important in the face of a relative full-strength Tiwi side, with the Bombers’ pace through Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara and Harley Puruntatameri posing problems for each side. The former-AFL midfield pair of Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura should also prove vital in Tiwi’s hopes of a win.

The Bombers are one of just two sides the Saints are yet to beat this season, so the opportunity to claim another scalp should ring true for the better-placed side. Either way, this clash should provide a raft of real highlights if the first encounter is anything to go by.

Credit: Ivan Rachman/NT News

NTFL Men’s Premier League update: Round 7 – Waratah claims opening Indigenous Round win

WARATAH kicked off the inaugural Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Indigenous Round with a bang, setting the tone for a big weekend of action. Fans will be treated to another two top five clashes, with Darwin hosting Wanderers before St Mary’s takes on Nightcliff tonight, while Tiwi will hope to bring a halt to Southern Districts’ run in the afternoon game.

WARATAH 3.2 | 8.4 | 13.7 | 17.10 (112)
PALMERSTON 0.0 | 0.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 (23)

Waratah won convincingly in the first ever NTFL Indigenous Round fixture, thumping Palmerston by 89 points at TIO Stadium under Friday night lights. The win is the Warrior’s second in as many weeks, consigning fellow bottom two battler Palmerston to its seventh defeat via a 17.10 (122) to 3.5 (23) scoreline.

A goalless first half from the Magpies meant there was no answer for Waratah’s physicality and nous around goal, with the Warriors piling on eight unanswered majors to head into the main break 50 points to the good. It was smooth sailing from there as the Warriors put on another nine goals to finish the game, with Palmerston finally getting on the board in the third term and finishing just shy of a four-goal total – its lowest for the season. Kim Kantilla lead the onslaught with six goals, joined in the best by the likes of Timothy Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua, and Brendon Minkulk.

With two wins under their belts, the Warriors will be looking to build a top five charge when they face Darwin next time out after having a Round 3 win against the Buffs revoked for a team sheet mishap. Meanwhile, Palmerston’s search for a maiden win continues into Round 8 as it hosts Southern Districts on Saturday evening.

ROUND 7 PREVIEW:

TIWI BOMBERS vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday November 16, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will be looking to play spoiler in Southern Districts’ rise to the top when the two sides clash to open Saturday’s proceedings. The heat is on the sixth placed Bombers with Waratah’s win meaning the Warriors are breathing down their neck in the bottom two. A bounce-back win would help Tiwi keep pace with the finals pack, while four points would see the Crocs keep touch with the undefeated Nightcliff in the race for top spot. The Bombers have been exiting in patches but have not been able to produce consistently enough, and the Crocs will snap up any chance they get in small lapses of concentration.

Much of the Tiwi core remains with Rodney Baird, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ross Tungatalum all named down the middle, with speedsters Adam Tipungwuti, Dion Munkara, and Richard Puruntatameri named on an extended bench, while Brayden Rioli returns and Jeffrey Simon slots into midfield. They all have what it takes to help take down the Crocs, but will be matched in class by the likes of Ed Barlow and Charlie McAdam in Southern Districts’ midfield, while the forward quartet of Sam Barnett, William Farrer, Dylan McLachlan and Beau Schwarze is sure to cause headaches.

The Crocs are back to their damaging best and keep finding wins, but do not count Tiwi out of the contest with its eye-catching lineup.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. WANDERERS
Saturday November 16, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

A third-consecutive top five clash awaits Darwin as it faces Wanderers on Saturday evening with both sides hoping to solidify their finals standing. The Buffs risk falling behind in the finals race as the midway point of the season approaches, with Waratah and Tiwi sure to turn up the heat from the bottom three. They are also coming in off losses to the top two sides, while Wanderers will be buoyed by two wins in its last three outings. The Muk Muks have been unable to string their wins together, and one over Darwin here would come in handy as they look to leave the trailing pack in their wake.

Adam Sambono again comes out of the Darwin lineup, with Joe Anderson returning to midfield after a forward stint, joined in there by last week’s best afield, Patrick Boles. Matt Campbell is a handy addition, set to feature up forward alongside young goalsneak Brayden Culhane. But Wanderers have their own rising stars inside 50 in the form of Beau O’Connell and Davin Ferreira, while versatile tall Joel Jeffrey has been named in midfield. Ex-AFL experience also comes in spades as Marlon Motlop, Liam Jurrah, and Liam Patrick all look primed to feature for the Eagles.

While Darwin has been on a skid in the win column, the Buffs’ true form is difficult to measure having faced the top two sides. Wanderers is in the same boat, but has arguably shown more extended form and come in as favourite with its superior ladder position.

ST MARY’S vs. NIGHTCIFF
Saturday November 16, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the game of the round will again be left until last as St Mary’s pushes to climb back into the top two and hand Nightcliff its first defeat all in one fell swoop on Saturday night. The Saints have improved out of sight from last season, but have faced a couple of hurdles this season in an otherwise consistent six rounds. The formline is much more linear on the Tigers’ end however, enjoying a streak of six-straight wins to open its premiership defence. The result of this contest is set to answer the open question of which side will be Nightcliff’s closest flag threat, and the Saints look primed to take that mantle.

But St Mary’s will have to pull it off without their leader, Raphael Clarke, replaced by Victorian spearheads Jackson Paine (ex-AFL) and Jackson Calder in the key forward spots. The midfield trio of Shannon Rioli, Nate Paredes, and Nick Yarran should also work a treat against the likes of John Butcher and James Tsitas. Those two, along with legendary utility Cam Ilett and the in-form Liam Holt-Fitz will be key for the Tigers, with their perfect record set to face its biggest test in this outing.

It is always hard to look past Nightcliff, but this game should be a cracker and has real implications on the pointy end of the NTFL ladder heading into the mid-season period.

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

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Finals Round 1

ROUND 1 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals absolutely delivered, with the two winners taking full advantage of their hot form, while one side will have to rely on its double-chance to progress further.

WARATAH 21.7 (133)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 8.12 (60)

GOALS:
Waratah: A. Ankers 4, S. Godden 3, T.Toma 3, S. Tatupu 2, Z. Westerberg, H.Kerinaiua, B.Minkulk, S.Flanegan, K.Kantilla, B.Carroll, C.Barrett, J.Gardner.
Darwin: J. Clarke 3, J. Clark, M. Campbell, P. Boles, M. Bradley, B. Culhane.

BEST:
Waratah: N/A
Darwin: N/A

A clinical performance after quarter time helped Waratah to a comprehensive 73-point elimination final win against Darwin to open post-season proceedings. In what was almost an identical result to the Warriors’ 76-point drubbing of the Buffs in Round 18, the winners put on a show in front of goal to earn a semi-final shot against Southern Districts. Both sides came out strong in the opening stages, with the Warriors holding a slender three-point margin at the first break despite having two less scoring shots. It was one way traffic from there on, with a seven-goal second stanza setting up an even five-goal margin going into half time as Darwin continued to misfire. 12 goals to five after the main break put the nail in the coffin for the Buffs, who lost five games in a row to end what, at one stage, looked like a promising season. The Tahs had a good spread of goalkickers with 12 individual scorers, as Abraham Ankers led the way with four majors. Sam Godden and Tom Toma were not far behind with three each, as Shem Tatupu rounded out the multiple goal kickers with his bag of two. Jalen Clarke stood up in that regard for Darwin with three goals, while the returning Matt Campbell also hit the scoreboard. While Darwin will regroup and look forward to going around again next year, Waratah moves on to face another early-season favourite – Southern Districts. The Crocs have also shown weaker form of late, but are always dangerous forward of centre and more than capable of matching the new-found firepower of Waratah. Having been a feature of the top four all year, the result is nothing short of what the Warriors deserve, but they will no doubt be looking to go one better next week.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 10.5 (65)
TIWI BOMBERS 13.8 (86)

GOALS:
Southern Districts:
S. Thorne 2, S. Rusca 2, W. Farrer, C. Gallio, J. Koopman, R. O’Brien, D. Staunton, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 6, A. Wonaeamirri 4, D. Munkara, S. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts:
D. Staunton, S. Rusca, S. Thorne, J. Farrer
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, M. Dunn, W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, A. Wonaeamirri

A surging come from behind effort has seen Tiwi roll on into a semi-final fixture against Nightcliff, downing the highly fancied Southern Districts by 21-points. Down by as much as 27-points in the second half, the Bombers never gave up hope and snatched the win on the back of a swarm from their forward 50 mosquito fleet. Dion Munkara stole the headlines and some social media airtime with his goal celebration late on, with Austin Wonaeamirri‘s goal to clinch the lead also not to be outdone in the highlight stakes. The ex-Dee was instrumental with four goals, but it was Ross Tungatalum who again led the way in front of goal with a bag of six. The Crocs were not too far behind, but shared their goals a touch more with eight players troubling the scoreboard – including Shane Thorne and Steve Rusca with two each. Both were named in the Crocs’ best handful of players, with Dean Staunton deemed the most valuable. With both sides at relatively full strength, Tiwi passed this test with flying colours and will fancy itself in with a huge chance of toppling the Tigers after their week off for a shot in the big dance. In the week’s other game, Southern Districts will hope to take full advantage of its second chance in finals as it meets a red-hot Warriors side in what should be a belter.