Tag: Matt Campbell

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.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 15

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 14

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win her would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dionysius Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceeded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Joliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the middle is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin Maroney, Joe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win here would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dion Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

 

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

 

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Jolliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the ruck is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin MaroneyJoe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 13

A TRIPLE header at TIO Stadium kicked off the weekend, with Tiwi Bombers showing no mercy against the cellar-dwelling Wanderers. Nightcliff took down a plucky St Marys side to claim top spot, as Darwin Buffaloes had a thrilling one-point win over top-of-the-table Southern Districts. In the final game, Palmerston Magpies kept their finals hopes alive with a win over Waratah.

 

WANDERERS 6.5 (41)
TIWI BOMBERS 22.11 (143)

GOALS:

Wanderers: J. Wilson 2, M. White 2, J. Adams, J. Cubillo.
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 5, A. Wonaeamirri 4, A. Tipungwuti 2, J. Simon 2, S. Munkara 2, N. Djerrkura, M. Cooper, H. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, J. Sagiba, C. Burgess, A. Tipungwuti.

BEST:

Wanderers: T. Motlop, S. Meyer, B. Motlop, J. Sattler, Q. Hartog
Tiwi: A. Hams, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, A. Tipungwuti, A. Wonaeamirri, M. Dunn

Tiwi Bombers put the lowly Wanderers to the sword with an eye-catching 102-point victory. Twelve individual goal kickers helped the Bombers to the percentage-boosting win, which was all but decided by half-time as Tiwi piled on 10 goals to one by the main break. A more determined Wanderers side saw the losing team add three goals in the third term to the Bombers’ five, but the scoring power of the visiting side resulted in a seven goals to two final quarter to run away with the contest. Ross Tungatalum booted five goals and was named among the best for the Bombers, while 150th gamer, Austin Wonaeamirri managed four majors. Ashton Hams and Jason Puruntatameri were named as the Bombers’ best, while Thomas Motlop and Scott Meyer were the Eagles’ best. Josh Wilson and Mark White were the multiple goal kickers for the losers with two goals apiece.

 

ST MARYS 8.7 (55)
NIGHTCLIFF 12.3 (75)

GOALS:

St Marys: S. Edwards 3, B. Taylor, M. Jeffery, R. Clarke, B. Rioli, T. Davies.
Nightcliff: S. Deery 2, T. Melville 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, P. Wills 2, C. Ilett 2, H. Drogemuller, M. Hagan.

BEST:

St Marys: N. Paredes, R. Clarke, J. Long, B. Rioli, T. Saunders, L. Ferreira
Nightcliff: P. Wills, H. Drogemuller, T. Kidney, K. Riley, S. Wilson, C. Ilett

Shaun Edwards inspired second term was not enough to get the job done for St Marys who played catch-up after a dismal opener. The Saints trailed by 33 points at quarter time, before a three-goal bust by Edwards in the second stanza saw the home team remarkably hit the front as they held the Tigers scoreless in the second term. Unfortunately for the underdogs, it was not to last, with Nightcliff booting five of the last six goals of the game to record a 20-point victory and snatch top spot. The Tigers had five multiple goal kickers as they shared the goals around in the win. Phillip Willsbooted two majors and was named the Tigers’ top player, while Hugo Drogemuller (one) and Tyson Kidney were also among the best. For the Saints, Edwards’ three goals was the highlight up forward, while Nathaniel Paredes and Raphael Clarke continued their great form this season, named among St Mary’s best.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 15.9 (99)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 15.10 (100)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, D. Staunton 3, D. McLachlan 2, R. Young 2, R. O’Brien, M. Mummery.
Darwin Buffaloes: A. Sambono 4, M. Campbell 4, D. Shillabeer 3, J. Stokes 2, M. Rosas, D. White.

BEST:

Southern Districts: R. Tambling, J. Koopman, B. Schwarze, D. McLachlan, L. Ogden, S. Martin
Darwin Buffaloes: S. Anderson, M. Rosas, K. Williams, M. Campbell, P. Boles, K. Maroney

The match of the round lived up to pre-game expectations, with third-placed Darwin Buffaloes taking home the four points after a thrilling one-point win over ladder leaders, Southern Districts. The Crocs led at the first change by four points, but it was the Buffaloes who piled on seven goals to four in the second term to head into half-time with an 18-point lead. Southern Districts threw themselves back into the contest after the main break with four goals to three to cut the deficit to just seven points, a margin that could have even been in their favour had it not been for six behinds. With the Nightcliff loss fresh in their minds from the previous week, Darwin held strong in the final term as the Crocs threw everything at the Buffaloes, but fell a point short as Darwin kept its slim top two hopes alive. Adam Sambono again had a day out up forward for the winners with four goals, while Matt Campbell (four) and Darren Shillabeer (three) were also productive. Steven Anderson was named the Buffaloes’ best, while teenage talent, Malcolm Rosas was also impressive, booting a goal and was electric across the ground. For the Crocs, you had to spare a thought for Jess Koopman who slotted six goals in a losing side, while former AFL player, Richard Tambling was the best on ground for the Crocs. Beau Schwarze and Dylan McLachlan were others who stood up in the defeat.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 11.5 (71)
WARATAH 9.13 (67)

GOALS:

Palmerston: K. Emery 3, B. Church 2, A. Lonergan, M. Bunworth, M. Dennis, J. Wunungmurra, E. Frank, S. Talbot.
Waratah: S. Tatupu 2, S. Godden 2, J. Wray 2, H. Kerinaiua, B. Minkulk, A. Ankers.

BEST:

Palmerston: M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. Bunworth, E. Frank, L. McDonald, M. McMasters
Waratah: A. Ankers

In the standalone game away from TIO Stadium, Palmerston Magpies held onto fifth spot with a vital four-point victory over Waratah. The win meant the Magpies moved to within percentage of the fourth placed team, and also avoided Tiwi Bombers overtaking them given the Bombers had a huge triple-figure win earlier in the round. Waratah led by seven points at the first change but the Magpies booted four goals to two in the second term to head into half-time with a two-point advantage. They maintained their slim hold on the game with a four-point lead at the final break, with that margin being the final margin. The Magpies were the more accurate side with six less scoring shots, but four more points at the end of the game. Kyle Emery booted three goals for Palmerston as Broderick Church capped off some good work with two majors. Matthew DennisNigel Lockyer Jnr and Mitch Bunworth were the Magpies’ best in the win, while Abraham Ankers was Waratah’s best in the loss. Shem TatupuSam Godden and James Wray all booted two goals.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 13

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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