Tag: michael bowden

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 18

THE FINAL Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League home-and-away round was run and done on Saturday, with finals fixtures officially locked in. A mixed bag of results saw top two sides Nightcliff and St Mary’s earn terrific wins on postseason’s eve, while Southern Districts upset Darwin in a thriller and Palmerston sent off a club stalwart coach in style. All that, and more in our Round 18 weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS 3.2 | 6.2 | 9.3 | 9.4 (58)
PALMERSTON 3.3 | 13.7 | 13.11 | 18.17 (125)

GOALS:

Tiwi: S. Munkara 3, A. Wonaeamirri 2, K. Councillor, J. Simon, J. Tipiloura, B. Rioli
Palmerston: A. McAdam 6, C. Williams 4, J. Lange 2, J. Harvey 2, M. Sutton, A. Davey, B. Church, L. Flanagan

Palmerston ensured Tiwi would complete a winless season in 2020/21, handing the Bombers their 18th loss for the season on Saturday by 67 points. The undermanned Bombers competed well early despite desperately scrounging to fill the team sheet with 18 players, but were blown out in the second term as Palmerston slammed home 10 goals. The Magpies’ scoring surge set up their 18.17 (125) to 9.4 (58) win, ensuring player-coach Alwyn Davey would be sent off fittingly in his final game at the helm.

Davey booted the last goal of the game and was served well by Aiden McAdam inside 50, who booted a game-high six goals. Chris Williams was prolific through midfield and added four majors, as a total of eight Magpies joined in on the scoring action. Formerly retired Bomber Simon Munkara was strong early and finished with three goals, while Austin Wonaeamirri snared two and skipper Paddy Heenan worked hard for his side through the engine room.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 3.1 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 7.4 (46)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 2.0 | 3.1 | 5.6 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

Districts: J. Farrer 2, D. Robertson 2, Z. Clarke, L. Kiel, M. Bowden
Darwin: B. Foster 3, A. Stokes, B. Archard, T. Eldridge

BEST:

Districts: D. Robertson, L. Kiel, B. Lake, J. Clark, D. Staunton, M. Bowden
Darwin: N/A

Southern Districts may have fallen short of finals this season, but capped off its 2020/21 campaign with a spirited one-point win over Darwin Buffaloes on Saturday. The Crocs led throughout the scrappy contest and played like a side which had nothing to lose, building a two-goal buffer and holding on at the clutch. Timothy Eldridge booted the only fourth term major as Darwin closed to within a goal, but could not overturn the result which ended 7.4 (46) to 6.9 (45) in favour of Districts.

Along with Eldridge, spearhead Brodie Foster helped cut the margin for Darwin at key moments and finished with a game-high three goals. He was impactful alongside the likes of Kelvin Williams and Bradley Stokes. Former AFL ruckman Zac Clarke made his debut for the Crocs, hitting the scoreboard and adding to their tall stocks. Dean Robertson booted two majors as one of Districts’ best, along with fellow goal getters Luke Kiel and Michael Bowden.

ST MARY’S 4.5 | 10.11 | 14.15 | 19.17 (131)
WANDERERS 3.1 | 5.1 | 5.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Landt 3, J. Long 2, D. Landt 2, L. Fiore 2, R. Linklater 2, B. Grenfell 2, J. Robinson, N. Paredes, L. Taylor, J. Cheek, J. Long, L. Ferreira
Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, S. Bates, J. Priest, S. Tipiloura

BEST:

St Mary’s: D. Landt, L. Jellyman-Turner, N. Paredes, W. Hams, B. Grenfell, S. Edwards
Wanderers: B. Eddy, A. Motlop, D. McFarlane, E. Simpson, B. Motlop

Saturday’s qualifying final preview saw St Mary’s blow Wanderers away by 79 points, seeing the Saints cement second spot and a handy mental edge ahead of the postseason. The second and third terms proved telling periods for the winners, who added 10 goals to Wanderers’ two through a wealth of opportunities to lay the foundations for their comprehensive 19.17 (131) to 8.4 (52) triumph.

Jack Landt (three goals) led a brigade of 12 individual goalkickers for the Saints, with brother Dylan one of five players to claim two majors. Brandyn Grenfell was another as he took over primary ruck duties, while Lucas Jellyman-Turner also impressed for the Green Machine. Competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy capped off his season with another five majors, supplied well by Dane McFarlane in midfield, who was on of Wanderers’ best along with Aaron and Brenton Motlop.

WARATAH 2.0 | 9.0 | 9.1 | 10.2 (62)
NIGHTCLIFF 2.1 | 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Waratah: R. Turnbull 3, K. Kantilla 2, D. Hemphill, J. Sutton, W. Collis, B. Carroll, A. Moloney
Nightcliff: S. Wilson 3, T. Melville 2, H. Drogemuller, J. Hammond, R. Nyhuis, P. Wills

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Nightcliff: D. Bowles, D. Brew, K. Riley, S. Wilson, B. Filo, D. Butcher

Nightcliff overturned a 34-point half time deficit in muddy conditions on Saturday night to defeat Waratah by two points in a thrilling Battle of the Beaches. The Tigers were stunned by a seven-goal second term from Waratah, but quickly cut back to a manageable deficit at the next break before sneaking ahead to take all four points. The 9.10 (64) to 10.2 (62) result means Nightcliff has now won eight-straight games as it guns for a premiership three-peat.

Usual suspects were at the core of the Tigers’ turnaround, with midfield maestros Brodie Filo and Dom Brew performing well while Shaun Wilson (three goals) and Trent Melville (two) benefitted inside attacking 50. Robert Turnbull also booted three majors for Waratah as the Warriors’ best player afield, with fellow scorers Damon Hemphill and Will Collis also among their side’s best contributors in the losing effort.

Image Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 17

NIGHTCLIFF wrapped up the 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League minor premiership in Round 17, labelled NO MORE Round as the competition takes a stand against family and domestic violence. The Tigers were emphatic in victory on the eve of finals, as was St Mary’s, while Wanderers had a trickier time handling a pesky Palmerston outfit and Darwin claimed a confidence-boosting win over top five rival, Waratah. That, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS 4.1 | 4.2 | 6.2 | 6.3 (39)
ST MARY’S 7.5 | 12.14 | 18.22 | 26.26 (182)

GOALS:

Tiwi: B. Kantilla, K. Councillor, J. Tipiloura, P. Heenan, P. Puruntatameri, G. Alimankinni
St Mary’s: J. Calder 8, J. Landt 6, N. Paredes 3, D. Landt 2, L. Ferreira 2, J. Cheek, L. Taylor, R. Clarke, B. Grenfell, L. Fiore

BEST:

Tiwi: N/A
St Mary’s: N. Paredes, J. Landt, D. Landt, L. Taylor, J. Calder, L. Ferreira

NO MORE Spirit of the Game Award: Brendan Kantilla (Tiwi), Lachlan Taylor (St Mary’s)

St Mary’s took its time to click into gear and accelerate away from Tiwi on Saturday, but did so in emphatic fashion with a 143-point triumph at TIO Stadium. The 26.26 (182) to 6.3 (39) result saw the Saints conjure 52 scoring shots to Tiwi’s nine, with a 60-point half time lead merely a sighter of what was to come. Earlier, the Bombers hit the front in an 11-goal opening term but their ascendancy was short-lived as St Mary’s turned up the heat to come away big winners with one round left before finals.

Jackson Calder was the key destroyer, booting eight goals as St Mary’s spearhead and backed well by Jack Landt (six goals), who enjoyed a move further afield among the engine room. Nate Paredes (three) also found the big sticks in an impactful display from midfield, while Lachlan Taylor earned the Spirit of the Game award for his efforts. Brendan Kantilla took out the same honours for Tiwi as his side’s best afield, contributing well alongside the dependable likes of Paddy Heenan and Adam Tipungwuti. St Mary’s takes on Wanderers next week in a battle for second, while Tiwi will hope to finally get a win on the board next week having already been handed the wooden spoon.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 (27)
NIGHTCLIFF 5.3 | 14.4 | 18.7 | 21.16 (142)

GOALS:

Districts: B. Rolfe 2, J. Breed, D. Robertson
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, J. Hammond 3, J. Butcher 3, A. Moniz Wakefield 2, S. Wilson 2, K. Emery 2, D. Bowles, R. Nyhuis, D. Brew, B. Henderson, M. McGregor

BEST:

Districts: M. Bowden, L. Ogden, L. Kiel, B. Lake, B. Rolfe, D. Robertson
Nightcliff: D. Bowles, D. Brew, B. Filo, A. Moniz Wakefield, S. Wilson, J. Hammond

NO MORE Spirit of the Game Award: Brodie Lake (Southern Districts), Andy Moniz Wakefield (Nightcliff)

Nightcliff wrapped up the 2020/21 minor premiership with a statement of intention, thumping Southern Districts to the tune of 115 points at Norbuilt Oval on Saturday. A nine-goal to one second term saw the game ripped open, as Districts failed to recover and managed just one goal after half time in the face of the Tigers’ roar, culminating in the one-sided 21.16 (142) to 4.3 (27) scoreline. Nightcliff’s deep forwardline dynamic and slick running game earned it 37 scoring shots to seven and a week off for the first round of finals.

Andy Moniz Wakefield was terrific for the victors, booting two goals and finding plenty of the ball. Jack Hammond was also thereabouts and snared three majors, matched by John Butcher and only beaten by Trent Melville (four goals) on the day. The likes of Daniel Bowles and Kaine Riley were also impactful further afield. Billy Rolfe (two goals) was Districts’ lone multiple goalkicker, while young gun Brodie Lake took out the Spirit of the Game award ahead of the likes of Michael Bowden and Dean Staunton.

DARWIN 3.2 | 7.3 | 8.6 | 11.7 (73)
WARATAH 2.2 | 4.4 | 6.7 | 7.12 (54)

GOALS:

Darwin: N. Cooper 3, J. Collinson 2, C. Abala 2, B. Foster 2, N. Lowden, R. Matricardi
Waratah: D. Collis 2, H. Kerinaiua, D. Hemphill, A. Kirby, J. McGrath, J. Simson

NO MORE Spirit of the Game Award: Timothy Eldridge (Darwin), Jack Cattanach (Waratah)

Darwin gained an early mental edge over Waratah before their elimination final bout in a fortnight, trumping their rivals by 19 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. After a tense opening stanza, the Buffs pulled away with four goals to two in the second term to set up a game-defining lead, before finishing strongly to run out 11.7 (73) to 7.12 (54) winners. With one less scoring shot than the Warriors, Darwin made its opportunities count at the right times.

Nathaniel Cooper was one of four Buffs to boot multiple goals, managing three as Joey Collinson, Cade Abala, and Brodie Foster each snared two. Timothy Eldridge earned Spirit of the Game honours, an award also taken out by Jack Cattanach for the Warriors. Dylan Collis was his side’s sole multiple goalkicker, one of Waratah’s better performers alongside Sam Godden. The win came at a cost for Darwin, who lost key men Michael Coombes and Michael Hagan to injuries on the eve of finals.

PALMERSTON 4.3 | 4.3 | 5.5 | 6.7 (43)
WANDERERS 1.4 | 4.5 | 5.8 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Palmerston: C. Williams 2, T. Kunoth, M. Sutton, A. McAdam, M McMasters
Wanderers: B. Eddy 3, A. Motlop, M. Totham, D. Braun, E. Simpson, D. Thompson, B. Newman, T. Motlop

BEST:

Palmerston: N/A
Wanderers: B. Newman, S. Tipiloura, D. Braun, J. Cubillo, D. McFarlane

NO MORE Spirit of the Game Award: Eric Guthrie (Palmerston), Brodie Newman (Wanderers)

Wanderers will play off against St Mary’s for second spot next week after sneaking past Palmerston by 25 points at Cazalys Arena on Saturday night. The Muk Muks secured their double finals chance but were made to earn it, falling behind early before clawing back ahead by under a goal at the second and third breaks, and eventually kicking away late. Five goals in the final term saw them earn a fighting 10.8 (68) to 6.7 (43) victory, still two points adrift of second place.

Competition leading goalkicker Brett Eddy added three majors to his season tally to lead Wanderers’ attack, which boasted eight individual goalkickers. Defender Brodie Newman was among them, earning best afield honours for his work while Deacon Braun and Thomas Motlop were other Eagles to impress. Eric Guthrie earned Palmerston’s Spirit of the Game award, returning a typically trying shift alongside the likes of Chris Williams (two goals) and Matthew Dennis.

Image Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 8

A HOTLY contested weekend of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action saw three games decided by four goals or less, as all eight top flight teams took to the field on Saturday. Southern Districts and Waratah were among the big winners with notable upsets over genuine finals contenders, while St Mary’s soared past Tiwi in easily the most one-sided game of the round. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 0.3 | 1.5 | 8.10 | 8.12 (60)
ST MARY’S | 5.3 | 9.5 | 17.7 | 21.13 (139)

GOALS:

Tiwi: A. Bryne 2, R. Tungatalum 2, A. Tipungwuti, J. Wilson, M. De Wit, T. Babui
St Mary’s: B. Tedcastle 4, J. Long 3, N. Paredes 3, J. Landt 2, S. Edwards 2, J. Calder 2, B. Grenfell 2, R. Smith, L. Raymond, A. Wilson

BEST:

Tiwi: M. De Wit, N. Scagliarini, F. Carroll, R. Tungatalum, J Monigatti
St Mary’s: D. Landt, J. Williams, B. Tedcastle, L. Taylor, J. Landt, A. Long

St Mary’s staved off a shootout with Tiwi to come away 79 point victors on Saturday afternoon, marking an authoritative start to the Round 8 action. The Saints stormed out to an even eight-goal lead at the main break before Tiwi made its move with seven goals during the third term. There was just one problem for the Bombers, or eight, as St Mary’s piled on as many majors in return to keep well ahead in the contest. It proved Tiwi’s final surge as the Bombers remained goalless in the final quarter, seeing St Mary’s run out 21.13 (139) to 8.12 (60) winners.

The Saints had little trouble kicking a winning score in the absence of Jackson Paine, with Beau Tedcastle (four goals) one of seven St Mary’s players to find the big sticks on more than one occasion. Nate Paredes was among that list and kicked a goal of the week contender, while Dylan Landt proved a key part of the win. Mason De Wit was again outstanding for Tiwi from defence, while gun forward Ross Tungatalum made a handful of himself through midfield alongside Nathan Scagliarini and Fletcher Carroll. The result sees Tiwi languish in last at 0-8, while St Mary’s jumps to third with its 5-3 record.

WANDERERS | 3.3 | 6.5 | 9.6 | 12.9 (81)
PALMERSTON | 3.3 | 6.4 | 9.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, S. Bates 2, B. O’Connell, R. Fejo, J. Cubillo, T. Motlop, D. McFarlane
Palmerston: T. Kunoth 4, A. McAdam 2, J. Mentha, M. Dennis, S. Lampton, A. Davey

BEST:

Wanderers: D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson, A. Motlop, J. Cubillo, D. Thompson
Palmerston: E. Guthrie, A. Davey, M. Dennis, R. Armstrong, T. Kunoth, S. Jewell

Wanderers survived an almighty scare at the hands of Palmerston on Saturday evening to scrounge a 13-point win at TIO Stadium and move clear atop the Premier League standings. There was nothing to split the two sides come the first and third breaks, as Palmerston’s dash and dare continued to worry a defensive Wanderers outfit. After trailing by three goals in the third term, the Muk Muks drew back level and continued their momentum into the deciding quarter to earn the 12.9 (81) to 10.8 (68) victory, thanks largely to claiming six of the last seven goals.

Brett Eddy again topped the scoresheet with five majors for Wanderers, with Simon Bates the only other Eagle to snare multiple goals (two) – including the sealer. The likes of Dane McFarlane and Brydan Hodgson were again prominent in the Eagles’ seventh win along with Josh Cubillo. Toshie Kunoth did most of the damage for Palmerston with his bag of goals, but it was Eric Guthrie, Aaron Davey, and ruckman Matthew Dennis who inspired the Magpies’ effort from the engine room. Palmerston is no better placed with its 1-7 record, while Wanderers sits pretty in first place with opposite figures.

NIGHTCLIFF | 1.1 | 3.1 | 3.3 | 8.6 (54)
S. DISTRICTS | 2.4 | 3.6 | 4.11 | 9.13 (67)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz, A. Jorgensen, S. Wilson, P. Wills, W. Wheeler
Districts: J. Tsitas 3, L. Kiel 2, J. Dahlhaus 2, J. Farrar, D. Staunton

BEST:

Nightcliff: A. Jorgensen, M. Rivett, W. Wheeler, C. Ilett, D. Bowles, P. Wills
Districts: L. McGregor, J. Tsitas, J. Dahlhaus, D. Robertson, J. Clark, J. Laba

Southern Districts claimed the scalp of the season so far with a 13-point road win over Nightcliff on Saturday night. The Crocs ensured to spoil their adversaries’ party under lights, with the reigning premiers celebrating their maiden game among the newly installed Nightcliff Oval luminance. It proved a scrappy, low-scoring affair from the outset but Districts proved the team in control to lead at every break. As good sides do, Nightcliff hit back when it mattered to move within striking distance, but the effort proved futile as Districts sealed the deal to win 9.13 (67) to 8.6 (54).

Against his old side, James Tsitas was impactful as ever with three important goals and plenty of disposals, while Luke Kiel was the one to steady his side at the death. Michael Bowden and Liam McGregor also played important roles in the win, which sees the Crocs move one step closer to the top five. Cam Ilett booted three majors for Nightcliff as the Tigers’ lone multiple goalkicker, with the likes of Mack Rivett, Daniel Bowles, and Willie Wheeler continuing their good stretch of form. Nightcliff now drops back to second, but remains every bit the premiership contender despite another slip-up.

WARATAH | 3.2 | 8.5 | 10.5 | 13.5 (83)
DARWIN | 0.2 | 2.4 | 7.5 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

Waratah: R. Turnbull 3, J. Sutton 3, C. Arnold 2, M. Blake 2, C. Searle 2, T. Fields
Darwin: M. Lochowiak 3, J. Collinson 2, S. Ahmat 2, I. Palmer 2

BEST:

Waratah: Z. Westerberg, R. Turnbull, C. Searle, J. Sutton, T. Fields, B. Carroll
Darwin: J. Stokes, R. Pendlebury, T. Eldridge, M. Lochowiak

Waratah broke through to knock off top opposition on Saturday night, defeating Darwin by 13 points to see out the weekend’s action. After building a 37-point lead at the main break, Tahs were made to earn their keep in the second half as Darwin rallied to get the margin back to within a couple of goals. The Warriors were up to the task and notched a key victory, reading 13.5 (83) to 9.6 (60) on the final scoreboard. In a rare quirk, all bar one of the goalkickers found multiple majors as Waratah proved efficient inside attacking 50.

Robert Turnbull stood up for Waratah in the absence of Abe Ankers to boot three majors from midfield, aided well by Jake Sutton who matched the feat. Mihail Lochowiak also did so for Darwin and could have compounded his damage at crucial moments with more accurate conversion. Tahs ruckman Zach Westerberg again proved giant in the win, while the likes of Callum Searle and Tom Fields contributed strongly. Jarrod Stokes was adjudged Darwin’s best ahead of Lochowiak, Ryan Pendlebury, and Tim Eldridge. Waratah is now just a game adrift from Darwin on the ladder, as both sides take up top five spots.

Featured Image: Jesse Clark flies for Southern Districts | Credit: Glenn Campbell/NT News

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Southern Districts

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is gallant preliminary finalist, Southern Districts. Losers in the 2018/19 decider, the Crocs looked to again be in the premiership hunt after a tight Round 1 grand final rematch against Nightcliff, but struggled to capture their best form for consistent periods throughout the season. Arguably their best streak came at the ideal time though, with a string of three wins heading into the post-season putting Districts in perfect stead to notch two high-class finals wins. While they fell just short of a third-consecutive grand final berth to the eventual premier, the Crocs produced some terrific football when at their best.


SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 3rd, 10-7-1 (2-1 finals), 120%

Most games: Josiah Farrer (21)

Most goals: William Farrer (52 – league best)

With over double the goals tally of the next-best Croc (Ed Barlow, 25), Will Farrer thrived as his side’s spearhead in 2019/20 to finish as the league’s leading goalkicker. Farrer’s incredible run of finding the big sticks in all of his first 10 outings is testament to his consistency, being held goalless just twice in 19 games – against the top two sides, no less. The high-flying forward also booted more than three goals 11 times this year, making him a reliable figure for the Crocs in helping to take contests away from their opponents. His season-high haul of eight goals came against Palmerston in Round 16, just as Districts started to turn their form around.

MVP: Josiah Farrer

The profound impact that both Farrer boys have on the Southern Districts side is no secret, and Josiah was arguably the centrepiece in 2019/20 as a mainstay in the lineup. The midfielder/forward was the only Croc to feature in every round this season, finding the goals in 15 outings to average almost one major per game. Farrer’s happy knack of getting on the board when resting forward, or bursting up the ground from midfield, made him one of the more impactful ball winners in the competition, with his versatility another showpiece of his well-rounded game.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Ed Barlow (11)

Not to be mistaken for his ‘twin’, Michael, Ed Barlow made a real impact in his 10 games across 2019/20, remarkably enough finishing as the Crocs’ second-highest goalkicker with 25. The ex-Sydney and Bulldogs utility often proved too big and strong for his opponents through midfield and up forward, showcased most significantly in his seven-goal effort against Tiwi to lead the Crocs’ semi final triumph. A big game player, Barlow was a prominent figure in Districts’ late-season charge, featuring among the coach’s best six players in their last four games – including three finals. Given the impact he can have, it is no wonder he polled so well this year.

Young gun: Brodie Lake

One of the NT’s brightest prospects is Brodie Lake, a two-time Thunder Under 16 representative and last year’s carnival MVP. The tall utility was employed mostly in the back six across his 15 games, locking down a spot in the Crocs’ squad throughout the latter half of the year as one of their more important figures. Capable of playing roles anywhere on the ground, Lake has earned plaudits for his coachability and is thriving as part of the Allies hub, training with the Gold Coast SUNS during their pre-season. Perhaps the top-end’s best draft prospect this year, Lake is certainly one to watch.

Best win: Semi-Final – def. Tiwi 16.15 (111) to 11.5 (71)

Goals: E. Barlow 7, W. Farrer 2, J. Garlett 2, D. Staunton 2, M. Barlow, J. Watts, J. Farrer.
Best: E. Barlow, C. McAdam, D. Staunton, K. Dingo, M. Barlow, J. Schofield

Perhaps the showpiece game of Districts’ season, their win over Tiwi was a great advertisement of the Crocs’ firepower. Ed Barlow led a brigade of four multiple goalkickers with his bag of seven, while the big names of Will Farrer, Josiah Farrer, Jeff Garlett, and Michael Barlow all also got on the board. Add to that the experience of Dean Staunton and Keegan Dingo to steady the ship, and it was a terrific all-round performance from the Crocs.

Worst result: Round 2 – drew w/ Wanderers 9.12 (66)

Goals: W. Farrer 3, J. Farrer 2, J. Clarke, B. Schwarze, I. Wyatt, B. Ngalkin.
Best: C. McAdam, M. Bowden, Z. Smith, J. Farrer, T. Holman, K. Dingo

No worst loss for the Crocs this season, but a worst result instead, in their Round 2 draw with Wanderers. This result ultimately cost Districts a top three berth and finals double chance, boasting the percentage required to snatch third if they had picked up the extra two points here. Nonetheless, the usual suspects were in play here, with Will and Josiah Farrer both booting multiple goals, while Thomas Holman and the ever-present Michael Bowden were also among the best.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 17 – Third time lucky as Saints halt Tiwi train

THIRD time proved a charm for St Mary’s in its ongoing rivalry with Tiwi, securing second spot and blowing the race for third place wide open in the process. Elsewhere, the remaining finals-bound sides picked up wins over the bottom three, with just one round left to play in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.4 | 6.10 | 9.11 | 13.17 (95)
WARATAH 0.3 | 2.6 | 4.10 | 5.11 (41)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Wunungmurra 4, I. Palmer 3, D. Stafford 3, N. Cooper 2, L. McKenzie.
Waratah: M. Graham 2, N. Gooch, W. Gorman, J. Schaper.

BEST:

Darwin: C. Atkinson, D. Wunungmurra, K. Kossack, N. Cooper, J. Anderson
Waratah: N/A

Darwin is in prime position to pounce on third place after getting the four points over Waratah for the third time this season, brushing the Warriors aside to the tune of 54 points. The Buffs showed they are every bit the finals contender in what was somewhat of a danger game coming in, coasting home to the 13.17 (95) to 5.11 (41) result. Darwin took advantage of the three-goal buffer it set up in the opening term, notching three majors in each of the next two quarters before a 4.6 to 1.1 final quarter truly extended the margin. Club leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford made a successful return to the Double Blues’ forward 50, booting three goals alongside Ishmael Palmer, while young gun Djamatjama Wunungmurra managed a bag of four on his Premier League debut. Despite their efforts in front of the big sticks, Christopher Atkinson was named the Buffs’ best with a good amount on strength still to return to the fold. For Waratah, Michael Graham was the lone multiple goalkicker with two majors in an undermanned Warriors side, with his side unable to match their opponent’s firepower and class across the ground. Set in the bottom three, Waratah is set to face Southern Districts in the final regular season round, while Darwin faces St Mary’s in its attempt to hold on to third place.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.3 | 9.4 | 12.9 | 19.9 (123)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 3.4 | 5.5 | 6.8 | 7.9 (51)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 8, J. Clarke 2, J. Garlett 2, B. Lake 2, D. McLachlan, M. Bowden, N. Horbury, R. Bull, M. Cannard.
Palmerston: C. Timms 2, J. Taylor, B. Church, J. Filo, M. Dennis, M. Filo.

BEST:

Southern Districts: J. Schofield, D. Staunton, W. Farrer, D. Wehrung, J. Clarke, M. Bowden
Palmerston: J. Filo, K. Emery, M. Dennis, W. Shadforth, S. Brock, R. Stone

Southern Districts remains a chance to jump two spots in the final round and snatch third after trouncing the lowly Palmerston Magpies by an even 12 goals. Spearheaded by competition leading goalkicker Will Farrer‘s eight goals, the Crocs were clinical inside 50 to make from an impressive 19.9 (123) to 7.9 (51) scoreline. After what was a tightly contested opener, the Crocs began to take over territory in the game and kick away, starting with five goals to two in the second term. It was all Districts after the main break too, with the hosts pouring on another 10 goals to two in the second half to pretty up the scoreboard and gain some valuable percentage heading into Round 18. Farrer was excellent throughout as chief destroyer, but compiled the misery late to make both his individual tally and the team margin more impressive. Three other Crocs booted multiple goals (three each), but it was Jayden Schofield who was named the winners’ best alongside Dean Staunton, with Michael Bowden also featuring in the best half-dozen for the third-straight match. In a similar vein, Kyle Emery and Sandy Brock were again influential in the losing Magpies side, but it was first-gamer Josh Filo who was named best afield, while returning bigman Matthew Dennis picked up right from where he left off. The wooden spooners’ disappointing campaign will come to an end next round against Nightcliff, with Waratah awaiting the Crocs as they look to snatch finals superiority.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.2 | 5.4 | 10.5 | 13.9 (87)
WANDERERS 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Tsitas 3, B. Filo 2, S. Wilson 2, D. Bowles, J. Peris, M. Bricknell, M. Hagan, T. Melville, L. Holt-Fitz.
Wanderers: B. O’Connell 2, W. Williams, D. Braun.

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Wilson, J. Miles, J. Tsitas, D. Butcher, N. Brown, J. Peris
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, S. Bates, T. Lui, D. Thompson, A. Motlop

Nightcliff consigned Wanderers an eleventh-straight loss, dominating at both ends of the ground to come out 58-point winners on home turf. The Tigers managed to keep the Eagles goalless in a first half shutout, steadily adding to their lead to build to the 13.9 (87) to 4.5 (29) end result. The first half was not as free-flowing as the Tigers would have liked despite their dominance, only managing five goals of their own while denying the Muk Muks. While scoring was easier to come by in the second half as Nightcliff notched eight majors, Wanderers also proved more competitive as it broke through for four goals of its own. Plenty of Tigers got a solid hitout heading into finals, with James Tsitas (three goals) and Danny Butcher both making successful returns to the side, while mainstays Shaun Wilson, Nathan Brown and Jonathan Peris were also named among the best. For Wanderers, Beau O’Connell was again a standout, booting two goals from midfield while fellow youngsters Tyrrell Lui and Dray Thompson also showed promising signs. The Eagles’ last chance to break their losing streak comes against Tiwi, which will see the fixture as a must-win, while Nightcliff can ease into the post-season with a game against wooden spooner, Palmerston awaiting it.

TIWI BOMBERS 2.3 | 2.5 | 4.7 | 5.8 (38)
ST MARY’S 2.2 | 4.7 | 9.8 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 2, A. Wonaeamirri, A. Darcy, P. Heenan
St Mary’s: J. Calder 3, S. Rioli 2, H. Labastida 2, L. Larson 2, N. Paredes, C. James Wilson, J. Paine, D. Johnstone

BEST:

Tiwi: C. Molyneux, R. Tungatalum, C. Jones, R. Baird, J. Puruntatameri, J. Simon
St Mary’s: S. Edwards, L. Larson, J. Paine, S. Rioli, T. Saunders, B. Ah Mat

St Mary’s finally got one back over Tiwi at the third time of asking this season, trumping the Bombers to the tune of 49 points in what could well be a post-season sighter. The Saints were brilliant across the ground, showing fluency on each line to wind up 13.9 (87) to 5.8 (38) winners and officially secure second spot. An even opening term saw the Bombers claim their only lead of the game, albeit by the slimmest of margins, before St Mary’s hit back to sneak in front at the main break while keeping the Bombers goalless. From there on, the Saints tripled the Bombers’ second half goal tally with nine to three in a dominant display, putting the result beyond much doubt with a quick surge after half time. The ex-AFL duo of Shaun Edwards and Jackson Paine showed their class to be two of St Mary’s best, while Jackson Calder booted a game-high three goals and Shannon Rioli, two. South Australian Charlie Molyneux was again best afield for the Bombers upon returning to the lineup, with Ross Tungatalum not far behind as Tiwi’s lone multiple goal kicker and Jason Puruntatameri continuing his good form. St Mary’s could again foil Tiwi’s top three plans if they fall to Darwin next time out, while Tiwi will need to overcome Wanderers if it is any chance to avoid an elimination final berth.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 7 – Saints hand Tigers first loss

NIGHTCLIFF’s perfect record is no longer after St Mary’s handed the Tigers their first loss of the 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season. Darwin got one back on Wanderers in the round’s other top five clash, while Waratah won big and Tiwi nabbed an upset win over Southern Districts. It was an historic weekend too, with the NTFL hosting its inaugural Indigenous Round with great success.

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

GOALS:

Waratah: K. Kantilla 6, A. Ankers 3, T. Schmid 2, S. Godden 2, H. Kerinaiua, T. Mosquito, M. Blake, J. Schaper
Palmerston: J. Brauman, K. Emery, B. Church

BEST:

Waratah: K. Kantilla, A. Ankers, T. Mosquito, H. Kerinaiua, B. Minkulk
Palmerston: J. Brauman, J. Berry, R. Mungatopi, S. Brock, M. Chester, A. Diamond

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, followed by Abe Ankers‘ three to be joined in the best by the likes of Timothy Mosquito, Henry Kerinaiua, and Brendon Minkulk. Jack Brauman was Palmerston’s best as one of the Magpies’ three goalkickers, with the winless side unable to find the inspiration forward of centre to match Waratah’s firepower on the day.

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.

TIWI BOMBERS 4.1 | 7.5 | 10.8 | 14.11 (95)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 0.6 | 2.9 | 4.10 | 8.12 (60)

GOALS:

Tiwi: D. Munkara 4, A. Darcy 2, A. Tipungwuti 2, R. Tungatalum 2, T. Bell, P. Heenan, L. Howe, B. Puruntatameri
Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, S. Barnett 2, N. Rokahr, B. Schwarze, D. Williams

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, J. Puruntatameri, M. Dunn, D. Munkara, J. Mullins, D. McLinden
Southern Districts: M. Bowden, N. Rokahr, D. Williams, T. Holman, J. Farrer, B. Lake

Tiwi pulled off the upset of the season thus far with a big win over strong finals hopeful Southern Districts on Saturday afternoon. The Bombers made better of their chances compared to the wasteful Crocs, kicking away early on the way to a 14.11 (95) to 8.12 (60) win.

The hosts found themselves in the lead at quarter time despite managing one less scoring shot as the Crocs went goalless, and zipped out to a 26-point buffer at the main break with just one more scoring shot. It was elementary from there-on, with Tiwi’s consistent scoreboard pressure proving too much for last year’s grand finalists as they tried to mount any form of a comeback. A high-scoring final term did little to pretty up the scoreboard, with Tiwi consolidating the 35-point final margin.

Dion Munkara booted four goals to lead the Bombers’ charge, joined in the best by fellow multiple goalkicker Adam Tipungwuti. Ross Tungatalum continued his consistent run of goalkicking form with another two majors, while Jason Puruntatameri was again among Tiwi’s best. Will Farrer (three goals) and Sam Barnett (two) did their best to fire up forward for the Crocs to no real avail, while Michael Bowden was named their best in the loss along with the likes of Nikolaus Rokahr, Thomas Holman and promising youngster Brodie Lake.

The win sees Tiwi keep pace with the finals pack, just half a game away from Wanderers in fifth. A meeting with traditional rival St Mary’s is up next, with the Bombers already boasting a win over the Saints. Southern Districts will look to bounce back when it travels to face the winless Palmerston, hoping to remain firmly in the rear-view mirror of the top two sides.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 5.7 | 10.9 | 15.12 (102)
WANDERERS 2.2 | 4.5 | 6.8 | 11.11 (77)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Shillabeer 5, D. Stafford 3, C. Williams 2, I. Seden-Kurnoth, J. Stokes, B. Foster, P. Boles, B. Culhane
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 5, L. Jurrah 4, K. Fejo, M. Motlop

BEST:

Darwin: I. Seden-Kurnoth, D. Shillabeer, D. Stafford, K. Maroney, T. Fleay
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, L. Patrick, J. Jeffrey, W. Yunupingu

Darwin snapped a three-game losing run in style, bettering Wanderers by 25 points to reclaim fourth place in a true eight-pointer. The Buffs pulled away in the second half to come out 15.12 (102) to 11.11 (77) winners, saluting for the fourth time this season.

A close-fought first half saw the Eagles keep within striking distance at around a goal adrift, but the floodgates began to open in the premiership quarter as Darwin kicked away with five goals to two. It proved a defining period of play, but the Buffs made sure of the result by piling on another five majors to see out the game as Wanderers kept on finding avenues to goal in reply.

There were plenty of outstanding efforts in front of goal, headlined by Darren Shillabeer‘s five majors – his first bag of multiple goals for the season. Daniel Stafford (three goals) and Christopher Williams (two) rounded out the Buffs’ multiple goalkickers with the latter named among the best alongside Isaac Seden-Kurnoth and Kevin Maroney. AFL Academy member Joel Jeffrey matched Shillabeer’s five-goal haul as the Eagles’ primary outlet, followed by ex-Dee Liam Jurrah in his return to the side. Fellow returnee Marlon Motlop also found the goals, but all three were beaten out to best-afield honours by Beau O’Connell and Liam Patrick, with Winston Yunupingu also featuring.

With fourth place again theirs, the Buffs will look to break into top two contention with Waratah up next – the side they controversially claimed four points against in Round 3. Wanderers risk dropping out of the finals places next week as it faces Nightcliff, but should come in looking to strike after the Tigers suffered their first loss in the same weekend.

ST MARY’S 2.2 | 5.4 | 8.6 | 15.9 (99)
NIGHTCLIFF 4.4 | 4.4 | 9.6 | 11.6 (72)

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

St Mary’s stamped its authority as a genuine premiership threat with a decisive 27-point win over the previously undefeated reigning premiers, Nightcliff. The 15.9 (99) to 11.6 (72) victory was done without Raphael Clarke as a couple of Victorian recruits spearheaded a stacked Saints lineup in his place.

Nightcliff started the stronger of the two sides with four goals to two in the opening term, but were held scoreless in the following stanza as the Saints helped themselves to a slim half time lead. They were made to earn the four points though as the Tigers immediately hit back to reclaim the ascendancy heading into the final term, but seven goals to two to close out the game proved telling in a game of momentum swings.

Former-Pie and Lion forward Jackson Paine booted five goals in a dream debut, while Leroy Larson again found form to be named the Saints’ best for the second week running on the back of three goals. Ryan Smith and Shannon Rioli were others to feature in the best for the second time in as many games, as Paine’s fellow forward addition Jackson Calder also chimed in with two goals. Trent Melville booted three goals to lead Nightcliff’s charge inside 50, but it was Clayton Holmes who was named their best ahead of Kaine Riley – who has been in ripping form of late.

With top spot in their sights, the Saints will also look for redemption in Round 8 as they take on the Tiwi Bombers for the second time this season, while the Tigers are set to do battle with Wanderers and will hope to maintain their gap at the top.

NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 2 – Eagles and Crocs play out season’s first draw

IT only took two rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action for the first draw of the year, seeing 2018/19 grand finalist Southern Districts remain winless, while reigning premier Nightcliff continued its ideal start along with St Mary’s and Darwin.

TIWI BOMBERS 1.1 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.7 (85)
NIGHTCLIFF 8.4 | 9.9 | 12.15 | 18.17 (125)

GOALS:

Tiwi: G. Cunningham 4, J. Best 3, H. Puruntatameri 2, P. Heenan, M. Dunn, D. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti.
Nightcliff: L. Evans 4, H. Williams 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett 2, T. Kidney, K. Winter-Irving, B. Filo, P. Wills.

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, G. Cunningham, D. Kruse, P. Heenan, J. Puruntatameri, H. Puruntatameri
Nightcliff: K. Riley, B. Filo, L. Evans, T. Kidney, J. Heard

Nightcliff’s perfect flag defence remains in tact for a second week after the Tigers comfortably accounted for Tiwi by 40 points to open the round. A late Bombers charge was not enough to soar past the league’s premier side, with Nightlciff’s six-goal final term prettying up the 18.17 (125) to 13.7 (85) scoreline.

Signs were ominous early as the winners broke out to a seven-goal lead at quarter time, but to Tiwi’s credit the margin was trimmed well over the next two quarters to see the Tigers head into the final turn just 21 points to the good. The difference in efficiency in front of goal looked like being a telling factor as Nightcliff failed to truly make the most of its chances, but a much-improved 6.2 in the final term was more than enough to see the Tigers coast home. Their firepower was on full show as they outgunned the dangerous Bombers, with Liam Evans (four goals) leading a brigade of five multiple goal kickers. Kaine Riley was recognised as best afield, with Brodie Filo lively alongside goal-getters Trent Melville and Harry Williams. For Tiwi, the familiar name of Adam Tipungwuti was again best, followed by Gerrard Cunningham who starred up forward with four majors. David Kruse was also again among the best, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri also pitching in.

Tiwi’s search for its first win continues next week as the Bombers face the undefeated St Mary’s, making for a tough test in what has been another slow start for the much-hyped side. Meanwhile, the near-faultless Nightlciff move on to face fellow undefeated team Wanderers in Round 3, looking to blanket the Eagle’s promising start.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.12 (66)
WANDERERS 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, J. Farrer 3, J. Clarke, B. Schwarze, I. Wyatt, B. Ngalkin.
Wanderers: S. Thorne 2, S. Bates, D. Thompson, K. Thompson, B. Motlop, R. Fejo, J. Jeffrey.

BEST:

Southern Districts: C. McAdam, M. Bowden, Z. Smith, J. Farrer, T. Holman, K. Dingo
Wanderers: N/A

Southern Districts and Wanderers played out season 2019/20’s first draw, tussling to an entertaining 9.12 (66) apiece result. The sharing of points means the Crocs remain without a win despite two consecutive grand final appearances of late, while Wanderers maintains its unbeaten start.

The result may not have gone his side’s way, but it was a successful milestone game for Charlie McAdam, who was named best-afield in his 100th outing for the Crocs. Josiah Farrer booted three goals in an influential display, matched by Will Farrer‘s game-high bag of three to go with solid shifts from Michael Bowden and Zachary Smith. Wanderers shared around the goals a touch more, with former-Croc Shane Thorne (two goals) the lone multiple goal kicker. Youngsters Joel Jeffrey and Ronald Fejo Jnr showed their class to again hit the scoreboard but were better held after outstanding opening round performances, with the true forward strength of either side struggling to shine through. In a game of ebbs and flows, the Crocs just managed to step up at the right time after a long goalless patch and held on with the ball deep in the Eagles’ half late-on to snatch an unlikely draw.

The Muk Muks face a daunting task in backing up their early form as they ready themselves for a battle with Nighcliff on Saturday night, while Southern Districts will fancy its first win when it hosts fellow winless side Palmerston in a twilight fixture at Norbuilt Oval.

PALMERSTON 4.0 | 6.4 | 8.5 | 10.7 (67)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 4.4 | 5.9 | 10.13 | 14.15 (99)

GOALS:

Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 3, K. Holt-Tubbs 2, J. Brauman 2, R. Ashley, M. Dennis, K. Emery.
Darwin: B. Culhane 6, C. Williams 2, W. Baird 2, T. Eldridge, P. Boles, A. Stokes, C. Stokes.

BEST:

Palmerston: B. Launer, J. Brauman, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. Dennis, D. Gordon, L. McDonald
Darwin: C. Williams, W. Clarke, J. Niki, J. Anderson, P. Boles

Darwin continued its storming start to the season with a well-earned 32-point win over Palmerston on Saturday evening. It took a special performance in front of goal from Brayden Culhane to help the Buffs run away 14.15 (99) to 10.7 (67) winners in a physical contest.

The Magpies stuck with the Buffs after sharing eight goals evenly in the first term, even sneaking ahead by a single point at the main break. But as the players tired in the second half, Darwin’s class shone through as the Double Blues kept the Magpies comfortably at bay with replies to each momentum shift. The win was made even sweeter given the absence of Round 1 12-goal hero Adam Sambono, Culhane’s six goals accounting for that. William Clarke put in a big shift against Matthew Dennis in the ruck too, while Joe Anderson excelled in a more forward role along with fellow experienced Buffs Christopher Williams and Patrick Boles. Nigel Lockyer Jnr was again a highlight for Palmerston as he posted another three majors for the losing side, but fellow goal kicker Jack Brauman was named best alongside Blake Launer. Kyle Emery was also influential under Dennis’ ruckwork, with both finding the goals.

A winless Waratah is next in line to face a confident Darwin side, with the Buffaloes making an early case to be Nightcliff’s biggest title challenger this year. On the other hand, Palmerston travels to face Southern Districts in a bout that will – barring a draw – give either side their first win for the season.

WARATAH 7.8 (50)
ST MARY’S 13.14 (92)

GOALS:

Waratah: S. Stroobants 4, S. Godden, C. Barrett, K. Kantilla.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, D. Johnstone 2, S. Rioli 2, J. Cheek 2, J. Quinn, R. Smith, T. Anderson, L. Larson, L. Ferreira.

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
St Mary’s: T. Anderson, J. Geary, N. Paredes, N. Yarran, W. Hams, J. Cheek

St Mary’s became the fourth side to go two-from-two as it overcame a disappointing Waratah by 42 points to see out the round. The Saints’ wealth of class and experience proved too much for the Warriors as they stormed to the 13.14 (92) to 7.8 (50) win, guided by nine individual goal kickers.

The Saints have been ultra-impressive thus far and were only helped by the addition of former-AFL midfielder Will Hams to the lineup for this game. He, along with fellow Saints returnee Jackson Geary, was productive as the likes of Nathaniel Paredes and Josh Cheek found the goals with two majors each, while Tom Anderson was named best with Nicholas Yarran not far behind. VFL-listed small Steve Stoobants entered the competition with a splash for the underperforming Warriors, booting a game-high four goals as their main form of resistance. Their prime movers in Sam Godden, Cameron Barrett and Kim Kantilla each also hit the scoreboard, with the absence of midfield leader Abe Ankers proving telling in the loss.

Waratah’s search for a win will only be made harder in Round 3 as it faces a fearsome-looking Darwin side, hoping to rekindle some of the form which saw the Warriors trump the Buffs convincingly in their last two meetings in season 2018/19. Meanwhile, the Saints will go on to face another winless side in Tiwi, but it should prove a decent challenge for the rising St Mary’s team.

Nightcliff breaks 54-year premiership drought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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