Tag: nathaniel paredes

Finals semi-finals preview: NTFL Men’s Premier League – Tigers and Saints to battle for Grand Final spot

A DOUBLE-header at TIO Stadium sees the remaining four sides battle it out in search of keeping their premiership dreams alive. For Nightcliff and St Mary’s, they have a second chance locked in the bank, with a Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Grand Final spot on the line, with the loser through to the preliminary final. For Tiwi Bombers and Southern Districts, there is no turning back for the loser, in the do-or-die final. The winner heads to the preliminary final, while the loser bows out of the 2019/20 finals.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, February 29, 4.30pm
TIO Stadium

In the first game of the double-header, Tiwi Bombers will look to bounce back from a loss against St Mary’s last weekend to face Southern Districts who kept their finals dream alive with a win in the elimination final last round. These sides have met twice thus far, with the third placed Bombers getting up on both occasions. Back in Round 7 at TIO Stadium, Tiwi won by 35 points, before doubling it up with a 46-point victory at Norbuilt Oval showing a capacity to win on the road as well. Aside from two losses to St Mary’s and one to Nightcliff in the past four weeks, the Bombers had won six on the trot, and then finished the season with a 13-point victory over Wanderers. While their end to the season was disappointing, they did play the top two teams for three losses and they should be much better placed here. The Crocs on the other hand have run into form for the finals, winning the past four games and averaging 113 points per game while restricting their opponents to 52.5 points per game. The Puruntatameri‘s will loom as two of the danger players in the Bombers’ side, with Harley booting 21 goals – the third most of any Tiwi player – while Jason has been named in the best a remarkable 14 times from 17 matches. Rodney Baird and Adam Tipungwuti are always dangerous, while Austin Wonaeamirri (32 goals) and Ross Tungatalum (23 goals) are the ones likely to apply plenty of scoreboard pressure. In terms of goalkicking power, William Farrer is by far the standout in this game, slotting 49 goals from 17 games including a haul of eight. Thomas Holman has been the standout player and is arguably leading the Crocs’ best and fairest with 11 times named in the bests, while Josiah Farrer (19 goals) has also got amongst it, as has former AFL player, Ed Barlow. With young gun, Brodie Lake having a superb senior season, the Crocs have the depth and talent to get a win here. In saying that, the Bombers have won on both occasions against the Crocs and should be able to do it again.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday, February 29, 7.00pm
TIO Stadium

While the first game offers plenty to the neutral, the two best sides in the NTFL Men’s Premier League go at it in the night game with reigning premiers, Nightcliff tackling reigning wooden spooners St Mary’s. It has been a remarkable rise from the Saints who have risen from a disappointing season to get back to where they have been throughout their history as the most successful club in the competition. In saying that, it will be a tough ask for the Saints as Nightcliff has been the clear standout side and look likely to defend its title in 2019/20. The last time these teams played, Nightcliff won in a canter, 14.13 (97) to 4.8 (32) at home on PSC BM Oval, which reversed the result from a 27-point loss to the Saints on this very stadium at TIO. That loss turned out to be the only blemish in Nightcliff’s otherwise perfect season and it was the day that former Collingwood and Brisbane Lions forward, Jackson Paine booted five goals and led his side to victory. The Tigers have the most scoring options in the competition with Trent Melville (41 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (30), Cameron Illett (24) and Lachlan Sharp (20) all booting more than 20 goals this season in the yellow and black. Kaine Riley has been a sensation for Nightcliff, named in the best 10 times from a possible 16 games, while Illett and Holt-Fitz will also be pushing for the best and fairest votes. With plenty of inclusions at different times, the likes of Brodie Filo and Michael Hagan have benefited, while VFL player James Tsitas has had an impact when on the park. Jackson Calder has been the dominant goalkicker for the Saints and would be a key player to stop in this final, slotting 28 goals from 11 games, while Shannon Rioli (25) has plenty of majors to his name. Nathaniel Paredes has once against been a force to be reckoned with, booting 22 goals and named among the best five times in a really consistent season. Helped by the inclusion of former AFL players, Paine, Jarrad Waite, Raphael Clarke and Shaun Edwards, they are always a threat to any opposition. However the Tigers should get up in this one because they have been the clear best team all season and are hungry for another flag.

Mid-season review: NTFL Men’s Premier League

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

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

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

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

MVP: Kaine Riley

Most goals: Trent Melville (26)

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

ST MARY’S (2nd, 8-3, 138%)

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

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

MVP: Thomas Davies

Most goals: Jackson Calder, Shannon Rioli (15)

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

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

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

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

MVP: Josiah Farrer

Most goals: William Farrer (27)

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

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

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

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

MVP: Christopher Williams

Most goals: Daniel Stafford (17)

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

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

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

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

MVP: Adam Tipungwuti

Most goals: Dion Munkara (16)

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

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

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

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

MVP: Braedon McLean

Most goals: Joel Jeffrey (19)

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

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

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

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

MVP: Abe Ankers

Most goals: Kim Kantilla (20)

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

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

Best win: Nil

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

MVP: Jack Berry

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekend preview: Round 11 – Buffs and Saints to battle it out in game of the round

THE final Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League round prior to the Christmas break takes place tomorrow with three teams jostling for second spot, while a loss for others could just about mean curtains on their season.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday, December 14, 1.30pm
Tiwi Oval

Round 11 kicks off on the Tiwi Islands with the Bombers hosting Wanderers in a fifth against sixth clash. The Bombers are now six points clear of the Eagles, and are just four points and percentage behind fourth placed Darwin. A win to the Bombers and loss to the Buffs would see Tiwi draw level for a top four spot heading into the Christmas break. The Wanderers desperately need a win too however, with the season slowly slipping away. Considered a proverbial “eight-point game”, the Eagles would slip 10 points adrift of the top five and make it difficult with seven rounds remaining in the new year. A win however, and the Wanderers move within two points of a finals spot. The Bombers have started to build some form in the second half of the season, winning three of their past four games, and only losing the fourth by a goal to reigning premiers and ladder leaders, Nightcliff. The Wanderers grabbed the points the last time these two teams met, but have gone cold over the past month, dropping four consecutive games – albeit to three of the top four teams. What makes the Wanderers’ task more difficult is the fact young star Joel Jeffrey is unavailable, having booted 19 goals in seven games thus far this season. Liam Jurrah (six goals) is also missing, meaning a lot of the scoring prowess will fall on Davin Ferreira‘s (nine) shoulders. Braedon McLean is a player Wanderers has been able to rely on all season, while Dray Thompson and Beau O’Connell provide good support between midfield and attack. The biggest advantage the Bombers have over a lot of sides is their ability to spread the load. They have the most players that have run out this season, but Dion Munkara (14 goals) and Austin Wonaeamirri (13) are the two most prolific goalkickers. With Jason Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti always providing experience and X-factor in the front half, it will be hard to look past the Bombers in this game.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday, December 14, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin Buffaloes will turn to some added Victorian Football League (VFL) experience when Port Melbourne star, Shannen Lange runs out for the Buffs tomorrow afternoon. Lange joins former teammate, Ryan Pendlebury at the Double Blues. The pair will provide plenty of run through the middle and allow Daniel Stafford (14 goals from six games) and Christopher Williams to go to work up forward. The Buffs went down to Tiwi Bombers last weekend by 14 points, closing the gap between fourth and fifth. Prior to that, Darwin had knocked off Wanderers, Waratah and Palmerston respectively, but will now look to bounce back and regain that form. A win to the Buffs could potentially see them grab third, and with a large enough win, even second given their opponents hold a four-point, eight-per cent advantage on them. Along with their fresh talent, the Buffaloes will also look to Patrick Boles and Isaac Seden-Kurnoth to provide some strong support. The Saints have been enjoying a strong season in 2019/20 thus far, bouncing back from a lean few years to be a genuine contender and place themselves with a 7-3 record one round out from the Christmas break. A win would ensure the Saints retain second spot, while a loss could see them slip as far as fourth. Jackson Calder has been named in the side and will look to add to his 15 goals from four games this season, while Nathaniel Paredes continues to establish himself as one of the top NTFL players this year. Shannon Rioli is also a danger inside 50, the recently signed Williamstown recruit, Kieren Parnell provides slick kicking skills off half-back, while former North Melbourne and Carlton key forward Jarrad Waite and former GIANTS and Essendon player Shaun Edwards have also been named for their third and second games respectively which means there is plenty of former AFL and current VFL talent on show in the game.

WARATAH vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, December 14, 4.00pm
Gardens Oval

An absolutely stacked Southern Districts side will travel to Gardens Oval in a bid to head into the Christmas break with a win, and possibly second spot when it takes on Waratah tomorrow evening. The Crocs have loaded up on former AFL talent, with Richard Tambling, Michael Barlow, Ed Barlow and Jeff Garlett all named in the side, which could spell trouble for Waratah. The Warriors sit seventh with just three wins from 10 games, but the good news for the side is that all the three victories have come in the past five rounds. Excluding an embarrassing 123-point shellacking at the hands of St Mary’s a fortnight ago, the Warriors were able to knock off Tiwi Bombers, Wanders and Palmerston – albeit the three sides that are around them in the bottom four. The Warriors will need the likes of Kim Kantilla (19 goals) and Abe Ankers (16) to really fire, while Henry Kerinaiua and Matthew Blake have also been a consistent feature in the home side’s team this year. There is no doubting the task to try and knock off Southern Districts is massive, even outside the obvious top-end AFL talent. William Farrer (23 goals in eight games) is in terrific form, while Sam Barnett (17 goals) and Josiah Farrer (10 goals) are also among the key scorers. The Crocs will keep an eye on the earlier game, because if Darwin can topple St Mary’s, then Southern Districts can snatch second spot ahead of a well-earned break.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday, December 14, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

In what is predicted to be the most one-sided contest of the weekend, bookend sides Nightcliff and Palmerston Magpies go head-to-head tomorrow night at TIO Stadium. The reigning premier Tigers are expected to make light work of the winless wooden spoon favourite Magpies, having already passed the test against Tiwi Bombers, Darwin Buffaloes and Southern Districts in the past month. Excluding a 25-point defeat at the hands of St Mary’s in Round 7, it is hard to find flaws in the Tigers’ premiership defence. The same cannot be said for Palmerston, with the Magpies clearly bottom with an 0-10 record and 26 per cent below the two lowest percentage sides. A fortnight ago the Magpies almost stunned finals-bound Darwin, but fell four points short, and the three games either side of that gallant effort saw a combined deficit of 199 points. Broderick Church has been the Magpies’ highest goal scorer this season with seven majors, alongside Nigel Lockyer Jnr who has only managed the three games. Keidan Holt-Tubbs has slotted six goals in seven games, whereas every other player has two or less. By comparison, Nightcliff has seven players in double-figure goals thus far. It is no surprise to see Trent Melville up the top of the list again with 20 goals from 10 games, and Cameron Illett (15 from nine) and Michael Bricknell (12 from 10) not far behind. Brodie Filo has also been a star in the six games he has played, booting 10 goals and named in the best four times. Kaine Riley will be one of the league best and fairest contenders, named in the Tigers’ best eight of a possible 10 times, while Daniel Bowles has also been consistent. For the Magpies, Jack Berry, Adam Diamond and Sandy Brock have earned the most plaudits from coaches, in what has been an otherwise disappointing start to the season. Neither side can move from its spot regardless of the result, but all signs point to Nightcliff in a fairly easy win here.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 3 – Wanderers face Nightcliff in lone top five clash

ONLY one game in Round 3 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League will be played between teams in finals spots, with Wanderers facing reigning premier Nightcliff on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, both Southern Districts and Palmerston have the chance to grab their first win of the season, and St Mary’s will look to stay undefeated.

TIWI BOMBERS (8th, 0-2) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Teams with polar opposite formlines meet to kick off Round 3 as Tiwi plays host to St Mary’s at TIO Stadium. The topped-up Saints have been excellent so far in toppling Waratah and Palmerston, but will face a tricky task in upholding their form against an underperforming Bombers unit. Both teams had a good amount of build-up coming into the season, but Tiwi’s production has been levels off that of its weekend opponent. To be fair to the Bombers, fixtures against Darwin and reigning premier Nightcliff to start the year arguably poised them with the toughest early draw, but their best started to come to the fore in the second and third terms against Nightcliff after the Tigers got the jump on them. Slow starts seem to be a theme for the bottom-placed side, which had to dig itself out of a similar rut in the opening stages of last season. St Mary’s ended up being the side to claim the dreaded wooden spoon, but all signs point toward a more positive outcome this time around.

The talent on either side is undeniable, stacked with famous NT names throughout. Saints leader Raphael Clarke has made a starring start to the year alongside smaller types in Nicholas Yarran, Nathaniel Paredes, and the returning Jackson Geary. Ex-AFL midfielder Will Hams has also been a welcome addition to what is a re-energised Saints line-up looking to crack back into its rightful top-end spot. Former-Saint Michael Dunn has bagged multiple goals in both of his games thus far and will provide good opposition alongside Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri. They will look to new recruit Michael Mummery, Round 2 rising star nominee Jeffrey Simon, and Harley Puruntatameri to provide some added spark, with the Bombers’ x-factor something that sets them apart. That unpredictability against some of St Mary’s proven quantities will be key to this contest, and we could well get a belter.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 0-1-1) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (7th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

One team’s zero is set to go, as the winless Southern Districts and Palmerston do battle at Norbuilt Oval in the weekend’s only game away from TIO Stadium. Given the 0-2 Magpies sit without any points altogether, the Crocs would be smelling blood in the water at the opportunity continue their trend of going one-better in each passing game. A draw against Wanderers last time out was less than ideal though, with the Crocs unable to truly click into gear for four quarters despite showing some promising signs in their Round 1 grand final rematch. Another less-than-ideal situation is that they will be without William Farrer for at least this fixture after he became the first NTFL player to be charged under the Auditory Offences matrix for umpire abuse. It serves as another blow to the Crocs’ firepower, which is already missing ex-AFL star Leroy Jetta and now-Bomber Michael Mummery from last year’s campaign. They will have to turn to Josiah Farrer, Beau Schwarze and Brodie Lake, as well as the experience of 100-gamer Charlie McAdam for inspiration in this clash, with Palmerston boasting a few tricky customers.

The Magpies were competitive despite falling short of Darwin by almost four goals in Round 2, slowly building on a disappointing opening round showing. State combine invitee Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been the standout with three goals in both games so far, while Bundoora stalwart Matthew Dennis has transferred last year’s form to this season. All three Davey boys were absent last time out for the Magpies in what was a blow to their creativity forward of centre, so a combination of them back in the side would do a world of good. Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will look to up their output to match the Crocs too, with the inability to kick a winning score one of the things holding Palmerston back from the better teams as it stands. If Southern Districts can find its groove and get on top early, watch out, otherwise expect to see the Magpies compete again for four quarters.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (1st, 2-0) vs. WARATAH (6th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Another clash of opposing form is set to go down in Saturday’s evening game between Darwin and Waratah, with the former looking to remain atop the NTFL ladder. The Buffs have made an inspired start to the season for a second campaign running, sparked by big bags of goals from Adam Sambono (12 goals) and Brayden Culhane (six) in either game. While Sambono was absent in Round 2, his return would spell serious trouble for the struggling Warriors as it would free the likes of Joe Anderson and Patrick Boles to wreak havoc further afield. Lee Mununggurr and Antonio James are others who can excite, making Darwin a real handful for any side in the competition with their star-power across the board.

On the other hand, Waratah has struggled to exit second gear after an outstanding 2018/19 campaign and had its depth tested far more with the absence of Abe Ankers last week. He remains the key man for them with his scoreboard impact from midfield, despite some of the scoring load eased by VFL-listed small forward Steve Stroobants. Scoreboard assistance is sure to come in the form of Henry Kerinaiua and Kim Kantilla, with Cam Barrett, Sam Godden and ex-Bendigo Pioneer Laine Fitzgerald looking to make an impact further afield. The Warriors have been unlucky to come up against three in-form teams to start the season, but will be sure to give it a red-hot crack if their consistency last season is anything to go by. The memory of their 2018/19 thrashings of Darwin late in the season would also be fresh and serve as apt motivation, with the Buffs looking like a true premiership contender at this point. Expect their class to shine through, but to be tested depending on who is available.

WANDERERS (4th 1-0-1) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (3rd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

The game of the round will be the last for the weekend, as Wanderers and Nightcliff battle it out to remain undefeated. It serves as the only fixture this week between two teams in finals spots, with the Tigers one of three 2-0 sides while Wanderers suffered the first blemish to its record with a draw to Southern Districts last time out. If football math ever worked, this would be a time to use it given both sides have already faced the Crocs, with the Tigers managing to get the better of them in Round 1’s grand final rematch. But that kind of analysis is hardly useful this early in the piece, and does not take into account the x-factor that Wanderers can bring. Under-17 star utility Joel Jeffrey leads the way in that department, followed closely by Round 1 Rising Star nominee Ronald Fejo Jnr. Both have been impactful thus far, particularly up forward, with consistency of Shane Thorne and spark of Davin Ferreira set to come into play too in the absence of experienced star Marlon Motlop from last campaign. There is still a raft of players of the same name making a difference this time around, and the Muk Muks will need all of their talent to continue Wanderers’ promising start.

Nightcliff remains the biggest test in the competition though, starting with a perfect record against good opposition despite not yet clinching that top spot. The Tigers’ scoring power is scary and comes from a raft of players, including the likes of NT legend Cam Ilett, with others like Trent Melville, Matthew Bricknell and Wade Derksen still due to claim a big bag. Ex-Port forward John Butcher is another who can come back into the side and slot through multiple goals, making Nightcliff’s forward threats every bit as deep as any other side. It could be a case of the ultra-consistent and high-scoring Tigers bringing Wanderers back down to earth, but do not be surprised to see the Eagles give the reigning premier a good run on the back of some confidence gained over the first two rounds.

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.

NTFL Men’s Premier League: Round 2 preview – Round 1 winners face opening weekend losers

IN a satisfying set of events for the neutral, each 1-0 team is set to face off with a 0-1 side in Round 2 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. Given last week’s mixed bag of results, finalists from last year will be looking to get on the board, while other will be hoping to continue on their upward trends.

TIWI BOMBERS vs. NIGHTCLIFF
Saturday October 12, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Nightcliff will hope to continue its ideal premiership defence when it faces heavy Round 1 loser Tiwi Bombers to open the weekend’s play.

The Tigers were made to earn their opening win last time out in a grand final rematch, overcoming Southern Districts by nine points to compile to Crocs’ misery. On the other hand, Tiwi’s first outing for season 2019/20 did not quite go to plan as the Bombers conceded 24 goals in a 113-point loss to Darwin.

The Tigers’ ruthlessness inside 50 and wealth of options when it counted made the difference in last week’s win, while helping to heap misery on their lesser-ranked opponents last year. Tiwi will hope to not fall into that hole and be easily overcome for the second-straight week, with plenty of class remaining in its side and the coup of Palmerston junior Rodney Baird set to bolster the defence. The likes of Michael Mummery, Brayden Rioli, and Jeffrey Simon hardly got going for the Bombers in Round 1, but what is just as ominous is the fact that Nightcliff has Wade Derksen, Joel Budarick and Matthew Bricknell who can all make the same kind of greater impact this week.

There is plenty of firepower on either side and the experience of both midfields also makes for an interesting battle. The Tigers will come in as unbackable favourites, but Tiwi has plenty to offer and will be dangerous in full flight.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday October 12, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will look to avoid a rare 0-2 start when it hosts a rejuvenated Wanderers side in the round’s sole fixture away from TIO Stadium.

The Crocs went close to making good on last year’s grand final loss in a Round 1 rematch against Nightcliff, but went down by under two goals in a game where they enjoyed spurts of success. Winners in Round 1, the Eagles found themselves on the better end of the momentum game against 2018/19 preliminary finalist Waratah, with young gun Joel Jeffrey running the show up forward.

The x-factor of Jeffrey, rising star Ronald Fejo Jnr, and class of Davin Ferreira will do well to match the more experienced forward might of Nightcliff, which will inevitably create a wealth of scoring opportunities. Beau Schwarze and Brandon Rusca are sure to get going, while Will Farrer has already reminded us of his nous in front of goal. The two sides are arguably at different stages of their team development, but Wanderers’ mix of exuberance and experience in the front half should pose some problems for the highly-fancied Crocs.

Expect last year’s grand finalists to come out hard, with their pressure set to pose questions to the Muk Muks’ finishing inside 50, which luckily did not trouble them last week.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday October 12, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

First comes up against second-last when an ominous looking Darwin Buffaloes faces Palmerston on Saturday evening.

The Buffs kicked off their season in style with a thumping win over the much-hyped Tiwi Bombers, with Adam Sambono notching a remarkable 12 goals. On the other hand, Palmerston looks destined for another slow start after going down to last season’s wooden spooner St Mary’s in Round 1.

Darwin’s depth of experience will strike fear into any side, but will be particularly tricky for Palmerston given the Magpies’ lack of major ex-AFL class. Alwyn Davey leads that field though and will hope to have another strong outing alongside his twin sons Alywn Jnr and Jayden, while state combine attendee Nigel Lockyer Jnr will have to shoulder a heap of responsibility going forward. For the Buffs, Sambono leads the way from Joe Anderson, Jarrod Stokes and Christopher Williams, providing a wealth of scoring options from further afield.

The depth of Darwin looks like being too much for the Magpies at this stage of the season, but write any team off in this league at your own peril.

WARATAH vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday October 12, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

In the final game of the round, St Mary’s will seek to continue its resurgence when it does battle with Waratah under the TIO Stadium lights.

The Saints were terrific in Round 1, earning a comfortable victory over fellow 2018/19 bottom-three side Palmerston. The return of Jackson Geary has proven a handy one already, with a more filled-out squad led brilliantly by Raphael Clarke. They have the famous names; Shannon Rioli, Jack Long, Jacob Long and Nick Yarran to go with the electric Nathaniel Paredes and Braxton Ah Mat, ensuring Clarke and co have improved service and support going forward.

For Waratah, the emergence of home grown talent is said to be what will take them further this year after a preliminary final berth, but a Round 1 stumbling block came in the form of Wanderers. Not to be deterred, Abe Ankers should lead the side well again after a five-goal haul, with TAC Cup graduate Laine Fitzgerald and Sam Godden providing support. The Warriors will be leaning on the heavy momentum shifts this league can bring to get the edge in this game, with their consistent side looking for that first win.

Waratah has more proven products on paper over time, but the experience and added depth of St Mary’s should cause a few headaches all the same.

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap: Round 1 – Sambono boots 12 in Buffs’ Tiwi romp

THE 2019/20 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) season got underway on the weekend and produced a truly mixed bag of results. While Southern Districts was unable to make good on its grand final loss in a rematch against Nightcliff, the Darwin Buffaloes put their dour end to last season behind them, while Waratah and St Mary’s also picked up confidence-inducing wins.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 2.2 | 11.5 | 19.7 | 24.13 (157)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.3 | 3.3 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Darwin: A. Sambono 12, J. Anderson 3, C. Williams 3, B. Corey Culhane 2, J. Anderson, J. Stokes, J. Clarke, D Miles.
Tiwi: L. Wale-Buxton 2, P. Heenan, C. Abala, M. Kantilla, A. Wonaeamirri.

BEST:

Darwin: B. Stokes, K. Williams, A. Sambono, J. Anderson, C. Williams, P. Boles
Tiwi: D. Kruse, A. Tipungwuti, L. Wale-Buxton, R. Pupangamirri, N. Djerrkura, R. Tungatalum

A remarkable 12-goal haul from Adam Sambono propelled Darwin Buffaloes to a resounding 113-point opening round win over the highly-touted Tiwi Bombers. The Buffs look to have ironed out the issues that saw them go down by a similar margin in last year’s finals series, with Sambono booting half of his side’s 24 goals in the 24.13 (157) to 6.8 (44) romp.

Joe Anderson joined Sambono as the other Darwin leader to stand up with three majors of his own, matched by Christopher Williams and rounded out by Brayden Corey Culhane’s two. Despite their efforts, it was Bradley Stokes and Kelvin Williams who were recognised as the Buffs’ best, while David Kruse claimed the same plaudits from the Bombers’ camp. Usual suspects Adam Tipungwuti, Nathan Djerrkura, and Ross Tungatalum also provided good ball-winning value in the heavy loss, while Casey Demon Liam Wale-Buxton was Tiwi’s only multiple goal kicker with two.

Remiss of the final scoreline, Tiwi led at the first break by seven points, with Darwin’s combined 17 goals to one in the second and third terms setting up the big win. The result was well beyond doubt heading into the final term, but the ruthless Buffs poured on a further five goals to Tiwi’s two to finish off ensure they breached the 100-point margin mark.

Bouncing back will be a tough ask for the Bombers as they prepare to face reigning premier Nightcliff in Round 2, while Darwin will be in the hunt for consecutive wins when it faces Round 1 losers Palmerston next time out.

NIGHTCLIFF 6.1 | 7.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 6.2 | 9.3 | 10.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: L. Sharp 4, J. Butcher 3, B. Filo 2, K. Niki, C. Ilett, P. Wills, B. Bell
Southern Districts: W. Farrer 4, S. Barnett 2, T. Brook 2, J. Clarke 2, J. Farrer, J Innes

BEST:

Nightcliff: B. Filo, R. Morris, L. Sharp, K. Winter-Irving, B. Bell
Southern Districts: D. Williams, T. Brook, W. Farrer, Z. Bin Busu, J. Farrer

It was a case of déjà vu in the grand final rematch as Nightcliff got its title defence off to a winning start to the tune of nine points against Southern Districts. The Tigers overcame deficits at the first two breaks to close better in the 13.10 (88) to 12.7 (79) result.

A high-scoring opener saw the sides share twelve goals evenly, with the Crocs finding a bit of breathing space at half time on the back of three goals to one in the following term. But the Tigers managed to chip away in the third quarter and match Southern Districts’ efficiency in front of goal before less-clinical final term saw them edge over the line and truly pick up from where they left off in the 2018/19 season.

Lachlan Sharp (four goals), ex-Port Adelaide forward John Butcher (three), and Brodie Filo (two) were all effective around goal for Nightcliff, with Filo named best afield along with Roger Morris. The Crocs had one more multiple goal kicker than the Tigers but could not match their depth of contributors, with Will Farrer (four goals), Sam Barnett (two), Timothy Brook (two), and Jayden Clarke (two) all getting on the board. Damian Williams was named best for them, with Zorran Bin Busu the only other non-goal kicker to also be named among the best dozen.

Nightcliff will look to build an early unbeaten streak next week when it faces Tiwi in Round 2, with the Bombers coming off a loss in excess of 100 points. On the other hand, the Crocs will have their hands full with Round 1 winner Wanderers next time out, looking to prove their credentials with four points.

WARATAH 1.2 | 8.4 | 10.7 | 13.8 (86)
WANDERERS 3.7 | 7.9 | 11.12 | 15.14 (104)

GOALS:

Waratah: A. Ankers 5, J. McGrath 3, A. Aurrichio 2, K. Kantilla, L. Davies, L. Fitzgerald,
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 5, D. Ferreira 2, L. Patrick 2, T. Motlop, L. Dyer, R. Fejo, J. Arratta, S. Bates, S. Thorne

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Wanderers: N/A

Wanderers overcame some early inaccuracy to outlast 2018/19 preliminary finalist Waratah and open its season with an uplifting 18-point win. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout, but the Muk Muks’ firepower inside 50 proved too much as they pulled away to finish 15.14 (104) to 13.8 (86) victors.

The Warriors looked to have overcome a slow start as they took a one-point lead into half time with goals coming thick and fast, but it would be the only break they could do so in as the Eagles hit back to immediately. The momentum switched again as they notched 4.3 to Waratah’s 2.3 in what was a match-defining third term, but the Warriors still had a sniff heading into the final stanza. That hope was quashed despite Waratah getting the better of the final stages overall, with Wanderers doing just enough to keep their consistent opponents at bay.

Two men did most of the damage in terms of goals – one coming from each side. Prodigious talent Joel Jeffrey continued the form that saw him star on the MCG in the Under-17 Futures game with a dynamic five-goal haul, matched by Waratah powerhouse Abe Ankers. Jae McGrath (three) and Alex Aurrichio (two) also bagged multiples for the Warriors, while Davin Ferreira kicked two classy goals alongside ex-Sun Liam Patrick. Wanderers’ Ronald Fejo Jnr also earned the Round 1 Rising Star nomination.

The Eagles will have to quell a Southern Districts side breathing fire in Round 2 to maintain their perfect record, while Waratah will hope to get on the board when it faces Round 1 winner St Mary’s on Saturday night.

ST MARY’S 1.4 | 2.8 | 6.12 | 10.15 (75)
PALMERSTON 0.3 | 3.4 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke 2, D. Johnstone 2, J. Geary, S. Rioli, R. Smith, B. Ah Mat, J. Cooper, J. Quinn
Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 3, A. Lonergan, D. Marshall, J. Davey

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Clarke, J. Geary, T. Davies, N. Paredes, J. Salmon, J. Long
Palmerston: N/A

2018/19 wooden spooner St Mary’s began its quest to climb from the bottom in ideal fashion, downing Palmerston by 30 points to round out the weekend. The Saints overcame inaccuracy throughout the match to solidify the 10.15 (75) to 6.9 (45) final score, and the margin clearly could have been much more.

As was a similar theme throughout two of the weekend’s other games, Palmerston managed to get on top in at least one quarter of play, but could not maintain the effort as they tired in the second half and struggled to score. There were no such issues for the Saints as they managed to boot eight majors in a match-winning second half performance.

St Mary’s leader Raphael Clarke was best afield with his two majors, matched in the goal stakes by teammate Dylan Johnstone. Jackson Geary and Nathaniel Paredes were others to contribute well, with the former also hitting the scoreboard for the winners. It proved a busy couple of days for state combine invitee Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who managed to snare three goals just a day after his fitness testing in Melbourne. Debutant and future Essendon father-son prospect Jayden Davey also found the goals as one of three Magpies to do so in the final term after Lockyer’s big first half.

Palmerston faces the daunting task of taking on a rampant Darwin side in Round 2 to rectify its form, while the Saints will look to go 2-0 when they clash with Waratah at TIO Stadium.

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 preview: NTFL – Round 17

THE penultimate round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) action could prove key in the race for spots at either end of the ladder, with top spot still up for grabs and places between third and sixth in the air as the final five remains undecided.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Darwin Buffaloes and Tiwi Bombers will be looking to bounce back from Round 16 losses and strengthen their respective finals spots when they meet in the round’s opener. The Buffs fell embarrassingly to bottom side, Wanderers last time out in a game where they sorely missed the firepower of Adam Sambono and leadership of Matthew Campbell. They may well rue lacking that scoring influence again here given Tiwi’s potency forward of centre, despite leading goalkicker Ross Tungatalum (35 goals) only managing one major last week and next best, Dion Munkara (24 goals) currently absent. While the Bombers’ hot run of form and streak of four wins came to an abrupt end last week, they will be keen to knock Darwin off to complete the feat of beating the competition’s top three sides. It is now a question of whether Tiwi peaked a few weeks too early, while on the other hand, the Buffaloes look yet to have peaked as they constantly fall to sides below them despite overcoming Southern Districts twice recently. This may well prove to be a shootout between two sure finals contenders who can beat anyone on their day, with undeniable talent forward of centre on both sides.

 

ST MARYS v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Palmerston will be looking for a considerable percentage boost in a last ditch effort to scrape into finals as it clashes with second-bottom, St Marys in Saturday’s evening game. The Magpies suffered a humbling loss at the hands of Nightcliff in their last outing, not doing any favours to their record as the side with the most points conceded. While it was much of the same for the Saints as they went down to Southern Districts, a win could see them dash Palmerston’s finals chances and leapfrog them into sixth place with one foul swoop, while also keeping away from the cellar door. Despite conceding the most points of any team, Palmerston may not be troubled so much down back as their weekend opponents have scored the second-fewest points across the year. Still, the consistency of Ben Rioli alongside the dual-threat of Nathaniel Paredes and Nick Yarran streaming forward could cause some serious headaches for Palmerston. The Magpies have weapons of their own though, with Matthew Dennis putting in a giant season in the ruck, while Kyle Emery (36 goals) is always a chance of kicking a bag. Former-AFL experience may also be a factor in this clash, with the figure of Raphael Clarke always steadying for the Saints, while Palmerston will look to Alwyn Davey for a spark. While it may well be a low-scoring affair, this clash looks to be a close one with neither side at the peak of their powers.

 

WARATAH v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 17 – Saturday February 9, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A chance to consolidate finals places is up for grabs when Waratah and Southern Districts do battle under lights on Sunday, with both sides coming off strong wins in the previous round. While they may have looked somewhat out of sorts recently, the Warriors remain a key finals contender and affirmed that notion by downing the in-form Tiwi Bombers in an impressive display. Another win at the weekend would finally see them confirm a finals berth, but it remains a matter of which spot they will take up from third, down to fifth. The Crocs’ finals position has been far more telegraphed throughout the season, hardly straying from the top two spots and remaining well in contention for claiming the minor premiership. While that may well be decided in the final round, the reigning premiers cannot afford to look past Waratah this week given how they look to have regained some form. Still, if the Crocs did not already look threatening enough with six players having booted over 15 goals, the newly reunited midfield partnership of ex-Bulldogs Ryan Griffen and Ed Barlow worked a charm last time out and makes Southern Districts very hard to beat.

 

NIGHTCLIFF v. WANDERERS
Round 17 – Sunday February 10, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

A battle between first and last is set to close out the weekend’s action, with both Nightcliff and Wanderers surprisingly coming off wins coming into the penultimate round. Depending on whether Southern Districts claim a win, Nightcliff’s final-round clash with the Crocs could still decide top spot given the reigning premiers’ slight percentage advantage. But with a game in hand on their rivals, the Tigers would not be blamed for complacency here should the Crocs lose on Saturday. Wanderers will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups, with a decent run of form giving them a chance to climb off the bottom of the ladder on points and as high as sixth if results fall their way. First-against-last fixtures seldom hold any ramifications for either side, but this one may well prove different as ladder positions remain tight going into the last two round of the season. With Nightcliff possessing the competition’s leading goalkicker in Trent Melville (51 goals), a much-needed percentage boost could be in order, but Wanderers have proven of late to be anything but a pushover and could throw a spanner in the works.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 15

TIWI Bombers’ fantastic form continued on the weekend with a thrilling one-point victory over premiership favourites Nightcliff, while Darwin will be ruing a loss to bottom two side, St Marys. In other results, Waratah breathed a sigh of relief by overcoming cellar dwellers Wanderers, while Southern Districts got the job done against Palmerston Magpies in the final game of the round.

ST MARYS 2.2 | 4.4 | 10.6 | 15.10 (100)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 7.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

St Marys: N. Paredes 5, M. Liddy 3, L. Stapleton 3, C. McDonald, L. Ferreira, M. Rioli Jnr, B. Nicholls
Darwin: H. Ahmat-Watkins 2, J. Clarke, T. Clarke, F. Bruce, S. Anderson, D. Paull, Z. Stephenson, D. Stafford.

BEST:

St Marys: N. Paredes, L. Stapleton, N. Yarran, L. Ferreira, H. Moloney, M. Liddy
Darwin: P. Boles, J. Anderson, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson

A best on ground performance from Saints’ star, Nathaniel Paredes has kept St Marys’ slim finals hopes alive. The talented midfielder booted a game-high five goals in the 37-point win, as his side booted an impressive 11 goals to two after half-time to run away with the contest. Mathias Liddy and Luke Stapleton booted three goals apiece, with the latter also among the best, as was Nicholas Yarran and Leonard Ferreira. For Darwin, Hassan Ahmat-Watkins slotted two goals, while Patrick Boles and Joe Anderson was the Buffaloes’ best in the victory.

 

WARATAH 4.0 | 6.2 | 8.6 | 9.10 (64)
WANDERERS 3.4 | 6.5 | 8.6 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:

Waratah: C. Barrett 2, S. Weddell 2, K. Kantilla 2, M. Blake, D. Simpson, J. Wray.
Wanderers: Not supplied.

BEST: 

Waratah: A. Ankers, T. Toma, J. McKenzie, C. Barrett, S. Weddell
Wanderers: Not supplied

Waratah kept its finals hopes strong with an important nine-point win over a plucky Wanderers outfit. The Warriors trailed at times throughout the first half and were level at the final break, before booting the only goal of the final term to secure the narrow victory. Sam Weddell, Cameron Barrett and Kim Kantilla all booted two goals, while Abraham Ankers was named best on ground in the victory. Thomas Toma and Jordie McKenzie were also among Waratah’s best in the win. The loss ruled the Eagles out of a late finals run and will be hoping to just finish the season off on a high in the last few rounds.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 2.4 | 6.5 | 7.7 | 10.12 (72)
TIWI BOMBERS 2.3 | 6.5 | 9.6 | 11.7 (73)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: B. Grewar 2, J. Butcher 2, T. Melville 2, B. Black, L. Holt-Fitz, S. Wilson, D. Butcher.
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 3, S. Munkara 3, C. Burgess, J. Munkara, M. Cooper, D. Munkara, N. Djerrkura.

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Deery, J. Butcher, B. Grewar, J. Budarick, N. Brown, S. Wilson
Tiwi: A. Hams, N. Djerrkura, J. Puruntatameri, M. Cooper, R. Tungatalum, C. Luff

Tiwi Bombers’ giant-killing run continued on the weekend, knocking off Nightcliff by a solitary point after dismantling Southern Districts last week, to sit in fourth spot. It was the Tigers’ turn to feel the Bombers’ wrath in a tight contest. Bombers’ star, Ross Tungatalum booted three goals in the win – including the game winner – as did Simon Munkara. Ashton Hams‘ ripping form of late continued with another best on ground performance, while Nathan Djerrkura and Jason Puruntatameri were among the best for the Bombers. Blake Grewar, John Butcher and Trent Melville all booted multiple goals for the losing side, while Simon Deery was deemed the ladder leaders’ top player on the day.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 9.5 (59)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 5.3 | 8.9 | 13.10 | 16.17 (113)

GOALS:

Palmerston: I. Milera 2, K. Emery 2, M. Perry, J. Lampton, J. Wunungmurra, M. McMasters, J. Thompson.
Southern Districts: B. Schwarze 3, E. Barlow 3, J. Brennan 2, J. Farrer 2, L. Ogden 2, B. Vallance, M. Duffy, J. Koopman, M. Mummery.

BEST:

Palmerston: J. Wunungmurra
Southern Districts: J. Farrer, S. Guilhaus, R. O’Brien, C. McAdam, E. Barlow, J. Brennan

Southern Districts booked itself a place in the top two after a big win over finals hopefuls, Palmerston Magpies on Monday. The Crocs seized the opportunity of a Nightcliff loss to keep in touch with top spot,  and the nine-goal win helped them snap a run which saw them lose to both Darwin and Tiwi Bombers. Beau Schwarze was again a key up forward booting three goals, as did Ed Barlow, while former Brisbane excitement machine, Jared Brennan also slotted multiple goals. Josiah Farrer was named best on ground for his two-goal effort, while Sebastion Guilhaus and Rory O’Brien were also impressive in the win. Jamanie Wunugmurra was a shining light for the Magpies, while Palmerston’s goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery booted two goals, as did Ian Milera.