Tag: ned stevens

QAFL finals wrap: Cats’ Colts join Seniors in the big dance

GRAND finalists have been set across the QAFL Senior, Reserves, and Colts grades with Gold Coast clubs Labrador and Broadbeach represented across two of the three levels. The Cats will face Maroochydore in the senior decider after the Roos jumped minor premier Labrador in an epic comeback win, but the Tigers’ Reserves and Colts downed Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) and Morningside respectively to set up final week appearances.

Maroochydore’s epic last gasp victory in the top flight sets up an intriguing grand final meeting with Broadbeach, who will be out to rectify last year’s loss to Morningside after earning the week off. The Roos got the jump with a five goals to one opening term but fell 18 points behind at half-time, and were 22 points down with less that 10 minutes left to play. As Labrador began to rest its guns, a five-goal swing ensued and the Roos saluted to the tune of 10 points, 13.10 (88) to 11.12 (78).

Sam McLaughlin was outstanding for the victors and slotted a key late major, as the likes of Michael Steven (four goals), Lochie Laing and Mitchell Scholard (both three) also found the big sticks throughout. Former-AFL Irishman Pearce Hanley booted five goals for Labrador, while Alex McKay played a key role through the engine room. From an Academy sense, products Mackenzie Riddle (Gold Coast) and Ben Thomas (Brisbane) featured for either side.

While the seniors were done-in, Labrador’s second side defeated PBC by 22 points to secure a spot in the grand final alongside Morningside. Minor premiers across both grades, the Tigers were able to convert on this occasion having set up an early buffer and lead at every break.

Northern Territory native and Gold Coast eligible tall Ned Stevens snared a goal in just his fourth game for the season, having battled a niggling groin injury. Fellow tall Thomas Hofert also got a run for the victors, along with 2002-born SUNS Academy products Bailey Reeves, James Smith, Shaye Walsh, and Riley Johnson. Top-ager Luke Coombes notched his 12th reserves game, while Brinn Little turned out for PBC.

In the Colts grade, Labrador will take on Broadbeach after the Cats downed Morningside on Saturday, restricting the second-ranked Panthers to just two goals from 11 scoring shots in a dominant 46-point victory. State Under 17 squad members Jared Eckersley and Kye Reynoldson were among the Cats’ best, while Cooper Parkes snared four majors in the win. For Morningside, representative selectees Harry Taylor, Thalayn Ryschka, and Bryce Longland all featured in their side’s final game for the season.

Image Credit: Brooke Sleep Photography via AFLQ

2021 AFL Draft Combine list released

THE list of 2021 AFL Draft Combine invitees was released on Monday, with 90 of the country’s brightest prospects selected to show their athletic wares next month. The list will be extended to 120, with 60 of that total allotment set to attend the National Combine on September 29-30 at Marvel Stadium. The remaining 60 invitees will participate in state-based testing days held around Australia.

>> Top 25: August Power Rankings update

Among the initial 90 invitees is an even spread of talent from each National Championships region. With Victoria supplying around half of the usual draft intake each year, 41 of the state’s best prospects (19 country, 22 metro) earned invites. 11 of the 13 included Allies squad members also turned out at NAB League level, giving the competition strong representation.

The West and South Australian crops look strong as ever, with both states producing 18 players to the initial intake. Among them is pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who features alongside South Adelaide teammates and fellow first round fancies, Arlo Draper and Matthew Roberts. Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson lead the WA contingent, along with a raft of key position options.

>> Indicative draft order: Who’s in the top 10 mix?

There aren’t too many surprises among the allotted crew, with only one player chosen outside of the Under 19 realm and 87 of the chosen 90 born in 2003. 20-year-old Central District key defender Leek Alleer is the lone ‘mature’ ager, while Eastern Ranges’ Corey Preston and Giants Academy member Harrison Grintell are the only 19th-year players in the mix.

For the most part, players have been selected directly from the representative squads put together ahead of this year’s National Championships, which continue to be postponed. Tasmanian Will Splann is one who came from outside the Allies squad, while Northern Knights pair Anthony Caminiti (tall forward) and Ned Long (midfielder) did not feature for Vic Metro after trials – though, the latter was injured.

Nick Daicos is a pick one contender

Nineteen players are club-tied, split between father-sons, Northern Academy products, and Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopefuls. Oakleigh Chargers teammates Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) are father-son candidates who could yield bids within the top two picks, while Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide) will likely end up at Alberton outside of the first round.

Giants Academy standout Josh Fahey headlines the Northern Academy input, along with fellow AFL Academy member Austin Harris (Gold Coast). Top 10 candidate Mac Andrew looks set to be the sole NGA product taken before pick 20, but there is plenty of talent clubs will have exclusive access to.

Among them is rising St Kilda-tied pair Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager, who impressed enough to earn Vic Metro selection. Over in WA, ruck/forward Eric Benning (Fremantle) and athletic utility Ethan Regan (West Coast) have risen into contention, and the has been conjecture over Jesse Motlop, who also features as a Dockers NGA selection but will only land there past pick 40.

2021 AFL DRAFT COMBINE LIST

NSW-ACT:

Angus Anderson – Sydney Swans Academy
Ryan Eyers – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Fahey – GWS Academy
Harrison Grintell – GWS Academy
Patrick Voss – Oakleigh Chargers/GWS Academy

Northern Territory:

Andy Moniz-Wakefield – NT Thunder
Ned Stevens – NT Thunder/Gold Coast Academy

Queensland:

Will Bella – Gold Coast Academy
Austin Harris – Gold Coast Academy
Bodhi Uwland – Gold Coast Academy

South Australia:

Leek Alleer – Central District
Cooper Beecken – Glenelg
Isaac Birt – South Adelaide
Jase Burgoyne – Woodville-West Torrens
Lukas Cooke – Woodville-West Torrens
Arlo Draper – South Adelaide
Morgan Ferres – Sturt
Jason Horne-Francis – South Adelaide
Hugh Jackson – North Adelaide
Shay Linke – Central District
Cooper Murley – Norwood
Blayne O’Loughlin – North Adelaide
Lewis Rayson – Glenelg
Matthew Roberts – South Adelaide
Hugh Stagg – Glenelg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera – Glenelg
Luca Whitelum – Central District
James Willis – North Adelaide

Tasmania:

Sam Banks – Clarence
Baker Smith – Clarence
Will Splann – North Hobart

Vic Country:

Mac Andrew – Dandenong Stingrays
Jamieson Ballantyne – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Miller Bergman – Dandenong Stingrays
Tom Brown – Murray Bushrangers
Sam Butler – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Campbell Chesser – Sandringham Dragons
Judson Clarke – Dandenong Stingrays
Toby Conway – Geelong Falcons
Josh Gibcus – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Cooper Hamilton – Bendigo Pioneers
Ben Hobbs – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Mitch Knevitt – Geelong Falcons
Kai Lohmann – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Connor Macdonald – Dandenong Stingrays
Charlie Molan – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Josh Rachele – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Rentsch – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Jai Serong – Gippsland Power
Hamish Sinnott – Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Vic Metro:

Finn Callaghan – Sandringham Dragons
Anthony Caminiti – Northern Knights
Paul Curtis – Western Jets
Nick Daicos – Oakleigh Chargers
Sam Darcy – Oakleigh Chargers
Youseph Dib – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Goater – Calder Cannons
Blake Howes – Sandringham Dragons
Tyreece Leiu – Eastern Ranges
Ned Long – Northern Knights
Mitchito Owens – Sandringham Dragons
Corey Preston – Eastern Ranges
Lachlan Rankin – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Sinn – Sandringham Dragons
Jake Soligo – Eastern Ranges
Tyler Sonsie – Eastern Ranges
Zac Taylor – Calder Cannons
Dante Visentini – Sandringham Dragons
Josh Ward – Northern Knights
Darcy Wilmot – Northern Knights
Marcus Windhager – Sandringham Dragons
Karl Worner – Oakleigh Chargers

Western Australia:

Jye Amiss – East Perth
Rhett Bazzo – Swan Districts
Eric Benning – Claremont
Josh Browne – East Fremantle
Kade Dittmar – East Perth
Neil Erasmus – Subiaco
Brady Hough – Peel Thunder
Matthew Johnson – Subiaco
Jesse Motlop – South Fremantle
Lochlan Paton – West Perth
Ethan Regan – East Perth
Angus Sheldrick – Claremont
Jahmal Stretch – Claremont
James Tunstill – East Perth
Jacob van Rooyen – Claremont
Corey Warner – East Fremantle
Bryce Watson – Swan Districts
Jack Williams – East Fremantle

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

Full squad: AFL Academy to take on Geelong VFL on Saturday morning

THE AFL Academy is set to take on Geelong VFL tomorrow, making for an exciting curtain raiser to Saturday’s AFL clash between Geelong and West Coast. Bouncing down at 10:10am at GMHBA Stadium, the featured bout sees 24 of the nation’s brightest AFL Draft prospects granted with the opportunity to go head-to-head with a mature outfit containing plenty of elite level talent.

There has been a raft of changes to the original 21-man squad, announced in December of last year, as top-up players and injury replacements filter into the side. Among the inclusions are a good amount of tall prospects, with rucks Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, and Ned Moyle all earning call-ups for their promising NAB League form.

Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent Blayne O’Loughlin, the nephew of Michael, came in alongside Conway and Moyle, as did dynamic marking defender, Josh Gibcus. Skilled Oakleigh Chargers utility Lachlan Rankin is the latest inclusion, replacing Josh Sinn who pulled up sore after academy training this week.

Sinn’s Sandringham Dragons teammate Campbell Chesser has also been sidelined with a knee complaint, while Tasmanian Sam Banks (broken wrist) and Ben Hobbs will miss after sustaining injuries during the latest round of NAB League action. Braden Andrews and Cooper Murley will also sit out, sporting previous knocks.

The final couple of additions should add some dash and dare on the outer, with the fast-rising Finn Callaghan and Nasiah Wanganeen both getting their chance, while eye-catching West Australian Neil Erasmus was also rewarded for his early-season exploits.

Here’s a look at how the squad may line up:

FB: Blayne O’Loughlin, Rhett Bazzo, Josh Fahey
HB: Jase Burgoyne, Josh Gibcus, Finn Callaghan
C: Nasiah Wanganeen, Tyler Sonsie, Matt Roberts
HF: Matthew Johnson, Jacob Van Rooyen, Blake Howes
FF: Neil Erasmus, Jack Williams, Josh Rachele
FOL: Ned Moyle, Nick Daicos, Jason Horne

BENCH: Mac Andrew, Toby Conway, Cooper Hamilton, Austin Harris, Lachlan Rankin, Ned Stevens

INJURED: Braden Andrews, Sam Banks, Campbell Chesser, Ben Hobbs, Cooper Murley, Josh Sinn

Starting from the back, there should be plenty of drive to come from this lot. Recent inclusions, O’Loughlin and Callaghan are quite varied in terms of height, but both love to get going on the rebound and use the ball by foot. GWS Academy product Josh Fahey is another in that category, while potential Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne brings clean skills and plenty of versatility. Despite moving forward this year, Rhett Bazzo was the sensical full back choice, with Gibcus’ marking prowess also landing him a starting spot in the spine.

This team gets a big tick for versatility in the key position department, with Bazzo one of the many prospects who can shift roles. Fellow West Australian Jack Williams, named at full forward, has been known to swing back, while Gold Coast Academy tall Ned Stevens can arguably play on each line. He may be freed up to play at either end, given the rich ruck stocks available.

The magnets are likely to be shuffled elsewhere, too. Tall inside midfielder Matthew Johnson has been named at half-forward having endured an injury interrupted preseason, but will likely rotate through the engine room. Matt Roberts, named on the wing can also play on the inside but rests forward well and has terrific running capacity. Blake Howes (half-forward) is also known to roam a wing, while Josh Rachele and Erasmus are others with promising midfield craft.

Elsewhere, Cooper Hamilton is a solid figure who can be utilised up either end or in that midfield rotation, while small utility Austin Harris will look to use his smarts as a defender, forward, or wingman. Rankin is another in that boat, having previously played as a running defender or wingman, but more recently been utilised up forward.

Lastly, arguably the centrepiece of the lineup lies at the centre bounces. Top five candidate Tyler Sonsie joins clear pick one frontrunners, Nick Daicos and Jason Horne at the heart of the team, set to form a potent midfield trio for the Academy bunch.

Full squad:

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (SA) North Adelaide
#2 Austin Harris (Qld) Gold Coast Suns
#3 Cooper Murley (SA) Norwood*
#4 Josh Rachele (Vic C) Murray Bushrangers
#5 Tyler Sonsie (Vic M) Eastern Ranges
#6 Nick Daicos (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#7 Cooper Hamilton (Vic C) Bendigo Pioneers
#8 Ben Hobbs (Vic C) GWV Rebels*
#9 Jason Horne (SA) South Adelaide
#10 Matt Roberts (SA) South Adelaide
#11 Jase Burgoyne (SA) Woodville-West Torrens
#12 Sam Banks (Tas) Clarence*
#13 Lachlan Rankin (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#14 Campbell Chesser (Vic C) Sandringham Dragons*
#15 Josh Sinn (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons*
#16 Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT) GWS Giants
#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (SA) Glenelg
#18 Braden Andrews (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers*
#19 Neil Erasmus (WA) Subiaco
#20 Finn Callaghan (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#21 Blake Howes (Vic M) Sandringham Dragons
#22 Matthew Johnson (WA) Subiaco
#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (WA) Claremont
#24 Rhett Bazzo (WA) Swan Districts
#26 Ned Stevens (NT) Waratah/Gold Coast Suns
#27 Jack Williams (WA) East Fremantle
#28 Mac Andrew (Vic C) Dandenong Stingrays
#29 Toby Conway (Vic C) Geelong Falcons
#30 Ned Moyle (Vic M) Oakleigh Chargers
#35 Josh Gibcus (Vic C) GWV Rebels

* – denotes injured

The game will be streamed live via the official AFL app and website. Keep an eye out for Scouting Notes on each Academy player, post-match.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2021 AFL Academy Squad announced

21 elite top-age prospects have been named in the 2021 AFL Academy squad, as the AFL reverts back to a condensed nationwide program. Previously, the intake entailed as many as 150 talents from around the nation being nurtured in their state hubs, but with cost cutting at the hands of COVID-19 the traditional model will be reinstated.

The squad, coached by former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer, is set to play a game against a Victorian state league side and participate in camps during the year. Players are still set to be added to the list with a number of spots left vacant, as the AFL and club recruiters collaborate to finalise the intake.

Among the standouts, current pick one frontrunner Jason Horne joins the likes of Collingwood father-son hopeful Nick Daicos in the squad. Horne has already gained senior SANFL experience with South Adelaide and has a wide range of weapons, including his speed, ball winning ability, and aerial prowess. Daicos, the son of Peter, has all the skill his pedigree would suggest and enters the elite pathway with a great reputation in the APS competition under his belt.

Victorians dominate the squad with 10 selections, with a far less compromised top-end highlighting the lucky dip that is the AFL Draft. Aside from Daicos, Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide, father-son), Austin Harris (Gold Coast, Academy), and Ned Stevens (Gold Coast, Darwin zone) are the only other selections with ties to clubs. In another shift from this year’s cohort, it looks set to be a talent pool consisting largely of midfielders at the top end.

>> A look ahead: 21 in 2021
>> 2021 AFL Women’s Academy

2021 AFL ACADEMY:

Braden Andrews (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Sam Banks (Tasmania/Clarence)
Rhett Bazzo (Western Australia/Swan Districts)
Jase Burgoyne (South Australia/Woodville West Torrens)
Campbell Chesser (Vic Country/Sandringham Dragons)
Nick Daicos (Vic Metro/Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Fahey (NSW/ACT/GWS Academy)
Cooper Hamilton (Vic Country/Bendigo Pioneers)
Austin Harris (Queensland/Gold Coast Academy)
Ben Hobbs (Vic Country/GWV Rebels)
Jason Horne (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Blake Howes (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Matthew Johnson (Western Australia/Subiaco)
Cooper Murley (South Australia/Norwood)
Josh Rachele (Vic Country/Murray Bushrangers)
Matthew Roberts (South Australia/South Adelaide)
Josh Sinn (Vic Metro/Sandringham Dragons)
Tyler Sonsie (Vic Metro/Eastern Ranges)
Ned Stevens (Northern Territory/Waratah/Gold Coast Academy)
Jacob Van Rooyen (Western Australia/Claremont)
Jack Williams (Western Australia/East Fremantle)

Featured Image: Joshua Rachele looms as a top prospect in 2021 | Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 2

AFTER an action-packed weekend to kick off the season, the 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rolls on into Round 2. All four games are set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as Palmerston takes on Tiwi, while Nightcliff is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Nightcliff Oval.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 10, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Both Palmerston and Tiwi will be out to rectify Round 1 losses, when they do battle at TIO Stadium in the weekend’s opening fixture. The Magpies were soundly trumped by Waratah last time out, while Tiwi was outlasted by Darwin in a high-scoring shootout. The combined losing margin between the teams in Round 1 was 133 points, so suffice to say, there is plenty of room for improvement either way.

Magpies recruit Daniel Stafford will hope for a far more fruitful outing this time around, having been held to three disposals and a goal against Waratah. Support comes from Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who is fresh off a four-goal haul, while bigman Matthew Dennis will again look to supply Chris Williams with a bunch of opportunities at the stoppages. The midfield battle will be key to any Palmerston success; taking some heat off young defenders in Sandy Brock and Tyrrell Lui, while also providing the dangerous Magpies forwards with quick and favourable entries.

Tiwi’s pace and fluent movement could cause some headaches in transition, with the Bombers’ losing score of 94 from last week still a better effort than what half the other teams managed. Victorian recruits Nathan Scagliarini and Angus Byrne have already shown they’ll be terrific additions to the side, while Mason Dewit was also handy down back in his NTFL debut. The likes of Harley Puruntatameri, Henry Kerinaiua, and John Tipiloura will all need to provide their usual spark going forward, with the Bombers’ wide range of goal sources somewhat depleted compared to last season.

Expect a close contest in this one, with both sides out to notch their first win of the season. Palmerston will understand the importance of getting on the board early, but may need some time to gel having taken in a number of key recruits. The Bombers stand as a fearsome test.

Nightcliff vs. Waratah
Saturday October 10, 4:00pm
Nightcliff Oval

Two-time reigning premier Nightcliff meets fellow Round 1 victor, Waratah on home turf this Saturday, as both sides look to carry on their winning form. As they often do, the Tigers sent a resounding statement to the rest of the competition in their defeat of St Mary’s in last week’s Grand Final rematch, with the usual suspects combining well alongside a range of fresh faces. Waratah also earned a stylish win in the season’s curtain-raiser, thumping Palmerston under the new Gardens Oval lights on Friday night.

The hardness and maturity of Nightcliff’s side continues to shine through, with the likes of Daniel Bowles, Cam Ilett, and Brodie Filo all finding plenty of the ball last week. Dominic Brew‘s 17 disposals, 13 tackles, and seven clearances were also mighty impressive, with the Tigers’ midfield depth and versatility a tough match for any team. Combine that with the sturdiness of Nathan Brown down back, and the goal threat of Liam Holt-Fitz, Kyle Emery, and Matthew Bricknell up forward, and you have a well-balanced unit which boasts a range of weapons.

Waratah’s Ned Stevens is coming off a performance which earned him a Rising Star nod, competing well against Dennis, Palmerston’s established ruckman. He’ll have more of a rotation to face this time out alongside Zach Westerberg. At their feet, the likes of Sam Godden, Dylan Collis, and Joshua Carmichael should provide good forward drive against stiff opposition, along with usual suspect, Abe Ankers. Jae McGrath has proven again that he is able to spearhead the attack, with Brodie Carroll, Tom Fields, and Kim Kantilla all capable of hitting the scoreboard, too.

After such a promising season initiation last week, a true test of Waratah’s credentials will come against the competition’s benchmark. Nightcliff seldom puts in a bad performance, so the Warriors will have to be at their best to outdo the reigning premiers and remain undefeated.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Southern Districts
Saturday October 10, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin proved many a doubter wrong in Round 1, and will look to continue that trend heading into its Saturday evening clash with Southern Districts. The Double Blues stormed away to a 64-point romping over Tiwi, while the Crocs slumped to a narrow four-point loss at the hands of Wanderers. The two sides last met in week one of last year’s finals series, with Districts getting the better of the Buffs on that occasion to the tune of 71 points. But a lot has changed since then and there will be a decent personnel turnover coming into this battle.

Experienced heads in Jarrod Stokes and Matt Campbell continue to serve their Darwin side well along with the returning figure of Brodie Foster, who comes in fresh off a six-goal haul. Ishmael Palmer and Joey Collinson were others to showcase Darwin’s scoring prowess in last week’s effort, with good potential to carry on such form agains the Crocs. Districts have lost some of that firepower and only managed six goals last week, but can rely on the likes of Lionel Ogden and Dean Staunton to drive standards. Billy Rolfe also snared half of his side’s total goals in Round 1, so will have a big role to play once again.

It’d be easy to turn on the Crocs after a disappointing Round 1 result, though Wanderers look a much-improved side and only just got the better of them. Darwin has been a notoriously hot started over the last few seasons, so will hope that trend continues here in what should be a cracking contest.

St Mary’s vs. Wanderers
Saturday October 10, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Season 2019/20 Grand Finalist St Mary’s readies for battle with Wanderers, looking to get on the board in the new campaign. The Saints were again outdone by Nightcliff in their opening game, while a revamped Wanderers snuck home by four points over Southern Districts. A perfect start to 2020/21 is up for grabs for the Muk Muks given the stiff opposition they’ve faced, with St Mary’s hoping it doesn’t fall too far behind the leading pack early on.

Star Victorian recruits Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman were terrific last time out for Wanderers, while familiar faces in Braedon McLean and Brett Eddy will hope to continue their leading of the side. Goals were hard to come by against Districts, but the likes of Brayden Culhane and Shane Thorne should again be thereabouts for the Eagles. The Saints were another side to only manage six goals in Round 1, with the likes of Nate Paredes and Shaun Edwards having to contribute from midfield. The returning Jackson Paine started strongly, while fellow bigman Brandyn Grenfell will again look to impact.

Wanderers is a side on the rise and will have to work hard to get the most out of a couple of tough early-season assignments. St Mary’s will be hungry to hit back hard after last week and have the cattle to do so, led by some experienced campaigners.

Featured Image: Action from the Round 1 Darwin vs. Tiwi clash | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

THE 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season is set to bounce down tonight, as Waratah takes on Palmerston at Gardens Oval. After an off-season which saw the points and fly-in rules adjusted, but a raft of players putting pen to paper across all eight clubs, this year’s instalment promises to raise plenty of intrigue and produce even more quality.

In our club-by-club season preview, we take a look at how each side may stack up for the upcoming campaign, touching on the potential new signings and important factors for each team, while also serving a reminder of where they each left off.

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

2019/20 finish: 5th, 10-8 – lost elimination final to Southern Districts by 71
Round 1 fixture: vs. Tiwi Bombers @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

After an up and down 2019/20 season, the Darwin Buffaloes will hope to hold onto the finals place it managed to secure last time out. The Double Blues stormed out of the gates, but struggled to find the required consistency later in the season and exited the finals with barely a whimper against Southern Districts.

Consistency may well be a difficult feat to manage once again, with a coaching change and max exodus of players putting the Buffs in a tough position. While interstaters Brodie Foster and Ryan Pendlebury have recommitted, with outgoing coach Matt Campbell also set to remain onboard in a playing capacity, Darwin has lost a series of big names. New coach Cameron Stokes will have to plug gaps left by last year’s leading goalkicker Daniel Stafford, best and fairest winner Chris Williams, and utility Zak Stephenson, who have all switched to Palmerston.

Exciting goalkickers Brayden Culhane (Wanderers) and Adam Sambono (Tiwi) have also moved through the exit door, leaving a big shoes for new recruits to fill. Much will also be expected of young gun Antonio James, who is fresh off a starring South Australian school football season with Westminster. Fellow youngster Isaac Seden-Kurnoth will also garner plenty of attention, providing the green shoots Darwin may be after during a transitional period along with Ishmael Palmer and Tim Eldridge.

Nightcliff:

2019/20 finish: 1st, 17-1 – won Grand Final over St Mary’s by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. St Mary’s @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

Nightcliff begins its back-to-back premiership defence with a 2019/20 Grand Final rematch against St Mary’s, which should serve as a good measuring stick for the Tigers’ motivation and team cohesion after another big off-season. Premiership hero Trent Melville may have played his final NTFL game in last year’s decider, but the reigning premiers have a bunch of regulars and new recruits to cover any potential losses.

The Tigers’ notoriously deep pockets have lured a number of big-name VFL players, along with a host of Victorians from prominent local/regional leagues, and even the NAB League. Fresh off a strong WAFL season with Claremont which could yet end in premiership glory, Nightcliff junior Ryan Nyhuis would prove the cherry on top of the Tigers’ numerous recruits, along with former Palmerston gun, Kyle Emery.

Homegrown talent remains too, with the likes of Ryan Mu, and Liam Holt-Fitz enjoying steep rises, while Cam Ilett goes around for his 21st season, and Nichols Medalist Brodie Filo lines up once again. It is hard to see the Tigers falling off given the scary depth they possess once again, and it should be a cracking season for fans of the yellow and black.

Palmerston:

2019/20 finish: 8th, 1-17
Round 1 fixture: vs. Waratah @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

Alwyn Davey‘s Palmerston outfit is poised to bounce back strongly from a season which saw them finish last in 2019/20. Strong inter-league recruiting sees them well placed to potentially make a run for finals, with the back-end of the competition evening up this year. A trio of Buffaloes; Daniel Stafford, Chris Williams, and Zak Stephenson should add to the Magpies’ spine, along with returning junior Tyrrell Lui.

Young talent should be in good shape too, with Lui joined by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Sandy Brock as pillars up either end, while Jonty Patrick returns from SANFL Under 18s duties with Central Districts. The Davey family connection of Alwyn, Russell, and potentially Aaron adds experience, along with mainstay ruckman Matthew Dennis, who has recommitted to the Magpies. That’s not to mention Alywn’s twin sons, who should also run through the Premier League side.

A steady start against Waratah in the season opener should put them in good stead, serving as a decent test of where the side will be at in 2020/21.

Southern Districts:

2019/20 finish: 3rd (4th), 10-7-1 – lost preliminary final to Nightcliff by 37
Round 1 fixture: vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Southern Districts will hope the momentum of a spirited finals charge will carry on into season 2020/21, with quite a steady squad remaining in tact for Matt Cannard‘s first year at the helm. Other sides may fancy themselves to move past the Crocs given their relatively quiet off-season, though a strong core and some handy fly-ins should keep Districts within the finals hunt.

The news of Josiah Farrer‘s ACL tear is a big blow to the Crocs’ premiership hopes, though Will Farrer remains as a goalkicking midfielder, while Charlie McAdam and Dean Staunton are other mainstays who can steady the ship. Young outside bolter Brandon Rusca looked primed for a big year after spending some time with the Gold Coast SUNS, while Brodie Lake may sneak some game time in before the AFL Draft. Fellow youngsters Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus have also moved up from Victoria, with Clark a solid defender who captained the Geelong Falcons last year, while Dahlhaus is cut from the same cloth as cousin, Luke.

With a couple more relocating coups, Southern Districts should be able to enjoy some good form throughout the year. Having made a name as one of the competition’s premier teams across the last few years, the Crocs will be hungry not to fall out of the leading pack.

St Mary’s:

2019/20 finish: 2nd, 14-4 – lost Grand Final to Nightcliff by 13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Nightcliff @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 7:30pm

After a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Nightcliff, St Mary’s will look to go one-better in season 2020/21 after staying busy in the off-season. A number of big names remain, including Shaun Edwards, Jackson Calder, and Jackson Paine, and Nate Paredes, with Raphael Clarke also set to feature. Ben Long will be a handy addition once his WAFL campaign ends, while returning stars Ross Tungatalum and Anthony Davis promise to add a new dimension to the Saints’ side. Will Hams is another experienced head set to enter the fold, boasting AFL experience.

Add to that recruits of former VFL, NAB League, and Geelong Football League players, and St Mary’s should again prove to be a force in this year’s competition. The recommitment of many stars who helped the club climb off a bottom-place finish in 2018/19 is great to see, with the depth of the squad now right up there with Nightcliff ahead of what should be an exciting season for Saints fans. Having come from a long way back last year, they should start right at the forefront, especially if they can knock the Tigers off in Round 1.

Tiwi Bombers:

2019/20 finish: 4th (3rd), 11-7 – lost semi final to Southern Districts by 40
Round 1 fixture: vs. Darwin @ Gardens Oval, Saturday 4:00pm

One of last year’s most exciting teams, the Tiwi Bombers will be out to make good on their straight-sets finals exit in 2019/20, starting with a Round 1 grudge match against Darwin. The Bombers have added some handy interstate quality, while also managing to secure the services of prolific goalkicker Adam Sambono from the Buffaloes. A major out, though, will be former AFL midfielder Nathan Djerrkura, who moves to Wanderers.

The Bombers’ speed and ease of transition will again put them in good stead this year, with the likes of Harley Puruntatameri and Henry Kerinaiua running the lines, while Jeffrey Simon adds class through the middle or up either end. Tiwi’s mainstays are always important too, and should help secure their side a finals spot once again in 2020/21, but it’ll be tight. Fans will also hope to see a bit more of Cyril Rioli too, after his successful cameo last time around.

Wanderers:

2019/20 finish: 7th 3-14-1
Round 1 fixture: vs. Southern Districts @ TIO Stadium, Saturday 5:00pm

Wanderers will look to address and improve on a massive drop-off in form towards the end of last season, as the Muk Muks begin a fresh campaign against Southern Districts tomorrow night. The Eagles’ stocks see them primed for a finals tilt, with the likes of Nathan Djerrkura and Brayden Culhane coming in from rival clubs, while Josh Cubillo and Marlon Motlop are set to feature more prominently as Jonas Niki and Clifford Jamahl make their returns.

In terms of interstate recruits, the Eagles have also dipped into the Victorian pool with a mix of experienced and young players entering the fold, set to line up as soon as in Round 1. The Eagles also lay claim to 2019/20 Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell, who formed a strong midfield partnership with Braedon McLean, but the hole Joel Jeffrey will leave come AFL Draft time is a big one to fill.

Still, the Muk Muks will fancy themselves to improve greatly after showing some great promise early last year, and face a very good test first up against the Crocs.

Waratah:

2019/20 finish: 6th 5-13
Round 1 fixture: vs. Palmerston @ Gardens Oval, Friday 6:30pm

After an inconsistent season saw them finish best of the rest in sixth, the Warriors have plenty to prove in their 2020/21 campaign. Along with Nightcliff, Waratah has been one of the busiest clubs during the off-season, luring a mass amount of players from all kinds of leagues and levels in Victoria. Young key forward Ned Stevens also returns as a big coup, taking some of the goalkicking pressure of zippy midfielder/forward Kim Kantilla.

The likes of state leaguers Brodie Carroll and Callum Searle also line up for the Warriors, with Jae McGrath another important player to commit to the cause. As usual, Abe Ankers will be the key man, and all involved will hope he can run out more frequently this time around. Expectations will be high for a healthy rise this season considering Waratah’s various coups, but making the next step is always tough, especially with others improving around them.

Featured Image: Nightcliff celebrates its 2019/20 premiership | Credit: AFLNT

Scouting Notes: NT All-Stars – Team Rioli vs. Team McLean

TEAM Rioli defeated Team McLean 11.13 (79) to 7.17 (59) in Friday night’s Northern Territory (NT) Under 18 All-Stars showcase at TIO Stadium. Draft Central scout, Ed Pascoe had eyes on the exiting spectacle, on hand to deliver notes on the Top End’s brightest prospects.

Team Rioli:

#5 Jack Peris

The talented son of former Olympian Nova Peris started the game in fine fashion, with a nice run and handball to then get the ball back in the chain and finish it with a nice running goal. Jack Peris made the wing his own, using it to run hard both ways. He was not afraid to tackle either, and would attack cleanly and quickly with ball in hand. He had a very good last quarter which was highlighted by an unselfish bit of play, receiving a kick from Joel Jeffrey close to goal, but handpassing over to teammate Nathaniel Cooper for an easy conversion. The exciting St Kilda NGA prospect is not draft eligible until 2021, but looks a great talent to watch for in that draft.

#6 Nathaniel Cooper

Cooper was extremely busy on the half-forward flank as he sent the ball inside 50 numerous times and set up plenty of scoring chains with his composure and skill. Cooper was one of the smallest players out there but perhaps had the biggest impact with his ability to turn on a dime and keep his composure under a lot of pressure. He was rewarded for his numerous goal assists with a goal for himself in the last quarter, which came from an unselfish bit of play by teammate, Jack Peris. The Croker Island prospect certainly lit up the game and made a name for himself as a player to keep an eye on for the future.

#8 Alwyn Davey Jr

One of the youngest players on the ground the talented son of a gun really showed his skill and why he will be a highly sought after prospect in the 2022 draft. Davey played most of his time in the midfield where his clean hands and skills where on display, as he rarely missed a target and often put his teammates in a better position than himself. His most exciting bit of play came with a great chase down tackle in the second quarter which would have certainly given Essendon supporters flashbacks of his old man during his playing days with Essendon. Davey had a few chances to hit the scoreboard in the third quarter and could not quite capitalise, but he still showed plenty of forward craft – not just at ground level but with his marking overhead. He is a right-footer and more of a midfielder compared to his father and twin brother, and he will line up for the Oakleigh Chargers next year.

#9 Brodie Lake

Coming back to the NT after spending some time in South Australia with Central District, it was business as usual for Lake who got to show his trademark burst and running power for all four quarters, as he was firmly in the best players for Team Rioli. The main issue for Lake throughout the game was his kicking, as he did not have many problems finding the ball and looking good on the burst, but a fair few times he did not hit a target via foot. That side of his game did get better later in the contest, but what really impressed was his work-rate to push into defence and not only spoil, but quickly back up, win the ball, and go for his trademark dashes to it away from a dangerous position. Lake has plenty of elite traits and if he can tidy up his disposal he could be a real weapon at AFL level and looks likely to be pre-listed by Gold Coast.

>> Feature: Brodie Lake

#16 Ned Stevens

Forming a great partnership with Joel Jeffrey as a tall forward, Stevens started the game well by taking a nice contested mark, coming from behind his opponent then and slotting his first goal. Stevens also helped out in the ruck, using his leap and obvious basketball traits to win plenty of hit-outs and doing so cleanly. His clean hands both at ground level and above his head really stood out and made him a very difficult matchup. His third and final goal was his best, kicking a miracle goal from a tight angle in the third quarter which really showed off his talent. With great athletic traits, size and game sense, Stevens looks like one of NT’s best young prospects going into the 2021 draft.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

Perhaps NT’s finest young prospect for the 2020 draft, it was evident why he is so highly touted with a brilliant display up forward. Although not perfect, he was easily the most dangerous player on the ground and was near impossible to stop on the lead with his speed off the mark, thus providing a great target coming out of full forward. While he was not nailing every scoring opportunity, he remained dangerous and what really impressed was his ability to bring his teammates into the he game in the second half with some lovely pin point kicks. Jeffrey kicked three goals with two coming from lead up marks and one from a free kick. He had a great battle with another quality youngster in Tyrrell Lui. Jeffrey certainly showed off his talent with clean hands, good agility and vision and if he can nail more of his opportunities he could become a real force up forward at the next level.

>> AFL Draft Watch: Joel Jeffrey

Team McLean:

#10 Jesiah Minor

The talented left-footer from Papunya was Team McLean’s most dangerous forward all day, with his long and dangerous boot his weapon of choice which he used well to hit the scoreboard from all angles. Minor did well to lead and take his marks up the ground, not just close to goal where he was equally damaging. He would kick three goals and a fair few behinds, but his best goal came in the last quarter – marking 60m out and without hesitation, wheeling around onto his left and kicking a lovely long goal. It could have been an even bigger day for Minor if he had kicked straighter, but it was nice to see how quick he could get ball to boot in different situations to find an avenue to goal. He certainly looks like a prospect to keep an eye on.

#20 Tyrrell Lui

Lui had the toughest gig of any player on the ground and that was the task of stopping the highly talented Joel Jeffrey. He did the best he could do but some of the delivery to Jeffrey was hard to stop for even the best defenders and he could hold his head up on the consistent four-quarter effort he provided. Lui had a cool head in defence as he was rarely flustered, often picking the right option and executing well by hand and foot. He had some timely spoils and tackles deep in defence and he was certainly important to his side when the ball was coming in fast. The utility is a talented prospect and could yet find a spot on Gold Coasts list as part of its NT Zone.

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

Under 16 National Championships: Division 2 wrap

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

Northern Territory (0-3)

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

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

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

NSW/ACT (3-0)

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

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

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

Queensland (2-1)

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

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

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

Tasmania (1-2)

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

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

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