Tag: nick yarran

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 15 – Four separate venues host defining round

FOUR separate venues host what is set to be the first round in a finals-defining last month of the regular season, with four of the top five sides again going head-to-head amid heavy jostling for position. St Mary’s, currently sitting second, could be the main benefactor as it readies to face current wooden-spooner Palmerston, but there is plenty to play out in Round 15 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.

TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-5) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 8-6)
Saturday January 25, 2:00pm
Tracy Village

Third spot is up for grabs as Tiwi Bombers and Darwin Buffaloes do battle at Tracy Village, with the Buffs looking to arrest a two-game losing skid. The game also marks the end of a tough month of fixtures for the travelling side, and another set of four points here could even keep Darwin in the hunt for second spot. With jostling for position among the top five becoming much more intense, the Buffs look to be going all out for their third meeting with the Bombers. Joe Anderson and Brodie Foster come back into the side to push Jarrod Stokes into midfield under the ruckmanship of Stephen Tahana, while Adam Sambono looms as another possible inclusion having been named on the extended bench. But Tiwi is seldom short of their own big names, and the Bombers’ bench alone is one to behold. Former AFL midfielders Ashton Hams and Nathan Djerrkura feature alongside Greensborough pair Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle, while Collingwood VFL star Lachlan Howe could also come into the already stacked side. This could be an all-out shootout judging by the line-ups, and with plenty of big names scattered across the field, is a must-watch for neutrals. Tiwi will come in as favourite given its form, but should be wary of the Buffs – who can beat any side on their day.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 13-1) vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 7-6-1)
Saturday January 25, 4:00pm
TIO Stadium

An out-of-form Southern Districts faces the toughest of tasks in regaining its mojo, with reining premier Nightcliff next on the agenda. The Crocs come in having lost three-consecutive games and four of their last five, all against top five opposition in an ominous omen for this clash. Two previous losses to Nightcliff in this campaign bode no better for Southern Districts, with its slide to fifth spot perhaps the product of a tough draw. But this should be the Crocs’ final regular season hurdle with three bottom sides awaiting, and there should be plenty of class at their disposal despite the absence of Michael and Ed Barlow. Richard Tambling retains his spot in the heart of midfield, set to link up with Josiah Farrer in the engine room. The forward rotation will also be important for Districts, with Jeff Garlett, Dean Staunton, and Beau Schwarze set to move through there alongside spearheads, Will Farrer and Sam Barnett. With such firepower, this looms as a danger game for the somewhat undermanned Tigers, who lose John Butcher and James Tsitas for this match. But there is plenty of class remaining, with Liam Holt-Fitz‘s form leading the likes of Trent Melville and Kaine Riley among a host of other consistent performers. While the Tigers have earned favouritism for every game this season having beaten every team in the league, the Crocs could well pull off a remarkable return to form.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-13) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 10-4)
Saturday January 25, 5:00pm
Cazalys Arena

A better-stocked St Mary’s will hope to return to the winners list in its clash with the lowly Palmerston Magpies on the road, with second spot the Saints’ to lose at this point. Coming off a crushing loss to league-leader, Nightcliff, the Saints look poised to bring in some serious talent in hopes of recapturing the form which saw them string together five-straight wins. With Jack Long and Shaun Edwards remaining a key part of St Mary’s spine, ex-Blue and ‘Roo Jarrad Waite looks set to join Jackson Calder inside forward 50 while Nate Paredes and Nick Yarran return on the outside. Those inclusions make the proposition a whole lot harder for Palmerston, but the Magpies have been able to turn to some ex-AFL experience of their own with Aaron Davey joining brother and coach, Alwyn in the side. Alwyn Davey Jnr also remains in the starting line-up, with Russell Davey again making it a true family affair. But it remains quite a one-sided contest on paper, and St Mary’s hunger should be heightened given its disappointing outing last time out against Nightcliff. It could be over early, which would be ideal for the Saints as they look to maintain a percentage advantage with second spot looming as tough to hold on to.

WARATAH (6th, 4-10) vs. WANDERERS (7th, 3-10-1)
Sunday January 26, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Two bottom three sides get a standalone Sunday slot as Waratah and Wanderers clash for the third time this season, with the ledger sitting at one win apiece. The Warriors’ Round 14 win over Palmerston will have them licking their lips at the opportunity to snare another set of four points, especially given Wanderers’ current eight-game losing streak. But much of this fixture’s outcome relies on the crop available to either side, with Waratah looking a top five side at its best, and Wanderers needing all the pieces to be put together to stay on top. The Warriors could well field a very strong line-up, with Abe Ankers, Michael Newton, Brodie Carroll, and Kim Kantilla all named – albeit with a heavily extended bench. In response, the Muk Muks have included Braedon McLean, Davin Ferreira, Joel Jeffrey, Beau O’Connell, and five of the Motlop clan to make up a near-full strength side and put some intrigue into this clash. It should be a close one despite the wavering form of either team, with pride still on the line despite finals hopes being firmly out of the question. The winner could finish as the best of the rest.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 14 – Top two clash headlines finals-refining weekend

FOR the second time in as many weeks, the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League’s top four sides will face off in a finals-defining round of action. This time, the top two square off while third and fourth do battle as the race for ascendancy among the top five heats up.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4th, 7-5-1) vs. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 8-5)
Saturday January 18, 2:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts hosts Tiwi in the weekend’s first top four clash, with the Crocs hoping to reclaim the top three spot they have long held this season. But Tiwi has already proven to be stiff opposition for the Crocs, with a Round 7 meeting between the sides yielding a 35-point Bombers victory. But much has changed since that last outing, with Tiwi coming from outside the top five to cement itself in the top three as it stands and standing now as a much more formidable opponent. It was somewhat of a shock result in November, but the Bombers come in as favourites given their four-game win streak. It may not be that simple though, with their run-in to a month of football against the remaining top five coming after comparatively more comfortable fixtures.

Both sides come in relatively settled, with many of their big names enjoying a consistent run of game time. Jeff Garlett and Richard Tambling are two of those for Southern Districts, possessing the class going forward which can perfectly counteract the damaging Bombers. Add to that the competition’s leading goalkicker, Will Farrer and his midfield-forward brother, Josiah at the feet of Sam Barnett, and you have a dynamic side forward of centre. But the Bombers are one of the most dynamic sides across the park, able to damage opposition with their pace. While last week’s five goal hero Tom Bell is out of the side, along with Charlie Molyneux and Nick Riddle, Tiwi looks set to regain Ashton Hams in what is still very much a stacked line-up. As arguably the hottest side in the competition right now, the Bombers need to capitalise on their winning form ahead of a tough few weeks.

WARATAH (7th, 3-10) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 1-12)
Saturday January 18, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Fresh off its maiden win for season 2019/20, Palmerston will fancy itself a real chance at going back-to-back when it faces fellow bottom three side, Waratah at TIO Stadium. The Magpies were terrific last time out in a win they were made to earn – 12 weeks in the making – and should come in with similar energy given the buoyancy a wins gives a team. On the other hand, Waratah has suffered two heavy losses to quality opposition since the mid-season break, seeing its finals aspirations dwindle even further. But a massive Round 7 win against the Magpies should give the Warriors great hope of snapping their three-game losing run with a fourth win, and there is nothing to lose at this point.

Waratah’s Kim Kantilla is a man in serious form at the moment, coming of a four goal haul in last round’s loss and booting half of his side’s majors the week before. He and Henry Kerinaiua have been the main source of inspiration inside attacking 50, and the two should get some good service with Brodie Carroll named on an extended bench alongside bigman, Alex Aurrichio. The quartet will be crucial with Abe Ankers‘ name left off the team sheet. Skipper Aaron Lonergan will lead his Magpies out alongside playing coach, Alwyn Davey, whose son (Alwyn Jnr) remains in the line-up. Up forward, spearhead Keiden Holt-Tubbs takes up his usual position, but will not be joined by fellow Round 13 three-goal hauler, Leigh Williams. Pride and bragging rights are the only thing left on the line for the two sides at this point, so the chance of adding to their slim winning tallies should make it a good contest.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (5th, 7-6) vs. WANDERERS (6th, 3-9-1)
Saturday January 18, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

It is do or die for Wanderers in term of a finals berth as it prepares to face fifth-placed Darwin in a Saturday night showdown. The Eagles are well adrift from the finals pack, but still stand a mathematical chance of making the top five if they can pull off some remarkable wins. After going down to Palmerston last week to extend their losing run to seven games, the Muk Muks will be desperate to get one back over the side which started that streak all the way back in Round 7 – Darwin. The Buffs have had form troubles of their own, going down in three of their last four outings, but have faced the best opposition possible in the only four sides ahead of them. This fixture marks a much lighter run to the end of the home-and-away season and, hopefully for them, a return to form.

The want for a win will only be compounded by the occasion, with much-loved skipper Jarrod Stokes running out for his 150th senior game in Buffs colours. He will be joined in the side by playing coach, Matt Campbell and Darwin spearhead Daniel Stafford in what should form a formidable full forward line at some point in the game. Wanderers’ typical show of young talent will again feature Mark White up forward, who will look to make up the Eagles’ own dangerous forward line alongside Joel Jeffrey and Beau O’Connell. But with Darwin’s side littered with seasoned vets and finals experience, it will prove a challenge for the Eagles to keep their legs and concentration throughout the entire contest.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 12-1) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 10-3)
Sunday January 19, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Arguably the game of the round will receive a standalone Sunday slot, with Nightcliff hosting St Mary’s in a top-of-the-table blockbuster. A thorn in the reigning premiers’ side, St Mary’s is the only team to have beaten Nightcliff this season – in Round 7 – and sit just close enough to make the race for the minor premiership interesting. With eight points separating the two teams coming in, a win for the Saints would put the pressure right on Nightcliff, but a loss would all but put an end to their hopes of snatching first place come season’s end. Winning has clearly been no issue for either side to this point, with Nightcliff remaining undefeated in the seven games since its sole loss, while St Mary’s is on a five-game winning run.

The Tigers should be up for the occasion, looking to claim the final scalp in their 2019/20 season collection, and should have a some handy additions to lean on with John Butcher, James Tsitas, and Jayden Shaw all named on an extended bench. As one of the more dynamic and experienced sides, they should have all the tools to rectify Round 7’s result. But the Saints are no slouches, coming in with a spine consisting of Shaun Edwards, Jake Long, Maurice Rioli Jnr, and Jackson Paine, despite missing the likes of Davin Ferriera and Nick Yarran. With talent littered across the park and so much to play for, this looms as must-see viewing for all NTFL fans.

NTFL Men’s Premier League review: Round 12 – Buffs prevail in dramatic eight-pointer

THE new year tossed up some predictable results in Round 12 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, but Darwin and Southern Districts played out a cracker in the weekend’s sole top five clash. While the Buffs closed the gap on their weekend opponents in the race for a top three spot, the remaining finals-bound sides went about solidifying their standing in the top five.

ST MARY’S 1.4 | 6.10 | 9.12 | 14.17 (101)
WANDERERS 1.3 | 2.4 | 5.7 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Salmon 3, N. Paredes 2, L. Larson 2, J. Long, R. Jordon, M. Rioli Jnr, N. Yarran, R. Smith, B. Slater, R. Miller
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 2, M. Cooper, T. Motlop, B. McLean

BEST:

St Mary’s: R. Smith, T. Davies, R. Jordon, N. Yarran, J. Salmon, N. Paredes
Wanderers: N/A

It was business as usual for St Mary’s as it trounced Wanderers by 63 points to open Round 12 on Friday night. In a contest that was largely competitive until midway through the third term, the Saints kicked away against a tiring Eagles side to cap the 14.17 (101) to 5.8 (38) result.

After a tight opener, the Saints looked to be pulling away to a straightforward victory after jumping out to a five-goal half time lead. But the Muk Muks gave their all to mount a short-lived comeback after the main break, booting the first three goals of the term to draw back within four points of the finals-bound Saints. Unfortunately, the Eagles spent all their fuel tickets on the fightback, leaving nothing left to edge in front as St Mary’s ruthlessly pulled away with five goals to nil in the final quarter. There were still positives to be drawn from the loss for Wanderers, with the returning Joel Jeffrey showing off all of his talent in the air and at ground level to go with two classy goals, while Braedon McLean’s energy in the middle was terrific in the third term. For the winners, 10 individual goal kickers were led by Joseph Salmon‘s three majors, but it was Ryan Smith who was named best afield as the likes of Thomas Davies and Nick Yarran also contributed.

Winning form is good form for the Saints, especially with two of its fellow top three sides immediately ahead on the fixture list and other sides closing in on second place. For Wanderers, the last chance finals saloon opens with a game against the winless Palmerston, which is now a must-win with Tiwi 14 points adrift in fifth.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 3.2 | 8.4 | 11.6 | 13.9 (87)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 6.7 | 12.10 (82)

GOALS:

Darwin: D. Stafford 5, B. Foster 3, K. Campbell 2, J. Stokes 2, D. Miles
Southern Districts: D. Hall 3, W. Farrer 2, J. Farrer 2, D. McLachlan, R. O’Brien, B. Schwarze, D. Corbett, M. Barlow

BEST:

Darwin: N/A
Southern Districts: N/A

Southern Districts has been made to rue a miss after the siren in its dramatic five-point loss to Darwin Buffaloes in a top five eight-pointer. Rory O’Brien pulled his set shot to level the scores after marking a Michael Barlow kick 25 metres from goal, sealing the unfortunate 13.9 (87) to 12.10 (82) loss.

The result looked dead and buried as David Miles kicked truly into an open goal late in the third term, punishing the Crocs for their inability to convert up the other end. A fifth goal to Daniel Stafford in the final term to push the margin back out to 11 points with under 10 minutes left looked to again have sealed the result, but it did not deter the Crocs as they doubled their goal tally in a single stanza. It proved futile in the end as O’Brien failed to convert and snatch the draw, but made for great viewing on the neutral end. Earlier, Stafford and Brodie Foster combined for seven of the Buffs’ eight first half goals, with skipper Jarrod Stokes also extending his influence to the scoreboard. Davin Hall led the response for Southern Districts with three majors in just his fourth game for the season, while Josiah and William Farrer also chimed in with two apiece as Barlow found plenty of the ball to very nearly prove a game winner.

Three more top five opponents lie ahead for Southern Districts, with each result massive in deciding positions three to five. Meanwhile, the next few weeks will be a mixed bag for Darwin, set to test its premiership credentials against the competition’s benchmark next week, while also facing two bottom three opponents in the following rounds.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.4 | 13.5 | 19.7 | 25.11 (161)
WARATAH 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: J. Butcher 6, R. Mu 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, C. Ilett 2, M. Hagan 2, J. Budarick, N. Brown, B. Arnold, D. Bowles, S. Wilson
Waratah: K. Kantilla 2, D. Simpson

BEST:

Nightcliff: S. Wilson, K. Riley, R. Mu, J. Butcher, P. Wills
Waratah: N/A

The mid-season break only heightened Nightcliff’s hunger for goals as the reigning premier put on a scoring masterclass against Waratah, winning to the tune of 138 points. 12 Tigers found the goals in the 25.11 (161) to 3.5 (23) romp as the ladder leaders dominated across the ground.

A four-goal opening term was Nightcliff’s lowest-scoring period, following it up with nine majors and six in each quarter after half time to see out the huge victory. While their ruthlessly precise finishing inside 50 was ultra-impressive, the Tigers were just as good further afield as they kept the Warriors goalless across the second and third terms, while only conceding a high of two in the final period of play. Waratah had to wait until seven minutes into the fourth quarter for its second six-pointer, ending a massive period of unanswered goals. John Butcher was the Tigers’ chief destroyer with his half-dozen majors, but two non-scoring players – Kaine Riley and Phillip Wills – made their impact felt up the ground to be named in the best behind Shaun Wilson. Kim Kantilla again proved hot to handle as one of the few Warriors to stand tall, booting two of his side’s three majors in the absence of some of their prime movers. Daniel Simpson also found room for a celebration after finding the big sticks in the final term despite the massive margin.

It does not get any easier for Waratah with Tiwi next on the agenda, but respite should come with consecutive fixtures against fellow bottom three sides to round out January. Up the other end of the ladder, a month of competing against top five opponents could dislodge Nightcliff from first place, but the Tigers have already proven their worth against the best of the rest.

PALMERSTON 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.7 | 7.10 (52)
TIWI BOMBERS 3.3 | 9.7 | 10.10 | 16.17 (113)

GOALS:

Palmerston: K. Emery, K. Holt-Tubbs, L. Roberts, L. Williams, R. Warfe, D. Nichols, C. Timms
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 3, H. Puruntatameri 3, D. Munkara 2, R. Tungatalum 2, C. Abala 2, P. Heenan, A. Tipungwuti, A. Darcy, N. Riddle

BEST:

Palmerston: K. Emery, D. Gordon, J. Berry, J. Rhodes, M. Perry (Jnr), J. Damaso
Tiwi: D. Munkara, H. Puruntatameri, N. Riddle, D. McLinden, J. Puruntatameri, J. Monigatti

Tiwi was quick to shake off Palmerston in Round 12’s final fixture, overpowering the Magpies to come out 61-point winners. Both sides had trouble converting at times, but the Bombers’ wealth of opportunities proved far too much for the struggling Magpies in the 7.10 (52) to 16.17 (113) loss.

After very nearly overcoming the Bombers in Round 5, Palmerston looked like providing a good challenge to its opponent once again, keeping touch for just over a quarter. But Tiwi soon clicked into gear with six goals to two to set up the win, consolidating with another half-dozen majors in the final term to pretty up the scoreboard. Both sides had at least seven individual goalkickers, but it was the Bombers’ five multiple goalkickers which proved the difference as no Magpie managed to trouble the scorers more than once. Austin Wonaeamirri and Harley Puruntatameri each booted a game-high three goals, but it was Dion Munkara who was judged best afield for the winners. Kyle Emery impressed for the Magpies, but he was unable to provide the goals needed alongside usual goal-getter Keidan Holt-Tubbs as the Bombers well and truly outgunned them with speed and class across the ground.

A twelfth loss sees Palmerston still 12 points adrift of seventh, but the opportunity to grab a breakthrough win may come knocking with two bottom three match-ups set for the Eagles upcoming fortnight. Waratah is next up for Tiwi, but the tough month following that fixture makes it a must-win for the Bombers as hopes dwindle among the bottom three.

Credit: Ivan Rachman/NT News

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUND 7 PREVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 6 – Sambono returns as top four square off

FOUR different venues host each game in Round 6 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, with fixtures between the top four sides headlining what is set to be a cracking weekend of football.

WARATAH (7th, 0-5, 55%) v. TIWI BOMBERS (6th, 2-3, 72%)
Saturday November 9, 2:30pm
Gardens Oval

A bottom three clash opens Round 6 as the winless Waratah hosts Tiwi at Gardens Oval on Saturday afternoon. Despite putting up competitive efforts in most games thus far, including a win which was later revoked, the Warriors are one of two sides languishing without any premiership points after a handful of efforts. Missing key talent and the former-AFL firepower of others, it has been a tough initiation to season 2019/20 for Waratah. But that could all change with a win over the Bombers, who are looking to build a win streak and break into the top five. Much-hyped coming into the season, Tiwi has been a touch lacklustre thus far but still provided two highlights for the year in each of its two wins – beating rivals St Mary’s in a high-scoring thriller and having Cyril Rioli Jnr make his long=awaited return last week.

The Bombers’ hopes of another headline win will be made difficult by Waratah’s likely inclusions, with key players Abe Ankers and Steve Stroobants joining Brodie Carroll and Henry Kerinaiua in the side to give the Warriors plenty of forward drive. The Bombers have not named Rioli after his to-plan debut, but Victorian Charlie Molyneux looks like being a handy replacement in midfield. There are still plenty of stars in the side in any case, with the likes of Adam Tipungwuti, Nathan Djerrkura, and Austin Wonaeamirri providing class on each line. Youngsters Jeffrey Simon and Preyben Tipiloura also keep their spots, giving the Bombers plenty of flair.

It is hard to look past the Bombers on paper, but their unpredictable nature against Waratah’s more consistent base makes this clash one which should be close.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 5-0, 185%) v. DARWIN BUFFALOES (4th, 3-2, 169%)
Saturday November 9, 4:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Ladder leader Nightcliff plays host to Darwin at PSC BM Oval on Saturday twilight in the first of two mouth-watering top four bouts. The Tigers’ premiership defence has been near-faultless thus far, notching an impressing 5-0 record having dispatched of each opponent to come their way. While you can only beat who is put in front of you, wins over the bottom two sides coming into this clash does not make for an ideal run-in to such a high stakes game, but more testing wins over finals hopefuls Wanderers and Southern Districts should put Nightcliff in good stead nonetheless. On the other hand, Darwin’s promising start has since hit a couple of road blocks, and the Buffs are lucky to still hold their positive record. Last week’s heartbreaking loss to Southern Districts will be fresh in the memory, with Darwin raring to go as some key players return.

Adam Sambono is the most notable inclusion for Darwin, named at full forward for his first game back after a 12-goal haul in Round 1. With Joe Anderson and Brayden Culhane named in the same forward 50, Darwin all of a sudden looks more like the attacking powerhouse it has been of late. Goalsneak Trent Melville will look to lead Nightcliff’s effort to outgun the Buffs after a four-goal effort last time out, especially with Brodie Filo left unnamed. Kaine Riley has been in good form further afield, with NT stalwart Cam Ilett and VFL-listed James Tsitas others who will be important to the cause.

The Tigers have undeniable class across the field and are the team to beat overall, but do not discount the Buffaloes in this clash given the boosts made to their forward half.

PALMERSTON (8th, 0-5, 51%) v. WANDERERS (5th, 2-2-1, 86%)
Saturday November 9, 5:00pm
Palmerston Oval

Wanderers will look to keep clear of the chasing pack with a win as it travels to face Palmerston on Saturday evening. The Muk Muks are yet to string consecutive wins together, but have shown plenty of promise with their young list and will look to notch a third win against their third bottom-three opponent in Palmerston. On the other hand, the winless Magpies had their hearts broken last week as they gave up a five-goal buffer to lose in a count-back to Tiwi last week. Their slimmest losing margin to that point was 30 points, with heavy losses coming in Rounds 3 and 4 and the gulf in class evident. But last week’s effort will leave the fire burning for Palmerston, and the opportunity to play spoiler awaits.

The Magpies’ spine is bookended by Nigel Lockyer Jnr and Ezekiel Frank, with the pair looking to prop up a side which is set to go in without the class of former-AFL jets Alwyn and Aaron Davey at ground level. The Eagles will have no such worries in that department as ex-Port player Brett Eddy comes into the lineup, surrounded by young excitement machines in Joel Jeffrey, Ronald Fejo, Tyrell Lui and Beau O’Connell in a side slightly short on pure talls.

Waratah’s young talent has gotten them through a couple of real tests thus far, and they will need to be switched on to come out on top in a clash they are expected to win. Palmerston should give it a proper crack though, especially with a bottom two clash just around the corner.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (3rd, 3-1-1, 139%) v. ST MARY’S (2nd, 4-1, 131%)
Sunday November 10, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

Arguably the game of the round will be left until last as Southern Districts hosts St Mary’s at Norbuilt Oval in Sunday’s only fixture. The Crocs are rising after four undefeated rounds, scraping home by three points over fellow finals hopeful, Darwin in Round 5. Having only gone down to the 5-0 Nightcliff, this game will give neutrals an idea of whether Southern Districts will be the reigning premier’s nearest challenger. The Saints technically hold that mantle at this stage as they sit in second spot at 4-1, with a surprise loss to Tiwi splitting those wins. This will be St Mary’s third-straight bout against a top five opponent having won comfortably in the last two weeks against solid opposition.

The Crocs’ ability to kick big scores has started to come back into the fray of late, with South Australian Sam Barnett providing a focal point for the likes of Ed Barlow and Dylan McLachlan to hit up from further afield. Add the dangerous Beau Schwarze and Will Farrer to the mix and Southern Districts boasts a strong forward 50 once again this week. But if any side can claim having class on each line, it is St Mary’s, and the Saints have seldom been overwhelmed thus far. Possessing weapons of their own in the form of Raphael Clarke, Jake Long, Nick Yarran, and Nate Paredes, the visitors will bring so much valuable experience to Sunday’s clash.

The Saints have improved out of sight since last year and the Crocs are only just reaching that level again, so expect them to meet somewhere in the middle and provide an entertaining game of football.

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 5 – Rioli to make long-awaited debut

TWO games with top five implications take place in Round 5 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, as the competition table starts to take shape. A clash between Tiwi and Palmerston also sees teams outside of the finals spots given a chance to begin their game of catch-up in the race for finals.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (4th, 2-1-1, 146%) vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES (2nd, 3-1, 194%)
Friday November 1, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Two sides in rising and falling form respectively meet as Southern Districts and Darwin Buffaloes open Round 5 under Friday night lights. While technically 3-1 on the offical NTFL standings, the Buffs have entered a sudden skid after making an ominous start to the season, going down in consecutive weeks. Still sitting pretty in second on the back of a forfeit win, Darwin’s spot could be relinquished with a loss given Southern Districts sits just half a game behind the 3-1 Buffs and St Mary’s. The Crocs look to have found their groove after a slow start which saw them drop points to reigning premier Nightcliff and an exciting Wanderers unit, catching up immediately with wins by a combined 135 points.

They will be as strong as in previous weeks, going in again with the pairing of Ed and Michael Barlow through midfield and with in-form key forward Sam Barnett providing the focal point inside 50. The likes of Brodie Lake, Charlie McAdam and Jayden Clarke all have class to offer on each line too, making the Crocs as formidable as any side. The Buffs will be lifted by the return of Joe Anderson, who slots in at centre half-forward on the team sheet, looking to provide inspiration alongside dangerous young goalkicker Brayden Culhane. Either side is enduring very different form coming into the clash, with Southern Districts the team looking to pounce on a potential top two berth.

TIWI BOMBERS (6th, 1-3, 67%) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (8th, 0-4, 43%)
Saturday November 2, 1:30pm
Tiwi Oval

A chance to start catching the leading pack is up for grabs as Tiwi and Palmerston do battle in a stand-alone game at Tiwi Oval on Saturday. There was reasonable hype surrounding the Bombers coming into season 2019/20, but they have failed to delivery as consistently as they would have liked given the talent at their disposal each week. The draw has not done them any favours though, facing every top five side bar Southern Districts thus far and doing well – outgunning St Mary’s in an absolute shootout but going down handily otherwise. The Magpies’ formline is much more linear, albeit far less fruitful too, with a smallest losing margin of 30 points telling the tale of their season. The gap in firepower between the two sides here stands as being the most telling factor, with Tiwi looking to get the swoop on the Magpies with a big score.

Former Hawthorn star and Tiwi favourite son Cyril Rioli is set to make his long-awaited return to the islands, named on the wing in a stacked Bombers lineup. He adds to the ex-AFL experience of Nathan Djerrkura with Austin Wonaeamirri absent, and will look to set an example for Under-18 stars Jeffrey Simon and Preyben Tipiloura. The Magpies have a couple of handy additions of their own, naming Aaron Davey in defence, Nigel Lockyer Jnr up forward, and Matthew Dennis in the ruck after a rare week off. The high-scoring potential of Tiwi should give Palmerston a few headaches, but the Magpies need to lift fast if they are any chance to climb the ladder.

WANDERERS (5th, 2-1-1, 90%) vs. ST MARY’S (3rd, 3-1, 128%)
Saturday November 2, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The second top five clash of the round sees Wanderers take on St Mary’s at TIO Stadium in what shapes as being the game of the weekend. A beefed up Saints squad has taken to the 2019/20 campaign with aplomb, only losing out to rivals Tiwi but getting back on the winners list last time out. Wanderers looks like being their biggest test yet though, with wins over bottom-two teams Palmerston and Waratah prettying up that 3-1 record. The Muk Muks have compiled a decent run of form of their own, only dropping points to 2018/19 grand finalists Nightcliff and Southern Districts to this point. Their youthful exuberance has put them in good stead, making for exciting contests and dare that is hard to come by in more experienced teams. That experience is something St Mary’s has in spades, coming of late from some former AFL guns.

Young talent is the Eagles’ theme once again, with Beau O’Connell boosting an exciting lineup which features the likes of Joel Jeffrey and Davin Ferreira. Former-Sun Liam Patrick is another welcome addition to the forward 50, possibly pushing Jeffrey up the ground. While the Saints will momentarily lose Jarrad Waite, they maintain a level of AFL experience with Will Hams named in midfield. Nick Yarran will look to move into the engine room with a trio of Longs named in defence, while young prospect Keiren Parnell is set to provide dash off the wing. These are two of the more enjoyable sides to watch and look evenly matched on paper, but expect St Mary’s raft of experience to play a key part in deciding this contest.

WARATAH (7th, 0-4, 55%) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 4-0, 185%)
Sunday November 3, 4:00pm
Gardens Oval

Waratah will hope its ‘0’ will finally go as it hosts reigning premier Nightcliff at Gardens Oval in Sunday’s only fixture. The Warriors’ breakthrough win over Darwin was revoked, meaning they join Palmerston as one of two winless sides after four rounds. The game of catch-up, if not hard enough at 0-4, will be made even more difficult in the face of Nightcliff’s form. The undefeated Tigers have given little to each of their opponents thus far while also booting over 119 points in three of their four outings. It means they are again the team to beat at this early stage, already overcoming two top five sides in relatively comfortable fashion.

Abe Ankers‘ continued absence will make the job even tougher for Waratah, with Brodie Carroll and Michael Graham looking to fill the void through midfield. The in-form Jae McGrath will have to carry an even heavier load too, as ex-VFL forward Steve Stroobants has not been named. While not at full strength, the Tigers still have no shortage of firepower to rotate forward from midfield as they look to keep their perfect premiership defence record in tact. It is hard to look past Nightcliff in any game, but the Warriors should put up a good fight here against the odds.

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.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 18

THE final round of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League regular season threw up a host of one-sided results, with an anticlimactic top of the table clash headlining the shock scorelines heading into finals.

Tiwi Bombers 17.18 (120)
St Marys 4.9 (33)

GOALS:
Tiwi:
A. Wonaeamirri 4, J. Puruntatameri 4, S. Munkara 3, B. Palipuaminni, S. Tipuamantmirri, P. Heenan, R. Mungatopi, R. Tungatalum, C. Burgess.
St Marys: B. Nicholls 2, M. Liddy 2.

BEST:
Tiwi:
C. Burgess, J. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Tungatalum, M. Dunn, A. Darcy
St Marys: J. Long, J. Long, B. Rioli, B. Nicholls, N. Yarran, T. Frawley

Tiwi stormed into third place with a resounding win over cellar dwellers, St Marys to open a super Saturday of NTFL football. The Bombers were at their lethal best forward of centre, with stars Austin Wonaeamirri and Jason Puruntatameri each bagging four majors, joined by Simon Munkara (three goals) as multiple goal kickers. The percentage gained in the 87-point drubbing was enough to put serious pressure on fellow finals contenders, Waratah and Darwin in the day’s next fixture, and ended up being more than enough to see Tiwi snatch a bronze placing. Despite the exploits of the usual Bomber suspects up forward, Christian Burgess was named best for the winners, with Nathan Djerrkura not far behind in continuing his awesome late-season form. St Marys finally succumbed to the wooden spoon spot in the final round after holding out for so long, with the effort left to too few. Jack Long put in a best-on shift for the Saints, backed by Ben Rioli and Nick Yarran in another low-scoring effort. Baden Nicholls and Mathias Liddy shared St Marys’ four goals evenly as the only Saints to trouble the scorers – which has been a sore spot for the side all season. While St Marys’ season is over, Tiwi storms on into what could well be a fruitful finals campaign, with the Bombers looking like one of the competition’s two form sides. They face Southern Districts on Saturday after a disappointing week for the Crocs, and will fancy themselves a huge chance of going deep this year.

Waratah 19.9 (123)
Darwin Buffaloes 7.5 (47)


GOALS:
Waratah:
H. Kerinaiua 4, T. Toma 2, S. Godden 2, J. Arundell 2, C. Barrett 2, Z. Westerberg 2, L. Davies, B. Carroll, S. Tatupu, B. Minkulk, K. Kantilla.
Darwin: A. Sambono 2, D. Johnston 2, M. Rosas, D. Paull, P. Boles.

BEST:
Waratah:
T. Toma, Z. Westerberg, H. Kerinaiua, S. Godden, C. Barrett
Darwin: N/A

A ten goals to one second half helped Waratah impressively account for Darwin, setting up an immediate rematch in the first round of finals. The Warriors spread the goals around with a massive 11 individual goal kickers – including six with multiple majors. Henry Kerinaiua led the way with a bag of four, while Tom Toma, Sam Godden, Cameron Barrett and Zach Westerberg (all two goals) made up the remainder of the best handful of players. Their opponents simply fell away after the main break, but the Buffs showed enough in the first half to suggest they can trouble the Warriors next time around. The brilliance of Adam Sambono deep forward put two goals on the board, while young gun Malcolm Rosas showed off his typical flair with a classy goal on the back of a spinning one-handed pick up. Still, the absence of considerable experience for Darwin has culminated in a disappointing back end of the year, as the Buffaloes now look to pick the pieces back up and break through for an unlikely win. The clash next week should prove a better contest than this one, but Waratah will come in with untouchable confidence on the back of its comfortable win.

Nightcliff 21.13 (139)
Southern Districts 7.7 (49)


GOALS:
Nightcliff:
B. Filo 4, J. Butcher 3, T. Melville 3, L. Holt-Fitz 3, C. Ilett 3, B. Black, R. Morris, S. Wilson, P. Wills, H. Drogemuller.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer, C. McAdam, J. Koopman.

BEST:
Nightcliff:
B. Filo, H. Drogemuller, B. Black, R. Morris, P. Wills, S. Deery
Southern Districts: N/A

Nightcliff put a strong statement on its minor premiership, clinching the honour in a top-of-the-table drubbing to earn a week off on top of its double chance. The Tigers blew their nearest rivals away in a 90-point victory, including 12 goals to one in the second half to consolidate the ladder position they have held since Round 13. Ten Tigers managed to claim goals, with four of them bagging three majors and Brodie Filo leading the way with a game-high four to be named best afield. Competition leading goal kicker Trent Melville (three goals) brought his tally to 55, but missed out on being named in the best to the likes of 2019 best and fairest Phillip Wills and runner-up, Simon Deery. On a down day for the Crocs, Michael Mummery (four goals) booted almost half of his side’s total score, while Jess Koopman and Charlie McAdam were also dangerous without much opportunity. While Nightcliff earned a well-deserved rest, the Crocs host a red-hot Tiwi side with just as much of a scoring threat as their weekend opponents. With its title defence taking a small dent, expect Southern Districts to come out firing in the business end of the competition.

Palmerston Magpies 9.10 (64)
Wanderers 16.12 (108)


GOALS:
Palmerston: M. Williams 2, A. Davey 2, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Jeffrey, B. Church, M. McMasters
Wanderers: N/A

BEST:
Palmerston:
M. McMasters, M. Dennis, S. Talbot, K. Garling, M. Perry (Jnr), J. Rhodes
Wanderers: N/A

A rollercoaster season came to an end for Palmerston on a dour note, going down handily to Wanderers to close out the home and away season. Given the Magpies’ finals hopes were all but over coming into the bout and Wanderers were playing to escape bottom, this game was put down as a relative dead-rubber – but produced an entertaining contest. In another second-half landslide, the Muk Muks came out 44 points to the good of their opponents after opening a slimmer four-goal buffer in the first two terms. The three-pronged inside 50 threat of Joel Jeffrey, Dillen Brown, and Beau O’Connell set up a good base for the Eagles to work off, and Palmerston simply could not scrounge the score required to keep up. Mark Williams and Alwyn Davey were the only Magpies to register multiple goals, with Michaelis McMasters named their best and Matthew Dennis boasting another placing in the best to bring his total to 17 in 18 games. The win drags Wanderers away from the cellar door for the first time since Round 5 in the round that matters most, while Palmerston ended up in sixth – four points away from a finals berth.

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 16

WITH two rounds left to play in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, the ladder is finally taking shape. While the top and bottom two sides look all but cemented, the tussle for spots from third to sixth is only heating up.

 

WARATAH 12.13 (85)
TIWI BOMBERS 10.6 (66)  

GOALS:
Waratah: S. Tatupu 4, B. Zobel, S. Godden, K. Kantilla, S. Weddell, A. Ankers, C. Barrett, B. Minkulk, S. Flanegan.
Tiwi: P. Puautjimi 3, P. Heenan 2, J. Simon, T. Tambling, R. Tungatalum, A. Wonaeamirri, H. Puruntatameri.

BEST:
Waratah:
 A. Ankers, Z. Westerberg, S. Godden, S. Weddell, J. McCarthy
Tiwi: W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, J. Simon, H. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Mungatopi

Waratah reclaimed clear fourth spot with an important win over fellow finals contenders, Tiwi Bombers to open the round. Having dropped out of the top four for the first time since Round 1, the Warriors looked like winning throughout the match after booting 5.7 in a free-flowing first term. Despite a third quarter fightback from the in-form Bombers where the margin was cut to within two goals, Waratah held on in the eight-point affair and is a lock for a finals berth. Shem Tatupu was the star in front of goal for the winners with a game-high four goals as their only multiple goal kicker, but it was Abraham Ankers who claimed a second-straight best afield honour. Zach Westerberg was also thereabouts for Waratah, while Sam Godden and Samuel Weddell where also named amongst the best having hit the scoreboard. While usual suspects Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri were kept quiet with just two goals between them, Pio Puautjimi (three goals) stood up to lead the efficient Tiwi forward line, with Patrick Heenan also slotting two majors as second best in the losing effort. William Puruntatameri was named best for the Bombers, with youngster Jeffrey Simon also showing signs alongside the ex-AFL listed Nathan Djerrkura. Tiwi now slips back to fifth – a game and 30 per cent clear of Palmerston, but will be confident of pushing its weekend opponent for fourth given the Warriors tough draw to see out the regular season.

 

WANDERERS 11.2 (65)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 2, J. Box 2, G. Marika 2, N. Mansell, T. Motlop, M. White, B. O’Connell, A. Weetra.
Darwin: J. Clarke, P. Boles, D. Shillabeer, J. Anderson, L. Philpott, M. Rosas, D. Paull.

BEST:
Wanderers: N/A
Darwin: P. Boles, D. Johnston, J. Anderson, C. Atkinson, K. Maroney, C. Williams

Wanderers caused a massive upset in the second of Saturday’s TIO Stadium fixtures, storming out of the blocks to overcome a wasteful Darwin Buffaloes side. The Eagles set up a lead which proved unassailable in the first term with six goals to one, slotting only five more for the remainder of the game while doing their best to thwart a weakened Buffaloes attack. Wanderers’ 11.2 made Darwin’s 7.13 final score look particularly regretful, and it made all the difference on the day as the Muk Muks hung on for an unlikely 11-point victory. It was an even spread of goal kickers for the hosts, with teenage star Joel Jeffrey, Gabriel Marika and James Box all contributing two goals in a strong team effort. It was a different story for Darwin, with Patrick Boles and Joe Anderson the only players amongst seven individual goal kickers to also be named in the best. Another teen sensation, Malcolm Rosas also found the goals, but the missing flair of Adam Sambono and experience of Matthew Campbell to suspension was too much to cover for the Buffaloes. Wanderers still sit bottom despite claiming its second win in three rounds, while Darwin’s grip on third place has loosened as Waratah join them on 32 points to set up a mouthwatering Round 18 clash between the sides. Still, the Buffaloes’ strong percentage should guarantee them finals, while Wanderers would need a miracle to snatch fifth from this position.

 

NIGHTCLIFF 14.13 (97)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 3.5 (23)

GOALS:
Nightcliff: T. Melville 3, P. Wills 2, S. Miles, N. Brown, J. Miles, S. Wilson, D. Butcher, R. Morris, J. Thrum, H. Drogemuller, L. Holt-Fitz.
Palmerston: K. Emery 3.

BEST:
Nightcliff: P. Wills, B. Black, D. Butcher, J. Miles, J. Budarick, S. Deery
Palmerston: J. Rhodes, M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, J. Damaso, L. McDonald, R. Stone

Nightcliff looks set to storm to minor premier status as it chalked another comfortable win, and put a major dent in Palmerston’s finals hopes to see out Saturday’s triple-header. The ladder leaders held a steady lead of 28 points going into the main break, but sealed the game with two goals to nil in the third quarter, and put the cherry on top with another six majors in the final stanza to prop up the final margin to 74 points. The competition’s second-leading goal kicker, Kyle Emery played a lone hand for the Magpies with his side’s only goals (three), but missed out on being named in the best half-dozen players. James Rhodes was judged their best, with the ever-consistent Matthew Dennis and Nigel Lockyer Jnr also playing their parts in a disappointing losing effort. For the mighty Tigers, Trent Melville matched Emery’s haul to extend his lead to 15 atop the goalkicking charts, while Phillip Wills was the only other to snare multiple goals with two as he was named best afield. The Tigers will also be buoyed by the efforts of players outside their usual best, with Beau Black performing well in just his third game alongside Danny Butcher and Jonathon Miles. It may well come down to a final-round clash against Southern Districts that decides top spot, but Nightcliff look comfortable there with a four-point buffer, while Palmerston will need results to go its way if it is to snatch fifth spot.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.13 (91)
ST MARYS 7.3 (45)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 3, J. Koopman 3, D. Staunton 3, B. Vallance 2, L. Ogden, J. Brennan.
St Marys: J. Long 3, T. Saunders 2, S. Rioli, L. Stapleton.

BEST:
Southern Districts: M. Rosier, E. Barlow, D. Staunton, S. Martin, J. Koopman, M. Bowden
St Marys: B. Rioli, N. Yarran, J. Long, T. Frawley, A. Long, H. Moloney

A comfortable win has seen Southern Districts keep its minor premiership hopes alive, coming out 46-point winners over the lowly St Marys to remain just a game behind ladder-leaders, Nightcliff. While they grasped a second finals chance rounds ago, the Crocs still look hungry to claim top spot and are set to be led by a forward line close to running absolutely rampant. Leading goal kicker Jess Koopman bagged three goals alongside Michael Mummery and Dean Staunton, with Bradley Vallance (two goals) just falling short of the feat as the Crocs more than doubled St Marys’ score. The strength of Southern Districts’ forward 50 was only helped by the inclusion of ex-AFL star Ryan Griffen, who was reunited with former Bulldog teammate, Ed Barlow in the Crocs midfield. Matthew Rosier beat both of them out to be adjudged best afield, with Ben Rioli named the Saints’ most valuable player. Nick Yarran continued his rich vein of form, but it was Jacob Long (three goals) who stood up most inside the forward 50 as Tylah Saunders also slotted two majors. The Saints remain second bottom despite Wanderers’ win, with the slimmest of chances of making finals. Meanwhile, Southern Districts could well reclaim first place over the last two rounds, with a Round 18 clash with Nightcliff likely to decide the matter.