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NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 9 – Race for fifth hots up on super Saturday

ROUND 9 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League bounces down under Friday night lights, before a super Saturday poises top five teams Nightcliff and Tiwi against each other in what shapes as the game of the weekend.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Friday November 29, 7:00pm
Palmerston Oval

The Darwin Buffaloes will look to press on with their top two charge when they travel to take on the winless Palmerston Magpies under Friday night lights. A big win over Waratah last time out means Darwin comes into this clash with consecutive victories, eyeing off a top two berth as just eight points split second and sixth. With Palmerston languishing in last and without a win to this point, this is the kind of game the Buffs’ simply must win if they are to remain a premiership contender. Joe Anderson is one of the only movers in a settled Darwin line-up, named in defence as the likes of Darren Shillabeer, Brodie Foster, and Matt Campbell take up forward 50 spots. Speaking of, Alwyn Davey sneaks into Palmerston’s forward pocket, hoping to add class on the full forward line alongside Ezekiel Frank and Keidan Holt-Tubbs, while Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been named on the bench. The Magpies will be hoping to rectify some poor previous form in front of a home crowd, but the Buffs are always tough opposition and have found a rhythm once again.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday November 30, 2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

Two of the NTFL’s form sides meet on Saturday afternoon as Nightcliff and Tiwi do battle at PSC BM Oval, with finals implications in play. The Tigers continue to set the competition benchmark despite slipping up a couple of weeks ago against St Mary’s, and inadvertently helped Tiwi jump into fifth place with a big win over Wanderers in Round 8. The Bombers claimed a handy win of their own in the same weekend, trumping the Saints for a second time this season to make for an interesting equation of football maths in this fixture. Something that needs no working out is that Nightcliff’s side is omnipotent, with former-Williamstown duo Willie Wheeler and Leigh Masters continuing their NTFL stint, adding to the goal threat posed by Cam Ilett, Trent Melville, and Liam Holt-Fitz. The Bombers will hope to outgun their opponents though, naming Adam Tipungwuti up forward alongside Austin Wonaeamirri and Ross Tungatalum, while still possessing plenty of drive up the field. It shapes as being the game of the round, and a win for Tiwi would keep the minor premiership race interesting.

ST MARY’S vs. WARATAH
Saturday November 30, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

The opportunity to bounce back from disappointing respective losses is up for grabs for both St Mary’s and Waratah as they meet at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Saints endured a second upset defeat at the hands of traditional rival, Tiwi last time out, but remain in the top two hunt on the back of a much-improved start to the season. Waratah’s year to date has been a touch more hit-and-miss, and the Warriors were outclassed by Darwin after a couple of strong showings helped them break through for consecutive wins – their only ones for the season. Maurice Rioli Jnr is the most exciting inclusion among a star-studded Saints line-up, named on the bench while David Armitage and Michael Manteit make up the ex-AFL numbers. Meanwhile, Steven Stroobants is a handy addition for the Warriors to add to the firepower Kim Kantilla brings, but they look like going in without Abe Ankers in a huge blow to their chances. St Mary’s has looked formidable on paper all season, and that is no different this week as they look to prey on a bottom three opponent.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. WANDERERS
Saturday November 30, 7:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will hope to snap a two-game losing run when it closes out the round against Southern Districts on Saturday night at TIO Stadium. Both sides have endured wild momentum swings in their seasons thus far, but the Crocs have found a way to win more often and sit pretty in second spot. They would be even closer to the top had it not been for a draw in the first meeting between these two teams, with the result also a factor in Wanderers’ position just outside of the top five. With Tiwi on the up and the top four relatively settled, a win is crucial for the young Muk Muks line-up. They will have to perform without star swingman Joel Jeffrey this week, with NT Under-16 Mark White coming into the forward line to join Beau O’Connell and Davin Ferreira. The Crocs will back in their own forward firepower, with Ed Barlow named inside 50 alongside Beau Schwarze and Will Farrer, while Richard Tambling is also set to go around again. Those names make Southern Districts hard to pass up, but Wanderers can cause plenty of headaches.

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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 wrap: Round 4 – Tigers remain unbeaten

NIGHTCLIFF remains the sole undefeated side after four Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League rounds, while Palmerston and Waratah continue to search for their first wins. Elsewhere, St Mary’s put Darwin’s first official loss on the board in the weekend’s only top five clash.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 7.2 | 9.5 | 13.10 | 16.13 (109)
WARATAH 3.1 | 7.3 | 9.3 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: S. Barnett 2, B. Dawe 2, S. Stewart 2, R. Owen-Skender, D. McLachlan, J. Farrer, W. Farrer, L. Ogden, B. Ngalkin, J. Clarke, T. Brook, B. Schwarze, D. Williams
Waratah: J. McGrath 4, S. Stroobants 3, J. Fallon, M. Graham, J. Schaper

BEST:

Southern Districts: N/A
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts continued its work into form, outlasting Waratah to win by 42 points in the Round 4 opener. The Crocs stayed strong under a couple of Waratah surges, keeping ahead at every break in the 16.13 (109) to 10.7 (67) result.

A deadly 10-minute spurt in the first term proved more than the difference for Southern Districts, with an impressive seven individual goalkickers getting on the board in the second half of the opening term. The goals somewhat dried up after that as Steve Stroobants chimed in to bring the margin back to seven points in the next stanza, only to see the Crocs run away with the game comfortably amid 34-degree heat. Ultimately, it was Waratah’s lack of options which cost them dearly as Southern Districts’ brigade of dangerous forwards helping themselves to 29 scoring shots.

Norwood products Sam Barnett and Brady Dawe teamed up to snare two goals apiece for the winners, with Barnett’s repeat leads and high marking impressing the Aboriginal TV Channel 4 crew. At ground level, it was the likes of Josiah Farrer, Beau Schwarze and a bandaged Jayden Clarke who compounded the damage throughout, while ex-Sun and Docker Michael Barlow enjoyed a steady entry into the NTFL through midfield. For Waratah, Stroobants was superb with his three goals, giving the Warriors a sniff heading into half time. He was beaten out by Jae McGrath‘s game-high four goals though, accounting for seven of their side’s 10 majors.

Next up for the surging Crocs is a grudge match against the Darwin Buffaloes, who suffered their first official loss this weekend. Meanwhile, Waratah’s search for a first official win heads to Gardens Oval as the Warriors play host to an unbeaten Nightcliff.

ST MARY’S 4.4 | 6.6 | 10.10 | 12.12 (84)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.0 | 7.1 | 7.3 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Waite 3, R. Clarke 3, N. Paredes 2, N. Yarran 2, L. Larson, A. Parry
Darwin: B. Culhane 5, T. Swan, S. Tahana, P. Boles, D. Stafford

BEST:

St Mary’s: D. Armitage, J. Waite, T. Gilbert, R. Clarke, J. Long, T. Davies
Darwin: C. Stokes, P. Boles, B. Culhane, D. Lines, M. Quinn, S. Tahana

Second time proved a charm in consigning Darwin to its first loss, as St Mary’s bettered the Buffs by 22 points on Saturday. The Saints were consistent throughout, with a four-goal to nil third term proving the key period as they ran out 12.12 (84) to 9.8 (62) winners.

St Mary’s maintained a satisfyingly linear scoreline, booting 4.4 in the first and third terms while adding 2.2 in the second and fourth to end at an even 12.12. Former-St Kilda duo Raphael Clarke and David Armitage were outstanding for the Saints, with Clarke notching three goals alongside ex-Roo and Blue Jarrad Waite, while Armitage earned best afield honours from midfield. The usual suspects of Nicholas Yarran and Nate Paredes were impactful, each finding the goals to go with their damaging forward run. New recruit Tom Gilbert also worked into the team well, named among the best handful for St Mary’s.

For the now 3-1 Darwin, young forward star Brayden Culhane kicked his second big bag for the year (five) as the Buffs’ main treat, with only four of his teammates also finding the goals. The likes of Cameron Stokes and Patrick Boles provided their usual output after Darwin’s slow start, but the team as a whole could not keep it going for long enough as St Mary’s capitalised on quiet patches. Others to impress were Mark Quinn and Stephen Tahana, but the Buffs were sorely missing a bit of spark to get them going against the much-improved Saints.

Darwin’s attempt to rebound will come against Southern Districts, a tough ask for any side at the moment, while St Mary’s faces Wanderers in a battle of two very exciting teams vying for finals berths.

WANDERERS 1.3 | 7.5 | 9.8 | 10.12 (72)
TIWI BOMBERS 4.3 | 5.6 | 7.8 | 8.10 (58)

GOALS:

Wanderers: S. Bates 2, M. Cooper 2, J. Jeffrey 2, M. Motlop, D. Thompson, J. Tipiloura, D. Weetra
Tiwi: G. Cunningham 2, R. Tungatalum 2, J. Simon, J. Best, P. Heenan, D. Munkara

BEST:

Wanderers: N/A
Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, N. Djerrkura, R. Baird, B. Palipuaminni, S. Babui, L. Howe

Wanderers brought Tiwi back down to Earth in Round 4, grinding out a 14-point win on Saturday night to stay clear in the top five. The Bombers started better, but were outdone for the remaining three terms as they went down 10.12 (72) to 8.10 (58).

Exuberance of youth has been a key asset of the Eagles’ resurgence, and Michael Cooper was this time at the forefront as he earned the Round 4 Rising Star nod for his two-goal effort. Under-17 gun Joel Jeffrey needs no introduction, and he matched Cooper’s effort alongside Simon Bates to lead the winners’ forward charge. Overcoming a slowish start, the Muk Muks booted six goals to one in the second term to claim the lead, never looking back in what was an arm-wrestle of a second half with both sides only managing three goals apiece.

Jason Puruntatameri and ex-Cat Nathan Djerrkura were again outstanding for Tiwi, with Rodney Baird one to also stand up in the loss and Sylvani Babui returning his best outing for the year. Gerrard Cunningham booted two majors to take his tally to eight in three games, while Ross Tungatalum also found the goals twice to round out the multiple goalkickers. It was a down display from the Bombers against an equally-promising side in Wanderers, with ground still to make up outside of the top five as they fall six points behind the pack.

Another night game is in the midst for Wanderers, with the Eagles’ fixture against St Mary’s in Round 5 shaping as being the most exciting of the weekend. The Bombers will fancy their chances of bouncing back against the winless Palmerston, but cannot take anything for granted in their current position.

NIGHTCLIFF 2.5 | 8.7 | 13.13 | 19.18 (132)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, L. Evans 3, T. Melville 3, M. Hagan 3, J. Kickett 2, L. Holt-Fitz 2, D. Bowles, G. Moniz Wakefield
Palmerston: N/A

BEST:

Nightcliff: T. Kidney, D. Bowles, M. Hagan, K. Riley, L. Holt-Fitz, C. Ilett
Palmerston: N/A

Nightcliff’s perfect premiership defence rolls on as it recorded a thumping 101-point win over Palmerston on Sunday to round out the weekend’s proceedings. The Tigers booted at least five goals in each of the last three terms to romp to the 19.18 (132) to 4.7 (31) result, proving far too strong for the winless Magpies.

It was not always smooth sailing for the Tigers though, only managing to etch out a four-point lead at the first break as the sides evenly shared four majors. But it was party time from then-on as Nightcliff piled on 17 goals to Palmerston’s two to breach the 100-point margin upon the final siren. The heavy loss sees Palmerston languishing in last place with a percentage of 43.1, joined by Waratah after the Warriors’ Round 3 win was revoked.

NT legend Cam Ilett was again terrific with a game-high four goals – equalling the Magpies’ tally – joined in the best handful of players by fellow goalkickers Michael Hagan (three) and Liam Holt-Fitz (two) in the best among six Tigers to find the goals on more than one occasion. Tyson Kidney, Daniel Bowles and Kaine Riley all again put in big performances to continue their form, while Trent Melville bagged three majors in his standout game for the season thus far.

Palmerston’s campaign to get on the board continues in Round 5 against fellow bottom-three side Tiwi, while Nightcliff will look to keep its distance at the top and remain undefeated when it travels to face another winless side in Waratah.

NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 3 – Clinical Bombers hand Saints first loss

A HIGH-SCORING round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action saw three one-sided results and a thrilling shootout between traditional rivals. Reigning premier Nightcliff is the sole remaining undefeated side, while Palmerston is the only team still without a win.

TIWI BOMBERS 10.3 | 12.4 | 15.5 | 20.7 (127)
ST MARY’S 1.3 | 10.4 | 15.7 | 17.11 (113)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 4, A. Wonaeamirri 4, R. Farmer 2, H. Puruntatameri 2, D. Munkara 2, J. Simon 2, G. Cunningham 2, J. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan.
St Mary’s: S. Rioli 3, A. Wilson 2, R. Clarke 2, L. Larson 2, J. Waite 2, N. Paredes, J. Salmon, J. Box, T. Gilbert, R. McMurray, B. Ah Mat.

BEST:

Tiwi: J. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, H. Puruntatameri, C. Molyneux, D. Munkara, C. Luff
St Mary’s: T. Davies, B. Slater, T. Gilbert, R. Clarke, H. Labastida, J. Long

Tiwi got on the board at the third time of asking in season 2019/20, putting on a clinical goalkicking display to outgun traditional rival St Mary’s. The Bombers held strong when it mattered in a game of heavy momentum swings, kicking out to the efficient 20.7 (127) to 17.11 (113) final score.

The winners stormed out of the blocks with an incredible 10 goals to one to start the game, a total they matched over the entire next three terms. But the Saints were not going to take it lying down after quarter time, bouncing back with nine goals in response to head into the main break an even two-goals down, eventually hitting the front in the third term. Just when St Mary’s looked set to complete a remarkable turnaround of over 50 points, the game delivered another twist as the Bombers soared once again to close out the entertaining bout on top.

Richmond AFL star and Saints junior Daniel Rioli watched on as his uncle Shannon booted three goals for St Mary’s, while younger brother Brayden suited up for his second game in Tiwi colours. The Tigers forward was impressed by Tiwi youngster Jeffrey Simon, who was one of five Bombers to boot two majors. Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri led the goalkicking stakes with four each though, while best-afield Jason Puruntatameri managed one and Adam Tipungwuti slotted the goal of the round. Former Blue and Roo Jarrad Waite‘s two debut goals proved far from enough for the Saints, with fellow ex-AFL player Raphael Clarke matching his feat in the losing effort. He was named among the best with Thomas Davies once again, along with Tom Gilbert in his first game for the year.

Both sides will go on to face Round 3 losers next time out, with St Mary’s playing host to Darwin while Tiwi matches up against Wanderers in games that could decide the early order of the ladder. Both St Mary’s and the Buffs suffered their first defeats this weekend, so will hope to return to the winners list.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.6 | 7.9 | 16.13 | 21.18 (144)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 1.2 | 1.5 | 3.7 | 7.9 (51)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: J. Clarke 6, S. Barnett 6, E. Barlow 3, D. Corbett 2, J. Farrer 2, N. Rokahr, D. Williams.
Palmerston: B. Church 2, S. Brock, D. Marshall, A. Davey, K. Sevallos-Seden.

BEST:

Southern Districts: S. Barnett, J. Farrer, B. Rusca, E. Barlow, N. Rokahr, J. Clarke
Palmerston: D. Gordon, J. Berry, D. Cox, R. Stone, B. Launer, C. Timms

Southern Districts broke through for its first win of the season in style, trumping Palmerston to the tune of 93 points to secure a momentary spot in the top four. The Crocs looked to be back to their free-flowing best in the 21.8 (144) to 7.9 (51) result, posing too many threats for the hapless Magpies.

After a steady opener which saw just three goals kicked, it was all Southern Districts as the Crocs piled on at least five goals in each of the remaining three quarters – including nine in the third. With stars all over the park for the winners and a lack of the same firepower hindering Palmerston, a breaking of the dam wall seemed inevitable and the margin could have been far worse had the Crocs kicked straight with their 39 scoring shots.

South Australian state-leaguer Sam Barnett was named best afield on the back of his six-goal haul, a feat matched by Jayden Clarke inside the same 50 arc. Ex-AFL midfielder Ed Barlow showed his class with three majors from further afield, while consistent goalkicker Josiah Farrer booted two and Brandon Rusca earned the Round 3 Rising Star nomination. On the losing end, Dylan Gordon and Blake Launer were again named among the Magpies’ best, with Broderick Church their sole multiple goalkicker (two) as spearhead Alwyn Davey managed one major.

Palmerston’s search for its first win continues at PSC BM Oval on Sunday against undefeated reigning premier Nightcliff – a tough assignment for any side, let alone the one in eighth place. Meanwhile, Southern Districts will look to solidify a top five spot when it does battle with fellow Round 3 winner Waratah next time out.

DARWIN BUFFALOES 1.2 | 1.5 | 2.6 | 3.9 (27)
WARATAH 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.10 | 12.12 (84)

GOALS:

Darwin: C. Stokes, T. Eldridge, D. Shillabeer.
Waratah: J. McGrath 3, A. Ankers 2, M. Graham 2, A. Moore 2, K. Kantilla, B. Carroll, H. Kerinaiua.

BEST:

Darwin: C. Williams, B. Stokes, T. Eldridge, C. Stokes, J. Saveka
Waratah: N/A

Shades of last season’s late form came to the fore as Waratah broke through for an emphatic first win against the highly-fancied Darwin Buffaloes. The Warriors quelled the Buffs’ scoring threats on-route to a 57-point victory, with the two sides looking near-unrecognisable compared to their previous form in the 12.12 (84) to 3.9 (27) result.

It was a case of the Warriors leading at every stage, not looking back after gaining an early advantage against the wind. While they squandered a few chances in a seven-goal to two second half, the scoreboard pressure and even spread of hardened contributors proved too much as they clamped down on the Buffs to come out handy winners in the end.

Abe Ankers was the main man in the first half, winning a ton of the ball early while helping to break the game open with two goals in the second term. Ex-AFL forward Andrew Moore was also impactful through the middle and up forward with two majors of his own, while Jae McGrath led the way with three and Kim Kantilla looked lively with one. Two of Darwin’s three goalkickers also featured in the best handful of players for their side, with Cameron Stokes and Tim Eldridge featuring well alongside Christopher Williams and Bradley Stokes in the uncharacteristically low-scoring loss. To make matters worse for the Buffs, experienced hand Joe Anderson faces time off after being reported for striking, with Adam Sambono still absent.

That will make their next assignment against fellow 2-1 side St Mary’s tough, with both teams looking to rekindle the form they produced over Rounds 1 and 2. Waratah’s assignment is just as tricky, with the reinvigorated Southern Districts up next after its own breakthrough victory.

WANDERERS 3.4 | 4.5 | 5.6 | 8.7 (55)
NIGHTCLIFF 5.3 | 8.7 | 14.11 | 17.17 (119)

GOALS:

Wanderers: D. Ferreira 4, J. Jeffrey, K. Fejo, J. Sattler, M. Motlop
Nightcliff: B. Filo 4, B. Grewar 2, L. Evans 2, J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, K. Niki, L. Holt-Fitz, T. Melville, P. Wills, M. Bricknell

BEST:

Wanderers: N/A
Nightcliff: D. Bowles, B. Filo, M. Hagan, K. Riley, M. McGregor

Nightcliff secured its status as the sole remaining undefeated NTFL side with a dominant 64-point victory over Wanderers to see out the round. The Eagles could not quite hang with the reigning premier for long enough as the Tigers mixed astute defence with flooding attacks in the 17.17 (119) to 8.7 (55) result.

While Davin Ferreira booted and equal game-high four goals for the Muk Muks, they lacked the same contributors across the board with only half the amount of Nightcliff’s ten individual goal kickers. The likes of Joel Jeffrey and Keelan Fejo again showed their class to hit the scoreboard, but were outdone by the likes of Brodie Filo (four goals) and Michael Hagan (two) up the other end. Daniel Bowles was named the Tigers’ best, leading a pack consisting of Filo, Hagan, Kaine Riley, Marly McGregor, and Geelong VFL product James Tsitas.

It was the Tigers’ superior depth that saw them shake off the Eagles after a start which gave the losers a sniff. But Nightcliff’s six-goal to one third term saw the result all but settled as the persistent four-goal margin was shattered. A strong, albeit inaccurate finish confirmed the result and brought a halt to Wanderers’ early-season momentum.

An exciting match-up awaits as the Eagles ready themselves for Tiwi on Saturday, with the two sides set to put forth strong attacking lineups. Nightcliff’s perfect record looks likely to remain in-tact too with bottom-placed Palmerston awaiting in a battle between 3-0 and 0-3 teams.

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Wanderers: N/A

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League weekend preview: Round 1 – Grand Final replay highlights TIO round

A GRAND final replay between reigning premiers Nightcliff and runners-up Southern Districts headlines the opening round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. All four games are played at TIO Stadium with two on Saturday and two on Sunday.

DARWIN BUFFALOES vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday, October 5, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

It has been a long seven months for Tiwi Bombers, having to stew on a disastrous 20-goal loss in the preliminary final to Southern Districts last season. After a shaky start to the 2018/19 season, the Bombers picked up in the second half to storm home with all the momentum and justify their third placed finish on the table. Unfortunately they could get nowhere near the Crocs on the day and will want to make the best possible start this year with a Round 1 victory over Darwin Buffaloes. The Buffs finished fifth last season and are usually strong starters so could get an early win on the board given the youth that is coming through the Darwin program. Cyril Rioli is by far the biggest name in the NTFL and the Bombers will unleash him at some stage this season, but it will depend on when he wants to run out, however his knowledge as an assistant coach will be invaluable. Outside of the Cyril magic, the Bombers have been steadily improving with experienced former AFL talents in Nathan Djerrkura and Austin Wonaeamirri, as well as Ross Tungatalum, Dion Munkara, Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri, it would be hard to write them off as a premiership contender this season. For Darwin, experienced leader Adam Sambono has been named in the side alongside Antonio James. Joe Anderson has also returned to play in the game with both sides evenly match in terms of talent.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, October 5, 7.00pm
TIO Stadium

The match of the round will likely be the grand final replay between the Tigers and Crocs as the Tigers raise their flag from last season in front of their opponents from that day. It should fire the Southern District players up in the prime time night game that will have all spectators on the edge of their seat. Nightcliff was the clear standout team last season, finishing two wins and plenty of percentage ahead of the Crocs, and should look to start the season how they finished off. The Districts received a massive boost with Keegan Dingo re-registered back in the NTFL, but the huge inclusion for the Tigers was Bendigo Football League goalkicking machine Lachlan Sharp named for Round 1, having booted 133 goals from 19 games this year in Victoria. With the likes of former Port Adelaide forward John Butcher and the talented Trent Melville, the reigning premiers will be hard to contain up forward. On the other side, Damian Williams has also been named for Southern Districts having crossed from Darwin and is expected to provide some forward line power for the Crocs to counter that of the Tigers. In what could add some spice to the Grand Final replay, former Tigers, Faron James and Devin Lines are among those in line to switch to the Crocs. Nightcliff go in as favourites given the firepower, but the match is won and lost in the midfield.

WARATAH vs. WANDERERS
Sunday, October 6, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

Waratah and bottom two side Wanderers go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon with the Warriors seeing this game as a must-win to start off their season. They tended to drop games they should not have last season, while claiming wins against top teams in an inconsistent year. If they can lift their performance when they are not at the top of their game, they will likely challenge any team on their day and give the Wanderers something to worry about in this clash. For the Wanderers, last season was one that was ultimately disappointing with just the six wins, and with three losses against the Warriors, the Wanderers will be very keen to break that winning drought against their opposition. After a surprise year in 2018/19, the Warriors will head into this game as favourites with Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll leading the charge into the new season, while Liam Patrick and Brett Eddy have been named in the Wanderers’ forward line for the opening game, meaning Waratah cannot take the side too lightly. A tough one to pick the winner.

ST MARY’S vs. PALMERSTON
Sunday, October 6, 5pm
TIO Stadium

In the final game of the round, 2018/19 NTFL wooden spooners take on sixth placed Palmerston who unfortunately missed out on finals narrowly last season. The Magpies lost four of their last five games to tumble out of fifth spot, and split their head-to-head with St Mary’s as both teams recorded a win apiece – the Magpies’ victory coming in Round 17 and one of only two this calendar year. The Saints had just the five wins last season, and fell away in the second half of the season, defeating Darwin Buffaloes by 37 points in Round 15 as their only triumph since December 8. Palmerston recently picked up Frankston Dolphins’ talent Dylan Gordon after he crossed from Darwin, with the fly-in player available for limited games. The Magpies will welcome back Kyle Emery inside 50 with the dominant goalkicker joined by Rodney Baird and Nigel Lockyer as players who continued to cause heachaches for the opposition. Throw in fly-in talent Matt Dennis, as well as Alwyn Davey and Ezekiel Frank and the Magpies could swoop into a finals spot this year and get an early win here. Davey will also have the rare honour of running out alongside his twin sons, Alwyn Jnr and Jayden.

2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League season preview

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition set to get underway on the weekend, we take a look at the eight teams competing for the ultimate prize over the summer.

DARWIN BUFFALOES

Last season: 5th
Win-loss: 8-10
Points: 32
Percentage: 94.6

The Buffs are coming in off an indifferent 2018/20 campaign that saw them scrape into finals after a promising start. They were eliminated in a crushing 73-point elimination final loss to Waratah after going down to the Warriors in Round 18 as well, finally folding after struggling to reclaim the early-season form that had them pegged for another top two finish. Having captain-coach Matt Campbell and star players Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas Jnr shuffle in and out of the side at times did not help the Buffaloes in their search for some consistency, but the talent base is certainly there. Ex-Blue Anderson and highly rated junior Sambono are poised to feature prominently again under Campbell’s tutelage, while Rosas Jnr’s availability hinges on his AFL Draft hopes. Those three are all capable of seeing a heap of the ball and having important touches, with the consistent figures of Shaun Ahmat and Kevin Maroney set to again add that stability to the lineup each week. With Rosas seemingly moving on to the elite system, the young gun in Darwin’s crop this year is Antonio James. James featured for two straight years for the NT Thunder’s Under-16 side and was part of the Under-18 NAB League squad without playing, making him a good chance to feature for them in the upcoming season. The Buffs will be keen to see how he goes at Premier League level, with his enthusiasm and pace from defence helping him to stand out to this point. After a disappointing finish to last season, the storied club will hope to reach the heights they did in 2017/18 and sneak back into that top two. They certainly have the top-end talent to challenge, and should provide some highlights along the way.

Players to watch:

Joe Anderson
Adam Sambono
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Shaun Ahmat

Young gun:

Antonio James

NIGHTCLIFF

Last season: 1st
Win-loss: 15-3 (Premiers)
Points: 60
Percentage: 166.08

The reigning premiers took home their fourth premiership cup last season, and in doing so moved one clear of Palmerston and Southern Districts to outright fifth on the overall premiership table. It was a dominant year for the Tigers, only losing thrice on their way to an outright minor premiership and getting up by 22 points over then-reigning premiers Southern Districts in the grand final. Trent Melville was the side’s spearhead, booting 56 goals from his 20 games to finish as the league’s leading goal kicker, but Nightcliff had a wealth of scoring threats. Melville will suit up again alongside the likes of Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell up forward, with big-man and NT Thunder representative Hugo Drogemuller a chance to feature up either end. The Budarick brothers, Jess and Joel will also be important between the arcs for the Tigers, with Joel turning out for the NT’s Under 18 academy this year. Jess appeared for the Thunder in the NEAFL this season and should add to his games tally this time around, adding to Nightcliff’s list of promising youngsters. Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Jamie Jones and Ned Stevens are also on that list after playing a part in the NT’s Under 16 campaign this year, putting the reigning premiers in good stead to feature well again and into the future. Their depth is solid, and their firepower is almost unmatched.

Players to watch:

Jess Budarick
Trent Melville
Matthew Bricknell
Hugo Drogemuller
Liam Holt-Fitz

Young gun:

Joel Budarick

PALMERSTON

Last season: 6th
Win-loss: 7-11
Points: 28
Percentage: 70.57

The Palmy Army experienced much more joy in 2018/19 after claiming the wooden spoon in season 2017/18, with a vastly-improved sixth place finish – just one win outside of the finals spots. The Magpies had their depth tested with ex-AFL players like Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey, and Ezekiel Frank missing chunks of games throughout the year, while Matthew Stokes only appeared in a two-game cameo. All four of those stars provided great value though and could do so again in this year’s competition to aid a bunch of regulars who stood out. Victorian ruck veteran Matthew Dennis featured among the best for all but one of his 18 games last year and could go around again, with VFL player Dylan Gordon set to make his NT return. He joins the likes of prolific goalsneak Kyle Emery, as well as the ever-improving Nigel Lockyer and consistent figures of Samuel Autio and Samuel Talbot. Add youngster Jason Baird to the mix and so much of the Magpies’ firepower comes in their forward movers, despite not being able to post the biggest scores last year. Up the other end, their defence was the leakiest in 2018/19 and will need some tightening if Palmerston is to continue its upward trend.

Players to watch:

Kyle Emery
Matthew Dennis
Dylan Gordon
Samuel Talbot
Nigel Lockyer

Young gun:

Jason Baird

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

Last season: 2nd
Win-loss: 13-5 (Runners-up)
Points: 52
Percentage: 147.36

So close, yet so far, the Crocs battled hard throughout the season and looked at times like premiership favourites, particularly after a 20-goal smashing of Tiwi Bombers in the preliminary final. But as they found out, the Grand Final is a different ball game, going down to Nightcliff by 22 points. That does not take away from the dominance the Crocs have had over the competition during the last two seasons, with a ton of depth and some scary firepower. Ex-AFL players Leroy Jetta, Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow and Jared Brennan were all terrific over multiple games for the 2017/18 premiers, adding arguably the highest level of ex-professional class. Goals came aplenty through the likes of Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery, while Bradley Vallance, Dean Staunton, Charles McAdam, and Beau Schwarze were others to combine their scoreboard impact with ball winning. They should all be important figures again if Southern Districts is to have another flag tilt, providing a consistent base throughout the year with a raft of other stars coming in and out of the team. It is always hard to look past the Crocs on paper and given the ability they have to blow teams away, expect them to be right up there once again this season. With young gun Brodie Lake also one of the NT’s big hopes for next year’s draft, they have some future talent to nurture too.

Players to watch:

Jess Koopman
Michael Mummery
Dean Staunton
Ed Barlow
Brandon Rusca

Young gun:

Brodie Lake

ST MARY’S

Last season: 8th
Win-loss: 5-13
Points: 20
Percentage: 78.14

The NTFL powerhouse side was publicly in financial trouble over the off-season, but is back in the league to try and bounce back from its poor season last year. After missing the 2017/18 Grand Final for only the second time since 2002/03, the Saints went through a rebuilding phase last season dropping to the bottom of the table. With nine more premierships than its nearest rival, expect this successful club to move back up the ladder in season 2019/20. Former Gippsland Power prospect Nathaniel Paredes was the Saints’ shining light last season, featuring in the best 10 of 15 times and booting 20 goals in the process. A host of famous names and relations also fill out the side, with Ben Rioli and Jacob Long sure to join prodigious youngsters Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli – pending their availability. Nicholas Yarran and Raphael Clarke would be handy returns after solid 2017/18 seasons, along with the likes of Mathias Liddy. St Mary’s is renowned for producing top talent, and NT Under 16 representative Preyben Tipiloura is an exciting type to come through further this year alongside Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli, while Kieren Parnell is another rising star set to make his long-awaited injury return. Given the club’s strong history and the raw talent set to be displayed, expect St Mary’s to be a riser this year – the only was is up from last season after all – and a couple more former-AFL coups could help.

Players to watch:

Nathaniel Paredes
Maurice Rioli Jnr
Jacob Long
Ben Rioli
Kieren Parnell
Brayden Rioli

Young gun:

Preyben Tipiloura

TIWI BOMBERS

Last season: 3rd
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 101.72

Tiwi very nearly became one of the better stories out of last season as their run in the back-end saw them earn an unlikely preliminary final berth. Although they were soundly beaten while searching for a grand final spot, the journey there was something to behold. It came long after a slow start to the season, with a raft of experienced and reliable players helping the famous Bombers click into gear. They were awesome in front of goal at times, and that is only set to be helped this year with the return of favourite son Cyril Rioli, who joins as a player-coach. The prospect of having him run around alongside fellow ex-AFL players Austin Wonaeamirri and Nathan Djerrkura, as well as Ross Tungatalum is scary and sure to bring plenty of excitement to the league. Add to that club stalwarts Jason Puruntatameri, Dion Munkara and prolific young guns Adam Tipungwuti and Jeffrey Simon, and you have a fun side destined for big things. The improvement they showed last year should only be built on this time around, and there is no reason why the Bombers cannot fly back to the top of the NTFL with a continuance of their form. Do not be surprised to see Tiwi go in as one of the flag favourites, and there will certainly be plenty of expectation given how dangerous they look on paper in the forward half.

Players to watch:

Cyril Rioli
Ross Tungatalum
Austin Wonaeamirri
Jason Puruntatameri
Dion Munkara
Nathan Djerrkura
Adam Tipungwuti

Young gun:

Jeffrey Simon

WANDERERS

Last season: 7th
Win-loss: 6-12
Points: 24
Percentage: 74.22

A somewhat down 2018/19 season saw Wanderers narrowly escape the bottom of the ladder with a final round victory over Palmerston, despite only winning half the amount of games they lost in the 18-game season. It looked a justified ladder position given they were second-to-last for both points scored and conceded, but there are some promising signs pointing to the future for the Muk Muks. They are set to field young stars aplenty, with NT Under-18 representative Beau O’Connell one who could team up with Davin Ferreira through midfield alongside the experience of Marlon Motlop. John Tipiloura is another lively youngster, as is Mark White, who starred up forward in the 2019 Under 16 Division 2 carnival. But arguably the best of the lot is 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Joel Jeffrey, who was a regular for Wanderers last year and played out on the MCG in the Under-17 grand final curtain raiser. If he is available before his top-age year, look out for his high marking up either end of the ground. While the immediate impact of their talent has not quite translated to results just yet, expect to see the Eagles sore in years to come.

Players to watch:

Beau O’Connell
Marlon Motlop
Joel Jeffrey
Davin Ferreira
John Tipiloura

Young gun:

Mark White

WARATAH

Last season: 4th
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 100.44

Waratah is a team which surprised some last year, holding strong with its local talent to cap a consistent year off in fourth place with an even record – hardly ever looking like missing out on finals throughout the season. Anchoring the side in midfield was Abraham Ankers, who will be key again in this campaign alongside fellow NT Thunder squad member Brodie Carroll, who played 16 games last year. Zach Westerberg, Cameron Barrett, and Henry Kerinaiua were others to hold down spots, and another possible cameo from ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton could spell some more goals. Newton’s two games aside, Waratah is one of the teams with the fewest ex-AFL experience, making their exploits even greater. Andrew Moore could change that factor slightly as he is poised to sign for the Warriors, and Matthew Green could have the effect of a new signing after only featuring a couple of times last season. Watch for Under 18 Allies representative Ben Jungfer if available, given he is Adelaide-based, with his clearance work outstanding. With a lot of other sides improving, it will be a battle for Waratah to maintain their form, but they have the stock to match it with the best once again.

Players to watch:

Abraham Ankers
Matthew Green
Brodie Carroll
Andrew Moore
Cameron Barrett

Young gun:

Ben Jungfer

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Semi finals

THE minor premiers stamped their authority as the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Mens Premier League’s number one contenders with a sizeable win earning them a grand final spot. Meanwhile, a finals rematch faces the defending champions, the Crocs after they took advantage of their double chance with a bounce-back win.

NIGHTCLIFF 22.17 (149)
TIWI BOMBERS 9.5 (59)


GOALS:
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 5, J. Butcher 4, L. Holt-Fitz 4, H. Drogemuller 2, M. Bricknell, K. Niki, M. Hagan, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, T. Melville, P. Wills
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri 5, R. Tungatalum 2, D. Munkara 2

BEST:
Nightcliff:
H. Drogemuller, P. Wills, J. Butcher, B. Filo, C. Holmes
Tiwi: A. Wonaeamirri, J. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, W. Puruntatameri, L. Woodcock-Nowlan, A. Tipungwuti

Nightcliff roared into the grand final with a 90-point drubbing of Tiwi to only further firm the minor premiers as flag favourites. The Tigers ran rampant in their forward half throughout the game, putting through a minimum of five goals in each term to overwhelm a previously in-form Tiwi side. Despite last week’s come from behind heroics, the Bombers hardly looked a chance after Nightcliff’s fast start, finding themselves 61 points down at the main break after the Tigers piled on six goals in each term. The result was inevitable from there, but Nightcliff continued on its merry way with another 10 goals to consolidate the eventual winning margin. Veteran Cam Ilett led Nightcliff’s 11 individual goal kickers with a bag of five, with John Butcher and Liam Holt-Fitz snaring four and Hugo Drogemuller claiming two majors to be named best afield. Meanwhile, ex-Dee Austin Wonaeamirri was one of the few Bombers to continue his good form, slotting an equal game best of five goals to make up over half of Tiwi’s score. Ross Tungatalum also chimed in with two majors alongside Dion Munkara, with the likes of Jason Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti named in the best in the losing effort. While Nightcliff now take the simple route to the grand final, Tiwi goes on to face Southern Districts for the second time in three weeks for a chance at redemption and the ultimate glory.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 13.11 (89)
WARATAH 6.10 (46)


GOALS:
Southern Districts: D. McLachlan 2, J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, E. Barlow 2, J. Brennan, B. Schwarze, W. Farrer, M. Rosier, C. Gallio
Waratah: S. Godden, K. Kantilla, H. Kerinaiua, S. Weddell, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma

BEST:
Southern Districts:
S. Martin, E. Barlow, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, J. Farrer, S. Stewart
Waratah: N/A

Southern Districts leant fully on its double chance with a confidence building 43-point win over Waratah to move onto the preliminary final round. While the Warriors did well to match it with their opponents for a little over a half, the Crocs pulled away with eight goals to two after the main break to put the result beyond doubt. Four of Southern Districts’ nine goal kickers managed bags of two, including spearhead Jess Koopman and the exciting Michael Mummery. Ed Barlow contributed around the ground and also claimed two majors, but was beaten out for best-afield honours by Sean Martin, while the returning Jared Brennan was also handy with his finals experience. Waratah simply could not match the Crocs’ firepower, but still had six seperate scorers in a low total. Usual suspects Kim Kantilla and Henry Kerinaiua found the goals, with best and fairest Sam Godden also pitching in. While the Warriors’ strong late-season run coming to an abrupt end, Southern Districts look a strong chance to go back-to-back, but will have to get past Tiwi next week for a chance to play-off in the grand final.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Finals Round 1

ROUND 1 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League finals absolutely delivered, with the two winners taking full advantage of their hot form, while one side will have to rely on its double-chance to progress further.

WARATAH 21.7 (133)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 8.12 (60)

GOALS:
Waratah: A. Ankers 4, S. Godden 3, T.Toma 3, S. Tatupu 2, Z. Westerberg, H.Kerinaiua, B.Minkulk, S.Flanegan, K.Kantilla, B.Carroll, C.Barrett, J.Gardner.
Darwin: J. Clarke 3, J. Clark, M. Campbell, P. Boles, M. Bradley, B. Culhane.

BEST:
Waratah: N/A
Darwin: N/A

A clinical performance after quarter time helped Waratah to a comprehensive 73-point elimination final win against Darwin to open post-season proceedings. In what was almost an identical result to the Warriors’ 76-point drubbing of the Buffs in Round 18, the winners put on a show in front of goal to earn a semi-final shot against Southern Districts. Both sides came out strong in the opening stages, with the Warriors holding a slender three-point margin at the first break despite having two less scoring shots. It was one way traffic from there on, with a seven-goal second stanza setting up an even five-goal margin going into half time as Darwin continued to misfire. 12 goals to five after the main break put the nail in the coffin for the Buffs, who lost five games in a row to end what, at one stage, looked like a promising season. The Tahs had a good spread of goalkickers with 12 individual scorers, as Abraham Ankers led the way with four majors. Sam Godden and Tom Toma were not far behind with three each, as Shem Tatupu rounded out the multiple goal kickers with his bag of two. Jalen Clarke stood up in that regard for Darwin with three goals, while the returning Matt Campbell also hit the scoreboard. While Darwin will regroup and look forward to going around again next year, Waratah moves on to face another early-season favourite – Southern Districts. The Crocs have also shown weaker form of late, but are always dangerous forward of centre and more than capable of matching the new-found firepower of Waratah. Having been a feature of the top four all year, the result is nothing short of what the Warriors deserve, but they will no doubt be looking to go one better next week.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 10.5 (65)
TIWI BOMBERS 13.8 (86)

GOALS:
Southern Districts:
S. Thorne 2, S. Rusca 2, W. Farrer, C. Gallio, J. Koopman, R. O’Brien, D. Staunton, E. Barlow
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 6, A. Wonaeamirri 4, D. Munkara, S. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti

BEST:
Southern Districts:
D. Staunton, S. Rusca, S. Thorne, J. Farrer
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum, R. Farmer, M. Dunn, W. Puruntatameri, P. Heenan, A. Wonaeamirri

A surging come from behind effort has seen Tiwi roll on into a semi-final fixture against Nightcliff, downing the highly fancied Southern Districts by 21-points. Down by as much as 27-points in the second half, the Bombers never gave up hope and snatched the win on the back of a swarm from their forward 50 mosquito fleet. Dion Munkara stole the headlines and some social media airtime with his goal celebration late on, with Austin Wonaeamirri‘s goal to clinch the lead also not to be outdone in the highlight stakes. The ex-Dee was instrumental with four goals, but it was Ross Tungatalum who again led the way in front of goal with a bag of six. The Crocs were not too far behind, but shared their goals a touch more with eight players troubling the scoreboard – including Shane Thorne and Steve Rusca with two each. Both were named in the Crocs’ best handful of players, with Dean Staunton deemed the most valuable. With both sides at relatively full strength, Tiwi passed this test with flying colours and will fancy itself in with a huge chance of toppling the Tigers after their week off for a shot in the big dance. In the week’s other game, Southern Districts will hope to take full advantage of its second chance in finals as it meets a red-hot Warriors side in what should be a belter.