Tag: shaun wilson

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

THE first club under the microscope in our team-by-team series of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League reviews is Nightcliff, the 2019/20 premier. The Tigers were the competition benchmark throughout the season, and managed to pick up points against every opponent on their way to back-to-back premierships. Renowned for their fly-in recruits and envied for their ability to attract the biggest names from the NT and abroad, Nightcliff’s footballing program has rightly been recognised via premiership success once again. We take a look at their year in numbers, and highlight the key moments throughout.


NIGHTCLIFF 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 1st, 17-1, 197%

Most games: Trent Melville, Daniel Bowles, Kyle Winter-Irving (21)

Most goals: Melville (51)

One of the many successful recruits to land at the Tigers’ den over the past three years, Melville capped off a terrific second year with Nightcliff in style; claiming his second-consecutive club leading goalkicker award, along with a second premiership medal, and the Chaney Medal for best afield in the grand final with five goals. A dangerous forward who is capable of winning games off his own boot, Melville proved as much with 10 hauls of over three goals across his 21 outings this season, while also showcasing his ability to impact the game further afield. He has hinted at perhaps ending his NTFL career on a high note, and while it would only be fitting, fans would love to catch another glimpse of the mercurial forward.

MVP: Kaine Riley (Best and Fairest)

A criminally underrated performer, Riley returned another sensationally consistent season from defence to be recognised as the Tigers’ best and fairest player. While Nightcliff boasts a number of highly touted fly-ins and some legendary NT names, it is the likes of Riley who help the Tigers remain in the hunt for each long season, with his rock-like work at the back near-unmatched across the league. A terrific reader of the play and astute user of the ball, Riley also stood up in the Tigers’ hard-fought grand final victory and very nearly snared best afield honours.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Brodie Filo (winner)

Regarded by many as the current best player in the league, Nightcliff’s midfield maestro took home his second Nichols Medal to cap off another remarkable year in the yellow and black. In adding to his 2015/16 nod, Filo also became the third Tiger in as many years to take home the award. The Victorian showed a happy knack for finding the goals, averaging one per his 15 games this season, but does his best work as a damaging part of Nightcliff’s engine room. Despite being held well in his first finals outing, Filo responded duly in the grand final with a performance befitting of his talent.

Young gun: Joel Budarick

A Big River Hawks junior, Budarick continued to make strides in his young Premier League career, adding 16 games to a promising maiden campaign last year. Part of the NT Thunder setup and a leader at Under 18s level, Budarick has proven his ability to make the step up to senior football with aplomb, and is now a two-time premiership player. Able to impact the play on each line, the youngster grew into a role on the outside and displayed a cool head when on the ball moving forward.

Best win: Grand Final – def. St Mary’s 10.13 (73) to 9.6 (60)

Goals: T. Melville 5, R. Mu 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan.
Best: T. Melville, S. Wilson, D. Bowles, B. Filo, N. Brown, M. Hagan

Nightcliff truely and rightly cemented its status as the competition’s best side with a redemptive win in this year’s decider, knocking off the only side to lay claim to a win over the Tigers in 2019/20, St Mary’s. Melville’s five goals in a low-scoring and tense encounter were crucial, while the leadership of Shaun Wilson was huge, and the class of Filo rose to the top. The Tigers were made to earn the win too, pegged back each time they looked like breaking away in a bruising encounter against a worthy opponent. Relief, of course, not long after a worrying loss in semi final week.

Worst loss: Semi Final – def. by St Mary’s 11.11 (77) to 16.7 (103)

Goals: J. Tsitas 2, M. Hagan 2, T. Melville 2, L. Sharp 2, S. Wilson, J. Butcher, C. Ilett.
Best: N/A

Only the second loss of Nightcliff’s season, but it came to a familiar opponent in St Mary’s after previously going down to the Saints by 27 points in Round 7. It is hard to pick out of the two – yes, just two – losses given the similar scoreline, but this one takes the cake as it very nearly threw a spanner in the works of a near-unblemished season. The Tigers were made to take the long road to the grand final, with five goals from St Mary’s Jackson Calder, and a starring performance from Maurice Rioli Jnr causing headaches for the usually assured Tigers’ defence.

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap – Melville boots Tigers to back-to-back flags

NIGHTCLIFF claimed a second consecutive Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League premiership on Saturday night, defeating St Mary’s in a tense decider on the back of Trent Melville‘s five-goal haul. Melville took out the Chaney Medal for the player adjudged best afield, notching half of his side’s majors in the 10.13 (73) to 9.6 (60) triumph. The victory sees Nightcliff go from enduring 54 years without premiership success, to tasting it in back-to-back campaigns.

In a game described as an intense, four-quarter battle by Melville post-match, the Tigers were reigned in each time they looked to extend the lead and made to work for each goal while being tested in defence throughout. It came as no surprise given St Mary’s had beaten Nightcliff twice before this season – the only side to do so – and boast one of the best fly-in lists in the competition. Those recruits and some returning home grown talent helped the Saints soar from bottom in 2018/19 to runners-up this season, falling just short of what would have been an epic turnaround for the NT’s winningest club.

Coming in off a week off, the Saints were somewhat jumped by a hungry Tigers team, conceding the first two goals of the game but still managing to keep touch in a bruising finals initiation. But one of the Saints’ four Under 18s afield, Maurice Rioli Jnr hit back late in the first term to get the ball rolling for his side, and the game opened up slightly. It only lead to Nightcliff again winning the short battle with a four-goal to three second term, building a handy 17-point lead at the main break to put the Tigers in good stead.

Then it was St Mary’s turn to take over as the Saints doubled their goal tally in what looked like a game-saving third term, pouring on four majors to Nightcliff’s one to edge to within a goal at three-quarter time. The aerial presence of Jarrad Waite inside 50 proved crucial, with Jackson Calder the beneficiary of some of his smarts heading towards goal as both players hit the scoreboard. Needing to arrest the momentum, Nightcliff would see itself battle down to the wire to earn the flag its 17-1 regular season deserved.

In an exciting crescendo to the season, the Tigers rallied with three goals to one in the form of a true champion team, with all its recent NTFL finals experience shining through against the younger Saints side. The impact of those youngsters on both sides was still profound, with Rioli Jnr providing a spark and Braxton Ah Mat justifying his spot in the side for St Mary’s, while Ryan Mu booted two goals in an electric display in yellow and black. All the usual suspects stood up for Nightcliff too, with the criminally underrated Kaine Riley, James Tsitas, and Shaun Wilson all putting in shifts worth of best-on-ground recognition. We were promised a corker, and the two talent-rich sides well and truly delivered.

ST MARY’S 1.1 | 4.3 | 8.4 | 9.6 (60)
NIGHTCLIFF 2.3 | 6.8 | 7.12 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Calder 2, N. Paredes 2, J. Waite 2, S. Rioli, M. Rioli Jnr, J. Long.
Nightcliff: T. Melville 5, R. Mu 2, J. Butcher 2, M. Hagan.

BEST:

St Mary’s: N/A
Nightcliff: T. Melville, S. Wilson, D. Bowles, B. Filo, N. Brown, M. Hagan

Chaney Medal: Trent Melville (Nightcliff)

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League 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.

Nightcliff breaks 54-year premiership drought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 14

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win her would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dionysius Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceeded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Joliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the middle is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin Maroney, Joe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.

SOME finals-defining matches will take place this weekend in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition. Two sides battling desperately to grab a top five place in the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will be tested against the top two teams in Southern Districts and Nightcliff, while Palmerston Magpies do not have it any easier, taking on the in-form Darwin Buffaloes. In the other game of the round, the bottom two sides go head-to-head in Wanderers and St Marys, with an Eagles loss all but certainly closing the door on finals chances.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. TIWI BOMBERS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2pm
Norbuilt Oval

The game between second and sixth never looked so enticing for those keen to head down to Norbuilt Oval on Saturday afternoon. At times this season, Southern Districts have looked unstoppable, but last week Darwin Buffaloes found the Crocs’ kryptonite in a heart-stopping one-point thriller that knocked Southern Districts off the top of the NTFL ladder. Meanwhile, Tiwi Bombers had a day out to celebrate Austin Wonaeamirri‘s 150th game with a 100-plus point victory over Wanderers to give themselves a handy percentage boost. A win here would all but likely catapult them into fifth, and possibly fourth if Nightcliff do a number on Waratah, but in saying that, the Crocs will be keen to atone for a rare loss last week and will want to take care of business at home here. Ross Tungatalum is the key player for the Bombers up forward, fresh off another big performance last week, he has 25 goals for the season, two more than fellow sharpshooter, Dion Munkara. The best and fairest favourite for the Bombers, Jason Puruntatameri has been named in the best for every game he has played, and looms as a danger man trying to stop the Crocs’ attack. Ashton Hams has been crucial in the Bombers’ recent form, named in the best for his three games. Speaking of in-form players, Jess Koopman had a day out last weekend with six snags against Darwin, albeit in a losing side. He brought his total to 24 majors in just seven games and is the clear leading goalkicker for Southern Districts. The Crocs do not rely on one spearhead however, as they have eight players who have kicked double-figure goals in season 2018/19. The trio to watch are Dean Staunton (13 goals), Dylan McLachlan (10) and Charles McAdam (10), all featuring among the best at times this season. Beau Schwarze has been in great form of late, and looms as another key playmaker in the match. Expect the Crocs to remind the Bombers why the former are a title contender, although the Bombers have the attack to unsettle the Crocs’ defence and continue their great form.

 

WANDERERS v. ST MARYS
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

The first game of a double-header at TIO Stadium pits the two bottom sides against each other. Historical powerhouse, St Marys has had an inconsistent season as sweeping change has seen plenty of fresh faces join the Saints in what could be described as somewhat of a rebuild. Like St Marys, Wanderers have shown they can be competitive at times, but are often let down by momentum swings or disappointing quarters here and there. Both sides head into this game believing a win could be on the cards, and realistically, a loss would be devastating for either side. The Eagles know heading home without the four points will spell almost certain end to any finals aspirations, while St Marys would not only need a strong finish, but likely need other results to go their way in the run home if they were to snatch a finals spot. Talented teenager, Joel Jeffrey has been the star for the Eagles this season, booting 11 goals from nine games. But with AFL Academy opportunities, he has not been there the whole time, much like the Muk Muks’ second highest goalkicker, Davin Ferreira with seven goals in three games. In fact, just six players have reached double-figure games this season for the cellar dwellers, adding consistency as a challenge for the coaching staff. They had a game to forget against the Bombers last weekend, with Thomas Motlop named Wanderers’ best in a 102-point defeat. The Eagles will want to come out a lot stronger against St Marys who should not be underrated. Former Gippsland Power hard nut, Nathaniel Paredes has been the star of the side this season, averaging a goal a game from his 12 matches and named in the best eight times. Along with Ben Taylor – who has managed every game and booted six goals – the pair has been a shining light. The experienced Raphael Clarke has done his best with a young defence, while Shaun Edwards‘ spark last week was clear to see. They just need to produce more consistency in games, and if they had not conceded a seven-goal opening term to Nightcliff, they may well have caused an upset against the now ladder leaders. St Marys head in as favourites, but Wanderers will eye this as an opportunity to grab a crucial four points.

 

WARATAH v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 5pm
TIO Stadium

The second match at TIO Stadium sees top-of-the-table Nightcliff hoping to maintain the pole position despite fourth placed Waratah’s best efforts. Given their closest two rivals – Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers play the other top three teams, and Nightcliff looked vulnerable at times against St Marys, the Warriors have a real opportunity to fend off the chasing sides with a win here. Victory would not only give them some breathing space, but not entirely rule them out of third place, with the Buffaloes just four points and percentage ahead of the Warriors. In saying that, Nightcliff know how important this game is, and whether or not complacency crept into the side at quarter time against St Marys –  having booted seven goals to one in the opening term – they regained their composure after conceding a half-time deficit and went on to win the match. Abraham Ankers has been a key player for the Warriors this season, and from five games has booted seven goals. Raven Jolliffe and Brodie Carroll are other Warriors who have stood out this season, while no doubt Waratah would have loved to have former Melbourne full-forward Michael Newton in the square, after 13 goals in his two games this season. Cameron Barrett has been the man to turn to up forward for Waratah, leading the goalkicking with 14 majors in 11 games. If you are talking about goals, look no further than Tigers’ gun, Trent Melville who has slotted a massive 43 for the season. He is 15 clear of the next closest player, and is well on his way to an easy leading goalkicker award this season. A key reason why the Tigers have been unstoppable at times, Melville has booted three goals in both of his prior appearances against Waratah this season. Matthew Bricknell (19 goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (17) and Cameron Ilett (16) are other important players in the forward half, while Shaun Wilson would be among the leading contenders for the Tigers best and fairest with Melville and Ilett. Nightcliff deservedly go in as favourites, but cannot afford an intensity drop off or they could pay against the Warriors.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 14 – Saturday, January 19, 6pm
Asbuild Oval

The final game of the round will be under lights at Asbuild Oval as Palmerston Magpies look to tame the Darwin Buffaloes. After a loss to Nightcliff a fortnight ago, Darwin bounced back with a terrific one-point victory over Southern Districts, to remain in contention for a top two spot, and all but lock up a finals place. They take on the Magpies here who could be a danger team depending on how they front up. They knocked off the Buffaloes a month ago, but also went down to Tiwi Bombers a fortnight ago and were thumped by St Marys mid-season, so finding the consistency is important. The Buffaloes would feel the likes of Waratah, Palmerston and even Tiwi Bombers breathing down their necks, so taking out one of their closest competitors would give Darwin fans some much needed relief. They will need to find a way to stop one-man goalkicking machine, Kyle Emery who has 28 snags from 10 games, and is capable of kicking a bag. Emery has booted just two goals in their prior meetings, including being held goalless in Round 3. Emery is the only Magpie to have registered into double-figure goals this season, although former Essendon goalsneak, Alwyn Davey has eight from 10 games in 2018/19. Aaron Davey has contributed when there in his four matches, while Broderick Church and Mishai Perry also have eight apiece. The key man in the ruck is Matthew Dennis who is far and away the Magpies’ best and fairest favourite, named in his team’s best every single week this season. He could loom as the man to stop in order to cut off the supply to Emery down the field. Darwin has more of an even spread of goalkickers, with regular draft hopeful, Adam Sambono leading the way thanks to 18 majors this season. Jarrod Stokes (12), Matt Campbell (12) and Chris Williams (11) are the others in double figures, while Darryl White has averaged two goals a game from his three matches. Kevin MaroneyJoe Anderson and Ryan O’Sullivan have been the Buffaloes best around the ground this season and the travelling fans will be keen to see Darwin take home the four points. Given the most recent meeting you cannot rule out Palmerston stealing an upset, but the Magpies will need to be on their game.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 11

THE last round of action before a three-week break produced a raft of upsets, setting up a clear top five and now poising two sides equal at the top of the ladder.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 9.13 (67)
WANDERERS 14.15 (99)

GOALS:
Tiwi
: J. Munkara 4, T. Tambling 2, M. Cooper, H. Puruntatameri, L. Wale-Buxton.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, S. Tipiloura 4, J. Tipiloura 2, S. Meyer, S. Bates, D. Weetra, W. Walters.

BEST:
Tiwi: 
A. Hams, J. Puruntatameri, D. Munkara, B. Palipuaminni, J. Munkara, S. Babui
Wanderers: T. Motlop, W. Yunupingu, S. Tipiloura, C. Niki, J. Jeffrey

Wanderers claimed a minor upset to kick the round off, overcoming a half-time deficit to better a falling Tiwi Bombers side. Wayward kicking meant the Eagles did not quite take advantage of a strong start, posting 1.6 while keeping Tiwi goalless. The Bombers looked like making their opponents pay in the second term after snatching a one-goal buffer, but Wanderers promptly hit back after the main break with ten goals to four seeing the Muk Muks cruise to a 32-point victory. Exciting youngster Joel Jeffrey again showed his potential to boot an equal game-high four goals, matched by Stanley Tipiloura. John Tipiloura was also amongst the goals with two, but it was Thomas Motlop who was named best for the winning Eagles. Ex-West Coast players Ashton Hams and Tom Swift lined up for the Bombers and while the former was judged their best, the pair’s AFL experience was not enough to help overcome Wanderers. Jack Munkara snared four goals to be named in the best alongside regulars Dion Munkara and Jason Puruntatameri, but the likes of Jeffrey Simon and Austin Wonaeamirri were unable to provide their usual spark to help the Bombers’ cause. While The Eagles remain bottom, they draw level on points with their weekend opponents, finding some much-needed confidence heading into the new year.  

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.8 (74)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 8.10 (58)

GOALS:
Darwin:
 D. White 3, C. Williams 2, C. Atkinson, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, A. Sambono, D. Paull, J. Stokes.
Southern Districts: L. Dale 2, D. McLachlan, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, C. McAdam, M. Mummery.

BEST:
Darwin:
 K. Maroney, R. O’Sullivan, S. Ahmat, L. Philpott, Z. Stephenson, M. Corrie
Southern Districts: L. Dale, E. Barlow, J. Brennan, L. McGregor, B. Schwarze, R. Tambling

A sensational final quarter fightback saw Darwin Buffaloes snatch victory from ladder leaders Southern Districts to go clear in third place. After giving up a three-goal lead at the first break, the Buffaloes trailed for almost the entire match and by 13 points at the final turn. Turning it on when it mattered, Darwin conjured six goals to one to see out the game and claim an unlikely win after being down on form in recent weeks. NT legend Darryl White was the main source of goals with three, with Chris Williams (two) the only other Buffalo to bag multiple goals. Kevin Maroney was named best alongside the reliable Ryan O’Sullivan and Shaun Ahmat, with the Darwin side undoubtedly buoyed by winning despite quieter games from usual stars Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas. Meanwhile, Lee Dale was the only Croc to score multiple goals – enough to earn best-afield honours for the ladder leaders. White’s ex-teammate Jared Brennan was also thereabouts for Southern Districts, alongside the likes of Richard Tambling and Beau Schwarze. The loss hardly puts a dent in the Crocs’ ladder position, but sees them now share top spot, while Darwin consolidates its finals spot – climbing to outright third and finding some form as the season hots up.

 

 

NIGHTCLIFF 12.9 (81)
ST MARYS 6.8 (44)

GOALS:
Nightcliff:
 M. Bricknell 4, B. Grewar 2, S. Wilson 2, T. Melville 2, H. Williams, P. Wills.
St Marys: J. Musgrove 2, N. Paredes, B. Rioli, M. Liddy, J. Long.

BEST:
Nightcliff:
 P. Wills, B. Grewar, M. McGregor, S. Wilson, M. Bricknell, S. Deery
St Marys: N. Paredes, B. Taylor, B. Rioli, K. Delahunty, R. Clarke, T. Saunders

Nightcliff did enough to join Southern Districts in equal first with a comfortable win over St Marys, making them the only favourites to come out of the round with a win. Leading from the first bounce, the Tigers kept St Marys to just three goals after the first break, while putting enough of a total next to their own name throughout four consistent quarters. Matthew Bricknell kicked his second bag of four goals for the year to lead the way, followed by Trent Melville, Shaun Wilson, and Blake Grewar with two each. The latter two joined Phil Wills in the best, marking a solid attacking effort for the in-form Tigers. Nathaniel Paredes was again named best for the Saints, with Ben Taylor, Ben Rioli and Kieran Delahunty unsurprisingly not far behind. Stalwart Raphael Clarke had his hands full down back, but was also recognised for his efforts. The win sees Nightcliff join the Crocs on top of the ladder, behind by only percentage as the form team of the competition. Meanwhile, the Saints drop out of the top five but hold a good enough percentage to see them jump back in with a win after the break.

 

WARATAH 13.10 (88)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 14.5 (89)

GOALS:
Waratah:
 M. Newton 7, M. Blake 2, R. Jolliffe, S. Tatupu, T. Toma, K. Kantilla
Palmerston: M. Perry 4, A. Davey 2, S. Brock, B. Church, E. Frank, M. Dennis, R. Warfe, J. Grabowski, J. Patrick, A. Davey

BEST:
Waratah:
 M. Newton, Z. Westerberg, T. Toma, J. McCarthy, N. Gooch
Palmerston: E. Frank, A. Diamond, J. Grabowski, M. Dennis, M. Perry, J. Lampton

A starring seven-goal effort from ex-Dee Michael Newton wasn’t enough to drag Waratah over the line against Palmerston Magpies, going down by the narrowest of margins in a thriller to see out proceedings in 2018. The Magpies looked to have set up a comfortable position with an eight-point half time lead, but were stunned by an eight-goal third term from the Warriors, before finding seven goals of their own in the last quarter to claim a remarkable win at the death. With Newton booting over half of their goals, Matthew Blake (two) was the only other multiple goal kicker for the Warriors, while Tom Toma also found the goals to be named in the best alongside Zach Westerberg a the losing effort. Ezekiel Frank was Palmerston’s best, with Bundoora products Josh Grabowski and Matthew Dennis also important in the win, while Mishai Perry (four goals) and Aaron Davey (two) provided the scoring threat. Palmerston jumps into the finals spots on the back of its big win, level on points with its weekend opponents to sit a game outside of third. 

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 10

WITH the finals race getting tighter as each week passes, the mid-table bottleneck looks certain to be shaken up this week with sides itching to get back into form and build a run heading into the back end of the season.

TIWI BOMBERS v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 2pm
Tiwi Oval

Southern Districts will hope to put a sizeable dent in Tiwi Bombers’ top four hopes with another emphatic win to open the round away from home. The Bombers were previously on a three-game win streak after opening their account in Round 6, but were brought to a halt at the hands of a fearsome Nightcliff side. The Crocs meanwhile look to have regained the early-season form that saw them break multiple games clear at the top, with four points and a handsome percentage acting as their buffer as things stand. An 111-point thumping of Palmerston last time out puts them in good stead against an in-form team here, as the Bombers remain a dangerous opponent. With arguably its best side forming in the last two weeks, Southern Districts will look to the former-AFL class of Richard Tambling (five goals in Round 9) and Jared Brennan to star once again alongside regulars Michael Mummery and Bradley Vallance forward of centre. There are plenty of moving parts in the Crocs lineup, with the likes of Jess Koopman coming off a bag of six goals and Seb Guilhaus showing consistent form alongside Dean Staunton. As has been the story all year, the firepower of the Crocs needs to be matched, and Bomber forwards Dion Munkara, Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri will have to be the ones to stand up if the Bombers are to steer away from falling short as they did against Nightcliff. Jason and Harley Puruntatameri will also have to have big games further up the field to help Tiwi’s cause in an important match-up that has implications on the Bombers’ finals spot.

ST MARYS v. WANDERERS
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will be hoping to join St Marys in the race for fifth spot when they open TIO Stadium’s Saturday evening double-header. The wasteful Saints missed a trick last time out as they fell just short of the stumbling Darwin Buffaloes, but will have a good amount confidence coming up against the bottom side given they are not entirely out of form. Meanwhile, the Eagles will be disappointed with their Round 9 showing given they finally broke through for their second win of the season in the previous week, and they have the chance to scrape off the bottom of the ladder with a win here. With Davin Ferreira in irresistible form after five goals last week, anything is possible for the Muk Muks. Add the recent form of Thomas Motlop and John Tipiloura to the mix and Wanderers have the potential to put up a fight. The Saints have proven to be no easy-beats in recent weeks though, even picking up two wins in their last five games to hold firm in the NTFL ladder’s middle ground. Mathias Liddy will need to be good in front of goal again this week, while the likes of Ben Rioli and Nathaniel Paredes in midfield should provide great consistency alongside the flair of young gun Maurice Rioli jnr. With wavering scoring form on both parts, this clash could well either provide a shootout or a low-scoring affair – but the side that takes its chances will undoubtedly come out on top in what looks like a close one.

DARWIN BUFFALOES v. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Round 10 – Saturday December 8, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A return to form is in the midst for both Darwin Buffaloes and Palmerston Magpies as they do battle to round out Saturday’s action. The Buffaloes breathed a collective sigh of relief as they narrowly got over the line against St Marys last week on account of accurate goalkicking, returning to the win column after two straight defeats. Meanwhile, Palmerston have lost three consecutive games and despite putting up a competitive effort against in-form side Nightcliff, were beaten comprehensively at the hands of a rejuvenated Southern Districts last time out. With both outfits keen to break clear of deadlocks with rival sides on the ladder, expect the kitchen sink to be thrown in an attempt to get over the line. With young star Malcolm Rosas spending time at Gold Coast and Brisbane, Adam Sambono will need to step up and provide that X-factor, with the likes of Matthew Campbell and Javadd Anderson in good form, while Joe Anderson looks to slot back into the side. For Palmerston, the same core group of players have provided unwavering consistency throughout the year, with Matthew Dennis holding his ruck spot down and Rodney Baird and Samuel Talbot solid year-round. Kyle Emery will hope to step up after drawing a blank last week, while Samuel Autio should provide good fold for him as he has done over the last two weeks. It may not be pretty, but a win for either side would serve as a nice confidence booster going into the back half of the season as finals spots become hotly contested.

NIGHTCLIFF v. WARATAH
Round 10 – Sunday December 9, 4pm
PSC BM Oval

Third-placed Waratah will be looking to close the gap on weekend opponents Nightcliff when they clash at PSC BM Oval to close out the round in what as shaping as a thriller. The Tigers had it tough in Round 9 as they clawed over the line against Tiwi, but hold the most consistent run of form out of all sides having won three consecutive games. Waratah have done well to hang with the top four sides, benefitting from a Darwin slump to move to third and close within striking distance of the established top two. With plenty of experience in the form of Cam Ilett and ex-AFL listed forward John Butcher heading the side in recent weeks, while Liam Holt-Fitz has provided good spark alongside Shaun Wilson. Spearhead Trent Melville will have to step up this week after going goalless last time out, with Waratah forward Cameron Barrett coming off a round-high six goals. The addition of Kim Kantilla has been handy, and the impact of Raven Jolliffe will be key this week, too. American big-man Alex Aurrichio has also come into form of late, and should provide some sturdiness in the ruck or defence against a dangerous Tigers line-up. Despite second being poised against third, Nightcliff will be confident coming into this one, and it will be a key game in keeping touch with Southern Districts. Waratah will also want to avoid dropping points and falling behind Darwin once again, so expect some desperate footy.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Round 8

ROUND 8 action has seen the race finals race blown wide open, with just four points separating third from seventh. The mid-table bottleneck sees the top two break away, Wanderers has been left on the bottom despite a huge upset win.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 10.15 (75)
NIGHTCLIFF 14.10 (94)

GOALS:
Palmerston: K. Emery 3, S. Autio 2, J. Marshall , M. Perry, A. Diamond, A. Lonergan, E. Frank
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, S. Wilson 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, B. Filo, J. Peris, F. James

BEST:
Palmerston: S. Talbot, M. Stokes, N. Lockyer Jnr, S. Autio, M. Bunworth, M. Dennis
Nightcliff: F. James, N. Brown, M. Bricknell, G. Greenoff, P. Wills, D. Bowles

A lightning start from Nightcliff was enough to see them over the line against a rejuvenated Palmerston line-up by 19 points in the Round 8 opener. The Tigers stormed out of the blocks with 6.6 in the opening term while keeping the Magpies goalless, showcasing their near-unstoppable firepower forward of centre. In good form coming into the fixture, Palmerston duly hit back in the second and third terms but were somewhat wasteful, with their 6.10 over the two quarters still leaving them with a 14-point deficit to claw back. Nightcliff proved too strong though, continuing to tick the scoreboard over in the face of Palmerston’s onslaught and earning the four points despite registering one less scoring shot.

The usual suspects were again amongst the goals for the winners, with Trent Melville snaring his second bag of four in as many weeks, while Shaun Wilson and Mathew Bricknell were the other two multiple goalkickers with three and two respectively. Faron James was named their best, with Nathan Brown again amongst the votes and Cam Ilett and Liam Holt-Fitz dangerous going forward. Kyle Emery was a shining light up forward with three majors, but missed out on best-six honours. Samuel Talbot continued his good form to be judged their best, while ex-AFL star Mathew Stokes was thereabouts alongside the ever consistent figures of Matthew Dennis and Nigel Lockyer jnr.

The win sees Nightcliff strengthen its position in the top two, only one game off league-leaders Southern Districts. Meanwhile, the Magpie’s second-straight loss drops them to second bottom on percentage, but equal fifth with two other sides on three wins.

 

TIWI BOMBERS 11.15 (81)
WARATAH 9.8 (62)

GOALS:
Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 3, D. Munkara 3, B. Palipuaminni, M. Cooper, P. Heenan, H. Puruntatameri, C. Burgess
Waratah: T. Toma 3, A. Ellis 2, T. Mosquito, C. Barrett, M. Blake, J. Neagle

BEST:
Tiwi: C. Burgess, D. Munkara, J. Monigatti, M. Dunn, R. Tungatalum, J. Puruntatameri
Waratah: N/A

Tiwi Bombers secured its third consecutive victory with a hard-fought 19-point win over Waratah in front of an adoring home crowd. The in form team of the competition, Tiwi maintained a consistent lead throughout the game despite a third quarter test where the margin came to within just over a goal. Having handed Southern Districts its first loss for the year in Round 7, Waratah were unlucky to come up against just as fierce opposition for a second-straight week, but brought it right to the Bombers for the entire contest.

Ross Tungatalum was amongst the goals for Tiwi, joining the in-form Dion Munkara with a bag of three to be named amongst the best as the only two multiple goalkickers. Christian Burgess was judged best afield in his first appearance for the season, with Jason Puruntatameri, Jack Monigatti and Michael Dunn also continuing their consistent form to feature in the votes. For the Warriors, Thomas Toma was their key goalkicker with three, while Andre Ellis was the only other to boot multiple majors. Amongst the goals again were also the likes of Jaxon Neagle, Cameron Barrett and Timothy Mosquito, providing spark and pace forward of centre in the absence of last week’s heroes Michael Newton and Abraham Ankers.

The Bombers’ run of form puts them into equal-fifth, just one game away from this week’s opponents and with a five per cent buffer on sixth place. Waratah hang on to fourth position to remain firmly within the finals race, but will now be sweating on good results coming its way with three contenders breathing down its neck.

 

ST MARYS 4.5 (29)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 11.10 (76)

GOALS:
St Marys: B. Rioli 2, J. Quinn, S. Dann.
Southern Districts: M. Mummery 4, W. Farrer 2, S. Thorne 2, J. Koopman 2, D. McLachlan.

BEST:
St Marys: S. Richardson, M. Musgrove, B. Ah Mat, B. Rioli, T. Saunders, L. Stapleton
Southern Districts: S. Guilhaus, D. Staunton, D. McLachlan, S. Thorne, S. Smith, M. Pemberton

St Marys again failed to earn consecutive wins, falling to a resurgent Southern Districts side keen to prove last week’s shock loss was a mere one-off. It was a slow start, with both sides failing to find the big sticks in the opening term, while the Crocs eventually broke away with three goals to nil in the second quarter to open up a 23-point lead on their goalless opponents. The Saints finally broke their goal drought in the third with two of their own, but couldn’t stop Southern Districts from piling on eight second-half goals to run out comfortable 47-point winners.

Michael Mummery was the star for the Crocs, booting four majors after firing a blank in the previous week. Despite his haul, Mummery missed out on a best slot to the likes of Shane Thorne, who slotted two goals, recent addition Sebastion Guilhaus, and the ever-reliable Dean Staunton. Ben Rioli continues to provide a shining light for the Saints, this week claiming half of his side’s goals – albeit in a low total. Simon Richardson was judged best in the losing side, with Mitch Musgrove finding some form and Braxton Ah Mat putting in another shift alongside Tylah Saunders.

The win sees Southern Districts bounce back from its first loss of the season, maintaining a four-point lead over Nightcliff atop the table with an intimidating percentage of 175. Meanwhile, St Marys find themselves lodged between Tiwi and Palmerston in sixth as one of the three sides with three wins for season 2019.

 

DARWIN BUFFALOES 11.10 (76)
WANDERERS 13.8 (86) 

GOALS:
Darwin: J. Anderson 3, C. Williams 3, J. Stokes 2, J. Anderson, J. Clark, S. Anderson.
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, T. Motlop 2, D. Ferreira 2, J. Priest 2, M. Mununggurritj, L. Patrick, A. Cook.

BEST:
Darwin: J. Anderson, P. Boles, C. Williams, D. Williams, K. Maroney, J. Briston
Wanderers: J. Jeffrey, J. Cubillo, D. Ferreira, S. Gibson, A. Cook

Wanderers pulled off the upset of the round with a defiant 10-point win over third-placed Darwin. The Eagles came out firing with 10 goals to three in the first half setting the base for an impressive victory. The four points wouldn’t come without a challenge though, as the proud Buffaloes side fought back with eight goals to three in the second half, but fell just short of the Eagles’ established margin. Having been beaten resoundingly by Tiwi in the previous round, Darwin look to be in the midst of a surprising mid-season slump.

Sixteen year-old star Joel Jeffrey was outstanding, with his four goals earning him best afield honours. Thomas Motlop and Jobastin Priest were the other multiple goalkickers with two each, while Davin Ferreira produced a play of the round contender with one of his two majors. Ex-Roo and Crow Sam Gibson didn’t manage to hit the scoreboard, but was also named amongst the best alongside Joel Cubillo for Wanderers. Darwin’s best in the loss was Joe Anderson, while Javadd Anderson and Chris Williams both managed to claim bags of three goals to also be thereabouts.

While they picked up a huge result here, the Eagles remain stuck to the bottom of the ladder – one game behind Palmerston, St Marys and Tiwi. Darwin’s second consecutive loss puts them back in the pack somewhat, equal-third with Palmerston and just a game off dropping out of the top four despite their impressive percentage.

Weekend previews: NTFL – Round 7

ROUND 7 of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action sees the battle for ascendancy around the last finals spot heat up, while those in the top three will hope to get back on winning runs and keep tabs on the undefeated Southern Districts.

TIWI BOMBERS v. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi Bombers will be looking to claim a second consecutive win when after breaking its season duck last time out, coming up against a formidable Darwin outfit. The Buffaloes enjoyed a bounce-back victory last round too, overcoming fellow finals contenders Waratah to steer a game clear of the Warriors in third. While it looks a mismatch on paper and ladder position, Tiwi found a groove in their last outing and will have a spring in its step as it faces a Darwin team that is struggling to regain its early season form after hitting a slight speed bump.

The Buffaloes have class on each line, with AFL experience in the form of Joe Anderson and Matt Campbell seeing them through, while ex-Roo Michael Firrito has been a handy recent addition to the back half. The real x-factor on show will come from an in-form Adam Sambono, one of the league’s prime movers who is hot off a best-afield four-goal haul. An exciting clash also looms between two of the NT’s best youngsters in Darwin’s Malcolm Rosas and Tiwi’s Round 6 rising star nominee Jeffrey Simon, who can both win their own ball and stand up against mature bodies. Tiwi will be hoping that its own ex-AFL regular in Austin Wonaeamirri can continue to contribute to the scoreboard, while Simon Munkara will have to do the same up forward with supply from Jason Puruntatameri. Dion Munkara would also be a welcome addition, and could help the Bombers match Darwin’s firepower.

Darwin will be confident of getting back on a winning run here, but the Bombers are always a dangerous opponent and now have that winning feeling. Hopefully it’s a good spectacle to open the round and a TIO Stadium triple-header.

 

WANDERERS v. NIGHTCLIFF
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 5pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers will face a tough task in building on its only win for the season, battling against premiership contenders Nightcliff on Saturday. The Eagles suffered a loss against the improving Palmerston Magpies in their last bout, and with Tiwi posting its first win of the year, now sit bottom of the table. While Nightcliff also narrowly lost at the hands of a dominant Southern Districts side, they have looked a clear superior unit to most of the competition having even taken Darwin out in Round 5.

The consistent firepower of the Tigers forward of centre makes them tricky opposition, with spearhead Trent Melville looking to bounce back to his usual form after a quiet game last time out. The likes of speedy youngster Liam Holt-Fitz, Brodie Filo and Shaun Wilson have also repeatedly featured in the best, and will have to stand up once again if Nightcliff are to make a return statement. Wanderers don’t necessarily have the same potency around the ground, but will look for a spark from Keelan Fejo and Joel Jeffrey with key figure Marlon Motlop out of the side over the last two weeks along with cousin, Shannon and ex-Sun Liam Patrick, who has only played once.

Another mismatch on paper looms in this fixture, and Nightcliff will surly be breathing fire after a tight loss to the Crocs, but Wanderers will hope to put up a good fight here and climb off the bottom, as it searches for its first win since Round 1.

 

PALMERSTON MAGPIES v. ST MARYS
Round 7 – Saturday November 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

A battle for the last finals spot looms in the last fixture of Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, with a confident Palmerston clashing against St Marys. The Saints became Tiwi Bombers’ first victim for season 2019, a loss that would hurt greatly given how St Marys had found form of late and were pushing hard for fifth place. On the other hand, Palmerston managed to string a couple of wins together to pip this weekend’s opponent in terms of ladder position, and look a lively part of the tussle for ascendancy from fourth to sixth.

The Magpies’ key man this year has been Bundoora Bulls stalwart Matthew Dennis, who has put in workmanlike performances in some blown-out losses this year. As their form has turned, the likes of Rodney Baird and the dangerous Davey brothers have stepped up, with goal machine Kyle Emery a constant threat up forward. Hoping to quell Palmerston’s new-found firepower will be Saints veteran Raphael Clarke, who has held down the defensive fort all season. Further up the ground, Gippsland Power product Nathaniel Paredes has been dominant, while even younger talent in Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli should provide a bit of x-factor going forward.

This should be the most hotly contested game of the round, with both sides eager to claim that elusive fifth spot and earn a finals appearance. While Palmerston are the form side, St Marys have match-winners on each line that could prove the difference in a close encounter.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS v. WARATAH
Round 7 – Sunday November 17, 4pm
Norbuilt Oval

Southern Districts will be keen to keep their perfect record in tact when they close out the round against Waratah at Norbuilt Oval. The Crocs have been a class above this season in beating all comers with relative ease, including seeing off their two most dangerous challengers – Darwin, and most recently, Nightcliff. Waratah come in having pushed the Buffaloes all the way last time out, and sit just off the top three as the ‘best of the rest’.

Dean Staunton and Shane Thorne continue to dominate for the Crocs, with draft hopeful Michael Mummery coming into form alongside Charles McAdam. Goalkicking ace Bradley Vallance will also look to bounce back from a goalless return last time out, with the likes of ex-Bomber Leroy Jetta still set to return and provide even more firepower. The key men for Waratah will be Cameron Barrett, who consistently hits the scoreboard alongside Lachlan Collihole and Raven Jolliffe. While they do not do massive damage on the scoreboard, the Warriors have multiple avenues to goal and will need to find them on repeat to match the dangerous Districts lineup.

While this may be a key fixture for Waratah given Palmerston and St Marys are vying for their position in fourth, Southern Districts will be looking to see out yet another victory with as little fuss as possible.