Tag: southern districts

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

2018/19 NTFL Men’s Premier League Grand Final preview

TWO sides remain in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, and we preview tomorrow night’s big clash at TIO Stadium.

NIGHTCLIFF vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, March 16, 7.15pm
TIO Stadium

The final game of the NTFL Men’s Premier League season is finally here, with the top two teams making it through to the decider. Both sides have impressive beltings heading into the match, with Nightcliff destroying Tiwi Bombers by 90 points in the semi-finals, while Southern Districts went five goals better with a 120-point humiliation of the Bombers, reversing the result from a fortnight earlier. During the year, both sides won an encounter against the other, with Southern Districts making it six wins in a row following a 17-point win over Nightcliff in Round 6, while the Tigers had a much more convincing 90-point win over the Crocs in the final round of the regular season. It means the Tigers head into the clash with back-to-back 15-goal victories. They have not lost since January, and that was a one-point defeat at the hands of the Bombers. Nightcliff is the strong favourite in this game, with the Crocs needing to repeat their unbelievable game from the weekend to topple the minor premiers.

Jesse Koopman booted six goals in the preliminary final, but has managed just the three goals in two games against the Tigers. Instead, Michael Mummery has averaged three goals per game in the teams’ two encounters, and was in red-hot form on the weekend with five majors as well. Will Farrer can always cause headaches as he did last weekend, but has just the two majors in the two games against the Tigers. For Nightcliff, Brodie Filo snagging five goals in his two games against the Crocs, while Trent Melville and Liam Holt-Fitz have four from their two head-to-heads. Filo and Simon Deery were named in the best on both occasions for the Tigers, while Crocs’ Clinton Gallio and Mummery have been the ones to cause issues for Nightcliff. The Tigers’ attack has been a talking point in season 2019, with Melville slotting 56 goals from his 19 games, ahead of Holt-Fitz (28), Cameron Ilett (24) and Matthew Bricknell (24).

With both sides boasting impressive attacks, the game will come down to a battle of the midfields, where the side that gets on top will likely be crowned premiers. It is difficult to see Nightcliff stumbling given the Tigers’ recent form, but having not played last weekend, a fast start for the Crocs could be the difference if they can contain Nightcliff for long enough. Once the Tigers get on a roll, it will be hard to stem the flow, but more than anything, spectators will see two terrific attacking sides going head-to-head once again. This time though, there is no turning back and only one winner.

2019 Meetings:

ROUND 18: NIGHTCLIFF 21.13 (139) defeated SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 7.7 (49)

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

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

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

ROUND 6: SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.10 (64) defeated NIGHTCLIFF 7.5 (47)

GOALS:
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 2, M. Mummery 2, W. Farrer, L. Ogden, C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton,
Nightcliff: M. Bricknell, B. Filo, T. Melville, S. Wilson, L. Holt-Fitz, D. Butcher, F. James.

BEST:
Southern Districts: C. Gallio, S. Thorne, D. Staunton, C. McAdam, S. Smith, S. Martin
Nightcliff: L. Holt-Fitz, C. Holmes, D. Bowles, S. Wilson, B. Filo, S. Deery

Southern Districts maintained their perfect record in season 2019 with a strong win over fellow premiership contenders, Nightcliff in the game of the round. Coming off a rousing win over third-placed Darwin, the Tigers were hoping to claim another win over their close table rivals but the Crocs proved too good once again. Having conceded a first break lead, Southern Districts responded well from there, on, chipping away against constant Nightcliff challenges. The margin got out to 17 points in the end, one of the biggest of the game to see it out.

Draft hopeful Michael Mummery was one of two multiple goalkickers on the day alongside Jesse Koopman with two majors each. Clinton Gallio was named best afield in front of the ever-consistent Shane Thorne and Dean Staunton for the Crocs, with all three also finding the goals. Charles McAdam was another to impress, while youngster Liam Holt-Fitz was the best for Nightcliff alongside the likes of Clayton Holmes, Shaun Wilson and Brodie Filo, while goal-machine Trent Melville was down on his usual best but still managed a goal.

The win pits the Crocs two games clear atop the NTFL table, while Nightcliff are their closest challengers, equal second with four wins alongside Darwin.

Weekend wash-up: NTFL – Preliminary final

IT was a record-breaking day in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) preliminary final. For Southern Districts, they earned a spot in the NTFL decider against Nightcliff, racking up the highest preliminary final winning margin on record. Even more remarkably, turning the tables on the Tiwi Bombers who defeated the Crocs just a fortnight earlier. It was a day to forget for the Bombers who suffered back-to-back finals losses combining 210 points on what had been a terrific season. But now just two teams remained and it would be Southern Districts who would have a crack at Nightcliff in the grand final next weekend.

From the start, Southern Districts looked to be in control and a different side to the one that dropped the first round final to the Bombers. Both sides were able to get on the board in the opening term, with Tiwi squandering some opportunities with two goals from six scoring shots, while the Crocs were almost perfect with four from five to take a nine-point advantage into the first break.

The second term saw Southern Districts begin to put the foot down in what was eventually a memorable win, as the Crocs piled on four goals to one. They were the ones to miss a few second quarter opportunities, kicking four behinds, while the Bombers made good on their one chance from Ross Tungalatum. The defensive pressure dropped off after the main break, with the Bombers’ scoring cut right down aside from a one-minute patch where Patrick Heenan – his second of the contest – and Austin Wonaeamirri got on the end of goals to reduce the deficit to seven goals.

That was where the hope ended for the Bombers however as the Crocs stormed home to kick 13 unanswered goals from the 16th minute of the third term to the final siren. Jesse Koopman was unstoppable up forward with six majors, named best on ground for his haul. William Farrer converted five opportunities including the opening goal of the game and a cheeky mid-air shot in the third term, while Michael Mummery also booted a bag of five.

The trio was among 11 individual goal kickers for the Cros, including Josiah Farrer and Ed Barlow who were also named in the best, as were Steven Stewart and Sebastion Guilhaus. The Crocs now set their sights on Nightcliff next weekend with the Tigers hardly putting a foot wrong this season. The top two sides have made it through to the NTFL decider, and after both had thumping wins to earn their spot, it will be interesting to see how the game plays out.

TIWI BOMBERS 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.7 | 5.10 (40)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.1 | 8.5 | 14.6 | 25.10 (160)

GOALS:


Tiwi: P. Heenan 2, H. Puruntatameri, R. Tungatalum, A. Wonaeamirri.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman 6, M. Mummery 5, W. Farrer 5, J. Brennan 2, C. McAdam, R. O”Brien, D. Staunton, B. Schwarze, E. Barlow, S. Thorne, J. Farrer.

BEST:


Tiwi: Not supplied.
Southern Districts: J. Koopman, S. Stewart, S. Guilhaus, W. Farrer, E. Barlow, J. Farrer

Weekend preview: NTFL – Preliminary Final

PRELIMINARY finals action is set to hit the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League as Tiwi and Southern Districts do battle once again for the chance to meet Nightcliff in the big dance.

TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-9) v. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5)
Preliminary Final – Saturday March 9, 7pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Southern Districts 2, Tiwi Bombers 2

Rd 3: Southern Districts 13.13 (91) defeated Tiwi 10.7 (67)
Rd 10: Tiwi 11.10 (76) defeated by Southern Districts 19.12 (126)
Rd 14: Southern Districts 8.9 (57) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (79)
QF: Southern Districts 10.5 (65) defeated by Tiwi 13.8 (86)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2 (1-1 in finals)
Tiwi: 3-2 (1-1 in finals)

Tiwi and Southern Districts are set for their second finals clash in three weeks as they play off for a spot in the NTFL grand final on Saturday. Both sides have now taken full advantage of their second finals chance, as the Crocs bounced back to knock Waratah out of contention and Tiwi went down heavily to a roaring Nightcliff side. The premiership dream is still well and truly alive for both sides despite earlier speed bumps, and the history between the two teams this season suggests it will be a lively encounter. The Crocs accounted twice for Tiwi comfortably enough early in the regular season, but the head-to-head ledger now sits level as the Bombers got their own back with wins over their weekend opponents in Round 14 and the qualifying final. The chance to rectify those recent losses will play as motivation for Southern Districts, on top of the opportunity to play off and defend its 2018 premiership. With identical form lines in almost every way, it is hard to split the sides as they stand, and it truly looked like Tiwi had peaked at the right time before its massive loss last week. The Crocs have been similarly shakey in big games, going down to each finals contender at least once this year despite a more consistent season overall. Both sides will lean on their firepower forward of centre, with Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery spearheading the Crocs attack, while Jason Puruntatameri and Austin Wonaeamirri come into the game with 17 finals goals between them. Given the free-scoring nature of these two up to this point, expect some fireworks and a cracking contest as they put it all on the line for the chance to play off in a grand final.

Weekend preview: NTFL Women’s – Grand Final

IT has been a long journey for both Waratah and Southern Districts. Waratah is a powerhouse which holds a dominant winning record over the past seven years. They were defeated in the 2016/2017 season but now are looking for back to back premierships as they head into Saturday. The Crocs, on the other hand, will be making their first Grand Final appearance in history.

The Crocs entered the women’s competition in the 2013/2014 season but have not seen a finals series until now. After years of underwhelming seasons, the Crocs enlisted coach Tarmon Elliott to turn the team around. Elliot has delivered in spades by bringing a strong culture, new recruits, and possibly their first flag. After defeating Palmerston, Southern Districts could not be more ready to face Waratah for the ultimate prize.

WARATAH V SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
TIO Stadium
Saturday, March 5 4:30pm

This match will be like a game of chess. What makes Waratah and Southern Districts different than other teams is their players have the ability to shift into different roles. This makes matchups hard to predict in this battle of tactics. Tayla Thorn was elite down back but can also play in the midfield or forward. However, considering the dangers of Amy Chittick and Lauren O’Shea, she will most likely stay in defence. She will be well supported though by Maria Moussa, who had a blinder last weekend with the most defensive rebounds for Districts.

In the Warriors defence Rebecca Pryer, Isabelle Rapson, and Lisa Roberts will make it difficult for the Crocs to score. Kelsie Patterson kicked three majors last week but it could have been more if she kicked straight. Tahlia Holtze had a very quiet game last week, but the Districts will need her to have her kicking boots on to breach the Tah’s defensive wall.

The fight in the ruck contest may have Waratah at a disadvantage. Ebony Miller and Indy Sleeth might as well be tall midfielders as they cover the ground exceptionally well and are proven goal kickers. Joanna Kolodziej and Julianna Kerinaiua will have a tough fight in this contest.

As for the midfield battle, there could be as many as twelve different rovers rotating throughout the game. Lateesha Jeffrey and Bella Clarke may push up or back from the centre, but Megan Craufurd is the constant tagger that shuts down key midfielders. She may have the job on Sharona Bishop who is in fine form. Madeline Gault is similar to Craufurd but plays more of a run-with role rather than a shutdown tagger. Gault would be a perfect opponent for Jeffrey if she plays in the midfield.

Waratah has the advantage in this match as many players on their list have seen at least one premiership. Lisa Roberts and O’Shea have been in this position six times for five flags. The Crocs are a very different story, unlike their opponent, this level of competition is completely new to them having qualified for the first time. They were the underdog last week and beat the odds, and defeated Waratah in their last outing. They just need to dig in one more time and given it is the Grand Final, and anything can happen.

TEAMS:

Waratah

B: 18.Molly Cooper 6.Rebecca Pryer 19.Alicia Stanley
HB: 15.Isabelle Rapson 10.Alysha Healy 13.Lisa Roberts
C: 3.Peita Starcevic 2.Madeline Gault 23.Pippa Cox
HF: 17.Tarryn O’Hehir 4.Sue Nalder 5.Breanna Martin
F: 9.Amy Chittick 22.Lauren O’Shea 12.Sherayn Puruntatameri
R: 7.Joanna Kolodziej 28.Trish Muller 8.Sharona Bishop
Int: 29.Madeline Campbell 14.Jade De Melo 16.Julieanna Kerinaiua
24.Alexandra Harrison-Wolff 20.Amie Love 1.Angela Perkins

Southern Districts

B: 22.Rachele Mchugh 8.Maria Moussa 28.Tess Hanna
HB:14.Tessa W 2.Tayla Thorn 6.Charles Deegan
C: 30.Donna Reed 9.Lateesha Jeffrey 25.Chelsea Pember
HF:17.Chiarah Corpos 20.Holly Engelhardt 11.Maili Clarke
F: 5.Tahlia Holtze 4.Indy Sleeth 35.Kelsey Patterson
R: 3.Ebony Miller 10.Megan Craufurd 15.Bella Clarke
Int:21.Tyler Thornton 26.Rhiannon Busch 19.Danielle Opperman
32.Nicole Paterson 1.Kimberley Mccouat 27.Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill

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 Previews: NTFL – Week 2 finals

JUST four teams remain in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League division with Nightcliff and Tiwi Bombers fighting for a spot in the decider. In the other game, Southern Districts takes on Waratah to remain in contention for the 2018/19 premiership.

NIGHTCLIFF (1st, 15-3) v. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd, 9-9)
Semi Final – Saturday, March 2, 4:30pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Nightcliff 2, Tiwi 1

Rd 4: Tiwi 14.13 (97) defeated by Nightcliff 22.12 (144)
Rd 9: Nightcliff 12.11 (83) defeated Tiwi 10.16 (76)
Rd 15: Nightcliff 10.12 (72) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (73)

Last-five form:
Nightcliff: 4-1
Tiwi: 4-1, 1-0 in finals

The two form sides of the competition are set to do battle in a mouth watering semi final clash to open a super Saturday of NTFL post-season action. After a week off, minor premiers Nightcliff play host to a red-hot Tiwi outfit that knocked off reigning premiers, Southern Districts last week. The Tigers have looked almost invincible at times this year, earning a double-chance having beaten every other side and crushing Southern Districts in the final regular-season round. Their 4-1 form line is identical to the Bombers though, and if they have showed any sign of weakness over the back half of the year, it was in their Round 15 loss against this weekend’s opponents. Having only gone down to teams still in finals contention, not much has stood in the way of Nightcliff to this point. That could all chance at the hands of Tiwi this week though, with the Bombers chomping at the bit to build on last week’s big win over the Crocs. A team which rises for the big occasions, Tiwi has built its remarkable late-season run on a lethal forward line and some ex-AFL experience through the midfield. Nightcliff boasts answers in both facets, with the competition’s leading goal kicker in Trent Melville and a midfield mix of experience and youthful exuberance making for an evenly poised match-up. With a spot in the grand final up for grabs, expect some free-flowing action and a show of fireworks inside both forward 50s as these two deadly sides throw down the gauntlet as the point end of the season approaches.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5) v. WARATAH (4th, 9-9)
Semi Final – Saturday, March 2, 7pm
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head:
Southern Districts 1, Waratah 1

Rd 7: Southern Districts 9.15 (69) defeated by Waratah 14.7 (91)
Rd 17: Waratah 10.3 (63) defeated by Southern Districts 14.15 (99)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2, 0-1 in finals
Waratah: 4-1, 1-0 in finals

Southern Districts faces a tough task in its attempt to bounce back from consecutive losses, with a surging Waratah side standing in the way of a possible preliminary final berth. Second place in the regular season, the Crocs backed up from a strong 2018 season where they dropped just one game and deservedly lifted the cup. While season 2019 has painted a different story, Southern Districts has remains a team to beat and has a wealth of valuable finals experience. Waratah has been just as consistent as a top-five feature this season, and lays claim to wins over fellow finals contenders in the last five weeks – including its most recent double demolition of Darwin. The two sides also have an interesting bit of history between them this season, as the Warriors handed the Crocs their first loss for the season back in Round 7 – a loss which the reigning premiers managed to rectify in the penultimate home and away round. Despite the overall scene set in 2019, Waratah could well be considered favourites coming into this clash, but its most recent loss came at the hands of Southern Districts, and that has to play on the Warriors’ minds. A typically robust side, Waratah’s usual even spread of goal kickers has expanded in recent weeks, but will be tested against the might of a dangerous Crocs attack that has produced the second-best total score this year. Either way this battle falls, it is set to be another entertaining one, with one side hitting form at the right time and another looking to replicate what they produced earlier in the year.

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.

Weekend Previews: NTFL – Finals Week 1

WITH the regular season come and gone, finals time is upon us in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League. While there already seems to be two form sides across this week’s Elimination and Qualifying finals, nothing is certain as each team puts it all on the line for a chance at ultimate glory.

WARATAH (4th, 9-9) v. DARWIN BUFFALOES (5th, 8-10)
Elimination Final – Saturday, February 23
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head (1-1):
Rd 6: Darwin 12.11 (83) defeated Waratah 10.10 (70)
Rd 18: Waratah 19.9 (123) defeated Darwin 7.5 (47)

Last-five form:
Waratah: 3-2
Darwin: 1-4

Waratah and Darwin will both be hoping to keep their seasons alive in a high-stakes elimination final to open the 2019 post-season. In what is an immediate rematch of their Round 18 clash, there will be little margin for error for either team as they look to make good on being entrenched in the top five all year. The Warriors will be quietly confident of repeating their Round 18 effort, having downed an out of form Buffs side by a massive 76 points. Darwin’s late-season form has been a worry for a number of weeks leading up to this point, losing its last four games – including bouts against the bottom two teams – to end the home and away fixtures. Coming into the finals with a negative record would be unusual if the competition were not so even, and one would be forgiven for forgetting that Darwin were once considered a top contender this year having beaten Southern Districts twice. On the flip side, Waratah has been a far more consistent figure in the finals race, remaining in the top five from Round 2 to 17 in a season of solidity. With the Buffs defence proving leaky of late, Henry Kerinaiua (seven goals in two games) will be looking to build on a fruitful couple of weeks and two solid outings against Darwin during the regular season. Darwin’s once revered firepower remains a threat too, with the likes of Adam Sambono boasting a four-goal haul against the Warriors, and young star Malcolm Rosas showing flashes of brilliance inside 50. That typical Darwin flair gives them a chance against any side as the Buffaloes have already proven, but the consistency of Waratah usually bodes well for a strong finals output. Either way, Darwin will be keen to bring its A-game and prove Waratah’s big win last time out merely was a one-off. The loser of the day’s other game awaits the winner of this one in the semis, with a chance to progress to the preliminary round up for grabs.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (2nd, 13-5) v. TIWI BOMBERS (3rd 9-9)
Qualifying Final – Saturday, February 23
TIO Stadium

2019 head-to-head (2-1):
Rd 3: Southern Districts 13.13 (91) defeated Tiwi 10.7 (67)
Rd 10: Tiwi 11.10 (76) defeated by Southern Districts 19.12 (126)
Rd 14: Southern Districts 8.9 (57) defeated by Tiwi 12.7 (79)

Last-five form:
Southern Districts: 3-2
Tiwi: 4-1

Southern Districts and Tiwi do battle on Saturday to determine who will face top side, Nightcliff in the semi finals for a chance to automatically qualify for the big dance. The Bombers snatched third spot from the grasp of Waratah in Round 18, with a resounding 87-point win over St Marys granting them the required percentage advantage. It has been a sensational turnaround for the third-place side after starting the year 0-5, going on to win three-straight games and eventually, four of its last five. While the Crocs have slipped up a couple of times of late, they have not released their grip on a top-two spot since Round 2, losing only to each fellow finals contender (twice against Darwin). The firepower in each attack is what stands out between the two sides, so the respective defences are set to play key roles in deciding the battle. Southern Districts has the edge in both departments given its superior win/loss record, conceding 400 less points overall and also scoring 78 more. On the day, the likes of Croc livewires Jess Koopman (34 goals, seven against Bombers) and Michael Mummery (26 goals) will hope to outgun Tiwi’s Ross Tungatalum (40 goals, eight against Crocs), who has six hauls of over four goals this year. Nathan Djerrkura has also been a welcome late-edition for Tiwi, boosting the engine room. He faces a battle with fellow ex-AFL listed player, John Butcher as part of an overall midfield battle that should provide some highlights. The recent form of Tiwi is hard to ignore, but the collective two seasons the reigning premiers have compiled is nothing to scoff at, and they will be keen to have something to show for it. Expect fireworks here with a whole lot to prove on each end, with either side keen to get one back over Nightcliff next week.

Weekend preview: NTFL – Round 16

THERE are three rounds remaining in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, and with one team already eliminated, another is on the verge of befalling the same fate. The big clash is the fourth and fifth placed sides opening the round in a Super Saturday at TIO Stadium, which could have ripple effects for the games later in the day.

WARATAH vs. TIWI BOMBERS
Saturday, February 2, 2.30pm
TIO Stadium

In the clear standout match of the round, fourth placed Tiwi Bombers look to continue their hot form with a win against fifth placed Waratah in the first game of a Triple Header at TIO Stadium. The Bombers have stunned the top two sides back-to-back and have shot up from finals hopefuls to almost booking a spot in the top five. This fixure is a metaphorical “eight-point” game with just percentage – and 0.56 per cent at that – separating the sides. For the winner, fourth place is guaranteed, while for the loser, they will finish the round in fifth. For the Bombers, it is a chance to keep in touch with third placed Darwin and also gain some breathing space on Waratah, and given Tiwi’s form, it is hard to look past them. Waratah has slipped in the last eight weeks, having won just three games – all against the bottom two sides. They will be wary of Palmerston closing the gap on them as well and the Warriors will be keen to close that up. Since a shock loss to cellar dwellers, Wanderers, Tiwi has won four consecutive matches including a 102-point belting of the Eagles just two rounds after their loss.

 

WANDERERS vs. DARWIN BUFFALOES
Saturday, February 2, 5pm
TIO Stadium

In the second game of the round, bottom of the table Wanderers cannot make finals, but they can certainly spoil the party for other sides. They take on Darwin Buffaloes in the evening game at TIO Stadium, with the Buffaloes having everything to lose. A large enough win to Tiwi or Waratah in the opening game would add extra pressure to the third placed side, knowing that percentage would come into play. Win, and they ensure they keep breathing space on Tiwi and Waratah. Lose, and they could sink to fourth, so complacency cannot afford to drift into their minds, especially given they dropped a very winnable game against St Marys last weekend. Two of Wanderers’ four wins have come in the past five rounds, and will be looking to add another to the total by the end of the match.

 

NIGHTCLIFF vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES
Saturday, February 2, 7.30pm
TIO Stadium

After earning a bit of breathing space in top spot the week prior, a loss to the red hot Tiwi Bombers put a slight chink in Nightcliff’s minor premiership armour, now sitting just four points clear of second placed Southern Districts. Palmerston Magpies have shown to be anything but easybeats, and expect them to take it up to Nightcliff, more than capable of a upset. Under lights at TIO Stadium seems the perfect location for an unlikely win, and toppling the Tigers will give the Magpies confidence heading into the remaining few rounds of the season. Palmerston has its own goals to achieve from the match, with victory keeping the Magpies in touch with the top five. Given fourth faces fifth, the Magpies know a victory against the Tigers will see just percentage separating them from a finals position. With two rounds remaining after this weekend, a win to Nightcliff and an upset loss for Southern Districts would all but guarantee the Tigers top spot.

 

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS vs. ST MARYS
Sunday, February 3, 4pm
Norbuilt Oval

In the final game of the round, second placed Southern Districts will hope to take care of business and keep Nightcliff on their toes heading into the final fortnight. They cannot take St Marys lightly, after the Saints knocked off Darwin last weekend, and whose finals hopes remain on life support. St Marys simply have to win their last three games and hope results go their way with both Waratah/Tiwi Bombers and Palmerston to sneak into the top five. Make no mistake, a loss here and it’s curtains on season 2019 for the NTFL’s most successful club. There’s the dangling carrot of finals for St Marys, but an equally tasty carrot of a week off for the Crocs if they can catch Nightcliff in the run home. No doubt both sides will have cast their eye upon the Round 18 clash, which could well determine the minor premiers. But given Nightcliff plays Wanderers next weekend, Southern Districts cannot lose this game, especially with a very competitive Waratah waiting for them in Round 17.