Tag: trent melville

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 13

THE Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League season returned over the weekend, and while the opening match of the round between Tiwi Bombers and Waratah was postponed due to a potential COVID-19 concern, the rest of the round was complete on a super Saturday of matches. The top three sides all came away with confident wins, with ladder-leading Nightcliff retaining top spot on the table after another excellent effort.

WANDERERS | 3.2 | 5.4 | 8.9 | 13.13 (91)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 2.2 | 4.3 | 6.3 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:

Wanderers: D. McFarlane 3, J. Cubillo 2, S. Mannagh 2, D. Thompson, J. Cubillo, B. Hodgson, M. Totham, E. Simpson, L. Patrick.
Districts: T. Carroll 2, J. Ross 2, D. Robertson, M. Duffy, L. Kiel.

BEST:

Wanderers: D. Thompson, B. Hodgson, D. McFarlane, S. Mannagh, M. Totham, J. Cubillo
Districts: L. Kiel, L. McGregor, J. Tsitas, C. McAdam, D. Robertson, Z. Smith

Wanderers added another win to their tally to start off the tail end of their 2020 season, and while the side certainly bounced back from their disappointing loss to St Mary’s prior to the break, the Muk Muks were well and truly kept accountable by the Districts in this encounter. Only staying ahead at half-time by a couple more scoring opportunities, the Districts’ defence kept up well with the Wanderers’ firepower but ultimately could not withstand the pressure throughout the entire contest with the first and second halves telling of the final result. An eight goal to three second half told the true tale of the match, with a flurry of multiple goalkickers allowing the Wanderers to maintain control under pressure as the close affair finished with a solid 45-point margin and win number nine in the books. Dray Thompson and Brydan Hodgson were listed amongst the bests for the Muk Muks, both booting a goal apiece to assist the likes of Dane McFarlane (three goals), Joshua Cubillo and Shaun Mannagh (both two), while for the Districts it was the efforts of primary goalkickers, Travis Carroll and Jonathan Ross, aided by Luke Kiel and Liam McGregor that saw the side flourish under pressure in the second half.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES | 0.3 | 3.4 | 5.4 | 8.6 (54)
ST MARY’S | 5.1 | 6.4 | 9.7 | 11.12 (78)

GOALS:

Palmerston: T. Kunoth 2, T. Lui 2, A. Davey, S. Lampton, R. Davey.
St Mary’s: J. Calder 4, N. Paredes 2, B. Tedcastle, N. Yarran, B. Grenfell, R. Smith, J. Cheek.

BEST:

Palmerston: 
St Mary’s: J. Geary, N. Yarran, J. Calder, D. Landt, M. Wilkinson, A. Long

While Palmerston put in a tough effort against St Mary’s, it was not enough in this encounter with the Saints’ first quarter showing of five goals to nil seeing the side take control and not relinquish easy scoring opportunities from there. That being said, the Magpies certainly bit their way back into the contest consistently, never allowing the Saints to really pull away with a convincing lead and biting at the heels of the second-ranked side. Tight defence from the Magpies was not enough to control proceedings with little going the side’s way in the first term, unable to convert off opportunities inside 50 while the Saints seemed to have the ball on a string up forward, applying plenty of scoreboard pressure through Jackson Calder, who booted a goal per quarter to finish with four majors, and Nate Peredes out the front with two. A flurry of individual goalkickers also plied their trade for the Saints, while Jackson Geary and Nicholas Yarran were listed amongst the best alongside Calder. For the Saints, Toshie Kunoth and Tyrrell Lui booted two apiece to reduce the margin.

DARWIN BUFFALOES | 1.1 | 2.2 | 5.6 | 5.10 (40)
NIGHTCLIFF | 9.2 | 17.3 | 17.3 | 20.7 (127)

GOALS:

Darwin: B. Foster 3, N. Lowden, M. Campbell.
Nightcliff: K. Emery 5, T. Melville 3, B. Filo 2, J. Bowen, A. Jorgensen, A. Moniz Wakefield, P. Wills, H. Drogemuller, D. Butcher, C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, J. Kickett, M. Rivett.

BEST:

Darwin: 
Nightcliff: C. Ilett, T. Boyd, J. Bowen, D. Brew, A. Moniz Wakefield, K. Emery

A first half blitz from Nightcliff well and truly set up the top side for a solid win against the fifth-ranked Buffaloes, and while the home side well and truly fronted up after the half-time buzzer, it just was not enough to contend with the powerful Nightcliff forwards who utilised every opportunity inside 50, and for the most part, efficiently and accurately. While the Buffaloes certainly redeemed themselves in the second half, booting 3.8 to Nightcliff’s 3.4, it was not enough against a hugely powerful side, which saw 13 individual goalkickers. For the Buffs, a three-goal haul from Brodie Foster helped immensely, while Nightcliff’s Kyle Emery (five goals), Trent Melville (three) and Cameron Ilett showcased plenty of intensity in the huge outing. Nightcliff’s winning streak continues on their way to back-to-back premierships with this encounter taking the side’s win count to three straight following their Round 10 bye with the Wanderers, while the Buffaloes remain seated just outside the top four and trailing the leading sides.

Photo by Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Midseason review: Darwin, Nightcliff, Palmerston, Southern Districts

WITH the NTFL Men’s Premier League season coming to a halt over the Christmas period Draft Central casts an eye over how the teams are tracking, some of their key contributors throughout the season so far and how they are shaping up for the rest of the season.

Darwin Buffaloes

Position: 5th
Win-loss-draw: 7-5-0
Percentage: 113.77%

The Buffaloes are well within touching distance of the top four, sitting just outside based on percentage and will be eager to climb further up the ladder to better position themselves for finals. They have had a relatively inconsistent run of form recently but have also been faced with a couple of top contenders in Nightcliff and St Mary’s. The Buffs will head into the break on a high collecting a strong win over Tiwi Bombers to cap off the 2020 part of their season and will be preparing for the top of the table Nightcliff in the opening game of 2021.

Brodie Foster has been the main avenue to goal for Darwin, nailing 36 majors from his 11 outings while Matt Campbell has also proven to be a livewire up forward with his ability to slot them from anywhere and notching up 23 for the year so far. Ishmael Palmer and Jarrod Stokes have also showcased their worth with 17 and 15 majors respectively highlighting the number of options they have when going forward. Ryan Pendlebury has proven to be a smooth mover for the Buffs while Joseph Collinson can hit both the scoreboard and the bests making him a crucial cog in their armour.

Nightcliff

Position: 1st
Win-loss-draw: 9-2-1
Percentage: 142.90%

Sitting pretty on top of the table, Nightcliff have won nine of their 12 games this season but have had a bit of a chequered run of form in their last five outings notching up three wins, a draw and a loss to the Southern Districts. They boast a commanding percentage, which provides some much needed separation between them and the second placed St Mary’s who are hot on their heels. On return, Nightcliff are faced with Darwin Buffaloes making for an exciting battle.

When looking at their key standouts it is hard to go past the services of Kyle Emery who has been a star up forward with his 38 goals from 12 games, leading the goalkicking tally for the squad. Cameron Ilett has also featured highly on the goalscoring front, booting 28 majors from his 11 appearances while the next closest is Liam Holt-Fitz and Trent Melville with the pair putting on 15 goals apiece. Aside from scoreboard impact Dominic Brew has proven to be a force to be reckoned with appearing in the bests eight times while Ilett has displayed his ability to have a regular presence across the ground frequently named in the bests for his efforts. Other key contributors in Ryan Mu, Mack Rivett and Thomas Boyd are just a few names to keep an eye out for when play returns next year given their ability to have an impact on the course of a game and ply their trade effectively for the top of the table side.

Palmerston

Position: 7th
Win-loss-draw: 2-10-0
Percentage: 61.01%

It has been a difficult season for the Magpies who have only managed to muster up two wins for the year and suffered a number of hefty defeats. In fact Palmerston has only won, one of their past five games and that victory was against the bottom placed Bombers. Despite having strong moments, the Magpies have been unable to maintain that same pressure and presence for a full four quarters as shown through their win-loss ratio. Unfortunately it will not get any easier when they return in 2021 up against St Mary’s who are in hot form.

The scoring options are somewhat limited however Toshie Kunoth has put his hand up to steer the ship throughout the season with his 15 majors while he has been ably assisted by the likes of Nigel Lockyer Jnr who has booted 13 goals across his nine games. The scoring drops off after that with the next best Aiden McAdam with six. In terms of consistent performers Eric Guthrie is up there registering nine best on grounds while Matthew Dennis has also accumulated nine. Rohan Armstrong is another commanding force for the Magpies as is Christopher Williams with the two capable ball winners.

Southern Districts

Position: 6th
Win-loss: 5-7-0
Percentage: 103.56%

Although it might not have been the start Southern Districts were after there are still plenty of positives to take out of their season notching up five wins, with two of them coming in their past five outings, one against Nightcliff and the other against the Magpies. They have struggled to string together consecutive wins but are still somewhat in the hunt if they find the right mix and build a strong backend of the season. Their campaign kicks off against the third placed Wanderers when play resumes in January.

Looking at goalkickers for the Crocs and it is Andrew Boseley that holds the mantle as number one with 19 goals from his 12 appearances while Jay Dahlhaus has been influential since joining the side with his 12 majors. Luke Kiel is a handy goalscoring option boasting 12 goals for the season while Billy Rolfe and James Tsitas have managed 10 goals apiece for Southern Districts. When it comes to reliable performers it is hard to go past the likes of Charles McAdam and Jesse Clark with the duo recording seven bests each. Dean Staunton is not far off with six while Dahlhaus and Kiel are also heavily influential with ball in hand.

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 11

BIG wins were the order of the day in Round 11 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League, as three of the four games were decided by over 50 points. While Wanderers and Southern Districts beat up on the bottom two sides, Nightcliff was back to its brutal best against fellow top five contender, Darwin, while the closest game of the round saw St Mary’s edge Waratah by an even four goals. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

WANDERERS | 6.2 | 14.3 | 19.5 | 23.6 (144)
TIWI BOMBERS | 2.2 | 5.5 | 9.10 | 13.13 (91)

GOALS:

Wanderers: B. Eddy 9, S. Bates 3, S. Tipiloura 3, J. Motlop 3, E. Simpson 2, J. Cubillo, D. Braun, M. Motlop
Tiwi: A. Sambono 3, N. Ebinger 2, T. Taurua, B. Kantilla, J. Munkara, R. Tungatalum, J. Tipiloura, P. Heenan, A. Tipungwuti, L. Gill-Renouf

BEST:

Wanderers: B. Newman, B. Eddy, D. McFarlane, S. Bates, B. O’Connell, J. Cubillo
Tiwi: J. Monigatti, F. Carroll, M. De Wit, A. Sambono, A. Tipungwuti

A clinical Wanderers side momentarily moved to top spot with its 53-point thrashing of Tiwi on Saturday afternoon, spearheaded by Brett Eddy‘s nine-goal haul. The Muk Muks were already almost nine goals clear by half time, a lead which was sustained come the final siren as their 23.6 (144) easily trumped Tiwi’s 13.13 (91), despite there only being a difference of three scoring shots between the sides. The likes of Beau O’Connell and Josh Cubillo worked to supply Wanderers’ eight individual scorers, which also included Simon Bates (three goals) and debutant Jesse Motlop, who also snared three majors and is a Fremantle NGA prospect for next year. Adam Sambono matched the feat for Tiwi as the Bombers’ main source of inspiration in the front half, while Mason De Wit was kept busy down back and Fletcher Carroll had plenty to do alongside Adam Tipungwuti in midfield.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 8.2 | 13.3 | 14.5 | 16.10 (106)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS:

Districts: J. Ross 4, A. Boseley 2, B. Vallance 2, J. Tsitas, M. Bowden, B. Rolfe, J. Dahlhaus, L. Kiel, J. Farrar, D. Staunton, M. McLinden
Palmerston: T. Kunoth 2, R. Armstrong, N. Lockyer Jnr, C. Williams

BEST:

Districts: D. Staunton, J. Bailey, J. Clark, D. Abbott, C. McAdam, J. Ross
Palmerston: E. Guthrie, M. Dennis, N. Lockyer Jnr, R. Warfe, C. Williams

An eight-goal to two first term set up Southern Districts’ 73-point trouncing of Palmerston on Saturday, quickly rectifying last week’s disappointing display. The Crocs booted 13 of their 16 goals in the first half, with just five goals managed between the two sides after the main break as the 10-goal margin took the sting out of the contest. In the end, the 16.10 (106) to 5.3 (33) result put Districts back in the finals hunt and distanced the bottom two from the leading pack. Jonathon Ross led the Crocs’ scoring effort with four majors, supported well by another 10 individual goalkickers. Senior heads Dean Staunton and Charlie McAdam were also integral to the victory, with the latter shifting back to defence with aplomb. Eric Guthrie and Matthew Dennis were among Palmerston’s best, with Nigel Lockyer Jnr lively up forward and Toshie Kunoth booting two goals.

ST MARY’S | 2.4 | 5.7 | 9.9 | 12.12 (84)
WARATAH | 2.2 | 5.4 | 7.7 | 8.12 (60)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: N. Paredes 3, J. Landt 3, R. Smith 2, J. Calder, J. Cheek, S. Edwards, B. Tedcastle
Waratah: L. Dunn 3, W. Collis, C. Searle, J. Sutton, J. Cattanach, R. Turnbull

BEST:

St Mary’s: A. Long, K. Parnell, D. Andrews , M. Wilkinson, J. Landt, R. Smith
Waratah: J. Stevens, L. Dunn, J. Cattanach, A. Kirby, M. O’Donnell, R. Turnbull

St Mary’s extended its winning streak to five with a 24-point victory over Waratah on Saturday evening, keeping the Saints within striking distance of the top two. Waratah kept within striking distance at TIO Stadium despite trailing at every break, even steaming ahead at the start of the third term. But St Mary’s ground level intent and confident use from the back half allowed for a quick turnaround in a game played with finals-like spirit, finishing 12.12 (84) to 8.12 (60) in the Saints’ favour. The likes of Nate Paredes and Jack Landt again found plenty of the ball for the victors and compounded their impact by also snaring three goals apiece. Lynden Dunn was Waratah’s big inclusion this week and had an early impact up forward with two majors, before he also finished with three. Callum Searle and Jack Cattanach came up with clutch goals for the Warriors, but it proved too little in the end.

NIGHTCLIFF | 6.3 | 13.5 | 17.9 | 19.15 (129)
DARWIN | 1.0 | 1.3 | 3.5 | 4.10 (34)

GOALS:

Nightcliff: T. Melville 3, C. Ilett 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, A. Moniz-Wakefield 2, B. Filo 2, D. Brew 2, R. Mu 2, K. Emery, K. Riley, A. Jorgensen
Darwin: B. Foster 2, D. Kaipara, M. Coombes

BEST:

Nightcliff: B. Filo, J. Bowen, R. Mu, A. Moniz-Wakefield, T. Boyd, D. Brew
Darwin: B. Stokes, K. Maroney, M. Kennedy, L. McKenzie, R. Pendlebury

Nightcliff returned to its imposing best at an ideal time to thrash Darwin by 95 points on home turf, ensuring the reigning premiers hold onto top spot for at least another week. The 19.15 (129) to 4.10 (34) scoreline was indicative of Nightcliff’s dominance around the ball and Darwin’s impotence forward of centre, with the Tigers taking full toll to see their foes planted to fifth spot. Dynamic veteran Cam Ilett was again a force up forward and slotted three majors, a feat matched by Trent Melville and aided early by Kyle Emery. Best afield player Brodie Filo also hit the scoreboard as one of 10 Nightcliff goalkickers. Brodie Foster was Darwin’s most impactful player as he bagged a couple of majors, with Bradley Stokes also stepping up as Jarrod Stokes was sighted mostly up forward – contributing to a lack of momentum from the Buffs’ midfield.

Featured Image: Daly Andrews gets a kick away for St Mary’s | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 8

THE NTFL Men’s Premier League finals frontrunners will look to continue ticking over their win columns, with three of the top five sides set to take on teams on the outer. Meanwhile, Darwin and Waratah lock horns in the closest clash on ladder position, rounding out a full Saturday of action and the TIO Stadium triple-header. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-7) vs. St Mary’s (4th, 4-3)
Saturday November 21, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi and St Mary’s are set to meet for the second time this season when they do battle at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Saints notched their first win for the campaign back in Round 3 against the Bombers, trumping their rivals by 51 points at the same venue. Since, they have improved to 4-3 and climbed into finals contention, while Tiwi remains winless after seven games despite showing glimpses of form. Saints spearhead Jackson Paine looks like missing this clash, leaving Jackson Calder to headline the forward 50. The Bombers should have plenty of firepower with Ross Tungatalum and Austin Wonaeamirri named on the same attacking line, while the likes of Nathan Scagliarini and Harley Puruntatameri are no stranger to the goals. In midfield, Nate Paredes and Shaun Edwards will have their hands full with Tiwi’s Fletcher Carroll and Adam Tipungwuti, while Mason De Wit will be the Bombers’ defensive driver, much like Dylan Landt for the Saints.

Wanderers (2nd, 6-1) vs. Palmerston (7th, 1-6)
Saturday November 21, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Wanderers’ push for top spot continues as the Muk Muks take on Palmerston at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. The 6-1 Eagles have proven one of the competition’s most improved sides over the first seven rounds, and have the wood over Palmerston having won by 48 points in their Round 4 clash. For all the Magpies’ promise, they currently languish in seventh with just one win on the board, coming against bottom-placed Tiwi. But some positive news for Palmerston sees Eric Guthrie free to play after an appearance at the tribunal, which he escaped with a reprimand. Aaron and Alwyn Davey are also poised to take the field, while Sandy Brock‘s return to the backline will be a welcome one. Wanderers is flying and boasts a settled lineup, but will be missing Warwick Williams for this clash. Still, Brodie Newman has held up the defence superbly, while Brett Eddy and Simon Bates run riot up forward and Beau O’Connell hits his straps. Their attacking threat and midfield strength should again prove too much for Palmerston.

Nightcliff (1st, 6-1) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 3-4)
Saturday November 21, 6:30pm
Nightcliff Oval

Nightcliff will hope to maintain its business as usual approach on Saturday night as it hosts Southern Districts under lights. This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season, with the reigning premiers looking strong as ever and Districts slowly climbing the ranks. While the Tigers have laid waste to most adversaries, the Crocs have been ultra-competitive across the season thus far and could have gained a positive record if not for some tight losses. Round 7 Rising Star nominee Jay Dahlhaus has been one of many Crocs to find form, combining well with the likes of Andrew Boseley and Luke Kiel in the attacking half with service from the reliable James Tsitas and Dean Staunton. Nightcliff has its own forward firepower though, with Liam Holt-Fitz fresh off an electric return and looking to have more of the same impact alongside fellow dynamic goalkickers Kyle Emery and Trent Melville. Dom Brew also faces a big task in midfield, with his defensive pressure key to blanketing the run of Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr.

Waratah (5th, 3-4) vs. Darwin (3rd, 5-2)
Saturday November 21, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin and Waratah will look to end Round 8 on a high as they provide the weekend’s sole top five clash at TIO Stadium on Saturday night. The Buffs’ early-season form saw them soar to top spot, though they have faltered a touch of late with their two losses coming in the last three weeks – albeit against top two sides. Similarly, three of Waratah’s four losses have come in the last month of action, with one dealt at the hands of Darwin by six points in Round 4. Double Blues midfielder Jalen Clarke looks set to return to the fold, joining the in-form Jarrod Stokes in midfield. Brodie Foster is a glaring absentee from the team list though, perhaps forcing Mihail Lochowiak to shift forward with Ryan Pendlebury covering the back six. Waratah should be up for a good fight, with the likes of Callum Searle and Dylan Collis providing good value this season, while Brodie Carroll has led from the front.

Featured Image: Southern Districts’ Jay Dahlhaus gets a kick away | Credit: Celina Whan AFLNT/Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 7

ROUND 7 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League is headlined by a top-of-the-table clash between Darwin and Wanderers, two of the three sides tied with 5-1 records. The high-stakes bout will close the show on Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, with the weekend’s only standalone game poising Palmerston against Nightcliff at Cazalys Arena. Find out which players are poised to make all the difference, and more in our weekend preview.

Tiwi Bombers (8th, 0-6) vs. Southern Districts (6th, 2-4)
Saturday November 14, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s search for a maiden win in season 2020/21 returns to TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, when the Bombers meet a Southern Districts side on the up. Both teams are showing signs of improvement after lacklustre early-season form, though the Crocs are a little further along having already notched a couple of wins. Two of those have come in their last three outings, including a 58-point drubbing of the Bombers in Round 4. That was one of Tiwi’s four losses of over 50 points in the first month of the season, though a bunch of big name recruits and returnees have seen the Bombers cut those margins over the last fortnight.

Former Geelong and Brisbane midfielder Allen Christensen remains in the Tiwi lineup after booting three goals on debut, set to line up in midfield alongside the in-form Fletcher Carroll. With Ashton Hams also in the side, the Bombers should have plenty of firepower in that department. The likes of Adam Tipungwuti and Adam Sambono should also aid their forward drive in the absence of Harley Puruntatameri. Southern Districts’ one-two punch of James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr has worked wonders its engine room, with Andrew Boseley spearheading a potent attack. Meanwhile, Oakleigh Chargers graduate Lachlan Bugeja has been named in the side, joining fellow NAB Leaguers Jesse Clark and Jay Dahlhaus as the Crocs push for top five status.

St Mary’s (5th, 3-3) vs. Waratah (4th, 3-3)
Saturday November 14, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

An important top five clash takes place at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening as St Mary’s does battle with Waratah. The Saints looked to be turning their season around with three-consecutive wins, before they ran into Darwin last week and fell back to an even keel. Waratah boasts the same 3-3 record but sits a place higher that St Mary’s in fourth, having only narrowly gone down to premiership fancies Darwin and Nightcliff (twice). The Warriors’ win-loss trend sees them due for a win this time out, with a return to the winners list and the chance to keep touch with the top three up for grabs. It is the first time these two teams will meet this season, with plenty to play for either way.

Some handy inclusions look likely to spruce up both lineups, starting with Daly Andrews for St Mary’s. The 20-year-old Victorian is fresh off a fantastic season with South Adelaide at senior SANFL level and will slot straight into midfield alongside Nate Paredes. After managing just one goal last week, spearhead Jackson Paine will also be out to do some damage, while the likes of Jackson Calder and Nick Yarran may have to earn their way back into the side. Waratah will be buoyed by the return of Michael Newton up forward, set to form a formidable partnership with Jae McGrath. His inclusion sees Thomas Graham swing down back, adding to Waratah’s tall stocks across the ground. Tah’s midfield depth should also match up well against the Saints, making for a tight contest overall.

Palmerston Magpies (7th, 1-5) vs. Nightcliff (3rd, 5-1)
Saturday November 14, 7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Nightcliff will look to string together three-consecutive wins for the second time this year when it travels to face Palmerston at Cazalys Arena on Saturday night. The fixture looms as Palmerston’s third home game in four weeks, though that factor has hardly proven advantageous of late given the Magpies have not won since Round 2 – against the winless Tiwi Bombers. Currently seventh at 1-5, the Magpies are running out of time to keep with the finals contenders, despite showing glimpses of form. It has largely been business as usual for the Tigers, boasting an equal-best 5-1 record having only slipped up against St Mary’s in Round 4. The reigning premiers will fancy their chances of keeping the heat on their main premiership rivals.

As if it needed any more firepower, Nightcliff’s forwardline is set for a boost with the inclusion of Liam Holt-Fitz, who is set to join Trent Melville and Kyle Emery in a dynamic front six. Cam Ilett also comes straight back into the lineup and will rotate through there, while Dom Brew looks to continue his dominance of the midfield. Palmerston will be buoyed by the return of Nigel Lockyer Jnr, with the enigmatic swingman likely to aid Daniel Stafford in attack. The midfield battle should be a good one, with Palmerston’s trio of Chris Williams, Eric Guthrie, and ruckman Matthew Dennis set to be tasked with plenty against Nightcliff’s formidable outfit. A good news story could also be the return of Jayden Kickett, who takes his place in Nightcliff’s extended squad, pending final selection.

Wanderers (2nd, 5-1) vs. Darwin Buffaloes (1st, 5-1)
Saturday November 14, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Arguably the best Round 7 fixture will be left for last when Darwin and Wanderers lock horns in a blockbuster top-of-the-table clash. The game rounds out Saturday’s TIO Stadium triple-header, forming the perfect end to a super day of Premier League action. The Buffs have lead the competition most of the way thus far, going down only to Nightcliff as Wanderers remains the only side they are yet to compete against. The Muk Muks have been fit and firing in 2020/21, with their only loss also coming at the hands of Nightcliff and three-consecutive wins putting them in ideal form of late. With only percentage separating the two sides, this game looms as a crucial factor in the overall minor premiership race.

Matt Campbell is set to bring some experience back to Darwin’s lineup, looking to continue his great scoring form this season as he slots in at half-forward. He joins the likes of Brodie Foster and Ishmael Palmer in the front six, while Sturt recruit Mihail Lochowiak comes into the side up the other end. Meanwhile, star midfielder Jalen Clarke has been named on an extended bench. Braedon McLean is a very handy inclusion for Wanderers, set to feature at half-back alongside recent Rising Star nominee Brodie Newman. There is plenty of firepower up forward too, with leading goalkicker Brett Eddy combining well with Simon Bates, and Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell of late.

Featured Image: Darwin players celebrate during their Round 6 win | Credit: Celina Whan/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League saw three sides continue to pull away atop the competition ladder, while Southern Districts was the only side outside the top three to secure a win, continuing its early-season turnaround. Darwin remains the frontrunner after a statement victory over St Mary’s, but the Buffs have fellow weekend winners Wanderers and Nightcliff hot on their heels. All that, and more in our Round 6 wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 3.3 | 6.5 | 8.10 | 13.10 (88)
WANDERERS | 5.1 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 19.6 (120)

GOALS:

Tiwi: A. Sambono 3, A. Christensen 3, N. Hooker 2, A. Tipungwuti 2, D. Munkara, J. Munkara, J. Neade
Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, B. O’Connell 4, S. Bates 2, S. Thorne 2, S. Tipiloura 2, J. Priest, R. Fejo, D. McFarlane, J. Cubillo

BEST:

Tiwi: F. Carroll, M. De Wit, J. Wilson, J. Neade, A. Tipungwuti
Wanderers: B. O’Connell, M. Motlop, D. McFarlane, B. Hodgson

A nine-goal final term ensured Wanderers would pull away from an improving Tiwi Bombers outfit, kicking out to a 32-point victory at Gardens Oval on Saturday. The Eagles booted seven of the last eight goals to seal the premiership points, with their fitness shining through after Tiwi made a promising start to proceedings and remained within touching distance throughout. It proved a bridge too far in the end, as Wanderers remain equal-top with the 19.6 (120) to 13.10 (88) result, while Tiwi is winless in bottom spot.

Brett Eddy moved to the top of the Premier League goalkicking charts with another big haul, this time sinking five majors in a terrific performance. But he was beaten out to best afield honours by reigning Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who booted four goals in a sensational showing upon his return to the side. Dane McFarlane and Marlon Motlop were others to control the engine room, while Brodie Newman was again a rock in defence.

Tiwi’s star-studded list of recruits could not quite pull them over the line, but made an impact nonetheless. The recently retired Allen Christensen slotted three majors and looked lively, while Jake Neade also found the big sticks upon entering Tiwi’s side. He was among the best Bombers alongside fellow goalkicker Adam Tipungwuti, and Adam Sambono got back to some scoring form with three majors. Fletcher Carroll and Mason De Wit were others to stand up as Tiwi still searches for its maiden win in season 2020/21.

WARATAH | 1.1 | 2.2 | 5.5 | 8.7 (55)
NIGHTCLIFF | 3.4 | 4.6 | 7.7 | 11.9 (75)

GOALS:

Waratah: W. Collis 2, J. McGrath 2, T. Graham, N. Oakes, A. Kirby, R. Turnbull
Nightcliff: K. Emery 4, T. Melville 3, M. Rivett, D. Bowles, B. Filo, H. Drogemuller

BEST:

Waratah: R. Turnbull, Z. Westerberg, J. McGrath, B. Carroll, N. Stevens
Nightcliff: D. Brew, R. Mu, A. Jorgensen, J. Peris, B. Filo, M. Rivett

Nightcliff knocked off Waratah by 20 points in the game dubbed Battle of the Beaches, with the Tigers pushed all the way at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening. An atypically sloppy game was impacted by the heat, with just six goals kicked between the two sides by half time. Both sides surpassed that total alone in the second half, but Nightcliff’s handy two-goal buffer allowed for a relatively straightforward finish despite Waratah’s peskiness. The game opened up as tired legs prevailed, resulting in the 11.9 (75) to 8.7 (55) scoreline.

Boom Tigers recruit Dom Brew continued his outstanding start to the season with another best afield performance, gelling well with the likes of Brodie Filo as Ryan Mu was another to get busy at the fall of the ball. Up forward, Kyle Emery and Trent Melville combined for seven goals with stalwart Cam Ilett rested, proving the Tigers’ firepower. Waratah’s Will Collis and Jae McGrath each managed two majors, while newcomer Thomas Graham was another to provide a viable option and plenty of chances inside 50 for the Warriors. Robert Turnbull and Zach Westerberg were others to stand up in the losing effort.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES | 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 | 6.9 (45)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS | 3.3 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Palmerston: T. Kunoth 2, E. Guthrie 2, J. Berry, K. Annand
S. Districts: J. Dahlhaus 3, N. Rokahr 3, D. Robertson, M. Bowden, K. Jones, J. Bell

BEST:

Palmerston: T. Lui, E. Guthrie, M. Dennis, R. Armstrong, J. Mentha, L. Flanagan
S. Districts: B. Rusca, N. Rokahr, J. Bell, D. Staunton, K. Jones, C. McAdam

Southern Districts stormed home with six goals in the final term to help defeat Palmerston by 25 points at Cazalys Arena on Saturday night. The Crocs overcame a narrow half time deficit to sneak back ahead at three quarter time, before more than doubling their combined goal tally for the match in the final term to kick away to the 10.10 (70) to 6.9 (45) victory. For three quarters, it was a scrappy goal-for-goal tussle which Palmerston were in to win, but like many other matches on the day, they were the team to fall away late. The win eases mounting pressure on the Crocs as they now move to 2-4.

Districts midfielders James Tsitas and Nikolaus Rokahr again had their say, with the latter also getting forward to boot three goals. Small forward Jay Dahlhaus matched the feat as his side notched another win to match the competitiveness it has shown thus far. For Palmerston, Matthew Dennis enjoyed a good ruck battle but was again dominant across the ground, while Eric Guthrie was a useful ball winner for the Magpies, who were unable to fully take advantage of any momentum they mustered. The performances of young guns Tyrrell Lui and Brandon Rusca were also noted by their respective sides, and both are eligible to be pre-listed by the Gold Coast Suns via the Darwin zone.

ST MARY’S | 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 | 8.3 (51)
DARWIN | 1.6 | 7.11 | 10.16 | 12.18 (90)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Landt 3, J. Paine 2, B. Grenfell, C. Furphy, J. Goddard
Darwin: I. Palmer 3, J. Stokes 2, D. Matricardi 2, A. Hodor 2, B. Foster 2, J. Collinson

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Landt, J. Long, D. Landt, K. Parnell, H. Williams, B. Ah Mat
Darwin: J. Stokes, L. McKenzie, J. Collinson C. Atkinson, K. Maroney

Darwin proved its genuine premiership credentials on Saturday night, defeating a lacking St Mary’s side by 39 points at TIO Stadium to remain top of the table. After sharing one goal apiece in the opening term, the Buffs piled on six goals to one in the next period and eventually set up a 55-point lead by the final break. While St Mary’s managed a handful of consolation goals, it proved far too little to save the 12.18 (90) to 8.3 (51) result. It was the Saints’ first loss since Round 2, having reclaimed some vintage form and confidence in the weeks since.

That counted for little as the likes of Jarrod Stokes and Nick Lowden took control of the midfield under Chris Atkinson, while Ishmael Palmer led the attack with three goals. Brodie Foster was one of four Buffs to boot two majors, but was held relatively well by Tylah Saunders. Jack Landt booted three final term goals for St Mary’s to somewhat cut into the final margin, while Dylan Landt was also among the Saints’ best players on what ended up a disappointing day for last season’s grand finalists.

Featured Image: Wanderers midfielder Beau O’Connell eyes up his next move | Credit: Justin Kennedy/NT News

2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 5

ROUND 5 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League saw reigning premier Nightcliff return to the winners list in style, becoming the first side to knock off Darwin in season 2020/21 along the way. Waratah opened the weekend’s action by consigning Tiwi to its fifth loss, while St Mary’s rise continues on the back of a third-consecutive victory, and Wanderers secured its fourth win for the season to hold onto second spot. All that, and more in our Round 5 wrap.

TIWI BOMBERS | 1.2 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 12.5 (77)
WARATAH | 4.4 | 7.9 | 13.12 | 16.16 (112)

GOALS:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum 4, H. Puruntatameri 2, N. Hooker 2, J. Wilson, P. Heenan, N. Ebinger, A. Hams.
Waratah: C. Arnold 4, J. Edmonds 3, J. McGrath 2, C. Searle 2, C. Wild, N. Gooch, J. Cattanach, J. Carmichael, D. Collis.

BEST:

Tiwi: R. Tungatalum, A. Hams, M. De Wit, J. Monigatti, H. Puruntatameri
Waratah: C. Arnold, C. Searle, A. Ankers, B. Orval, N. Gooch

Waratah’s focus on a fast start proved fruitful as the Warriors came out firing to set up a 35-point win over Tiwi on Saturday afternoon. By three quarter time, Tahs had set up a 46-point lead to all but put the game to bed, though Tiwi managed its best period in the last to trim the final margin. The 16.16 (112) to 12.5 (77) result at TIO Stadium sees the Bombers sink to 0-5 despite again showing some promise, while Waratah is poised within the top five at 3-2.

The likes of Abe Ankers and co-captain Nick Gooch set the tone for Waratah in a solid show of intent, while the likes of Cameron Arnold (four goals), James Edmonds (three), and Jae McGrath (two) all benefitted from their side’s midfield strength. Callum Searle was part of that, also booting two goals to round out Waratah’s multiple goalkickers. Ross Tungatalum delivered upon his surprise return to the Bombers, booting four majors as their best player afield. Another returnee in Ashton Hams also proved his worth, while Mason De Wit‘s strong season continued in defence and Harley Puruntatameri added a couple more goals to his tally.

S. DISTRICTS | 2.1 | 6.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)
WANDERERS | 4.3 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 13.6 (84)

GOALS:

Districts: A. Boseley 3, J. Dahlhaus 2, N. Rokahr 2, J. Tsitas, J. Farrar, L. Kiel.
Wanderers: B. Eddy 5, S. Thorne 3, S. Bates 2, A. Lansen, D. McFarlane, R. Fejo.

BEST:

Districts: J. Tsitas, L. Kiel, N. Rokahr, J. Farrar, D. Staunton, P. Gallow
Wanderers: B. Newman, B. Eddy, J. Priest, M. Totham, R. Fejo

Wanderers secured back-to-back wins with an 18-point triumph over Southern Districts on the road, seeing the Muk Muks hold on to second place after five rounds. Played under trying weather conditions, the game was led by Wanderers at each break as a two-goal cushion built in the first half was extended to three after the main break. While the Crocs’ midfield was hard to stop, the Eagles proved sturdy in defence and potent in attack to answer every question posed to them by the plucky Districts outfit, which drew level late in the final term. In the end, it was a well-deserved 13.6 (84) to 10.6 (66) result for the Eagles, who continue to prove their finals credentials at this early stage.

Brett Eddy and Simon Bates were again the match-winning wombo combo up forward for Wanderers as they combined to steer their side home in the final term. The former finished with five goals to make it 12 in two games, while the latter popped up with two. The likes of Mitchell Taylor and Brodie Newman were excellent down the other end, while Dane McFarlane and Ronald Fejo continue to deliver in midfield. James Tsitas‘ form shone through for Southern Districts, supported well by Nikolaus Rokahr in the engine room while Andrew Boseley (three goals) proved a reliable target inside 50. Geelong Falcons graduate Jay Dahlhaus (two) goals also found the big sticks once again, proving lively alongside Luke Kiel as the Crocs again narrowly went down.

ST MARY’S | 3.8 | 9.9 | 13.13 | 18.16 (124)
PALMERSTON | 1.1 | 1.4 | 2.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS:

St Mary’s: J. Paine 8, B. Tedcastle 4, D. Walters 2, J. Long, T. Saunders, J. Calder, B. Grenfell.
Palmerston: A. McAdam 3, T. Kunoth 3, S. Lampton.

BEST:

St Mary’s: J. Paine, L. Jellyman-Turner, B. Grenfell, B. Tedcastle, D. Landt, H. Williams
Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr, R. Armstrong, K. Groves, E. Guthrie, M. Dennis, T. Lui

St Mary’s romped to its third win on the trot on Saturday evening, dismantling Palmerston to the tune of 75 points at TIO Stadium. Things were looking promising for the Magpies after they booted the game’s opening goal, which was duly followed by nine unanswered majors to St Mary’s. The 53-point half time margin was extended to 72 at the next break, setting up a bleak 18.16 (124) to 7.7 (49) final scoreline for the Magpies. After a disappointing first fortnight, the Saints now sit comfortably within finals calculations at 3-2, while for all Palmerston’s promise, the black and whites sit seventh at 1-4.

Jackson Paine delivered most of the hurt for St Mary’s, booting eight goals and leaving plenty more out there with poor finishing. Young gun Beau Tedcastle joined in on the act with four majors, while the likes of Lucas Jellyman-Turner and Nate Paredes found plenty of the ball. In what was a disappointing night for Palmerston, the performance of Nigel Lockyer Jnr in defence was a shining light, while reliable big man Matthew Dennis was also valiant in a losing effort. Ultimately, the Magpies were outclassed around the ground and have plenty of work to do to turn their season around, much like the Saints have managed of late.

DARWIN | 1.3 | 2.5 | 4.12 | 7.14 (56)
NIGHTCLIFF | 4.0 | 9.3 | 9.3 | 12.5 (77)

GOALS:

Darwin: B. Foster 2, M. Coombes, M. Campbell, R. Matricardi, J. Stokes, I. Palmer
Nightcliff: C. Ilett 4, T. Melville 3, K. Emery 2, H. Drogemuller, S. Wilson, A. Jorgensen

BEST:

Darwin: T. Eldridge, N. Lowden, J. Stokes, I. Palmer, I. Seden-Kurnoth
Nightcliff: D. Brew, R. Morris, A. Jorgensen, N. Brown, P. Wills, E. Klenke

Nightcliff served a reminder of its class as the competition’s benchmark with an impressive 21-point win over Darwin at TIO Stadium. Under lights, the Tigers returned to winning form and snapped Darwin’s undefeated streak in one fell swoop, producing vintage play in the first half to set up a 40-point lead at the main break. The Buffs’ chance to hit back came in the third term, though their nine scoring shots only yielded a haul of 2.7 as Nightcliff remained well ahead and rounded out an important victory.

Veteran Cam Ilett was on fire early for Nightcliff and finished with four goals, latching onto quick entries and aiding his side’s efficient conversion. Trent Melville got back among the goals with three, while Kyle Emery also managed two. Further afield, Dom Brew and Phillip Wills were excellent through the middle. Brodie Foster was Darwin’s lone multiple goalkicker, but the likes of Ishmael Palmer and Jarrod Stokes also found the big sticks once each while proving influential. Timothy Eldridge was another important factor, but could not quite help drag Darwin back into the game.

Featured Image: Palmerston’s Matthew Dennis under St Mary’s pressure | Credit: Felicity Elliott/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Men’s Premier League – Round 3

TWO rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action are down for season 2020/21, seeing the competition roll on into Round 3 this weekend. All four games are again set to be played on what shapes up as a super Saturday of football, headlined by a TIO Stadium triple-header. The first ball bounces down as St Mary’s takes on Tiwi, while Southern Districts is the only true host as it welcomes Waratah to Norbuilt Oval. All that, and more in our weekend preview.

St Mary’s vs. Tiwi Bombers
Saturday October 17, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Tiwi’s milestone men will hope to drag the Bombers off the bottom of the ladder when they face St Mary’s to open the round on Saturday afternoon. The two sides take to TIO Stadium with 0-2 records, as a mix of underperformance and stiff opposition has rendered them winless across the opening rounds. But that is all set to change come this weekend, barring a draw, as the two traditional rivals square off.

If their meetings from season 2019/20 are anything to go by, this bout should be a belter. Tiwi got the better of the Saints in the first two digs, but St Mary’s squared the ledger at 2-2 after solid wins in Round 17 and the qualifying final. The 37-goal Round 3 shootout was the most eye-catching result, making for sensational neutral viewing.

Tiwi 150-gamers Michael Dunn and Dion Munkara will hope all their flair and carry on the outer can propel the Bombers to victory. Fresh off a bag of goals, Harley Puruntatameri should also shine in that department, while prolific talent Adam Sambono is a chance to come into the side. Down back, Mason Dewit has been super on the rebound.

Under 18s wonderkid Beau Tedcastle looks set to make his senior debut for the Saints, a lively small forward who knows where the goals are. Former NAB Leaguer Jeremy Goddard is also poised to make his first Premier League appearance, and both should have terrific support in the form of mainstay figures Raphael Clarke, Nate Paredes, and Shaun Edwards, who have all been in good nick.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday October 17, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

The winless Southern Districts will be out to halt its skidding start to the season when Waratah comes to town on Saturday, with the two sides set to face off at Norbuilt Oval. 0-2 after the opening pair of rounds, Districts will have some young talent come in to bolster their squad. Meanwhile, Waratah sits at 1-1 after last week’s tight loss to Nightcliff, with plenty of positives to take out of its first two outings in season 2020/21. The Warriors side looks much more settled than in their last campaign.

AFL Draft prospect Brodie Lake looms as a big in for the Crocs, with the 18-year-old fresh off a terrific SANFL season with Central District. He promises to add some grunt through midfield or run from defence, on top of the obvious class he possesses. After being named in the best half-dozen players last week, former Geelong Falcons co-captain Jesse Clark looks like being joined in the side by fellow NAB League graduate Jay Dahlhaus. The latter is the cousin of Geelong’s Luke, and is likely to play a similar small forward role.

Sticking with the theme set by their opponents, the Warriors are also set to unleash a former NAB League talent. Murray Bushrangers standout Cam Wild looks like entering the Premier League fold after knocking down the door in Division 1, having also spent time in South Australia with Central District. Tahs boast a pretty solid spine, with the likes of Abe Ankers and Brodie Carroll holding down midfield, while Jae McGrath continues to spearhead the forwardline. Victorian Callum Searle has also proven a great addition in defence, giving Waratah balance on each line. It may prove too much for the Crocs to handle.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday October 17, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin will put its perfect record is on the line when it meets the ever-improving Palmerston on Saturday evening, the second game of a TIO Stadium triple-header. Under new coach Cameron Stokes, the Buffs are sitting pretty atop the Premier League table despite a heavy offseason turnover. Meanwhile, the Magpies have already matched their wins tally from last season after victory in Round 2, and look like providing the Double Blues with their toughest assignment to date.

Young utility Tyrrell Lui is fresh off his Rising Star nomination, having provided terrific rebound from defence thus far. He is joined once again in the back six by Sandy Brock, while Chris Williams will look to run the show once again from midfield. He is one of a few ex-Darwin players looking to impress against their former side, with big forward Daniel Stafford another who will be keen to find some form. He will be joined up forward by Nigel Lockyer Jnr, who has been finding the big sticks with ease having booted nine goals in two games.

But Darwin boasts some firepower of its own, with Brodie Foster continuing to set the competition alight. The goalsneak boasts 11 majors across his first two outings, and while Ishmael Palmer may not be there in support once again, Isaac Seden-Kurnoth looms as a major factor inside 50. The experienced Matt Campbell also looks to be in hot form, with Ryan Pendlebury another to settle the side in his defensive duties. Darwin’s mainstays have started the season emphatically and will fancy a third-consecutive win here, but should take nothing for granted against the rising Magpies.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday October 17, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

Someone’s ‘0’ will go when undefeated sides Wanderers and Nightcliff do battle at TIO Stadium, making for an exciting finish to a big round of action. The Muk Muks have again started the season well, knocking off two 2019/20 finalists en route to taking on the formidable reigning premier. Nightcliff has been ticking along strongly, too, taking out a Grand Final rematch in Round 1 and managing to halt Waratah’s head of steam last time out with ruthless efficiency.

The returning Kyle Emery has added yet another dimension to the Tigers’ side, with his six-goal haul last week a warning shot for Wanderers defenders. Should 2019/20 Chaney Medal winner Trent Melville also take his spot in the side, this game looms as a must-watch. The likes of Cam Ilett and Daniel Bowles have been reliable as ever, while Phillip Wills is set to celebrate game 200. Victorian recruit Tom Boyd has been superb thus far, and the Tigers will hope former Calder Cannons standout, Daniel Mott can have a similar impact through midfield after strong Division 1 performances.

The Eagles are no slouches either though, with a bunch of high-end talent filling each line. Brett Eddy is fresh off a six-goal haul and has looked sharp up forward, while Braedon McLean has led steadily from defence. Newcomers Shaun Mannagh and Brodie Newman have given Wanderers an extra edge too, and Michael Mummery is one who could break the game open having gotten some game time under his belt last week. With a good amount of class scattered across either lineup, this should be a cracking contest.

Featured Image: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media

2020/21 NTFL Premier League season preview

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

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

CLUB-BY-CLUB:

Darwin:

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

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

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

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

Nightcliff:

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

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

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

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

Palmerston:

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

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

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

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

Southern Districts:

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

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

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

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

St Mary’s:

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

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

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

Tiwi Bombers:

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

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

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

Wanderers:

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

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

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

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

Waratah:

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

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

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

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

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.