Tag: will hams

NTFL Men’s Premier League wrap: Round 5 – Cyril stars in Tiwi Islands thriller

CYRIL RIOLI‘s fairytale return hallmarked a dramatic round of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action, with the former Hawthorn star attracting all eyes to Bathurst Island on Saturday afternoon. Elsewhere, Southern Districts leapfrogged Darwin, while finals hopefuls St Mary’s and Nightcliff both won handily.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 4.0 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 (66)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 5.3 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, D. McLachlan 2, B. Schwarze 2, J. Clarke, J. Farrer, S. Barnett.
Darwin: D. Stafford 2, J. Anderson, A. Stokes, T. Eldridge, M. Quinn, J. Stokes, C. Williams, P. Boles.

BEST:

Southern Districts: D. McLachlan, N. Horbury, D. Williams, Z. Smith, B. Lake, K. Dingo
Darwin: P. Campbell, D. Maymuru, S. Tahana, M. Quinn, P. Boles

Southern Districts claimed a dramatic three-point win in the Round 5 opener to leapfrog Darwin into third place. The Crocs fought back from trailing narrowly at every break to clinch the lead when it mattered most to clinch the 10.6 (66) to 9.9 (63) victory.

A high-scoring first term saw nine goals scored, but was levelled by a one-goal second term where Southern Districts claimed the sole major. The Buffs’ two-point half-time lead doubled out to four heading into the final turn, but was not enough as the surging Crocs ran home with three goals to two to snatch the spirited win.

Southern Districts’ William Farrer led the goalkicking stakes with a game-high three majors, followed by best-afield player Dylan McLachlan and Beau Schwarze (both two). That feat was matched by Daniel Stafford for Darwin, who was his side’s sole multiple goalkicker. Paul Campbell was named the Buffaloes’ best alongside the consistent figures of Mark Quinn and Patrick Boles, while the less heralded lights of Nathan Horbury and Damian Williams joined Brodie Lake and Keegan Dingo in the Crocs’ best six.

Both sides will go on to face fellow top four opponents next time out in what looms as an exciting round, with Southern Districts poised to face St Mary’s, while the Buffs are set to do battle with the undefeated Nightcliff Tigers.

TIWI BOMBERS 4.0 | 4.2 | 6.5 | 11.13 (79)
PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 6.4 | 10.5 | 12.5 (77)

GOALS:

Tiwi: J. Best 3, M. Kantilla 2, H. Puruntatameri, P. Tipiloura, T. Tambling, P. Heenan, A. Darcy, C. Rioli.
Palmerston: N/A.

BEST:

Tiwi: C. Jones, H. Puruntatameri, A. Tipungwuti, D. McLinden, W. Stuart, J. Puruntatameri
Palmerston: N/A

A last gasp Rioli goal helped Tiwi claim a miraculous come-from-behind win over Palmerston on Bathurst Island, keeping Palmerston winless. The Magpies looked on track to break their duck in wet conditions, but had their hearts broken as the Bombers crawled into the lead with a last minute behind to make it 11.13 (79) to 12.5 (77).

There was a touch of drama as the scoreboard read 12.6 (88) apiece, but a recount ensured Tiwi got the four points and the home crowd went away happy. It came after Palmerston had controlled much of the middle period of the game, breaking ahead to the tune of over two goals in the second term amid wet conditions. But the eventual 24-point three quarter time buffer was mown down with help from Rioli and co. as the Bombers finally clicked back into gear to claim the unlikely result.

Jake Best snared another bag of three goals, joined by Matthew Kantilla as the Bombers’ sole multiple goalkickers, with Christopher Jones named their best afield. Harley and Jason Puruntatameri joined Adam Tipungwuti as consistent figures to also make up the Tiwi best six. Steven Lorenzo was lively up forward alongside the influential Keidan Holt-Tubbs with multiple goals in the second term, while ruckman Matthew Dennis was one Magpie who impacted around the ground and Aaron Davey starred with his ball use going forward.

Palmerston’s search for win number one heads home to Palmerston Oval next time out, while Tiwi will look to continue its upward trend when it clashes with the league’s other winless team, Waratah in Round 6.

WANDERERS 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.5 | 8.7 (55)
ST MARY’S 4.3 | 5.6 | 8.8 | 12.9 (81)

GOALS:

Wanderers: J. Jeffrey 4, D. Ferreira 3, E. Colley.
St Mary’s: D. Johnstone 4, T. Gilbert 2, N. Paredes, R. Clarke, W. Hams, J. Cullen, B. Slater, L. Larson.

BEST:

Wanderers: N. Sedgwick, J. Jeffrey, D. Weetra, B. McLean, W. Williams
St Mary’s: W. Hams, R. Clarke, N. Yarran, T. Davies, T. Gilbert, L. Larson

St Mary’s stamped its authority as a genuine premiership contender with a 26-point win over fifth-place Wanderers at TIO Stadium. The Saints were simply better for longer in the 12.9 (81) to 8.7 (55) result, leading at every break on the back of their superior depth.

A one goal apiece second quarter was the only stanza where St Mary’s failed to notch at least three majors, with consistent scoring matching an equally shrewd defensive effort for most of the contest. The Eagles managed to tick over a few consolation goals late in the piece as the sides shared eight goals evenly to close out the game, but were ultimately outgunned and lacked the same range of threats going forward.

The ex-AFL class of Will Hams and Raphael Clarke again proved telling alongside the run of Nicholas Yarran, while Thomas Davies and Tom Gilbert both continued their runs of form to be named among the best. Dylan Johnstone booted four goals to lead the Saints’ line, with prodigious talent Joel Jeffrey matching the feat for Wanderers. Davin Ferreira chimed in with three as the Muk Muks’ only other real goal threat, but both were beaten out to best-afield honours by Nicholas Sedgwick in the loss.

Wanderers will look to rebound against last-placed Palmerston on the road in Round 6, fancying its chances of maintaining a gap in the last finals spot. Meanwhile, St Mary’s is set for a proper test as it readies to face Southern Districts at Norbuilt Oval in what will be a real eight-pointer.

WARATAH 6.1 | 8.3 | 9.6 | 9.6 (60)
NIGHTCLIFF 5.5 | 8.9 | 12.10 | 16.13 (109)

GOALS:

Waratah: N/A
Nightcliff: T. Melville 4, B. Filo 3, L. Holt-Fitz 2, L. Sharp 2, M. Hagan, P. Wills, S. Wilson, J. Kickett, C. Ilett

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
Nightcliff: C. Ilett, L. Holt-Fitz, T. Melville, K. Riley, J. Budarick, B. Filo

A big second half effort helped Nightcliff maintain its perfect record with a 49-point win over Waratah to round out the weekend’s action. The Tigers’ roaring finish was another reminder of their credentials, with the 16.13 (109) to 9.6 (60) result looking easy in the end.

Waratah found themselves ahead after a high-scoring bolt from the blocks from both sides, booting six goals to five in the opening term. The Warriors were pegged back quickly though as Nightcliff took the lead heading into half-time and never looked back, sealing the win with eight goals to one after the main break in a big scoring effort.

Trent Melville was one of the stars of the show, booting four goals and taking an eye-catching hanger to lead the Tigers’ charge alongside Brodie Filo (three goals), Liam Holt-Fitz (two), and Lachlan Sharp (two). Stalwart Cam Ilett beat them all out to best-afield honours though, with Kaine Riley and Joel Budarick also getting among the action without finding the goals. Jae McGrath and Henry Kerinaiua resumed their dangerous partnership up forward, but could not spark the Warriors for long enough as they eventually fell away.

The winless Warriors could fancy a breakthrough win over fellow bottom three side Tiwi at home next week, while Nightcliff hosts Darwin in what should be a ripping clash between two finals hopefuls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NTFL Men’s Premier League preview: Round 3 – Wanderers face Nightcliff in lone top five clash

ONLY one game in Round 3 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League will be played between teams in finals spots, with Wanderers facing reigning premier Nightcliff on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, both Southern Districts and Palmerston have the chance to grab their first win of the season, and St Mary’s will look to stay undefeated.

TIWI BOMBERS (8th, 0-2) vs. ST MARY’S (2nd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 2:30pm
TIO Stadium

Teams with polar opposite formlines meet to kick off Round 3 as Tiwi plays host to St Mary’s at TIO Stadium. The topped-up Saints have been excellent so far in toppling Waratah and Palmerston, but will face a tricky task in upholding their form against an underperforming Bombers unit. Both teams had a good amount of build-up coming into the season, but Tiwi’s production has been levels off that of its weekend opponent. To be fair to the Bombers, fixtures against Darwin and reigning premier Nightcliff to start the year arguably poised them with the toughest early draw, but their best started to come to the fore in the second and third terms against Nightcliff after the Tigers got the jump on them. Slow starts seem to be a theme for the bottom-placed side, which had to dig itself out of a similar rut in the opening stages of last season. St Mary’s ended up being the side to claim the dreaded wooden spoon, but all signs point toward a more positive outcome this time around.

The talent on either side is undeniable, stacked with famous NT names throughout. Saints leader Raphael Clarke has made a starring start to the year alongside smaller types in Nicholas Yarran, Nathaniel Paredes, and the returning Jackson Geary. Ex-AFL midfielder Will Hams has also been a welcome addition to what is a re-energised Saints line-up looking to crack back into its rightful top-end spot. Former-Saint Michael Dunn has bagged multiple goals in both of his games thus far and will provide good opposition alongside Adam Tipungwuti and Jason Puruntatameri. They will look to new recruit Michael Mummery, Round 2 rising star nominee Jeffrey Simon, and Harley Puruntatameri to provide some added spark, with the Bombers’ x-factor something that sets them apart. That unpredictability against some of St Mary’s proven quantities will be key to this contest, and we could well get a belter.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS (5th, 0-1-1) vs. PALMERSTON MAGPIES (7th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 4:00pm
Norbuilt Oval

One team’s zero is set to go, as the winless Southern Districts and Palmerston do battle at Norbuilt Oval in the weekend’s only game away from TIO Stadium. Given the 0-2 Magpies sit without any points altogether, the Crocs would be smelling blood in the water at the opportunity continue their trend of going one-better in each passing game. A draw against Wanderers last time out was less than ideal though, with the Crocs unable to truly click into gear for four quarters despite showing some promising signs in their Round 1 grand final rematch. Another less-than-ideal situation is that they will be without William Farrer for at least this fixture after he became the first NTFL player to be charged under the Auditory Offences matrix for umpire abuse. It serves as another blow to the Crocs’ firepower, which is already missing ex-AFL star Leroy Jetta and now-Bomber Michael Mummery from last year’s campaign. They will have to turn to Josiah Farrer, Beau Schwarze and Brodie Lake, as well as the experience of 100-gamer Charlie McAdam for inspiration in this clash, with Palmerston boasting a few tricky customers.

The Magpies were competitive despite falling short of Darwin by almost four goals in Round 2, slowly building on a disappointing opening round showing. State combine invitee Nigel Lockyer Jnr has been the standout with three goals in both games so far, while Bundoora stalwart Matthew Dennis has transferred last year’s form to this season. All three Davey boys were absent last time out for the Magpies in what was a blow to their creativity forward of centre, so a combination of them back in the side would do a world of good. Kyle Emery and Misha Perry Jnr will look to up their output to match the Crocs too, with the inability to kick a winning score one of the things holding Palmerston back from the better teams as it stands. If Southern Districts can find its groove and get on top early, watch out, otherwise expect to see the Magpies compete again for four quarters.

DARWIN BUFFALOES (1st, 2-0) vs. WARATAH (6th, 0-2)
Saturday October 19, 5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Another clash of opposing form is set to go down in Saturday’s evening game between Darwin and Waratah, with the former looking to remain atop the NTFL ladder. The Buffs have made an inspired start to the season for a second campaign running, sparked by big bags of goals from Adam Sambono (12 goals) and Brayden Culhane (six) in either game. While Sambono was absent in Round 2, his return would spell serious trouble for the struggling Warriors as it would free the likes of Joe Anderson and Patrick Boles to wreak havoc further afield. Lee Mununggurr and Antonio James are others who can excite, making Darwin a real handful for any side in the competition with their star-power across the board.

On the other hand, Waratah has struggled to exit second gear after an outstanding 2018/19 campaign and had its depth tested far more with the absence of Abe Ankers last week. He remains the key man for them with his scoreboard impact from midfield, despite some of the scoring load eased by VFL-listed small forward Steve Stroobants. Scoreboard assistance is sure to come in the form of Henry Kerinaiua and Kim Kantilla, with Cam Barrett, Sam Godden and ex-Bendigo Pioneer Laine Fitzgerald looking to make an impact further afield. The Warriors have been unlucky to come up against three in-form teams to start the season, but will be sure to give it a red-hot crack if their consistency last season is anything to go by. The memory of their 2018/19 thrashings of Darwin late in the season would also be fresh and serve as apt motivation, with the Buffs looking like a true premiership contender at this point. Expect their class to shine through, but to be tested depending on who is available.

WANDERERS (4th 1-0-1) vs. NIGHTCLIFF (3rd, 2-0)
Saturday October 19, 7:30pm
TIO Stadium

The game of the round will be the last for the weekend, as Wanderers and Nightcliff battle it out to remain undefeated. It serves as the only fixture this week between two teams in finals spots, with the Tigers one of three 2-0 sides while Wanderers suffered the first blemish to its record with a draw to Southern Districts last time out. If football math ever worked, this would be a time to use it given both sides have already faced the Crocs, with the Tigers managing to get the better of them in Round 1’s grand final rematch. But that kind of analysis is hardly useful this early in the piece, and does not take into account the x-factor that Wanderers can bring. Under-17 star utility Joel Jeffrey leads the way in that department, followed closely by Round 1 Rising Star nominee Ronald Fejo Jnr. Both have been impactful thus far, particularly up forward, with consistency of Shane Thorne and spark of Davin Ferreira set to come into play too in the absence of experienced star Marlon Motlop from last campaign. There is still a raft of players of the same name making a difference this time around, and the Muk Muks will need all of their talent to continue Wanderers’ promising start.

Nightcliff remains the biggest test in the competition though, starting with a perfect record against good opposition despite not yet clinching that top spot. The Tigers’ scoring power is scary and comes from a raft of players, including the likes of NT legend Cam Ilett, with others like Trent Melville, Matthew Bricknell and Wade Derksen still due to claim a big bag. Ex-Port forward John Butcher is another who can come back into the side and slot through multiple goals, making Nightcliff’s forward threats every bit as deep as any other side. It could be a case of the ultra-consistent and high-scoring Tigers bringing Wanderers back down to earth, but do not be surprised to see the Eagles give the reigning premier a good run on the back of some confidence gained over the first two rounds.

NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 2 – Eagles and Crocs play out season’s first draw

IT only took two rounds of Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League action for the first draw of the year, seeing 2018/19 grand finalist Southern Districts remain winless, while reigning premier Nightcliff continued its ideal start along with St Mary’s and Darwin.

TIWI BOMBERS 1.1 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.7 (85)
NIGHTCLIFF 8.4 | 9.9 | 12.15 | 18.17 (125)

GOALS:

Tiwi: G. Cunningham 4, J. Best 3, H. Puruntatameri 2, P. Heenan, M. Dunn, D. Munkara, A. Tipungwuti.
Nightcliff: L. Evans 4, H. Williams 3, T. Melville 3, M. Bricknell 2, C. Ilett 2, T. Kidney, K. Winter-Irving, B. Filo, P. Wills.

BEST:

Tiwi: A. Tipungwuti, G. Cunningham, D. Kruse, P. Heenan, J. Puruntatameri, H. Puruntatameri
Nightcliff: K. Riley, B. Filo, L. Evans, T. Kidney, J. Heard

Nightcliff’s perfect flag defence remains in tact for a second week after the Tigers comfortably accounted for Tiwi by 40 points to open the round. A late Bombers charge was not enough to soar past the league’s premier side, with Nightlciff’s six-goal final term prettying up the 18.17 (125) to 13.7 (85) scoreline.

Signs were ominous early as the winners broke out to a seven-goal lead at quarter time, but to Tiwi’s credit the margin was trimmed well over the next two quarters to see the Tigers head into the final turn just 21 points to the good. The difference in efficiency in front of goal looked like being a telling factor as Nightcliff failed to truly make the most of its chances, but a much-improved 6.2 in the final term was more than enough to see the Tigers coast home. Their firepower was on full show as they outgunned the dangerous Bombers, with Liam Evans (four goals) leading a brigade of five multiple goal kickers. Kaine Riley was recognised as best afield, with Brodie Filo lively alongside goal-getters Trent Melville and Harry Williams. For Tiwi, the familiar name of Adam Tipungwuti was again best, followed by Gerrard Cunningham who starred up forward with four majors. David Kruse was also again among the best, with Harley and Jason Puruntatameri also pitching in.

Tiwi’s search for its first win continues next week as the Bombers face the undefeated St Mary’s, making for a tough test in what has been another slow start for the much-hyped side. Meanwhile, the near-faultless Nightlciff move on to face fellow undefeated team Wanderers in Round 3, looking to blanket the Eagle’s promising start.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 9.12 (66)
WANDERERS 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Southern Districts: W. Farrer 3, J. Farrer 3, J. Clarke, B. Schwarze, I. Wyatt, B. Ngalkin.
Wanderers: S. Thorne 2, S. Bates, D. Thompson, K. Thompson, B. Motlop, R. Fejo, J. Jeffrey.

BEST:

Southern Districts: C. McAdam, M. Bowden, Z. Smith, J. Farrer, T. Holman, K. Dingo
Wanderers: N/A

Southern Districts and Wanderers played out season 2019/20’s first draw, tussling to an entertaining 9.12 (66) apiece result. The sharing of points means the Crocs remain without a win despite two consecutive grand final appearances of late, while Wanderers maintains its unbeaten start.

The result may not have gone his side’s way, but it was a successful milestone game for Charlie McAdam, who was named best-afield in his 100th outing for the Crocs. Josiah Farrer booted three goals in an influential display, matched by Will Farrer‘s game-high bag of three to go with solid shifts from Michael Bowden and Zachary Smith. Wanderers shared around the goals a touch more, with former-Croc Shane Thorne (two goals) the lone multiple goal kicker. Youngsters Joel Jeffrey and Ronald Fejo Jnr showed their class to again hit the scoreboard but were better held after outstanding opening round performances, with the true forward strength of either side struggling to shine through. In a game of ebbs and flows, the Crocs just managed to step up at the right time after a long goalless patch and held on with the ball deep in the Eagles’ half late-on to snatch an unlikely draw.

The Muk Muks face a daunting task in backing up their early form as they ready themselves for a battle with Nighcliff on Saturday night, while Southern Districts will fancy its first win when it hosts fellow winless side Palmerston in a twilight fixture at Norbuilt Oval.

PALMERSTON 4.0 | 6.4 | 8.5 | 10.7 (67)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 4.4 | 5.9 | 10.13 | 14.15 (99)

GOALS:

Palmerston: N. Lockyer Jnr 3, K. Holt-Tubbs 2, J. Brauman 2, R. Ashley, M. Dennis, K. Emery.
Darwin: B. Culhane 6, C. Williams 2, W. Baird 2, T. Eldridge, P. Boles, A. Stokes, C. Stokes.

BEST:

Palmerston: B. Launer, J. Brauman, N. Lockyer Jnr, M. Dennis, D. Gordon, L. McDonald
Darwin: C. Williams, W. Clarke, J. Niki, J. Anderson, P. Boles

Darwin continued its storming start to the season with a well-earned 32-point win over Palmerston on Saturday evening. It took a special performance in front of goal from Brayden Culhane to help the Buffs run away 14.15 (99) to 10.7 (67) winners in a physical contest.

The Magpies stuck with the Buffs after sharing eight goals evenly in the first term, even sneaking ahead by a single point at the main break. But as the players tired in the second half, Darwin’s class shone through as the Double Blues kept the Magpies comfortably at bay with replies to each momentum shift. The win was made even sweeter given the absence of Round 1 12-goal hero Adam Sambono, Culhane’s six goals accounting for that. William Clarke put in a big shift against Matthew Dennis in the ruck too, while Joe Anderson excelled in a more forward role along with fellow experienced Buffs Christopher Williams and Patrick Boles. Nigel Lockyer Jnr was again a highlight for Palmerston as he posted another three majors for the losing side, but fellow goal kicker Jack Brauman was named best alongside Blake Launer. Kyle Emery was also influential under Dennis’ ruckwork, with both finding the goals.

A winless Waratah is next in line to face a confident Darwin side, with the Buffaloes making an early case to be Nightcliff’s biggest title challenger this year. On the other hand, Palmerston travels to face Southern Districts in a bout that will – barring a draw – give either side their first win for the season.

WARATAH 7.8 (50)
ST MARY’S 13.14 (92)

GOALS:

Waratah: S. Stroobants 4, S. Godden, C. Barrett, K. Kantilla.
St Mary’s: N. Paredes 2, D. Johnstone 2, S. Rioli 2, J. Cheek 2, J. Quinn, R. Smith, T. Anderson, L. Larson, L. Ferreira.

BEST:

Waratah: N/A
St Mary’s: T. Anderson, J. Geary, N. Paredes, N. Yarran, W. Hams, J. Cheek

St Mary’s became the fourth side to go two-from-two as it overcame a disappointing Waratah by 42 points to see out the round. The Saints’ wealth of class and experience proved too much for the Warriors as they stormed to the 13.14 (92) to 7.8 (50) win, guided by nine individual goal kickers.

The Saints have been ultra-impressive thus far and were only helped by the addition of former-AFL midfielder Will Hams to the lineup for this game. He, along with fellow Saints returnee Jackson Geary, was productive as the likes of Nathaniel Paredes and Josh Cheek found the goals with two majors each, while Tom Anderson was named best with Nicholas Yarran not far behind. VFL-listed small Steve Stoobants entered the competition with a splash for the underperforming Warriors, booting a game-high four goals as their main form of resistance. Their prime movers in Sam Godden, Cameron Barrett and Kim Kantilla each also hit the scoreboard, with the absence of midfield leader Abe Ankers proving telling in the loss.

Waratah’s search for a win will only be made harder in Round 3 as it faces a fearsome-looking Darwin side, hoping to rekindle some of the form which saw the Warriors trump the Buffs convincingly in their last two meetings in season 2018/19. Meanwhile, the Saints will go on to face another winless side in Tiwi, but it should prove a decent challenge for the rising St Mary’s team.

2019 VFL season preview: Werribee ready to roar

IT is a new season and reigning premiers Box Hill Hawks are the team with a target on their back. We take a look at each of the 15 Victorian Football League (VFL) teams with plenty of new inclusions to excite fans ahead of the season, with Werribee and Port Melbourne tipped to be some of the top sides in the competition.

Box Hill Hawks

Last season: Premiers

The Hawks have brought in a number of big ball winners to their side with tall winger, Mason De Wit and strong mid/forward Jake Frawley heading to the brown and gold with outside runner, Boadie Motton from Gippsland Power. The Hawks have also picked up Nathan Mullenger-McHugh from the Western Bulldogs, and some experience out west in West Perth’s Luke Meadows. Add in Port Melbourne’s Damian Mascitti and the talented but relatively unknown Paddy Anderson from the Hampden League, and the Hawks have brought in some page and power up forward, as well as great midfield depth. Will Hams will be a loss with a number of other players out to play local footy, while former Sandringham Dragon, Georgie Nagle has headed to Port Melbourne. The reigning premiers have built on the list that took them to the cup last season and they are a team to watch in season 2019.

Casey Demons

Last season: Grand Finalists

The Demons have traded around Stingrays, with Riley D’Arcy, Goy Lok and Ali Zijai all heading to Frankston over the summer, but have brought in premiership Stingrays, Jai Taylor and Matthew Gahan for the 2019 season. Gahan offers good movement out of defence, while the lightning quick Taylor will no doubt make it easy for Casey’s social media team to regularly draw out highlights. Heath Briggs joins his brother at the Demons, while Nick Lowden has progressed from Gippsland among a couple of Port Melbourne recruits in Luke Tynan and Anthony Vella. With a few local league players also joining the side including a familiar name with Darcy Fritsch – brother of Melbourne’s Bailey – pulling on the red and blue. It was a heartbreaking loss in the Grand Final last season and the Demons will be keen to go one better this year with the additions.

Coburg Lions

Last season: 15th (Wooden spoon)

Change was afoot at Coburg over the summer with a match day team full of players coming in, and going out of the Lions’ doors. From a VFL perspective, Matthew Harman has crossed from the Northern Blues with Alex Federico to join former Northern Knights teammates, Braedyn Gillard and Mark Baker at the club, while fellow draft prospects last year, Mitch Podhajski – who returns on a full-time basis to the club – Jack Evans and Lucas Cavallaro all switch from Calder to Coburg. Evans and Cavallaro will provide good drive out of defence, while Podhajski will be a dominant force in multiple areas around the ground. Add in former Eastern Ranges outside midfielder Xavier Fry, a couple of Gold Coast NEAFL players in Brodie Foster and Harry Simington and Canberra Demons’ Jack Baker who was close to being drafted last season, and the Lions have really built some serious depth this year. Of the departures, Hisham Kerbatieh, Nick Mellington and Sean Gregory have crossed to the Seagulls, while Tom Condon will try his hand in the SANFL With Sturt.

Collingwood Magpies

Last season: 5th (Elimination final exit)

A relatively settled line-up, the Magpies will have a bitter taste in their mouth after coming close to a double chance, only to be knocked out in the elimination final by Essendon. Adam Oxley has hung around at the club after being delisted by Collingwood’s AFL side, while Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite looms as a massive inclusion who could put his name up in lights with a big season, while Alex Spencer is the other addition coming from Port Melbourne. Marty Hore and Tom Jok were drafted by Melbourne and Essendon respectively, while Gus Borthwick also departs. The Magpies will hope for a better run of injuries this season with the VFL side stretched at times last year given the amount of AFL players required at AFL level.

Essendon Bombers

Last season: 8th (Preliminary final exit)

Essendon have strategically brought in a number of over-age prospects who did have draft interest over the past two years, with key defender Daniel Hanna and Oakleigh Chargers versatile tall, Matthew Day having plenty of draftable attributes but needing to iron out a few things. Jacob Atley will also share time between Essendon and Bendigo Pioneers in his bid to get drafted with Essendon considering him for an AFL list spot last year. Nick Hind was a whirlwind last season but he will now cross to Sandringham to play with St Kilda’s affiliate, while Alex Boyse also departed the club over the off-season after some draft interest. The Bombers have also picked up former Saint, Ray Connellan, as well as Werribee’s Kurt Aylett and Port Melbourne’s Josh Tynan who should all make important contributions to the club.

Footscray Bulldogs

Last season: 9th

Footscray has bolstered its side ahead of the 2019 season, only losing Jamison Shea to Southport, while Will Hayes got his chance for the Bulldogs’ senior side. Richmond’s Nathan Drummond and Geelong’s Ryan Gardner cross to the club after being delisted last season, while former Carlton AFL player, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow has made the move further west after a stint with Port Melbourne. Interestingly, the Bulldogs have raided St Kevin’s to top up their list, with Sam Barnett, Lachlan Farrugia, Gerard Gleeson and Billy Kanakis all signing onto the club this year. Footscray would hope that the inclusions will be enough to reach the finals after narrowly missing out last year.

Frankston Dolphins

Last season: 14th

The Dolphins had moments returning to the competition for the 2018 season, but ultimately just managed the two wins from 18 games in 2018. Unsuprisingly, Frankston has looked to Sandringham Dragons and Dandenong Stingrays for young talent coming through, while also picking up some former Dragons who were delisted by their respective AFL clubs. Nathan Freeman was a feel-good story last year for the Saints, but his AFL time came to an end, as did Sydney’s Angus Styles who was delisted after one year on the rookie list. Former Stingrays, Riley D’Arcy and Ali Zijai, and former Dragon, Goy Lok all return to Frankston, along with potential Brisbane father-son James Rendell, former Mentone Grammar captain, Harry Houlahan, and Stingrays duo, Aaron Darling – who has had two consecutive knee reconstructions – and Lachlan McDonnell who was unlucky to miss out on being drafted last season. The Dolphins will also help develop St Kilda ruck, Sam Alabakis who was allowed to play for Frankston given St Kilda’s ruck depth who will play at Sandringham.

Geelong Cats

Last season: 3rd (Semi-final exit)

Geelong has made minimal changes to its line-up for the 2019 season, with captain Tom Atkins pulling on the senior blue and white hoops so likely to roll through the VFL team this season, while former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder Aiden Domic, has crossed to Werribee. His Rebels teammate, Charlie Wilson joins the club and will provide some firepower in attack. Gippsland Power key defender Kyle Reid comes into the Cats line-up and with a good season could be a chance to be drafted as a 19-year-old given the Cats’ tendency to draft their own state league players and ageing key defenders, while Aaron Black stays at the club after being delisted. The Cats have also headed to the Goulburn Valley to recruit Nik Rokahr and Luke Smith from the Shepparton Bears. The Cats had a terrific season last year, but fell short in finals, exiting in straight sets at the hands of eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks.

Northern Blues

Last season: 12th

The Northern Blues have bolstered their line-up with some AFL experience, bringing in key defensive duo, Kieran Collins and Alex Johnson. Collins was close to getting a reprieve with the Blues in the AFL, but will bide his time for Carlton’s VFL affiliate, while Johnson was the feel-good story then the heartbreak story of 2018. After multiple knee reconstructions, the former Sydney defender has not given up hope of reaching the highest level again and it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the state league. Hawthorn’s Jonathan O’Rouke also joins the club with some unfulfilled potential, while South Croyden’s Frank Anderson was the name that had a few eyebrows raised when State Combine invites went out last year, but the talented former Eastern Football League star will now get the chance to step up at the higher level.

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Last season: 10th

Not a great deal of change out at North Melbourne, with Alex Morgan staying at the club despite being delisted by the AFL affiliate. Brendan Whitecross will provide invaluable experience after his time at Hawthorn, while former Sydney player, Daniel Robinson also joins the Roos for season 2019. Sam Parson crosses to the club from Box Hill Hawks, while key forward Michael Close, Liam Whelan and Steve Stroobants all depart. The Kangaroos were solid in their debut year last year, finishing 10th and pushing towards a finals birth at times. They did get smashed by the AFL Academy side early in the year, but once North Melbourne gelled, they showed what they were capable of in the competition.

Port Melbourne Borough

Last season: 7th (Elimination final exit)

The 2017 premiers bowed out in the first week of finals last year to eventual premiers, Box Hill Hawks. Like most standalone clubs, the Borough have made plenty of changes to their list, with Kieran Strachan the headline departure after being picked up by Adelaide Crows. Robin Nahas has retired and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow heads to Footscray, while Lucas Cook and Luke Tynan have also left. Into the side comes former Collingwood premiership player, Jarryd Blair, as well as a host of Oakleigh Chargers including Charlie Beasley, Jake Gasper and Xavier Fry. Gasper will replace Nahas as the danger inside 50, while Blair and experienced VFL campaigner, Ben Jolley will be the hard men in the middle with the latter the biggest transfer of the summer. Matthew Signorello has returned to Victoria after being delisted by Adelaide, while former Melbourne player, Dion Johnston has also joined the club. Patrick Veszpremi will try his luck at state level again, returning from Pascoe Vale, while Tom Goodwin (Coburg) and Geordie Nagle (Box Hill Hawks) are some of the VFL talent that have changed clubs to Port Melbourne.

Richmond Tigers

Last season: 1st (Semi-final exit)

It was not a good September for Richmond fans at any level considering two minor premiership led to a straight sets exit and a preliminary final exit. After finishing on top of the table in season 2019, the Tigers looked like going all the way, but as they found out, finals is a different ball game, even for the light technicians and despite some controversy over the finals losses – one they were left in the dark and the second was a brilliance passage of play from Nick Hind in the dying seconds being the difference – they will look to rebound in season 2019.

Sandringham Zebras

Last season: 13th

The Zebras had a disappointing season in 2018, recording a bottom four finish and have subsequently overhauled plenty of their list ahead of the 2019 season. They have made Kai Owens a more full-time member of the side, while Sam Sofronidis, Anthony Seaton, Ryan O’Meara and Nick Stamatis all go through the pathway from Dragons to Zebras. Nathan Wright provides some AFL experience, as does Sam Gilbert who has experienced the atmosphere of AFL Grand Final Day, while Port Melbourne’s Dylan Atkins is another with state league experience invaluable to the Zebras cause. A host of local players round out a long list of additions for season 2019.

Werribee Tigers

Last season: 11th

The Tigers might not have had the best season, finishing in eleventh last year, but they had two players head north to ply their trade with the Gold Coast SUNS. Both Sam Collins and Josh Corbett were pre-listed by the SUNS and will forge AFL careers, while Andrew Hooper and Kurt Aylett both head to the Bombers’ VFL side. While they have lost some experience, the Tigers are arguably the team to watch in season 2019, with AFL experience galore, as well as some seriously talented state league and former TAC Cup stars. Michael Barlow and Max Spencer (Gold Coast), Oscar Junker and Daniel Nielson (North Melbourne), Timm House (Geelong) and Jackson Edwards (Adelaide) return after stints on AFL lists, Barlow the most recognisable name of the lot. Jake Riccardi and Scott Carlin join the club on a full-time basis after playing as 19 year-olds last season, while Ryan Hebron and Josh Clayton are NEAFL players who were in the draft conversation. Key position players, Tom Boyd and Hudson Garoni will straighten the Tigers up, while Western Jets have provided four players to the club, with ball winners, Connor Thar and Jack Watkins, key position utility Hamish Murphy and Nick Stuhldreier all coming to the club. The biggest recruit might be off the field, with 2004 AFL Premiership coach, Mark Williams taking the reigns at Werribee.

Williamstown Seagulls

Last season: 4th (Preliminary final exit)

The narrowest of defeats in the Preliminary Final to eventual premiers Box Hill Hawks might have stung over the summer had the National AFL Draft not rolled around.By the end of November, Williamstown’s Ben Cavarra – a player with a well-documented pathways journey – finally found an AFL home at the Western Bulldogs, while Lachlan Schulz and Brett Bewley remained teammates over in the west with Fremantle. By the AFL season start, Michael Gibbons would become a Blue, making it a mammoth four players drafted by the one club over the off-season, then club legend Ben Jolley departed for rivals Port Melbourne. The Seagulls will undoubtedly drop back a bit with the serious talent that has left the club, but will be proud of the development pathway provided. In saying that, they have brought in North Melbourne’s Mitch Hibberd and Collingwood’s Sam McLarty for some AFL experience, while Joel Ottavi, Nick Mellington, Hisham Kerbatieh and Nick Sing cross from other VFL clubs. From the TAC Cup, Stefan Radovanovic will provide speed and power for the Seagulls, while former Collingwood small Ben Kennedy also joins the club, A team to watch with interest to see how they go given the amount of experience out the door, but always a team to keep an eye on.

Predictions:

Premiers: Werribee
Runner-Up: Port Melbourne
Michael Barlow (Werribee)