2021/22 NTFLW Premier League Round 9 wrap: Reigning premiers send a message

THIS past weekend saw a small number of football leagues across Australia return to action as summer approaches. This includes the Northern Territory Football League Women’s (NTFLW) Premier League, as the competition delivered an entertaining ninth round of action. Many sides returned to their high-scoring ways to produce big wins, while others continued to struggle. The round was headlined by a top four clash between the Southern Districts and PINT, with the sides vying off for fourth spot on the ladder. In the end, it was the class of last year’s champs that would eventually decide the contest between the two.

PINT 7.4 (46) def. Southern Districts 4.4 (28)

In a rematch of last year’s final, the result remained the same as PINT took down the Southern Districts by three goals at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. In what was touted as the matchup of the round, the reigning premiers were able to find last year’s form in the nick of time, as they were well served by control of possession and accuracy in front of goal. The Districts entered this match as one of the form teams of the competition, having won their last three matches, but could not match the class of their opponents as PINT ended up running away with the result to cement their spot in fourth place.

The match appeared it would go either way in the opening minutes, with both sides looking to wrestle ascendancy away from their opponents, but ultimately unable to do so. The Districts registered the first score with a behind early in the first quarter, but PINT were able to finally put the game on their terms with the opening goal coming off the boot of Jacinta Reid as she converted her set shot. The ledger was evened in the next few minutes, with the Districts able to conjure a response through Tayla Thorn to tie up proceedings. PINT were able to boot the next major courtesy of a 50-metre penalty due to the new ‘stand’ rule on the mark. The sides then traded goals before the first break (with the Districts’ second coming on the quarter time siren), with PINT finishing the first term with a six-point lead.

The second quarter was a tale of accuracy, with PINT able to punish their opponents thanks to straight kicking in front of the big sticks. The Districts forced the ball inside 50 enough times that they were able to produce more scoring shots than the opposition, but they were unable to deliver a major. Meanwhile, PINT made the most of their opportunities when the ball entered their forward half. Their first of the quarter came through Jacqueline Downey, who was able to side-step an opponent and extend her side’s lead. The Districts continued to pepper the goals, but their attempts were unsuccessful, and to add insult to injury, PINT were able to produce yet another major on the eve of half time to take their lead to 14 points at the main break.

The third term opened with more of the same, with Reid converting her second of the match from yet another 50-metre penalty conceded by the Districts. The lead began to grow as PINT added another through Casey Morris with play clearly dominated by the reigning champs. The ball essentially lived in their half, and the margin could have been even worse, with the side only able to register 2.3 for the term. The Districts were able to claim one against the tide through Keeley Waterbury, but the margin still looked insurmountable at three quarter time.

The final term was actually won by the Districts, with PINT unable to conjure a six-pointer for the entire quarter. The Districts looked set to kick off a comeback when Che-Louise Cockatoo booted a snag just three minutes into the fourth quarter. However, this ended up being the final goal of the match, with both sides applying serious pressure and not allowing a goal in the closing minutes.

For the victors, Anna Traill delivered a commanding performance in the win, popping up everywhere to impact the contest around the ground. From crunching tackles to intercept marks, Traill was able to essentially do it all, making life much easier for her teammates. She was well-assisted by Reni Hicks, who also stood out in the victory with an eye-catching performance. For the Districts, Jessie Brock performed admirably despite the final score, and can hold her head high.

Around the grounds, the Nightcliff Tigers continued their hunt for the flag, remaining undefeated with an 84-point victory over the bottom-placed Tracy Village at TIO Stadium on Saturday morning. The Tigers entered the match heavily favoured and were able to live up to this expectation, winning their eighth game in a row to keep top spot on the ladder. Meanwhile the struggles continue for Tracy Village, who are still searching for their first victory and look fairly off the pace.

The final Saturday match saw Waratah record the biggest win of the round, taking down the Palmerston Magpies by a whopping 102 points at Cazaly’s Arena. It was a dominant performance from the victors, who took a commanding lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The win was headlined by a five-goal haul for Waratah forward Lisa Miceli, who took advantage of an underperforming opposition to have a day out. Alarms would be sounding for the Magpies, who were unable to register a goal in the loss.

Round 9’s last match saw a convincing victory from St Mary’s, defeating the Wanderers by 53 points at Tracy Village Oval on Sunday afternoon. This match was crucial for St Mary’s, who are looking to keep up with the likes of Darwin and Nightcliff, who currently occupy the top two spots on the ladder. This victory means St Mary’s are able to maintain their position in third spot and keep up with the teams above them. This also sets up a tantalising clash between them and the second-placed Buffaloes next round.

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