2021/22 NTFLW: Fast starting Waratah blitz Buffaloes

ONCE again, this past weekend saw the latest batch of games for the Northern Territory Football League Women’s (NTFLW) Premier League take place across the state. Round 14 saw some big wins from some of the competition’s premier teams, as they flex their muscles with finals just around the corner. In one of the biggest stories of the year, the competition favourites found themselves on the end of an upset for the second week in a row, with the Darwin Buffaloes convincingly beaten by Waratah.

WARATAH 4.3 | 6.4 | 9.6 | 9.7 (61)
DARWIN BUFFALOES 0.0 | 0.1 | 2.1 | 5.2 (32)

In one of the more surprising results of the round, Waratah were able to do what was considered impossible two weeks ago, and knock off the Darwin Buffaloes to the tune of 29 points at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Buffaloes were considered heavy premiership favourites prior to the Christmas and New Year break, but have now lost two on the trot, with the team likely now considered less of a threat with the postseason just around the corner. On the other hand, it was a season-defining victory for Waratah, who have now also put their hand up as serious contenders for the flag come finals time.

Waratah stormed out of the gates in the first term, asserting its dominance early in the match. The team was able to do it all, from rebounding the ball out of defensive-50 to winning clearances across the ground. They opened their account through Stephanie O’Brien, who slotted her shot on the run to give her side the first score of the day. This started a run of goals for Waratah that proved too much for the Buffaloes to handle. The scores were reflective of the frantic, high-pressure game Waratah brought to the table. When quarter-time rolled around, the margin stood at 27 points, with Darwin yet to hit the scoreboard at this stage.

Waratah continued its charge in the second quarter, extending their lead in dominant fashion. The Warriors kicked off the period in style, with blitzing play resulting in Nikki Watts storming into an open goal. Waratah was ruthless in their pursuit of the win, constantly harassing their opponents to force turnovers, and piling on the six-pointers in frequent fashion. One highlight of the term saw Watts boot her second goal of the period, this time firing off a shot on the run from outside-50 that was given a nice bounce and gave her side a 33-point advantage heading into the main break, given the Buffaloes had hit the scoreboard for a major in that term.

The third quarter saw Waratah extend its lead, although the Buffaloes were able to stop the bleeding to some extent. Darwin only conceded three goals for the term and were able to snag one themselves during this time. Although the margin seemed still out of reach, this was a different Buffaloes side than what we saw in the first half. The three-quarter time deficit stood at 47 points, which was a solid effort considering the events of the first two quarters, although Darwin still had a mountain of work ahead of them.

The final term saw even more of a fightback from the Buffaloes, who were determined to produce a better performance to close out the match. Darwin was able to hold their opponents goalless for the first time this match, as they finally turned the tables and pressured Waratah at all times. The Buffaloes were also able to add three of their own goals, but the damage was already done, with Waratah emerging victorious to the tune of nearly five goals.

For the victors, Madeleine Jeans was terrific in the contest, constantly impacting the play and popping up all over the ground. Watts was also impressive, impacting the match from half-forward and her two second-quarter goals were massive in extending the lead and giving her team even more spark. For the Buffaloes, Tikesa Docherty-Cole fought hard all day despite the tough loss, and giving her side a four-quarter performance.

Around the grounds, the Nightcliff Tigers furthered their premiership credentials, taking down fellow flag fancy St Mary’s at Nightcliff Oval on Saturday afternoon. The win was set up by a powerful second term from the Tigers, who booted five unanswered goals to claim a match-winning lead that proved too much for their opponents, with the final margin sitting at 78 points.

Moving to DXC Arena, the reigning premiers have continued their charge into the top four, with PINT producing a dominant win over the Wanderers to the tune of 147 points on Saturday. PINT were ruthless in this win, booting a combined 17 goals in the second and fourth terms alone as they stormed into fourth spot in style.

The final match of the round saw the Palmerston Magpies emerge victorious over Tracy Village in a thrilling contest, with the margin sitting at just 10 points at Tracy Village Oval on Sunday afternoon. Tracy Village looked a chance of claiming their first win of the season, with the home side taking advantage of Palmerston’s poor accuracy in front of goal. However, it was the Magpies who were able to hold on and get the job done to claim their second triumph of their 2021/22 campaign.

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