Tigers roar into big dance

OVER the weekend, the Northern Territory Football League Women’s (NTFLW) Premier League held its preliminary final round at TIO Stadium. With just three teams remaining, there was one more deciding match to determine who would face off against the Darwin Buffettes with the Nightcliff Tigers taking on Waratah on Saturday afternoon. It was a blockbuster matchup given the form of the two sides throughout the season. The Warriors had hit their stride coming into this clash, while the Tigers led all season, but found themselves bested by the Buffaloes last week, so this match could have gone either way. In the end, the Tigers made history by claiming a two-point win to advance to their first women’s grand final.


The match was quite contested in the opening few minutes, with both sides unable to generate any smooth ball movement to start the game. There was plenty of hard-fought possessions around the ground with the ball essentially living between the arcs for the majority of the term. Neither side could conjure a goal with the Warriors leading by just two behinds at the first break.


The Tigers were finally to get their game going to start the second period. Nightcliff simply peppered the ball inside-50 in the first half of the term, and were eventually able to record their first major of the day with some nice ball-movement as they took their first lead of the game too. The Tigers locked the ball in their half for the first five minutes of the period, before the Waratah defence mounted a bit of a charge. However, this did not initially result in any scores as the ball once again remained between the 50-metre arcs. They finally got on the board with Lisa Miceli converting a set-shot, before Annabel Kievit followed suit shortly after. Nightcliff trimmed the margin back to one point heading into the main break, setting up a blockbuster second half.


Nightcliff looked dangerous once again in the third term, as Cassie McWilliam regained the lead for her side with a clever snap in traffic. The Tigers were again determined to lock the ball inside their half of the ground and consistently put their opponents under the pump. Nightcliff extended its advantage over the opposition with Lauren Gooden using her strength and speed inside-50 to boot her side’s fourth goal of the match. The Warriors got one against the flow as crafty forward Jenna Singh brought the margin back to under a goal heading into the final term.


Unsurprisingly, the final period of this match ended up being one of the most entertaining of the 2021/22 season, with the lead going back and forth in the final 20 minutes of play. In the first two minutes of the term, Singh put the Warriors back in front with one of the goals of the season, as she threaded the snap from the tightest of angles in the forward pocket. The lead once again changed hands as Nightcliff’s Eliza Morrison converted an easy set-shot after pulling down a big pack mark in front of goal. They had all the momentum for the minutes that followed, as the ball stayed in their forward line, but the Warriors got one against the flow through Kievit. However, their lead was short lived, as Morrison converted the easiest of goals from a 50-metre penalty and kicked the match-winning goal to lead her side to the big dance.

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