Saints tame Tigers to ascend to NTFL Grand Final

ST Mary’s will take on Waratah in the 2021/22 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League Grand Final on Saturday night, in a repeat of the semi-final clash between the pair. The Saints toppled Nightcliff in the preliminary final, overcoming the Tigers’ stranglehold on them in big games over the last two seasons, with the two-time reigning premiers getting up over St Mary’s in the past two grand finals.

NIGHTCLIFF 3.3 | 5.5 | 5.7 | 5.10 (40)
ST MARY’S 4.2 | 7.4 | 12.6 | 15.8 (96)

St Mary’s produced an impressive four-quarter performance – saving its best until last – with a dominant 56-point victory over Nightcliff to turn the tables on the Tigers from the last two grand finals. The Saints lead by five points at quarter time and then extended that lead to 11 points by the main break, but the best was yet to come. Slamming home 8.4 to 0.5 in the second half, St Mary’s took control of the game and blew the reigning back-to-back premiers away with the 15.8 (96) to 5.10 (40) victory.

Having 38 more disposals – including 20 more contested possessions – as well as 19 more ground ball gets, the Saints went in harder and benefited from it. Despite booting five goals to nil in the third term, St Mary’s only had four more inside 50s (13-9) and eight more for the entire game, whilst only winning the clearances by two. Nightcliff easily won the hitouts (plus-19). The key difference between the sides was the kicking efficiency, with the Saints kicking at 69 per cent for the match – including above 70 per cent for the season half – compared to the Tigers’ 54 per cent.

Jish Smithson lead the way for St Mary’s, racking up a massive 28 disposals, four marks, 15 ground ball gets, seven clearances, four tackles, six inside 50s and two rebound 50s. Captain Nathaniel Paredes amassed 21 touches, 13 ground ball gets, five clearances five tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s, whilst Lucas Jellyman-Turner (23 disposals, four marks, four clearances, two tackles, five inside 50s and four rebounds) and Dylan Landt (19 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles, seven inside 50s and one goal) were both prolific. Up forward, Jackson Calder continued his remarkable season with four majors from just six kicks.

Thomas North tried hard for the Tigers in the loss, recording a team-high 23 disposals, seven clearances and nine tackles, as well as four marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s. Unsurprisingly Brodie Filo (20 disposals, three marks, five clearances and six inside 50s) and Cameron Illett (19 disposals, five marks, three clearances and four inside 50s) were both prolific. Recent league best and fairest winner Daniel Bowles had the 16 touches and eight rebound 50s. John Butcher did the bulk of the scoring up forward with three goals from five scoring shots, and seven kicks all up.

St Mary’s takes on Waratah in the 2021/22 NTFL Grand Final on Saturday night from 6:30pm at TIO Stadium.

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