2022/23 NTFL Men’s Premier League kicks off tomorrow
A NEW club will write the first chapter of its Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League story on the weekend when the new season kicks off from tomorrow night. PINT Football Club will join the top flight of football for the first time, having won the minor premiership in Division 1 last season without a Premier League side. Though ultimately losing the grand final to Banks, the Green Ants showed enough to earn a place in the Premier League for the first time in their 41-year history.
PINT faces a tough start to the season by taking on the Premier League minor premiers Nightcliff on Saturday night at Nightcliff Oval. The Tigers won back-to-back flags in the NTFL Men’s Premier League, and looked good to go the three-peat when they finished atop the 2021/22 ladder. However the unpredictability of football had other plans, and the Tigers exited in straight sets, losing to Waratah and then eventual premiers, St Mary’s. Still a major threat, the Tigers will go into the match as strong favourites.
Fittingly the grand final rematch opens the season, with Waratah hosting St Mary’s at Garden Oval tomorrow night in a must-watch match. Though team lists are scarce, the likes of Saints premiership captain Nathaniel Paredes will be among the thick of it again, with Jackson Calder and Kieren Parnell also key figures. All eyes will be on Waratah to see what it can produce having beaten St Mary’s in the first final and having a week off prior to the grand final, with Brodie Carroll and Jayden Magro among the consistent performers.
Other Round 1 clashes include the Nungalinya Cup battle between Darwin Buffaloes and Wanderers. The two sides face off as part of a double-header at TIO Stadium on Saturday evening, with the first bounce at 5pm local time. The two teams will follow on from the Palmerston Magpies and Tiwi Bombers match straight before. Of those four sides, just Wanderers made finals last season, winning the first final before bowing out to St Mary’s in the second week.
The Eagles will be keen to step up against the Buffaloes who scraped into sixth spot off pure percentage. Palmerston was just two points behind, while the Bombers went winless for the second straight year after having an outstanding regular season in 2019/20. Tiwi will undoubtedly look to crack through for an early win, though it will be far from easy against the Magpies who always bring in some high quality talent from interstate. That talent includes Eddie Betts and Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett Jr, who will play for the black and whites in Round 8 at TIO Stadium in front of what is anticipated to be a packed house.
As usual, the season will feature 18 rounds, and run from September 30 through until Saturday, February 18. There will be a bye over the Christmas and New Year period, with no football played during that fortnight between December 17 and January 7’s Round 12 and 13 fixtures. With the addition of PINT into the league, it means there will be a bye each week, starting with Southern Districts in Round 1. The Crocs will enter in Round 2, taking on Wanderers at home. Each team will have two byes, playing 16 games, which means each team twice in a balanced fixture.
ROUND 1 FIXTURE:
Friday, September 30:
Waratah vs. St Mary’s @ Gardens Oval, 6:30pm
Saturday, October 1:
Palmerston Magpies vs. Tiwi Bombers @ TIO Stadium, 2:30pm
Darwin Buffaloes vs. Wanderers @ TIO Stadium, 5:00pm
Nightcliff vs. PINT @ Nightcliff Oval, 6:30pm