EACH of the top four Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League sides collected wins in the last round of the regular 2022/23 season on the weekend. Finals kicks off this weekend with the nine teams reduced to five, as the remaining teams eye off premiership glory over the next four weeks.
In what was ultimately a fairly one-sided round of action aside from minor premiers Southern District taking on Darwin Buffaloes, the other top four sides all took on non-finalists in Round 18, resulting in an average margin differential of 73.3 points.
In arguably the most touted match of the weekend, Southern Districts powered away in the second half to assert its dominance against fifth placed Darwin Buffaloes to head into the first week finals bye with confidence. Though lead by 13 points at quarter time, the Crocs did not have it all their own way for long, as Darwin slotted five goals to three in the second term to draw level by the main break.
As they have so often done in the 2022/23 season, the Crocs regained control in the third term and slammed home four goals to one in the third term to head into the three quarter time break 19 points ahead. In what turned out to be a barnstorming fourth term, Southern Districts romped to victory with 6.3 to 1.0 to blow out the margin to 52 points, double the Buffaloes score. By the final siren, the Crocs won 16.8 (104) to 8.4 (52).
Sam Dunstan kicked four goals in the win, with Dylan Barry and Jack Mentha each having a hand in the score with two apiece. Dean Staunton was named best on ground for the victors, while Ronald Fejo, Matthew Mazzini and ex-AFL player Cam Ellis-Yolmen also among the better players. For Darwin Buffaloes, former Blue and Lion Mitch Robinson starred again, with Daniel Stafford (three goals) and Jarrod Stokes (two) the most prominent scorers for the home side.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
St Mary’s made an emphatic statement to secure third spot and a double chance with a 102-point shellacking of eighth placed Wanderers straight after the Buffs-Croc game. Jackson Calder had a day out with seven goals as Nicholas Yarran kicked four, while Lucas Jellyman-Turner was named best on ground. Nathan Arbon was nominated as the pick of the Wanderers players.
Though the Saints’ win ultimately put a line through their chances of grabbing third spot, fourth placed Nightcliff Tigers proved far too strong for Tiwi Bombers en route to a 65-point victory. Wanderers brought up the half century by half-time to lead by 36 points, and while the Bombers battled hard in the third term, Nightcliff stepped up in the last to run out 13.18 (96) to 4.7 (31) victors. Jay Moody kicked four goals in the win.
In the other match, Waratah kept Palmerston to just two behinds for the rest of the match after quarter time – and scoreless in the second half – as the second placed side booted 13.18 (96) to 3.4 (22) at Cazaly’s Arena. After a promising start where the Magpies were level with the favourites at the first break, the likes of Jayden Magro (five goals) and Scott Carlin (best on ground) were too much for the seventh placed team.