Crocs get second crack after Saints success
SOUTHERN Districts has earned a second crack at fellow grand finalists Waratah after coming away with a 23-point win over St Mary’s in the 2022/23 NTFL Men’s Premier League Preliminary Final on the weekend. The Crocs went down to Waratah in the second week of finals coming off a bye, but will now be in the opposite position when they take on the Tahs’ in next weekend’s decider.
The Crocs were humbled in the second semi-final against Waratah, going down 16.9 (105) to 7.7 (49), and had to use their second chance to take on St Mary’s who defeated Nightcliff by 35 points in the other semi-final. Determined to make a stand early, the Crocs booted three goals to one to open up a 12-point buffer over the Saints at quarter time.
Their lead grew to 16 at the main break, as the underdogs began to have issues with accuracy, kicking 2.4 to Southern Districts’ 3.1. Though they had struggled to make the most of their chances, the Saints began to tick over the score in the third term, courtesy of a four goals to three quarter. In that time, St Mary’s closed the gap to just 10 points to set up a grandstand finish for the penultimate match of the season.
Despite their best efforts though, the Saints were unable to sustain the same effort into the last, as a high-powered Southern Districts outfit slammed home five goals to three to run out 23-point winners and book their spot in the grand final. Having three more scoring shots, the Crocs booted 14.9 (93) to 10.10 (70) at TIO Stadium.
Sam Dunstan slotted four goals in the win, though he was far from alone. Dylan Barry, Jake McQueen and Luke Smith all booted two for the Crocs. The Landt brothers – Dylan and Jack – combined for five goals themselves, while dangerous goalkicker Jackson Calder was restricted to just the one major.
Southern Districts ruck Matthew Dennis was named best-on, with Frazer Driscoll and Dean Staunton named among the best with Smith, Dunstan and McQueen. For the Saints, Lucas Jellyman-Turner was a standout, while Matthew Green and Nick Yarran also impressed alongside the Landts.
For Dennis in particular, it was a huge accomplishment, with the long-term NTFL ruck finally earning a crack at the Men’s Premier League title. The Crocs will need to overcome the might of Waratah who proved too good for them in the semi-final, though with form finally behind them, Southern Districts will be keen to show exactly why it won the minor premiership this season.