Waratah snaps 23-year NTFL flag drought
THE sleeping giant arose on Saturday night when Waratah won its 16th NTFL Men’s Premier League flag, snapping a 23-year premiership drought in the process. The Tahs’ were the last of the remaining eight sides at the turn of the new century to win a premiership after defeating Southern Districts by 18 points at TIO Stadium.
Waratah won its last flag as the new century technically ticked over during the 1999/2000 series, but watched as the other seven teams all claimed premiership glory over the past two decades. St Mary’s won 11 flags in that 23-year span, moving them well clear on top of the overall premiership table. The Warriors on the other hand had to wait patiently to bring a premiership cup back to Gardens Oval, but it happened on the weekend as they stepped up for a 10.10 (70) to 7.10 (52) victory over the Crocs.
The Warriors lead almost instantly from when Adam Gulden slotted a goal 18 seconds into the match, and the favourites booted four goals to one in the opening term to open up a 20-point advantage at quarter time. Southern Districts’ Luke Smith slotted two goals in the second term to drag his side back to within a kick at the main break.
Despite peppering the goals in the third term, Waratah could only kick four behinds, making it 1.5 since the first break, while the Districts added 1.3 in the third term to incredibly draw within a point heading into the last quarter. The minor premiers were coming hard, but a crucial goal to Robbie Turnbull ensured the Tahs’ remained in front. That would not be the last twist though as Southern Districts hit the front via Sam Dunstan.
Just when it looked like the Crocs might run over the top of the Tahs’ it was another goal, this time to Tom Banuelos who put his side up and then Ankers released the pressure valve with a key major. Fittingly, it was captain and star talent Brodie Carroll who slotted the last goal of the game and the Warriors moved into party mode to win by 18 points. They had been challenged, but not beaten, and when it counted they stood up.
Turnbull ended up being the best for Waratah, as Scott Carlin and Carroll (two goals) both impressed as they have all season. Gulden and Darcy Hope finished with the two majors, while Jack O’Sullivan and Jake Bowd were also named among the best for the Warriors.
Smith filled up with three goals in a loss, while Dylan Barry slotted two for Southern Districts. Star ruck Matt Dennis earned the Chaney Medal as best on ground for his incredible performance despite being on the losing end of the match. Frazer Driscoll, Matt Shannon and Dean Staunton were named among the best with Smith.