Fantastic five remain in tight NTFL finals race

JUST 1.34 per cent was the difference between a double chance and a knockout final in the NTFL Men’s Premier League. Five teams remain in the hunt for the title following the conclusion of the regular season over the weekend. All five contenders picked up at least 10 wins from their 16 games, in what was one of the more even seasons to date.

Though the bottom three teams combined for just the seven victories all year, the fifth placed PINT landed with a win-loss record of 10-6, just 12 points adrift of minor premiers, St Mary’s. Nightcliff was four points and percentage short of the Saints in second, and will take on Waratah who won the percentage battle over Southern Districts.

‘Tahs clutched onto second with a percentage of 168.83, a sheer 1.34 per cent ahead of the Crocs. Instead of being two victories away from a grand final, Southern Districts will instead head to a do-or-die elimination contest with PINT this weekend. Though the Green Ants finished a clear fifth, they were not far off the top four teams, and gained enough separation on the rest of the field.

Darwin Buffaloes were the only other side to really be in finals contention this year, recording an even split of 8-8, but a lower percentage of 85.68 per cent for the 2023/24 season. Tiwi Bombers (4-12, 70.77 per cent) achieved seventh ahead of Wanderers (3-13, 46.40 per cent), while Palmerston Magpies received the wooden spoon after a forgettable winless season and percentage of 27.23.

It was equally close in the goalkicking stakes, with Waratah sharpshooter Jayden Magro booting 63 goals in 16 games for an average of 3.9 per match. Playing a full season might have proved the difference between the hotly contested top three, with Jarrod Brander (61 goals in 15 games, 4.1 ave) and Jackson Calder (61 goals in 14 games, 4.4 ave) both finishing with higher averages and just two goals behind.

In the qualifying final between Nightcliff and Waratah, the second placed Tigers will need to overcome an 0-2 record against Tahs who won by 31 points on the weekend. Instead of being at home, the Tigers will instead do battle at TIO Stadium from 6:45pm on Saturday night.

PINT has a similarly tough battle against Southern Districts, losing both its matches against the Crocs. However, the seven-point defeat at Norbuilt Oval in Round 14 was a far better effort than its horrific 109-point loss at TIO Stadium in Round 4. The teams will meet back at that venue in the earlier game as part of the double-header.

St Mary’s gets to sit pretty this week with a bye, coming into finals with back-to-back 100-plus point shellackings. The Saints destroyed Darwin by 122 points in the final round, which followed on from a 155-point massacre over Palmerston in Round 17. Since the Saints’ shock loss to Tiwi Bombers – which came after a defeat to Nightcliff – St Mary’s has strung six wins together. In fact, Nightcliff is the only team to beat the minor premiers twice this season.


Week 1:

EF: [4th] Southern Districts vs. [5th] PINT @ TIO Stadium, Saturday February 24, 4:15pm
QF: [2nd] Nightcliff vs. [3rd] Waratah @ TIO Stadium, Saturday, February 24, 6:45pm

Week 2:

SF2: [1st] St Mary’s vs. Winner of Qualifying Final
SF1: Loser of Qualifying Final vs. Winner of Elimination Final

Week 3:

PF: Loser of Semi-Final 2 vs. Winner of Semi-Final 1

Week 4:

GF: Winner of Semi-Final 2 vs. Winner of Preliminary Final

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