NTFL Men’s Premier League Round 4 preview: Blockbuster top-two clash set for Saturday

IT’S almost the end of the week, which means players and staff of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League will be gearing up for what should be another exciting weekend of action. Round 3 saw some sides post massive scores, while others struggled to gather any offensive momentum. However, it is a new week and there will be plenty of opportunities for sides to finish the weekend off with a victory. With the round’s action headlined by a massive matchup between the top two sides, football fans in the Northern Territory and around Australia will be treated to some enthralling action.

Tiwi Bombers vs. Southern Districts

2:00pm Saturday 23 October

Gardens Oval

It will be a battle for the maiden win, as both sides look set to fight tooth and nail for their first victory of the 2021/22 season when the Tiwi Bombers host the Southern Districts on Saturday afternoon. The two teams currently occupy the bottom two spots on the ladder, but this could change at the conclusion of the round, with plenty up for grabs when they lock horns to kick off proceedings for the round.

The Tiwi Bombers are currently the only side with three losses next to their name, and will be looking to change this with a win against the Southern Districts on Saturday. While they looked competitive at times against sides such as the Palmerston Magpies, they were on the receiving end of one of the most brutal losses thus far. St Mary’s gave the Bombers a 142-point flogging in Round 3, and the current wooden-spooners will be desperate to bounce back following a disappointing outing.

While neither side in this contest has won a game, the Southern Districts have not technically lost all of their matches, with a Round 2 draw with the Darwin Buffaloes keeping them off the bottom of the ladder. However, a loss to the Bombers would see them slide down the ladder to become the league’s cellar dweller. The Crocs have looked better than their record at times though, and with some narrow losses in their rear view mirror, the Districts will be heading into this match likely to take the opportunity presented to them.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Wanderers

4:00pm, Saturday October 23

TIO Stadium

Palmerston will be looking to sneak up the ladder with a win over the Wanderers when the two sides go head to head on Saturday afternoon. With just percentage separating second and fourth place, these matches are crucial in cementing a promising spot in the standings.

The Magpies currently sit in fourth place, with only percentage separating them from the second-placed Nightcliff Tigers. Their win over the Darwin Buffaloes in Round 3 established them as a clear contender, but games such as this week’s are crucial in maintaining a strong position on the ladder. If they can recapture the dominant high-scoring ways that served them well in Round 3, they should have no problems claiming the win here.

The Wanderers have produced an underwhelming start to the season, with one win from their first three games, as they slowly lose touch with the top part of the ladder. They were humbled by Nightcliff in Round 3, who showed the clear difference in the class of the two sides. The Wanderers will head into this match as underdogs, but the beauty of sports is the possibility of an upset, and doing so would change the fortunes of their 2020/21 season, with still plenty of time to turn their performances around.

St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff Tigers

6:30pm, Saturday 23 October

TIO Stadium

In what looks to be the match of the round, the league’s top two sides are set to lock horns in a blockbuster clash on Saturday night. These two teams have been the benchmark all season, and are both coming off incredibly dominant victories, so this should prove essential viewing for any football fan, regardless of their home state.

St Mary’s currently claim the status as the competition’s best team, and this is backed up by the fact that they remain the only undefeated side after three rounds. Following a whopping 142-point triumph over the Tiwi Bombers in Round 3, the Saints will be full of momentum heading into their biggest clash of the season so far. To make things even more interesting, their closest win came in round 1 against none other than this week’s opposition. They have shown in the opening rounds that they are the real deal, but their toughest test comes this weekend, and if they can emerge victorious, they will take some catching for the remainder of the year.

Nightcliff appear to have found their form in the last two weeks, with two impressive wins good enough to see them in second spot on the ladder. They recorded their strongest win of the season last week as they took down the Wanderers to the tune of 76 points. They appear to be hitting their stride at the right time, but have been given the toughest task in the competition this weekend. They will also have revenge on their mind, after they fell to St Mary’s by 12 points in the opening round.

Darwin Buffaloes vs. Waratah

4:15pm, Sunday 24 October

Gardens Oval

The final match of the round will see a clash between two sides who are looking to keep up with the upper echelon of the competition, when the Darwin Buffaloes play host to Waratah on Sunday afternoon. With just one win separating the sides, this should prove to be a cracking contest to wrap up proceedings for the weekend.

The Buffaloes have found themselves one win out of the top four, largely due to their Round 2 draw against the Southern Districts. Last week saw them fall to the Palmerston Magpies, who dealt a third quarter blitz that proved too much for the Buffaloes to handle. If they are looking to snatch a victory in Round 4, they will need to ensure they remove any lapses from their game, as they face a formidable opponent.

Waratah appears to be building its season nicely, recording two wins from the first three games, including a Round 3 win over the Southern Districts, which loomed as a danger game. This win came from a strong last quarter, where Waratah were able to break away to claim a match-winning lead in the final term. They will be looking to claim ascendancy over their opponents much earlier in the match to claim a comfortable win.

Picture credit: Wayne Leyden

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