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Sunday, June 07 2020 @ 12:22 pm ACST

NTFL season at 33 and 1/3

The Northern Territory Football League matches played in Darwin this weekend mark the one third point of the 2014/15 season. This presents a good opportunity to see how the teams are tracking so far this season. Already there are some patterns emerging, some upsets brewing and some all teams lining up for a piece of the action over the remaining twelve rounds.

After the completion of Round 6, the Premier League has a surprise leader. The Nightcliff Tigers sit undefeated at the top of the ladder, with St Mary’s sitting behind them with just one loss…to Nightcliff in Round 5. Not only was the Tigers’ win last week a significant message to the competition, it also ended an amazing winning streak from St Mary’s. That run began in 2012 and continued to Round 4 this season and netted the club two premierships along the way. But the resurgent Tigers managed to end the run and in the process install themselves as an early flag candidate.

The season is only early, but these two sides have already stamped themselves as the teams to beat for a grand-final berth.

For further evidence of that, a quick look at the Round 6 results shows that the next tier of teams is a little reluctant to chase the leaders. Third placed Southern Districts lost to the lowly Buffaloes in an upset to have them fall behind the leaders. Last year’s grand finalists, Wanderers, lost three of their opening five matches to also fall behind.

The Tiwi Bombers hold fifth place, but not convincingly. They are on two wins along with sixth placed Palmerston Magpies, but have a batter percentage. However, Waratah and Buffaloes are in seventh and eighth place with a win each but both have better percentages that both the Bombers and the Magpies. That also means that whilst both Waratah and Buffaloes are equal last on paper, the reality is they are just a game out of finals contention at present and a string of wins could change their seasons dramatically.

The same could be said for all teams. A good run of games before the Christmas/New Year break could very well set up a frenetic run for the finals for all teams. The next six matches take the teams to the break, with the final six matches and finals to be played when the competition restarts in January.

It will be interesting to see how the next six rounds pan out. Will the Tiger resurgence continue? Will St Mary’s find their mojo and assert their dominance? Can Southern Districts or Wanderers find the consistency to push for higher positions? Can the Tiwi Bombers get a spark to fire them back into finals action? Can Palmerston continue their slow and steady improvement and aim for finals action themselves? Waratah were finalists last year. Can they return to that feted position again? Or can Buffaloes prove that their last upset win on the weekend was no fluke and snare enough wins to see finals?

There are many questions to be answered, and we will return after Round 12 with the state of play ahead of the final run to the 2014/15 finals series.

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