Favourites March Onwards – NTFL Round 17
Sunday, February 14 2016 @ 10:27 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The brutal truth is that the top four won and the bottom four lost. One round out from the finals and we are left with a very compelling and confronting truth. In a season which has seen so many close games, the irony is that most of the ladder positions are already signed, sealed and delivered with wide gaps between almost all sides on the ladder except, thankfully, for the battle for fifth place.
As it stands, the Southern Districts Crocs will win the minor premiership, St Mary’s and Wanderers will meet in the Qualifying Final, Waratah will win the wooden spoon and the Tiwi Bombers will avoid the spoon by miss finals. These are now all givens. Buffaloes will play someone in the Elimination Final, and whether it be Nightcliff or Palmerston will be the most intriguing part of next weekend’s final home and away round.
The Southern Districts Crocs were way too good for the Tiwi Bombers, downing them by 43 points in a game they led all day. But the big talk of the game was whether Crocs’ Full Forward, Will Farrer, would kick his 100th goal for the season in this match. Fans had little time to debate the issue as his two goals game early in the first quarter. He joins elite NTFL company with only four players having reached the magic “ton” for the Crocs. Only six other players had achieved that feat at all, including former Lion and Bomber Damien Cupido in 2012/13 and former Demon and Bulldog Allen Jackovich in 1988/89, both for Crocs. Others to have reached that peak include Crocs player Ashley Wedding (2006/07), Nightcliff’s Trevor Sutton (1979/80), St Mary’s Dennis Dunn (1985/86 and 1987/88) and Waratah’s Matthew Chilcott (1995/96).
Final Score: Southern District Crocs 18 11 119 d Tiwi Bombers 11 10 76
St Mary’s jumped away early against Nightcliff to grab a handy quarter time lead. From there the Saints kept the Tigers at bay at each change before pushing out to a 30 point victory. The win secured second place for the Saints, but the loss for Nightcliff spells danger for their finals aspirations. To play finals they must either defeat the in-form Wanderers next weekend or hope that Palmerston lose their clash with the Tiwi Bombers. Both are possibilities, but so are the reverse options so it rests in the Tigers’ hands.
Final Score: St Mary’s Saints 13 20 98 d Nightcliff Tigers 10 8 68
Wanderers’ run to the finals continued to gather momentum with a strong win over the Palmerston Magpies. The 46 point margin made a change for Wanderers, a team which has been hardened by a run of close finishes. But the Magpies now find themselves in a perilous position with no choice by to beat the Bombers next weekend and hope the Tigers lose to play finals. Apart from a goal-less third quarter, the Wanderers dominated the game and made sure the teams above them knew that they mean business.
Final Score: Wanderers Eagles 12 13 85 d Palmerston Magpies 6 3 39
Buffaloes iced their season with a win that meant they could not possibly drop out of the finals, making it their most successful season for many years already. Their huge 122 point victory over the Waratah Warriors was a handy exclamation point on a good season overall, especially as they play the league leaders, Crocs, in the final round. Mathematically, the Buffaloes could take third place if they knocked over Crocs and Wanderers dropped their game to Nightcliff. But form says that the Darwin Buffaloes will play in the Elimination Final in two weeks’ time which is a good return for the season so far.
Final Score: Darwin Buffaloes 21 21 147 d Waratah Warriors 4 1 25
Next weekend’s final round of the home and away series will see Wanderers versus Nightcliff, St Mary’s tackle Waratah, Southern Districts clashing with Darwin Buffaloes and the Palmerston Magpies meeting the Tiwi Bombers.