We’re Off To The Finals – NTFL Round 18
Monday, February 22 2016 @ 10:55 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
After 18 slogging rounds, the 2015/16 NTFL season will enter the finals series next weekend with all finalists decided. In the opening match of the finals series, Darwin Buffaloes will play against the Nightcliff Tigers in the Elimination Final at TIO Stadium, followed by the Qualifying Final between last year’s two grand finalists, St Mary’s Saints and Wanderers Eagles. Ladder positions did not change after the final round, though there were still heaps of thrills.
The Friday night match between Wanderers and Nightcliff would have a bearing on the shape off the top five should Tigers lose. As it turned out, the Tigers were never going to give their place away and recorded a terrific 10 point win over Wanderers in an upset. They led at every change and the margin floated around the two to three goal mark at each break. The Tigers’ finals charge has been exciting with plenty of new talent leading the way. They will not be a pushover next weekend. For Wanderers, the loss was a reminder that any slip in concentration can be costly, especially with the finals here. They are still seeking back to back glory, and have had an outstanding second half of the season, but now the stakes are higher.
Final Score: Nightcliff Tigers 14 13 97 d Wanderers Eagles 12 15 87
The Waratah Warriors’ season from hell finally finished with a 155 point trouncing to the hands of the St Mary’s Saints. Tah’s coach, Tim Weatherald, held the reins for the last time as St Mary’s unleashed a 10 goal first quarter blitz, and things never really got better. Waratah can now go through the processes needed to resurrect themselves for next season. Saints, however, whilst happy with the pre-finals tune up, now have to play a much sterner opponent next weekend in the Qualifying Final. Wanderers are waiting.
Final Score: St Mary’s Saints 26 19 175 d Waratah Warriors 3 2 20
Palmerston’s finals chances were dashed on the Friday night when Nightcliff upset Wanderers to hold on to fifth place. That didn’t stop the Magpies from giving their all as if finals were still an option. The Tiwi Bombers played with spirit also and held a handy two goal lead going into three-quarter time. But a withering nine goal final quarter from Palmerston showed the resolve in the club – finish on the best possible note. Both teams can now rebuild for next season.
Final Score: Palmerston Magpies 23 8 146 d Tiwi Bombers 18 14 122
The match of the round was arguably the clash between the Southern Districts Crocs and the Darwin Buffaloes. In a match which went right down to the wire – a fitting way to end a season with a myriad of close results – the Crocs held of a determined Buffaloes team by just three points. The lead was narrow at every change as the Buffaloes chased their big scalp heading into the finals. But Crocs spoiled the party to finish clear minor premiers and earn the rest next weekend.
Final Scores: Southern Districts Crocs 7 13 55 d Darwin Buffaloes 8 4 52
Details of finals matches next Saturday 27th February are:
TIO Stadium – 4.30pm – Elimination Final – Darwin Buffaloes (4th) v Nightcliff Tigers (5th)
TIO Stadium - 7.00pm – Qualifying Final – St Mary’s Saints (2nd) v Wanderers Eagles (3rd)