Contributed by: Wesley Hull
The Darwin-based NTFL competition got under way today in Northern Territory capital. Amid the actual football, the year 2016 is now recognised as the year that a game was played in the Northern Territory. The first match for premiership points was between Wanderers and Waratah in 2017, and they will play their centenary match in Round 15 next year. But both teams made a centenary statement today.
To kick off the new season, Round One presented four hard fought matches. It was a round of upsets, close shaves and huge excitement – great qualities to continue the celebration of 100 years of footy in the Northern Territory.
The Palmerston Magpies hosted the Tiwi Bombers at Asbuild Oval. The Magpies had an indifferent season last year but started in comprehensive fashion against the Bombers. The Magpies held a four goal lead at the main break, and six goals to each team kept that margin by three-quarter time. The Bombers finished the game full of running but couldn’t bridge the gap, going down by just 8 points in a tight finish.
Final Score: Palmerston Magpies 16 13 109 d Tiwi Bombers 15 11 101
In the second game at Asbuild Oval, two teams celebrating their centenary years, Wanderers and the Darwin Buffaloes, locked horns. The match was tight for three quarters with Wanderers always seeming to hold the Buffaloes at arm’s length, until the Buffaloes snuck out to a 10 point lead at the final change. But a powerful six goal to nil final quarter saw the Wanderers run away to a 34 point victory to start their special season in style.
Final Score: Wanderers Eagles 12 11 83 d Darwin Buffaloes 8 11 59
Already the bells are ringing and the choirs singing for Waratah. Winless in the 2015/16 season, and with an off-season promise to rebuild the club from the ground up, including former Western Bulldogs and Brisbane player Michael McLean as their new coach, the ‘Tahs have already recorded more wins that last season. Their eight point win against last season’s minor premiers, Southern Districts, may not have been huge, or pretty, but it was momentous and a sure sign the club is on the way back up. Even when the Crocs grabbed back the lead for three-quarter time, Waratah found the extra self-belief to fight back and win.
Final Score: Waratah Warriors 12 9 81 d Southern Districts Crocs 10 13 73
Premiership hangovers are often mentioned, but rarely seem to apply to the St Mary’s juggernaut. But in their season opener they found a rampant Nightcliff Tigers outfit that was determined to build on the great promise they showed last year. It is too early to call the Saint’s loss a hangover, but it isn’t too early to see that the Tigers are already the real deal this season. St Mary’s held a narrow four point lead at the main break after two very tight quarters, but the Tigers were electric after the main break with a seven goal to one third quarter, and finished 29 points ahead by the final siren.
Final Score: Nightcliff Tigers 14 13 97 d St Mary’s Saints 10 8 68
Round Two of the NTFL season gets under way with a double-header at TIO Stadium. The Buffaloes will take on St Mary’s followed by a history charged clash between Wanderers and Waratah. The Tiwi Bombers will host Nightcliff at the Real Estate Central Oval at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island whilst the Southern Districts Crocs will host the Palmerston Magpies at Norbuilt Oval.
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