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Thursday, September 20 2018 @ 05:49 am ACST

A Simple Equation – NTFL

Australia
The finalists for the 2017/18 NTFL season will be decided by one particular final-round match next weekend, and the equation is simple – the winner of the clash at Tracy Oval between the Tiwi Bombers and Waratah will play finals. The loser will commence planning for next season. After weeks of jostling, a final round epic will decide fifth place.

Both teams lost over the weekend, to make things even more interesting, but the Tahs lost by less and hold the psychological edge over the Bombers after stealing fifth place from them. With all other finalists now guaranteed, the script is now perfectly written for a thrilling finish.

Waratah answered the eternal question on the weekend as to whether there is such a thing as a “valuable” loss. The answer was a resounding “Yes” with their narrow three-point loss to ladder leaders, Southern Districts, being enough to leap-frog the Bombers. Waratah were after a win, and played that way. They hurled everything at the Crocs. After a first half where the teams needed to be prised apart with a crowbar, Waratah then kept the Crocs goalless in the third term to snare a 22-point lead. However, Crocs fought back with a big final quarter to steal the match with a goal on the final siren to break Waratah hearts, but not their spirit.

The Tiwi Bombers had the chance to secure a finals place against St Mary’s, but simply were not good enough in the end. The Green Machine warmed up for yet another finals campaign by playing the wet conditions so much better than the Bombers and piled on the defensive pressure. Apart from a burst in the second quarter, the Bombers just couldn’t get themselves into the game. The 43-point loss stung, dropping the Bombers out of the top five and putting them under enormous pressure now to even reach the finals. St Mary’s didn’t coast to victory – they had to work hard and did so in a game which suggested they could menace anyone during the finals.

Nightcliff Tigers tied up second place, and the double chance, with a strong performance against Palmerston in the wet. The Magpies kicked two first quarter goals to be down by just eight points at the first change, but they did not add another goal for the rest of the match. A combination of a strong Tiger defence and heavy conditions ensured that the Magpies just couldn’t get back. For Nightcliff it was a good tune up match headed into the finals. Premierships are built on defence, and their efforts on the weekend will help their campaign enormously.

The Darwin Buffaloes secured third place and a double chance for the finals with a big win against Wanderers. Steered by a seven-goal performance from Adam Sambono, the Buffaloes were relentless in the wet conditions and simply wouldn’t let the Muk Muks into the game. Darwin held Wanderers goalless in the first half, and built on that dominance throughout the rest of the game to cruise to a 71-point win.

The final round of NTFL matches will see most eyes on the outcome of the Twi Bombers and Waratah clash for fifth place. Palmerston get a chance to ruin the Saints’ plans and hopefully sneak a last round win, however unlikely. Southern Districts take on Wanderers and in another finals preview, second plays third with the Tigers and Buffaloes locking horns.

Final Scores:
Nightcliff Tigers 12 10 82 d Palmerston Magpies 2 4 16
St Mary’s 12 18 90 d Tiwi Bombers 7 5 47
Darwin Buffaloes 15 10 100 d Wanderers 4 5 29
Southern Districts Crocs 16 11 107 d Waratah 16 8 104
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