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Monday, July 06 2020 @ 04:19 am ACST

Tiwi Bombers Dare To Dream - NTFL

After two miserable seasons – finishing seventh in 2015/16 and eighth in 2016/17 – the Tiwi Bombers would be dancing and singing for joy after getting into the finals after their win against Waratah in the final round. No matter what, this season has been a success already for the Tiwi crew. But nobody knows better than the Bombers – all they have so far is the key to the kingdom. A true fairy tale would see them use the key to open the premiership cabinet.

The Bombers’ win against Waratah was set up with a blistering seven goals to one opening term and by half time a 51-point lead. Whilst Waratah rallied briefly to take the third term and hint at a fight-back, it was a bridge too far and the Bombers steadied to bring the game home, and bring their fans to a delirium of sorts. It was a high-pressure match with plenty at stake for both teams, and the Tiwi Bombers proved that they have what it takes to absorb finals-like pressure. Three wins in three weeks would see a second Bomber flag, so they can certainly dare to dream.
The Darwin Buffaloes also sounded a finals alarm by downing the second-placed Nightcliff Tigers in heavy conditions. It wasn’t a free-flowing game, and there was plenty of pressure as you would expect from a second versus third clash. But the Buffaloes played like a team that had belief – since their heavy loss to Crocs in Round 13 they have lost only once more, narrowly to the Saints. Nightcliff, whilst finishing second, are spluttering with just three wins from their past eight games. The Tigers need a sudden change of mental attitude to challenge for this year’s flag, with Crocs above them looking imperious and all other finalists storming towards their own flag dreams.

St Mary’s hammered Palmerston in a useful finals tune-up. It sees the Saints having eradicated their earlier inconsistency to have won five of their past six games and be in good form and a healthy headspace ahead of next weekend’s Elimination Final against the Bombers. Palmerston have endured a horrid season and can now lick their wounds before reviewing their past couple of seasons to see how to turn the club’s fortunes around ready for next season. Maybe they can look at how the Bombers have turned two poor seasons into a finals berth and work to emulate that effort. They could do worse.

Southern Districts Crocs have been to every finals series since the 2011/12 season ended. They took the minor premiership in 2016 and again this year. They have been one of the league’s most successful clubs across the home and away seasons since their last flag in 2006/07 – missing finals only once. Yet they have not been able to take that form into the business end of finals. Their 79-point thumping of Wanderers in the final round saw Crocs finish on top of the ladder with just one loss for the season and a mighty five games ahead of second placed Tigers. They COULD win the flag this season and probably SHOULD, but four other clubs are ready to stop them - again.

Next weekend sees the finals begin. The Elimination Final sees St Mary’s take on the Tiwi Bombers. They have met three times this season, the Green Machine winning two of them. But, significantly, the Bombers’ big win over Saints in Round 12 was the start of their run of form that got them to the finals. They CAN beat St Mary’s and the Tiwi Bombers know that. It promises to be a fascinating match. The Qualifying Final will see the Nightcliff Tigers play the Darwin Buffaloes for the second week in a row. Current form says that the Buffaloes hold the advantage, but finals are a different beast and the Tigers will be out to reverse last weekend’s result and recalibrate for a flag tilt.

Final Scores:
Tiwi Bombers 15 7 97 d Waratah 6 10 46
St Mary’s 23 20 158 d Palmerston Magpies 7 7 49
Darwin Buffaloes 5 1 42 d Nightcliff Tigers 4 7 31
Southern Districts Crocs 15 16 106 d Wanderers 4 3 27

Photo Credit: AFLNT

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