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Sunday, May 26 2019 @ 04:57 am ACST

Crocs By A Whisker – NTFL Premiers

In one of the most remarkable finishes to an NTFL grand-final, the Southern Districts Crocs have desperately held on by a solitary point to defeat the Darwin Buffaloes. It is the closest result in the NTFL Premier League since 2015/16 when St Mary’s held of Wanderers by two points. The previous occasions where a premiership was decided by just one point were in 1981/82 when Wanderers defeated St Mary’s and in 1971/72 and Saints downed the Buffaloes. A draw in 1932/33 was decided by a larger margin a week later when Waratah defeated Buffaloes.

The game looked to be on the way to being sealed by quarter time when the Crocs raced away with a seven goal to one term. Not to be denied, the Buffaloes charged back in the second quarter to bring the difference back to a goal by the main break.

The patient crowd at TIO Stadium in Darwin had endured a week of uncertainty with the passage of Cyclone Marcus leading to two postponements of the game. Finally, with better weather, the game proceeded and fans from both teams were treated to a quarter each of dominance as the pendulum swung from Crocs to Buffaloes.

The third quarter was an arm wrestle: neither side prepared to back down or give an inch. By the end of the quarter, the Buffaloes had bridged the gap further and Crocs went to the final change with a two-point lead. The last quarter was set for a huge finish and fans of both teams sensed something amazing was about to unfold.

The Crocs got the first goal of the final quarter to kick away to a handy 8-point lead, but the Buffaloes just were not prepared to give in. They clawed their way back and you could feel the collective gasp of the crowd when they levelled the score at the 16-minute mark of the quarter. It would be too easy to blame a missed shot to the Buffaloes late in the term, but in fairness, neither side was able to kick straight by that stage. Finally, a long bomb forward for the Crocs saw a desperate Buffaloes defence hurl themselves at the ball but it casually bobbled through for the back-breaking and premiership winning behind.

Emotional scenes followed, as with any grand final, as the Crocs finally put behind them missed premiership opportunities in recent years to claim their first flag since 2006/07. Players from both sides were exhausted. Buffaloes players – who had given everything to fight back and get so close – were seemingly too physically drained to be emotionally shattered. Shell-shocked was a better way to describe scenes of gutted Buffaloes. Their own quest to break a premiership drought was over for now, but they were the big improvers this season and they will be back.

Crocs players, officials and fans embraced, danced and sang as the club snared just their third NTFL premiership – a cup to stand beside their inaugural premiership in 1997/98 and their last flag in 2006/07. Since joining the competition in 1981, Crocs have been a highly competitive beast, but they have often fallen at the final hurdles come finals time. Not this year! This has certainly been the year of the Southern Districts Crocs and the years of hard work have led to one of the greatest wins in the club’s relatively short history and has soothed the tears and pain.

Quarter Time: Southern Districts Crocs 7 1 43 to Darwin Buffaloes 1 3 9
Half Time: Southern Districts Crocs 8 4 52 to Darwin Buffaloes 7 4 46
Three-Quarter Time: Southern Districts Crocs 11 7 73 to Darwin Buffaloes 11 5 71

Final Score: Southern Districts crocs 13 8 86 defeated Darwin Buffaloes 13 7 85

The match was one for the ages and is sure to be talked about for years to come. It will be hard for Buffaloes supporters to feel this now, but they were very unlucky and should be forever proud of their efforts to co-produce one of the best NTFL games of all. Certainly, one of the best grand finals.

In the Division 1 Grand Final, Waratah 11 10 76 defeated Banks 5 7 37.
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