Contributed by: Wesley Hull
A thunderstorm and cloudburst, and a rampant Crocs outfit, were not enough to stop the Darwin Buffaloes from taking the four points in their match at TIO Stadium on Saturday. It was part of another exciting round that saw The Buffaloes grab a one point win, Palmerston held off Waratah by four points, The Tigers shook of a desperate Saints by 20 points and the Tiwi Bombers romped home by over 100 points against Wanderers.
Perhaps the match of the round, however, was the Buffaloes/Crocs clash. After a solid first half, where Darwin held a three-goal lead over Crocs at the main break, Southern Districts started to fight back in the second half to get to within seven points by the final change. But with a storm close, the final quarter was delayed until the all clear was given to resume. After the enforced break, Crocs kept coming, but Buffaloes held them off by just a solitary point.
It is the second time in less than a year that Mother Nature has been less than kind to Crocs. Last January their top of the table clash against Nightcliff was called off after lightning took out the light towers. Points were shared that night – but this time they were less lucky.
The loss for Crocs opened the door for Nightcliff to leap to the top of the ladder. Their opponents, St Mary’s, struggled in the opening quarter to fall behind by 33 points. However, Saints unleased a huge second quarter to keep Nightcliff scoreless and grab a four point lead. It was a huge chance for Saints to turn their season around heading towards finals, but not much went right for them after that. They kicked just one more goal for the match as Nightcliff regained composure and ran away to a 20-point win.
The Tiwi Bombers stayed well and truly in the finals race with four points and a big percentage boost when they walloped Wanderers. Celebrating Austin Wonaeamirri’s 150th game, the Bombers enjoyed a ten goals to one first half and would never be headed from there. Despite a lift from Wanderers in the third quarter, the Tiwi crew ran the game out with a seven-goal final quarter to win by 102 points.
On Sunday, Palmerston knew they had to win to hold their place in the top five, with the Tiwi Bombers now equal on points but with a much better percentage. Little separated the teams all day. Waratah lead by seven points at the first break, Palmerston by two points at half time and again by four points at the final change. The final quarter was tight, with the spoils even seeing Palmerston win by just four points.
Nightcliff now sit a game clear of second placed Crocs at the top of the ladder. The Buffaloes’ win sees them in third place ahead of a shaky Waratah and Palmerston both on six wins. Just outside the top five, the Tiwi Bombers are a game behind but with a healthy percentage. St Mary’s need to win all remaining games to reach the finals from seventh and Wanderers are the only team that is realistically out of the finals race. Winning all games from here would still leave them with just eight wins which likely won’t be enough.
Next weekend will see Southern Districts Crocs host the Tiwi Bombers, Wanderers take on St Mary’s with the loser likely to be out of the finals race for good, Waratah taking on Nightcliff and the Palmerston Magpies up against the Darwin Buffaloes.
Tiwi Bombers 22 11 143 d Wanderers 6 5 41
Nightcliff Tigers 12 3 75 d St Marys 8 7 55
Darwin Buffaloes 15 10 100 d Southern Districts Crocs 15 9 99
Palmerston Magpies 11 5 71 d Waratah 9 13 67
World Footy News