Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Round 17 has seen the door closed on finals aspirations for three NTFL teams and a chance for some early planning for the teams that will play finals. Whilst it is true that the Palmerston Magpies could finish equal on points with the fifth-placed team, they would need more than a 400 point turnaround – a win by over 200 points and any of the three teams above them lose by about the same amount. Not going to happen.
The Tiwi Bombers all but booked their place in the finals with a tough, hard fought 16 point win against the Darwin Buffaloes. The Bombers have won five of their six games since the Christmas/New Year break and are a strong chance to win next round against struggling St Mary’s. They head to the finals with great momentum. Conversely, the loss for the Buffaloes was their third in a row. They need a win next weekend to restore some order and belief.
Palmerston was too good for St Mary’s in their match. In the end, Palmerston won by 23 points, leading at every change. The Saints gave a whimper in the final quarter, kicking four goals, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide. Palmerston has enjoyed an improved season and can feel unlucky not make the finals. St Mary’s still have a game against the Bombers to come, but would acknowledge that the season has been a disappointment.
Southern Districts are still eyeing off the minor premiership. Next weekend’s title fight against Nightcliff will decide that. The Crocs gave Waratah a hard day at the office, running out 36 point winners and placing Waratah in the unenviable position of a likely elimination final in the first week of the finals. A win to Waratah could have seen them set up a top three finish and a double chance. That isn’t out of the question, but they need a win in the cutthroat clash against the Buffaloes next weekend and hope the Bombers also lose.
Nightcliff had to battle hard against the bottom-placed wanderers to record a grafting 16 point win. The Tigers were favourites to win and kicked the opening three goals of the match, but from there they couldn’t shake the competitive Wanderers. If the Tigers can defeat the Crocs next weekend and hold the minor premiership, they may also have earned early premiership favouritism, but Wanderers certainly showed that the Tigers still possess some Achilles’ Heels.
Next weekend’s final round sees the Bombers against the Saints at Tracy Village. Waratah will host the Darwin Buffaloes in a huge game for both teams. The match of the round is certainly the Tigers/Crocs clash whilst the round will finish when the Palmerston Magpies take on Wanderers.
Tiwi Bombers 12 7 79 d Darwin Buffaloes 8 15 63
Palmerston Magpies 11 13 79 d St Mary’s 8 8 56
Southern Districts 14 15 99 d Waratah 10 3 63
Nightcliff Tigers 10 12 72 d Wanderers 9 2 56
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