Contributed by: Wesley Hull
With Round 18 being the final home and away round of the NTFL season, some clubs made sure they imposed their will to either secure finals berths or avoid wooden spoons. With the victors winning by a combined total of almost 300 points, it was probably the most one-sided round of the season.
The Tiwi Bombers hammered St Mary’s by 87 points, Waratah took down the Darwin Buffaloes by 76 points, Nightcliff thrashed Southern Districts by 90 points and Wanderers also enjoyed a 44 point win over Palmerston.
The carnage started at Tracy Village where the Tiwi Bombers jumped out of the blocks with a seven goal to one opening term. From there they were never seriously challenged, extending their lead at every break. It was a huge result for the Bombers as they secured third place on the ladder and a double chance in the first round of the finals. The loss was painful on many fronts for the Saints, earning the wooden spoon to complete a fall from grace which has seen them drop from a premiership in 2017 to fourth in 2018 and now last. It promises to be a big off-season for the Saints.
The Buffaloes held a narrow lead at quarter time against Waratah, and were only three goals away at the main break. But a ten goal to one second half from Waratah condemned the Buffaloes to a big loss and a shattering fifth place after four consecutive losses. Waratah finished in fourth place, but more important is their confidence knowing the meet the Buffaloes again next weekend in a final.
Nightcliff, in a sense, had an eight-point result. Had they lost to Crocs they could have surrendered the minor premiership, and in the process, premiership favouritism. As things turned out, their huge win against Southern Districts saw them finish two games clear on top and with a big percentage boost. Now, possibly for the first time this season, the ladder stats clearly show the Tigers as the dominant team for the season. Crocs are now under pressure to win now if they want a re-match.
Wanderers had the best possible end to a largely disappointing season. Their big win against Palmerston saw them claw their way out of the wooden spoon position almost at the eleventh hour. With three wins from their last five matches, Wanderers know that they have gained something positive to build on for next season. The loss for Palmerston will have hurt in front of a home crowd and losing a chance to finish a sometimes promising season on a high.
Next weekend will see the Elimination Final between Waratah and the Darwin Buffaloes at TIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon, followed by the qualifying final between the Southern District Crocs and the Tiwi Bombers.
Tiwi Bombers 17 18 120 d St Mary’s 4 9 33
Waratah 19 9 123 d Darwin Buffaloes 7 5 47
Nightcliff Tigers 21 13 139 d Southern Districts Crocs 7 7 49
Wanderers 16 12 108 d Palmerston 9 10 64
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