Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Conor Walsh from the Essendon Football club website www.essendonfc.com.au looks at the rise of the Tiwi Bombers during the 2018.19 NTFL season. Early in the season, the Bombers were in a battle to even reach the finals, yet this weekend they are playing in a Qualifying Final as the form team in the NTFL.
The Tiwi Bombers are flying and ready to explode in the TIO NTFL Finals on Saturday, entering the campaign as the form team of the competition.
The Bombers have won six of their last seven outings leading into the weekend’s qualifying final against Southern Districts, coming off the back of an 87-point thumping of St Marys last week.
The dominant victory helped the side secure a second chance for the finals series, lifting them into third place by percentage, just 1.28 per cent clear of Waratah.
At the start of November, it would have seemed silly to suggest that Tiwi could rise into third by season’s end – the side had lost the first five games of the year.
But having launched home with nine wins out of the next 13 games, the Bombers are well and truly alive in the premiership race.
The addition of former AFL players Ashton Hams (West Coast) and Nathan Djerrkura (Western Bulldogs and Geelong) has proved extremely valuable in recent weeks, with each player being named among the side’s best performers in five of their six consecutive games.
While the duo has been important late in the season, several Bombers have performed consistently well to help lift the side back into flag contention.
Tiwi star Ross Tungatalum has once again been a shining light for the Bombers this season, finishing second on the league’s goal tally with 40 majors from 15 matches. In fact, he is yet to be held goalless and has been named among the side’s best players on 10 occasions.
Tiwi Islands legend Austin ‘Aussie’ Wonaemirri has played a major role in the side’s red-hot form, booting 17 goals in the last seven games in a thrilling return to some of his best football.
Dion Munkara (24 goals for the season) and AFL Bomber Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s cousin Adam Tipungwuti (19 goals) have also threatened regularly in attack.
Defender Jason Puruntatameri has been another standout for the team, named in the best in 14 of his 16 games, while fellow defenders Michael Dunn and Puruntatameri’s cousin Virgil have proven extremely gritty.
The defending trio have been admirable all year, holding their opponents back bravely amid the counterattacks that can often be a regular bi-product of the side’s explosive and exciting style.
Essendon academies manager Harmit Singh – who helps coordinate the club’s Tiwi programs and donned the sash for the side in round one – said it has been encouraging to see a consistent effort and performances across the board.
“The spread of contributors has been really pleasing and no doubt (coach) Brenton (Toy) and the coaching group will have a number of tough calls to make for the Southern Districts match," Singh said.
“From an academy perspective, it has been really pleasing to see players such as Michael Cooper (14 games) and Jeffrey Simon (12 games) play regular senior football.”
The Bombers will be buoyed by the fact that they have defeated each of their competing finalists this season, including a tough 22-point defeat of this weekend’s opponent the Crocs in round 14.
Singh said he is confident the team can continue its momentum with the help of a strong culture within the squad.
“We have hit some really good form and head in to this year’s finals series with confidence having beaten all the teams competing in the series, highlighted by a one-point victory over Nightcliff a fortnight ago.
“The team has been travelling in (to Darwin) every Friday on the Ferry and a big focus has been around team building through activities that have been put in place.”
The Bombers will take on the Crocs at 4.30pm on Saturday at Darwin’s TIO Stadium.
To read the original story on the Essendon website and associated news, go to: https://www.essendonfc.com.au/news/2019-02-21/tiwi-bombers-ready-to-fire
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