Contributed by: Wesley Hull Monday, December 18 2017 @ 01:50 pm ACDT
It was only four rounds ago when the Darwin Buffaloes were thumped by St Mary’s for a fifth loss in six matches, with an average of nine goals a game over that period – twice being kept to just two goals. Credit must now go to the coaching crew and players after the Buffaloes won their third straight since then, with each winning score being 120 points or better. That massive turnaround sees the Buffaloes now sitting in clear third place and a chance to consolidate a finals spot after the Christmas/New Year break.
Palmerston Magpies fought gamely, being just two goals adrift of the Buffaloes at half time. But, a strong 10 goal second half from Darwin saw them pull away at the end by a comfortable 44 points. Once again, the Buffaloes found multiple scoring avenues, which has been a hallmark of their resurgence. Ezekiel Frank kicked four goals for the Magpies.
Waratah once again have impressed by downing a shaky St Mary’s. After last weekend’s draw against bottom-placed Palmerston, there were questions about the Tahs’ current run of form – maybe a flash in the pan – but they were back to their best with a 19-point victory, which could have been greater but for inaccurate kicking – 25 scoring shots to 11. It gives them the scalps of Southern Districts, Nightcliff and St Mary’s in an impressive run since round five. The Green Machine is on shaky ground going into the break with just five wins and needing a resurgence of their own.
The Tiwi Bombers drew with Wanderers in a tight match. Separated by just a point at the final change, Wanderers effectively handed the draw to the Bombers kicking one goal and eleven behinds in a wasteful final quarter – Tiwi, urged on by their home crowd, kicked three straight goals for the quarter and that was enough to claw themselves a valuable two points. Interestingly, this draw, on the back of last weekend’s draw between Palmerston and Waratah, sees the bottom three now back to a battle for four points each round – none of them now having a half game buffer.
In the match of the round – in terms of ladder position – first played second and it was almost totally Southern Districts’ way. After a tight first quarter – 4 goals apiece and scores level – the Crocs then put the foot down, especially defensively, to keep Nightcliff to just one goal for the next three quarters whilst slamming home another 12 goals of their own. It was a disappointing loss for the Tigers, down on key players but still trying to make a statement. Unfortunately for them, it was Crocs doing all the talking and they have now firmed heavily as flag favourites.
The competition is now in recess until Saturday 6th January. As has often happened, it is a chance for teams to reassess and it is likely that at least one club will now come out after the break to make a charge to the finals.
The next round will see St Mary’s take on the Tiwi Bombers and Wanderers clash with the Darwin Buffaloes on the Saturday. The Sunday matches will see Palmerston do battle with Nightcliff, whilst the big match of the round promises to be the Waratah versus Southern Districts encounter.
Tiwi Bombers 12 13 85 drew with Wanderers 11 19 85
Darwin Buffaloes 18 16 124 d Palmerston Magpies 12 8 80
Waratah 9 16 70 d St Mary’s 8 3 51
Southern Districts Crocs 16 2 98 d Nightcliff Tigers 5 8 38