A few weeks ago, the Palmerston Magpies were riding a wave of optimism. On the back of consecutive wins, the Magpies sat with three wins and three losses and a place in the top five. Since then, however, their fortunes have dipped markedly, and their 111-point hiding today to the Southern Districts Crocs has been the worst of three consecutive losses which have derailed their season.
The Crocs were awesome and relentless. A fifteen goal first half decided the game, putting the Magpies out of winning contention and setting up a dangerous second half for the ‘Pies. The second half wasn’t as damaging, and could have been better for Palmerston had they kicked straight. But one goal and twelve behinds for the second half killed off any reasonable hope of a fightback.
After a start to the season they would happily forget, Wanderers pulled off the upset of Round 8 when they defeated the Darwin Buffaloes at TIO Stadium. Going into the match, Wanderers had just one win whilst the Buffaloes sat within the top three. But Wanderers ignored that to record a memorable win. Across the weekend, the Tigers downed the Magpies, the Bombers were too good for Waratah and the Crocs defeated St Mary’s.
Wanderers got away to the ideal start, gaining a 15-point advantage by the first change and instilling belief into their players and fans. It was the platform for a huge second quarter where they dominated the Buffaloes across the ground to rattle on another six goals and hold a big 41-point half time lead. The Buffaloes were always going to fight back, and they turned on a five goal to two third quarter, but still trailed by 22 points. The game was winnable, but Wanderers smelled blood and held back the tide to hold on by 10 points in a huge game for the club.
Charlie Hall found a nugget of gold in a creek near the site of a town that now bears his name in the Kimberley region of Western Australia’s far north. Further east, but still in the far north, Cairns became a port that would, in part, service the gold discoveries on the Hodgkinson River goldfields and later across the Tablelands. In both locations, gold discoveries led directly to their settlement and development.
By the 2010’s, a different kind of AFL gold is being discovered and sought by AFL clubs and this season’s national draft brought that notion clearly into focus as both locations provided clubs with yet more young talent.
By road, Cairns is around 3000 kilometres from the footballing Mecca of Melbourne. Halls Creek is even further away – about 4300 kilometres by road. Neither is in the backyard of Melbourne, nor any other state capital. Yet by way of recruiters, scouts, word of mouth and social media – word gets around about precociously talented kids. Many leave home for the cities to either further educations or improve their chances to play big time footy. It’s working.
The NTFL deck was shuffled on the weekend with some upset results shaking up the competition. At least, the winners and losers were shuffled yet the ladder remains largely the same. Waratah brought down the previously undefeated Southern Districts Crocs, the Tiwi Bombers downed the Darwin Buffaloes, St Mary’s burst the Palmerston bubble and Nightcliff were too good for Wanderers.
Saturday’s triple-header at TIO Stadium kicked off with a revitalised Tiwi Bombers outclassing the Darwin Buffaloes. But it didn’t start that way as the Buffaloes burst out of the blocks with a seven goal to one opening quarter. Leading by 26 points at half-time, Darwin had little idea what was about the happen. The Tiwi Bombers called on the grit and explosiveness that saw them defeat St Mary’s last weekend to launch a nine goal third term. Another six goals in the last quarter saw the Bombers race away to an impressive 44-point win.
In front of an ecstatic home crown at Tiwi Oval on Bathurst Island, the Tiwi Bombers finally got their first win of the season. They downed St Mary’s by 21 points to not only gain their first four points of the season but also claw their way off the bottom of the ladder. In other results, the Palmerston Magpies resurgence continued with a win over Wanderers, The Darwin Buffaloes downed Waratah and in the top of the table clash, Southern Districts defeated Nightcliff.
Over in Wurrumiyanga, the Tiwi Bombers were up against an equally desperate St Mary’s. Both teams needed a win to keep finals on the radar, but more so the Tiwi Bombers who really had to win this one. The enthusiastic home crowd played their part as the Bombers gained the lead and stayed there before running out 21-point victors. Mathematics says that Saints are still right in the mix for finals, but form is another matter altogether. Their first six rounds have been shaky, at best, and they need to find the firepower to win consistently.
The following article from Fox Footy at their www.foxsports.com.au website looks at the naming of Essendon and AFL legend, Michael Long as the 2018 Northern Territorian of the year. As well as being an icon of the game for his achievements on and off the field, Long remains an inspiration to generations of people inside and outside of sport.
ESSENDON champion Michael Long has been named Northern Territorian of the Year in recognition of his work as an indigenous community leader.
Darwin-born Long has been described as a football icon who made a stand against racism during his career, and an advocate for reconciliation.
The Michael Long Learning and Leadership centre in Darwin provides accommodation, education, football and other sporting and corporate facilities.
The centre aims to give young indigenous Territorians the same opportunities as their non-indigenous peers.
The clouds drifted in from Hinchinbrook Island. The players drifted in from Cairns, Townsville and the Whitsundays. The clouds made far less noise about it. A variety of bodies in various states of disrepair had descended like arthritic locusts on beautiful Cardwell – midway between Cairns and Townsville. The purpose – to compete for the AFL Masters Cardwell Cup for the naming rights as the best Masters’ team in North Queensland.
Whilst the breeze brought with it the clouds and occasional shower, the players brought mainly beer and some ill-fitting footy shorts from bygone eras (their playing days). The converted rugby league ground was as hard as the rocks in the nearby Cardwell Range. The grass playing surface was a cross between vegetation and piano wire.
Round 5 of the NTFL 2018/19 season continued to throw up interesting and sometimes unexpected results which keep alive finals hopes for most teams and further confuse followers of the game. St Mary’s and Palmerston both enjoyed valuable wins whilst early finals hopefuls, Waratah and Darwin Buffaloes, stumbled.
With no Premier League matches played at TIO Stadium this weekend, the opening match saw Waratah host the desperate St Marys. On form, and home ground advantage, Waratah should have won. But life doesn’t work that way. In a tight match up until the final change – less than two goals separating the teams until then – St Mary’s pumped the gas in the final term to kick four goals to one and hand Waratah a stinging defeat.
With the release of the AFL’s 2019 premiership season draw due tomorrow, some important pieces of the puzzle have already been announced. High amongst those is the decision to grant Townsville, in North Queensland, their first AFL match for premiership points. The city will see the Gold Coast Suns meet St Kilda at Riverway Stadium in their Round 13 clash.
It makes a bitter sweet situation for North Queensland. Whilst Townsville has earned the right to host a match after years of doing their “apprenticeship” with NAB Challenge and JLT pre-season matches, it does replace Cairns which has hosted matches at Cazalys Stadium since 2011. The sweetener for the north is that Mackay will again hold a JLT series match at Great Barrier Reef Arena on March 3rd when the Gold Coast Suns meet the Western Bulldogs.
Townsville crowds have already proved to be enthusiastic fans of matches played in the city – right down to pre-match activities and community support. The chance to host a premiership match of such high stakes should see Townsville support this event vocally and at the turnstiles.
Two games separate the top four from the bottom four teams after Round 4 of the NTFL season in Darwin last weekend. The Nightcliff Tigers, Southern Districts Crocs and Darwin Buffaloes each enjoyed big wins, whilst Waratah were too good in the end for a plucky Wanderers team.
A big seven-goal opening term by the Tigers set the tone for their clash against the Bombers at Tiwi Oval. From there, the Tigers extended their lead all day – except for a brief Bomber resurgence in the third term. Aided by a big 10-goal haul from Trent Melville, the Tigers ran out 47-point winners in front of the Tiwi crowd. Dion Munkara kicked five goals for the home team.
Waratah kept their season momentum going with a four goal win over Wanderers. Not much separated the teams all day, but Waratah were able to kick goals at crucial times to keep expanding their lead by degrees. The win sees Waratah with three victories from four starts and in a good position to consolidate their place in the top five. Former New York Magpie ruckman, Alex Aurrichio, played his fourth game for the club since arriving from the Northern Blues, kicking a goal.