NTFL Club-by-Club Mid-Season Report

Tomorrow afternoon the NTFL will resume after its three-week Christmas break, so what better time to assess where each of the eight Premier League clubs are at as we enter the business end of what has already been an exciting season.

 

St Marys –

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and St Marys making the NTFL finals. The green machine are right where they want to be as we approach the all-important post-Christmas period.

It is a professional unit at the Saints and its experienced players in John Anstess, Justin Wilson and Iggy Vallejo are all in good form. NT Thunder listed Jack Williams has taken his game to another level since his move to the midfield and provides plenty of grunt work around the clinches. Cam Ilett has been excellent in his limited appearances so expect him as well as the Rioli brothers to finish the season in top form after being well-rested.

The Saints’ premiership chances hinge greatly on the availability of spearhead Justin Van Unen. The Victorian forward is currently training with Richmond’s VFL side and is yet to play an NTFL game this season. He is a freakishly talented footballer that can spread the load off Darren Ewing and allow skipper Peter Macfarlane to play further up the field.

St Marys’ performances this season has been a reflection on the playing group itself. Nothing pretty, but they manage to comfortably get the job done most weeks.

Too old, too slow, too good?

Southern Districts –

Despite what the bookies say, I believe Southern Districts should consider itself the premiership favourites.

Coach Shannon Rusca has assembled a team featuring an array of super talented footballers from all across the country. It is hard to find a weak link in a full-strength Crocs line-up after the inclusion of former Sydney and Western Bulldogs player Ed Barlow in defence. One of the NEAFL’s best midfielders Matt Payne is yet to hit is straps while a patient Richard Tambling is about to be unleashed which will further strengthen the midfield. Jared Brennan is the competition’s most versatile footballer and Will Farrer has proven to be unstoppable at this stage on his way to a likely century of goals.

But is Farrer shouldering too much of the load in attack? If you follow the Hawthorn premiership model in the AFL, it will tell you that a side needs to have multiple goal scoring options in attack. An in-form Jason Eagle would greatly help Districts’ cause.

Buffaloes –

The story of the season so far is this once-dominant club’s resurgence to the top half of the NTFL ladder.

The Double Blues have produced scintillating football this season and look set to make its first finals series in a decade. However, they cannot count its’ chickens before they hatch and there is still plenty of work to do with clubs chasing at their tail.

Matt Campbell and Jarrod Stokes have been superb through the midfield while Damian Williams has been as solid as a rock in defence. Its most important player structurally is key forward Alan Obst, who has been one of the recruits of the NTFL season. It is still a very young side and with an inexperienced group comes inconsistency.

Coach Mark Motlop will need to make sure his exciting young side is switched on and ready to play in the latter half of the season.

Tiwi Bombers –

The Bombers have the rare ability to look like a top two side and a bottom two side … in the same game.

Yet after a slow start to the season, the Tiwi boys suddenly find themselves in premiership contention. The availability of its southern players will be the determining factor in its success this season. Wodonga pair Steve Jolliffe and Jydon Neagle and VFL guns Tom Couch and Matt Farrelly have added plenty to an already talented Bombers side. However, all four players have plenty of work to do to qualify for the finals and the player points system could also have an effect later in the season.

Coach Willie Rioli would have wished for Santa to put a star key forward under his Christmas tree, especially with Mathias Liddy’s recent injury.

Oh, they also have the most exhilarating player in the league in Ross Tungatalum. I shudder to think how excited AFL commentator Bruce McAvaney would get watching his highlight clips.

Palmerston –

The Magpies are a very hard side to gauge.

On paper they look like a formidable line-up but they are yet to produce enough great form consistently to warrant them being considered a definite premiership chance. The forward line and defence seem to be working well enough and how do you stop a midfield of Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey and Mathew Stokes roving to ruckman Matt Dennis?

A couple of weeks ago the Magpies accounted for a fairly strong Districts side yet backed it up with a poor showing against St Marys.

There is no doubting the potential of this Palmerston side but it will need to produce more consistent football in the back half of the season.

Wanderers –

Speaking of hard sides to gauge, the Eagles are in a familiar position at the Christmas period.

Wanderers are yet to show enough form to consider them a premiership chance, however they never really have in previous seasons and history shows us what has happened.

Premierships are not won in December and there is no doubt at all that the Eagles will be able to qualify with a talented enough list that can cause some real damage in March.

Braedon McLean has been a shining light in defence while Thomas Motlop continues to play solid football.

You would be a fool to write off the Eagles.

Nightcliff –

The general consensus among football circles is that the Tigers will miss out on the finals this season. And while it will be a tough ask, you certainly cannot discount its’ chances, especially with a player like Brodie Filo doing as he pleases.

Its’ younger players are thriving under coach Damian Hale’s tutelage but need more support if they were to do any damage come finals time. Jackson Starcevich provides them with a key target up forward but the Tigers will be ruing its luck after losing boom recruit Tyrone Downie to a shoulder injury in the first half of his debut game with the club.

Waratah –

It has been a year to forget for the Warriors who languish at the bottom of the ladder, yet to record an official win.

There has been a spattering of quality recruits, most notably Brian Fenton, Dan Nicholson and SANFL legend James Allan, but the list is severely lacking in depth. Justin Beugelaar has been solid as usual in the backline but he has the toughest job in Australia with the amount of football that comes in his side’s defensive half.

Coach Tim Weatherald remains optimistic about his side’s chances to win games in the latter half of the season. However, the Warriors’ first win of the season seems a long way away.

 

 

 

 

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.

Comments

  1. GOOD to read Brodie Filo going well, Jackson.
    He won the Bendigo FNL Michelsen Medal in 2015. Heading off to the Goulburn Valley F.L. in ’16, however.
    And Tigga Downie was a star in the Bendigo F.L. before heading north to 1 of the new AFL franchises last year.
    He’s one of the best marks for his size I’ve seen in many, many years commentating and writing about central Vic. footy. Plus a deadly shot for goal.
    F-F Weeka Weeks (back with Colbinabbin in 2015) didn’t make the trip north this year. I think he’s had off-season surgery to repair an ankle or foot (or similar).

  2. Hi Jackson
    Is Cam Ilett’s brother Jared still having a run? They both played for Belconnen with Jaren winning the ACTFL B&F in 2005. I think both of them then went up to Darwin leaving the Magpies. Some great player running around up north.
    Cheers
    TR

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