NTFL Finals Week One Wrap-Up

By – Jackson Clark

Twitter – @JClark182

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Southern Districts sent an ominous message to minor premiers St Marys with an 81-point demolition of Nightcliff on Saturday in the Qualifying Final. The Crocs were relentless at the football through all areas of the ground and made the Tigers look tired and sluggish. It was a free-flowing first quarter which saw the Crocs lead eight goals to four at the first break. The forward line of Jason Eagle, Will Farrer and Troy Taylor loomed dangerously and gave the midfield plenty of targets when entering attack. At half time Districts led by 38 points and the game looked as if it was getting out of reach for Nightcliff. A classy goal by speedster Baydon Ngalkin ignited the Tigers’ spirits but it was short lived as the Crocs regained the ascendency. Districts won the second half nine goals to two as its opponents stopped to a walk.

It was much publicised last week that Tigers coach Damian Hale rested many of his star players so that they would be fresh for the finals. I don’t think you can say that his plan backfired despite losing by a bigger margin than the previous week. Luke Ivens and Jono Peris were both rested and I thought they could hold their heads high after the loss. A couple of Nightcliff players did look underdone but they should be better for the run and expect an improved performance this weekend.

Firstly, I’ll start off by saying that this is not a criticism towards the young players at Nightcliff. The Tigers fielded a number of teenagers and I thought that they performed admirably on the weekend. Brandan Parfitt was one of his side’s best players before he was tagged in the second half, Lachlan McKenzie was solid all day, Ryan Mu set up a couple of goals early on in the match and Ryan Nyhuis produced a commendable performance on Will Farrer. But with that being said, it is hard to expect these young blokes to lead the way in what will be a taxing finals series.

The Crocs were certainly impressive against Nightcliff, and as I mentioned last week, they seem to be generating a different vibe than compared to previous years. Districts are full of confidence and look to have a great blend of players both with youth and experience, and speed and strength. Jason Eagle played arguably his best, and certainly, his most important match in the NTFL. If he can continue to fire throughout the finals it will test the sides he comes up against. The Crocs are also likely to regain the services of Jared Brennan and Davin Hall, and perhaps big man Ben Dowdell.


WANDERERS 13.7.85 def. TIWI BOMBERS 9.12.66

A fast-starting Wanderers has advanced to the semi-final after defeating Tiwi Bombers by 19 points in the Elimination Final. The Eagles kicked the first five goals of the match inside the opening ten minutes leaving the Bombers shell-shocked. But to the Tiwis’ credit, they regrouped during the middle stages of the quarter to reduce the margin to only a couple of goals by quarter time. Chris Dunne was his opportunistic best in the opening term and booted four goals for the quarter. It was a non-descript second term where the Bombers failed to capitalise on its chances in front of the big sticks. The momentum started to shift in favour of the Bombers during the third term with Josh Finch and Ross Tungatalum beginning to have an impact through the midfield. By three quarter time only 13 points separated either side as the tempo of the match lifted. It was game-on when Jobastin Priest booted the first goal of the last quarter as William Rioli began to insert his dominance on the match. But in what was a sign of a mature and confident team, the Eagles repelled the Bombers’ attack and Davin Ferreira’s classy goal at the 8 minute mark was a game changer. From then on, it was all Wanderers.

There is no doubting that Cook is a top player but just how important is he for the Eagles? It is a fact that Wanderers win more often than not when Cook is in the side and his contribution is not just restricted by the amount of goals he kicks. Cook booted four on the weekend, but his position in the side frees up other forwards such as Chris Dunne and Thomas Motlop, allowing them to have more of an impact.

It is one thing for a young player to step up and make an impact in Premier League games, but it’s another when that same player can step up in big moments of big games. Ferreira was one of the best players on the ground on Saturday night but more importantly his goals came at crucial times of the match. He is a ferocious competitor that wills himself to get to contests and it is little wonder why he is rated so highly by coach Andrew Hodges.

We have always known that when the Eagles are up and running, they have plenty of support and they were out in full voice on the weekend. It is a task easier said than done to out-cheer the Tiwi Bombers supporters but I think the “Muk Muks” achieved this on Saturday.




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.

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