NTFL Grand Final Preview: St Mary’s v Wanderers


TWITTER – @JClark182

It is only fitting that the two best performed teams in the minor rounds will play off for the premiership decider on Saturday at TIO Stadium.

This has to be one of the most highly anticipated deciders in grand final history with both sides boasting immensely talented playing lists. It has the potential to be one of the great grand finals in recent memory with mouth-watering match ups all over the ground. Expect plenty of fireworks early on in the match as both sides will be looking to test each other out.

Wanderers finished the minor rounds with a 13-4 win-loss record but three of those losses came at the hand of St Marys. It is hard to rely on past encounters as a form guide as both playing lists have changed significantly throughout the course of the season. Wanderers’ side on paper has premiership written all over it and in most other years they would enter as hot favourites such is the talent on its list.

From the side that lost to St Marys a fortnight ago, the Eagles will add Daniel Motlop, Nathan Djerrkura, Eddie Sansbury and Braedon McLean. Motlop will play his first game back after a nine-week suspension for prohibited front on contact on St Marys’ Henry Labastida and an attempted strike on John Anstess. Motlop has reportedly trained the house down in his absence and is back down to his AFL playing weight, which is a scary proposition for the Saints defenders. His inclusion adds versatility to the Eagles forward line and gives more freedom to Shane Thorne, Thomas Motlop and the in-form Liam Patrick.

Nathan Djerrkura was phenomenal last week and has been on a number of occasions this season. He is one of the most complete midfielders playing in the NTFL and he will be one that the Saints need to try and stop. Eddie Sansbury gives added class to the side and his solid build allows him to be another defensive option.

Standing in the way of the Eagles is the ultra-consistent St Marys side that is searching for premiership number 30. The Saints have won 37 consecutive matches and there is no doubt that they will do everything in their power to win this game. The side boasts plenty of experience and is strong in all areas of the field.

The three big forwards in Justin Van Unen, Darren Ewing and Peter Macfarlane are all match-winners on their day. Van Unen’s deadly combination of speed and strength makes him a difficult player to match up on but Mitchell Taylor may be the man for the job. Daniel Weetra usually gets the job on NT Thunder superstar Darren Ewing and expect this to be the case against tomorrow. Peter Macfarlane has had an amazing year capped off by his Nichols Medal triumph on Sunday night but the Saints skipper would trade it in for a premiership medal tomorrow. Macfarlane is one of the best contested marks to play the game up here and defender Alex Erlandson’s athleticism means that he is likely to get the big job. Small forward, and last season’s Chaney Medallist, William Rioli had a couple of uncharacteristic misses in front of goal a fortnight ago but expect his goal radar to straighten. The Saints’ small forwards will need to ensure that their defensive pressure is high to stop the rebound of a couple of classy Eagles in Zelio Casimiro and Braedon McLean.

Both teams have solid contested ball winning midfielders that thrive around the stoppages. Josh Cubillo and Brad Vassal are top line players and the same can be said about opposition midfielders Justin Wilson, Cameron Ilett and Karl Lohde. Wingman Shaq McKenzie has been a star all season and expect Wanderers young gun Keelan Fejo to try and limit his influence.

Wanderers supporters will be banking on similarities between the last time these two sides met in a grand final. The Saints went into the match as firm favourites but were simply overrun by a more youthful, determined Eagles. But as seen recently as just a fortnight ago, the Saints always manage to lift an extra cog when the game is in the balance.


St Marys (13 points)


Kane Leersen (St Marys)


St Marys (12), Wanderers (8)


Jake Hauritz (Cameron Ilett), Darryl Griffiths (Cameron Ilett), Amy Culpitt (Peter Macfarlane), Adam Giles (Daniel Motlop), Stephen Fletcher (Justin Wilson), Delia Lawrie (Peter Macfarlane), Di Borella (Karl Lohde), Matt Conlan (Nathan Djerrkua), Darryl Window (Mitchell Taylor), Lincoln Jenkin (Brad Vassal), Grey Morris (Nathan Djerrkura), Jess Webster (Justin Wilson), Dale Fletcher (Shane Thorne), Jackson Clark (Kane Leersen), Charlie King (Aaron Motlop), David Kennedy (Darren Ewing), Dominic McCormack (Nathan Djerrkura), Johnny McKay (Peter Macfarlane), Rachel Hancock (Chris Dunne), Julia Christensen (Darren Ewing).


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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.


  1. Rick Kane says

    Go St Mary’s! And as an ex-mick, that’s as much cheering for a saint as I can muster. But I do hope they win.


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