NTFL Preliminary Final Weekend Previews

Things are really starting to heat up on the eve of a huge day of Preliminary Finals. Below is a preview of what should be a couple of blockbuster games.


As the old adage goes, a week is a long time in football. This saying could not be truer in the context of this preliminary final. Less than a fortnight ago Southern Districts were being heavily fancied as a strong premiership chance on the back of a number of big wins. But now many pundits have given up on the Crocs and appear to think that Wanderers winning this match is a foregone conclusion. But I think many people have written Districts off too early. Last week’s debacle certainly would have dented the team’s confidence but expect a motivated side this week. On paper the Crocs are certainly a formidable team and Wanderers cannot afford to take them lightly. Its forward line still looked ominous at stages last week, despite the huge loss. Jason Eagle, Will Farrer and Troy Taylor are very hard men to contain and can all be match-winners. Tyler Jones was excellent last week and expect him to go to Adam Cook, which I believe will be a great match-up for him. Richard Tambling and Kristian Papertalk provide plenty of run and skill and should offer good ball delivery into the forward line.

But the form team is Wanderers, who have not lost a game in a month. The Eagles are a side that improves tenfold with a bit of momentum behind them and they look to be building closer and closer to their best football. Shane Thorne looked classy last week while Brad Vassal’s inside grunt work proved invaluable for the team. Its forward line is hard to match up on with plenty of versatile types up there. VFL player Jack Hollmer has been a great get for the club and has been close to their most influential player over the past three weeks.

I genuinely think this could go either way and getting off to a great start will be important. For the purpose of this tip, it is hard to go past the form side and I think Wanderers will get the job done, however it would not surprise me in the least if the Crocs prevailed.



Despite its ten-point loss in the corresponding match only a fortnight ago, Banks will head into its Preliminary Final against Nightcliff as warm favourites. This is due largely to the fact that many of the Tigers’ prime movers are ineligible due to player qualification rules. Players the ilk of Jayden Kickett, Ross Carpenter, Jayden Shaw and Eric Klenke will be unavailable for the Tigers which is a huge blow to the side. Pair this with the mental demons from its big loss to PINT last week and it looks like the Bulldogs will be too tough a hurdle to overcome. However its odds suggest that the Tigers are a long shot and I think that this is far from the case. Its Division One regulars have proven time and time again that they have the ability to get the job done and there is no doubt that they will be fired up to prove the doubters wrong. Banks looked sluggish late in the game the last time these two sides met so the Tigers should try to use their wide expansions of TIO Stadium to its advantage. If the Tigers can attempt to exploit some of the Bulldogs’ weaknesses in the speed department by constantly taking the game on, I feel they will have a better chance at winning.

But the Dogs will be on a high after grinding out a win in torrid conditions against Waratah last week in what was a particularly fiery encounter. Will Johnson has been superb all season with his leadership and will be one player the Tigers may need to lock down on. Aaron Knapman can kick a goal from anywhere within the forward fifty and has certainly been the class small forward of the Division One this season. Brad Taheny and the experienced Nick Twelftree are other vital cogs in the Bulldogs side.

There is something romantic about a PINT vs. Banks Grand Final, which would be a great throwback to the old TEAFA days. And while it’d be foolish to rule Nightcliff out of this match, most signs point towards the more settled side in Banks to get the chocolates in this one.



The Spartans enter this match as deserved favourites but they certainly won’t get it all their own way against a determined Waratah outfit. The Warriors looked impressive after half time in last week’s semi-final against Jabiru, especially in the all-important third quarter where they kicked four goals to their opponents nil. John Dunstone has been a good player for a number of years now and he seems to be finding form at just the right time, playing a key role in last week’s win. Scott Seymour has been solid all season and was named his side’s second best against Jabiru. Kyle Evans has booted 49 goals in a dozen matches, which included a 13-goal haul earlier in the season, so he provides a target in the forward line.

The Spartans are a hard side to gauge with its form being inconsistent this season. Although admittedly that has been partly due to the fact that player unavailability has been an issue at times. They have been without the competition’s best player in Chris Smith for a couple of weeks now and his absence has left a huge hole in the midfield. Its 48-point loss last week to Banks would have dented its confidence but with players such as Aaron Townsend, Jaise Coleman and Thomas Antulov in the side you write them off at your own peril.

When these two sides met a fortnight ago the Spartans only won by 19 points. However it clearly won more inside 50s and led the scoring shots 17 to 8. If the Spartans can win enough ball through the midfield its forward line could be too potent for the Waratah defence.

I think the Spartans will win in a close game but having not seen the listed sides, it will depend on player availability.



It will be the pinnacle of Women’s football tomorrow when Waratah face off against Tracy Village in the NTFL Women’s Grand Final. There is no mistaking that the Warriors, who are in their fourth consecutive Grand Final, are the team to beat after finishing the minor rounds undefeated. But there is always a sense of pressure on an undefeated side when heading into the finals and if any side were to challenge the Women’s powerhouse team, it would be newcomers Tracy Village. Tracy finished second on the ladder and arguably could have won the last time these two sides met a fortnight ago. A couple of missed chances up forward and a concentration lapse here and there ultimately cost them what would have been a great upset win.

The Warriors have plenty of firepower up forward with perennial leading goal kicker Abbey Holmes always a genuine target to kick to. Breanna Martin and Sue Nalder form a more than handy partnership with Holmes and the Tracy Village defence will need to be on its toes to stop these three players. The widely respected duo of Angela Foley and Lisa Roberts are always hard players to stop but if the Villagers are any chance of winning they will need to nullify these two women’s impact on the game.

Tracy Village will look towards Sally Riley who has been exceptional all season in the midfield. Riley should be considered amongst the class players in the competition and will need to have a big game tomorrow. Hannah Graham has been in great form up forward and is always a marking target for their side. Sharona Bishop is another instrumental player that could cause headaches for the Warriors if she is able to have an influence in the game.

I think Grand Final experience is always beneficial and for that reason it is too hard to go past Waratah for the win here. My tip for the Best on Ground medal would have to be Ange Foley who is certainly in the top couple of players in the league.



Buffaloes will do battle with Big River Hawks on Saturday afternoon with the winner earning a spot in the U18 Grand Final. The Buffaloes lost narrowly to premiership favourites Nightcliff last week but will be looking to regroup with a win over the Hawks. The double blues will be looking to go one better than last year, when they were knocked out of the finals in this corresponding game. They will look towards Jalen Clarke, who has plenty of Premier League experience under his belt and the talented Lawrie Raymond who has had a terrific season in the U18s. Bradley Stokes has had a much improved year and has the ability to cause plenty of damage in attack with his 28 goals this season. Alan Mummery is another key option in the Buffaloes forward line and only two players in the U18 competition has kicked more goals than him.

Standing in their way is a determined Big River Hawks outfit that have rebounded from a mid-season form slump. The Hawks defeated Wanderers by 30 points last week with Caleb Clyden producing a masterclass up forward with six goals. Clyden won the competition best and fairest last season and is considered a chance to win the award again this season. The Buffaloes will need to ensure that he is unable to play the game on his terms otherwise he has the potential to be a match winner. Isaac Bell is another player that has enjoyed a good season with the Hawks and he was impressive in last week’s win.

All in all it should be a quality and fast-paced game.



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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.

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