Territory Stories

Sunday Territorian 23 Feb 2014



Sunday Territorian 23 Feb 2014


Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT




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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited



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www.sundayterritorian.com.au Sunday, February 23, 2014. Sunday Territorian. 63 P U B : NTNE-WS-DA-TE:23-FGE:63 CO-LO-R: C-M Y-K Saints proving ruthless Recruiting Territory Thunder star Darren Ewing, from Palmerston, only made NTFL rivals St Marys stronger. Inset: St Marys dominance this season is illustrated by the NTFL ladder at the end of the home and away games Picture: DANIEL HARTLEY-ALLEN IN NO way is this article having a crack at NTFL clubs St Marys and Darwin. Its just an out of towner, who loves his sport, passing comment on the NTFL premiership which is becoming decidedly one-sided if it isnt already. St Marys, the defending premiers in the NTFL, have won 29 premierships since forming as a club in 1952 and after stringing 36 straight wins together are odds on to claim the flag this season unless Wanderers, Nightcliff or Waratahs can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Saints have looked like a well-oiled machine throughout their unbeaten 2013/14 campaign and in their 17 games they have won by an average of 67 points thats 11 goals. Southern Districts got to within two points of the green and golds in Round 9, and significantly that was a week after St Marys had incurred the bye. And St Marys kicked four goals late in the fourth quarter that day to seal victory. Wanderers, who will more than likely face the minor premiers in the grand final on March 15 if their win over Nightcliff in the qualifying final yesterday is any guide, were next to give St Marys a run for their money when they fell by 21 points in Round 3. The next time the Saints faced the Eagles it was a 26-point win in an absolute classic contest at TIO Stadium on January 4 when the NTFL premiership resumed after the Christmas break. Some say that if Daniel Motlop had not received his marching orders after being reported a second time Wanderers may have won. The following week Palmerston suffered an honourable 27-point loss at the hands of the NTFL juggernaut. St Marys edged the Alice Springs-based Central Australia Redtails at TIO Stadium in Round 2 by 33 points, but in the other 12 games it has been one-way traffic. Before we go any further, Tuesday will mark 500 days since the Redtails created history by toppling St Marys in their first NTFL match in Alice Springs to kick off the 2012/13 season. Since that match, Saints have been unstoppable. This season they have posted a 129-point win over Palmerston and a 120-point win over Darwin two teams that missed the finals. However, Saints also recorded a 119-point win over Waratahs and a 110-point win over Wanderers in the final round before the finals. There was also a 96-point rout of Southern Districts in Round 17. Saints have proven this season that they might be ripe for the picking after a break, so could they be vulnerable come next Saturday? Not likely, sports fans. It would be nothing short of staggering if St Marys failed to win the second semi-final and grand final. They have had a wonderful season and a 30th premiership would be well deserved, but is their dominance hurting the NTFL? The answer is probably an emphatic yes. Before landing in the Top End in 2010, your author was fully aware of the Darwinbased NTFL premiership and was amazed to see that St Marys always seemed to make the grand final. Saints have also appeared in the final game of the season on 45 occasions. One can appreciate the St Marys culture and the fact that they also boast a strong family background, and therefore its hard to begrudge their success. However, they do have a habit of recruiting handy players to ensure that their dominance continues. There is no rule in the NTFL to say that a player has to play for the same club for the duration of their career, but when certain players switch to St Marys they do so for one reason. To win a premiership. Darren Ewing, one of the best players in the NEAFL as the goal-kicking spearhead for Territory Thunder, gave Palmerston plenty of years of loyal service before switching to St Marys this season. As if Saints needed a player of that quality. Ewing no doubt had his reasons for cutting ties with Palmerston, but you can guarantee that the thought of winning a NTFL premiership certainly crossed his mind before he finally linked up with St Marys. It must be said that Ewing transferring from Palmerston to St Marys is nobody elses business. St Marys are seemingly that strong at a Premier League level that it makes you wonder if there are players in their Division 1 line-up who wouldnt find it too difficult to cement a spot in the top side for a rival NTFL club. The NTFL Player Points System was introduced this season with the aim of making the Premier League a lot more competitive. In other words to minimise player transfers among clubs and to encourage clubs to develop their juniors. Even the NTFL has ac cepted that it may take some time before the player points system takes effect, but until then it seems certain that the likes of St Marys and Wanderers will continue to leave their rivals in their wake. Lets make one thing clear. St Marys, and Wanderers for that matter, are not at fault, but how long will strugglers Darwin put up with having to play second fiddle to the top teams. The imminent arrival of the Redtails in the Premier League on a fulltime basis is an exciting prospect, but making sure that Darwin, Tiwi Bombers and Palmerston are able to match the five teams who qualified for the finals this season has got to be at the top of the agenda for NTFL officials. If not, will Banks, for example, replace Darwin in the Premier League or will Darwin have to amalgamate with a club such as Banks to be a viable force in the Territorys No. 1 competition. To have the same teams sitting at the top of the ladder and at the bottom of the ladder is not healthy and it is worrying. When contemplating this column, yours truly was trying to think of a way to change the NTFL Premier League so that all teams at least had a chance in the premiership race. Nothing really came to mind. St Marys fielding two teams is not an option. Well just have to wait and see if the NTFLs Player Points System will work, but perhaps for two years the NTFL could introduce a rule where by a player cannot transfer from their club to a club sitting higher on the ladder at the end of the season. The facts are that something has to be done, and not a moment too soon. Before the VFL/AFL introduced a national draft in 1986, the same teams would feature in the finals and the same teams would end the season at the foot of the ladder. And top players from those teams who missed the finals would transfer to clubs who made the finals on a regular basis in quest for premiership success. How many players jumped ship at Fitzroy, Melbourne, Footscray, St Kilda, South Melbourne and Richmond back then? The draft basically stopped that from happening and no longer do the same teams appear at the top or at the foot of the ladder every year. Hopefully, the NTFL will eventually come up with a system where a team like Darwin will one day give St Marys plenty to think about on grand final day. David White is also host of Saturday Sports on Darwin radio stationTerritory FM. sundayterritorian.com.au SPORT Inside back with David White SPO david.white@news.com.au Is there a burning issue you would like us to explore? Email or call me on 8944 9764

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