Men's Grand Final
Nightcliff: 1.3 4.7 6.10 8.13 (61)
Southern Districts 1.3 2.5 3.7 5.9 (39)
Nightcliff: Liam Holt-Fitz 2, Cameron Ilett 2, Matthew Bricknell, John Butcher, Brodie Filo, Phillip Wills
Southern Districts: Michael Mummery 3, Jess Koopman, Rory O'Brien
CHANEY MEDALIST (Best on Ground)
After a 54-year drought, the flag is on its way back to Nightcliff! In a tense arm wrestle at TIO Stadium under lights, it was the Tigers who had the stamina to play four quarters of strong footy to secure the win over Southern Districts.
Cameron Ilett brought the Tigers crowd to their feet kicking the first goal of the game in the opening 90 seconds. Jared Brennan did an amazing pick up bending down and running into goal but hit the post to record Districts' first score. Nathan Brown, Clayton Holmes and Simon Deery were outstanding in the first 10 minutes, mopping up in defence. John Butcher marked about 40 metres out and had a setshot on goal but missed in a let off for the Crocs. The game then locked down with each team’s defensive pressure outstanding. Rory ‘O’Brien had a long shot on goal but kicked the Crocs' second point. Every forward entry for Crocs seemed to be chopped off by the Tigers defence. At the 17-minute mark every player was in the Crocs forward line. Jess Koopman's shot on goal from the boundary hit the post for the Crocs third point. Michael Mummery finally marked at the 21-minute mark and kicked Southern Districts' first goal, drawing the score level. The siren went just as tempers started to flare between the two teams. That quarter was a tale of two halves with Nightcliff dominating the start and Crocs ending up biting back.
Cam Ilett took just 25 seconds to kick the first goal of the second quarter just like he did in the first quarter. Crocs' Zac Smith laid a perfect tackle on Koko Niki for held ball and got the footy down to Michael Bowden who in turn got it in the Crocs forward 50 but Filo was able to chop it off. O’Brien had a shot on goal for the Crocs but Holmes managed to touch it right on the line. Clinton Gallio and Sean Martin worked the ball out of defence to Dean Staunton who ran the ball out to Charlie McAdam who then hit Jess Koopman on the chest and he went back and kicked a goal for the Crocs to hit the lead for the first time all game. Nichols Medallist Phillip Wills started to come into the game. Jono Peris did a clever flick under his legs to Matty Bricknell and he spun around and kicked a goal for Nightcliff to regain the lead. The exciting Liam Holt-Fitz then ran into goal and the margin broke open to 11 points. Holt-Fitz then received a free kick in the pocket about 15 metres out and tried to kick a left foot snap but he missed. After lots of hard work, Shane Thorne finally got the ball into Jared Brennan but he was also wayward. Danny Butcher then received a 50 penalty in the centre square and kicked in to his brother John but Sean Martin spoiled. Danny Butcher then tackled Ed Barlow and had a kick after the siren from the right pocket but it fell short. Despite many missed shots on goal for the Tigers, it was a three-goal to one quarter their way.
Unlike the first two quarters, there was no quick goal for the Tigers but they did have the ball in their forward 50 for the first few minutes, with the young players in Liam Holt-Fitz and Matt Bricknell showing plenty of pace and intent but only snapping points. A decision to drop Jared Brennan behind the ball was helping repel the Nightcliff attack as both teams' defensive style of play was in overdrive. In the 10th-minute, Ed Barlow showed that second and third efforts count, keeping the ball in play before getting it over to Clinton Gallio, who could've snapped on goal but decided to steady and use a short kick to find Rory O'Brien. Unfortunately the small forward was also off target and the Crocs moved to 2.7, with the Tigers on 4.7. Nightcliff's main man, Phillip Wills then had the next two shots on goal, the first more of a passing shot that went a bit too far and a bit too left, and the second in the 15th-minute, that was a long dribble that rolled through to give the Tigers a 19-point lead. After some desperate smothers and chase downs, a slip in the forward 50 saw Liam Holt-Fitz given a free kick for his second goal, which became a certain thing after he was also rewarded a 50-metre penalty. Trailing by 25 points, Rory O'Brien needed to give the Crocs' supporters hope when he lined up for a free kick approximately 35 metres out from goal on a slight angle, and he converted truly. On the three-quarter time siren, Holt-Fitz had the opportunity to kick his third goal just after the buzzer went but it hit the post, so the Tigers go into the final quarter of the 2018/19 TIO NTFL season leading by 21 points.
In the final quarter of the season, it took only 30 seconds for Nightcliff to clear the footy out of the centre before an opportunistic kick along the ground for John Butcher resulted in the goal that put the Tigers 27 points up. Two minutes later and Blake Grewar, who was an addition to the team this week, marked a short pass from Cam Ilett, and went back to kick his first goal. The Crocs then had to start taking risks and they pushed Jared Brennan forward, with the tall forward getting his hands to everything but unable to have the impact he so desired. Nightcliff continued to show clean skills on the ground, led by Ilett who had repeat forward 50 entries. A few Tigers' heroic acts looked likely but to Southern Districts' credit the players kept up the desperation and saved a couple of goals. Up the other end, Michael Mummery kicked his second goal from a setshot but the Crocs still needed four in four minutes and it didn't look likely with the Tigers still holding the play on their terms. He did kick a third in the 22nd-minute but in the end, Nightcliff was too good in a low scoring, high-pressure, tense Grand FinalCrocs' goals.
Official crowd for Men’s Grand Final Day
AFL Northern Territory would like to thank the 8,219 fans who came along to the last day of the 2018/19 TIO NTFL season on Saturday.
This number reflects those who pre-purchased tickets online and were scanned through, plus those who bought them on the day, as well as members who entered through the gates and those guests who were in corporate functions and events.
The official crowd number is a reflection of the entire day and does not double count patrons with pass outs or re-entry tickets.