Tigers and Saints to battle for season bragging rights

Photo by Celina Whan | AFLNT Media

It will be winner takes all this Saturday night with another grand final showdown between Nightcliff and St Marys in this year’s TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League Grand Final.

It shapes as a ripping contest with the Tigers having the recent edge over the Saints, while the talent and winning culture of the green machine is simply undeniable.

The two teams met a fortnight ago in a seesawing semi-final contest with massive momentum swings the saw the Tigers ultimately prevail by under two goals. This time it will be the Nightcliff coming off a week’s rest, while the Saints are back full of confidence after a strong win over Southern Districts.

Spearhead Jackson Calder looked dangerous all night against the Crocs, Joel Garner was arguably best-on-ground, while champion midfielder Nate Paredes was able to impact on-ball and hit the scoreboard. Some of the Saints’ younger players, particularly Xavier Vallejo and Mitch Musgrove, had strong performances last weekend, especially during the Saints’ all-important third quarter. 

Nightcliff appear to have more depth, so it will be about stopping the Saints’ big guns in Calder, Paredes, Garner and Nichols Medal winner Dylan Landt, which is certainly a task easier said than done. Calder threatened to get off the chain a fortnight ago kicking four goals in the second quarter before he was contained for the remainder of the match.

Lewis ‘The Glove’ Rinaldi will get the Landt match up, but the Saints superstar showed last week that he doesn’t need to get huge disposal numbers to make an impact, recording a game-high 12 tackles.

Garner is a huge inclusion for the Saints – he did not play against Nightcliff, but was hugely influential last weekend against the Crocs, while Seth Harris is another prolific ball winner with the ability to run hard all game.

For the Tigers, it was Brett Kennedy who dominated last time with 29 disposals and three goals. Perhaps Kieren Parnell – one of the best lockdown defenders in the competition – will take ownership of that match up this week. Cody Szust gathered 29 disposals, Brodie Filo had 23, while young gun Peter Politis had one of his better games of the season recording 20 touches. 

Cooper Dahms has been one of the most underrated players in the TIO NTFL this season while Jonathan Lanyon has been a welcome inclusion in recent weeks after missing the majority of the season.

Liam Buxton is the best ruckman on the ground, but despite his serviceable performance a fortnight ago, the Saints trio of Conway, Toa and Korewha claimed the hit-out advantage and were able to allow their midfield brigade to break even around the clearances.

The Tigers’ Zac Moody will miss the game due to suspension, while question marks surround the availability of Saints star Jack Kluske, who has been in excellent form.

As mentioned, Nightcliff have the winning form over St Marys this season, winning all three encounters, but it is so hard to keep a good team down. Will the Saints claim yet another premiership, or can the Tigers get the job done again?

Discounted presale tickets can be purchased by clicking here, the 2023/24 TIO Men’s Premier League Grand Final can be streamed live via 7Plus, The NT News, and via SEN radio

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