THE Northern Territory's record against visiting SANFL clubs continues to prosper after a hard earned 18-point win over Woodville-West Torrens at TIO Stadium on Saturday.
The home side had to call on all of its representative tradition and mental toughness before prevailing over the reigning SANFL premier 12.11 (83) to 10.5 (65) in front of a small but boisterous crowd at league headquarters.
Key defender Mitchell Taylor won the best on ground medal after a superb four-quarter performance against an Eagles side hunting its third successive SANFL premiership when the season kicks off in April.
The respective coaches paid homage to their players after one of the most physically draining representative clashes for many years.
Buffaloes boss Chris Baksh said his side's ability to hunt down the opposition and apply sufficient pressure had paid the ultimate dividend.
"We knew if we could stick with them until half-time we were in with a chance, our pressure turned things around with our half back line great for the first two quarters and then our mids started to work through the corridor and our forwards started to get us going.''
The Eagles' coach Jade Sheedy was happy with his side's endeavour with the first bounce of the SANFL season still 10 weeks away.
"It shows a lot about how fit we are when we're only halfway through our pre-season,'' Sheedy said.
"I thought we competed pretty well against a side that is obviously in season and more match conditioned than we are, so I was pretty proud of the boys effort when we had 10 or a dozen players who haven't played league footy.
"That gives us great confidence to start building our list moving forward into a years of footy.''
Woodville-West Torrens hit the ground running against a Territory side that knew they were in for a tough night against the reigning SANFL premiers.
A Luke Beecken goal opened proceedings on a still, humid night in Darwin, ensuring the fans at Marrara knew they were in for a hard running, physical contest.
The Eagles had plenty of ballgetters and players who were prepared to go in and get it, factors that saw them lead by five points at the first change.
AFL pairing Riley Knight and Troy Menzel were conspicuous with the amount of football they were getting and more importantly, what they were doing with it when the football was in their hands.
On the Territory side, Mitchell Taylor, Brodie Newman and Braedon McLean were solid in defence and three-time Nightcliff premiership player Shaun Wilson booted two first half goals to be among his side's best.
Michael Bowden, the son of AFLNT chairman Sean Bowden and nephew of former Richmond star Joel Bowden, continued his rise as one of the league's best defenders, finally succumbed to forming the third prong in a strong backline with Taylor and McLean.
The Territory kicked five of the last seven goals of the match to seal the win against an Eagles side that eventually ran out of legs on a hot and steamy night.
NTFL 2.2 6.3 9.7 12.11 (83)
EAGLES 3.1 5.3 9.5 10.5 (65)
GOALS - NTFL: D Landt 3 J Calder 3 S Wilson 2 B Filo L Taylor N Paredes A Ankers. Eagles: R Knight 2 K Pudney 2 T Menzel 2 J Comitogianni L Beecken C McLeod A D'Aloia.
BEST - NTFL: M Taylor (BOG Medal) L Taylor M Bowden N Yarran N Paredes. Eagles: R Knight K Pudney Z Buck T Menzel Z Williams.