SATURDAY ,9 JUNE
Little-known fact about the so-called “expansion” rugby league town of Darwin: the first league competition took place here way back in 1941. It consisted of servicemen stationed in the NT capital during WWII, but had to be suspended, according to the SportsTG website “following Japanese air raids on 19 February, 1942”. The comp recommenced in ’43.
So don’t let those AFL-centric people tell you that Aussie rules has a mortgage on the Northern Territory capital. The next time they try it, also point them towards footage of the last few games of rugby league staged at the city’s TIO Stadium. For the first time ever, Darwin hosted a Rugby League World Cup match during the 2017 event. The city went absolutely wild for it, and while the Aussies towelled up Samoa in the Cup quarters, the locals were still thrilled at the exploits of their NT product Will Chambers – oh, yeah – and five-try hero Valentine Holmes.
Tonight’s match will be Parramatta’s fourth NRL regular-season fixture at the Marrara ground. They played North Queensland here last year too, with the Johnathan Thurston-led Cowboys scoring a convincing 32-6 win in front of 11,968. That match proved to be JT’s last NRL home-and-away appearance before he sustained that horror shoulder injury during Origin II.
Parramatta enjoyed an extremely successful arrangement with the NT Government over the past four years, staging annual home games in the Top End. With that deal having expired last year, here’s hoping for their fans’ sake they can work in a win over Thurston’s men into the new bargain.
Match: Eels vs Cowboys Location: TIO Stadium Capacity: 12,000 Off the field: “Best place in Australia, Darwin. Nobody worries who you are or where you come from. If you’re a good bloke, you’re alright.” A quote from Wake In Fright describing The Yabba, but works for Darwin, too.