DAR­WIN

Inside Sport - - IN HINDSIGHT -

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.

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