Riolis in line for clash of islands
TERRITORY football gets a big injection of passion and culture whenever St Mary’s and the Tiwi Bombers clash for premiership points.
The NTFL footballing cousins have already met in two grand finals since the Tiwis entered the competition in 2007-08, with the Melville Island based Rioli family providing players for both sides.
Today’s 2pm clash at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island is no exception, with four Riolis likely to line up for St Mary’s in the crucial Round 6 clash.
St Mary’s captain Shannon Rioli will be joined by his brother Ben and cousins Brayden and Maurice Jr for the NTFL showpiece.
“A few things have to fall into place, but that’s certainly the plan at this stage,’’ Shannon told the NT News.
“We’re looking forward to it.
“We haven’t lost over there and we’re keen to keep that record intact in what is always a good game of footy when the Riolis play on the island against our own people.
“We didn’t play there last year in what is always a good experience, especially for the guys that are new to the club.
“To go to the Tiwis and experience the footy culture over there is important, particularly if you’ve got a guy coming up from country Victoria who has never seen that side of the Territory game before.’’
Adding to the spectacle will be the appearance of the AFL premiership Cup, a trophy Willie Rioli Jr was involved with as a player only six weeks ago.
“It will be a pretty special day, not just for the family but for all of the Tiwi Islands,’’ Shannon said.
“Every time someone does something special it’s a big occasion.
“And this time both islands will be able to celebrate what Willie has achieved with West Coast.’’
St Mary’s are chasing backto-back wins over the winless Tiwis for the first time this season, following their gutsy win over Waratah.
“We want to get some momentum going and even up the ledger to 3-3,’’ Shannon said. “It will be a reward for the players who have done the pre-season work and the hard yards required.
“Brent (coach Brent Renouf) is looking at it in blocks, one win in the first three games and two in the next three is our target.’’
Jack Long, the patriarch of the Long family dynasty, will be driven around Tiwi Oval before the first bounce to celebrate his association with the Tiwi people.