Buffs show courage to upset Crocs in boilover O’Sul­li­van leads the way in ruck

Den­nis has Mag­pies fo­cused on rare fi­nals berth

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - GREY MOR­RIS GREY MOR­RIS BUF­FALOES STH DIS­TRICTS

DAR­WIN Buf­faloes stormed back into premier­ship con­tention with a gutsy 16-point win over flag favourites South­ern Dis­tricts at TIO Sta­dium last night.

Led by a mag­nif­i­cent de­fence and a never-say-die at­ti­tude, Dar­win booted the last six goals of the match to beat the reign­ing pre­miers by 16 points.

Ruck­man Ryan O’Sul­li­van con­tin­ued his stel­lar sea­son with a best on ground per­for­mance and 45-year-old Dar­ryl White got three goals.

White said the heart of the Buf­faloes was still pump­ing strongly un­der the coach­ing of Matt Camp­bell.

“This club’s got a big heart and al­ways show a lot, it was fan­tas­tic to get up like that,’’ he said.

Dis­tricts had the bet­ter of the first quar­ter, boot­ing a goal in the first two min­utes through Michael Mum­mery on the way to 20-point lead.

It was not all smooth sail­ing for the reign­ing pre­miers, in­form small for­ward Dean Staunton left the ground on a stretcher af­ter col­lid­ing with Buf­falo Liam Philpott and Sam Smith (knee) limped off.

A snapped goal by vet­eran White was the first score of the sec­ond quar­ter, com­ing af­ter some heavy work by Jalen Clarke and Cameron Stokes.

Will Far­rer’s soc­cer ef­fort bounced through to give Dis­tricts their first score of the sec­ond term and a 17-point lead.

Char­lie McA­dam drifted for­ward to snap a clever goal with the out­side of his boot and the busy Lee Dale marked and goaled to stretch the lead to 29 points.

It was White who stepped up again mid­way through the third term when he took a mark on an an­gle and steered it through be­fore Chris Willi- PALMER­STON big man Matthew Den­nis knows his side can do some se­ri­ous dam­age in the NTFL fi­nals.

But get­ting there is the main task in front of his side ahead of the Christ­mas break in the 2018-19 NTFL sea­son.

Out of the fi­nals since 2009-10, the Mag­pies are sixth on the Pre­mier League lad­der but only 20 per­cent­age points be­hind fifth-placed St Mary’s.

To­day’s clash against fourth-placed Waratah at Gar­dens Oval pro­vides an­other lit­mus test for a Mag­pie side fresh from an upset win over free flow­ing Dar­win Buf­faloes.

A win to­day and Palmer- BUF­FALOES V STH DIS­TRICTS BEST 1.1 3.4 5.7 11.8 4.3 7.4 7.8 8.10 GOALS UM­PIRES ams ran on to a clever O’Sul­li­van hand­ball and kicked the Buffs’ sec­ond goal in a minute.

Dis­tricts did kick the first goal of the last quar­ter when a long right-foot snap from Will Far­rer was shep­herded through.

But that 19-point lead was re­duced to one in the next three min­utes when Chris Wil­liams, Ryan O’Sul­li­van from a long way out and White from a clever mark and a 50m penalty kicked goals. ston could be in the top five with seven games re­main­ing af­ter the Christ­mas break, plac­ing them in a lofty po­si­tion af­ter years in the dol­drums.

Den­nis, a colos­sus in the ruck for the Mag­pies since their open­ing-round win over Tahs, wants an­other big ef­fort from his team­mates to­day.

“A big sec­ond half of the sea­son will get us into the fi­nals and we’re def­i­nitely play­ing well enough to get there,’’ he told the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian.

“We played some re­ally good run­ning foot­ball against the Buf­faloes with­out Al­wyn Davey and Aaron Lon­er­gan and that says a lot for the club as a whole.

“It hasn’t been an easy road for us. Ten games into the sea­son we’ve played the top three sides twice, which means we should have a slightly eas­ier run from now on.’’

Den­nis fi­nally con­vinced Bun­doora team­mate Josh Grabowski to make the trek north on Satur­day and Mag­pie of­fi­cials were might­ily im­pressed by his per­for­mance.

“I’ve been try­ing to get him up here for four years and what you saw on Satur­day night is what he is ca­pa­ble of,’’ a beam­ing Den­nis said.

And his own form? “The sore knee is re­spond­ing pretty well to treat­ment and I’m con­tribut­ing some­thing to the team, that’s all I’m con­cerned about,” he said.

Pic­ture: KERI MEGELUS

Dis­tricts star Jared Bren­nan in the clear at TIO Sta­dium

Matthew Den­nis bat­tles against Waratah’s Zack Wester­berg

Buf­faloes’ Chris Wil­liams

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