Sunday Territorian

STUNNING ST MARY’S

GREEN MACHINE PULLS OFF SENSATIONA­L UPSET VICTORY

- JOSH SPASARO

ONE of the plays of the night in Satints’ stunning 12.9 (81) to 10.9 (69) victory over Nightcliff couldn’t have been set up by a more unselfish player at TIO Stadium on Saturday night.

When new Green Machine skipper Nate Paredes went short to young gun Xavier Vallejo, and he produced a magnificen­t kick to score from 40m out, it gave the hosts a crucial 10-point lead in the 15th minute of the final term.

And it will be a play long remembered at Saints.

It was Vallejo’s first Premier League goal after stepping up from under-18 level on a night he looked assured in the top grade, alongside other star young NT Thunder Academy products and debutants Kobe Hodges and Isaiah Baldock.

And it was typical of Paredes, who spoke about how much he wants to help the young the Saints stars shine this season after being handed the captaincy last Saturday.

Lachlan Taylor and Nick Yarran were other young guns – fast becoming leaders themselves – who also stood out for the victors.

Taylor never stopped running and shrugged off what looked like a knee complaint at one stage.

But Saints were very impressive all across the park – young and old.

Picking up Rovers duo Tyson Woods and Nigel Lockyer Jr was a shrewd piece of recruiting.

Woods is not lacking any pace and Lockyer Jr has a stunning vertical leap. Lockyer Jr – who went to Marrara from Palmerston – finished the night with an impressive three goals.

And the evergreen Ryan Smith was enormous in the ruck contests in a game that lived up to its high grandfinal rematch expectatio­ns.

He won countless stoppages for a Saints team that – on Saturday night’s polished performanc­e – will challenge Nightcliff in its quest for a fourth consecutiv­e NTFL premiershi­p.

For Nightcliff, Tigers fans would

take plenty of positives out of Saturday night’s performanc­e.

Champion veteran Cameron Ilett was clean with the football all around the ground and Shaun Wilson proved he’ll once again be a formidable attacking weapon in 2021-22, finishing with two goals.

John Butcher has a booming kick and he finished with four majors for the Tigers.

Liam Holt-Fitz was also his usual elusive self, while Ryan Nyhuis was composed at the back.

 ?? ?? Saints captain Nathaniel Paredes.
Saints captain Nathaniel Paredes.

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