The Tiwi Bombers have levelled their win-loss ledger and risen to fifth on the ladder eight weeks into the 2019/20 TIO NTFL season.

It’s been a strong recovery from what was a sluggish start for the Bombers, who have now won three of their last four clashes.

The playing return of Tiwi legend Cyril Rioli was clearly the story of the month, with the superstar returning to the field for the first time since his shock AFL retirement midway through the 2018 season.

Rioli, who is an assistant coach for the Tiwi side this season, didn’t disappoint against Palmerston in round five in front of the passionate home fans at Tiwi Oval.

It was a tight contest against the Magpies and the four-time premiership player showed he has lost none of his textbook class and skill in an exhilarating performance.

The Bombers were under the pump throughout the game, falling to a 24-point deficit at the final change in the wet and muggy conditions. But the side wasn’t willing to give up, dragging their way back into contention.

With the game on the line and next to no time remaining, Tiwi had one last crack with an entry inside 50. And when the ball spilled out of the marking contest, there was no doubt about who would be there to mop it up.

‘Junior Boy’ pounced on the opportunity, gathering the ball and snapping truly to lift the Bombers to a thrilling and emotional one-point victory.

 

Chris Jones was named best for the Bombers, while Harley Puruntatameri and Adam Tipungwuti – a cousin of Essendon’s Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – continued their impressive seasons in the victory.

Tiwi then headed back to Darwin to take on Waratah in what was a high-scoring affair, but the Bombers couldn’t recover from a slow start and were outmuscled to slump to a disappointing 43-point loss that provided the Warriors’ first win of the season.

Gerrard Cunningham impressed with four goals for Tiwi and the game wasn’t without its classic moments, with Richard Puruntatameri’s providing one of the highlights of the season in a stunning running goal.

 

A huge task against the second-placed Southern Districts followed as Tiwi looked to bounce back, and bounce back they did.

It was Tiwi football at its finest as the Bombers tore the Crocs to shreds with sublime speed and skill. A four-goals-to-none opening term set up the blistering performance as the side held off its opponent to claim a commanding 35-point win.

Tipungwuti was sensational again, while Jason Puruntatameri and Michael Dunn also starred in the red and black. Dion Munkara was at his very best booting four goals, one of which was an absolute cracker following up the brilliant clearance work of Tiwi legend Ross Tungatalum.

 

Tiwi entered its next clash against St Mary’s with its tail up and quickly showed the strong victory over the Crocs was no fluke.

The return of experienced former West Coast forward Ashton Hams – who played a huge role in Tiwi’s success late in the 2018/19 season – proved important for the Bombers as they gradually wore down the Saints, while Jones and fellow Melburnian import Liam Wale-Buxton also led the way well.

Jake Best continued his good form with four goals, while experienced Bomber Austin Wonaeamirri was typically dangerous in front of the big sticks with three goals.

In just his second senior game for the Bombers, Blake Puruntatameri showcased his silky skills and the famous Puruntatameri outside speed to claim the round’s NT News Rising Star nomination.

 

The next challenge for Tiwi is a massive one; a meeting with the flying reigning premier Nightcliff at PSC BM Oval in Darwin on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers have only been beaten once this season, but the in-form Bombers will enter the clash with some confidence knowing their best is well and truly good enough to knock off any side.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Tiwi Bombers throughout the season.