NT Thunder co-captain Abraham Ankers has topped off the 2019 season to claim his second successive Ilett Medal; becoming the first player since once of the medal’s namesakes (Cameron Ilett) to win multiple of the club’s highest individual men’s accolade. Meanwhile, Katie Streader has held on by a single vote to be a deserving winner of the Thunder Women’s Club Champion in what was a thrilling count.
After being named captain of the NEAFL Team of the Year last weekend, Ankers stormed home in the last four games of the season to claim a five-vote victory over Thunder stalwart and reliable defender, Ben Rioli; 122 to 117 votes.
Both played all 18 games in 2019 and went into the count having already won an award on the night; Rioli picking up the esteemed Players’ Player and Ankers tying for the first-ever Darren Ewing Leading Goalkicker honour.
At the end of Round 4, Ankers and Rioli were tied in equal fourth, before Rioli claimed 30 out of a possible 40 votes between rounds 5 to 8 to skip out to a seven-vote lead.
In the next three games, Ankers polled the most votes of any player, two more than Rioli, as well as Jack Hannath, Kieren Parnell and Daniel Weetra who had all started to make their move.
A perfect 10 votes going Ankers’ way in Round 13 meant that when the leaderboard to Round 16 was put up, he was a single vote adrift of Rioli.
Meanwhile, Weetra’s season became a case of ‘could have been’ with the reliable defender sitting in third place to Round 16, an impressive showing given he suffered a season-ending injury in Round 15. Likewise, youngster, Brodie Carroll was well positioned in sixth spot overall at Round 16 before his injury the next week kept him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Ankers’ lead and his second lot of 10 votes came in Round 17 after his 43 disposals and determination drove the team to victory over Redland in his hometown of Alice Springs.
From there the 24-year-old never lost the lead and went on to win back-to-back Ilett Medals, which he adds to his list of achievements.
Rioli’s second-place in his eighth season with the club is the best finish he has had in the end of season Club Champion Awards night, coming at the same time that he also became the most capped active player.
Ankers was the only player to pick up two lots of full votes, with Daniel Weetra the only other player to be awarded the full complement of 10 in Thunder’s Round 13 away game against Southport.
Third to fifth place in the Ilett Medal race went to three of Thunder’s 2019 debutants.
Also playing every game this season and influential in getting Ankers good use out of the middle was big-man Jack Hannath, who finished the night in third place on 90 votes.
Kieren Parnell added to his INPEX Rookie of the Year and KIK Digital Community and Media Award that he picked up earlier in the night by showing that perseverance pays off, finishing fourth with 83 votes from 16 games.
Jacob Templeton played 15 games in his first season with the club, the strong-bodied, hard-tackling midfielder getting noticed to finish fifth on 73 votes.
In the race for the Thunder Women’s Club Champion, it all came down to the last round.
Streader was top of the leaderboard at every main break and was fast out of the blocks picking up 19 votes out of a possible 30 in Thunder’s first three games. Hot on her heels was Thunder’s general in defence, Lisa Roberts who had amassed 17 votes to the same point.
Another highlight of the first three rounds was Hannah Martin’s perfect 10 in the team’s courageous Round 2 win over the Southern Saints. Martin was in fine form before her season-ending ACL injury in Round 9 and was one of only three players to be awarded 10 votes; Deni Varnhagen picked up 10 in Round 8 against Williamstown, and Sophie Armitstead received 10 against Darebin.
By Round 8 there had been some shuffling of the rankings, as Roberts missed a game and was less influential in some others, while Tayla Thorn, Kristy Irvine and Nikki Gore were standouts.
Going into the second half of the season, Streader led the vote count by one from Thorn, two from Irvine and 14 from Roberts who had slipped to eighth.
With Streader missing rounds 9 and 10, it opened the door for Thorn to take the lead, but the Gold Coast Suns’ latest recruit would only play two more games for the season, and by Round 12, following a total of 15 from a possible 20 votes, Streader was back in the lead.
Irvine, who missed rounds 9 to 12 started to slip, but youngsters, Janet Baird and Morgan Johnston were making inroads with consistent performances. Machaelia Roberts’ impact was also being felt, with the lively forward polling well in the games she played. Lisa Roberts also started to find great form, and by Round 13 she was back in third, trailing Streader and Thorn.
In Round 15, the second last game of the season, neither Streader or Thorn played, Lisa Roberts, picked up six votes and Jordann Hickey made a late charge scoring nine for her clean work in defence against Casey.
Going into the final round, Streader led by four votes (61) from Lisa Roberts (57) and Thorn (54). As the highlights against Melbourne Uni played out, Baird was a clear standout picking up a game-high nine votes to match Thorn and finish in equal fifth.
Hickey collected six votes to claim fourth place, and Johnston’s score of five took her to a total of 56 and pushed her into third, with third place to fifth separated by only three votes. Johnston was the only ThunderW player to appear in all 14 games this season.
When Lisa Roberts was awarded eight, the sums started being calculated, but in the end, Streader’s five votes in the last round were enough to sew up her first Club Champion Medal which complemented the privilege of picking up the Players’ Player Award earlier in the night.
For her and Ankers’ efforts, the pair each win two tickets to the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand Final and a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher.
Other awards on the night saw Irvine, who finished seventh, recognised for her hard attack on the ball by being awarded the Karen Schneider ThunderW Most Courageous Award.
On the men’s side, Weetra, who never shied from running back or front on into a contest, was given the Thunder Most Courageous Award.
In the first awarding of the Darren Ewing Leading Goalkicker, Kieran Delahunty, who finished sixth in the Ilett Medal count, drew with Ankers with 17 goals apiece.
Danielle Ponter’s 13 goals from only six games saw her awarded the ThunderW Leading Goalkicker, her tally including two separate hauls of three.
Amy Chittick matched Parnell’s feat on the women’s side, recognised for her strong showing in the community by winning the KIK Digital Community and Media Award.
Charlie Deegan also equalled Parnell, when the 24-year-old was recognised for her first-year efforts, being awarded the INPEX Rookie of the Year.
When it came to the players who best embodied the club’s values and did the most to get the best out of their teammates, Chris Williams picked up the Clubman of the Year and ThunderW captain, Lateesha Jeffrey was awarded Clubwoman of the Year.
The always helpful, friendly services offered by Daren Habets saw the sports trainer back up his NTFL Volunteer of the Year Award by being named the Tony West Club Person of the Year.
Earlier in the evening, the Academy Awards recognised and rewarded the best up and comers from the Thunder programs. Read more about them here.
Ben Jungfer was awarded the Under 18 McLean Medal for being a standout in his seven games representing the NT and Allies at the National Championships. A natural leader, Jungfer was also recognised by his peers and received the Under 18 McCasker Award, the Academy’s version of the Players’ Player.
It was also a clean sweep for Brodie Lake in the Under 16s, with the youngster backing up his All-Australian selection with the Under 16 McAdam Medal for being the NT’s most valuable player throughout the Academy series, and collecting the Under 16 McCasker Award as voted on by his teammates.
Alice Springs’ Shoneeka Abbott backed up her CAFL Rising Star Award from earlier in the week by being awarded the Under 18 Thunder Women’s Most Valuable Player trophy. Playing mostly as a defender, her pressure and chase down tackles as well as run and carry out of the backline were highlights in the eight games she played with the Thunder Academy and Central Allies.
The Under 18 Thunder Women’s Players’ Player Award went to co-captain Domonique Carbone, her influence on the field and off it not going unnoticed and earning her a call-up to the senior VFLW side later in the season.
The Under 15 Long Medal for the best showing at the School Sport Under 15 Boys Carnival went to William Rowlands, who was also the youngest recipient of an NTFL best and fairest award after the most recent season.
Grace Whittaker was the recipient of the School Sport Under 15 Girls Medal, the youngster improving on the form she’s showed at Southern Districts the past two NTFL seasons.
And topping off what was a spectacular Division 1 win at the 2019 Inclusion Carnival, the Tiwi Island’s Preyben Tipiloura was justly rewarded with the Inclusion Best and Fairest. His heroics in the Grand Final win over Vic Metro earning him full marks.
List of all the winners at the 2019 NT Thunder Club Champion Awards Night
NT Thunder Ilett Medal Top 5 (NEAFL)
Ilett Medallist – Abraham Ankers – 122 votes – with thanks to Flight Centre for the $1,000 voucher
Runner-Up – Ben Rioli – 117 votes
3rd place – Jack Hannath – 90 votes
4th place – Kieren Parnell – 83 votes
5th place – Jacob Templeton – 73 votes
NT ThunderW Club Champion Top 5 (VFL W)
Club Champion – Katie Streader – 66 votes presented by The Precinct – with thanks to Flight Centre for the $1,000 voucher
Runner-Up – Lisa Roberts – 65 votes
3rd place – Morgan Johnston – 56 votes
4th place – Jordann Hickey – 55 votes
5th place – Tayla Thorn and Janet Baird – 55 votes
Other senior team awards
NT Thunder INPEX Rookie of the Year
KIK Digital Community and Media Award
NT Thunder Clubman/Clubwoman of the Year Award
Chris Williams presented by Mix 104.9
Lateesha Jeffrey presented by Hot100
Darren Ewing Leading Goalkicker Award
Abraham Akers and Kieran Delahunty (17 goals) presented by McDonald’s
ThunderW Leading Goalkicker Award
Danielle Ponter (13 goals) presented by McDonald’s
NT Thunder Players’ Player presented by Westpac
NT Thunder Most Courageous Player Award
NT ThunderW Karen Schneider Most Courageous Award
Academy and other club awards
Tony West Club Person of the Year Award
Under 18 McLean Medal
Under 18 McCasker Award (Players’ Player)
Under 18 Women’s Most Valuable Player
Under 18 Women’s Players’ Player
Under 16 McAdam Medal
Under 16 McCasker Award (Players’ Player)
School Sport NT Under 15 Long Medal
School Sport NT Under 15 Girls Medal
Inclusion Best and Fairest