WITH the return of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) comes our usual series of scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. While a bunch of juniors plied their trade at higher levels in Round 1, we turned our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a heavy focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line.
Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinion of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.
Glenelg vs. Norwood
By: Michael Alvaro
#12 Xavier Robins
Robins is the son of former Richmond and Melbourne defender, Haydn, and impressed across the same line for Glenelg on Saturday. The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.
He had a big third term and broke to all the right places inside defensive 50, displaying sharp skills through his kick-in duties and providing a reliable rebounding outlet. He finished with 26 disposals, which included 19 kicks and eight rebound 50s.
#13 Luke Pedlar
Like Robins, Pedlar is a top-aged prospect outside of the current state academy hub, but was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Pedlar showcased his explosive burst out of congestion and desire to hunt the ball, racking up a game-high 28 disposals while also laying six tackles and pumping four clearances forward.
He boasts a penetrating left side but can sure up his short-range game at speed. Pedlar also showed a good work-rate while employed up forward, working well up the ground and using his pace to get back quickly. He capped off a terrific outing with a goal at the start of the fourth term, slamming the ball home on the run.
One of his region’s leading 2021 draft candidates, Rayson assumed his usual role across half-back and even snuck forward to snap through a goal in the final term. The bottom-ager is light-on, but is sure to evade opposition heat while in possession with terrific speed and agility.
At times, Rayson’s willingness to move the ball on and turn defence into attack saw his disposal come undone, but he provided reliable use once he slowed himself down. The 181cm prospect was another to position himself well across the backline, picking up 16 disposals in a solid performance.
It was somewhat of a surprise not to see Edwards named at a higher grade to start the season, but he took it all in his stride to be one of Glenelg’s better performers. Another to rotate through the midfield and forwardline, Edwards displayed terrific vision and clean use by hand at the centre bounces, while proving strong in one-on-one contests up forward. He was often first to the ball at stoppages too, an invaluable trait for inside types.
While the Adelaide father-son candidate displayed intelligence by hand, he blazed away with his kicks at times and missed a couple of attempts on goal. His work rate inside forward 50 to find space and manufacture those opportunities was commendable, though, and he also managed to dish off a nice assist to Pedlar in the final term. Edwards finished with impressive statistics of 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances, and four inside 50s.
Another big body to float through the midfield at 190cm, Schreiber arguably looked more comfortable down back where he could better utilise his strength and shrewd reading of the play. He was caught holding the ball on two occasions early in the piece, but adjusted his previous flat-footedness in the second half while adding fends to his stoppage craft.
Schreiber looked to have regained a deal of confidence as the game wore on, winning a couple of nice one-on-one aerial battles and correcting his short-range kicking with more time on the ball in the defensive half. The versatile prospect positioned expertly behind the ball to intercept, and ended up hauling in a team-high seven marks.
It is easy to forget that Holder is just 190cm with the way he plays, providing that focal point at centre half-forward while also pinch-hitting in the ruck. He took a big pack mark in the first term to set the tone for Glenelg, duly converting the set shot before impressing further with his strength and marking on the lead. Holder had a slightly quieter second half, but was a solid target working up the ground with his strong hands. The utility finished with 1.2 from 13 disposals and six marks (four contested).
Lucas Schultz worked well in tandem with Holder inside forward 50, booting a game-high four goals from 12 disposals and six marks as another marking option. Jaden Grosser was Glenelg’s other multiple goalkicker, finding the big sticks twice from midfield while also providing hardness at the ball. Hagan Wright and Kye Dean were others to have moments around the contest, with Riley Drum a solid figure in defence and bottom-ager Nasiah Wanganeen classy on the outer.
There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking. While he grassed a couple of attempts on the fly, Murley pulled off a couple of terrific passes to targets inside 50; the first coming on the end of a 1-2 handball chain to assist Finn Heard‘s goal, and the second a pass which perfectly split multiple Glenelg defenders.
Murley’s lateral vision and smarts around the contest are high-level, boding well for more midfield time despite being a bit light at 66kg. He looked lively inside forward 50 too, particularly in the third term despite not finding the goals himself. The 2019 Under 16 All Australian ended up with 20 disposals and four marks in a promising display.
#9 Alastair Lord
Another bottom-aged small to impress was Lord, who triggered much of Norwood’s forward motion from defence. The 177cm prospect was sound at ground level, sweeping up the loose balls and darting around opponents to find the space to effectively move the ball on. He positioned well to intercept too, proving an apt rebounder with his composed distribution after cutting off opposition forays. Lord finished with 19 disposals, eight marks, and six rebound 50s.
#25 Matthew Dnistriansky
Was Norwood’s designated kicker in defence having been tasked with the kick-in duties, and did well to find targets consistently on a tough day for the Redlegs’ back six. He played somewhat of a sweeper role inside defensive 50, mopping up when needed while spreading well to provide an outlet for his teammates. While Dnistriansky often took the safe option via foot, he was a reliable figure and notched a team-high 25 disposals (22 kicks) to go with nine marks and 10 rebound 50s.
Michael Cavallaro (22 disposals, eight marks) and Daniel Fairbrother (21 disposals, 10 marks) were others to work hard around the ground for Norwood, while Jack Saunders provided solid presence around the ball with 16 touches, as well as team-highs in tackles (eight) and clearances (seven).
North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide
By: Peter Williams
The North Adelaide co-captain was busy from the first bounce until the final siren, winning plenty of touches through the midfield. His best work was done in close, but predominantly it was his vision and use by hand that opened up the game for his teammates. When tackled, Murphy was strong, able to stand up and either shrug off the tackler or get the ball free to a teammate.
Along with his inside work, Murphy’s big first half included setting up goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he did all the one percenters required such as blocks or shepherds. In the third term, Murphy took a goal-saving mark on the last line of defence, and then later on was able to win the ball inside 50 and put it into his teammate’s path running inside 50.
A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques. He took a strong mark despite front-on contact about 40 metres out on a 45-degree angle, but his shot drifted to the left. His ability to get out of trouble was evident in the second term by earning a free kick for being held at half-forward.
The second half was something special though, as Newchurch stepped up to boot three goals, the first of which came eight and a half minutes into the third term. He received the handball and snapped around his body under pressure and then six minutes later kicked another one from a bit further out but with the same technique to sail home. Later in the term he took a great mark on the lead with his hands stretched in front of him, but the shot drifted across the face. His third goal game was the sealer when he lead out inside 50 to take a strong grab and put it straight through the middle. Not only did he finish the game with his execution, but he also applied pressure to opponents inside 50.
Leo Coates had a huge start to the game with a couple of strong marks and a long-range goal (almost two) in the first term. He was quieter after that, but showed signs he has improvement in him. Kallis Freer won a heap of the ball, racking up 27 touches, four marks, three clearances and three tackles to be the Roosters’ number one ball winner on the day. Samuel McTaggert booted a goal off a great crumbing effort and has a great burst of speed. Charlie Dowling and James Willis were very strong around the stoppages.
#2 Harvey Bock
A player who really stood out across the ground, Bock was particularly impressive in the defensive 50. His disposal was effective and he covered the ball well in transition. Often attacking the loose ball with vigour, Bock presented as an option to teammates, and seemed to have the smarts to find space and be a kick and a half behind the play for the quick opposition kick forward. He took a terrific drifting intercept mark to stop a forward marking, chopping off the kick inside 50 by reading it so well.
#5 Lachlan De Cesare
He had a huge game for the Bloods and showed some terrific skill around the ground, teaming up well with Chamberlain. De Cesare was able to read the ball well in flight, chopping off a pass going inside 50 and used the ball well coming out of defence. He kept presenting and won a fair chunk of the ball through midfield, giving off some neat handballs and allowing his teammate to clear it. De Cesare has a good centre of gravity to swivel the hips and try and get free when tackled. He just finds space around the ground and does it well.
A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain who could have been mistaken for the Energiser Bunny for his ability to cover ground and really cause headaches for opposition. He was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.
At times his kicking was not perfectly executed, but his work by hand was terrific, often winning the ball in tight and freeing up teammates on the outside. What really stood out about Chamberlain was his ability to read the stoppages and often duck around the back of an opponent to win the ball from the ruck tap and exit the stoppage before others were aware he was off and running. His work rate and ability to put on the jets and burst away from an opponent, backing himself in was strong. If he irons out the kicking a bit more, he has a lot of other boxes he has already ticked.
Dylan White was another big performer in a low-scoring game, kicking three goals from 19 touches, five marks and four tackles to be the dominant forward for the Bloods. The other South Australian hub member Jye Sindeberry played in the game, but had a quieter outing with seven disposals and one mark.
WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide
By: Ed Pascoe
Despite not having his usual output, the Port Adelaide father-son prospect was classy with ball in hand, rarely making a bad decision by hand or foot and keeping composed when in possession. Playing more of an outside role, he showed plenty of signs as to why he is rated one of the better ball users in this year’s draft. It was overall a quiet outing by his standards, finishing the game with 14 disposals, three clearances and four tackles.
It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye.
Poulter showed great agility and clean hands at ground level which was impressive for a 190cm-plus player, but even with his attacking side coming to the fold it was also his defensive game which stood out as he was always prepared to tackle despite looking gassed late in the game, but you couldn’t fault that. Poulter finished the game with 34 disposals, seven clearances, seven marks, 10 tackles, and a goal to be the standout player not just for this game, but for the whole round in general.
The big ruckman/key forward Phillips looked imposing early, taking a strong mark on the wing and also kicking a lucky goal later in the first quarter, getting over the top and quickly kicking the goal before getting run down. Phillips would add to his tally with some good pressure up forward before getting the rewards with a nice dribble goal. Phillips showed good follow up work in the ruck and his hit outs where often to his teammates’ advantage. He finished the game with 11 disposals, three clearances, two goals, and 24 hit outs.
#31 Jase Burgoyne
Another Port Adelaide father-son prospect but for the 2021 draft, Burgoyne was clean and classy down back; showing good agility and composure and often using the ball neatly by hand and foot. Burgoyne showed a good ability to not only create from defence with his skill and class, but also defend well and knew when to get back to man up on an opponent, Burgoyne looks an exciting talent for the 2021 draft and he finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, and countless rebounds from defence.
Horne will certainly be in discussions for the pointy end of the 2021 draft as the talented midfielder displayed of plenty of his tricks that make him a complete midfielder. Horne certainly isn’t one-dimensional, showing his ability overhead with one mark in particular in the first quarter, going up with great courage.
His ability to work forward and back is impressive, complementing his attack at the footy at stoppages and his explosiveness with and without the ball to hold him in good stead. He could have had greater output if he was able to convert his opportunities around goal, finishing the game with 21 disposals, three clearances and 10 marks.
A talented midfielder who is highly rated for the 2021 draft, Roberts started the game in unfamiliar territory up forward. While he couldn’t quiet have his usual impact in that position, he certainly started to build up his game, getting to move into his favoured midfield position as the game went on.
With his output improving, so did his ability when he did have go back forward, kicking a nice set shot goal late in the game. Roberts finished the game with 21 disposals, four clearances, and a goal in a well-rounded performance.
Another talented South Adelaide prospect for the 2021 draft, Draper looked all-class up forward with his skill and athleticism on show. Draper kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap and although he wouldn’t add to the tally, he did set up plenty of other scoring opportunities with his decision making and skills forward of centre.
Playing mostly as a third tall forward, Draper did well to get up the ground and make and impact, and he is the type of player you want with ball in hand with his ability to create and run with the ball. Draper finished the game with 17 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.
Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. Kraemer played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield.
Kraemer’s best isolated bit of play came with a strong overhead mark and then a quick long handball forward which almost lead to a good team goal. Kraemer looks set to be a handy addition to the South Australian state side if those games go ahead, finishing with 19 disposals, four clearances, six marks, and nine tackles.
Central District vs. Sturt
By: Tom Wyman
#13 Austin McDonald
Barossa Valley junior, McDonald took it right up to the talented Sturt midfield. The 16-year-old was terrific around the stoppages, finishing with 12 clearances and 27 disposals. He was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already. Expect to see him feature prominently for South Australia soon enough.
#15 Lewis Cowham
It was a tough day for Central Districts, but midfielder, Cowham was among his side’s best. He imposed himself early by laying a strong tackle on Mani Liddy which was perhaps unlucky to be called a high free-kick against. He was industrial throughout the contest, particularly with his hands in-tight, finishing with 27 touches. Cowham and teammate, McDonald battled hard and stood-out for the Bulldogs, who were ultimately outclassed by a talented Sturt side.
#9 Malachy Carruthers
Carruthers was one of the Double Blues’ best performers on the day. He exhibited excellent composure in the backline and showed flashes of his neat skillset in a well-rounded performance. His marking was also a highlight, with Carruthers positioning himself well to cut off several of the Bulldogs’ forward entries. He concluded the match with 25 disposals, eight marks and six rebound-50s.
#13 Bradley Jefferies
Jefferies was a strong presence for the Doubles Blues throughout the contest. In a predominantly inside-midfield role, he provided excellent support for Academy Hub duo Liddy and Tom Powell. A highlight was when he nailed a right-foot snap for Sturt’s second major of the match. He finished the game with 24 disposals and seven marks.
Prolific SA Academy Hub member, Liddy was a dominant presence on the inside of the Double Blues’ midfield all day. Tough and relentless at the contest, Liddy started well, winning the ball in the coalface before dishing off a neat handball to William Staples, who nailed the game’s first goal. Later in the first term, he gave another handball to Jordon Cocks who kicked truly.
His neat skills by hand really stood out all day. Even when being tackled by his Bulldogs opponents, he was clean and helped get the ball moving Sturt’s way on numerous occasions. Arguably best-on-ground, Liddy finished with 32 disposals and is firming as a first-choice midfielder for South Australia during the upcoming National Championships.
Recruiters will be encouraged to see Powell have some success early on in the season, given his recent battles with injury. The Sturt on-baller was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval, finishing with 34 touches. Akin to fellow-on-baller Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.
While he put together a very strong game, it could have been even better had he converted some of his attempts on goal. Expect to see more of Powell in the Reserves later in the season, as he appeared a cut above Under 18 level against the ‘Dogs.
#22 Ned Walter
In his distinctive black helmet, Walter showed strength and skill across the half-back line for Sturt. He almost took a mark-of-the-year contender from a kick-out and his hands overhead were strong across the four quarters. He produced an excellent intercept spoil in the second quarter to break-up a potential Bulldogs inside-50. After a strong outing, Walter has emerged as one to watch in defence.
#32 Morgan Ferres
Ferres presented well all game for the Double Blues and was the side’s go-to marking option across half-forward. He took a number of contested grabs and appears to have excellent aerial ability. However, I really liked Ferres’ cleanliness at ground level as well. He dished off several neat handballs to get the Blues going inside-50. Booted a game-high three goals and could have finished with a handful.
James Borlase (Reserves)
The potential Crows NGA prospect was named at full-back for the Sturt reserves, having played eight matches at the level last year. At 191cm and 88kg, Borlase is strongly-built and able to hold his own against the bigger bodied forwards – a trait which will certainly help his case for senior selection later in the year.
Against a relatively strong Central Districts outfit, Borlase’s performance was encouraging. He spent considerable time matched-up against athletic 196cm tall forward Leek Alleer. While Alleer possesses serious speed and a high leap, he was largely nullified by the lock-down abilities of Borlase. He took a number of kick-ins as well, a testament his improving skillset.
Tom Lewis (Reserves)
Returning from an ACL injury which saw him miss the entire 2019 season, Lewis was back to his hard-at-it ways which proved invaluable for SA during its undefeated National Championships in 2018. Viewed by many draft watchers as being unlucky not to be picked up in his first draft eligible year, Lewis was tough at the ball throughout the match.
He attacked every contest with ferocious intent, often smashing into and bouncing-off opponents in-tight. He tackled with vigour, attempting to rip the ball out on several occasions. Expect to see Lewis be given a few games in the reserves before making the step-up to senior football for the Double Blues.