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. For this edition, 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. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so also get a look-in.
Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinions of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.
West Adelaide vs. Central District
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Harvey Bock
It was a hit-and-miss day for the defender, who would probably have been made to feel like the umpires were out for him at times given some of the unlucky free kicks he conceded. Nonetheless, Bock was able to use his power and strength in one-on-one contests across the back half, while also constantly looking to get on the move with ball in hand. He got his intercept marking game going in the second and third terms, and took on some of the Bloods’ kick-in duties. Bock finished with 15 disposals and three marks in a solid outing.
#5 Lachlan De Cesare
De Cesare has kicked off his 2020 campaign well, and was arguably Westies’ best afield in a losing effort. The diminutive midfielder is an absolute workhorse through the engine room, digging in for repeat efforts at ground level, tackling hard, and spreading well to provide an outlet option for his teammates. That strong endurance base allowed De Cesare to accumulate strongly across the day, notching a game-high 26 disposals, including four marks, eight tackles, eight clearances, and a goal.
His lone major came from a free kick which was converted after the quarter time siren, and that scoreboard impact also translated to a goal assist in the following term. De Cesare could have added another to cap off his day, too, spurning an easy chance running into the open goalsquare with a soccered attempt which crashed into the post. Still, his courage and work ethic were terrific to watch.
#6 Bailey Chamberlain
Another Westies star who had an up-and-down kind of day, Chamberlain was on the receiving end of some fair opposition attention at the stoppages, making it difficult for him to generate his usual running game. The balanced midfielder still managed to rack up 24 disposals in a strong performance, often hunting the hot footy and pumping the ball forward under pressure. Chamberlain did well to mix handballs into his use, with one particular flashy flick deftly struck over his shoulder, showcasing great awareness and skill.
The one query on Chamberlain’s game, which he is working on well, has been his kicking at speed. While his penetration is no issue and he managed to boot a nice goal on the run, Chamberlain blazed away at times and overcooked a few balls going forward. His effort and desire are not the be questioned though, as he fought to the final siren for the Bloods on a frustrating day.
#18 Riley Thilthorpe (League)
West Adelaide ran rampant early against the Bulldogs, with Thilthorpe at the centre of much of the Bloods’ early dominance. He put through the first score of the game with an opportunistic snap, before sending Isaac Johnson through for Westies’ first major, and adding one of his own with a left-foot snap from just inside the attacking 50. Thilthorpe was caught behind at times and did not exactly receive silver service in his key forward post, but constantly found a way to impact the contest aerially and follow-up well at ground level.
The 200cm bigman also rotated through the ruck in the second half having previously taken those duties inside 50, using his height to palm the ball down to teammates. He had another terrific snapped goal snatched from him as his teammate gave away a free kick, and a strong contested mark at the death gave a glimpse into what the future may hold for Thilthorpe. Once he can find confidence in flying for those marks set up in better positions, he will prove a force to be reckoned with.
Others: Cade Kennedy proved a handful around the stoppages alongside his fellow, hardened midfield maestros, collecting 19 disposals and nine clearances while also laying eight tackles and finding the big sticks one. Bottom-age forward Hugh Desira was also handy despite being held to nine touches, displaying good footy smarts, clean use, and agility.
#7 Christopher Tidswell
In what was a highly contested and pressurised game, Tidswell provided some nice dash to break open the play and get the ball moving quickly for Centrals. The left-footer was just as clean at ground level as he was in his disposal by foot, utilising his short-range game well while also looking to penetrate as he wheeled onto that preferred left side. The rebounding defender moved up to the wing in the second half, sneaking forward to claim a goal out the back, before spurning a later shot despite a nice showing of agility.
#13 Austin McDonald
It is no wonder the 16-year-old has been thrust right into the centre bounces despite playing above his age grade, with the Bulldogs trusting his ball winning abilities against some of the league’s strongest midfielders. McDonald was once again a constant around the stoppages, racking up a team-high 25 disposals and five clearances to continue his consistent Under 18 form. He may not yet have the size to bustle away from congestion, but remains nicely composed in traffic and can accumulate either by winning his own ball, or through hanging on the outside for a handball receive. Add five tackles and breaches of both arcs to his statline, and you have a rather complete midfield display.
#15 Lewis Cowham
Like McDonald, Cowham has been a regular for Centrals through midfield, providing value going both ways at the stoppages. The small ball winner is athletically gifted, and showed a couple of nice flashes of his agility and explosive speed despite the contested nature of the game. Cowham was often directly opposed to Chamberlain at the centre bounces, and did well to quell his opponents’ run away from the contest. His second efforts and pressure around the ball were important, as was a nice goal assist via hand to Aidan Mudge in the final term.
#31 Corey Durdin (League)
It was another typical Durdin performance at the senior level, with the diminutive forward hitting the scoreboard and finding a decent amount of ball forward of centre. In a quiet first term for most of his Bulldogs teammates, Durdin went searching further afield for the ball, while working back hard towards goal. He booted his side’s opening major with a free kick conversion towards the end of the first term.
Durdin’s closing speed and tackling pressure were outstanding, and he constantly stationed himself in the right areas to impact at ground level or provide an outlet for his teammates. His second goal came after half time from another free kick deep inside 50, and the small ball winner also got a run through the centre bounces. He looked extremely lively late when the game was on the line, popping up in all areas of the ground and having a big impact despite not always hitting his targets moving forward. 14 disposals, five marks, and two goals make for good reading in terms of stats, and Durdin is certainly making a splash at senior level.
Others: 22-year-old talent Nicholas Lange lit up the second half in the League grade, coming to life after half time with four goals to very nearly drag Centrals over the line. For the Under 18s, Leek Alleer showed promising signs as a raw key forward, booting two goals and having a hand in others while showcasing his impressive athleticism. Michael De Jonge booted three majors, all of which were important to the win, while Aidan Mudge, Shay Linke, and Luca Whitelum were others to find both the goals and plenty of ball.
South Adelaide vs. Glenelg
By: Tom Cheesman
#9 Jason Horne
Horne is one of the leading 2021 draft prospects and impressed once again. His work at the stoppages was outstanding, as he read the hitouts to perfection and applied plenty of pressure around the ball. His ability to work back and help the defence also stood out, particularly in the first half. He showed some explosive speed away from the contest at times, and using this explosiveness more regularly is the next step in his development. Horne finished with 31 disposals, 12 clearances, eight marks and nine tackles.
#10 Brayden Cook
Cook spent a lot of time on the wing, and his ability to work back into defence stood out. He took multiple intercept marks to halt the Tigers’ attacks and showed great agility around the ground for a prospect his size. His kicking was a bit inconsistent, but that should improve with more experience at Under 18 level. Cook was arguably best on ground at half time, but was much less prominent in the second half. He finished with 17 disposals, 10 marks (five contested) and three inside 50s.
#13 Tom Barrett
Barrett was an x-factor for the Panthers up forward. He did not play in Round 1 but made the most of his opportunity here, applying plenty of pressure (four tackles) and kicking two nice goals. His forward craft was a highlight as he had multiple score involvements, but he struggled to get involved once the ball left his forward post. He will be an exciting player to watch as the year unfolds.
#18 Zac Dumesny (League)
Dumesny had a very solid game for the Panthers. He was a standout in the first term, collecting six disposals in the backline and setting up a goal with a beautifully weighted kick into the forward 50. Dumesny was quieter in the second quarter, but moved to a wing for the second half where he found more of the ball and nailed a set shot from 35 metres out. The top-ager was composed with the ball in hand and hit the majority of his targets by foot. He also took a couple of nice intercept marks, which could develop into a feature of his game with more experience at half-back. He finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four rebound 50s and three tackles.
#21 Matthew Roberts
Roberts was South’s best player on Saturday, finding plenty of the ball and using it well with his reliable left-foot kick. He worked off his opponent to collect many uncontested marks, continually helping his side transition the ball from defence to attack. The 2021 prospect was brilliant at stoppages, using his 183cm frame to hunt the ball and dish it out to teammates. He did get caught holding the ball once due to a lack of awareness in the third term, but this was one of very few mistakes he made all day. Roberts finished with an imposing statline of 32 disposals, 14 marks, seven clearances and nine tackles.
#35 Thomas Highmore (League)
Highmore looks like he belongs at League level. The 21-year-old held his own in one-on-one contests and took several intercept marks across the four quarters. At 193cm, he has great size and was entrusted with the kick-in duties on multiple occasions. He did make a couple of mistakes late, but that is to be expected of someone in just their second SANFL League game. The 22-year-old finished with 15 disposals, five marks and two tackles.
#13 Luke Pedlar
Pedlar spent a lot of time up forward for the Tigers, finishing with 17 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s. He showed plenty of aggression when hunting the ball and his opponents, and he displayed great strength and power at the contest. His ball use was poor at times in the first half, but he redeemed himself with a brilliant spearing ball in the final term to set up Holder for a goal. He might want to work on his hangers during the week, as he attempted a couple in the final term that unfortunately did not come off.
#21 Riley Holder
Holder was best on ground and clearly the difference between the two sides. He was a major presence at centre half-forward for Glenelg, clunking four strong contested marks. The highlight was a brilliant mark (and goal) in the third term when his side desperately needed it. He showed composure in front of goal too, kicking four goals straight including a nice left foot snap early in the contest. His strong hands and reliable set shot make him a major asset for the Tigers and a prospect to watch in 2020.
#22 Lewis Rayson
Rayson was great for Glenelg, finishing with 31 disposals and ten marks. He spent most of his time at half-back and played a quarterback-style role, getting the ball out the back and finding targets with his clean left-foot kick. Rayson was calm and composed with ball in hand and linked up with teammates to transition the ball forward on many occasions. He was also tough at the contest, collecting many contested possessions and applying eight tackles.
#25 Luke Edwards
Edwards had a strong day, working hard around the ground to collect 29 disposals and eight marks. The son of Adelaide Crows champion, Tyson showed his flexibility by spending time up forward and rolling through the midfield whenever his side had an important clearance to win. Edwards has proven in the past that he is also handy down back. He was reliable with the ball in hand and, excluding a poor set shot in the final term, made very few mistakes across the four quarters. Listed at 187cm, Edwards has great size and should push to play higher levels of footy later in the season.
Norwood vs. North Adelaide
By: Tom Wyman
#1 Cooper Murley
The bottom-ager was arguably best-on-ground for the Redlegs in their 27-point triumph. It was easy to see how the small forward/midfielder gained All-Australian selection as a 16-year-old. He showed plenty of his trademark speed and tenacity but was also exceptionally clean with his foot skills. Despite being on the skinny side, he cracked in hard whenever required, gaining a free-kick in the opening term simply by going in lower and harder than his Roosters opponent.
Also in the first term, he read a wayward kick-in well and used his bust of speed to accelerate away before dishing off a clean handball inboard. Murley also showed his class with a precise forward 50 entry with his non-preferred. He kicked the goal of the day in the second quarter after crumbing beautifully and dribbling home a ripping goal from the pocket, all whilst being tackled. He already looks a step above Under 18s level, finishing with 24 disposals and three goals.
#6 Michael Cavallaro
Small defender, Cavallaro was prolific and clean in his role across half-back throughout the contest. He exhibited excellent footy smarts and positioned himself well to take a handful of intercept marks. He may be only small in stature but orchestrated a number of the Redlegs’ drives from defence with his crisp foot skills and sound decision making.
A highlight was when he engaged in a series of back-and-forth handballs before spinning around on his trusty right and showing skill and vision to spot up a teammate on the other side of the ground, setting his side up for a transition from defence. Cavallaro finished with 30 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and three rebound-50s.
#30 Finn Heard
Four goals to key the forward proved to be the difference in this clash at Coopers Stadium. Heard got goal-side of the contest and strolled straight into the goal-square to nail the game’s first major, however his work in the air ensured he was the most impactful tall on the ground. He could’ve had an ever bigger bag had he converted two set-shots from gettable distances.
However his foot skills, both in general play and in-front of goal, were largely sound. Heard was rewarded for his ability to work his way to the front of contests when he collected an opportunistic mark from a quick-snap inside 50, resulting in a shot at goal. He nailed two majors in the final term to solidify Norwood’s lead. Heard concluded the outing with nine disposals, seven hit-outs and seven marks – two of which were contested.
Like a number of his teammates, on-baller Mitchell Trepka was able to work his way into some favourable positions and finished with 28 disposals, six marks, three tackles and three clearances in a solid all-round showing.
Prolific defender Matthew Dnistriansky combined well with fellow defender Cavallaro. Both were able to slice-apart the Roosters with their pin-point kicking and ability to cut-off forward entries. After gathering 30 touches, Dnistriansky currently sits second in the competition for total disposals, behind Sturt duo Mani Liddy and Tom Powell. The designated kicker-role certainly seems to suit the skillset of Dnistriansky, who has started the campaign well.
Benjamin Ianniello showed a couple of really encouraging signs throughout the match, including his aerial strength, athleticism and willingness to put his body on the line. Built in a similar mould to current Crow Will Hamill, Ianniello moved well and accumulated 24 touches and seven marks. The tackling-pressure of Jack Saunders was also valuable in the Redlegs’ triumph.
#9 Jamison Murphy
Co-captain, Murphy showed why he is a sought-after prospect, providing a strong inside presence and collecting 21 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three clearances. He appeared physically stronger than the other midfielders out there and used his strong frame to bullock his way through several contests, including the opening stoppage where he dished out a handball despite being tackled.
However, it was his sublime foot skills which would have really caught the eye of recruiters. The former national cricket captain proved he is quite capable of launching the ball in excess of 50 metres without hassle. Murphy was also precise by foot and showcased excellent vision to spot up Tariek Newchurch on the wing with a booming right-foot kick.
The highlight, however, was when he took an intercept mark in the middle of Coopers Stadium and hit a teammate with a beautifully-weighted kick in a tight-position on the forward flank. Had the kick been overcooked or off-target, it would have almost certainly resulted in a turnover. Murphy spent the majority of the game around the ball but also spent some time in the forward line and on the outside of the contest – highlighting his handy versatility, which has seen him draw comparisons to Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge.
#21 Tariek Newchurch
The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect looked ominous whenever the ball was in his vicinity. As draft watchers have come to expect from Newchurch, his skills at ground-level were excellent. The forward’s burst of speed threatened to break the game open on a couple of occasions and his tackle numbers don’t reflect the pressure he inflicted on Norwood defenders.
He was thrown on-ball at stages and showed a willingness to get involved in the play instead of simply camping out in the forward-50. He laid a wonderful tackle to earn a free-kick inside 50 in the second term, but the resulting set shot hit the post. Newchurch showed class and composure when he gathered the ball deep inside-50 and snapped a brilliant goal under duress. While he probably didn’t have the four-quarter impact he would have been after, there’s no denying the talented Newchurch will feature prominently for SA at the upcoming National Championships.
#24 Kallis Freer
The midfielder was prolific and showed a couple of desirable traits despite North Adelaide’s loss. Whenever he had even an inch of space, Freer looked to use his acceleration to generate a forward entry for the red and whites. His willingness to take the game on was encouraging, as was his aerial ability. Freer took a couple of strong grabs above his head but also laid a couple of ferocious tackles at ground-level and accumulated five clearances.
A standout moment came on the North Adelaide forward flank when Freer took a contested mark on the second-grab and pin-pointed Tariek Newchurch with a laser-like inboard kick. He finished the game as the leading possession winner on the ground for his side with 25, along with six marks, four tackles and eight inside-50s.
Hugh Jackson showed run and dash across the midfield and accumulated his fair share of the ball, finishing the match with 23 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and seven inside-50s.
Despite his side being under-the-pump at various stages of the game, athletic defender Lam Simon offered scouts a glimpse of his raw talent. His chase-down tackle in the first term earned a holding the ball free-kick and his subsequent kick was weighted beautifully, allowing Freer to stream inside-50. He held his own in most of his one-on-one contests and battled hard to gain front-position.
Another prospect tied to the Crows through the clubs Next Generation Academy, Simon concluded the outing with 15 disposals, eight marks (two contested) and three tackles. Charlie Dowling showed some strength overhead while the inside work of Matthew Borg (13 disposals, eight tackles and four clearances) was impressive.
Sturt vs. WWT Eagles
By: Ed Pascoe
#9 Malachy Carruthers
Carruthers was classy down back, often the main rebounder for Sturt in setting up most of their drive from defence. He started the game well with a nice intercept mark, showing he had that in his arsenal to go with his rebounding ability. Carruthers wasn’t afraid to turn defence into attack with any chance he could, often running past a stoppage for the receive and using his run-and-carry to gain meterage and kick long and accurately up the ground. He finished the game with 23 disposals, five marks, and six tackles, backing up his impressive Round 1 performance as he stakes claims to be one of South Australia’s best rebound defenders for the 2020 draft.
#15 Mani Liddy
Liddy again had a dominant performance through the midfield, working well with fellow hard nuts Tom Powell and Brad Jefferies. His quick and clean hands at stoppages, and ability to win clearances have been second to none so far in the Under 18s season.
Not much more can be said about his inside game as it was a typical Liddy performance, but it was the few times he got on the outside that impressed and that is what should help him stand out. Both instances came in the third quarter; the first was from good positioning just outside 50 to receive and then kick long to the hotspot, and secondly from the opposite side he was able to receive, put on the afterburners to then steady and kick a lovely running goal. Liddy finished the game with 29 disposals, seven clearances, four tackles and a goal in another strong midfield performance.
#18 Tom Powell
It was like déjà vu watching Powell, who had another incredible game through the midfield. He really is just a machine at stoppages, winning the ball at will. Powell’s style isn’t fancy – you wont see him bursting out of stoppages – but what you will see is an extremely efficient midfielder who is clean at gathering the ball and even cleaner with his delivery by hand, whether that’s on his left or right which not many players have.
Powell’s kicking and ability on the outside would be the main focus area for him as his inside game is just about flawless and with the amount of footy he wins he could really turn that into a more damaging package, like Lachie Neale. Powell finished the game with 35 disposals (21 handballs), seven clearances and five tackles backing up a his 34 disposals last week.
#32 Morgan Ferres
Ferres was the dominant forward on the ground, proving a handful in the air and on the lead with his impressive leap, judgement, and contested marking coming to the fold. Ferres did it all in his six goals, adding variety with the standout goal being a running effort – even taking a bounce before steadying with a classy finish in the first quarter – and the other a lovely snap from the boundary in the third term.
He was a handful all game but mostly in the third quarter where he marked everything in sight, whether that was out on the lead or by way of his great judgement from behind. One of the better aspects of his game was not just his ability close to goal, but also his ability to get up the ground and take strong marks up on the wing. Ferres finished the game with 17 disposals, nine marks and kicked 6.2, with two set shots also falling short. The talented Ferres, who isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2021 will certainly be one to watch for years to come.
Others: Jefferies was yet again a standout for Sturt, plying his trade among the talent-rich engine room. He is a tough, bottom age inside type who had 30 disposals, six tackles, and four clearances in this outing.
#3 Taj Schofield
Schofield had an improved showing after his quieter game last week. The talented Port Adelaide father-son prospect again showed his class and skill which really stands out amongst his peers. Schofield, who looks best on the outside with his elite kicking and composure, was able to have an impact on the inside wining some classy clearances and also laying some strong tackles at the coal face.
It’s on the outside where he still showed his best attributes with some beautiful passes inside 50, one even on his opposite foot in the second quarter. His best bit of play came in the third quarter, winning the ball at half-back where he showed great composure under pressure and was able to weave around multiple opponents with his agility and speed. He would then finish with a classy handball to a free teammate. Schofield finished the game with 20 disposals, six clearances, and seven tackles in a strong performance.
#7 Caleb Poulter
Although he wasn’t quite able to match his outstanding performance last week, Poulter was still arguably his side’s most dangerous player – especially inside 50 where he was a a threat on the lead and at ground level. Poulter again showed some rare abilities for a player of his size with his tackling and clean hands at ground level again impressing. He really hunts the opposition with his tackles and is willing to make repeat efforts, which is nice to see.
His efforts in the air were also impressive as he was always leading up hard and willing to crash packs to get the ball to ground. You can imagine him having even more impact in that area when he puts on more size. Poulter kicked two classy goals in the third quarter, with the first coming from a brilliant pick-up on the run at his feet and then kicking a lovely snap goal. The second was also a snap goal with little time to think about it, showing his natural talent. Poulter finished the game with 16 disposals, seven tackles, five marks, and kicked 3.1 in another great performance.
#19 Zac Phillips
The talented tall again showed some signs of brilliance early in the game, taking a strong contested mark up forward. Despite having his set shot fall short, he would later take another great mark at half-back where he flew in from the side, showing great judgement and also quickly switching the play to show his footy smarts for a tall.
Again his hitout work was good, often winning the contests comfortably when he did go into the ruck, but overall his follow-up work in the ruck wasn’t where it was last week and he really needed to capitalise on his early dominance in the air. If he can do what he did in the first quarter, every quarter, then you will have some sort of player for the future. Phillips finished the game with six disposals, two marks, two tackles, and 27 hit outs.
#31 Jase Burgoyne
The talented father-son prospect for Port Adelaide was again classy down back with his clean hands, skills, and composure standing out. Burgoyne was also used on the wing a little bit, but looked best down back where his composure and ability to read the play had the most effect. Burgoyne seems to do really well under pressure which is promising for a light and developing player who isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2021, and he certainly looks like a player to watch for that draft. Burgoyne finished the game strongly to claim 22 disposals, five marks, and five tackles in another classy display.
Others: Liam Ueding is a bottom-age defender who boasts clean skills and great work ethic, with his second efforts coming to the fore for the Eagles. He finished with eight disposals, two tackles, and four rebound 50s.