ROUND 4 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn 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 they 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.
WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide
By: Michael Alvaro
Poulter has been one of the more prolific Under 18 players after four rounds, but struggled to make his usual impact on this occasion as his magnet was thrown up and down the team whiteboard. He made a quiet start and never quite got going, but looked dangerous early as he burst through congestion and released some typically shrewd handballs. His kick penetration was still on point, and Poulter managed to contribute some clean touches along the line, but was often blanketed in general play by North Adelaide’s pressure. He had the chance to regain some confidence after earning a holding the ball free kick inside 50, but spurned the set shot wearing only one boot. Having been tried on all three lines, it seems Poulter has the greatest impact as a midfielder who can rotate forward.
#19 Zac Phillips
A big final term capped off Phillips’ day well, able to impact general play more so than he had done previously. The bigman’s vertical leap is his best weapon, especially at centre bounces, and he seems to be growing into his ruck craft around the ground with greater strength and taps to advantage. His kicking, especially under pressure was a touch shaky at times, but the positive of being able to find the ball outweighed that factor.
#25 Henry Smith
The second of WWT’s bigmen, Smith played as a permanent forward and looked the most likely aerial target afield. He started strongly with a nice contested mark in between two opponents, but went on to miss a couple of set shot opportunities in the first term. What was most impressive about Smith, contested marking aside, was his ability to impact the play after aerial contests, with solid tackling efforts and touches at ground level adding a handy dimension to his game. His return obviously did a lot for the Eagles side, despite only booting three behinds from his 10 disposals and five marks (three contested).
#31 Jase Burgoyne
The silky mover is quite obviously cut from the same cloth as his famous father and uncle, and put in another outstanding performance for the Eagles. Another to play more predominantly in a different position, Burgoyne spent a good deal of time through midfield in between his defensive duties, and got involved in the play to rack up 31 disposals. The 2021-eligible father-son prospect is a sound short-range kick and possesses wonderfully clean hands, which he uses to pull in strong marks at the highest point. His vertical leap also helps in that department, with eye-catching agility making him a threat in the air and at ground level.
Harrison Dawkins put in another terrific shift for WWT, booting two nice goals from his 25 touches and showing nice glimpses of evasion under pressure. His overhead marking was also useful, able to link the play between midfield and the forward 50 well.
Utilised almost exclusively in the back half, Murphy provided a calming presence to the defence while also competing well for ground balls, and upping the urgency when the game was on the line. Having taken on the kick-in responsibilities, Murphy had to battle the windy conditions early to hit his short-range targets, but would end up looking for longer options as the game wore on – showing good game awareness. A feature of his game was the ability to stand up in tackles, with strength a clear asset for him and composure helping the cause. Part of his impact late in the piece came in his attempts to generate some run from defence, latching onto handball receives and looking to generate some forward momentum. Despite collecting 28 touches, Murphy was unable to drag his side over the line.
#15 William Dowling
The 16-year-old showed great glimpses of his enormous talent, booting four goals from 17 disposals and six marks. While he is still a touch raw and had a couple of costly moments amid the speed of the game, Dowling kept his head up and was able to impact the play when it mattered. His work rate to burst forward from midfield was impressive, and played a big part in helping him register chances on goal. Three of his majors came in the final term as he sparked the Roosters’ forwardline, with the most impressive one an absolute bomb from 50 metres out which just crept over the line. If he can iron out the clangers, Dowling looks a promising prospect for the future.
#21 Tariek Newchurch
It was a patchy display from the Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful, who looked lively on the ball but could not quite inflict the usual damage – going goalless from his 15 disposals and six marks. Nonetheless, Newchurch was clean in full stride and looked to make things happen with his various twists, turns, and creative passes going forward. He was forced to work up the ground early to find more ball, but had a set shot fall short from 25 metres out once he gained an opportunity inside 50. It didn’t stop the speedy Rooster from linking up well at half-forward, as he gained separation to be the primary marking target as North Adelaide won the centre clearances. Newchurch has a terrific leap and sticky hands on the lead, making it an effective ploy.
#24 Kallis Freer
Freer was one of the most impactful midfielders afield, able to shark a wealth of possessions off the ruck taps and wheel away quickly to get North Adelaide going. He started off with a strong shrug in congestion, but looked far more dangerous on the move at stoppages with his five-step burst and one-grab gathers in traffic breaking the play open. His uncanny knack of being first to the drop of the ball made him the dominant player of the first half, and a series of centre clearance kicks to find Newchurch on the lead made for good viewing. His kicks may have been a little rushed early, but Freer was a strong contributor for the Roosters with 29 disposals, six marks, and eight clearances.
The defensive combination of Lam Simon and Blayne O’Loughlin continues to prove effective, as both returned solid outings for North Adelaide, but more so in patches compared to previous form. Hugh Jackson added some good depth to the midfield rotation, with Ben Manning another to find both the ball and the goals. Charlie Dowling kicked a couple of outstanding goals, and State Under 16 representative Zyton Santillo was dangerous inside forward 50.
Central District vs. Norwood
By: Tom Wyman
#13 Austin McDonald
McDonald produced another solid performance in his customary on-ball role. His tackling was a real feature of his game, often wrapping opponents up in textbook manner by pinning their arms, either resulting in a holding-the-ball free kick or forcing a stoppage. When McDonald himself was being tackled, his ability to raise his arms and fire off a handball allowed Central District to retain possession of the ball. His stoppage nous was also evident, with a brilliant piece of roving in the first term particularly noticeable. The bottom-aged McDonald has already assembled a well-rounded game, but should aim to hit the scoreboard more often to increase his overall impact. This is expected to come with added experience at Under 18s level. The Barossa product finished with 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, and five clearances.
#15 Lewis Cowham
The deputy vice-captain was in everything for the Bulldogs. The midfielder was clearly his side’s best on-baller, winning eight of the ‘Dogs 31 clearances. Not only did he win first possession at several stoppages, but Cowham was also efficient by hand even when under severe pressure, displaying good vision and making the right decisions. His kicking around the ground was also clean and effective. Although he is a clearance specialist and a strong tackler with a sound inside-game, Cowham’s talents are certainly not restricted to the contested stuff. Outside of the stoppages, his tremendous work rate, burst of speed, football smarts and all-round athleticism ensured he was often available as a short hit-up option. His overhead capabilities have been evident throughout the season to date and were again on show against the Redlegs. Despite the Bulldogs’ woes, Cowham has been a star in the midfield and his stocks continue to rise with each outing. He concluded the match with 35 disposals, 11 marks, seven tackles, eight clearances and seven inside-50s.
#26 Shay Linke
Linke again provided plenty of pressure from his midfield role. His taller frame complemented the smaller Cowham and McDonald in the Bulldogs midfield. Although the Tanunda prospect made a couple of mistakes by foot, he competed well at ground level all day, laying a team-high twelve tackles. He had two attempts on goal in the first quarter, including one from 50 metres out, but unfortunately missed both. Linke worked hard around the ground, accumulating 22 disposals and taking seven marks. After breaking into the Bulldogs’ Under 18 side late last season, the midfielder has enjoyed a consistent start to the 2020 campaign, largely thanks to his tackling intensity and exciting athleticism.
#31 Corey Durdin (League)
Draft hopeful, Durdin was once again serviceable for the Bulldogs League side, who slumped to their third loss of the season. Since making his debut at League level last season, the small forward has fitted into the Bulldogs side seamlessly. His ability to push up from the forward line and impact the play through the midfield, where he managed two clearances, was impressive, particularly given the 172cm Durdin was competing against a battle-hardened Norwood side. He kicked one goal in the second term and could well have had added couple more. Nevertheless, it was another strong showing for Durdin, who continues to fight hard against seasoned opposition at senior level.
The tremendous athleticism of Leek Alleer was clear for all to see against the Redlegs. He spent time up forward and was shifted onto the wing in the third term to provide some much-needed speed. Alleer got his hands on it often when he flew for marks, but they didn’t always stick. However his willingness to get involved on the ground will have impressed the ‘Dogs coaching staff. He finished with 12 disposals, three marks and seven tackles. Tall forward and back-up ruckman Wyatt Ryan produced another strong showing, with his overhead marking and tap-work the highlights. In the rare occasion when he didn’t take the mark, Ryan neutralised the contest and brought the ball to ground. Athletic defender Jacob Fiebiger was also amongst his sides best, finishing with 19 disposals, ten marks and eight rebound-50s.
The bottom-ager continues to go from strength-to-strength after producing another dominant display at X Convenience Oval on Saturday. Murley spent time on-ball and up forward, and proved why he is so highly-rated at club level. His foot skills were excellent for the majority of the contest and his ability to hit contests at speed, win the contested ball, and dispose of it effectively stood out once again. A perfect example of this was when he won the contested ball at half-forward and accelerated away before pulling the trigger on a perfectly weighted inside 50 kick to a teammate who marked within close range.
Wearing the number one jumper, Murley kicked his first major after his centring ball received a miraculous bounce, ballooning over all sets of hands to open the scoring in the second term. His clean and often perfectly-placed kicking and breakaway pace were on display as the game wore on and in the dying minutes, he slotted his second of the match. Murley finished with 31 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and five inside-50s.
#6 Michael Cavallaro
Cavallaro may not have a lot of size about him, but he is clearly one of the smartest midfielders in the competition. He lined up on the wing for much of the clash and consistently made the right decisions by hand and foot. When under pressure, Cavallaro remained calm and composed and surveyed the field to ensure he took the best option. He also showed great vision throughout the contest and his kicking was largely efficient. He did make an error in the defensive 50, where a wayward kick landed in the hands of a Bulldogs opponent, however the subsequent set-shot missed to the near side. Cavallaro helped the Redlegs gain the upper-hand by nailing a snap at goal in the second term. His game wasn’t all flashy either, with the midfielder/half-back also nailing three strong tackles to go with 27 possessions, two marks and two rebound-50s.
#9 Alastair Lord
Lord’s run and carry from half-back was instrumental to the Redlegs’ victory. He provided consistent rebound from defence, using his line-breaking speed and long kick to turn defence into attack for Norwood. Whenever he received the ball in space, Lord looked to get on his bike immediately, accelerating away from his opponents. Although he did miss a couple of targets by foot, which is excusable given he was often travelling at quite a speed. He also showed plenty of dare with his kicking and executed several high-difficulty kicks throughout the contest. Lord would be one of the leading metres-gained players at Under 18 level and his importance to the Norwood side is obvious. He finished a successful outing with 31 disposals, five marks and two rebound-50s.
#10 Mitchell Trepka
Trepka found an abundance of the football across half-back and through the middle of the ground against the Bulldogs. Trusted with the kick-in duties on several occasions, Trepka’s tireless running between the arcs allowed him to get on the end of a game-high twelve marks. Whilst his link-up work was perhaps most noticeable, the Tea Tree Gully junior was also strong in the contest, winning four clearances and providing a strong presence in contested situations. Trepka finished a well-rounded performance with 34 touches, four clearances, three inside-50s and five rebound-50s.
#17 Daniel Fairbrother
The defender was strong down back all day. His overhead marking was a real feature, with Fairbrother hanging on to a couple of important grabs under pressure in defence. Although his aerial presence was the standout of his game, Fairbrother’s foot skills were also excellent when exiting the defensive 50 and his speed off the mark was encouraging to see from the strongly-built defender. He looks an extremely well-rounded athlete, who has enjoyed a strong start to his third year of SANFL Under 18s football. Fairbrother collected 25 disposals, seven marks and six rebound-50s.
#21 Jack Saunders
Walkerville’s Saunders was yet another Norwood midfielder to produce a strong performance at Elizabeth. The blonde-haired midfielder once again applied an abundance of tackling pressure around the contests, finishing with nine for the match to sit second in the competition for total tackles. Along with his stoppage impact and in-and-under grunt work, Saunders’ ability to provide run and carry and impact the scoreboard also proved damaging. He slotted his first from 35 metres out at the 14-minute mark of the third quarter and nailed another ten minutes later from a similar distance directly in-front. Saunders’ kicking for goal and skills in general play were effective and his vision to spot up several targets from long range was impressive. He concluded the match with 21 disposals, six marks, three clearances and three inside-50s.
#30 Finn Heard
The tall-forward worked his way into the game and was rewarded for his earlier efforts with a couple of late goals. He consistently presented well and his vice-like hands proved to be a problem for his direct opponent. One of Heard’s two last quarter goals came from a 50-metre left-foot bomb which dribbled through and the other was a well-executed snap after he took a goal-line mark. Heard should have booted three goals for the contest, however he hit the wrong side of the ball when attempting a nearly-identical checkside. However his long kicking on either side of the body, contested marking ability and strong leading patterns showed why he is one of the Under 18 competition’s best key forwards.
#55 Henry Nelligan (League)
After making his league debut in the tough loss to Woodville-West Torrens, small forward, Nelligan showed signs of his obvious talent in Saturday’s win over the Bulldogs at Coopers Stadium. He started slowly but worked into the game, finding more of the ball as the game wore on. Norwood coach Jarrad Cotton has shown a willingness to blood the Redlegs youth, with 2019 draftees Dylan Stephens and Cameron Taheny earning consistent league games last season. And Nelligan will no-doubt be learning plenty from playing alongside the likes of Richard Douglas and Mitch Grigg. He accumulated ten disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside-50s in the Redlegs first victory of the season, with his attack on the ball and tackling pressure evident, despite his smaller stature.
Ronald Carbine had some nice moments across half-back. He finished the game with eleven disposals, two marks, three tackles and five rebound-50s. Although Heard was the primary target up forward for the Redlegs Under 18s, Charles Kemp was arguably even more effective in attack on the day. The utilities aerial work was outstanding, clunking three strong contested grabs and eight marks in total. He booted two goals and was also handy at the stoppages, winning three clearances for the Redlegs.
Sturt vs. South Adelaide
By: Ed Pascoe
#17 Mani Liddy
A typical performance from Liddy who has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the 18s with his strong clearance work again at the forefront, where he excels better than most. Liddy showed great composure and class around the ball, working hard around the ground to try and link up and show he isn’t just a clearance player. He isn’t super quick but showed some good agility, almost nailing a nice goal keeping cool and composed, Liddy finished the game with 25 disposals, eight tackles and 10 clearances.
#18 Tom Powell
Mr Consistent, Mr Prolific, you could also call him the best young midfielder in South Australia at the moment as he again had a huge game as he continues to catch the eye of scouts. Powell again was a ball magnet both at stoppages and on the outside where he found the ball with ease and again used it cleanly and sharply – especially by hand. Powell’s kicking has been the one area that has only been ok, but he managed to hit a fantastic pass inside 50 in the last quarter and if he can do that more often, he could become an even bigger threat. Powell finished the game with 36 disposals, four tackles and 11 clearances and is showing no signs of letting up this year as he pushes his case to recruiters for this year’s draft.
#32 Morgan Ferres
The talented bottom age key position prospect started the game slowly, but really grew into the game and proved to be the main source of scoring for Sturt once again. Ferres’ game really started to pick up in the second quarter when he had a great chase down tackle on Nicholas Kraemer and would be rewarded on the scoreboard later on, taking a strong contested grab and kicking his first major. Another thing that impressed with Ferres was his ability to get up the ground, take a strong mark on the wing, and quickly wheel and go. Ferres would go on to kick the match winning goal, getting into free space and coolly slotting the set shot. Ferres finished the game with 17 disposals, 10 marks and kicking 5.3. He currently leads the competition for goals, averaging almost four goals a game which is impressive for a bottom-age prospect.
#9 Jason Horne
A possible top 10 pick in the 2021 draft, Horne continued his strong from through the midfield with another eye-catching performance; showing of his acceleration at stoppages, while his marking around the ground also came into the fold. Horne was a hard player to stop at stoppages with his speed and power being a real difference maker and that power was on show late in the last quarter were he had a nice run on the wing leaving the opposition in his wake. Another thing that separated Horne from other midfielders was his marking ability, able to take strong contested marks which he did on multiple occasions. Horne finished the game with 23 disposals, nine tackles, seven clearances, and one goal in a complete midfield performance.
#21 Matthew Roberts
Another quality bottom-age talent for South Adelaide, Roberts was on fire early on kicking a long range set shot showing off his long left boot. Not long after, he would rove the back of a pack and run into the open goal. Roberts wouldn’t add any more damage to the scoreboard, but his ability through the midfield was again on show, not only using his strong fame to win clearances but also using his smarts and work rate around the ground to provide an outlet. He had a great bit of play crumbing a marking contest, and would later follow that up showing his work rate. Roberts finished the game with 22 disposals, five tackles and two goals as he continues to string together some stellar games.
#35 Nicholas Kraemer
Kraemer loves the tough stuff and showed that again with his tackling ability and willingness to attack the contest hard, using his size at stoppages to his advantage. Kraemer isn’t the flashiest player but he did all the one-percenters well and some of his blocks for teammates really stood out. He had a good last quarter, working well on the outside and keeping composed going forward to hit a nice pass inside 50, showing great composure. Kraemer finished the game with 17 disposals, four clearances and a game-high 10 tackles to set the standard for some of his younger, talented midfielders.
Glenelg vs. West Adelaide
By: Tom Cheesman
#2 Nasiah Wanganeen
Wanganeen backed up his strong performance last week with another on Saturday. He made the wing his own, moving the ball forward effectively on several occasions while showcasing his agility and proving very difficult to tackle. He kicked a magnificent goal midway through the third term where he crumbed his own contest, plucked the ball one-handed, broke away from his opponent and then kicked truly. Wanganeen finished with 19 disposals, four marks and a goal.
#10 Ty Murphy
Murphy was one of Glenelg’s most consistent contributors across the four quarters, constantly making his presence felt on the outer wing. He works very hard for his possessions and knows the right positions to lead to at half forward. Murphy never shied away from a contest and always attacked the footy with ferocity. He finished with 25 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s.
#13 Luke Pedlar
The Bloods had no answer for Pedlar, as the big-bodied midfielder used his strength in aerial contests and stoppages to out-body his opponents, get to the ball first and hold strong marks. He controlled his aggression to ensure that while he laid crunching tackles, he did not give away unnecessary free kicks. A strong tackle in the third term was definitely a highlight, and his clearance work was fantastic all day. Pedlar spent time rotating up forward as well, but Glenelg were a better side when he was in the middle. He finished with 23 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and two goals.
#17 Cooper Beecken
Amongst a Bays defence that kept West Adelaide goalless after quarter time, Beecken was definitely a standout. His ball use was fantastic, consistently drilling passes on the 45 to teammates on the lead and he never appeared rushed or frazzled when under pressure. He combined beautifully with runners to halt the Bloods’ forward ball movement and confidence by counter-attacking whenever they got the opportunity. Beecken’s defensive work was also exemplary, as he used his long reach to spoil and intercept on numerous occasions. He finished with 17 disposals, four marks, three rebound 50s and two inside 50s.
#21 Riley Holder
Holder continued his impressive start to the season with another fantastic display against the Bloods. The key forward showed a willingness to work up the ground and help his side transition the ball from defence to attack. He is a brilliant overhead mark, as he reads the flight of the ball to perfection and has strong hands. Holder could have easily kicked a bag, but his kicking was off in front of goal so he finished with 2.4. He also collected 26 disposals, 12 marks (three contested) and six inside 50s.
#22 Lewis Rayson
Rayson was brilliant once again at half-back for Glenelg, gathering 24 disposals, five marks and five rebound 50s. He played the quarter-back style role beautifully as he rarely missed a target and was composed with ball in hand. His run and carry was on show in this game, regularly linking up with teammates to gain meterage and transition the ball forward. Rayson has great agility and uses his side step skilfully to escape congestion. He pushed forward when the result was beyond doubt in the final term to kick two goals.
#28 Hugh Stagg
Stagg was prominent up forward for the Tigers throughout this match. He always provided a strong contest and used his speed to break away from opponents. Just like Holder, his impact would have been even more profound if he had kicked straight in front of goal, as he finished with 3.5. Regardless, he was one of the best forwards on the ground with 28 disposals, eight inside 50s, seven marks and four tackles.
#33 Will Schreiber
Schreiber was very solid in this contest. The 190cm defender used clever footwork in traffic, was smart by hand and used his strength and large frame to shrug off oncoming tacklers. He also has a powerful kick and regularly showed a willingness to open up the game by using the corridor. Schreiber finished with 17 disposals, four marks and four tackles.
It was a great team performance by Glenelg and every one of the Tigers’ players played a role. Hagan Wright (29 disposals, seven marks) and Henry McAuliffe (23 disposals, two goals) both worked very hard and had a major impact, as did Oscar Clark (21 disposals, one goal). Xavier Robins (23 disposals) was consistent in defence, often using his run and carry to launch his side into attack. Harry Tunkin (15 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s) was lively at half-forward and showed great awareness throughout the contest.
It was a tough day for the Bloods after quarter time, but Chamberlain tried his best to keep them competitive. The AFL Academy Hub member worked hard up and down the wing, using his explosive speed to find the footy and break away from opponents. Chamberlain always attempted to make something happen when clearing congestion rather than blindly bombing the ball forward, which is a good sign in a young player. He finished with 21 disposals, five marks and three tackles.
There were a couple of other handy performers despite the Bloods’ woes, with Eduard van den Berg collecting a team-high 24 disposals and seven rebound 50s, while Thomas Rundle booted a goal from his 16 disposals and five marks.