ROUND 5 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 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. Some sides were slightly depleted over the weekend with school football making its return.
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.
Sturt vs. Norwood
By: Tom Wyman
#17 Mani Liddy
The consistent midfielder again found plenty of the ball in Sturt’s loss to Norwood. Although he may lack a yard of pace at times, Liddy was clean by hand and smart at the stoppages, as he has been all season. Whilst under pressure in congestion, he displayed a combination of skill and vision on a number of occasions to locate a teammate in space rather than hack the ball forward by foot. Along with his customary midfield responsibilities, Liddy also spent some time up forward and finished the game with 27 disposals, four marks, two tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s.
#18 Tom Powell
Powell was again excellent in the engine room for Sturt. In the first half, when the game was largely fought in close quarters, Powell won plenty of contested ball and used his lightning-fast hands to get things moving for the Double Blues. However, when the game opened up after the main break, Powell was able to accumulate the ball on the outside at will, while using his foot skills and burst of speed to link up the play and orchestrate a multitude of inside 50s.
Not all of his touches were super damaging, however Powell’s stoppage craft, contested ball winning, and work rate ensured he was easily the most effective player on the field wearing the iconic double blue. Powell concluded another highly-productive outing with 38 disposals, four marks, five tackles, nine clearances and ten inside 50s. He has been the SANFL Under 18 competition’s most prolific midfielder over the opening set of games and will no-doubt have caught the eye of club recruiters. If he can have more of an impact on the scoreboard and clean up some of his disposal by foot, there’s no reason why Powell can’t rise to be an early selection come draft-time.
#29 Tom Emmett
Despite Sturt’s defeat, Emmett booted four of Sturt’s six goals and looked the most threatening forward on the ground for much of the contest. He nailed Sturt’s first for the game with a set shot from 45-metres out and booted the Double Blues’ second early in the second term. Emmett squeezed home his third goal whilst being slung in a tackle and later showed excellent composure on the run to thread through a major from a difficult angle in the forward pocket. A later set shot at goal from 50 metres out ultimately missed to the near side but sailed through at above goal-post height, suggesting he possesses a long leg. Emmett finished with 17 disposals, four goals and two behinds, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s.
Others: Playing in the midfield alongside Liddy and Powell, Will Spain had a few nice moments, particularly when he weaved through traffic at half-forward and dished off a nice handball to a teammate in a pocket of space. His disposal by foot was inconsistent, however he certainly has some evasiveness, a nice side-step and can find the ball. Spain finished with 22 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three clearances. Forward Zabien Parker-Boers booted two goals from eight touches, Blake Higgins accumulated 20 possessions, and Ned Grieve had 19 disposals and took seven marks.
It was yet another terrific outing for talented bottom-ager, Murley. In the first term, Murley received a one-two with a teammate and used the pocket of space to run and carry before delivering a beautiful right-foot kick to the advantage of a leading forward. His speed, ability to hit the scoreboard, efficiency by hand and foot, and line-breaking carry make for a nice array of strengths, and all were on-show throughout the clash.
Murley also judged the flight of the ball better than anyone else on a couple of occasions; the first coming from a long, cross-field kick to the forward flank, and the second an intercept mark in defence. He was lively around the ball and showed a willingness to use his speed and skills to take the game on through the middle. Murley kicked two classy goals from close-range in the final term to seal Norwood’s win and cap off another excellent outing for the 17-year-old, who continues to find the ball with ease at Under 18s level. He finished with a well-rounded stat line of 27 disposals, two goals, seven marks, three tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s.
#6 Michael Cavallaro
Wingman, Cavallaro beautifully complimented the toughness of the inside midfielders by providing class and efficiency on the outside. Cavallaro showed off his agility and spacial awareness to evade a Liddy tackle close to the boundary and spot up a teammate down the line with a measured pass. His composure in traffic allowed him to slow down the play and make the right decisions. Whilst his ability to hit targets by foot from a variety of angles and distances was a feature of his game, Cavallaro refrained from blazing away down the line when a simple handball to a loose teammate was all that was required.
Whether he was mopping up in defence or involved in a fast break, Cavallaro remained calm, made the right decisions and crucially, executed well most of the time. His excellent footy smarts were highlighted on the outer wing, when instead of gaining possession in a two-on-two situation, his clever tap back to a teammate allowed the Redlegs to stream forward. Another highlight was the desperation he showed in a chain of play along the boundary line, where Cavallaro kept the ball in play and eventually gave off a handball while on his hands and knees, resulting in a Louis Joseph goal moments later.
That level of work rate and desperation would have really pleased the Redlegs’ coaching staff. Although his lack of size may prove a concern for recruiters, Cavallaro is a pure footballer who possesses elite decision-making skills and has consistently looked the most composed player on the field throughout the season to date. He finished with 31 disposals and nine marks.
#17 Daniel Fairbrother
Fairbrother was a rock down back for the Redlegs. He looked physically bigger and stronger than many of the Sturt forwards and used his size to advantage in several marking contests. Fairbrother provided plenty of rebound from half-back and was assured by foot. The number 17 has a very deliberate and measured kicking action and shared the kick-in duties with fellow defender Benjamin Ianiello. He took a number of important intercept marks and found plenty of the ball, finishing with 28 disposals, six marks and six rebound 50s.
#21 Jack Saunders
The blonde-haired midfielder Saunders produced a number of eye-catching moments in the red and the blue. His run and carry through the middle of Peter Motley Oval was a real feature. He was willing to take the game on whenever he found himself in space and often got on the his bike to receive a handball in an attacking chain. Saunders competed strongly, with a highlight being a perfectly-executed tackle to win himself a holding-the-ball free kick. He possesses a great stiff-arm and is able to win the ball around the ground as well as at the coal face.
Saunders was inconsistent by foot, missing a few targets but also nailing a couple of excellent passes to the advantage of his teammates, including a nicely-weighted ball to William Warrick, who gathered and kicked the goal from 45-metres out. These inconsistencies are understandable given he had 27 kicks on the day. The on-baller continues to elevate his status with each passing game and finished with 34 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances, seven inside-50s, and five rebound-50s in a well-rounded showing. His hard two-way running, balance of inside and outside ball-winning, run and carry, and burst of pace will certainly have caught the eye of recruiting staff.
Ruckman Nathan Hearing wasted no time in imposing himself on the contest, laying a strong tackle at the opening centre bounce. He was heavily involved around the ground, clunking a number of strong marks, and was willing to bite-off several in-board kicks. Hearing gathered 20 disposals, five marks, five tackles, 16 hitouts, seven clearances and a goal in a strong performance.
Rangey defender Ianniello slotted back into the Under 18s lineup seamlessly. He provided run and carry from the backline and showed some real dare. Although he missed a couple of targets by foot, Ianniello boasts a long left-foot. He produced a strong outing, collecting 27 disposals, eight marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s. Billy Haebich also found plenty of the ball, finishing with 23 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.
North Adelaide vs. Central District
By: Michael Alvaro
#3 Adam Heath
One of many bottom-age prospects to step up over the weekend for North Adelaide was Heath, a mobile 191cm prospect who competes well in the air and at ground level. He was particularly impressive during the first half, presenting strongly on the lead and hitting the scoreboard with a set shot in the second term. Heath had a real presence inside 50 and was hard to miss with his flowing blonde mullet. He faded a touch in the latter stages, but still showed promise to finish with 19 disposals, five marks, and a goal.
#15 Harvey Harrison
Harrison played a key role in generating some run through the Roosters’ midfield, and did so with his dare in taking the game on. He carved up the corridor with pace and looked sharp with his delivery by foot, while also showing no fear in looking for kicks inboard while on the outer. Harrison won a few nice clearances and applied solid pressure around the ball, with his busy approach to the game a handy asset to North’s cause. He finished with 21 disposals, seven tackles, and five clearances.
#18 James Willis
There were periods in the third term where Willis looked like tearing the game apart. The dynamic midfielder showed he can do it all in his on-ball role; accumulating around the ground early, winning his own ball, bursting away with strength, and adding deft agile movement in congestion. His explosiveness came into play as the game wore on, able to break lines and take the game on going forward. The bottom-ager put in a couple of outstanding efforts in the third quarter; first pulling down a desperate tackle at half-forward which led to a Charlie Dowling goal, and then creating a spillage with his courageous aerial contest to give the Roosters another chance on goal. A great return to action.
#25 Blayne O’Loughlin
The Adelaide NGA prospect is the type of player you want in possession coming out of defence, with his speed and sharp use by foot making for lightning-fast transitional play. O’Loughlin was lively in the first half, getting involved in just about every contest around North’s defensive territory and swooping on a great number of ground balls. His pace and clean hands allow him to dominate at ground level, with his creative instincts kicking in once the opportunity to rebound presents. The clever bottom-ager faded a touch after half time, but bobbed up with a couple of nice line-breaking plays late on.
Another standout in defence was Lam Simon, who enjoyed some solid aerial tussles while providing effective rebound once the ball hit the deck. Matthew Borg found plenty of the ball through midfield and was able to hit targets going forward, with Kyle Brazell also moving well in transition. The latter would also find the goals himself, while also competing well overhead. Charlie Dowling was a constant forward threat, making the most of his opportunities to boot four goals. He was a solid target all day alongside Leo Coates, who kicked two goals and took seven marks.
#13 Austin McDonald
The 16-year-old just has a happy knack of finding the footy, and was able to do so again with 21 disposals as a constant centre bounce attendee. While McDonald was a touch fumbly at times and ineffective by foot in terms of true damage, he showed plenty of good signs in his midfield craft. He pumped forward a couple of nice centre clearances on the move, with his first coming in the opening term from a slick shark off the tap. McDonald continues to succeed in a tough role, and will shine over the next couple of years as he builds size and confidence.
#26 Shay Linke
Another midfielder who spent plenty of time at the stoppages, Linke ended up as Centrals’ leading ball winner with 22 touches, 10 marks, and five clearances. The tall bottom-age prospect managed to get his hands on the ball in good areas amid heavy congestion, while also working well around the ground to pop up as an outlet. He put in a couple of strong tackling efforts and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in at ground level, able to thrust the ball forward. He capped off his day with a nice snap goal from distance, aided by a couple of lucky bounces.
#27 Leek Alleer
Alleer has been tried in a few different roles this season, and found his spot on a wing throughout this particular outing. The tall and athletic prospect did well to help out his defence in the early goings, but looked most dangerous when able to get a proper leap at the ball on the outer. His strong verticals allowed him to get a hand in and intercept balls he had no right to, while a couple of strong overhead marks also caught the eye. Alleer was calm in possession and used the ball well by hand, finishing the game with 18 disposals and seven marks.
Cody Gilchrist enjoyed a terrific start to proceedings, proving too strong deep inside 50 to boot the Bulldogs’ first three goals. Wyatt Ryan gave his all throughout the day in a range of roles, most significantly up forward as a strong lead-up target. Jordan Tippins showed a heap of class on the ball in his 18-disposal effort, with a good balance of inside and outside traits highlighting his game. Christopher Tidswell came into the game late with some dash from defence, while 16-year-old Brodie Tuck looms as one to watch having reeled in some assured intercept marks.
WWT Eagles vs. Glenelg
By: Michael Alvaro
It was a typically classy display from Schofield, who had a solid impact through midfield and also managed to find the goals. His ability to shark the ball from taps at stoppages or from ground ball spillages is exceptional, and helped him to generate some forward momentum for the Eagles. He was on fire early in the second term as a couple of clean gathers led to snapped goals, and a clever tap at the following centre bounce allowed a teammate to be released forward. Schofield’s agility and turn of pace made him almost impossible to tackle, with that trademark evasiveness through traffic really catching the eye. His repeat running was positive to see, as was his impact forward of centre to finish with 18 disposals, eight tackles, and two goals.
Poulter just has such a remarkable presence on the field, and he is impossible to miss when the ball enters his area. Starting in midfield, his clearance work was sound and he got to work with some brilliant handballs out of congestion, showcasing his rare vision. Throughout the game there were bursts through traffic, strong overhead grabs, and some crunching tackles to stop Glenelg’s counter attacks in their tracks. Despite copping a knock in the third term, Poulter remained involved. He did not quite manage to find the goals, but that was not for a lack of trying – even from distance. His kick penetration is obviously great, but he can sure up his short-range game a touch to prevent simply blazing away.
#19 Zac Phillips
The Eagles bigman did well to get involved around the ground, adding to the value of his enormous leap in the ruck and ability to take marks up forward. His ruck craft looks promising in terms of taps to advantage, and it played a key part in WWT’s midfield dominance. Phillips was a solid option in all areas and while he can refine his disposal and decision making, it was great to see him rack up a few touches.
#25 Henry Smith
Again starting as the Eagles’ primary target up forward, Smith showed nice glimpses of his best form with strong marks, taking the ball at its highest point. He looked ominous on the lead at times and is difficult to defend at the Under 18 level on account of his height and reach on the lead. With good delivery, he was granted goalkicking opportunities but failed to make the most of his set shots. By the fourth quarter, his confidence may have been a little shot as he opted to kick inboard from 20-metres out, which got him a goal assist nonetheless.
#31 Jase Burgoyne
The 2021-eligible Port Adelaide father-son prospect continues to go from strength to strength for WWT, able to play off each line. He again spent some time through midfield, but looks much more lively in open play and even proved dangerous as a forward option. Burgoyne’s ability to chain up and deliver neat kicks is exceptional, with his class on the ball truly evident. He managed to snare two goals; the first being a nice finish on the run during the second quarter, and the second a set shot conversion in term three. He could have added another couple if he had finished a little tidier.
#37 William Neumann
Another bottom-age Eagles prospect to have stood out is Neumann, who produced a few outstanding bits of play in the forward half. His second efforts were a feature early as he hunted the ball, able to smother and aggressively bump his opponents off the ball to cause chaos inside 50. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and duly converted the shot for his first goal, before adding another in the following stanza. One of his best plays was a clean half-volley pick up and spearing ball inside 50, with another his weave through three defenders to hand off a goal assist. One to watch.
There were plenty of contributors for the Eagles, who benefitted greatly from Jack Wheare‘s efficiency inside forward 50. He finished with a game-high four goals, while Jay Watson bagged three in a hot first term. Zeke Scott made a terrific start through midfield, while Max Lister was consistent throughout, and Liam Ueding returned another big shift inside defensive 50. Brayden Calvett‘s 22 touches from the wing also stood out.
#2 Nasiah Wanganeen
Wanganeen is a player who makes things happen, having an impact with every possession. He contributed a few nice touches early as he kicked into gear with his smooth movement, and his use by foot going forward proved damaging. The bottom-ager hit up Kye Dean on the fly in the second term, and had a hand in Riley Davis’ third term goal as he won a one-on-one on the wing and burst forward at breakneck speed. His lone goal for the game also came in the third period, capping off another promising outing.
#8 Hagan Wright
On a tough day for Glenelg’s midfield, Wright had his moments. His work rate going both ways and ability to simply get his hands on the ball helped him have an impact, with some nice side-steps and booming kicks inside 50 proving his points of difference. Repeat efforts and aggressive forward movement is his game, and he tried his best to generate some momentum for the Tigers.
#9 Kye Dean
Arguably Glenelg’s most consistent midfielder on the day, Dean racked up 25 disposals and five clearances from the engine room. The top-ager’s booming left foot proved an asset when allowed the time to charge his kicks, and his explosiveness in congestion came to the fore as he got going. Dean also impacted the game up forward, finding the space to become a marking option but spurning a couple of shots on goal. He did manage to split the big sticks on one occasion though, after holding onto a double-grabber deep inside attacking 50 and slotting the resultant shot.
There was quite an even spread of Tigers who stood up at different times throughout the contest, but unfortunately for not long enough in the big loss. William Watts proved the most prolific ball winner with 31 touches in his dual-role between the defence and midfield, while Riley Drum provided a cool head down back early on before swinging forward late. Jayden Davis was another to play on multiple lines, racking up 24 disposals and seven marks before sneaking forward to claim a fourth term major. Harrison Kaesler was also lively in an under-siege defence, providing some run with his 19 disposals.
South Adelaide vs. West Adelaide
By: Tom Cheesman
#18 Zac Dumesny (League)
Dumesny was great for the Panthers, collecting 19 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s, and two rebound 50s. He played predominantly at half-back and on the wing, and at 187cm he is a great size for these positions. Dumesny started the game with a nice intercept mark deep in defence, which was one of many strong marks he took throughout the match. He never juggles his marks, thus making him a difficult player for the opposition to spoil.
In one-on-one contests he always positioned himself well and was never out-marked. Down the wings he linked up with teammates to carry the ball forward and get multiple score involvements. His teammates trust him with ball in hand too, as his kick is extremely reliable and he barely missed a target all day. Dumesny looks at home at League level which is a great sign for him ahead of this year’s AFL Draft.
#4 Max Clifton
Clifton had a fantastic day for the Panthers, collecting 22 disposals, five inside 50s, four marks, and three tackles in their victory. His booming left-foot kick stood out, as he hit targets both long and short on a consistent basis. He was strong at stoppages, read the play well, and got himself into the right positions around the ground. Clifton’s defensive running was also impressive, highlighted when he courageously ran back with the flight to enact an outstanding spoil in the third term.
#9 Jason Horne
Horne continued his outstanding start to the season with another best on ground performance against the Bloods. It was his first game without partner-in-crime Matty Roberts for the season, and Horne put on an absolute show in his absence. He kicked three goals, including a goal of the year contender in the third quarter when he picked up the ball cleanly outside 50, took three bounces, sold candy to three different opponents, and then finished with a goal from 40 metres out. If you have not seen it yet, I urge you to check it out because it showed how talented this youngster is and the sheer confidence he has in his ability.
Horne’s body-work at stoppages was exceptional, as was his work rate around the ground. He took numerous intercept marks and was always composed with ball in hand, barely missing a target all day. Horne finished with 31 disposals (24 kicks), 11 marks (four contested), seven clearances and six inside 50s to go with his three goals. He is firming as one of the best AFL draft prospects going into 2021.
#10 Brayden Cook
Cook has been a shining light for the Panthers’ Under 18 side so far this season and had another impressive showing on Saturday. He collected 19 disposals, nine marks, eight inside 50s, and two goals playing on the wing. His aerial ability is fantastic, as he frequently uses his strong vertical leap to meet the ball at its highest point and give his opponent little-to-no chance at spoiling. He did well to push forward and impact the scoreboard in this contest as well, which should be an important feature of his game in the years to come.
#33 Arlo Draper
Draper was brilliant at half-back, finishing with 17 disposals and six marks. It was clear that he is a smart footballer, as he took numerous intercept marks and linked up with teammates to quickly transition the ball forward. He was clean under pressure when others were panicking, and his ball use by foot was sublime. Draper has electric pace and used this trait whenever required throughout the contest. His defensive work was also fantastic, highlighted by a clever smother in the first term.
Will Verrall was impressive in the ruck for the Panthers, showing agility for his size and pushing forward to kick two goals. Liam Hamilton (26 disposals, 16 marks) worked hard and found plenty of the ball once again, while Phoenix Spicer (20 disposals, one goal) was an excitement machine in the second half. Samuel Hindes (19 disposals, eight marks) was strong deep in defence.
#18 Riley Thilthorpe (League)
Thilthorpe had another impressive performance on Saturday and showed why he is one of the leading prospects for the 2020 AFL Draft. He spent most of his time up forward but pinch-hit in the ruck whenever required. The 200cm youngster was fantastic in the air, always providing a contest and at least bringing the ball to ground.
His teammates’ delivery forward to him did not make his life easy in the first three quarters, but this improved late in the game. He capitalised on this by taking two strong pack marks in the final term, including one at the top of the goal square which resulted in a goal. Thilthorpe’s athleticism was on display, as he frequently used his great fitness level to push up the ground and create an option for his teammates coming out of defence. He was clean with the ball and showed poise in congestion for a big man, using his long reach to get his arms free and feed outside runners on multiple occasions.
Thilthorpe was also unselfish up forward, highlighted when he set up a goal by finding teammate Brett Turner in a better position late in the third term when he could have easily gone back and kicked the set shot himself. He earned free kicks in marking contests because he received so much attention from opposition defenders, and he was not afraid to use his left foot when required. Thilthorpe finished with 15 disposals, five marks (three contested), six hitouts, two tackles and a goal.
Chamberlain continues to shine despite West Adelaide’s struggles in the Under 18s, collecting 35 disposals, nine clearances and six rebound 50s. He seldom got knocked off the ball easily and regularly used his burst of speed to break away from opponents and weave past oncoming tacklers. His quick hands were fantastic at stoppages and his work rate around the ground was exceptional. However, his kicking was a bit inconsistent in this contest.
#7 Cooper Gilbert
Gilbert played in defence for the Bloods and showed some very promising signs. He was always clean with ball in hand and was very effective by foot, using his strong right-foot kick to launch his side out of defence on numerous occasions. The Bloods looked the most dangerous going forward when Gilbert went central and took the game on. It would be great to see Gilbert back himself and do this more throughout matches in the future. He finished with 18 disposals and six rebound 50s.
#21 Nicholas Couroupis
Couroupis was outstanding for the Bloods, arguably their best performer on the day. The midfielder was aggressive at the ball and at his opponents throughout the game, and his marking ability was definitely a highlight. He took six marks (four contested) including a brilliant pack grab in the opening term. Couroupis regularly provided an option for the Bloods coming out of defence and was strong at stoppages against a talented Panthers midfield. He finished with 25 disposals, five clearances, three tackles and a 55-metre goal from a set shot.
Thomas Faulkner (10 disposals, 15 hitouts) showed some impressive signs in the ruck, while Cade Kennedy (22 disposals) and Eduard Van Den Burg (25 disposals) worked hard to find plenty of the ball.