WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our second altered edition, with an Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful making his League debut, while three teams are now tied for top spot in the Under 18s.
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West Adelaide vs. Sturt
League: West Adelaide 8.6 (54) def. by Sturt 10.1 (61)
Reserves: West Adelaide 7.6 (48) def. by Sturt 12.8 (80)
Under 18s: Sturt 10.14 (74) def. West Adelaide 5.9 (39)
A late rally ensured Sturt got over the line against West Adelaide in their League clash under Friday night lights, with just seven points separating either side come the final siren. The game would have attracted the eyes of many an Adelaide Crows fan, as NGA prospect James Borlase made his top flight debut for the Double Blues. The strongly-built swingman was solid down back, working a handy intercept game and using the ball well across his 14 disposals and five rebound 50s.
Tom Lewis and Casey Voss racked up 21 disposals each, aided by 53 hitouts from Daniel Fahey-Sparks, though coach Nathan Grima may face a selection dilemma as Tom Powell continues to bang the door down at Under 18s level. The prolific midfielder added another 47 disposals and 10 clearances to his formidable season tallies, while also contributing two goals. His partner in crime, Mani Liddy was also terrific with 33 touches and a goal of his own as Sturt sealed a hat-trick of wins over the Bloods.
Leading SA draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe was rested from his League duties with Westies this week, seeing former Sydney Swans Academy member Hamish Ellem slot in to bag two majors. Reed Stevens, the brother of leading ball winner, Kaine had 17 touches and six clearances on his League debut, while Lachlan Squire was unable to match his own debut numbers, kept to nine disposals.
In the Reserves grade, 19-year-old Josh Shute was named among Sturt’s best, while Under 18 midfielders Bailey Chamberlain and Nicholas Couroupis were among the best half-dozen for Westies in a losing effort. Jye Sinderberry (12 disposals, five marks) was again outstanding in the junior grade upon his second game back from injury.
Norwood vs. WWT Eagles
League: Norwood 12.12 (84) def. WWT Eagles 6.8 (44)
Reserves: Norwood 9.6 (60) def. by WWT Eagles 13.8 (86)
Under 18s: WWT Eagles 11.14 (80) def. Norwood 7.8 (50)
18-year-old Daniel Fairbrother had a League debut to remember, as Norwood trumped ladder leader, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) by 40 points to remain in the finals hunt. The 182cm prospect gathered 12 disposals in his maiden outing, while Victorian recruit Nik Rokahr had a game-high 34 disposals. Isaac Saywell was another solid young performer for the Redlegs, registering 10 marks among his 19 touches overall.
Lachlan McNeil (21 disposals) continued his consistent run of form for the Eagles despite a rare loss, while the likes of Lachlan Jones and Rhyan Mansell had few answers for Norwood in defence. Up the other end, livewire small forward James Rowe was kept to just one goal as WWT struggled for firepower. It was just the second time all season Rowe managed less than three goals in a game.
Finn Heard narrowly missed League selection this week for Norwood, but managed to instead run out for the Reserves alongside fellow Under 18s Michael Cavallaro, Jack Saunders, Jackson Murphy, and Ben Ianniello. Caleb Poulter and star VFL recruit Sam Lowson both lined up for WWT in the same game, as the Eagles soared home 26-point winners.
Poulter’s absence at Under 18s level was made up for by the likes of Jase Burgoyne, Max Litster, and Harrison Dawkins, who all contributed over 25 touches. AFL Academy members Taj Schofield and Henry Smith both hit the scoreboard in the Eagles’ 30-point win. The result saw Norwood pipped for top spot, though the performances of Henry Nelligan and Cooper Murley (both 24 disposals and one goal) were promising. Mobile bigman Sam Duke was arguably the Redlegs’ best, notching 26 disposals and eight marks.
South Adelaide vs. Central District
League: South Adelaide 14.19 (103) def. Central District 10.6 (66)
Reserves: South Adelaide 9.4 (58) def. by Central District 13.16 (94)
Under 18s: Central District 7.7 (49) def. by South Adelaide 11.14 (80)
Daly Andrews built strongly on his opening SANFL League outing, adding two goals to another tally of 18 disposals as South Adelaide comfortably accounted for Central District. The Victorian’s kicking game and ability to penetrate in transition came to the fore as the Panthers kept their top four spot safe.
Bottom-age gun Jason Horne showcased his eye-catching hops and a good deal of confidence in another League appearance, finishing with 15 disposals as he continues to lead the class of 2021. Exciting 19-year-old forward Beau McCreery popped up in glimpses, contributing a single goal to his team’s win. For the Bulldogs, Dandenong Stingrays graduate Jack Toner was a touch quieter than his last few games, gathering 10 disposals. Meanwhile, Jackson Kelly, the son of Sydney champion, Paul booted two goals in a promising display.
There was some notable talent running around in the Reserves grade, headlined by the return of South star Daniel Sladojevic. The 19-year-old booted a goal, but his Panthers were ultimately outclassed by the Bulldogs to the tune of 36 points. Under 18 prospects Phoenix Spicer and Lachlan Grubb also took the field for either side.
The Panthers managed to get one back at Under 18s level, with an even team performance leading them to a 31-point win. Draft bolter Brayden Cook was again productive aerially with eight marks, though struggled with his radar in front of goal to register three behinds. Max Clifton, Liam Hamilton, Jayden Little, and Jack Flett were among the best top-agers afield, while Hugo Hoeck booted four goals and Arlo Draper notched six clearances. The midfield combination of Austin McDonald and Brodie Lake again worked well for the Bulldogs, as the pair combined for 51 disposals and 13 clearances. Bigman Wyatt Ryan was also influential.
North Adelaide vs. Glenelg
League: North Adelaide 10.9 (69) def. by Glenelg 10.11 (71)
Reserves: North Adelaide 14.11 (95) def. Glenelg 4.10 (34)
Under 18s: Glenelg 8.10 (58) def. by North Adelaide 21.10 (136)
Glenelg may have snuck home by two points in a crucial League clash against North Adelaide, but the Roosters were well on song across the other two grades in Round 10. Potential mature-age AFL recruit Luke Partington again impressed for the Bays with 27 disposals, bested only by Harrison Wigg of the Roosters (29 disposals). A pair of 19-year-old Tigers in Callum Park (18 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Luke Parks (15 disposals, six marks) were instrumental in the back half for Glenelg, combining slick rebounding skills and aerial marking prowess collectively.
A bunch of Roosters stole the show at Under 18s level, with the likes of Jayden Davison, Blayne O’Loughlin, Matthew Borg, and Kyle Brazell all finding both plenty of the ball and the big sticks. Harvey Harrison booted a game-high four majors, followed closely by Adelaide NGA hopeful Tariek Newchurch with three. Kye Dean played his part as usual for the Tigers, finishing with 24 disposals and two goals, while midfield partner Hagan Wright managed 21 touches.
Featured Image: Deb Curtis/SANFL