ROUND 12 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of 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, National Combine invitees, 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.
North Adelaide vs. Central District
By: Tom Wyman
#5 Leo Coates
The strongly built Coates pieced together another strong performance for the Roosters as they continued their impressive run of form. Coates was able to use his physicality and strength to get on top of his direct opponent and assert his authority on the game. He booted two goals late in the opening term, then added a third nine minutes into the second quarter to help the Roosters capitalise on their dominance. A genuine focal point in attack, Coates finished with 16 disposals, seven marks and four goals for the match and is shaping as a valuable asset as North Adelaide makes a push for the finals.
#21 Tariek Newchurch
The exciting Newchurch created several scoring opportunities for his side and could have walked away with a bag if not for some inaccurate goalkicking. Newchurch’s aerial work was particularly eye-catching, taking a couple of strong contested grabs to show he isn’t a forward who simply relies on his clean hands and smarts on the ground. He pushed up the field to get involved in the play and used his quick turn of pace to get back inside 50 and look to get on the end of his earlier good work. Newchurch concluded the outing with 16 disposals, one goal and three behinds, eight marks and three inside 50s.
#22 Lam Simon
Simon was one of several Roosters to find plenty of the footy as the controlled the contest against Central District. Playing across the backline, Simon’s aerial prowess was again on show, hauling in seven marks. He tackled hard when the ball hit the deck and used it well by foot. Although the Crows Academy prospect is still raw, he has shown plenty of glimpses and is learning how to utilise his exciting athleticism to advantage. Simon finished with 20 disposals (including 14 kicks) and five tackles.
#25 Blayne O’Loughlin
O’Loughlin has pieced together a terrific bottom-age season and was once again impressive across half-back for North Adelaide. The Crows Next Generation Academy prospect used it brilliantly out of defence and provided plenty of rebound for the Roosters. Typically composed with ball in hand, O’Loughlin made good decisions by foot and shapes as one of South Australia’s most promising small prospects for 2021. He finished the day with 27 disposals, four marks, four tackles and five rebound 50s.
#28 Matthew Borg
Borg was arguably best-on-ground for the Roosters as he continues his sensational season. Borg was typically hard-at-it around the contest, cracking in to win plenty of contested ball in congestion and at stoppages, highlighted by his game-high nine clearances. Despite the Bulldogs’ ruckman dominating, Borg was able to read the taps and get his hands on the ball before his opponents. On the rare occasion the Roosters didn’t win the ground ball, Borg tackled with the aggression and strength we’ve come to expect from the inside midfielder. He was able to hit the scoreboard as well, nailing goals in the second and third quarters. Borg has been instrumental in the Roosters’ fine form and finished the contest with 26 disposals, six marks and seven tackles.
#29 Zyton Santillo
Santillo was another bottom-aged Rooster to impressive in the club’s big win. Playing in his customary lead-up small forward role, the smooth-moving speedster found an abundance of the footy for a player of his stature. Although he wasn’t able to hit the scoreboard as much as he would have liked, Santillo’s neat skillset was on display when heading inside 50, hitting a couple of nice passes in attack and, crucially, providing plenty of pressure at ground level. Another North Adelaide player to have found some terrific form in the back half of the season, Santillo finished the game with 23 disposals, nine marks, five tackles and four inside 50s.
#32 Isaac Keeler
The ruck/forward continues to go from strength-to-strength after impressing once again at Elizabeth’s X Convenience Oval. An agile mover for a player of his height, Keeler was an overhead marking threat for the entirety of the contest, clunking a couple of strong contested grabs and 11 marks in total. Although the strong bodied Wyatt Ryan used his physical advantage to get on top in the ruck, Keeler still managed nine hit-outs and was excellent around the ground. Keeler was not afraid to get involved in handball chains and used the ball well by foot for a big man, sending it inside 50 on four occasions. Up forward, he booted two goals and looked potent whenever the ball was in his area. Keeler seems to improve with each passing game and finished this one with 20 disposals.
#36 Kyle Brazell
The wingman once again played a pivotal link-up role by connecting defence to attack for the red and white. Brazell’s high endurance allowed him to run all over the ground, gathering possessions and taking marks seemingly at will. A versatile prospect, Brazell was able to push forward and boot a late goal as reward for his tireless running. The game’s leading disposal winner, Brazell’s work between the arcs stood out, finishing with four rebound 50s and four inside 50s. He gathered 28 touches, 13 marks, four tackles and a couple of handy clearances.
Forward Elliott McNamara was excellent in the air, hauling in 11 marks to go with 21 disposals, three tackles and five inside 50s. Bottom-aged midfielder James Willis combined well with the likes of Jayden Davison and the aforementioned Borg. He worked hard around the ground and used his burst of speed to break free from his opponents and send the ball into attack. Willis finished with 23 disposals, a goal, seven marks, four tackles and five inside 50s. Shaun Bennier booted three goals from limited opportunities and defenders Tyler McKenzie and Thomas Millar also had impressive days for the Roosters.
#13 Austin McDonald
The young midfielder was up against it all day, with the likes of Matthew Borg, Jayden Davison and James Willis dominating at stoppages and around the contest. Although McDonald didn’t have the influence he would have liked, he still got his hands on the footy often and finished the game with 20 disposals. He managed a couple of clearances, laid five tackles, and never stopped trying.
#39 Wyatt Ryan
It was a day to forget for Central Districts, but ruckman Ryan will certainly remember it. He was by far the Bulldogs’ best player, dominating the ruck to win 32 hitouts. However, he also worked hard around the ground to be a marking target in attack. He was always an option for the kick down the line and took numerous contested marks against a North Adelaide side which is typically strong in the air. Ryan made a couple of errors by foot, as many ruckman do, but backed himself to hit a couple of tricky targets. Ryan finished with a team-high 26 disposals (including 21 kicks), 11 marks (three contested) and four inside 50s in a strong performance in a losing side.
Luigi Mondello was the Bulldogs’ best stoppage player for the match, concluding the contest with seven clearances to go with 25 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s. Ruben Carreno (23 disposals and six marks), Michael De Jonge (23 disposals, eight marks and four clearances) and Jacob Fiebiger (21 disposals and seven marks) were others to find a bit of the ball for Centrals.
Sturt vs. Norwood
By: Eli Duxson
#11 Will Spain
Spain struggled to get going early but was his defensive best around the stoppages. He ended with 18 disposals and 10 tackles which is nothing out of the ordinary for him. At times he went to the dangerous Henry Nelligan around stoppages but was able to break away and find his own ball. His good tank allowed him to play in the midfield for most of the game and he finished strongly, continuing to tackle hard despite their lead, and earning a holding the ball free kick with which he found a teammate for a shot on goal. His defensive style compliments the major ball winners in Tom Powell and Mani Liddy, but he has shown he can step up in the past and have a big game.
#17 Mani Liddy
Liddy was on from the first bounce, collecting 24 disposals to go with five clearances and a goal. The solidly-built mid continued to show his ability in-tight, but was also able to be a threat on the outside. His cleanliness below his knees coupled with his strength through his legs makes him a difficult matchup in close quarters, although he was able to find space and get dangerous to set up rebound attacks. Showing off his aerobic capacity, he would continue running and find the ball in all parts of the ground. He was then able to find space at forward 50 stoppages on a consistent basis, looking difficult to get in front of. He drilled a set shot from 50 metres out after being the recipient of a downfield free kick, capping off a solid day for he and Sturt.
#18 Tom Powell
The highly-rated prospect continues to show why he is so highly touted with 33 disposals, one goal, eight inside 50s, and six clearances. He did his chances of a senior berth no harm at all. He was everywhere in the first quarter, and if he was not getting the clearance, he was spreading hard offensively from the stoppage and being involved in the chain – he ended with 11 marks. His kicking was wayward early as he seemed to struggle to make good connection, but his 24 kicks to nine handballs is indicative of his shift in style as he looks to be more damaging with his possessions. A centred ball in his defensive 50 was one of his ill-directed kicks, which Henry Nelligan chopped off and it resulted in Norwood’s first goal of the game.
His kicking drastically improved from there as he would go on to set up three goals with well-weighted passes. A good sign of his maturity is also his physicality. He managed to have a good balance of going hard at the contest without being reckless. He just seemed to be always hunting the ball. Despite some early blemishes with his kicking, he was one of the driving factors in the big win.
#27 Ned Grieve
The stalwart in defence for Sturt enjoyed another solid outing, intercepting and clearing at will with 25 disposals, five rebound 50s, and eight marks. He read the flight of the ball well and showed a strong overhead marking ability, also showing good confidence to attempt to mark. Grieve took the front position in marking contests quite a few times, but there was a couple of occasions where opting to spoil would have been the better choice. It did not catch him out but that is the strength that most key defenders possess – think Harris Andrews. He was also very capable at ground level, looking strong over the ball, as well as being very composed and not rushed, making good decisions with good execution.
Lachlan Bates and Russell Rigney each kicked three goals, while Ethan Field chipped with two goals to go with his 15 disposals.
It was a trying day for the Redlegs, but Murley was again prolific with 30 disposals and six clearances. He again displayed an innate ability to be a one-touch player as it seemed his hands were covered with glue. He was quick to get the ball from the ground to a teammate through hands, although at times the Sturt pressure seemed to rush him and make him skew his passes. His speed was also threatening between the flanks, as his run-and-carry and his efficient kicking made him a weapon on the outside. He continued to try all day and found plenty of it in the final quarter, but Sturt was just too good.
He started the game on fire having four shots on goal, further proving his danger to opposition teams around goal. Coming off a monster week like Murley, Nelligan managed 26 disposals, three goals, and seven clearances. The most impressive thing about his forward craft is that he creates his own opportunities. Whether they were intercept possessions, snaps out of stoppages, or set shots from creating space to mark, he looked hard to stop. He again showed his kicking ability on either side of his body, and his fitness to cover ground and get to most stoppages. He gave away an undisciplined downfield free kick but continued to toil away all game.
#6 Michael Cavallaro
Playing mostly in the defensive half for Norwood, Cavallaro was one of the best on the day with 34 disposals, 10 marks, and a goal – pushing forward in the final quarter to round out a solid day. The attacking defender assisted at any contest he was near, but also positioned himself well at the back of stoppages to provide a running option for his midfield. He was poised and efficient with the ball, and his kicking accuracy on both feet was definitely a highlight. Even though he found plenty of the ball, he was still accountable all game. He looked most comfortable during slow play but was capable of moving it quickly in space, and in traffic.
Backing up another impressive effort from last week, Nathan Hearing again managed to spread and get dangerous with 19 disposals, 21 hit outs, and nine clearances. Samuel Duke also toiled away down back all day with 26 disposals and 15 marks.
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide
By: Michael Alvaro
#3 Luke Mitton
The diminutive bottom-ager was among South’s top ball winners with 24 disposals and seven clearances, seemingly enjoying the added responsibility that comes with midfield minutes. Mitton’s endurance running capacity was on show as he worked hard all day for the Panthers, digging in at the coalface despite his light frame. He has the kind of traits you would expect from a 172cm player too, with explosive speed, clean hands at ground level, and evasiveness all coming to the fore on Saturday. Mitton may lack a touch of strength and penetration coming away from the contest, but will inevitably improve in those areas as he grows into his top-age year.
#4 Max Clifton
Another sub-180cm Souths midfielder, Clifton was arguably the best of the lot on this occasion. The top-ager racked up a team-high 26 disposals and six clearances, while also breaching either arc a combined 10 times throughout a consistent performance. South Adelaide likes to attack with speed and precision through the corridor, and Clifton was a key outlet in those kinds of plays as he wheeled onto his left side to deliver the ball forward. His speed and willingness to accelerate the play made life difficult for Wesites’ defenders, and helped Clifton make an impact away from the contest.
#10 Brayden Cook
After being held relatively well in the first half, Cook came to life after the main break in more advanced positions. While stationed on the wing, Cook often finds a way to gain separation as South transitions, while also creating his own space while on the ball with series of twists and turns. Up forward, his elite vision, skill execution, and goal nous make him a handful for any opposition defender. All of those traits lifted in the second half, as the top-ager got creative inside 50 with some shrewd work in full flight. He capped off his day with a couple of final term goals, the first of which set the tone for South’s late breakaway. It was an eye-catching effort too; as he gathered a loose ball, weaved between two defenders, and snapped truly.
#15 Liam Hamilton
Hamilton was another Panther who built into the game well, making a menace of himself both deep inside attacking 50, and up the ground. The 18-year-old proved a key link in his side’s forward momentum, presenting smartly through the corridor and moving the ball along quickly. When found deeper in his own half, Hamilton was able to adapt his ability to bring teammates into the game, creating scoring opportunities all-round and attracting opposition attention. While he converted a major in the second term, Hamilton’s radar was a touch off as he also registered three behinds from 19 disposals and nine marks. A solid outing nonetheless.
#22 Jack Flett
Many of the South Adelaide midfielders and forward caught the eye on Saturday, but Flett was one of his side’s best afield from defence. At 183cm, one of the top-ager’s greatest weapons is his versatility; able to impact the game with his aerial marking, while also providing good rebound with speed and dare across the ground. He started brightly with some terrific intercept marks, positioning perfectly to get a good jump at the ball and cut of West Adelaide’s attacks. After somewhat of a quiet patch, Flett again came to life after half time, popping up with some more aerial efforts, as well as a bunch of take-ons and bursting runs out of defensive 50. 17 disposals and seven marks (four contested) made for a good day out.
South Adelaide’s contributors are always numerous, and there were plenty of others who stood out. Dylan Brown brought the hurt through midfield with 11 punishing tackles to go with 19 touches and a goal, while Liam Nye proved crafty up forward with 21 disposals and a goal of his own. Isaac Burt was productive on the wing, and the likes of Hugo Hoeck (three goals) and Jamison Snelling (15 disposals, one goal) showed great promise further afield. AFL Academy member Nicholas Kraemer returned from injury and looked solid at the contest, though may have had his load managed en route to 10 touches and five tackles.
#4 Cade Kennedy
Kennedy was once again arguably West Adelaide’s best contributor, having amassed 23 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal from midfield. As a mainstay in the engine room, Kennedy provided a spark for the Bloods with his perennial forward momentum, founded by pace and deceptive strength at the stoppages. He was particularly effective at the centre bounces, where those traits came to the fore in tandem. Kennedy’s creative edge and vision going forward were noticeable early as he found Izach Zinndorf for a first term major, while later kicking his side ahead with a free kick conversion after the siren.
#6 Michael Laudato
The classy top-ager was a frequent figure in defence, collecting a game-high 28 disposals, 12 marks, and six rebound 50s. While he was one of a few Westies defenders to have benefitted from a safe, short-kicking style at times, Laudato also showed his ability to ping it long and hit some less conservative targets. Add to that some attacking run and the willingness to take his opponents on, and Laudato produced a strong all-round game.
#12 Zac Venning
Venning’s final term in particular warrants a mention, as he broke out of his shell and looked to provide a heap of urgency from half-back. While he was solid throughout the opening three terms, Venning had a much greater impact as he looked to run-and-carry through the corridor during the latter stages, while also taking on a touch more via foot. To lift when the game is up for grabs is a great asset, though it may have proven too little, too late for Venning and the Bloods. He finished with 26 disposals, eight marks, and six rebound 50s nonetheless.
#15 Kane Sherlock
A third defender among this week’s group, Sherlock impressed in a few facets en route to 18 disposals, five marks, and five tackles. His ability to compete in the air initially, and follow-up with ground level work allowed for some tone-setting rebound in the early stages, which was followed by more solid intercepts. Later on, the solidly-built top-ager was directly opposed to Brayden Cook deep in defensive 50, but fared well on the last line with desperate attempts to lock the ball in and stop South Adelaide in its tracks. His safe use by foot was also handy, though a couple of long kick-ins alluded to another string to his bow.
#20 Luke Young
The bottom-ager is another strongly-built unit at 185cm and 86kg, which allows him to be utilised as more of a centre half-forward type. Young’s marking in that role was solid as ever on the weekend, as he reeled in seven grabs (two contested). Much of his work was done up the ground, finding separation to provide a target coming out of defence for the Bloods. Young was just as impactful inside forward 50 though, especially as he booted all three of Wesites’ majors throughout the second and third terms to keep them in the hunt.
Hugh Desira was one who added some good speed and an attacking mindset to the midfield mix, while the likes of Ben Burbridge and Dylan White were both productive at the contest, providing the grunt work. Eduard van den Berg was his usual self off half-back too, moving forward instinctually and gaining good meterage with his 23 disposals.
Glenelg vs. WWT Eagles
By: Eli Duxson (Under 18s) & Tom Cheesman (League)
#9 Kye Dean
With no Hagan Wright, among others, Dean had some added responsibility. Although it was a tough day for Glenelg, he still managed 21 disposals. With the Eagles’ rampant pressure, he had to work hard for his possessions and often found himself deep in defence just to get his hands on it. His disposal was rushed at times with the Eagles’ pressure around the ball and it was hard to find teammates. As usual though, he worked hard all day and was strong over the ball. He plugged a hole in his forward 50 in the third quarter to try and mark, but sometimes got in the way of his leading forwards.
#27 Luke Parks (League)
It was a tough day to be a Glenelg defender, but Parks did the best he could in the circumstances. He is a very reliable defender that was under the pump in this match from the beginning. The Eagles were getting repeat inside 50s early and Glenelg was panicking, so Parks continually found himself having to clean up other people’s mistakes.
Parks is fantastic in the air, as he is rarely beaten one-on-one and often goes up as the third man in to spoil other forwards and help out his teammates. He took some nice marks as well, including a magnificent overhead mark in the second term flying back into a pack. He also laid some good tackles, especially deep in defence to stop what could have been certain goals for the Eagles.
His kicking is usually reliable but he made a couple of mistakes by foot as the game went on. In the second term, he took a brilliant intercept mark but then tried to bite off a kick into the corridor and missed the target, which led to an opposition goal. He made up for this with a beautiful kick inside 50 to Luke Reynolds on the lead in the third quarter.
Parks got sent forward briefly in the third term to help provide an option when Glenelg had the wind, but he did not have much of an impact up there. In the last quarter, he went back to defence and curtailed many more opposition attacks. He also linked up well with teammates to get the ball moving forward. Parks finished with 13 disposals, six marks (two contested) and two tackles for the day.
A 93-point Under 18s loss does not often provide many good performances, but Frazer Bradley managed 26 disposals, while Elijah Owen scored two goals.
The father-son prospect enjoyed another big game in the comprehensive win, amassing 32 disposals to go with a goal and seven inside 50s. He was clean below his knees and showed a good evasive ability in traffic, highlighted with a neat sidestep. His skills were on point all day with his kicking near perfect. This was coupled with his good decision-making as he did not blaze away and send it deep, but rather looked laterally and moved it with hands. He is the kind of player forwards would want sending it inside 50, but he did it all himself in the second quarter after recovering from a marking contest to burst and wheel to kick a goal on the run from 40 metres.
#19 Zac Phillips
Though he seemed to lose the ruck battle on the day, his serviceability came from his work rate both defensively and offensively. He finished the day with 20 disposals, 13 hitouts and two goals but his contested marking stood out, taking a couple at both ends. He showed great fitness covering a large amount of the ground and always put in big efforts in the contest. Both of his goals came from in front of the big sticks, drilling both set shots. He looked a little wary over the ball at times and was also a little predictable with set plays in the ruck. But with good size, athleticism, and skills, he has great potential. If he can work on his ruck craft and strength over the ball, his game will go to the next level.
#25 Henry Smith
The combine invitee spent most of his day up forward, but also ended up with 20 disposals and two goals. Smith looked mobile around the ground and most comfortable in the forward half. He led out well and took a nice contested mark early in the game, but missed the set shot. His first goal came soon after, earning a holding the ball free kick at the top of the goal square and putting it straight through the middle. His second also came from a free kick, but this time a ruck infringement, kicking the set shot from 35 metres. Smith provided a solid target up the wings for the Eagles’ rebounds and did not lose in the air, either marking, or bringing it to ground for the smalls to mop up.
#31 Jase Burgoyne
It is strength to strength for Burgoyne as he stakes his claim as a 2021 prospect, ending up with a game-high 36 disposals to go with a goal and nine marks. He was his silky best with clean gathers and handballs early, before providing his usual outside run and carry. He spent time at half-back in the second quarter, sprinting inside the square at the centre bounce, but also showing some good defensive traits. He can sometimes drift when playing as a defender but some good man marking and spoils were impressive to see. His goal came later in the term after splitting defenders and running into an open goal to slot it from 35 metres out. Another great game for Burgoyne.
#16 James Rowe (League)
Rowe has proven to be one of the best small forwards in the SANFL this season, and he showed why he’s such an important part of the Eagles’ side on Saturday. He started the game by reading a ruck contest in the forward 50 brilliantly, bursting through the stoppage, collecting the ball at speed and snapping the first goal of the game. Although this was his only goal for the day, he impacted the match in so many other ways.
Rowe’s defensive pressure in the forward half was relentless, highlighted when he laid a run-down tackle on Billy Stretch in the middle of the ground to win a holding the ball decision. His speed makes opposition players panic whenever he is in their area, regardless of whether they have the ball or not. Rowe also provided a strong lead-up option whenever necessary, worked into defence to get some touches, and pinch-hit in the midfield at times. He showed that he has good vision and is very unselfish when he hit Jackson Lee with a clever pass inside 50 in the second quarter.
Rowe received plenty of attention from the opposition and earned multiple free kicks for his troubles. His work rate and willingness to follow up his possessions enabled him to set up many scoring opportunities for his teammates. If Rowe was not on the radar of AFL clubs before this season, I would be surprised if he isn’t at least being considered by some clubs now. He finished with 16 disposals, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal.
#28 Jacob Wehr (League)
Wehr boasts a beautiful left-foot kick and worked hard all day to find plenty of the ball. He spent time in the midfield, where he linked up well with teammates and ran back to help the defence. However, his most prominent position was a half-back role which he played very well. He took the kick-ins and was comfortably launching them 60 metres into the wind, and his pressure on the opposition was fantastic. This was highlighted when he produced a lunging tackle on reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington to win a holding the ball decision in the first term.
He used his kicking ability to open up the game for his side, as evidenced in the first term when he delivered a spearing ball straight through the middle of the ground to a teammate. Wehr was confident enough to bite off these tough kicks despite the difficult weather conditions, and he hit the target just about every time. He also did the little things well such as attacking the footy with pace, working hard to the next contest, rushing behinds when necessary and doing the one-percenters. A magnificent smother in the final minutes of the game capped off his superb performance. Wehr finished with 29 disposals, eight rebound 50s, four inside 50s and two clearances.
#34 Lachlan Jones (League)
Jones is a product of the Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy and is quickly becoming one of the best prospects in this year’s draft. He had a pretty easy day on Saturday in defence thanks to the dominance of his side, but was still able to show why he is so highly-rated by recruiters. His work in marking contests was outstanding, as he consistently positioned himself well and out-bodied his opponents to win the footy. He rarely loses a one-on-one contest and is always willing to help out his teammates in the air.
Jones got to position himself higher up the ground than usual because the ball was so regularly in the Eagles’ forward 50, and this led to him taking one of the marks of the year in the second term. It was a textbook hanger over a pack at half-forward that showed off his amazing athleticism and great hands. He then had the composure to find Jack Hayes with a long kick inside 50, who finished off the good work with a goal. Jones showed some other strings to his bow too, including some run-and-carry out of defence in the final term and some nice link-up play with teammates around the ground. At 185cm, he is a great size for his position and will only get better with more experience in the years to come.
A big Under 18s win meant many contributors; Max Litster again boasted terrific numbers with 29 disposals and a goal, while Zeke Scott chipped in with 20 disposals and two goals.
Featured image: South Adelaide’s Jack Flett flies for a mark | Credit: Simmone Le Raye/SANFL