ROUND 13 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) saw a host of Under 18 talent running around across the two senior grades. With our weekly scouting notes geared towards those at League and Under 18s level, we took a look at some of the young guns plying their trade in between, in the Reserves on the weekend.
In this week’s nominated match of the round, the brightest West Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) prospects from their clash were put under the microscope, as the Eagles ran away 49-point victors via a six-goal to one final term. Below are scouting notes on just some of the young talent afield, with a paticular focus on the Under 18s products on display.
WEST ADELAIDE 1.2 | 1.4 | 2.5 | 3.6 (24)
WWT EAGLES 2.4 | 4.5 | 5.5 | 11.7 (73)
Bloods: T. Harris 2, M. McKenzie
Eagles: N. Moore 2, A. Asfaha 2, T. Carcuro 2, H. Morgan 2, C. Poulter, L. Beecken, G. Armfield
Bloods: L. Hupfeld, C. Fairlie, J. Sinderberry, B. Chamberlain, W. Mead, Z. Wooldridge
Eagles: C. McLeod, M. Mead, R. Bruce, L. Barnett, A. Asfaha, S. Michael
#4 Nicholas Couroupis
The hard-nosed inside midfielder was part of a young trio of Bloods to feature at the centre bounces, but he also did some nice work away from the coalface. In his fifth-consecutive Reserves outing since entering the grade, Couroupis was able to showcase his admirable defensive work-rate and ability to impact aerially, using his courage and vertical leap to reel in a couple of nice marks. He provided a safe outlet in the back half when a hold in possession was required, but also attacked the ball hard in open play and came out better for it. This was most evident in the final term, as Couroupis straight-lined the ball between three opponents, burst free, and delivered a goal assist to Tyler Harris, who was free inside 50.
#23 Cooper Gilbert
Another of Westies’ young inside midfielders, Gilbert has adapted his hardness around the contest well at senior level. In his fourth Reserves appearance, Gilbert was thrust straight into the centre bounces, where he showed great tenacity going both ways. He was able to get first hands on the ball, without winning a mountain of possessions, and was just as impactful in his defensive duties with plenty of bumps and tackles. Gilbert is not one to boast massive numbers by game’s end, but makes his presence felt throughout and pops up in exciting spurts.
#28 Hugo Kelly
Although he managed to recover well, the tall defender had some shaky moments in defence, starting with a horror spilt mark which led to Caleb Poulter converting the game’s opening goal. The soon-to-be 18-year-old found steadiness as the game wore on, and went on to have arguably his greatest impact in the first term despite the aforementioned slip-up. He constantly got a fist in to prevent WWT from linking up quickly on the outer, positioning aggressively up the ground and looking to become an option on the turnover. Kelly was quieter in the second half, but showed some nice signs.
There may not be much of him, but Chamberlain finds a way to become as prominent as any player at stoppages. Having narrowly missed the cut once more for a League debut, the balanced midfielder went about his business once again with great speed coming away from congestion, and great accumulative quality. His five-step acceleration made him nearly impossible to catch when sweeping up the ground balls, though a lack of strength found him wanting at times when caught in congestion. Still, Chamberlain stayed busy and got his hands on plenty of the ball throughout, while also showcasing good closing speed in tackle chases. He still looks to be polishing his disposal and decision making at speed, though a nice lateral kick coming away from the first centre bounce was neat.
#60 Jye Sinderberry
While the National Combine invitee has impressed this season as a defensive interceptor, he was stationed up on a wing throughout this particular contest. He got his hands on the ball straight away via Chamberlain’s smooth centre bounce exit, and went on to enjoy a solid first half. Directly opposed to Caleb Poulter when the Eagles’ man was on the wing, Sinderberry got goalside of his dangerous opponent despite sometimes losing direct touch of him. His vertical power allowed him to mark well when required, though the 189cm prospect did not show the same explosive traits when covering the ground. Nonetheless, Sinderberry was able to get up and back to good effect, and even won a one-on-one on the end of a fast break to burst inside attacking 50. His delivery by foot was also neat, and physicality evident in a sweet run-down tackle on Taj Schofield in the third term.
#11 Harrison Dawkins
In just his second Reserves appearance, Dawkins looked sharp at the level with some superb drive out of congestion and smart work in-close. The big-bodied 18-year-old has the body to match it with more mature players, but also showed enough class to prove his Under 18s form was not simply down to brawn. Having rotated off the bench into the centre bounce, Dawkins immediately found the ball and generated some forward momentum. When unable to burst clear, he was able to prize his arms clear and release, adding finesse to his inside grunt.
#30 Taj Schofield
The Port Adelaide father-son hopeful was another to rotate into the game off the bench, taking up a familiar role on the wing. Schofield’s read the movement of play well off each centre bounce, while also working hard both ways to impact around either arc. This was particularly noticeable in defence, as Schofield positioned at the back of stoppages and got on his bike to receive and deliver forward. The clever small stayed involved with each play and while his kicking radar was a touch off under pressure in the early goings, he adjusted well to showcase his class later on. Schofield arguably looks most dangerous wheeling on the outside, where he can properly assess his options in space and get creative via foot. He was caught holding the ball a couple of times for a lack of strength and explosive speed, but showed good combativeness in the dying stages to beat Jye Sinderberry to a ground ball, before hitting up a teammate inside 50.
#33 Caleb Poulter
Perhaps the most highly-fancied draft prospect afield, Poulter had some nice moments in his fourth Reserves appearance. The smooth moving big-bodied midfielder was stationed out on the wing to start off, before rotating into the centre bounces sporadically. He kicked off his game perfectly with the opening goal, which he read well off the hands of an opponent before snapping home beautifully on his trusty left side. Poulter’s greatest strengths at Under 18s level were his overhead marking, defensive acumen, and presence at stoppages, all of which seemed to suffer a touch due to a perceived lack of confidence. While positioned perfectly in some dangerous spots, it seemed Poulter was unable to fly at or win balls he usually would. That is not to say he had a bad game though, with his high level of performance this year making for lofty standards. The 17-year-old still showed dare and penetration in his kicking, and was able to float around the ground in his usual manner, covering it beautifully both ways.