ROUND 13 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.
Norwood vs. South Adelaide
By: Michael Alvaro
He may not have been at his absolute dominant best, but the bottom-ager still managed to impact proceedings with his searing pace and forward running. Murley built into the contest well, stationed at his typical midfield post as others rotated heavily around him. His break-neck acceleration and cleanliness came to the fore in tandem during the latter stages, as Murley gathered ground balls or received out of congestion, before freeing himself of opposition pressure with pure speed and delivering inside 50. He first found the goals in the second term after cooly converting a holding the ball free kick, but Murley’s highlight of the day came as he burned an opponent to win the ball over the back, before steadying and slotting a second major at full flight. There is no stopping him when he gets going, and the talented midfielder finished with 19 disposals, seven inside 50s, and two goals after a steady start.
Nelligan is a player who has no trouble in finding the ball, and that was exactly the case in this outing as he racked up an equal team-high 23 disposals for Norwood. The diminutive ball winner was one of the many Redlegs to rotate through midfield, providing a relevant two-way presence with numerous ground ball gets and a game-high eight tackles. He did well to chain his possessions and bring teammates into the game, while also working back into defence to help out – particularly when South was on top in the first term. Nelligan also has the ability to impress with weaving runs through traffic and outstanding use of his lateral vision, though much of his work came via scrubbed clearances and short-range passes to keep the play moving. A solid day out, nonetheless.
#11 Xavier Tranfa
One of the many prospects to return to SANFL action via the college football scene, Tranfa slotted into Norwood’s midfield well. The Rostrevor skipper also moved through the forwardline, but was arguably most impactful while operating the engine room. While Tranfa tended to bomb hurriedly out of congestion, he also had some nice passages where his agile step and quick, pumping bursts allowed him to exit the contest. The top-ager very nearly hit the scoreboard, as two final-term set shots only just failed to hit the target. He did provide a handy goal assist in the same term though, measuring a nice pass to honour William Warrick‘s lead inside 50. While others found more of the ball, Tranfa made the most of his 16 disposals with six clearances and eight inside 50s among them, as well as a couple of strong contested marks.
Another school football inclusion, Ethan Schwerdt notched 23 disposals as he slotted into the midfield fold. The Pembroke gun was clean and hard at the ball, also laying seven tackles in a solid outing. Samuel Duke was the other Redleg to have 23 touches, as he was made particularly busy in the early stages before settling Norwood down back. He contributed 10 marks, many of which were intercepts, and 10 rebound 50s. Finn Heard was another big performer for the victors, booting five goals and presenting beautifully up forward as a key position focal point. Half of his eight marks were contested. Rounding out, Michael Cavallaro continued his promising season with 19 touches and 11 marks, linking well between the arcs.
#10 Brayden Cook
Cook is every bit the difference maker for South Adelaide, proving as much despite his five-goal effort being made in vein. While the draft bolter’s finishing has wavered at times among his wealth of opportunities, Cook was efficient as ever inside 50 on this occasion. He sparked the Panthers’ early onslaught with the opening goal of the game, burning an opponent before slotting the ball home. Another was added late in the same term, this time as he anticipated well after a long ball hit the deck. A classy dribble finish made for a third goal in term two, before Cook arrested Norwood’s momentum in the following period with two goals at the death, putting South back in front heading into the final break. Both majors showcased Cook’s incredible class on the ball, and an innate ability to know exactly how to move, to find space and the goals. Swinging him forward from the wing is South Adelaide’s wildcard, and it almost worked once again. Only 13 disposals this time out, but Cook only needs a few moments to make an impact.
#21 Matthew Roberts
It is as if he never left. Another to return to SANFL Under 18s action via the school football competition, Roberts immediately reminded onlookers of his class. Along with Brayden Cook, the bottom-ager was integral to South Adelaide’s blistering start, booting two outstanding goals in the first term. He was simply everywhere, tracking back to intercept in defence, extracting at the coalface, and eventually sneaking forward to bomb home those two majors. Roberts just has the happy knack of being able to find the ball in all parts, which is largely aided by his high-level work-rate. Add courage, the ability to lift a side on his shoulders, and neat use of the ball to those traits, and you have a first round prospect heading into next year’s draft. He copped some nagging opposition attention in the end, but still managed 31 disposals, six marks, six clearances, and two goals.
#33 Arlo Draper
Another bottom-age gun who has proven he is easily up to scratch, Draper continued his terrific form as a primary midfielder for the Panthers. He is already a good size, and uses every bit of his frame to stand up in tackles, most notably in the first term as he dished off to Brayden Cook while being pulled down on the attacking arc. While extracting has largely been his game, Draper also worked hard around the ground to gain an accumulative factor, but was much more suited to the cut and thrust of clearance work. He faded out of the game a touch, but still had a hand in numerous score involvements – including his own set shot which hit the post late in the day. Draper ended with 20 disposals, four clearances, and four inside 50s.
Max Clifton was another terrific part of the South Adelaide midfield, and attempted to lift when his side needed it. His ability to take the game on through the corridor and deliver forward via foot was again on show, as he managed eight inside 50s from 13 disposals. Jack Flett again showed good signs in defence, popping up for intercept marks and providing some dare on the rebound. He had 20 disposals and seven marks, while Harry Spacie took six marks from his 18 touches in defence. Dylan Brown‘s pressure was another strong point, as he laid six tackles in another valiant effort.
North Adelaide vs. Sturt
By: Eli Duxson
#5 Leo Coates
The key forward had the Ned Grieve matchup all game and kept him accountable, kicking two goals and two behinds, and taking five marks. He scored the first goal of the game after being the recipient of a downfield free kick, and after starting his run up from the cricket pitches, he drilled the set shot and made the distance comfortably from 50 metres. Coates did not seem to be kicked to with long entries, so whether he was not in the right position or caught out with ill-directed kicks, that is certainly an area where he can stamp his authority more in games. When he pushed up the ground, he created contests at the very least and tried to follow up with pressure or blocks. He looked most impressive with slow forward entries as he was able to find space on Grieve and lead out and mark on several occasions. He kicked his second goal this way.
#20 Jayden Davison
The hard-running midfielder worked all game and continued to get to contest after contest. He finished with 27 disposals, one goal, and six clearances as he continues to put up solid performances. He lined up on Tom Powell at most stoppages but continued to hunt the ball himself. Davison had first hands on the ball at most stoppages and with good evasive skills, accurate handballs with either hand, and a relentless work ethic to put in repeat efforts, it was hard to stop his output. He was a little clumsy early over the ball either fumbling or going to ground, but once he got going he looked as clean as anyone. He spent most of the game in the midfield and continued to run hard both ways. His efforts were rewarded in the second quarter as he managed a goal with a quick gather and kick out of congestion. With more than 20 disposals and a goal in four of his previous five matches, Davison has proven himself to be a valuable member of this Roosters outfit.
#22 Lam Simon
Simon did not start the game the way he would have liked, giving away a free kick for high contact in front of goal, gifting Sturt their first goal. From there, it was strength to strength for the defender as he showed off his athleticism and ability to read the play to find his own ball. He clearly had a defence-first mindset though with some good one-on-one spoils, even courageously backing into a pack to fist it away. Once his job was done in defence, his acceleration and attack on the ball enabled him to burst through packs and provide some run-and-carry. His disposal was rushed at times under pressure, so he kicked a lot more than he handballed, but his disposal was neat more often than not. Simon finished with 16 disposals and six marks (three contested) in what was a good day for the North Adelaide defence.
#25 Blayne O’Loughlin
One of the more trusted ball users in the side, the defender ended up with 31 disposals, one goal, eight marks, and seven rebound 50s to help his side get the win they had. While some of his 26 kicks were chips sideways in defence, he also showed a willingness to attack the footy and lead his opponent to the ball, picking the ball up cleanly on the bounce on many occasions. His acceleration and cleanliness make him very damaging and when you factor in his ball use with that left boot, he becomes an exciting player to watch. When he runs off his opponent he manages to impact the contest with a spoil or mark or simply by creating a stoppage. When he does this, he does lose touch easily and although it did not cost him or his side, it is an easy way to give your opponent a freebie if it gets over your head. He capped off his game in the third quarter after receiving a 25-metre penalty to allow him to nail a set shot from 45 metres. While he does accumulate with short sideways kicks, his attack on the ball and ability to set up play from his defensive half is impressive and one to watch for opposition teams.
#37 Karl Finlay (League)
Finlay spent most of his day deep in defence and was the James Borlase matchup when he was playing forward. The key defender spoiled well and tackled strongly as he usually does, but it was his marking that stood out the most. He took two contested marks out of his six, with one of them being in a one-on-one contest with Borlase playing on the back shoulder. He read the flight of the ball well all game and looks to be growing in confidence. In the final quarter he managed to get knee in the back of a Sturt player and take a nice overhead mark. He set up well behind the ball to help the North Adelaide forward squeeze but decided to push forward on one occasion and try to impact the scoreboard. He gathered and wheeled on his left boot and had a shot from 40 metres, but could only manage a behind. Along with his six marks he had 14 disposals and efforts that would not have made the stat sheet.
#38 Dyson Hilder (League)
Hilder found himself on Borlase on a few occasions but with Finlay, he remained solid down back for the Roosters. Also still growing in confidence in his second consecutive game back in the League side, he got on the attack, involving himself in links from deep in defence to clear. His kicking was tidy and he was confident enough to go on either side of his body. Hilder ended up with 13 disposals and four rebound 50s as he looks to hold his spot in the senior side for finals.
North Adelaide enjoyed two solid victories but in the Under 18’s, James Willis stood out and it was not for his bright blonde hair, but his 23 disposals and two goals. He provided some exciting run while also doing some of the grunt work inside for the Roosters. Thomas Millar was also very serviceable down back being strong in the contest, while distributing the ball efficiently out of his defensive 50. He finished with 17 disposals, eight marks, and five rebound 50s.
#2 Tom Lewis (League)
The 20-year-old enjoyed one of his better games for the season as he found his way to 21 disposals to go with nine tackles and seven clearances. Shifting between the midfield and the forward line, Lewis was not afraid to enforce a physical presence around the contest. His tackle count is indicative of the pressure he applied and him doing most of his work on the inside. He earned multiple free kicks by being the first at the ball and was tidy with his left boot. A brilliant chase down tackle in the final quarter even though Sturt trailed exemplified his effort and capped off a good game for him despite the loss.
#9 Malachy Carruthers
The combine invitee spent much of the day at half-back and was kept busy with 21 disposals and eight marks. He was lively early as he ran out of defence and created width on forward movements for Sturt. He also looked to be poised with ball in hand, opting to handball instead of kicking it to a contest. His marking was impressive, taking one overhead running back with the flight, and another intercept mark in a pack. His disposal looked reliable and his dash and effort to continue Sturt’s surge forward was important. However, he opted to have a shot on goal from a tough position after working hard with repeat efforts, instead of going inboard. Although it was a tough day for his side, his athleticism and ability to read the play looked threatening.
#11 Will Spain
The inside midfielder continues to prove himself as a reliable contributor in the Sturt midfield, but today, he showed off some of his ability on the outside. He spent more time in the forward line and spread hard from some of the stoppages, instead of being the one constantly over the ball or laying tackle after tackle like usual. He had some nice runs through the middle of the ground, showing off his run-and-carry with his smooth movement. Spain finished with 29 disposals, five tackles, and five clearances and continued to remain consistent all game.
#17 Mani Liddy
Liddy did not have the output that we have come to expect from him, but 16 disposals and six clearances is still a serviceable effort. His strength was on display as usual and he did most of his work on the inside with 11 of his disposals being handballs. After a quiet second quarter, he looked much more active in the third which is a good indicator of his resilience and persistence to continue, despite it not coming as easy to him as it usually does.
#18 Tom Powell
One of Sturt’s most highly rated performers put in another big game to end with 35 disposals, 10 clearances, and seven inside 50s. His work rate and speed to burst from stoppages with the ball and create, as well as without the ball to get to a dangerous positions, continues to be his trademark. He puts in long-distance efforts so even if opposition teams think they get the better of him at a stoppage, he will just keep running. His handballs under pressure in-close are very tidy, and he demands respect from his opponents whenever he is around the ball. He often lines up beside or behind the ruckman to enable him to run to hit zones and whenever he did this during the game, a North Adelaide player was right next to him. When he was resting and another Sturt player was in the midfield, they were left alone – a good indicator of the respect that opposition coaches are showing to him. Another big performance from him which we have come to expect and with one game left in the season, we will see if the coaches decide to give him a League chance, or allow him some continuity as his Under 18 side moves into finals.
#29 James Borlase (League)
The key position Borlase returned to the senior side and showed glimpses of why people are so excited about him. The Crows Next Generation Academy prospect split his time between forward and back, although he has been touted as a defender during his time in the pathway programs. As a forward, he presented up the ground well and continued to create contests. His marking looked a little bit inconsistent and he seemed to struggle to find space on leads except for one occasion in the second quarter. After a beautiful delivery, he leant back on the set shot kick from around 40 metres and put it out on the full.
He moved back for the second half and did not get much of a chance to show off his defensive traits in one-on-one contests. He looked to be accountable and found himself on a few different opponents, both taller and shorter than him. He became more attacking in the final quarter; seeming to grow in confidence, clearing the ball, and looking to mark. He reads the flight of the ball well but looked a little tentative with his overhead marking at times. A miskick from a kick-out in the final quarter sent the ball straight back over his head for a goal. His first game back showed he was still a bit rusty, and perhaps he has some development left. There is still a lot to like about him with his versatility, size, and athleticism.
#34 Casey Voss (League)
Voss assumed his role at half-back and managed 21 disposals and five marks. Defensively he was very solid, showing courage on several occasions backing into packs to spoil, but it was his attacking play that was impressive. He is clean and strong over the ball much like his father, and his kicking ability was tidy. He found space very often around the stoppage and seems to want the footy. He had 17 kicks and four handballs but was often the player providing run and being on the end of handballs. After one of his higher disposal games for the season, Voss has been consistent for Sturt and will look to finish his season off strongly.
#46 Jack Henderson (League)
The 21-year-old midfielder has been impressive for Sturt since breaking through into the senior side and had another solid outing with 19 disposals and six inside 50s. One of those inside 50s was to Borlase in the first quarter with a beautiful 40-metre bullet pass which thumped into the forward’s chest. Spending some time all over the ground, Henderson looked best hanging off the contest as his ball use was elite, and his first touch ability aided that well. He showed good speed getting involved in attacking chains and put in repeat efforts to keep pushing the ball forward. If his right-foot kicking was not enough, he also set up a goal with his left, showing plenty of ability.
Other ball winners for Sturt included Bradley Jefferies (28 disposals, eight clearances) and Lachlan Thomas (24 disposals), while Morgan Ferres was the Double Blues’ major goal scorer kicking four majors. Grieve was down on his usual output, playing the defensive role on Coates and picking up just the nine disposals.
Central District vs. Glenelg
By: Tom Wyman
#13 Austin McDonald
As has been the case all season, inside midfielder, McDonald was everywhere for the Bulldogs. McDonald’s smart and tireless running patterns allowed him to accumulate the ball en masse, particularly early in the game. The 16-year-old possesses football smarts well beyond his age and read the tap-work of ruckman Wyatt Ryan particularly well. Throughout the season, he has laid some excellent tackles and he did so once again at Prospect Oval, when a textbook tackle was rewarded with a holding-the-ball free-kick. Although lacking penetration at-times, his kicking was predominately effective, hitting up a number of targets on the exterior with his natural left-foot. He refused to give up on a contest and was rarely beaten in contested situations – a testament to his core strength and ball winning abilities. Arguably best-on-ground in the Bulldogs’ win, McDonald finished with a game-high 34 disposals and five marks.
#15 Finn Read
Read played arguably his best game for the season in the Bulldogs’ thrilling win. He booted the opening goal of the game within the first minute of play, then nailed a second against the flow of play late in the third quarter to arrest some of the Tigers; momentum. With the Bulldogs up by just one point late in the final term, Read’s goal at the 25-minute mark all but sealed the deal for Central District. Read was an aerial threat all day across half-forward, taking seven marks including a strong contested grab. His ball use inside 50 was also pivotal in the Bulldogs’ win. He finished the contest with 24 disposals and six inside 50s.
#16 Brodie Lake
The Northern Territory native played an important hand in the win, combining well with Austin McDonald, Wyatt Ryan and Luigi Mondello through the midfield. Lake, who has also spent some time in the Reserves since joining the Bulldogs, attacked the ball with ferocity and looked to use his aerial leap and burst of speed to good advantage when thrown into attack by the Central District coaching staff. Similar to McDonald, Lake’s clearance work was terrific, particularly at centre bounces where he gathered, accelerated away from his direct opponent and thrust the Dogs into attack. Lake finished with 21 disposals, three marks, four tackles, eight clearances and six inside 50s.
#22 Luigi Mondello
Mondello provided some class through the midfield, to compliment the hard, contested ball-winning of McDonald and Lake. Mondello had some eye-catching moments throughout the contest, with his evasiveness at stoppages, smooth movement through traffic and creative handballing standing out. However the highlight of his game was a fantastic snap goal around the corner, shortly after the half-time break. Although he fumbled on a couple of occasions, his evasiveness and agility were impressive. Mondello finished the game with 20 disposals, four marks, three tackles and two inside 50s.
#39 Wyatt Ryan
The big ruckman once again provided a real presence for his side, in the air and also at ground level. He marked almost everything that entered his air space, including several intercepts. The Bulldogs often looked for him as the target down the line and he hardly let them down, clunking five contested marks and ten grabs in total. However his competitiveness and brute strength were also on display at ground level, where he was able to win the contested ball and send it forward on several occasions. His kicking was up and down, but he hit several targets which ruckman of his age could be hesitant to attempt. He had a good battle with Glenelg’s Calvin Perks and William Wiseman in the ruck and managed to win 28 hit-outs. Ryan’s work rate was exceptional, accumulating 31 disposals all over the ground and sending the ball inside 50 on nine occasions. Clearly one of the Under 18 competition’s best ruckman this season, Ryan was once again terrific for the Bulldogs.
Cody Gilchrist provided a target up forward, taking several strong marks in attack. He booted three goals from 13 disposals and seven marks. Michael De Jonge hit the scoreboard with two majors to go with 19 touches, four marks, four tackles and three clearances. Jacob Fiebiger (11 disposals and four marks) and Luca Whitelum (16 disposals, six marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) both performed well down back under pressure for Central District.
#1 Harry Tunkin
Tunkin was among Glenelg’s most consistent performers despite the frustrating result. In the midfield, he spent time going head-to-head with Austin McDonald, but it was his work forward of centre where he looked most damaging. He slotted a classy goal from 40 metres in the dying minutes of the first term and showed great goal nous and football smarts to follow it up with a goal from a quick hack forward. Despite his smaller size, the Prince Alfred College student applied plenty of pressure, competed well, and finished the day with 22 disposals, six marks, a game-high seven tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.
#12 Xavier Robins
The Bays were certainly glad to have Robins back from school football duties. He slotted straight into the backline and provided some class and rebound from defence. He read the play well and looked to take the game on with his pace and run-and-carry whenever possible. He displayed nice vision to spot up Harry Tunkin in some space on the grandstand side of Prospect Oval twice within a couple of minutes in the third term and found the ball with ease for the entire game. At stoppages in the defensive 50, Robins had a high impact, winning five clearances. Trusted with the kick-in duties, he used the ball well over a variety of distances and controlled much of the play for the Bays in defence, finishing with 30 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and ten rebound-50s.
#19 Jayden Davis
The bottom-aged Jayden Davis was terrific for Glenelg, particularly in the third term when it was all one-way traffic in favour of the yellow and black. Early on in the game, he found Riley Holder with a beautiful kick inside 50 which led to Harry McInnes’ second goal. He displayed great courage to mark whilst running back with the flight and booted his first goal at the ten minute mark of the third term to trigger a couple of Tigers goals. During the third quarter, his link-up play and delivery inside 50 was outstanding, hitting target-after-target with precision. After setting-up several Bays majors, he booted his second after getting out the back of a marking contest to continue Glenelg’s surge. Davis could have had a third for the term if his long range effort wasn’t touched on the goalline. He finished another strong showing with 19 disposals and ten marks (including three contested).
#21 Riley Holder
The return of centre-half-forward Holder helped straighten the Tigers up and provided a presence around the ground. His hands overhead were a real feature, even managing to outmark Wyatt Ryan in attack before kicking truly. He combined well with fellow key forward Harry McInnes, with Holder getting up the ground and McInnes staying closer to goal. His foot skills, over both long and short distances, were effective and his accuracy in front of goal ensured his capitalised on his work rate. He was thrust into the middle for a short stint to provide a big-bodied presence around the ball but was at his best on the lead. The Glenelg skipper finished with game with 24 touches, 11 marks (including a game-high six contested), three tackles, a couple of clearances and five inside 50s, to further his case as one of South Australia’s premiere centre half-forwards.
Seven Tigers found in-excess of 20 disposals, including Oscar Clark, who ran well both ways and provided an option on the outside. He finished with 27 disposals, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s. Henry McAuliffe battled hard in the midfield and laid a couple of strong tackles. He won 27 touches and used the ball well. Fresh off an Intercol medal for his performance down back against Rostrevor, Cooper Beecken was valiant in the backline, concluding with 17 disposals. The aforementioned Harry McInnes booted three goals and competed well in the air to take six marks. William Watts (25 disposals, nine marks and a goal) and Hunter Window (21 disposals and six marks) were also among Glenelg’s best performers.
WWT Eagles vs. West Adelaide
By: Peter Williams
#4 James Tsitas (League)
The former Williamstown star made his presence felt in this game with a mammoth 39 disposals in a clear best on ground performance. While James Rowe and Sam Lowson kicked nine between them, it was the clearance work and class of Tsitas that shone the brightest. In a time where clubs might look to mature-age ready-to-go midfielders, Tsitas showed exactly what he is capable of with a huge performance on-ball. His goal late in the game off the outside of the boot was all class, and he just managed to find so much space around the ground.
Tsitas had a lazy 39 disposals, seven marks, 10 tackles, 10 clearances, five inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal.
#5 Sam Lowson (League)
The former Coburg forward had a quiet first half before coming alive with four second half goals to blow the game right open. He was clever inside 50, kicking one right before the three-quarter time siren, and continually found space and made opportunities out of nothing. He nailed a set shot and missed another, but Lowson was a clear standout in front of goal once Rowe moved into the midfield, and he remained a real danger at ground level and one to watch ahead of the SANFL finals series.
Lowson had 13 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s and four goals on the night.
#16 James Rowe (League)
If you are an aspiring small forward, then highlights of Rowe should be what clubs use to show exactly how you play the role. Every time he went near it he looked dangerous, and he finds space with ease and has some serious wheels when he takes off. But it is more about his anticipation and game sense inside 50 that makes him so damaging. It was obvious the Eagles had set plays in the forward half where teammates would help block for him and he would cruise on through and kick a goal off the stoppage. A couple of times he did it and looked far too easy, and had another great running goal close to the pocket reacting quicker than everyone else. With a couple of set shot goals – and a couple of misses – Rowe was far too dominant for whoever came his way. Deserves a chance at the next level because if you are good enough, you are big enough.
Rowe finished with a massive 5.2 from 19 disposals, four marks, four clearances and two inside 50s.
#19 Zachary Phillips
His ruck work was superb and follow-up work also strong, as Phillips played a solid game across the four quarters. He showed his ability to clunk marks in the air, and provide a target around the ground, as well as showing smarts to tap the ball to a teammate on the wing rather than take possession and be tacked, then receiving the ball back and handballing off again. He had a couple of flying shots on goal that both missed wide, but it was due to his hard running to get to half-forward from initial centre clearances that gave him those chances on goal. He showed quick hands to a teammate when in congestion and was happy to drop back to help play a kick and a half behind play when his side was attacking.
Phillips finished with 20 disposals, nine marks (two contested), 22 hitouts, three clearances and four inside 50s.
#25 Henry Smith
Smith played an almost-game where he continually got to the right positions and worked his opponent under the ball, but could not quite hold the grabs. When battling one-on-one Smith was solid, but when facing a couple of opponents, it was body contact from behind that often caused him to spill the mark. He still worked hard and showed great decision making in the third term to set up a great goal to Cormack O’Reilly with a lovely long kick to the other side of the ground for his teammate to run in and kick a major. He kicked a goal of his own on the run when he saw an open goalsquare and popped it home.
Smith had the 13 touches, three marks (two contested) six hitouts, three inside 50s and one goal to his name.
#28 Nick Mitzithras
Caught the eye midway through the game with his run out of defence and penetrating kick. He had a couple of scrubber kicks but they seemed to still work out, and he was strong in the air as well. One-on-one, Mitzithras held his own, marking in the defensive goalsquare six minutes into the third term, and then early in the fourth, held off an opponent and used momentum to push off him, win the loose ball in front and kick long to the wing. His decision making and disposal generally was pretty good and he was not afraid to take the game on, rebounding on a number of occasions.
Mitzithras had 21 disposals, four marks (one contested) and seven rebounds for the match.
#29 Jay Watson
Always looking lively in the forward half, Watson could have had a massive day out, but just finished with the two goals from six scoring shots. His first goal came from a set shot midway through the second term, and he then set up a teammate not long after with a lovely pinpoint pass inside 50. He continued to try hard throughout the game, and had a set shot that went close to the line but just missed to the right, before kicking truly with a clever snap off the left playing on from a mark close to the boundary. Having a couple of long-range set shots in the final term, one missed to the right and another hit the post, but nonetheless, Watson was always active inside 50.
Watson finished with 2.4 from 21 disposals, five marks (one contested) and four inside 50s.
#31 Jase Burgoyne
The prominent ball winner on the ground, Burgoyne showed his dual-sidedness with an ability to hit targets off his left when required, even though he was a predominant right-footer. Most of his kicks during the match were short, sharp passes without penetration, but with high efficiency. Burgoyne just makes the right decisions and did not go for anything that was unnecessarily risky, but he did open up the game with some neat kicks inboard. His work around the clearances was superb and he was the clear dominant midfielder on the ground with his effectiveness. He set up a number of scoring opportunities with his ball use and his cleanliness both in the air and ground level was terrific. He had a set shot himself from 40 metres, eight minutes into the final term, and showed he possesses a long kick, hitting the post midway up and proving unlucky not to kick the goal.
Burgoyne ended the match with a game-high 35 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances, two inside 50s, four rebounds and three tackles.
#34 Lachlan Jones (League)
The Port Adelaide Next-Generation Academy member might have finished with the least touches on his team (seven) but he was far from ineffective. His work rate was high and a lot of the time his running went unrewarded. He would spread from half-back to the wing and kept the ball moving in transition. His ability to cover ground from deep in defence to half-forward was a credit to his running, and he also laid a couple of good tackles in the game. The fact that most of his touches were either rebounds or inside 50s told a tale of his effectiveness in moving the ball.
Jones ended with seven disposals, one marks, two tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds.
#47 Ben Jungfer (League)
The over-age talented midfielder spent time across the ground, winning the ball at half-forward, along the wing, and even at half-forward. He has always been known for his tackling pressure, and he showed it by laying a massive tackle on an opponent in the final term at half-back, earning the plaudits of his teammates. One aspect about Jungfer’s game that really stood out was his composure and ability not to be overawed. The majority of his touches were quick handballs, but he managed to execute generally well and even had a flying shot on goal from 50m which narrowly missed.
For a debut, Jungfer was mighty impressive with 19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, two inside 50s and five tackles.
#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)
The over-age talent was willing to take the game on and seriously impressed throughout. He can make the odd mistake, but his metres gained – including a run down the middle with a couple of bounces – more than makes up for it with his determination to break the lines. He is a high-impact player in that regard and he did well off half-back and pushing through the middle throughout the four quarters.
McNeil finished 14 disposals, one mark, three inside 50s, two tackles, two clearances and two rebounds.
Brayden Calvett was the biggest standout of those not mentioned above, amassing nine inside 50s and six marks from 27 disposals, also booting a goal. O’Reilly (25 touches, seven marks, eight inside 50s and a goal), Max Litster (23 disposals, six marks and five inside 50s) and Zeke Scott (21 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal) were the others to catch the eye.
#4 Cade Kennedy
The bottom-age midfielder was a clear standout for the Bloods, and one of the four-quarter performers. He attacks the ball hard and tracks it well, always having eyes for the footy. There is not much of him, but he is always running hard and often looking to present in defensive 50 from the kick-out and then quickly give-and-go with teammates down the field. He had a memorable moment late in the third term with a huge tackle on Henry Smith to trap the bigman’s arm and win a free. He opened the fourth quarter with a good centre clearance, and whilst he did sell a teammate into trouble in the final term with an extra handball when it should have probably been a kick, Kennedy could hold his head high in that performance in what was a 90-point defeat.
Kennedy ended the game with 30 disposals, 10 marks, seven tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and four rebounds.
#49 Lachlan Squire (League)
Had a tough day at the office having to spend time on competition danger man, James Rowe early. He was good one-on-one, but Rowe was quick at ground level, and Squire was unlucky to give away a free kick close to the boundary line for keeping him in check at one stage. While Rowe certainly took the chocolates in their duel – and it was not just him – Squire showed what he is capable of doing with some lovely long kicks out of defence, and a fierce tackle on Rowe to win a free kick. His defensive pressure and strength standing up in tackles was a feature, having some time in the midfield but predominantly stationed back on the last line and having the kick-out duties.
#59 Hamish Ellem (League)
It was a tough day for the big man who continually presented for the Bloods, having more of an influence late in the game when his marks were starting to stick. He had a few chances going up for grabs in the first two quarters but could not quite bring them down, but once he gained confidence he looked good. He set up a goal to a teammate in the final term, whilst kicking a goal himself in the sixth minute after some good work inside 50. Ellem was not able to have too much time and space when in possession, which is why he ended up with a predominantly handball-focused game, but used his body well in close.
Eduard Van den berg tried hard for the Bloods’ Under 18s, amassing 31 disposals, six marks, five tackles and nine rebounds, playing in a tough position on the last line. He repelled time and time again for the Bloods, but could not have too much salvation with the relentlessness of the Eagles. Ben Burbridge (23 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles) was good, whilst Edward Faulkner (20 disposals, five marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) had a huge run-down tackle in the last term which caught the eye. Zac Venning (15 disposals, four marks and three rebounds) also tried hard, as did Kane Sherlock (18 disposals, eight rebounds and six marks).
Featured Image: Sturt’s Morgan Ferres flies for a mark | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL