THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s has continued into Round 3, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
By: Liam Badkin
#25 Matt Dnistriansky
It was another great performance from the Norwood defender in the win. His work deep in the backline was crucial in thwarting countless Rooster attacks. He got many of his disposals deep in defence and was constantly composed and his decision making was key. Often playing off his opponent to attack, the athletic defender took 12 marks, with quite a few intercepts.
Once again tasked with frequently taking kick ins, he seemed not to miss a target as he calmly found teammates when he was under pressure. His form has continued to grow as he has worked his way into the season with each game. Ending the game with 29 disposals (22 kicks and seven handballs) and five rebound 50’s, he was crucially important in his team’s 11-point win.
Ruckman Damon Pitt played his best game of the season, displaying his ability to essentially act as an extra midfielder. He proved more than capable of winning his own hitouts, finishing with a season high 18, but it was his follow up work that caught the eye. He ended the game with 22 disposals and a game high 10 clearances, often outplaying both on ball brigades. Jack Ianniello excited forward of centre as he kicked 2.2 from 21 disposals. Had he converted the two missed shots, it would’ve capped off an excellent day.
#12 Hugh Jackson
Continued his fine start to the year, popping up everywhere to find the ball all over the ground. As a midfielder, Jackson basically did it all. He found tough possessions on the deck, maintained his composure to hit targets by foot and was a clear standout on his team. While he may have amassed more disposals in the first two rounds (37 and 33 respectively), in a game where their midfield was often beaten, he can more than hold his head high.
Moving across the ground smoothly, he was a crucial cog in strong play. Finishing with an impressive seven rebound 50’s, his work in the defensive half caught the eye as he worked tirelessly to remove the ball from the backline. His skills on both feet also resulted in four inside 50’s as he connected with leading forwards. His kicks drew his teammates into space as he picked holes in the well organised defence.
The teenager from Crystal Brooke has had a blistering start to the year and this match was no exception. Arguably his side’s best for the day, Jackson finished with 31 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and three clearances.
Blayne O’Loughlin topped the disposal list for the second game in a row, backing up his 44 touch effort with 32 this week. He also added seven rebound 50’s and was the catalyst for plenty of excellent ball movement forward from the backline.
Tough midfielder Zyton Santillo ended the match with 26 disposals, nine tackles and nine marks in a typically strong performance as he stuffed the stat sheet. Fellow midfielder Harvey Harrison also impressed with 27 disposals and seven clearances. He also missed two shots on goal (one in the second quarter and one in the third quarter) that would’ve added to his day.
GLENELG vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
By: Liam Badkin
#32 Oscar Adams
The team win had plenty of contributors, but none were as influential as the big ruckman. His hit out work is something to be admired as he continuously gave his midfielders first use, allowing them to win the clearances 38-28. Even more impressive was his ball after the ruck contest, finding the ball 24 times.
He bounced back from each contest to either lay a tackle or find the ball himself. His combination with his on ballers was a joy to watch as he stamped his influence on the game with his dominant play. A missed shot on goal in the third quarter would have disappointed, but essentially did everything else to get his team rolling out of the middle.
The ruckman role has developed past just hit-outs, now expected to find their own footy around the ground. Adams fits this bill perfectly, and can also shift to defence, a role he filled in his U16 Glenelg side.
Dashing defender Lewis Rayson continued his consistent start to the season, finishing with 24 disposals and five tackles. Once again creative with the ball, Rayson’s skills by foot hurt the opposition as he picked holes through defenders with his bullet-like passes.
Ball-winner Harry Tunkin led his team in disposals with 27 for the day. Spending time in the midfield and up forward, his inside work saw him end with a handball happy game, setting up teammates on the outside. Kicked a nice goal late in the second quarter to add to an already impressive game.
Hugh Stagg led the side in clearances finishing with eight to go with 19 disposals and a goal. The big bodied midfielder has plenty of upside and this game should give him confidence going forward.
#16 Shay Linke
In a disappointing day for his side, the midfielder never stopped trying, working tirelessly around the ball. The SANFL Academy player has been a standout in his side’s underwhelming start to the year and yesterday continued this trend. In a day where his team was convincingly beaten, Linke fought in the midfield to try and keep his side in the game, finishing with 26 disposals. His ability to find space around the field was great, as his hard running saw him end with eight marks.
Linke also did the defensive work, laying seven solid tackles around stoppages. He was certainly a standout in a side with very little positives for the day.
Darcy Mcdonald had 14 touches and nine tackles as the Central midfield fought to slow down a dominant midfield performance from the Tigers. Key forward Cody Gilchrist‘s wayward kicking prevented him from a big haul, kicking 1.3 for the day. His marking still impressed, pulling down three contested marks for the day. Had he converted his shots on goal, it may have been a different story for Central.
SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
By: Tom Wyman
#21 Matthew Roberts
Roberts has already proven to be a step above the SANFL Under-18 competition, and he was at it again at Noarlunga Oval in Round 3. Despite the Eagles coming away with a 16-point win following a dominant second-half, Roberts was clearly the most dominant midfielder on the park. Starting at the opening centre bounce and alternating up forward with fellow draft hopeful Arlo Draper, Roberts had the ball on a string. Roberts’ work rate from start to finish enabled him to dictate terms for large portions of the contest. He was strong in the coal-face but his running patterns ensured he also won plenty of uncontested possessions. Roberts used the ball neatly with his clean left foot and was also effective with his hands in-tight. His team-lifting goal in the third term was clearly the highlight of the match. Positioned in the forward pocket, he gathered the loose ball, turned sharply onto his trusty left foot, sized up the target and snapped a sensational goal. The classy goal and consistent run and carry efforts were memorable, but Roberts also made an impact defensively, laying eight tackles and dropping back to take a couple of intercept marks. He finished with 37 touches, nine marks, five clearances, eight inside-50s and six rebounds.
#33 Arlo Draper
Although Draper did not find as much of the ball as teammate Roberts, the tall midfielder/forward made a genuine impact whenever he was near it. The Panthers deployed him as the deepest forward at times and he looked threatening when the ball was kicked in his direction. He used his strength and football smarts well one-on-one, nudging his opponent under the ball and taking an uncontested mark to boot South’s first goal of the contest. His clearance-work and ability to read the taps was terrific when moved onto the ball, and his cleanness and sharpness at ground level instigated a number of positive plays for the home side. A clear example of his distribution by hand came when he fired off a quick handball to set-up a Hugo Hoeck goal. Draper collected 22 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four clearances and five inside-50s.
#39 Will Verrall
Bottom-aged ruckman Verrall went head-to-head with Woodville-West Torrens ruckman Zac Phillips in a hard-fought battle between two of the most talented big-men in the competition. Verrall won the first hit-out of the match, tapping it straight to star on-baller Roberts who won the clearance. He was heavily involved around the ground early on and it was encouraging to see him continue to back himself to spot up teammates with precise inside-50 kicks. Verrall’s contested marking was also a real feature of his game. Although Phillips gained the upper hand in-terms of pure hit-out numbers (winning 27 to Verrall’s eight), the Panther tall showed some very promising signs, both in the ruck contest and around the ground. He finished with 12 disposals, four marks, three clearances and a goal.
Others: Consistent wingman Isaac Birt was once again among his sides best performers, running hard up and down the ground to provide an outlet option. He used the ball well and was an important connector between defence and attack, finishing with 19 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and three rebounds. Midfielder Cooper Rogers also found plenty of the ball, complementing the likes of Draper and Roberts in the engine room. He gathered 23 disposals, a game-high 12 marks and nine inside-50s in another impressive display.
#17 Lukas Cooke
Cooke dominated proceedings in attack, proving far too good for the Panthers defenders. It was just one of those days for Cooke, who marked everything within his reach. And on the rare occasion in which he didn’t clunk the mark, he brought the ball to ground for the Eagles crumbers to pounce upon. What made Cooke’s performance so good was his ability to convert, oftentimes from long range. His set-shot routine is smooth and it proved ultra effective as he nailed five first half goals. His snap on goal in the dying moments of the first half further demonstrated his exciting mobility and athletic prowess. Cooke handled the ruck duties when the ball was in the Eagles forward 50 and more than held his own against some of the Panthers more physically developed juniors, winning five hit-outs, including a couple directly to advantage. After booting two goals in the opening round and one goal last weekend in the loss to Glenelg, Cooke finished the day down south with seven goals to his name, along with 19 disposals and seven marks (including five contested) in a dominant display which will surely have caught the attention of AFL recruiters.
#24 Zac Phillips
Ruckman Phillips could consider himself a touch unlucky to miss out on being drafted in his first year of eligibility in 2020. However, having re-joined the Eagles under-18 set-up as an over-ager, the towering Yorke Peninsula teenager did his draft chances no harm with a terrific display at Noarlunga. Competing against the Panthers duel-rucks Will Verrall and Heath Treloar, Phillips was influential around the ground, with his hit-out ascendancy, cleanliness below his knees, efficient handball skills and neat kicking the standout features of his game. He moved well around the ground and finished the game with 13 disposals, 27 hit-outs, four marks, three tackles and five inside-50s.
Others: Mattaes Phillipou was everywhere for the Eagles. Although he was slightly inconsistent with his ball use, Phillipou’s stoppage nous and ability to accumulate the ball at-will went a long way towards the Eagles picking up their first win of the season. He finished with a team-high 34 disposals, three marks, three tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s. Dustin Launer was another Eagle who stood up and performed well against a South Adelaide side with a handful of exciting talents. He gathered 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, seven clearances and four rebounds in a well-rounded performance. SANFL State Talent Hub member Jay Watson gathered 16 disposals, seven marks, six inside-50s and a goal, with bottom-ager Adam D’Aloia (22 disposals and a goal) also winning his fair share of the ball through the midfield and in attack.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. STURT
By: Tom Wyman
#9 Kobe Ryan
Ryan was the clear best-on-ground for West Adelaide as they took control of their clash with Sturt. Despite being a year younger and considerably slimmer than many of his opponents, Ryan’s natural ball-winning abilities, poise with ball in-hand and smart running patterns ensured he found the ball with the ease of a seasoned veteran. Effortlessly classy in his movement and typically clean at ground level, Ryan used the ball to excellent effect for the most part, making smart decisions and then executing well by hand and foot. Although a number of his possessions were uncontested touches with limited pressure, the Bloods clearly have confidence in Ryan’s skillset and decision making capabilities – and for good reason. Deceptively strong above his shoulders, Ryan showed why he is considered among the most talented junior footballers in South Australia with an impressive showing, featuring 31 disposals, four marks, four tackles and seven clearances.
#10 Cade Kennedy
The skipper lead from the front for West Adelaide, setting the tone with his aggressive attack on the ball and line-breaking speed proving too difficult to handle for the Sturt midfielders. Although his ball use was questionable at-times, with a couple of his kicks falling short of their intended targets, Kennedy’s production, constant pressure and zip around the ball provided an important point-of-difference and complemented his fellow on-ballers. The sole top-aged West Adelaide player in the SANFL State Talent Hub, Kennedy concluded the match with 27 disposals, five marks, eight tackles and six inside-50s.
#16 Dylan White
Dylan White was another of the Bloods midfield brigade to run riot at Hisense Stadium. A Renmark product from within the West Adelaide country zone, White had a big impact on the contest in the coal-face, winning his fair share of contested ball but, importantly, spread hard and pushed forward to hit the scoreboard. His long range goal at the five minute mark of the second term extended his sides lead and evidently provided a real moral boost. White accumulated 31 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four clearances and two goals in what was his best game of the season to-date.
#36 Tyson Coe
Powerful bottom-ager Coe played an instrumental role in the Bloods triumph. Regarded for his contested ball winning and tough in-and-under style, it was Coe’s penetrating foot skills which stood out against the Double Blues. Despite boasting an unconventional kicking action, his left foot found plenty of targets on Saturday afternoon, over both long and shorter distances. Skipper of the Bloods Under-16s side last season and current member of the Under-18 leadership group, Coe booted two first half goals, including a long range attempt from near the 50m line and a set-shot from similar range. Coe seemed to be involved in every scoring play for West Adelaide and has made the step-up to under-18s level with ease over the first few weeks. The damaging midfielder/forward finished the game with 22 disposals, five marks and five inside-50s.
#40 Luke Young
Often the focal point in attack for West Adelaide, key forward Luke Young again played an important role in his sides win. Working well in-tandem with fellow tall Harry Lemmey, Young pushed up the ground as he usually does, allowing Lemmey to play as the deepest forward. Young was typically good in the air, taking a couple of nice grabs but importantly bringing the ball to ground too. The Plympton junior’s field kicking was clean and his goal came via a regulation set-shot in the first term, however Young will have no-doubt liked to have added a couple more majors. Nevertheless, he concluded another solid outing with 18 disposals, six marks and four inside-50s.
Others: Bottom-aged key forward Harry Lemmey showed some glimpses of genuine excitement in attack. A highly athletic prospect with excellent mobility and cleanliness for a big man, Lemmey has a smooth set-shot routine and is a capable overhead mark. However he also showed off his natural talent by booting a fantastic running goal on the stroke of half-time. He finished with nine touches and three goals for the match. Dylan McCormick was effective on the wing and through the midfield, particularly in the games early stages. A neat user of the footy, McCormick finished with 18 disposals, six marks and six inside-50s. Patrick Singleton was another ‘Westies’ junior who found an abundance of the ball, accumulating 28 touches and six marks. His repeat-efforts at ground level to stop a regulation Sturt goal in the second term would have thoroughly impressed the Bloods coaching staff. Jed Obst (21 disposals and ten marks), Charlie Pridham (21 disposals, five tackles and six rebounds) and Jesse Thackeray (21 disposals and nine clearances) were also among the Bloods top performers.
#7 Nick Sadler
The bottom-aged utility was used up forward and in attack and had some nice moments which suggests he could be one to watch over the next couple of seasons. His penetrating foot skills stood out again today, hitting most of his targets by foot and also using the ball well by hand. He is a strong tackler and appears to have a few handy attributes. Sadler finished with 15 disposals, three marks and four clearances.
#13 Brad Jefferies
Strongly-built midfielder Brad Jefferies was industrious in his return to under-18s level. Jefferies possesses a booming long kick and used the ball effectively by foot for the most part, working against a talented West Adelaide engine room. Jefferies worked hard for the entirety of the match and, in the absence of regular on-baller Will Spain who gained a call-up to reserves level, was Sturt’s go-to man at stoppages. The Double Blues relied heavily upon his combative style in the coal face and will be relived to have the Onkaparinga product back in the under-18 set-up. He finished the game with a team-high 27 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s.
#37 Zac Becker
Stationed deep in defence, Zac Becker was arguably Sturt’s best performer. Forced to weather a storm of West Adelaide inside-50s at-times, Becker stood up well under the pressure. He spent some time opposed to West Adelaide centre-half-forward Luke Young in what proved to be an enticing battle between two of the premier key position players in the SANFL under-18 competition. As has been the case all season, Becker was trusted with the kick-in duties – a testament to his excellent foot skills. He often cleared the defensive-50 from a kick-in, using his long and accurate leg. Importantly, Becker made good decisions and was also competitive in the air. Clearly the league’s most prolific rebounder after three rounds of action (averaging over 11 rebounds per game), the SANFL Talent Hub member finished with 20 disposals (all of which were kicks), four marks and 14 rebounds.
Others: With Morgan Ferres lining up in the reserves for the second-straight week, it was up to key forward Felix Packer to fill the void. And he did just that, booting four goals from ten disposals and five marks. An accurate set-shot for goal, Packer’s presence in the air was important for a Double Blues side which managed just 37 inside-50s for the match. Although he didn’t hit the scoreboard, medium forward Jacob Lochowiak played with aggression and intent, collecting 18 disposals, three marks, five tackles and seven inside-50s. On-ballers Jamie Taylor (16 disposals, one goal, four tackles and four clearances) and Jake Aish (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s) again fought hard for the visitors.
Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography