THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 4, 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 and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 10.11 (71) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 10.8 (68)
By: Tom Wyman
#3 Luke Mitton
The speedy inside midfielder was among South Adelaide’s best performers as they squeezed past Central Districts at Noarlunga. With star on-baller Matthew Roberts missing the round four clash due to AFL Academy commitments, Mitton benefitted from the additional midfield minutes. Although he is on the smaller side, Mitton was strong in the coalface and applied genuine pressure around the contest, laying 10 tackles. Mitton displayed intelligence at the stoppages, winning a game-high eight clearances, including a quick snap goal following an expert piece of roving. Although his kicking was up and down, Mitton’s tackling intensity, contested ball winning and speed with ball in hand proved important. He finished with 20 disposals (14 kicks and six handballs), four marks, ten tackles, eight clearances and five inside 50s.
#8 Cooper Rogers
McLaren Vale junior, Rogers produced another consistent performance in the blue and white. Splitting his time between an inside midfield role and the forwardline, Rogers was typically prolific. A smooth mover who looks in control with ball in hand, Rogers used the ball cleanly despite pushing a couple of shots at goal across the face. He nailed a terrific goal from 40 metres out on his dominant foot in the third term to extend the Panthers’ lead. One of South Adelaide’s best ball users going inside 50, Rogers finished the game with 21 touches (11 kicks and 10 handballs), six marks and four inside 50s.
#33 Arlo Draper
With a handful of South Australia’s top junior footballers in Melbourne on AFL Academy duties, Draper gave onlookers a gentle reminder of his elite talent. Starting in the centre bounce, the Willunga product showed some excellent evasiveness in-tight, stepping his way through traffic with relative ease. Draper was clean by foot, however it was his distribution by hand which particularly stood out. Not only was he exceptionally clean, his handballs often found their intended targets in time and space and set up another Panthers’ attack. As the game wore on, Draper drifted deep forward where he simply proved too good, outmuscling his direct opponent with ease. His three goals all came via set-shots deep in attack, after taking one-on-one marks. A natural forward, Draper read the flight of the ball to perfection, then nudged his opponent under the drop zone to take the grab. Whilst Draper was clearly the best midfielder on the ground when on the ball, his one-on-one marking ability in attack is what elevated his game to the next level. The smooth-moving teenager collected 24 disposals (14 kicks and 10 handballs), four marks (two contested), three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.
Wingman Isaac Birt confirmed his reputation as one of the competition’s best pure wingmen. Typically hard-working between the arcs, Birt was clean and found plenty of the ball, concluding the game with 20 disposals (16 kicks and four handballs), eight marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The hard-working Angus Bradley was prolific, gathering 23 disposals (18 kicks and five handballs) and four marks, while Lachlan Hayes finished with 20 touches (13 kicks and seven handballs) and eleven rebounds to solidify his standing amongst the state’s best rebounding defenders.
Talented bottom-aged midfielder/forward Jaiden Magor had his moments and showed some promising glimpses, finishing with 11 disposals (eight kicks and three handballs), three marks, four tackles and three clearances. South Adelaide’s ruck duo of Heath Treloar and Will Verrall fought hard against Central Districts big-man Saxon Evans, both winning 13 disposals. Medium-forward Hugo Hoeck missed a couple of shots earlier in the game but nailed a major with the final kick of the match to secure the points for South.
#3 Isaiah Dudley
Talented pocket-rocket and Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect, Dudley produced arguably his best performance of the season to date. Dudley may be on the smaller side, but he packs a punch and hits every contest with speed and ferocity. He started in the midfield and impressed with his one-touch cleanliness at ground level, agility and fancy footwork in traffic. Able to evade would-be tacklers with his nimble side-step, Dudley was clean by hand but deadly by foot, seemingly nailing all of his targets. In a Central District side which sorely missed star on-baller Shay Linke (who earned a call-up to the Reserves), Dudley provided some important run-and-carry through the middle. But even at top speed, his kicking was exceptional, consistently lacing out his teammates. His spearing ball to find teammate Thomas Clements led directly to a Bulldogs goal late in the contest. Then moments later, Dudley gave Central Districts its first lead of the season so far, nailing a major with a booming right-foot kick on the run from just inside 50. Although the lead was short-lived, it was fitting Dudley was the man to provide the spark for the Bulldogs. Other highlights of his game included a powerful fend-off, a flashy selling of candy and several repeat run-and-carry efforts. Dudley showed some really encouraging signs to suggest he may well have a bright future at AFL level. He finished the game with 19 disposals (10 kicks and nine handballs), two marks, six tackles, three clearances and a goal.
#29 Saxon Evans
Evans was clearly the most dominant ruckman on the ground. Competing against South Adelaide’s Heath Treloar and Will Verrall, Evans started brilliantly, winning the hit-outs comfortably and, importantly, following up well at ground level. With tall forward Brodie Tuck taking control of the ruck contests in attack, Evans was able to drift a kick behind the play and take a number of intercept marks. His dominance in the contest provided the Bulldogs midfielders with first look while his strength in the air saved a number of South Adelaide forward 50 entries. Evans concluded the game with 14 disposals (seven kicks and seven handballs), five marks (two contested), three tackles, 28 hit-outs and two clearances.
Key forward Cody Gilchrist appeared to land awkwardly on his left leg early on but soldiered on seemingly unimpeded for the rest of the game. He used his height and reach to advantage and at times looked simply too tall for the South Adelaide defence. However, he would have been frustrated with a couple of missed opportunities in front of goal. He finished the game with six disposals (four kicks and two handballs), two contested marks and a goal.
Brodie Tuck provided a marking presence and looked the most threatening of the Central Districts forwards, while also providing Evans with a chop-out in the ruck. He concluded the game with 15 disposals (10 kicks and five handballs), three goals, five marks, four tackles, nine hit-outs and four inside 50s. Half-backman Ruben Carreno was his side’s most prolific ball-winner, accumulating 24 disposals (15 kicks and nine handballs), seven marks and 11 rebounds, while Austin Poulton won 22 disposals (11 kicks and 11 handballs), three clearances and five inside 50s.
WEST ADELAIDE 16.6 (102) def. NORWOOD 13.10 (88)
By: Tom Wyman
#9 Kobe Ryan
Prolific midfielder, Ryan might not have had the same impact on the contest as in the previous three rounds, however he was still West Adelaide’s most productive midfielder in their 14-point triumph. Ryan took a few minutes to get going, but worked his way into the contest well by getting busy at stoppages and running into smart positions. His kicking, usually pin-point, was slightly off at Hisense Stadium but he still hit most of his targets. The classy balanced midfielder, who is capable of winning plenty of the ball on the inside or the outside, was strong overhead and looked the Bloods’ most threatening option at stoppages and around the ball. Possessing a high work rate, he finished the game with 28 disposals (18 kicks and 10 handballs), six marks, nine tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s.
#10 Cade Kennedy
West Adelaide skipper, Kennedy led from the front on Saturday. The prolific on-baller provided a spark around the contest with his quickness and fierce attack on the ball. An early highlight came when he perfectly roved ruckman Tom Scully’s tap and booted it long, resulting in a goal for his side. Kennedy’s kicking improved as the game wore on. Although he missed a couple of targets early on, he found his touch after the main break and nailed some excellent kicks, a couple of which led directly to West Adelaide majors. An agile prospect, Kennedy concluded the game with 22 disposals (18 kicks and four handballs), six marks and six inside 50s.
#54 Harry Lemmey
The developing tall forward again showed glimpses of his exciting talent. Another West Adelaide key position player who looks just as capable at ground level as he does in the air, Lemmey provided a great target in attack. Agile with a quick turn of pace, Lemmey presented well all day on the lead. He possesses a booming right-foot kick, with a perfect example being his 55-metre bomb on the run which bounced through for a goal to restore the Bloods’ lead in the final term. One of several talented bottom-ager Bloods, Lemmey finished the game with six disposals (all kicks), four marks, three inside 50s and a goal.
West Adelaide’s ruck combination of Tom Scully and Harry Barnett worked a treat, with the duo helping their club win the hit-outs 40-10. Scully was dominant in the second term in particular, taking mark after mark and moving around the ground well. Barnett was sensational at stoppages, winning a game-high 23 hit-outs and four clearances. Both were able to impact the game up forward too, with Scully booting two and Barnett contributing a third-quarter major.
Blonde-haired backman Charlie Pridham was terrific for the home side, providing plenty of meaningful drive from defence. Crucially, Pridham stood up in the final term when the Bloods were under siege, remaining calm and composed with ball in-hand to finish with 20 disposals (19 kicks and one handball), four tackles and eight rebounds.
Luke Young once again worked well in attack with the aforementioned Lemmey, taking a couple of nice grabs and booting two goals from his 12 disposals. Speedster Hugh Desira (10 disposals and four inside 50s) and Riverland midfielder Dylan White (18 disposals, five marks and five clearances) played their roles well, with the latter nailing his sides first goal of the match after the Redlegs compiled four unanswered.
Powerfully-built bottom-ager Tyson Coe fought hard through the midfield and up forward but struggled to find the ball in time and space. He still finished with 11 disposals and a goal but wasn’t able to have his usual impact on the contest. Opportunist forward Mitch Hahn finished with four goals and Jesse Thackeray collected 16 disposals (13 kicks and three handballs), six marks and six inside 50s.
#6 Corey Jones-Bobridge
Powerful midfielder/forward, Jones-Bobridge was a standout performer for Norwood. A high x-factor type of player, Jones-Bobridge started the contest in the centre bounce, where he was clearly the Redlegs’ number one on-baller. His ability to win the contested ball was a big reason behind his side’s fast start. He pushed forward and slotted his first goal after a shrewd piece of roving, then nailed his second 10 minutes later from close range. Jones-Bobridge’s third major came from a 40-metre set-shot and his fourth from a little closer to goal. Although he proved sharp in front of goal, his ball use in general play was inconsistent, misplacing a couple of kicks and missing with some sharp handballs. However, Jones-Bobridge showed plenty of power and a handy ability up forward in spite of his side going down on the scoreboard. He finished with 25 disposals (16 kicks and nine handballs), six marks, eight clearances, five inside 50s and four goals.
#9 Alastair Lord
Lord was undoubtedly one of Norwood’s best players, despite the loss. From the get-go, the half-backman provided real drive from the backline by looking to take the game on wherever possible. His eye-catching dash through the middle of Hisense Stadium was well complimented by his neat skills, which often hit their target but lacked some penetration at times. Lord’s willingness to get and go and take the game on at will was vital for the Redlegs. On countless occasions he received the ball at centre half-back and took several bounces as he ran through the middle of the ground before looking for a target inside 50. A member of the SANFL State Academy program, Lord finished the contest with 18 disposals (14 kicks and four handballs), six marks, four tackles and six inside 50s.
#25 Matthew Dnistriansky
Prolific medium-sized defender Dnistriansky held his own throughout the contest down back. Charged with the kick-in duties, Dnistriansky was typically measured and accurate by foot, rarely wasting a possession. Although he never tried to bite off more than he could chew, Dnistriansky’s impressive skillset ensured he hit a number of long range targets by foot. He finished the game with 20 disposals (16 kicks and four handballs), five marks and five rebounds.
Connor Kent (21 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s) and Will Charlton (20 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s) produced strong showings for the ‘Legs. Tall forward Damon Pitt bagged two goals from his 12 disposals and Charles Kemp applied plenty of pressure through the midfield, laying eight tackles to go with his 13 touches and a goal.
NORTH ADELAIDE 5.8 (38) def. by WWT EAGLES 18.13 (121)
By: Tom Cheesman
#12 Hugh Jackson
Midfielder Jackson was easily North Adelaide’s best performer on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval. He gathered a massive 37 possessions to go with six marks, three clearances, two tackles, three rebound 50s and two inside 50s. Jackson provided an option for teammates coming out of defence and earned many uncontested possessions because of his enormous work rate. He facilitated numerous switches of play using his left foot kick, his strongest attribute. You would be hard-pressed to find a more consistent kick at Under 18 level than Jackson in 2021, as he keeps his kicks flat and seems to always find his target with ease. His kicking masterclass was highlighted by a spearing pass inside 50 to Kelsey Rypstra in the opening term that led to a goal. Jackson was not afraid to use his right foot on occasion as well. His teammates tried to get the ball in his hands at any opportunity because of his skillset, but they almost tried too hard and sometimes passed it to Jackson when he was under pressure or out of position. His toughness and class was further demonstrated early in the third when he picked up the ball, burst through two defenders and delivered a clever handball while being tackled over the top to Isaac Keeler, who kicked the first goal of the term. Jackson is a member of the SA Under 18 Talent Hub and will aspire to earn State selection at the Under 19 National Championships in September and October.
Harvey Harrison (31 disposals, eight marks, six clearances) and Zyton Santillo (31 disposals, seven tackles) found plenty of the ball in defeat, while Shaun Bennier (14 disposals, five marks, five rebound 50s) took some impressive intercept marks in defence.
#8 Brock Thomson
Thomson was impressive for the Eagles in defence. He was clean with ball in hand, read the play well and used his pace to create some exciting ball movement for the Eagles coming out of the defensive half. Thomson always kicked to his teammates advantage and never wasted a possession whether exiting the defensive 50 or going inside 50, and this was highlighted by a long kick in down the corridor that led to an end-to-end goal for his side. His willingness to follow up his possessions and get handball receives was fantastic, and his defensive work in defence was solid too. He finished with 34 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, seven rebound 50s and two inside 50s.
#15 Adam D’Aloia
D’Aloia, a bottom-ager, was the best player afield on Saturday. Rotating between midfield and forward, he had 33 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s, four rebound 50s, four tackles and three marks in an outstanding all-round performance. His positioning and body-work in the midfield was exceptional, he attacked the ball with ferocity and never took a backwards step. He used quick hands well under pressure, and his ability to stay standing and keep his arms up while being tackled is impressive. D’Aloia showed early in the contest that he never gives up on a possession as, after he missed a target with a kick into the corridor, he followed it up and laid an aggressive tackle on North’s Thomas Cusack to earn a free kick for holding the ball. This also showed D’Aloia’s desperation and willingness to rectify a mistake that he made, all for the benefit of the team. Other highlights were a brilliant chase-down tackle on North’s Lewis Saint in the second term, and his hands while being tackled in the second term to set up Jordan Lukac for a goal. D’Aloia could be a star of the future.
#16 Will Pearce
Pearce was the Eagles’ most productive forward in this contest. He applied relentless pressure, led well up the ground, used the ball well and hit the scoreboard with four goals. He continually got to ideal positions for a small forward, including many clean crumbs front and centre of the marking contests. Pearce took a strong contested mark in the second quarter that was arguably the mark of the day, and he had the composure to go back and kick truly from the set shot after the half time siren. His aggression at the contest helped inspire his teammates, as he was willing to put his body on the line for the betterment of the team on many occasions.
#17 Lukas Cooke
Cooke was the most imposing key forward on the ground. He pushed up the field to provide a target and get involved whenever necessary, and he mostly brought the ball to ground for the smaller players to run onto. A highlight was a strong contested mark he took at half-forward in the second term, and he quickly gave the handball to a teammate to allow the ball to get inside 50 before the Roosters got more numbers back. Cooke attacked the ball hard, used the ball well by hand and took multiple intercept marks from kick ins. Three of Cooke’s four majors came in the last quarter, and if not for a bizarre miss from a set shot, he would have had five. He finished with 20 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s to go with his four goals.
Jordan Lukac was imposing up forward with three goals, but he could have easily had five or six if he converted his chances. Mattaes Phillipou was a consistent contributor in the midfield with 36 disposals.
GLENELG 15.17 (107) def. STURT 5.7 (37)
By: Tom Cheesman
#1 Kane Viska
Viska was an important contributor for the Tigers in their 70-point victory over Sturt at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday. He collected 16 disposals, kicked four majors and had multiple other score involvements throughout the contest. He has quite a reliable set shot (despite one miss in the final term), was agile on the lead and took two strong contested marks. Remarkably, all four of his goals came in the third term, and this enabled Glenelg to run away to a healthy lead at the final break before putting the result beyond doubt.
#5 Hugh Stagg
Stagg was Glenelg’s best in their comfortable victory. His statline of 28 disposals (19 kicks), 13 inside 50s, four marks, three clearances and three goals is impressive, but even that does not tell the full story of his dominance. Stagg has the size and explosiveness that AFL recruiters love, and an electrifying run down the wing in the second term showed that he is not afraid to use these traits. He proved incredibly difficult for opposition players to tackle in this match, as shrugged Sturt players off with ease before making good decisions by hand and linking-up with teammates to move the ball forward. Stagg always followed up his possessions and worked hard to get to the next contest, whether playing as a midfielder or a forward. He attacked the ball with ferocity and showed composure once he got it, as demonstrated in the first term when he collected a beautiful half-volley and hit up a fat side lead to create his side’s third major of the day. His clearance work was solid, and he showed glimpses of his potential as a full-time midfielder when he exploded from the contest to initiate forward thrusts for his side. One example was when he and William Watts combined to run the ball out of Sturt’s forward 50 in the third term. All three of his goals came in the final term when Glenelg had the match won, but each of them were kicked under pressure from long distances on the run. His second was the most impressive, as he used his power and strength to rip the ball out of his opponent’s hands and kicked truly from 35 metres off two steps. Stagg is an exciting prospect to watch in 2021.
#21 Cooper Beecken
Beecken was outstanding for Glenelg in defence with 16 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four rebound 50s. He run and link-up was exciting, but it was his composure that had the greatest effect in this match. While other players for both sides were rushing their disposals in defence and turning the ball over, Beecken was the opposite. He never panicked when he got the ball, collected it cleanly and made great decisions coming out of the defensive half. He used his reliable left-food kicking to great effect, going short on the 45 to find teammates and control the game. He always keeps his kicks flat, thus not giving opposition players the opportunity to intercept it or force a turnover. As mentioned, Beecken also followed up his work with second, third and fourth efforts to link up with teammates and run the ball out of defence. His defensive work throughout the contest was almost faultless, highlighted by an intercept mark in front of Sturt’s Felix Packer in the third term and a smother early in the final quarter.
#23 William Wiseman
Wiseman provided a strong marking target for the Tigers up forward. He is a good size and has a strong presence about him, so he is an important part of Glenelg’s spine. He kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap, and he demonstrated that he has reasonable agility when laying an excellent tackle on Sturt’s Jake Aish to win a holding the ball decision. Wiseman provided a strong target down the wings and applied some important defensive pressure throughout the match. He showed potential when he went into the ruck, as he won many hitouts and followed up his work at the stoppages. He finished with 14 disposals, ten hitouts, six tackles, four inside 50s, two marks and a goal.
William Watts (23 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, five clearances) was fantastic for the Tigers, and Jakob Ryan (21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, one goal) showed athleticism up forward. Harry Tunkin (18 disposals, five clearances, two goals) and Hunter Window (19 disposals, eight inside 50s, six marks) were also consistent contributors.
#13 Brad Jefferies
Jefferies was Sturt’s best performer on Saturday. He rotated between midfield and forward, using his size and power to win contested possessions and apply pressure on the opposition. A brilliant kick that hit up Packer on the lead in the first term showed his classy his ball use can be when he gets time and space to compose himself. He is the ideal size to be a hybrid athletic forward, but he did not get to show many of his skills in this position on Saturday. Jefferies has great game awareness, as demonstrated when Durant attempted to take the advantage but Jefferies noticed and allowed him to make a move before catching him holding the ball. This made it clear that Glenelg had taken the advantage before Jefferies pounced to stop them in their tracks. He finished the match with 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s.
#40 Hugo Kittel
Kittel, a member of the South Australian State Talent Hub, impressed for the Double Blues in their defeat. The ruckman was dominant in the hitouts (24 for the match) and followed up his ruck contests to lay tackles and give blocks to create space for his teammates at stoppages. He also provided a key target coming out of defence, as teammates continued to look for him whenever they had to go long. Kittel is tough to spoil because he takes the front spot and uses his body well. One area he needs to improve is his kicking, as he made a couple of costly clangers in the middle of the ground. At the same time, Sturt players should be running past to get the handball off their big ruckman. He went forward for rests when Declan Hortle went into the ruck, but the delivery going inside 50 to him was subpar. Kittel finished with 10 disposals, two marks, 24 hitouts and one clearance.
Jamie Taylor (20 disposals, six clearances, four marks) worked hard once again for the visitors, while Felix Packer was Sturt’s sole shining light up forward with four majors. Zac Becker (15 rebound 50s) and Will Torode (eight disposals) were solid in defence.
Image Credit: Mel Faull/Get Snapt