THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s returned and rolled on into Round 8, with the latest weekend of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding 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.
GLENELG 8.10 (58) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 9.8 (62)
By: Tom Wyman
#5 Hugh Stagg
Hugh Stagg once-again appeared a class above the rest at ACH Group Stadium. The bull-like utility went head-to-head with fellow ball-magnet Cade Kennedy at various stages when deployed through the middle. However it was his work in attack which almost won the game for the previously undefeated Bays. He opened the scoring for the home side by caressing through a stab kick on the run from a tricky angle. His third-term set-shot cut the margin to two points, before he added a third major late in the frame to extend Glenelg’s lead. He could’ve added a couple more goals too, finishing with three behinds. Stagg’s ability to burst through would-be tacklers with speed, strength and bustle set his game apart. Also showcasing his overhead marking strength, Stagg concluded the match with 30 disposals, five marks (two contested), four tackles, seven clearances and eight inside-50s in another sensational performance from the teenager.
#6 Darcy Gluyas
With teammate and potential first-round draftee Lewis Rayson missing from the side, Gluyas spent some extra minutes on the ball, while still impacting the game when moved to the forward flank. One of several Tigers boasting the versatility to fill a role almost anywhere on the ground, Gluyas was heavily involved early, showcasing plenty of composure and an effective side-step. Although he dropped a couple of marks he would’ve normally taken, Gluyas slotted an important goal from a 45-metre set shot in the second term. Overall, the consistent Gluyas made another solid contribution for Glenelg, accumulating 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three clearances.
#12 Brodie Edwards
Brodie Edwards started in the centre-bounce and spent much of the day rotating through the midfield for the Tigers. Edwards was typically workmanlike throughout the game, working hard to apply plenty of pressure around the contest. He was, however, caught out for a lack of pace in the defensive half when he was mowed down from behind. It was a quieter day for Edwards, who finished with 14 disposals, however he still was able to demonstrate level-headedness with ball in hand and a willingness to apply plenty of pressure, laying seven tackles.
Others: Full-back Dayne McGary was strong in the defensive half for the yellow and black. His strength overhead was a real feature of the game, and so too was his ability to read the play and peel off his direct opponent to impact the contest. He was also careful and assured by foot and provided some serviceable rebound. He gathered 22 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds.
Playing his third game of the season, Benjamin Ridgway collected 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and a goal for the Tigers, with Darcy Porter and Bailey Durant also among the home side’s best performers.
#3 Charlie Pridham
The ever-reliable Charlie Pridham produced another clean and composed performance in his customary role as the kicker across half-back. Pridham backed his skillset in even when under pressure and displayed good vision to spot up several difficult targets throughout the morning. The blonde-haired ball magnet, who is averaging 26.9 disposals per game in 2021, was largely clean by foot when kicking in from defence and finished the game with 25 disposals, three marks, four tackles and seven rebound-50s.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Following a 49-disposal effort last weekend, West Adelaide captain Cade Kennedy once again led from the front in the middle. Kennedy threw himself at the contest, winning plenty of contested ball and displaying some excellent stoppage nous. When the Tigers won the ball in the coalface, Kennedy ran hard defensively and looked to pressure the ball carrier, as evidenced by his equal team-high ten tackles. He was also effective in general play, working into helpful spaces and often stationing himself in the centre square as an in-board option. Although he wasn’t always effective by foot, Kennedy finished with 23 disposals, four marks, five clearances and five inside-50s.
#13 Hugh Desira
Wingman Hugh Desira played an important role in West Adelaide’s upset win. The hard-working midfielder used the ball well on the outside but also proved more than capable when moved into an inside role, winning a team-high six clearances. His quick snap goal five minutes into the second term helped continue West’s early dominance. In arguably his best game of the season to-date, Desira gathered 19 disposals, two marks, six clearances and four inside-50s.
Others: Midfielder/forward Jesse Thackeray finished the game as the leading ball-winner on the ground, gathering 31 disposals to go with seven marks (three contested), three clearances, six inside-50s, four rebounds and a goal. Opportunist forward Saleh Baltagie booted the first goal of the game from a free kick then capitalised on the loose ball twice to finish the game with three majors. His pressure in the forward half was excellent and his goals were reward for effort.
West’s dual-ruck set-up of Tom Scully and Oscar Steene overwhelmed the undersized Tigers big-men. They finished with 24 and 27 hit-outs respectively and, importantly, worked well around the ground, remaining clean below their knees and effective in general-play.
STURT 5.4 (34) def. by NORTH ADELAIDE 20.16 (136)
By: Tom Wyman
#12 Jamie Taylor
Prolific midfielder Jamie Taylor was clearly Sturt’s best player despite the 102-point smashing. He started at the centre-bounce and showed a couple of positive glimpses, including a damaging fend-off, effective side-step and good penetration by foot, in what was an overwise dour day for the Double Blues. One of very few Sturt players who looked capable of matching the Roosters star-studded midfield, Taylor worked hard around the ground and finished the game with ten marks. He also managed 30 disposals, six clearances and a couple of inside-50s.
Others: The Sturt backline was peppered from start to finish, which placed defenders Mitch Felton and Kade Harvey under the pump. Given the ball breached Sturt’s defensive 50 on no less than 67 occasions for the game, the duo did just about all they could. In charge of the kick-ins, Felton provided some important rebound from defence, concluding the game with 24 disposals, three marks, four tackles and 13 rebounds. His racking foot skills were a standout. Meanwhile, Harvey gathered 21 disposals, eight marks and five rebound-50s.
Blake Fidge booted the clubs only two goals of the second-half, while George Pope (23 disposals, eight clearances and five inside-50s) and Patrick Tidemann (22 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and five rebounds) were others who could hold their heads up high.
#3 Adam Heath
North Adelaide’s second term acceleration was largely thanks to a four goal quarter from key forward Adam Heath. Heath benefitted greatly from some excellent inside-50 foot skills from the talented Roosters midfield brigade, always playing in-front, timing his leads well and marking relatively unobstructed. His set-shot goal kicking was solid, albeit for a couple of misses. He will rue hitting the post from point-blank range early in the second, however his four-goal heroics more than made up for the blemish. Heath finished the game with 20 disposals, five goals, 12 marks and three inside-50s.
#4 Isaac Keeler
The athletic key forward again proved far too good for the Sturt backline as the Roosters pilled on goal after goal. He wasted little time getting into the contest, having a set-shot sighter early in the first term. He booted his first goal by intelligently staying down when others flew and slotting the regulation goal after the ball fell into his hands. Keeler nailed his second from just inside the 50-metre arc on the tightest of angles, and added a third from a set-shot after simply outreaching the Sturt defender. Possessing natural forward instincts, Keeler often read the play a fraction earlier than everyone else, and these football smarts, combined with his explosive acceleration on the lead, saw him have several shots on goal. Keeler also had an impact when he worked his way up the ground, with his leap allowing him to get on top of the Sturt ruck department. The bottom ager’s speed and mobility allowed him to have a genuine impact at ground level too. Keeler finished the game with 19 disposals, ten marks (two contested), three tackles, ten hit-outs and three majors.
#12 Hugh Jackson
It was another strong showing for Hugh Jackson, who has proven himself to be one of the best ball users in the nation so far this season. Even though the Sturt midfielders were clearly well aware of his damaging left foot and ability to accumulate the ball at will, they were unable to get near the Roosters number twelve. He worked tirelessly throughout the game, moving well in traffic and swinging onto his left-foot whenever possible. North Adelaide were always going to be hard to stop when Jackson and O’Loughlin were afforded time to deliver it inside 50 to damaging effect. Jackson, who leads the competition for disposals by no-less than 48 to West’s Cade Kennedy, added another 37 to his mounting tally, while also managing 12 marks, six clearances, 11 inside-50s and four rebounds in another wonderful performance.
#15 Harvey Harrison
Prolific onballer Harvey Harrison took a little while to get going, but when he did, his speed and run and carry through the middle of Unley Oval was great to watch. His kicking was inconsistent but his stoppage work was excellent, scrapping around at ground level and feeding it out to the plethora of Roosters waiting to receive. He calmly curled home a major on his left-foot to inflict more pain upon the opposition in the dying minutes of the third term. One of the competition’s best performers over the opening two months of under-18 action, Harrison finished the game with 31 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances and three inside-50s.
#22 Blayne O’Loughlin
Those who have had the pleasure of watching Crows Next Generation Academy member Blayne O’Loughlin go about his business this season will hardly be surprised to see him notch up another 42 disposals in the Roosters 102-point win. Blayne started down back but wasn’t afraid to leave his man and push up around the ball to impact at the stoppages. O’Loughlin’s ball-use got better as the game wore on, with many of his earlier touches being relatively simply short passes. His run and carry through the middle of the ground was important, as was his crafty disposal and calmness under duress down back. O’Loughlin was effective between the arcs, accumulating seven inside-50s, seven rebounds and ten marks to go with his 31 kicks and 11 handballs.
#26 Kelsey Rypstra
The diminutive Rypstra has been one of North Adelaide’s most underrated performers so far in 2021, and his performance against the Double Blues was excellent. He snapped the first goal of the game for the red and whites then, in the final term, added a second on the run after getting on the end of a fast break from the centre bounce. Rypstra’s ball-use, like so many of his teammates, was clean and often damaging. His kicking, particularly going forward, made the job of the Roosters forwards much easier. In addition to his two majors, the half-forward/midfielder finished the game with 24 touches, six marks and seven inside-50s.
Others: Speedster Zyton Santillo played an important role for the Roosters through the midfield. Although he may be small in stature, Santillo broke tackle after tackle and won his fair share of contested ball at the coalface but, importantly, delivered the ball well by foot. He applied plenty of pressure, finishing with seven tackles to go with 23 disposals, six marks, three clearances and three inside-50s.
James White and James Willis both found plenty of the ball for the Roosters. White was clean throughout the contest, gathering 26 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four inside-50s. Willis managed 23 touches, four marks, four tackles, six inside-50s and a goal and showed some draftable qualities, including a quick turn of pace, run and carry and a booming long kick. He was unlucky to have a long-range effort on goal touched on the line.
CENTRAL DISTRICTS 7.5 (47) def. by SOUTH ADELAIDE 14.10 (94)
By: Liam Badkin
#3 Isaiah Dudley
Displayed his classy playmaking ability again through the midfield, finding the ball 17 times in another impressive outing for his club. His ability to find the ball on the run was on display, hitting up teammates from all over the ground. Rarely took the ball when he was stationary at stoppages, always seeming proactive and attempting to generate some run around the contest. Missed an opportunity to hit the scoreboard in the final term when his team faced an impossible deficit. One of the better ball users in the league and displayed it fully throughout this contest.
#21 Austin McDonald
One of the standout players for his side, McDonald was instrumental through the midfield, finding the ball 24 times and rarely wasted it. His hands within the contest are as elite, and constantly generated some run by moving the ball on quickly. When giving the ball to teammates, he found them on the run, and was brutal around the contest. Headed forward and booted two goals on a day where his side was desperately short on scoring opportunities. No Central Districts player found the ball more than McDonald, and his run of strong form continues.
Others: Through the midfield, Tomas Hahn laid a whopping 19 tackles in one of the toughest performances of the year. Also found the ball 23 times, showcasing his all-around ability, while Adam Deakin was a constant threat in the backline with six rebound-50’s.
#4 Jack Dealan
The talented youngster was once more a looming threat up forward for South Adelaide, booting three goals in another solid outing. Dealan’s arial presence was once again on display, highlighted by a strong contested mark. Two second-quarter goals proved perfect in demonstrating his ability to rip a game apart in a short period of time. Dealan’s draft stock continues to rise and will likely rank towards the top when his draft eligibility comes in a couple of years’ time.
#10 Isaac Birt
The midfielder was solid without being outstanding in the win for South Adelaide, racking up 15 disposals. With the return of Arlo Draper, Birt spent more time on the outside of the contest, and when given time and space, hurt the opposition with his outside run. Took a strong contested mark to add another bow to his game, and his disposal efficiency improves on a weekly basis. Might have had less of the ball than recent weeks, but certainly lost no respect from coaches and teammates with a decent outing.
#33 Will Verrall
The bottom-aged ruckman beat his opponent, and certainly got the job done in his role, proving crucial to the side’s victory. Finishing with 33 hitouts, Verrall gave his midfielders first use, with his ruck craft improving on a weekly basis. He combined well with a variety of South Adelaide’s midfielders, and even followed up his tap work on plenty of occasions, finishing the match with 19 disposals and even winning eight clearances of his own. Did his draft stock no harm at all.
Others: Draper was strong through the middle, finishing with 27 touches and his contested work was once again a clear standout. Defender Lachlan Hayes found plenty of the ball, racking up 25 touches and consistently repelled the ball from defensive 50.
NORWOOD 5.9 (39) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 13.12 (90)
By: Liam Badkin
#11 Connor Kent
The midfielder stood out on a tough day for the side’s engine room, finishing with 32 disposals in a tough performance. With virtually no ruck dominance all day, Norwood had to get creative in getting their clearances, so Kent and other mids began reading the opposition’s tap. Had the opportunity to kick a much-needed goal for his side, but the shot just missed. Nine tackles and seven clearances were reflective of his willingness to get his hands dirty in the contest.
#25 Matthew Dnistriansky
Racked up a game-high 36 disposals from the backline, and worked hard to try and defend countless Eagle attacks on goal. Always clean with his disposal, Dnistriansky took risks with his kicks, and while they didn’t always come off, some attacking ball movement was a nice change of pace on a day where his side was convincingly beaten in most areas of the ground. Finished with eight rebound-50s as he tried to get the ball moving forward for his team.
Woodville West Torrens:
#16 Will Pearce
Was once again one of the focal points for his side, when they were moving the ball forward, mainly due to his strong arial presence at times combined with his impressive work when the ball hit the deck. Could have had four majors, but missed two gettable shots, so only finished with two snags for the day. 13 disposals showed that he can be more than a threat in front of goal, finding teammates in space when he was given the opportunity.
#18 William Neumann
Spending time through the midfield and up forward, Neumann was once again lethal for the winning side, finishing with 17 disposals in a typically tough outing. Like previous weeks, his pressure was outstanding around the contest, constantly harassing opponents into making errors that he or teammates would swoop on. Hit the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, as his side went into party time with the game locked away. Certainly lost no fans with this showing.