THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s returned and rolled on into Round 9, 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.
South adelaide 12.10 (82) defeated West Adelaide 8.9 (57)
By: Tom Wyman
#10 Isaac Birt
Consistent wingman Isaac Birt was arguably the best player on the ground in South Adelaide’s win over the Bloods at Noarlunga. He got involved in the game early, hitting a couple of beautiful left foot kicks, including a lace-out bullet to the leading Kyle Marshall inside 50. A smooth-mover who possesses a very aesthetically-pleasing kicking style, Birt played with more class and polish than his counterparts, displaying excellent vision and making smart decisions with ball-in-hand. He used his speed to provide some important run and carry, but also tackled well and was strong in the air when it was his turn to go. In what was another strong performance from one of South Australia’s best wingman, Birt gathered 26 disposals, seven marks (two contested), three tackles, three clearances and seven inside 50s.
#38 Tom Schirmer
Full-forward Tom Schirmer produced his best performance at Under 18’s level, after helping the Panthers claim the Under 16’s flag earlier in the year. Working out of the goalsquare, Schirmer read the ball well in the air and was able to out-body his direct opponent with relative ease. Importantly, the 16-year-old made the most of his favourable positioning and size advantage by clunking everything in his area. Although he missed a couple of gettable opportunities in front of goal, his dominant three-goal third term helped turn the game in South’s favour. Deployed in the ruck when the ball was inside-50, Schirmer finished the day with 13 disposals, five goals (four behinds), four marks (all contested), five hit-outs and a couple of clearances.
#39 Will Verrall
Bottom-aged ruckman Will Verrall was engaged in a competitive battle with West Adelaide ruckman Oscar Steene for much of the Saturday morning contest. Although Steene finished ahead in the hitout numbers, the South Adelaide big man was more involved in general play than his direct opponent. He used his mobility to good effect, covering the ground well and accumulating several link-up possessions. Clearly one of the most talented ruckman in the state, Verrall finished another productive outing with 19 disposals, three marks, 20 hitouts and three clearances.
Others: Small defender Lachlan Hayes accumulated plenty of the football in the defensive-half for the Panthers. Charged with the kick-in duties, Hayes looked to take the game on with his dash, speed and skill wherever possible. He finished with 33 disposals, four tackles and 13 rebounds. Onballer Koby Cockshell found himself involved in everything in the first quarter. He concluded the outing with 17 disposals, four tackles, four clearances and a goal. Up forward, exciting 16-year-old Jack Delean had a quieter day (nine disposals and two marks), but still showed glimpses of his enormous potential, including a wonderful crumbing goal from an inside-50 stoppage.
#3 Charlie Pridham
The ever-reliable Charlie Pridham was terrific for the Bloods. Playing the half-back role in which he has found so much of the football this season, Pridham mopped up everything in his area. He seemingly always found himself open in the defensive 50 and made himself an easy hit-up option for his teammates. Pridham didn’t attempt to bite off more than he could chew by foot, preferring to take the low-risk short option rather than attempt to hit a difficult target. His services off the half-back line have been a vital reason behind the Bloods successes this season and although his side fell to a spirited South Adelaide, Pridham still managed 31 touches, seven marks, six tackles and four rebounds.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Skipper Cade Kennedy has been a workhorse in the midfield for the Bloods this season, and he was at it again in West’s 25-point defeat. His foot skills were inconsistent throughout the match, however his fight at ground level and contested ball winning ability was invaluable. Although he was not as dominant at the stoppages as he has been in the past, Kennedy was effective with his hands in-tight and applied plenty of pressure around the ball. He finished with 25 disposals, six marks, eight tackles, two clearances and seven inside-50s.
Dylan White (29 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s) was terrific through the midfield for West Adelaide. His ability in the coalface supported the efforts of fellow onballers Cade Kennedy and Jesse Thackeray. Thackeray himself gathered 19 disposals, three marks and six inside 50s for the match in another well-rounded performance in his midfield/half-forward role. Medium forward Mitch Hahn was the main man for West Adelaide in attack. Although he was far from the tallest up forward, he was able to use his natural smarts and physical strength to nudge his opponent under the ball and take a number of inside 50 marks. He finished with three goals, to go with nine disposals and three marks. Centre half-forward Luke Young was quiet early but worked his way into the game nicely. He appeared to find it challenging to gain separation on the lead but, as all good forwards do, capitalised on his opportunities inside 50. Young amassed 15 disposals, two marks and two tackles to go with his couple of goals.
STURT 8.10 (58) defeated by NORTH ADELAIDE 14.12 (96)
By: Liam Badkin
#5 Jordan Hein
By far Sturt’s strongest performer in the 38-point defeat to North Adelaide. Spending time through the midfield, Hein displayed an exceptional ability to drive the ball forward by foot. Finishing with a team-high 20 kicks, Hein displayed courage with some of his kicks, bravely taking on the corridor on multiple occasions. Laid some solid tackles throughout the contest (five for the day), and his work rate to provide an option for teammates caught the eye. On a day where there were plenty of stationary players ahead of the ball for Sturt, Hein consistently provided a strong lead for teammates, and helped keep the ball moving forward for his side. Missed a shot on goal to open the third quarter when the game could have gone either way, a small blemish on what was a strong performance in a losing side.
James Tragakis led his side for disposals with 23 for the day as he worked hard through the contest to extract the ball. Down back, plenty of run was generated by Mitch Felton, who finished the game with a whopping 11 rebound 50s as he constantly drove the ball forward for Sturt, despite the inactivity up forward at times.
#12 Hugh Jackson
Dominant. Took his own footy to the contest as he finished with a game-high 41 disposals in a powerful performance through the midfield. There was no better performer in the engine room, as Jackson extracted the ball 12 times from stoppages, frequently giving opposition players and coaches headaches with his ability to find the ball in nearly any circumstance. Sturt attempted to curve his influence as the game continued, but it mattered not, with Jackson always finding a way to get the ball on his boot, finishing with 30 kicks. Was hugely influential in the result of the game, with North Adelaide’s midfield ascendancy a major factor in the final margin.
#18 James Willis
Was arguably better than his teammate in the number 12 jumper, with Willis stuffing the stat sheet on his way to 35 disposals, nine marks, five clearances and two goals. Spending time rotating through the midfield and the forward line, Willis was able to have an impact wherever his magnet was moved to. The statistics impress, but they don’t tell the tale of his immense pressure around the contest. Opposition players struggled to get a clean disposal around him and when they did, it was often rushed and ineffective.
Harvey Harrison hurt the opposition all over the ground, finishing with two goals from his 32 disposals and ten marks in a typically classy display.
Woodville-West Torrens 22.12 (144) defeated central district 6.10 (46)
By: Tom Wyman
#5 Brayden Calvett
Calvett produced his best performance of the season in the Eagles’ big win. Operating across the half-forward flank and pushing up onto the wing and midfield at times, Calvett booted two goals in three minutes in the first term before Central had registered a major. He would go on to boot another couple to finish the game as one of four Eagles to nail three-plus goals. He read the play well and made the most of his chances in-front of the big sticks. Calvett finished the game with 23 disposals, three marks and four inside-50s.
#6 Dustin Launer
Whilst the likes of Calvett, Burgoyne and Phillipou will deservedly steal the headlines for Woodville-West Torrens, the performance of Dustin Launer wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the Eagles coaching staff. Particularly impressive early on in the game, the half-back/midfielder showed excellent poise and skill with ball in-hand. He looked calm and assured of himself even when under pressure, and executed well by hand and foot. Launer also showed plenty of ability in the midfield, where he won four clearances, along with his 20 possessions, seven marks, three tackles and three rebounds.
#9 Jase Burgoyne
Burgoyne quite simply did as he pleased upon return to the Eagles Under 18 set-up after spending time at league level with the Port Adelaide Magpies. Stationed in defence early-on, the Power father-son prospect looked unflustered all day. Not only did he find the ball at will, Burgoyne used it efficiently. He rarely attempted any audacious kicks, instead preferring to hit the obvious shorter target. Burgoyne was able to glide through the midfield, where he displayed a similar level of composure and poise with the football, making sensible and informed decisions. He flew high above the pack to claim a terrific mark, but the highlight-reel grab was unfortunately short-lived as he was penalised for placing his hands in the back of Bulldog Saxon Evans. Burgoyne got amongst the goal kickers when he waltzed into an open goal late in the fourth term to cap off a great performance. He finished with 37 disposals, ten marks and four clearances.
#21 Mattaes Phillipou
There were several candidates for best on ground honours in the Eagles 98-point triumph, but Mattaes Phillipou would have to be the front-runner after he slotted five majors. Spending more time up forward than in previous weeks, Phillipou’s aerial strength was on full display as he floated in to take several contested marks. After booting two early goals, Phillipou was clearly full of confidence as he set sail for home from beyond the 50-metre mark a couple of times, fancying his chances given his form in front of goal. It was just one of those days for the forward/midfielder, who consistently found himself in the right place at the right time, best highlighted by his fourth major, which came after Jase Burgoyne’s hurried kick forward fell right into his awaiting arms. When pushed into the midfield, his stoppage nous and contested ball winning were terrific. Phillipou finished a game to remember with 32 disposals, six marks (three contested), four tackles, eight clearances and five inside 50s.
Others: Ruckman Zac Phillips fought hard against Bulldogs ruckman Saxon Evans. Although Phillips was beaten early, he worked his way into the contest and had more of an impact as the game wore on. He got caught out for some slow disposal on a couple of occasions, but was more effective than Evans around the ground, gathering 19 disposals to go with his four marks, six clearances and 14 hitouts. Sam Nicholls accumulated 26 disposals, four marks, six tackles and five clearances in the midfield, while strongly built country kid Will Pearce booted four goals and played with plenty of aggression. Forward Jack Murphy booted three goals and Blake Hansen was another Eagle to impress, collecting 21 disposals and five marks.
#3 Isaiah Dudley
The Bulldogs may have been soundly beaten from start to finish at Woodville Oval, but pocket rocket and Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect Isaiah Dudley showed why he is among South Australia’s top handful of draft hopefuls. Starting at the centre bounce, Dudley wasted no time asserting himself on the contest by winning the opening clearance and hitting a target by hand moments later. Throughout the contest, he switched from the midfield to a deep-forward role with fellow Academy Hub member Austin McDonald. Dudley’s attack on the contest was sensational, as was his contested ball winning and relentless tackling pressure. However it was his distribution by hand which elevated his game. He made excellent decisions by hand and showed vision and skill to locate targets away from the congestion, many of whom had time and space to move in. The powerfully built utility showed plenty of class to snap a goal from a difficult angle in the pocket, but should have finished with a couple more to his name. All in all, it was a very impressive performance from Dudley, who finished with 27 disposals, two marks, eight tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s.
#21 Austin McDonald
In just his third game back from a serious leg injury, bottom-ager Austin McDonald showed why he is considered one of the leading midfielders in SA. The Barossa product split his time between the midfield and the forward line, with the Bulldogs preferring to keep their two most damaging players, Dudley and McDonald separated. McDonald was not dominant, however he was certainly one of the Bulldogs best performers. He looks to be a natural ball-winner who appears best suited to an inside midfield role in the long term. He finished with 25 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two clearances and four inside-50s.
Half-back Ruben Carreno tried his best to weather the storm in defence. He provided some meaningful rebound, finishing with 19 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 11 rebounds. In the midfield, big-man Saxon Evans managed to get the better of his duel with 19-year-old Eagles tall Zac Phillips. The athletic ruckman gathered nine disposals and kicked a solid set-shot goal in the first term. At ground level, Tahjin Krieg never stopped trying for Central Districts. Despite lacking a touch of polish, he ran hard around the ground, tackled with ferocity and showed some speed and hustle out of the contest, concluding with 18 possessions, nine tackles, six clearances and seven inside-50s. Tomas Hahn was typically robust, laying 14 tackles, winning seven clearances and gathering 19 disposals. Dylan Wall was the best of the Bulldogs forwards, booting three goals.
GLENELG 15.12 (102) defeated NORWOOD 3.5 (23)
By: Liam Badkin
#6 Darcy Gluyas
With teammate Hugh Stagg missing, Gluyas took the extra opportunity around the ground with both hands and stepped up to the moment. Through the midfield, he was terrific with five clearances and 31 disposals, but worked both ways for his side. Eight strong tackles provide a clear display of the toughness he showed through the engine room, and even floated forward to kick a classy second quarter goal to put the exclamation point on a fantastic all-around performance from the Glenelg midfielder.
#12 Brodie Edwards
A much better performance for the workhorse through the midfield, improving on last week’s quieter performance to finish the contest with 21 disposals and seven tackles. Working through the engine room, Edwards was one of his side’s premier extractors, finishing the contest with a game-high six clearances, through either his fast hands or impressive ability to get the ball on the boot. Was one of his side’s strongest in the 79-point drubbing of Norwood.
Up forward, Corey Brougham thrived as the team’s number one marking option, booting a whopping five snags from his 14 touches, and displayed his dominance in the air with three contested clunks.
#11 Connor Kent
Was his side’s bright spark on quite a dark day. The team was convincingly beaten, but Kent can hold his head high, amassing 37 disposals, seven inside 50’s and nine tackles through the middle. Kent was constantly trying to provide some desperately needed spark for his side, laying bone-crunching tackles and finding the ball, even when he was on the back foot. Far and away the best player for Norwood, and probably deserved a better result than what was given to him.
Image Credit: Port Adelaide FC