THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s continued over the weekend with Round 11, 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. This week a number of key talents were out due to the AFL Under 17s Championships game against Western Australia, but plenty of others stepped up. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
norwood 14.16 (100) def. Central districts 10.7 (67)
By: Tom Wyman
#1 Cooper Murley
After accumulating plenty of the ball in his return to Under 18s level last weekend, classy midfielder Cooper Murley didn’t have as much of an impact against the Bulldogs. Murley started in the centre bounce and showed good stoppage nous, anticipation and football smarts throughout the game. He positioned himself well and got on the move at stoppages where possible to make best use of his breakaway speed. He read the taps well and was particularly clean with his disposal by hand. The Tea Tree Gully junior showed brilliant commitment to fly into oncoming traffic in a marking contest, however his courageous work was undone by a free kick being paid against his teammate. Murley tackled particularly well and seems to have a good technique. His skills in general play were fine without being of great damage, however he let himself down in front of goal, hitting the post twice within a minute via a set shot and quick snap. He also missed his third attempt at goal for the quarter, a running attempt which he would usually slot. Murley concluded the outing with 20 disposals, two marks, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s.
#11 Connor Kent
Redlegs ball magnet Connor Kent was clearly the most prolific player on the ground in Norwood’s 33-point win over Central Districts at The Parade. The left-footed onballer produced a well-balanced performance to guide the Redlegs to their first win since Round 3. Kent won plenty of contested ball in tight, but it was his ability to spread from the contest and work hard to accumulate the footy around the ground which made him so effective. He was composed in traffic and used the ball fairly well. Despite not seeming to boast great speed, Kent provided plenty of run and carry throughout the contest. At times he was in charge of the kick in duties, where he was able to showcase his long foot skills. He booted three goals for the game – the best being a terrific 40-metre effort off one step in the first term. Among the top ball-winners in the competition, Kent finished with a round-high 38 disposals, five marks, six tackles, five clearances, three inside 50s and eight rebounds.
Others: Midfielder Benjamin Belperio won his fair share of contested ball for the Redlegs. He demonstrated good strength in close and was effective at stoppages, finishing with 20 disposals, seven marks, four clearances and five inside 50s. In attack, Jett Boxer was the go-to man, nailing three goals. Also booting three behinds, he accumulated 20 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s. Wilson McShane (21 disposals and five marks) and Peter Minervini (18 disposals, three marks and four clearances) were among Norwood’s top disposal winners and ruckman Aidan Lake (17 disposals, five marks, five tackles, 12 hit-outs and five clearances) competed gallantly against dominant Centrals bigman Saxon Evans.
#9 Trent Tattoli
The performance of Angle Vale teenager Trent Tattoli was the shining light for Central Districts, despite the clubs defeat. Captain of the Bulldogs Under 16 side who competed earlier in the year, Tattoli lined up on the wing in his first Under 18s game for the club. He looked up to the level from the get-go, finding plenty of the ball on the outside. His ball drop and kicking action is unconventional and many of his kicks lacked penetration, however they often reached their desired target regardless. Tattoli’s poise and composure with ball in hand was impressive, given he is two years younger than many of his teammates and opponents. Tattoli put the Bulldogs in front in the second quarter after pouncing on the crumbs. It marked a terrific second term for Tattoli, who was deployed in more of an inside/outside role rather than as a pure wingman. A hard worker who not only runs hard, but works into logical spaces on the field, Tattoli finished the game as the Bulldogs leading possession winner, gathering 24 touches, ten marks, five clearances and four inside 50s in what was a terrific start to his Under 18s career.
#29 Saxon Evans
The Bulldogs were often outclassed by Norwood, but ruckman Saxon Evans provided his midfielders with first use for much of the day. Clearly the competitions leading hit-out ruckman, Evans’ leap and overall athleticism proved a real handful for the Norwood talls. He would often get his hands on the ball first by simply leaping over his direct opponent, as he has done all season. He slotted an important set shot goal on the half-time siren to put Central Districts ahead at the main break. Evans was strong in the air without being a dominant marking force, hauling in two contested grabs, and worked well around the ground to involve himself in general play. He finished with 18 disposals, five marks, 38 hit-outs, three tackles and five clearances.
#37 Cody Gilchrist
Athletic full-forward Cody Gilchrist threatened to tear apart the game in its early stages. Operating out of the square, Gilchrist looked damaging on the lead, where he used his speed and long reach to good effect. Gilchrist simply outsized and outmuscled his opponent for much of the contest, however his workrate and leading patterns up forward ensured he was the most threatening forward on the ground. He had an inconsistent day in front of the big sticks, missing some very gettable opportunities whilst nailing others. The 198cm Gilchrist finished the game with 20 disposals, seven marks (three contested), six hit-outs and two goals (three behinds) in an encouraging showing.
Others: Bulldogs midfielders Luigi Mondello and Tahjin Krieg produced workmanlike performances, accumulating 17 and 14 disposals respectively. Tackling machine Tomas Hahn was typically combative in-and-under, winning 14 possessions and laying 12 tackles while also booting a goal. Adam Deakin was strong in the air down back and also provided some serviceable rebound, finishing with 21 disposals, six marks and 11 rebounds. Fellow defender Jake Grubb played his best game at Under 18s level, collecting 18 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and four rebounds and showing some nice signs.
STURT 5.11 (41) DEF. BY SOUTH ADELAIDE 14.15 (99)
By: Liam Badkin
#10 Jake Aish
The clearance machine was once again his side’s best player, battling hard in the engine room in what was a tough day for the Sabres. Aish’s toughness was on full display as he found more than his fair share of contested possession on the ground and fed it out to his teammates in ideal positions. Once again could have used slightly more composure and execution when on the outside of the contest, but fought tooth and nail to make life easier for his fellow midfielders. Finished the contest with 20 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances, seven inside 50s and even hit the scoreboard and although his inaccuracy cost him a big day on the stat sheet, his 2.2 input was big, given his side’s low scoring result for the afternoon.
#17 Mitch Felton
Backing up last week’s stellar performance, the speedy defender was another bright spot on a tough day for Sturt. The ball was often hammered into South Adelaide’s forward line, so Felton constantly found himself around the ball, and always looked to clear the ball from the backline with his classy ball use and damaging pace. Took a pair of contested marks deep in defence, on his way to 23 touches, five tackles and a whopping 13 rebound 50s as he battled all day to try and give his side some desperately needed run.
#10 Isaac Birt
The versatile wingman was once again eye-catching in South Adelaide’s 58-point triumph over the Sabres over the weekend. Burt found plenty of space to use his signature run-and-dash along the wing, providing his side with bursting pace along with reliable delivery to teammates, whether it was by hand or foot. Continuously peppered the ball inside 50, giving his teammates ample opportunity to score, and frequently his work resulted in a goal for his side. Can be proud of his 20 disposals and five mark outing.
#33 Arlo Draper
The midfielder picked up right where he left off, delivering yet another best-on-ground performance from the midfield, where his side had dominance for virtually all four quarters. Worked hard around the contest to fight for the contested possessions, and often proved too strong for his Sabre opponents, who could only watch as the South Adelaide midfielder burst away from stoppages with ease. A second quarter goal was simply reward for effort, as Draper’s strong work around the stoppage was translated to the scoreboard. Finished with 30 disposals (20 kicks), four marks, five tackles, nine clearances and seven inside 50s in a dominant performance.
Up forward, it was the trio of Hugo Hoeck (four goals), Dylan Brown (three goals) and Tom Schirmer (three goals) who could not be stopped, frequently sharing the opportunities amongst each other, while down back, Lachlan Hayes frequently removed the ball from the defensive arc, finishing the game with 10 rebound 50s from his 29 disposals.
GLENELG 9.10 (64) DEF. BY WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS EAGLES 11.9 (75)
By: Liam Badkin
#20 Lewis Rayson
Rayson continued his consistent form, working tirelessly around the ground to finish as one of his side’s strongest performers. His midfield minutes continue to grow on a weekly basis and so too his confidence, emerging as one of the competition’s cleanest midfielders with his disposal efficiency and lack of fumbling around the ball. While his statistics were down on last round, Rayson’s impact remained the same as he constantly thwarted opposition attacks with his intercept marking, and his pace once again broke the game open when given the opportunity. Rayson finished with 21 disposals and eight marks in a performance that will be sure to impress scouters.
Benjamin Ridgeway was another strong performer through the middle, pouring in 20 disposals and a goal to form a dangerous combination with Rayson, while up forward Corey Brougham took advantage of the speedy ball movement to hit the scoreboard for two goals and two behinds to lead his team in scoring.
#9 Jase Burgoyne
The Port Adelaide father-son prospect delivered one of his strongest performances of the 2021 season, keeping the ball on a string through the midfield and slicing the opposition open with his run-and-carry from the stoppage. His ability to find a target forward of the ball was also to be admired, and an impressive third quarter goal was the icing on the cake. Burgoyne finished the match with 26 disposals in a performance that will please both Eagles and Power fans going forward.
#24 Zac Phillips
The talented ruckman got the better of his Glenelg opponent throughout the match, delivering ascendancy in the air, and then following up his work when the ball hit the ground, a trait that is almost necessary in today’s game. Phillips pulled down multiple pack marks when the ball was forced down the line by either side, grabbing the ball from seemingly impossible positions. His mobility on the ground and athleticism in the air continue to amaze, and the impressive youngster finished with 17 disposals and 22 hitouts.
Tough midfielder Sam Nicholls was powerful through the stoppages, finishing with 20 touches, 11 crunching tackles and a goal, while Dustin Launer was outstanding in an attacking midfielder role, racking up 21 touches to go with three goals.
North Adelaide 15.8 (98) def. West Adelaide 10.3 (63)
By: Tom Wyman
#12 Hugh Jackson
If there was one area in which Hugh Jackson could improve upon this season, it has been his scoreboard impact. Having booted just three goals up until Round 11, Jackson doubled his season tally by booting three majors in the Roosters triumph. It didn’t start perfectly for Jackson though, with the ball magnet missing a regulation set shot from close range. However he bounced back in style, proving elusive around stoppages in particular. A silky mover, he used the ball well with that damaging left foot and was very clean at ground level. His highlight for the day was undoubtedly his long range running goal from just beyond the 50 metre arc which never looked like missing. Jackson concluded another fruitful outing with 32 disposals, six marks, four tackles, seven clearances and seven inside 50s.
#18 James Willis
Talented Roosters Hugh Jackson, Blayne O’Loughlin and Harvey Harrison have all had their moments in the limelight this season, and on Saturday afternoon it was midfielder James Willis’ time to shine. Recognised as one of the best junior onballers in the state, Willis was dominant against West Adelaide. He started the game by laying a terrific smother, then later ran down a West Adelaide opponent with a strong tackle. These defensive efforts have been a hallmark of Willis’ game throughout the past couple of seasons, and they shone through at Prospect Oval. Willis spent most of the game in the midfield and was effective on the inside and the outside, winning some contested ball and also using his explosiveness to damaging effect when given a pocket of time and space. He also used the ball well, even whilst travelling at top speed. A dynamic prospect, Willis used his stiff arm a couple of times, demonstrating the power and strength he plays with. He finished as the Roosters leading ball winner, gathering 34 touches along with seven marks, six tackles, six clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds.
#22 Blayne O’Loughlin
Half-back Blayne O’Loughlin again found an abundance of the ball in his customary role as an attacking defender. He worked very hard between the arcs to provide an outlet option. The Roosters looked to give him the ball whenever possible and the Crows Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect provided plenty of bounce from the backline. His kicking was slightly off at various stages throughout the contest, with a number of his kicks falling short of their intended target. Nevertheless, O’Loughlin’s relentless run and carry, vision and composure proved invaluable to North Adelaide. He finished with 31 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and six rebounds.
Others: Reliable onballer Harvey Harrison again had his hands on the ball all day, accumulating 32 disposals to go with five marks, six tackles, six clearances and four inside 50s. His fast and clean handball skills were of particular note. Zyton Santillo had another strong game, laying ten tackles and using the ball well. The clever half-forward/wingman also managed 21 disposals, three clearances, five inside 50s and a classy goal. His fellow wingman Sam McTaggart also impressed, gathering 26 disposals, seven marks and a goal of his own. Up forward, Oliver Dignan booted four majors and Jack Hodges performed well in the absence of Isaac Keeler, booting three goals and amassing 22 disposals and seven inside 50s.
#3 Charlie Pridham
Charlie Pridham has become one of the most consistent rebounding defenders in the competition and he again amassed plenty of the football on Prospect Oval. Clearly West’s most reliable ball user when transitioning from defence, Pridham didn’t take many risks by foot, and as a result wasn’t overly damaging. However he was clean and composed and always seemed to be there to mop up for the Bloods. The under 18 competition’s leading rebounder, Pridham finished with 33 touches (including 28 kicks), nine marks and ten rebounds.
#33 Jesse Thackeray
Jesse Thackeray was rewarded for his consistent season by being selected in South Australia’s phase one Under 19 National Championships squad. In 2021, the midfielder/forward has stepped up in the absence of talented bottom-aged duo Tyson Coe and Kobe Ryan, who have spent much of the season playing school football. Thackeray snapped a brilliant goal from the pocket shortly after a lengthy delay due to a serious injury to teammate Mitch Hahn. Despite the Roosters dominating the midfield battle, Thackeray tried hard and added another goal with a quick-fire shot in traffic. He finished with 29 disposals, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s.
#45 Oscar Steene
Ruckman Oscar Steene was one of five West Adelaide juniors to make the initial state Under 19 squad ahead of the National Championships, set to take place in July and September. The 199cm tall was among the Bloods best performers despite his sides 35-point defeat to North Adelaide. Steene went head-to-head with Rooster tall Oliver Moors for the majority of the game, and the pair fought an enticing battle. Steene used his mobility and leap to get his hands on the ball, but was pushed aside relatively easily at times. He didn’t have a big impact on the game aerially, however Steene’s skills in general play were clean and his willingness to impact the game at ground level was evident. He finished with 14 touches, four tackles, 27 hit-outs and three clearances.
Others: Speedy midfielders Dylan McCormick (20 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s) and Hugh Desira (19 disposals, three marks, four clearances and three inside 50s) provided some run on the outside but also did their bit on the inside in the absence of hard-nosed skipper Cade Kennedy, who earned himself a call up to the reserves. Mobile medium forward Luke Young added two goals to his season tally and Ben Burbridge (20 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four clearances) was effective in the middle.
Picture credit: On The Ball Media