THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition, 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.
STURT 9.9 (63) def. by NORWOOD 13.11 (89)
By: Eli Duxson
#24 Cormac Dwyer
Returned to the Double Blues outfit for the first time since Round 5 and brought all the same pressure and physicality he departed with. He laid the most tackles for Sturt with eight as the big-bodied inside midfielder tried to utilise his sturdy frame as best he could. Dwyer took on more of a defensive role at stoppages as he remained static but held front position and prevented his direct opponent from running to hit zones or spreading for the second and third handballs. He often went defensively to Cooper Murley when their midfield rotations lined up. His disposal was a little scratchy at times but his work in and under was where he thrived. Dwyer finished with 15 disposals and eight clearances to go with his tackling numbers in a welcome return to Sturt’s engine room.
#39 Felix Packer
Undoubtedly kept Sturt in the game with his perfectly accurate five goals as the focal point of the Double Blues’ forwardline. Packer did all his work inside 50 and with his strength one-on-one and ability to finish, that was fair enough. His first goal came from a 25-metre set shot after he earned a free kick for holding the ball. Soon after he wore one in the mid-section after backing into a contest in what was the only time all game he looked vulnerable. The hulking unit managed two more goals in the second quarter with a Tom Hawkins-style pluck and snap out of a forward 50 ruck contest, and another set shot from a tight angle. He did not require much separation to mark contested often finding just enough space on the lead to get his hands in front of him. A 25-metre penalty netted him a shot in the goal square while his final goal came from another nice snap after marking on the point line.
In what was a lean day in terms of contributors for Sturt, Dylan Thredgold dominated the ruck with 31 hit-outs compared to Norwood’s best in 10. Jake Aish was also quiet on his standards with his first single-digit disposal game for the season, finishing on eight.
#1 Cooper Murley
Since returning from Reserves duties, Murley has continued to make the Under 18s competition his own with his second 30-plus disposal game from three outings. His speed and acceleration kept him in the middle of the ground for most of the game, with stints down forward to rest or present a different challenge for Sturt. Murley managed to find space with such running abilities and mark uncontested which he did 11 times. His speed took centre stage when he held outside position on a Norwood rebound and when he saw his chance to go, he took off and marked 20 metres out directly in front. Not many can keep up with him. With ball in hand, he looked composed, seeming as though he had much more time than everyone else and was clean with his ball use, making good decisions. His second goal came from a Gary Ablett Jr-like snap from the right boundary, curling in wonderfully for a great finish. He missed a third shot which would have just been a cherry on top of his 31 disposals, two goals, and six rebound 50s, from which he showed his defensive work rate.
#16 Benjamin Belperio
Backing up his 21-disposal effort last week came arguably Belperio’s best game for the season, as he notched three goals from his 18 touches to go with five marks and four clearances. He kicked the first goal of the game with a nice finish on the run at pace with his penetrating kick. Like Murley, he rotated between centre, wing, and forward and was disciplined with his positioning. If he moved off the ball to find the footy he could have improved on his solid stats, but he would have done his team a disservice with fewer options and not stretching the Sturt defence. When around the ball however, he hunted it and tried to bustle through contests to obtain possession. His second goal came after the ball spilled to him as he showed his hip strength to break through a pair of tackles before dribbling it through. His final goal came from a set shot from just inside 50 after marking overhead which he flushed. When working back defensively he was often good at locating before getting involved on the rebound, although on one occasion he drifted and did not see the opponent standing behind him in the pocket. Although it had no impact on the scoreboard, it would have been just a minor blemish on an otherwise serviceable contribution.
Defensive duo Matthew Dnistrianksy and Riley Verrall managed 26 and 25 disposals respectively in their rebounding efforts, while Bailey Gal laid the most tackles on the ground with 11. Aidan Lake’s impact on the game would not be represented on the stat sheet as his effort around contest was immense. Not the prettiest player but he showed plenty of heart.
WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 12.8 (80) def. SOUTH ADELAIDE 11.7 (73)
By: Tom Wyman
#17 Adam D’Aloia
South Australia’s Under 17 skipper produced a typically tough, in-and-under performance in his return to the Eagles set-up. The inside midfielder started the clash well, hurtling himself at the contest with ferocity and laying an abundance of defensive pressure. His stoppage smarts were evident but it was his relentless tackling which stood out. D’Aloia worked well around the ground but was clearly at his best in congestion. Although he was quieter after a strong first term, the midfielder will certainly be a key component to the Eagles’ side as finals approach. He finished the game with 16 disposals, 10 tackles and five clearances.
#21 Mattaes Phillipou
Another member of South Australia’s Under 17 side, Phillipou looked threatening whenever the ball was in his vicinity. Dividing his time between an inside midfield role and the forwardline, Phillipou used his tall 188cm frame well in both roles. In attack his overhead marking meant he was a prominent target going forward, and through the middle his superior size and strength proved equally valuable. His ability to win the ball at ground level then get his hands free to give off a quick handball was impressive. A known goal kicker, Phillipou added another two to his season tally, to go with 24 touches, four marks and seven clearances.
#24 Zac Phillips
A number of bottom-aged Eagles stood out in the win over South Adelaide, however 19-year-old Phillips had a dominant day in the ruck. Predominately competing against South’s Thomas Welk, Phillips used his athleticism, size and improving ruck craft to provide his midfielders with first use. As the game wore on, Phillips accumulated more of the ball around the ground, whilst still holding the advantage in the ruck duel. Clearly the best key position player on the ground, Phillips finished a fruitful day with 14 touches, three clearances and 51 hit-outs.
Midfielder Brock Thomson (30 disposals, five marks, six clearances and three inside 50s) finished the match as the leading ball-winner on the ground. Always a presence at stoppages, Thomson combined well with fellow on-baller Sam Nicholls (12 disposals, five tackles and four clearances). The pair produced workmanlike performances which proved pivotal in the Eagles narrow triumph. In attack, full forward Jordan Lukac showcased his terrific athleticism to boot back-to-back opportunist goals from close range and help wrestle back the momentum for the Eagles. Henry Hawker played an important half-forward role for the home side, booting three goals from 18 disposals. His work overhead was a highlight, taking nine marks including three contested.
#5 Angus Bradley
Bradley was deployed down back for South Adelaide, where his clean skills and ability to read the play helped get the Panthers out of trouble on numerous occasions. He was at times made to pay for some moments of indecisiveness, however he found the ball at will and generally used the football well by foot. Having produced some excellent showings through the midfield this season, Bradley showed he has the tools and versatility to play a number of roles by performing well across half-back. He finished with a team-high 23 disposals, three marks and three rebounds.
#10 Isaac Birt
Birt has been South Adelaide’s best performer for much of the season to-date, with his speed and silky ball use impressing on-lookers. However, his influence was curtailed in tricky conditions against the Eagles. The midfielder worked typically hard up and down the outer wing, accumulating mark-after-mark, but wasn’t as clean and precise by foot as we’ve come to expect from the Strathalbyn product. At times he was caught trying to bite off more than he could chew, which could be forgiven considering his often scintillating delivery. He still managed to gather 16 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and seven inside 50s.
#19 Tom Wheaton
Tall midfielder, Wheaton made an excellent initial impression in his first Under 18s game. After captaining the Panthers Under 16s to glory earlier in the year, Wheaton was heavily involved from the get-go on debut, matching it with the Eagles on-ballers. A strong-bodied midfielder who appears quite physically developed, Wheaton found himself under all sorts of pressure in his first handful of possessions, however he seemed to thrive upon the tough, contested nature of the game. He found the ball in some more time and space as the game went on, but was at his best in-tight where he scrapped around and put his body on the line time-after-time. He finished as the leading clearance player on the ground, which speaks volumes to his high-level midfield craft and football smarts. Wheaton gathered 21 disposals, four marks, eight clearances, four tackles and four inside 50s in a very encouraging effort.
#23 Noah Howes
Exciting forward, Howes booted five goals and very nearly lifted his side to victory at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. Another member of South’s triumphant Under 16 side, Howes looked very threatening on the lead, using his athleticism and speed to gain separation. At times he appeared the most damaging player on the field, with the Panthers clearly looking to get it into his hands up forward. Four of his five goals came in the first half, including a terrific set shot effort from beyond the arc. Also impressive was his willingness to follow-up at ground level, laying five tackles to go with nine disposals.
#35 Koby Cockshell
Talented utility, Cockshell worked well in tandem with the aforementioned Howes in attack. He booted two majors and took a couple of great contested marks to highlight his overhead strength. Also helping out in the ruck at times, the 195cm talent finished with 12 disposals and four marks (all contested). Cockshell is yet another member of South Australia’s Under 17 squad.
The versatile Cooper Rogers started the game in a half-forward role, however he was at his best when moved on-ball in the second half. He attacked the contest hard, tackled with intent and added some speed and energy to the Panthers midfield set-up after the main break. He finished with 11 disposals, nine tackles and a couple of clearances. Luke Mitton gathered 19 disposals, six tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s while Lachlan Hayes was effective in defence for South Adelaide. The fearless defender read the play well, accumulating 15 disposals, five marks and four rebounds.
NORTH ADELAIDE 4.11 (35) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 19.12 (126)
By: Michael Alvaro
#4 Isaac Keeler
Truly a shining light on what was a relatively dull day for North Adelaide, Keeler was unlucky not to get more reward for his efforts in the way of major scores. The bottom-aged Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) member kicked 1.4, with his finishing hardly matching all the work done in the build-up. Keeler was able to showcase his athleticism throughout the day; marking strongly at full pelt on the lead, baulking opponents as he wheeled inside 50, and covering the ground like a much smaller player. Still, that little bit of polish would have turned a very good game into a remarkable one for the promising key forward.
#18 James Willis
The explosive Roosters midfielder was arguably his side’s most productive engine room operator throughout the contest, generating useful drive in the front half. Willis went inside 50 eight times among his 15 total disposals, usually on the end of powerful runs where he backed his pace to burn or gain separation from an opponent. He, too could have done with a bit more polish on his kicks, but booted an excellent long goal on the fly during the third quarter – hardly breaking stride as he breached North’s attacking arc.
The Roosters got some value out of their midfielders in patches, with the likes of Zyton Santillo (23 disposals, eight clearances), Hugh Jackson (22 disposals), and James White (21 disposals, seven marks) all getting their hands on the pill. Harper Montgomery somewhat flew under the radar to finish with a team-high 24 touches in defence, while Blayne O’Loughlin was tried on each line but could not quite get his usual game going. The Crows NGA hopeful capped his 16-disposal game with a late goal.
#9 Kobe Ryan
Employed on both sides of midfield, Ryan returned an excellent performance with 28 disposals, six tackles, and four clearances. The balance which he displayed was top notch, with the bottom-ager in good position to be released for green ball on the outer, but also cracking in to win his own ball and lay tackles. He looked stylish in possession and hardly wasted a touch with his clean skills, helping Westies chain useful passages together on the uptake. Certainly one of the bottom-agers to watch, closely.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Kennedy was productive as always upon his return to the Under 18s grade, with two games of Reserves experience under his belt. The hard-working ball winner was busy early and worked back well to help his defenders transition into attack, maintaining that kind of form throughout the match. He would often move the ball on quickly and drive Westies forward by foot, finding more room to operate as the game wore on. Kennedy also found more ways to be productive with his disposal, hitting some nice targets going inside 50 during the second half.
#23 Dylan McCormick
While five West Adelaide forwards ended up with three goals or more, McCormick was arguably the most consistently productive of the lot. He finished with 3.2 from 18 disposals, working well up the ground as a leading option before then becoming a threat closer to goal. He got on the board during the second term after converting a free kick, adding one more in each of the following periods to cap off a positive performance up forward. His goals proved reward for effort, as McCormick created for others in the early stages before doing the damage himself.
#36 Tyson Coe
The bustling bottom-ager provided a big body in midfield for West Adelaide, proving difficult to match at the coalface. Coe won a team-high five clearances but contributed 15 of his 25 disposals by hand, often dishing out to his runners amid tackling pressure. He tried to generate some of his own outside run in the second term, but looked better on the inside with his efforts to extract. A well-finished goal on his favoured left side during the final term capped of Coe’s outing.
#37 Tom Scully
Scully is of a much different build to his more famous namesake, but showed something in his own right with a bag of five goals for Westies. The 201cm bottom-ager started forward and pinch-hit in the ruck, with his height and reach proving troublesome for his North Adelaide adversaries. All four of his marks were contested, with three of them leading directly to goals inside attacking 50. Scully converted his four set shots nicely and even added a snap in the fourth quarter, displaying some finesse to go with his handy ruck craft as a secondary.
#54 Harry Lemmey
Despite being beaten in his first one-on-one marking contest up on the wing, Lemmey was hardly dismayed and managed to show some really nice signs with his aerial work. He was often manned by fellow bottom-ager Shaun Bennier and beat him for pure reach on account of a 9cm height advantage. You still have to take the marks though, and Lemmey did just that when snaring three of his five scoring shots. He finished with 3.2 from 11 disposals and six marks with some handy work both inside and out of the attacking 50.
Liam Westdijk and Lachlan Tredwell were the other two Westies players to finish with three majors, marking a dominant attacking display. Dylan White also found the goals and was a strong body in midfield alongside Jesse Thackeray. Charlie Pridham also got busy, providing a bit of dash on the rebound from defence.
CENTRAL DISTRICT 6.7 (43) def. by GLENELG 18.10 (118)
By: Tom Wyman
#9 Trent Tattoli
The 16-year-old wingman tried hard for Central District and showed some glimpses of his high potential. His first couple of involvements were great tackles, but later his composure in traffic and effective ball use stood out. Although his skills were inconsistent throughout the day, Tattoli worked very hard up and down the ground competed well despite the Bulldogs being outplayed. He finished with 13 disposals, seven marks and three tackles.
#21 Austin McDonald
McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player in their 75-point defeat. Starting at the centre bounce, he spent much of the first term on-ball, finding the ball at ease and reading the tap work of teammate Saxon Evans well. McDonald struggled by foot but continued to find the ball when moved to a half-forward flank. In attack, he showed good forward craft and was rewarded for his tireless effort with a third-term goal. The bottom-ager can certainly refine his skills and decision making, but proved he knows how to find the ball in a variety of roles, finishing with a team-high 28 disposals, six marks, three tackles and five inside 50s.
Defender Ruben Carreno was the Bulldogs designated kicker down back and did just about all he could in trying circumstances. He was measured by foot but also used his long kicking to good effect when exiting the defensive 50. Carreno finished with 27 disposals, four marks and 11 rebounds. Saxon Evans was the dominant ruckman at X-Convenience Oval, finishing with 12 disposals, 30 hit-outs and six clearances. Tomas Hahn produced an admirable performance, cracking in hard and applying some important defensive pressure despite lacking some polish.
#2 Harry Tunkin
The diminutive Tunkin spent the day in the midfield and performed very well. His contested ball work was excellent, so too his cleanliness by hand and effectiveness by foot. He read the taps well at stoppages then broke through several would-be tacklers in congestion. It seemed as if whenever he was around the ball, Tunkin made an impact. Arguably the best on ground in a very well-rounded performance from Glenelg, the productive Tunkin finished the game with 25 disposals, eight tackles and three clearances.
#6 Darcy Gluyas
Gluyas started the game at the opening centre bounce but also spent time on the wing and across half-forward throughout the day. His class was on show early when he sold some candy to cut inside and deliver a beautiful pass deep inside 50 to Corey Brougham, who goaled. Gluyas was typically composed with ball in hand, always seeming to weigh up his options nicely before executing well by foot. With the Tigers dominating proceedings, he booted a third-term major but later missed a couple of gettable chances in front of goal. Nevertheless, it was another very solid performance from a reliable contributor, who finished with 19 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and five inside 50s.
#20 Lewis Rayson
Rayson was typically damaging in his customary half-back role. He provided constant run-and-carry with ball in hand and added raking long foot skills to his exciting dash. Always attacking the ball at full speed, Rayson nailed the first goal of the game from a 40m set-shot after floating forward. His work to get in and out of congestion was admirable and his contested ball winning complimented the eye-catching run-and-carry. Rayson finished with 25 disposals, six marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds.
#38 Jakob Ryan
Playing his first SANFL Under 18s game since Round 4, Ryan fitted back into the Glenelg side with ease. Deployed across half-forward and the wing, his neat foot skills on both sides of the body were a real highlight. A classy player, his ability to turn his opponent inside-out and find a target with a long kick inside 50 in the first quarter set the tone for what was to come from the SA Under 17 squad member. Duelling with Bulldog Trent Tattoli for parts of the game, he used the ball terrifically well on both his left and right boot, made excellent decisions and displayed good vision. In the final term he spent more time in attack and took a number of contested grabs. One of South Australia’s brightest bottom-aged prospects, he finished the game as the equal-leading ball getter on the field with 28 disposals, along with 11 marks (three contested), three clearances and six inside 50s.
Glenelg key forwards Corey Brougham and Jack Harding proved far too good for their Bulldogs opponents. Their size and strength led to dominance in the air, and their leading patterns caused headaches for the Central District backman. Harding finished with five goals from 16 disposals and 11 marks (four contested) and his partner in crime also nailed five majors, along with 15 touches and seven grabs. Small midfielder Hunter Window provided some energy and spark around the contest, gathering 23 disposals and six inside 50s. Oscar Adams may have been beaten in hit-out numbers by Central District’s Saxon Evans, however he got the upper hand around the ground, accumulating 19 disposals and seven marks to go with 18 hit-outs.
Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography via South Adelaide FC