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 17 and 19 representative squad member and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
NORWOOD 6.8 (44) def. by GLENELG 17.10 (112)
By: Tom Wyman
#10 Taj Rahui
Rahui was one of Norwood’s best in their disappointing defeat. He brought genuine speed and run and carry with ball in-hand, spending time in the midfield and across half-forward. Although his kicking was hit-and-miss, his intensity could not be faulted. Late in the game he was involved in a heated scuffle after his set shot from 15 metres out was smothered by the man on the mark. After receiving another free kick following the altercation, he made no mistake. Rahui finished with 19 disposals, four tackles, eight inside 50s and two goals.
#25 Matthew Dnistriansky
Matthew Dnistriansky was Norwood’s best player in tricky circumstances. He started the game across half-back but pushed into the midfield at various stages, where his tall frame and efficient skills added some much-needed polish to the Norwood midfield. When he had ball in-hand, you felt as if the right decisions would be made. He booted an impressive long-range goal in the second term to showcase his clean kicking. Dnistriansky’s composure, vision and skill was evident throughout, but it was his acrobatic smother which proved the highlight of his game. When tensions boiled over in the last quarter, it was great to see Dnistriansky offer some calming words to teammate Taj Rahui before he re-took his set-shot, highlighting the skilful teenager’s leadership. The Rostrevor product gathered 19 disposals, seven marks and three tackles.
On-baller Grant Catalano found plenty of the ball through the midfield. He was strong overhead and battled gallantly in the trenches to finish with 20 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three rebounds. Benjamin Belperio was also good in the middle, collecting a team-high 22 disposals, seven tackles and six clearances. Key position player Ned Carey operated out of full forward and had a good battle with Glenelg backman Dayne McGary. Carey’s superior reach proved troublesome at times, but he unfortunately he couldn’t fully capitalise in front of goal, booting two goals and three behinds from eight touches and three marks.
#5 Hugh Stagg
One of the SANFL Under 18 competition’s best performers across the season so far, Stagg again played an influential role in the Tigers win over Norwood. His trademark brute strength was on show as he powered his way through would-be tacklers and burst away from stoppages. He broke the game open with some moments of explosiveness, but occasionally Stagg wasted the ball by foot and lacked penetration in his kicking. He tackled well at ground level and won plenty of contested ball, finishing with 23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and a first quarter goal.
#6 Darcy Gluyas
The dependable Gluyas has played a variety of roles for the Tigers this season, but started the Round 15 clash at the centre bounce. He would continue to ply his trade in the midfield for the duration of the game, fighting hard in congestion, tackling with intent and using the ball with efficiency. Gluyas’ class shone through when he took a terrific one-handed mark in attack. He finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, four clearances and seven inside-50s.
#21 Cooper Beecken
Cooper Beecken produced perhaps his best performance of the season in the Bays 68-point win over the Redlegs. Having spent most of the season stationed across half-back in an intercept-marking role, Beecken was deployed in a slightly more advanced wing role at The Parade. He spent passages of the game on the inside but did his best work in space. Beecken worked hard to present as an outlet option along the wing, where he showcased his high-end athleticism and aerial strength. When he drifted back, Beecken read the play well and positioned himself smartly. He displayed a willingness to take the game on by foot, which led to a couple of turnovers. However his vision and intent was admirable. Beecken gathered 22 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and completed a strong showing with a goal.
Small forward Kane Viska was ever-present in attack. Importantly, he made the most of his opportunities in front of the big sticks, nailing his set shots and making the most of a couple of down-field free kicks within range. The Westminster product collected 12 disposals to go with his bag of four goals. Strong-bodied forward Jack Harding used his strength to get on top of the Norwood backline. He took seven marks and booted three goals from 13 disposals, but could have had an even bigger day had he converted a couple of other opportunities.
Brodie Edwards displayed good skills and composure in the midfield. His natural football smarts, defensive pressure around the ball and sound decision making were also highlights of his game. Edwards booted a highlight-reel goal from the pocket in the final term to add to his 19 disposals and ten tackles. Hunter Window (18 disposals and three tackles) and Darcy Porter (20 disposals and a goal) were also serviceable through the midfield.
WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 15.13 (103) def. NORTH ADELAIDE 8.6 (54)
By: Michael Alvaro
#9 Jase Burgoyne
In his first game at the level since Round 11 after a Reserves stint, Burgoyne picked up right where he left off. The silky skilled Port father-son prospect managed a well compiled 27 disposals and nine marks, rotating back from midfield. His clean kicking skills came to the fore around the ground, as Burgoyne distributed with poise and hardly wasted a touch. While many of his short passes found safe options, every side needs a cool head like Burgoyne showed. He also contributed some more contested work than usual and looked good when flying for overhead marks, of which he clunked a few.
#14 Blake Hansen
The run-and-gun bottom-ager brought a spark to the backline with his pace and aggressive intent on the rebound. He would often charge off unopposed to get handball receives once the Eagles won possession in midfield, gaining serious meterage with his speed and penetrative boot. He even got dish-offs all the way up at half-forward for a couple of flying shots at goal, but couldn’t quite hit the target. Hansen can be a real threat in those instances, and looks to make things happen with ball in hand. He finished with 28 touches and nine marks from defence.
#16 Will Pearce
Pearce made a thundering impact on the scoreboard with seven goals on Saturday, including the game’s first and last majors. His opening score was the only one which didn’t come from a set shot, and he only missed one of his seven opportunities via that method. For most of the day, Pearce worked up to half-forward as a linking option when the Eagles advanced inside 50, bringing others into the game with quick ball movement. He was duly rewarded with four goals to three quarter time, before putting the cherry on top of a big win by piling on the last three of the game. 21 disposals, nine marks (three contested) and seven goals – fair statline.
#17 Mattaes Phillipou
The Eagles have a really promising bottom-ager on their hands in Phillipou, a multi-sport athlete with plenty of upside. He rotated constantly through midfield and the forwardline on Saturday, finishing with balanced figures of 23 disposals, five marks and a goal. Phillipou is a good height for the hybrid type and combines his developing midfield craft with some handy aerial work forward of centre, proving hard to stop with his leap and reach. He also got his hands dirty at ground level and booted WWT forward quickly, while his goal came via a free kick in term three.
The Eagles had a bunch of players step up in their big win, with the likes of Dustin Launer (37 disposals, 12 marks), William Neumann (27 disposals, two goals), and Sam Nicholls (22 disposals) all productive around the ball. Brock Thomson had his moments rotating through the middle from defence, and Mishai Wollogorang provided his usual spark on the rebound. Talls Zac Phillips, Jordan Lukac, and Jonte Hunter-Price were also solid, with the latter enjoying an intercept-marking purple patch during the second term.
#4 Isaac Keeler
Keeler is as exciting as they come as a tall prospect, with his raw athleticism and skill making for eye-catching moments up forward and through the ruck. The Adelaide NGA product was initially stationed deep forward, but got into the game once rotated on-ball and when working further afield as a marking option. He stood under plenty of long kicks and took eight marks for the day with his impressive reach, even getting all the way down to follow-up at ground level. He showcased quick skills by hand to produce chances for others, but could not quite capitalise to hit the scoreboard himself on this occasion.
#12 Hugh Jackson
While it was tough going at times for Jackson, who was down on his usually phenomenal disposal output, he still managed to produce some handy moments when carrying the ball forward from midfield. He ended up with 16 touches (13 kicks) and four inside 50s, numbers which were indicative of his style of play. Jackson often looked to manufacture some space to break clear at the back of stoppages, using his turn of speed to jet forward before delivering a sharp kick. While he faltered a touch at full tilt, Jackson managed to hit plenty of passes to leading forwards under pressure. He also helped the Roosters chain their transitions through the corridor and arguably looked the most likely midfielder to make something happen when in possession.
#22 Blayne O’Loughlin
Another of Adelaide’s exciting NGA hopefuls, O’Loughlin was given the chance to further showcase his versatility with an extended run through midfield. He started out in defence though and produced his usual work there, getting to plenty of ground level contests and sweeping North Adelaide into transition with his speed and kicking. O’Loughlin also took the kick-ins and even in general play, looked sharper when hitting short options rather than blasting it long. He looked busy in midfield and got his legs pumping on the attack, finishing with 21 disposals (18 kicks), three clearances, and five rebound 50s.
Midfielders Harvey Harrison (25 disposals, four clearances) and James White (22 disposals, five marks) were both solid for the Roosters in what ended up a big loss, while Sam McTaggart got busy out on the wing. Adam Heath and Zyton Santillo were others to find a good amount of ball rotating through midfield, and bottom-ager Kelsey Rypstra was one of two Roosters to snare a pair of majors.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 23.16 (154) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 7.8 (50)
By: Tom Wyman
#3 Luke Mitton
Diminutive South Adelaide midfielder, Mitton had a productive day at Noarlunga. He spent the game operating at the feet of the ruckman and proved a solid extractor at ground level. He spread well from the contest and worked hard throughout the game, and his work at stoppages when the ball was inside 50 ensured he added two goals to his tally. Mitton’s first major came from a set-shot and his second was a regulation snap after finding himself in a paddock of space out the back of the contest. He finished as the Panthers’ leading disposal getter, gathering 26 touches, seven marks, three tackles and five clearances.
#4 Jack Delean
Despite being a couple of years away from draft eligibility, small forward Delean put on a clinic at Noarlunga. He was involved in the action right away, presenting with intent to take a strong mark inside 50. Shortly after, he booted his first goal of the game from close-range and could have added another with his next effort – a set shot gettable by his lofty standards. However, Delean more than made up for the blemish by proving a class above one-on-one. His ability to read the flight of the ball and position his body well in the marking contests ensured he took a number of inside 50 grabs.
His second goal of the term was perhaps his best of the day. Delean brought the ball to ground in the marking contest, promptly gathered his own crumb, weaved past a would-be tackler and slotted a beauty from 45 metres. He slammed through his third first-term goal after bursting through a stoppage and continued to look like the most dangerous player on the ground with the ball in his vicinity. Delean’s vertical leap and marking prowess was exceptional, as was his movement through stoppages up forward. Already looking like a top talent, Delean finished with five goals to his name, to go with 14 disposals, seven marks (two contested) and three tackles.
#8 Cooper Rogers
Rogers worked well with fellow midfielder Mitton, with the pair proving a handful around the contest. Rogers attacked the ball with admirable aggression and showcased some excellent breakaway speed and burst. He was also excellent defensively, tackling hard and throwing himself into the packs to force a ball up. With ball in hand, Rogers could’ve lowered his eyes more often, instead of launching it long, particularly when he found himself in some space exiting stoppages. At times explosive, Rogers managed 23 disposals, five marks, six tackles, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal.
#10 Isaac Birt
One of the surprise packets of the 2021 SANFL Under 18 season so far, Birt again showed glimpses of his talents in the Panthers hefty win. His raw speed and acceleration along the wing broke open the game at-times, and his precise kicking was also a highlight. Birt’s foot skills going inside 50 were particularly noteworthy, measuring each pass with pin-point accuracy. He booted a nice snap goal and could have had another if not for a fumbled bounce when streaming into goal. His strength overhead was also on display as he hauled in a couple of contested marks. Birt finished the contest with 20 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and eight inside 50s.
Key forward Tom Schirmer had a wonderful day for the Panthers. He spent some time in attack but was also given an extended run in the ruck to relieve Will Verrall. Schirmer proved far too big and strong for his direct opponent, easily out-bodying them in the marking contest. Possessing a booming left-foot kick, Schirmer nailed his set shots and finished with four goals to go with 10 disposals and four marks.
Bailey Pilmore beautifully complimented the efforts of Delean. He tackled well at ground level but was vice-like in the air, taking three contested marks. A smooth-mover, he was another Panther to boot a bag, finishing with four goals from 15 disposals and five marks. Ryan Pearsons had a terrific start to the second term up forward. He presented well and also looked threatening above his shoulders. He gathered 10 disposals, took five marks and added two goals.
#10 Dylan Wall
On an undoubtedly disappointing day for his side, Wall was one of Centrals’ bright spots. He booted the Bulldogs first goal of the game late in the opening term after taking a strong mark inside-50. He snapped home his second early in the third term and finished the game with three majors to his name, to go with 11 disposals, three marks and seven tackles.
#17 Tahjin Krieg
Central District was outclassed from the get-go against a talented South Adelaide unit, but Krieg worked hard throughout the contest, refusing to throw in the towel. Playing his customary midfield role, Krieg brought speed and intensity to the contest. He looked to use his breakaway pace to get things moving for the Bulldogs, particularly through the middle of the ground. Krieg tackled hard and showed admirable courage to take a strong contested mark in the first term. Krieg will look to tidy up his disposal in the final weeks of the season, as his kicking was hit-and-miss throughout the contest and in front of goal. Nevertheless, he tried hard and finished with 16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and three inside 50s.
#38 Brodie Tuck
Tuck shouldered most of the ruck work for the Bulldogs and fought well against South’s combination of Verrall and Schirmer. One of the more prolific Bulldogs, Tuck was arguably Central District’s best performer. He shared the spoils with Verrall in terms of hit-out numbers, both finishing with 17 taps, however Tuck showed excellent athleticism and work rate to be a factor around the ground. He gathered 20 disposals but also won a team-high six clearances to highlight his ability to follow-up his own work. The Salisbury North tall registered six inside 50s and also added a goal in what was a promising performance.
WEST ADELAIDE 19.18 (132) def. STURT 4.6 (30)
By: Michael Alvaro
#3 Charlie Pridham
Productive as ever in the back half, Pridham helped Westies turn defence into attack. The zippy small racked up 34 disposals (29 kicks), four inside 50s and three rebound 50s, helping his side force turnovers before helping spark a range of transitions. Pridham used his speed and short kicking game to good effect, while holding a high line behind the ball to pile plenty of pressure on Sturt when an attack was forming. Plenty went through him off half-back, and he helped get the Bloods into advanced areas of the ground time after time.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Kennedy lead all-comers on Saturday with 35 disposals, nine marks and eight clearances, working well around the ground and generating some momentum from midfield for Westies. He snuck forward to mark uncontested and slot the game’s first goal in term one, helping his side maintain a forward flow in the first half. He was sometimes forced wide when breaking from centre bounces, but began to break straight towards goal after the main break to prove much more damaging in possession. His repeat running efforts and ability to carry the ball became more of a feature as the game wore on, capping a well-rounded effort.
#37 Tom Scully
The bottom-aged key position prospect finished with a flurry, booting the game’s final three goals to end up with four overall. Rotating through the ruck and forwardline, Scully used his reach at 201cm to win a game-high 14 hit-outs, while also positioning well between the arcs to take a couple of nice overhead grabs. He utilised that same reach to snare his first goal, taking the ball at full stretch close to goal before duly converting. He showed handy mobility for his final three majors, with the third a very nice dribbler in the dying seconds of the match.
#45 Oscar Steene
Another West Adelaide tall around the 200cm mark, Steene showcased really promising aerial ability on Saturday. He rose to take nine marks (two contested) and won 13 hitouts rotating with Scully through the ruck and forwardline, but only managed a couple of behinds in front of goal. Still, Steene’s ability to read the ball in flight and take it at its highest point was great – whether it was presenting as a lead-up option up forward, or positioning well behind the ball to intercept. His speccy out on the wing during the fourth quarter drew a big reaction from the crowd, and rightly so as his side romped to a big win.
Among West Adelaide’s 10 individual goalkickers, Harrison Barker and Luke Young snared 3.3 apiece with some productive work up forward, while midfielders Jesse Thackeray (22 disposals, two goals) and Dylan White (26 disposals, two goals) broke into attack with intent. Another to do so was Dylan McCormick, who also snared a major from his 20 touches and six marks.
#12 Jamie Taylor
Taylor was a constant in Sturt’s midfield, proving reliable at the contest while also working around the ground to help the Double Blues gain some fluency on the ball. While he didn’t hit every target, Taylor showed good endeavour in a solid performance despite his team being soundly beaten. He finished with 17 disposals (14 kicks), six marks, and six tackles.
#25 Kade Harvey
Being a Sturt defender was a tough gig on Saturday, and Harvey would know all about just that. The Double Blues backman managed a team-high 25 disposals, 10 marks, and 15 rebound 50s in a game where he had plenty of work to do. Entrusted with the kick-ins, Harvey looked to snatch as much meterage as possible before clearing the ball long by foot, and was even pinged for running to far on one such occasion. He also tried hard to mop up across defensive 50 and made a couple of timely intercepts, but was truly up against it for most of the game.
Jake Aish was again solid in midfield, snaring a goal in the fourth term to cap his 21-disposal effort. Jaymes Tregakis and Ethan Field also had a crack through the engine room, while Thomas McCourt did so down back and Chad Reschke was a handy target at the other end, finishing with 1.2 from his seven touches.
Image Credit: North Adelaide FC via Facebook