Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 16

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.

STURT 2.5 (17) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 21.17 (143)

By: Michael Alvaro

Sturt:

#12 Jamie Taylor

Taylor was Sturt’s most prolific ball winner with 25 disposals and nine clearances on what was a tough day for his side. He rotated forward through midfield but was also sighted dropping back a heap during the second half to try and help the Double Blues shift out of their defensive half. Taylor also worked to bustle through congestion and provide some intent in his tackling, while also getting around his teammates among what was an undermanned Sturt outfit.

#28 George Pope

A bright spot for Sturt in 2021 has been the emergence of 16-year-old Pope in midfield, and the 2005-born prospect again got his hands dirty on Saturday. He proved powerful with both his burst of speed and tackling pressure around the ball, putting in repeat efforts to help steady against the Eagles’ dominance. While there is work to do on his kicking, Pope got good purchase on a few long balls and was certainly willing to find it himself. He finished with 19 disposals, six tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Kade Harvey rolled up into midfield and again found a good amount of ball, finishing with 19 disposals and seven clearances for the Double Blues. Ethan Field was another to feature in the engine room and notched 12 touches after a promising start, while the likes of Mitch Felton, Lachlan Boscence, and Thomas McCourt all had plenty to do in a besieged defence.

Woodville-West Torrens:

#8 Brock Thomson

Rotating through midfield from defence, Thomson was again solid for the Eagles with his ability to drive his side forward. He had no trouble finding the ball having contributed 24 disposals and seven marks, with his work overhead quite sound. It complimented his burst across the ground and punchy kicking, which helped keep Woodville-West Torrens flowing in possession.

#9 Jase Burgoyne

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect has been nothing short of prolific at Under 18s level and that was no different on Saturday, as he amassed a game-high 40 disposals, nine marks, and nine clearances. He often found a way to claim the first centre break of each term; handling the ball cleanly either off taps, at ground level, or via a handball receive before, using the afforded time and space to deliver an effective kick inside 50. Burgoyne does the fundamentals well in terms of skill execution and while many of the options he chose were short and safe, he still hardly wasted a touch. He has also shown a good knack for taking overhead marks and registered three contested on the day, gaining the confidence to protect his space or leap at the ball. He dropped back plenty during the second half and accumulated at will, looking quite casual in his work.

#14 Blake Hansen

Hansen was another who had plenty of the pill with 34 disposals, nine marks and seven inside 50s, playing the wing role to a t. The dashing bottom-ager hit the scoreboard early with a nice checkside finish under heavy pressure, but put multiple other chances wide on the fly having pushed forward aggressively. Still, his ability to work hard both ways and find space to drive forward into allowed for ruthlessly quick Eagles transitions. Having previously done so off half-back, Hansen looks well suited to the wing position where his attacking instincts take toll.

#17 Mattaes Phillipou

It was a massive day out for Phillipou, who racked up 32 disposals and snared 6.2 in a rather fruitful outing. The developing bottom-ager set the game up in term one, creating separation on the lead and showing good ground level smarts to snare three of his majors from 11 touches. His clean hands both in the air and below his knees made for a dual threat in attack, before shifting into the midfield mix and remaining involved. Phillipou booted a goal in each of the following three quarters, with two coming from set shots and one from a quick snap closer to goal. He’s one to watch closely for 2022.

Others:

The Eagles were dominant around the ball, with thanks to the likes of Will Neumann, Sam Nicholls and Dustin Launer. Big man Jordan Lukac also took on the primary ruck duties and brought even more physicality to the engine room, before resting forward. Will Pearce again snared a trio of late goals to finish with five for the day, while Michael Papanotis claimed three. Elsewhere, Brody Mair provided a bit of dash out of defence and Jay Watson snuck forward well off a wing.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 6.3 (39) def. by GLENELG 18.15 (123)

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#14 Thomas Clements

Charged with plenty of responsibility in defence, Clements had his work cut out for him on Saturday but stood up well to amass a game-high 43 disposals, 10 marks, and 11 rebound 50s. He took on the kick-in duties and was Centrals’ general in defensive 50, where he found plenty of the ball and looked to set his side on the rebound. He had to fight hard to turn the ball over and keep the Bulldogs in possession as Glenelg piled on the pressure all day.

#17 Tahjin Krieg

The nippy Centrals midfielder had another productive outing on Saturday, notching 23 disposals, six marks and seven tackles. Most of his best work was done around the ground as Glenelg took over at the coalface, with Krieg showing good work-rate to drop back and help his side drive forward. He had a few eye-catching running passages, including one three-bounce foray to the wing, often finishing his work with a sharp left-foot kick.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Tuck was again outstanding for Centrals, rotating through the ruck from his usual forward post. While he only registered two marks, they respectively showed the bottom-ager’s terrific judgement of the ball in flight and ability to hold his ground in a wrestle. His clean hands were also observed in general play, as Tuck was able to snatch the bumbling ball with one grab and pump his side into attack. He booted booted three goals, with two slotted from around the 50m arc and the other a handy checkside finish after mopping up his own marking attempt.

Others:

The likes of Jake Grubb and Nash Haynes were others who also had plenty to do in defence alongside Clements, while Henry Ratcliff proved productive on the ball with his 21 touches, nine marks, and goal. Starting ruck Saxon Evans also returned to the grade after a Reserves dig, winning 19 hit-outs and three clearances.

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

It was another high-output game for Stagg, as the powerful midfielder registered a team-high 36 disposals, eight clearances, and 1.3 rotating forward from the engine room. He looked ominous when breaking forward and showcased terrific smarts in the clinches, able to rip the ball free and then burst into space. Stagg was dangerous when resting forward too, with his lone goal an outstanding but of one-on-one play where he sped past his opponent to win a loose ball inside 50 and slot the it home. He steadied well in front of goal but put multiple opportunities wide, which would have capped a massive game.

#17 Corey Brougham

Brougham was just about unbeatable in the air on Saturday, claiming 11 marks (three contested) among his 21 disposals. He presented strongly and read the ball better than anyone in flight, before taking it cleanly with one-grab clunks. Brougham also capped his work with four goals and could have had even more if not for a couple of errant set shots. His highlight for the day came in term four, marking at half-forward before taking two bounces and coolly slotting a terrific goal on the run.

#21 Cooper Beecken

The promising 18-year-old continues to show nice glimpses out on the wing, and worked into the contest strongly to finish with 21 disposals, six marks, and three goals. He was generally clean and quick with his skills, helping move the ball fluently without fuss while making an impact on the scoreboard that we haven’t yet seen from him. All three of Beecken’s majors came in the second half, with two snared in term three on the back of pure smarts and those quick skills of his.

#36 Darcy Porter

Starting brightly with the game’s first goal, Porter was always in the contest for Glenelg and finished with impressive numbers of 29 disposals, eight marks, and two goals. He took the game on with his speed and willingness to move the ball on quickly, helping the Bays launch into attack. He rotated through midfield but also worked hard while stationed forward to move up the ground and hurt Centrals on the way back. His positive carry and intent made for some swift ball movement in yellow and black.

Others:

There were plenty of solid contributors for Glenelg in what was a big win. William Watts and Darcy Gluyas were both productive through midfield, while Benjamin Ridgway got busy with a couple of goals up forward. Jack Harding came away with four majors, and Hunter Window also pitched in with some nice moments out on the wing.

North Adelaide 6.9 (45) def. by South Adelaide 18.10 (118)

By: Tom Wyman

North Adelaide:

#12 Hugh Jackson

It was a quiet start to the game for Hugh Jackson, with the clean-kicking onballer struggling to get his hands on the ball. And when he did manage to gather the ball, he seemed to be under immediate pressure from the South Adelaide midfield, who were clearly weary of his ability to inflict damage with his precise ball-use. Denied space to use his damaging left-foot, Jackson resorted to handballing, where he displayed good vision and decision making. Although down on his output from early in the season, Jackson was still one of North’s best, winning 21 disposals along with three marks, four tackles and four clearances.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

Blayne O’Loughlin was at his prolific best for the Roosters, despite their hefty loss. Across half-back he was involved immediately, swooping upon the loose-balls and doing lots of cleaning up in defence. His calm head under pressure matched his skill execution and willingness to involve himself in some attacking plays forward of centre. He provided some excellent overlap run and pushed forward to boot North’s third goal, but also ensured he hurried back to defence when South Adelaide looked to attack. The Crows NGA prospect fought to the bitter end and complimented his composure and skill with toughness one-on-one. He finished with a game-high 35 disposals and nine rebound 50s.

#26 Kelsey Rypstra

Kelsey Rypstra played an important role for the home side. Stationed at half-forward and rotating through the midfield, he injected some speed around the contest and, importantly, made the most of his opportunities in front of goal. He intelligently soccered home the Roosters first of the day, then read the play to perfection to take an intercept mark inside 50 and slot the subsequent set shot. The only Rooster who looked dangerous with ball-in-hand at times, Rypstra would go on to boot another two goals and finish the day with a bag of four. He also gathered 15 disposals and five marks.

Others: Utility Adam Heath played well in a variety of roles, but was particularly noteworthy when pushed into the midfield, where he won a team-high six clearances. His bigger frame ensured Heath won plenty of contested ball, which he complimented with sound ball-use going inside 50. Harvey Harrison showed glimpses of his talents in the midfield, with his speed and run and carry providing a point of difference. He gathered 20 disposals, three marks and five tackles. Angus Tully produced his best game of the season, gathering a season-high 23 disposals, five marks and four rebounds. Lewis Saint’s efforts were also commendable, finishing with 18 disposals, seven marks and six tackles down back.

South Adelaide:

#3 Luke Mitton

Clever midfielder Luke Mitton backed up his best-on-ground effort last weekend with another strong showing against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval. Busy from the get-go, his nimble foot work proved effective in the trenches and his speed was a staple throughout the contest. Despite doing most of his work on the inside, Mitton used the ball efficiently. His pressure around the ball-carrier was important, as was his two-way running and balance of defence and attack. Mitton finished with 24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five clearances and four rebounds.

#4 Jack Delean

After dazzling in South Adelaide’s big win over Central Districts last week, Jack Delean backed it up with another sensational showing. Despite being a couple of years away from draft eligibility, Delean has lit up the SANFL Under 18s competition this season, booting a goal in every match since debuting in Round 5. The small forward showed the Roosters defence just how dangerous he can be in attack when he exploded through a forward 50 stoppage and ran into an open goal not once but twice in the first term. Delean made his direct opponent look hopeless when he accelerated into back-to-back open goals, using his natural smarts and elusiveness to damaging effect. He continued to threaten as the game wore on, flying for marks and booting a couple of set-shots to finish with five goals, 12 disposals and five tackles.

#8 Cooper Rogers

Cooper Rogers is one of several South Adelaide midfielders to have produced consistent seasons to-date, and his efforts in the Panthers 73-point win over the Roosters was one of his best. His confidence received a boost early on when the balanced midfielder’s left-foot snap trickled through for a major. With North possessing some dangerous ball-users through the middle, the relentless and often-fierce tackling pressure applied by Rogers went a long way to restricting their impact. Playing a very physical game, Rogers spent time on Rooster Hugh Jackson at stoppages and nullified his influence to perfection. South Adelaide’s leading possession-winner, Rogers was dominant at stoppages, finishing with a game-high 11 clearances to go with 29 touches, four marks, seven tackles and 10 inside 50s.

#10 Isaac Birt

Wingman Isaac Birt had a decent day out at Prospect. One of South Australia’s best outside midfielders, Birt was often targeted by teammates when looking to turn defence into attack. He provided some meaningful run and drive on the periphery, particularly from the half-back line. His kicking was sharp and bullet-like at times, however Birt’s skills at full speed occasionally let him down. He finished with 25 disposals, seven marks and seven inside-50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Bottom-aged ruckman Will Verrall solidified his standing as one of SA’s brightest young talents with a great performance for the Panthers. Verrall set the tone early, using his strong athletic base to leap into ruck contests and outreach his North Adelaide opponent. He used his body well in the ruck contests but it was his work once the ball hit the deck and around the ground which elevated his game. Verrall worked into some handy positions around the ground, then capitalised on his positioning by taking some great marks down the line. A ruckman who is not generally renowned for his overhead work, it was encouraging to see Verrall haul in a couple of strong grabs. The icing on the cake came when Verrall snapped truly out of a forward-50 stoppage in the third term. He showed great strength and bustle to burst through a couple of stoppages, to further highlight his ground-level impact. Verrall finished with 20 disposals, four marks (three contested), 18 hit-outs, seven clearances and five inside-50s.

Others: Skipper Dylan Brown led from the front for the Panthers, laying six tackles. One of the best pressure players in the SANFL Under 18s competition, Brown also gathered 13 disposals and five marks and seven inside-50s playing on the wing. Busy half-back Lachlan Hayes played a typical game in which he read the play very well in defence, finishing with 25 disposals and nine rebounds. Bottom-aged centre half-forward Koby Cockshell was impressive for the visitors, booting two goals from 18 disposals.

WEST ADELAIDE 12.16 (88) def. NORWOOD 12.7 (79)

By: Tom Wyman

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

It was a stereotypical Pridham performance from the competition’s best small defender. He did as he pleased across the backline, mopping up when necessary, using the ball effectively and turning defence into attack. Although he opted for the safe option on many of his kicks, he executed well and player a key role in the Bloods grinding out a hard-fought victory against the Redlegs. He finished with 26 disposals, eight marks and six rebound 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Cade Kennedy did his draft hopes no harm with a dominant display at Hisense Stadium. The midfielder was everywhere but proved particularly useful in congestion, where his natural, hard-at-it ball-winning tendencies rose to fruition. He was easily the best clearance winner on the ground, but when he didn’t win the ball himself, Kennedy tackled well and denied the Redlegs on-ballers time and space. Although he could have lowered his eyes on a couple of occasions when he probably had more time than he thought, Kennedy’s skills were on full display in a terrific passage of play in the first quarter. It started when he won a free kick and hit up the leading Oscar Steene at half-forward with a precise right-foot kick. He kept on running and received it back before measuring an inside-50 ball to perfection on his left. Throughout the game, he continued to balance defence with attack and did some damage on the outside to compliment his inside grunt work. He finished the game with 34 disposals, six marks, six tackles, ten clearances and 10 inside 50s.

#33 Jesse Thackeray

Jesse Thackeray was again in the thick of it for West Adelaide. His strength in the contest was a highlight when utilised in the midfield, and his presentation and willingness to work hard impressed when he was thrown onto the half-forward flank. He produced a very balanced game, winning plenty of ball on the inside but also doing some damage on the outside, where Thackeray used the ball fairly well. He finished the game with 35 disposals, ten marks, three tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

#45 Oscar Steene

With Norwood’s first choice ruckman sidelined through suspension, Oscar Steene capitalised on his advantage in the ruck to give the Bloods on-ballers first look. He really looked to impose himself on the contest by punching the ball out of the ruck and clearing the area. However Steene balanced this out with some deft tap-work to set-up the likes of Cade KennedyDylan White and Jesse Thackeray at ground level. He took a couple of strong marks around the ground and should have finished with a goal to go with his 13 disposals, seven marks (two contested), four tackles and 29 hit-outs.

Others: Bloods’ forward Jaeden Watts booted four goals in his sides narrow win. Although he had limited opportunities, gathering just ten disposals, he made them count in-front of the big sticks. Midfielder Dylan White impressed with his gut-running. He worked relentlessly hard up and down the wing to accumulate 16 marks for the match, along with 27 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Unfortunately he’ll rue missing a handful of opportunities in front of goal.

Norwood:

#15 Riley Verrall

Stationed across half-back, Riley Verrall produced one of his best performances for the season. He looked to generate run and carry from the defensive-50 and showed a desire to cut open the Bloods defensive structures by foot. Although not all of his kicks inflicted damage, his intent was admirable. He read the play well and took a number of intercept marks. The leading disposal-getter for the Redlegs, Verrall collected 26 touches, ten marks and five rebounds for the match.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Half-backman Matthew Dnistriansky has been Norwood’s most consistent performer throughout the season to-date, and he was again among the clubs best in their nine-point defeat to the Bloods. He was composed and clean with ball in-hand but also pushed forward to boot the first goal of the second term and hand the Redlegs the lead. Dnistriansky was effective between the arcs and finished with 20 disposals and five marks.

Others: Over-aged full-forward Ned Carey snapped the Redlegs first from close range and competed well all game to finish with three goals. Small forward Taj Rahui was again one of Norwood’s best players, showing glimpses of his talents throughout the course of the match. He booted a good running goal in the opening term and gave the Redlegs a glimmer of hope with a late major, finishing with 13 touches. Combative on-baller Corey Jones-Bobridge tried hard, winning four clearances and 19 disposals. He was effective going forward, launching the Redlegs inside-50 on eight occasions.

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

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