Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL U18s – Preliminary Final

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season moved on into its second week of finals over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the latest 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 members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 13.15 (93) def. WEST ADELAIDE 9.8 (62)

Woodville-West Torrens:

#4 Jase Burgoyne

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect had a busy start to the game and seemed to be one of the few Eagles midfielders who was able to get his hands on the ball in the first quarter. He showed flashes of class to weave his way in and out of traffic, then put the on afterburners a couple of times to stream away from the opposition. Burgoyne’s run-and-carry would continue to be an important factor for the Eagles as the game wore on. He ran into a vacant goalsquare to boot his side’s third goal of the game in the second term, after shifting from the middle to the forwardline. He had another couple of shots on goal from difficult angles which missed. Burgoyne wasn’t at his most productive against the Bloods, but his class and willingness to carry the ball was important, particularly when the Eagles were up against it early on. He finished with 20 disposals, two marks, four clearances and five rebounds.

#6 Dustin Launer

The consistent Eagle was again one of his side’s best in their hard-fought preliminary final win over the Bloods. One of the first Woodville-West Torrens players who looked to take the game on with run and skill after being comprehensively beaten early on, Launer’s outside work was important. A highly versatile player whose skillset has seen him spend time across half-back and on-ball throughout the year, Launer was stationed on the wing for the Eagles’ cut-throat final. He wasn’t overly dominant, but offered composure and calmness with ball in-hand. Launer concluded the game with 23 disposals and five marks.

#8 Brock Thomson

Thomson stood tall down back all day for the Eagles and played a critical role in his sides come-from-behind triumph. The Eagles defence was bombarded in the first term as the West Adelaide on-ballers dominated proceedings, but Thomson kept his cool when others succumbed to the early heat. The kick-in specialist was composed with the ball and made the right decisions for his team, rarely wasting a disposal. His intelligent kick into the centre from full back lead to a Jordan Lukac mark and goal to spark the Eagles. Thomson read the play well, taking a terrific intercept mark in front of the Bloods tall forwards in the third term. The small defender has produced a terrific season down back and he was again outstanding for the Eagles in the preliminary final, amassing 26 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and six rebounds.

#11 Charlie Blair

Blair played an important hand in the Eagles’ win. Doing some of his best work in the air across half-forward, but also pushing into the midfield to lend a hand, Blair gave the Eagles the ideal start after quarter time by booting an early goal. He added another within a minute of the half time siren to further energise his side. Blair looked dangerous inside 50, taking a solid contested grab on the cusp of three-quarter time and nailing a team lifting-goal after the siren. He managed 20 disposals, three goals, six marks (four contested) and three inside 50s.

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce overcame a slow start to the match to play a major role in the second half. He crashed some packs and provided a strong contest, but remained almost unsighted in the game’s early stages. The Under 18s leading goalkicker snapped his first major at the 20-minute mark of the third term and started to get more opportunities in the attacking half of the ground. Pearce’s ball use on his left-foot was effective, however he was caught out when forced to use his non-dominant right on a couple of occasions. He booted a settling goal in the fourth term and will enter the grand final off the back of a resilient performance which saw him finish with 12 disposals, two goals, four marks (two contested), three tackles and six inside 50s.

#17 Mattaes Phillipou

Phillipou started the game up forward and was quiet early on, with the ball barely entering the Eagles forward half. However, when introduced into the midfield he had an immediate impact, winning a couple of quick clearances to get things rolling for his side. Phillipou’s natural smarts and intelligent positioning saw him finish with a game-high six clearances, with his clean hands in-tight a feature. Whilst he has shown match-winning capabilities up forward throughout the season to date, Phillipou’s strong work in the engine room against the Bloods will fill him with plenty of confidence ahead of the Grand Final next weekend. Phillipou ended the game with 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances and six inside 50s.

#20 Lukas Cooke

Tall forward, Cooke was the shining light for the Eagles in the first term, presenting well and marking everything above his head. Not dissimilar to Harry Lemmey at the other end, Cooke’s reach allowed him to gain separation on the lead then extend his long arms and take a couple of impressive marks down the line. An early set shot faded badly but landed in Charlie Blair’s lap, who should have converted. His work rate up and down the wings was admirable, despite Cooke fading out of the game as Jordan Lukac became the number one target in attack. Nevertheless, it was a good performance from Cooke, who finished with 16 touches, six marks (four contested) and four inside 50s.

#21 Adam D’Aloia

After playing in the Reserves last weekend, bottom-aged midfielder D’Aloia returned to the Eagles’ Under 18 side for the preliminary final. In the first quarter he had his legs taken out from under him and was certainly winded. To his credit, he bounced straight back up and got back to business. He had a couple of quick shots at goal inside 50 which fell just short, displaying good stoppage nous. D’Aloia’s quick hands in-tight were a highlight, with the midfielder’s decision making and vision on show. The SA Under 17 skipper managed 15 disposals, three marks and three tackles.

#26 Jordan Lukac

The Eagles skipper produced a standout second half to will his team over the line at Thebarton Oval. Lukac, like many of his teammates, struggled to get involved in the early part of the game, but a move into the ruck saw him pick up a couple of possessions. As the Eagles started to win the clearances and move the ball with speed and precision, Lukac’s raw athleticism and sheer size worried the Bloods backline. His hands were vice-like all day and his reach prompted the Bloods defenders to chop his arms, tug, hold and do just about anything in their power to take away Lukac’s aerial dominance. It was to no avail, with the SA Under 19 representative reaping the rewards of slick inside 50 ball use. Although he missed a couple of set shot kicks from gettable distances, Lukac’s routine was sound and his kicking solid. Along with 5.4 on the scoreboard, Lukac won 12 disposals, five marks and seven hit-outs.

Others: 

Ruckman Zac Phillips was forced to compete against a number of opponents on the day and battled hard. He took a couple of grabs around the ground, finishing with 13 disposals, five marks and 16 hit-outs. Will Neumann played a valuable role on the day and was particularly impressive with his defensive work, collecting 15 disposals, five marks, three tackles and four rebounds. Charlie Adams booted the Eagles’ second goal after spoiling inside 50. He finished with a team-high 26 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and five rebounds.

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Although his side’s season drew to a close on Saturday afternoon, small defender Pridham capped off a terrific campaign with another serviceable performance for the Bloods. Typically busy across West Adelaide’s defensive lines, Pridham was involved early, using the ball with precision and assuredness. Always measured and in control, Pridham’s ability to provide relentless rebound, as he has done all season long, proved invaluable. He finished the game with 27 disposals, four marks and 10 rebounds.

#9 Kobe Ryan

Talented midfielder, Ryan produced a terrific display in what could be the final game of his bottom-aged season. Ryan started at the centre bounce, throwing himself at the contested ball despite his slim build. The running patterns of the Sacred Heart College and Plympton Football Club product were terrific, with Ryan always providing a short hit-up option. He used the ball well, rarely wasting a possession and making smart decisions. He worked hard up and down the ground throughout the match, with a couple of important possessions in the defensive 50 highlighting his willingness to run both ways. Westies’ best on-baller, and arguably the best midfielder on the ground, Ryan gathered a game-high 28 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

The West Adelaide skipper tried his heart out, setting the tone early with his strong attack on the ball and terrific spread from the contest. He had a shot for goal early in the second term which hit the post and would have given West a sizeable lead after a strong first quarter. Kennedy fought hard in congestion, but it was his run-and-carry through the middle which stood out. His core strength allowed him to shrug off a number of tacklers on the run. Kennedy could have lowered his eyes to hit up some shorter targets by foot on a couple of occasions, but his ball use was clean for the most part. The midfielder’s gut running was noticeable, even as the game wore on and others began to tire. Kennedy finished with 22 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and three inside 50s for the match.

#16 Dylan White

White was integral to the Bloods fast start and continued to play an important role despite West Adelaide loosing momentum as the match wore on. An early shot on goal failed to register a score, but White was rewarded moments later with a holding-the-ball free kick following a textbook tackle. His set shot, however, only managed a minor score. White’s work rate across half-forward provided the likes of Pridham, Kennedy and Ryan with an effective outlet option across the flanks. His ball-use was largely clean and his clean hands on the lead were important. Certainly one of the Bloods best, White finished with 26 disposals, 10 marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#33 Jesse Thackeray

Thackeray started the match with a bang, sending the Bloods inside 50 with back-to-back centre clearances – both leading to goals. His combative work in-tight would continue to be a feature of his game as the match wore on. Thackeray, who has had a terrific season across the midfield and half-forward lines, tackled well and should have added a goal to his name if he composed himself and converted a snap. In a modest, well-rounded display, Thackeray worked hard to finish with 22 disposals, eight marks, three tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s.

#36 Tyson Coe

Following a best-on-ground performance in last week’s elimination final victory over South Adelaide, Coe again stood up in the Bloods’ engine room. He brought some genuine physicality and intent to the contest, attacking the contest at pace, winning plenty of contested ball and relentlessly scrapping way at ground level. Coe’s vision and accuracy by hand was important in the clinches, as was his clearance-winning at stoppages. He finished the game with 23 disposals, five marks and a team-high five clearances.

#54 Harry Lemmey

The Bloods were well beaten in the end, despite coming out all-guns blazing, but centre half-forward Lemmey was dominant from start to finish. He got straight into the action, playing in front and capitalising on a quick centre bounce clearance to mark and boot the game’s first goal, giving the Bloods the dream start. His explosiveness on the lead was genuinely exciting to watch as the game wore on, with Lemmey easily gaining separation on his leads and extending his hands to make it virtually impossible for the Eagles’ defence to spoil. He timed his leads to perfection, and on the rare occasion he didn’t take the mark, Lemmey was freakishly clean at ground level and precise by hand. He had a number of set shots throughout the game, several coming from difficult angles beyond the 50m arc. Lemmey had no trouble making the distance either, with his smooth set shot routine easily clearing the goal line. He finished with 3.2, but Lemmey’s dominance went beyond the stats sheet, with his presence and impact on the game terrific for a 17-year-old key forward. He finished with 20 disposals, 12 marks and four inside 50s.

Others: 

Medium-forward Luke Young managed just nine disposals but finished with four goals to compliment Harry Barnett and Lemmey in attack. He presented well and was strong overhead. Key utility Barnett was impressive, with his skills, evasiveness and follow-up work notable for a player of his height. Fellow talls Tom Scully and Oscar Steene had their moments, particularly early on, rotating between full-forward and the ruck. Will Patton (13 disposals and three marks) was effective in defence, while wingman Jed Obst gathered 14 disposals, seven marks and five inside 50s.

Image Credit: Russell Millard/The Advertiser

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