2021 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final – Glenelg vs. WWT Eagles
WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles will be out to win their third flag in four years in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s competition, after reaching the 2021 grand final following a consistent year in the state’s top junior competition. They take on minor premiers Glenelg, who had an additional three wins, though the Eagles finished with two draws – against West Adelaide and North Adelaide – showing just how close they could have been to top spot. We take a look at the match and who might get up.
GLENELG vs WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS EAGLES
Saturday, September 18 @ 12:40pm
These two sides reached the 2021 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final in the traditional way after finishing top two. Glenelg won the minor premiership, and with the home ground advantage, defeated WWT Eagles by a whopping 52 points in the semi-final to automatically qualify for the decider. Eagles then had to utilise its double chance by defeating West Adelaide at Thebarton Oval last week by 31 points as Jordan Lukac (5.4) and Charlie Blair (3.1) had days out in front of goal.
Last time they met: Semi-final
GLENELG 4.2 | 11.5 | 12.7 | 16.10 (106)
WWT EAGLES 2.2 | 3.3 | 7.4 | 8.6 (54)
It was one-way traffic in the second term for the Bays, as Glenelg fired up with seven goals to one in the quarter and all but end the contest with a 50-point lead at the main break. Whilst both teams kicked five majors after half-time, the game was done and dusted with that onslaught, which included two goals apiece each to Harry Tunkin (finished with four) and Jack Harding (three) in that term. Tunkin was indeed outstanding with 16 touches, five marks, six tackles and three inside 50s as well, whilst Harding kicked the three from eight touches – five kicks – and three marks. Hunter Window (29 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal) was among a further six players with 20-plus disposals for the winners. Jase Burgoyne lit it up for the Eagles with 29 disposals, four marks – two contested – three tackles, two inside 50s and six rebound 50s, with Brock Thomson (23 disposals, two marks and six rebound 50s) and Dustin Launer (20 disposals, three marks, seven clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) the other key layers.
WWT Eagles have been dealt a big blow for the weekend’s game, with Port father-son prospect Burgoyne out of the team. The talented teenager is likely the first Eagle selected in this year’s AFL Draft, but will miss the grand final after pulling up sore with a groin issue, along with Henry Hawker (shoulder) who was the other confirmed out. Into the side comes six players on an extended bench with Noah Goldie, Jayden Hendry and Oscar Mansell all among the inclusions.
Glenelg has sat pretty since booking its spot in the decider, with Dayne McGary, Lachlan Scannell and Daniel Nicotra the three additional inclusions for an extended bench at this point.
Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)
The South Australian vice-captain is one of four Glenelg players to receive an initial AFL Draft Combine invite this year, and one of only three to be playing in the match. He has stepped up to play two Reserves games this year, but has otherwise been a ball-winning machine in the Under 18s, often providing the run and carry required down the field. Not picking up less than 21 touches in a game this year, he has been a driving force from midfield to attack, playing an outside role perfectly. Running at an elite 90 per cent disposal efficiency, Rayson has averaged 26.7 disposals, 6.5 marks, 2.4 tackles, 2.2 clearances, 4.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s.
Lukas Cooke (WWT Eagles)
Like Rayson, Cooke has managed to play a couple of Reserves games, but has been a crucial goalkicking cog for the Eagles when available in his seven games. In his first four games of the year, Cooke slotted 14 goals to lead all-comers at that stage, including a stunning seven-goal haul against South Adelaide, and then four-goal performance against North Adelaide. He has only played the three games since, adding a further five goals, with a goal in each of his finals. In both games against Glenelg, Cooke has managed the one goal from nine and 11 touches, but the Draft Combine invite is capable of blowing sides away if not tightly watched.
It is hard not to look past a host of Bays talents who have stood out this year, but Bays’ captain Hugh Stagg, and Cooper Beecken are the other AFL Draft Combine invites, with Oscar Adams also included in the additional 30 players later on. For the Eagles, Lukac has been in outstanding form all year, with the captain slotting 11 goals in his past three games for his side. He was kept to one goal across his first two outings against the Bays, but kicked a couple in the semi-final loss, and also provided a key role through the ruck as he has a few times over the past month.
It is too hard to look past a Glenelg outfit that won the minor premiership and waltzed to a 52-point win in the semi-final. The positives for the Eagles are that they were fairly even in the other terms which could have made it a much closer game, and have kept their opponents to under 80 points in the other two matches, winning the second encounter in Round 11. With Burgoyne out of the side it makes the job even tougher, so while it should be closer, Glenelg is likely to take home this year’s cup.
Picture credit: SANFL