Podcast Explainer | Western Australia vs. South Australia AFL U19s recap (Game 2)
THE AFL Under 19 National Championships continued on Saturday, as Western Australia again defeated their Southern counterparts in a thrilling grand final curtain raiser event. Post-match, the Final Siren podcast team assembled to recap all the key talking points in the next pocket podcast edition. Listen as host Peter Williams is joined by guest analyst Michael Alvaro in the latest episode, thanks to Draft Central. Below is an ordered rundown of each topic ticked off.
Initial thoughts on the game
The dramatic finish served as a fitting end to proceedings, in what was a fantastic opportunity for all 46 players to shine on the big stage. While some serious top-end talent was missing from both squads, it was a competitive fixture for the most part and despite the steep risers and sliders not proving as prevalent, the game provided ample insight into which players are consolidating their spots in the draft order. The injection of bottom-age talent was another exciting facet.
Best afield for either side
Matthew Johnson (WA) – The Subiaco midfielder has been in red-hot form of late, impressing in the WAFL Reserves grade before returning to state duties. He carried on his consistent run, taking on primary ball winning duties for the Black Ducks with the likes of Neil Erasmus, Corey Warner, Josh Browne, and Angus Sheldrick unavailable. With wonderfully clean hands and equally sharp disposal under pressure, Johnson was a strong pick for WA’s best afield award. Blayne O’Loughlin (SA) – The Adelaide NGA prospect started like a house on fire, racking up plenty of possessions across the backline and putting speed on the ball when rebounding. While only small, O’Loughlin packs a punch and proved productive at ground level when the ball was there to be won, while also looking lively as he received on the outer. He was tasked with SA’s kick-in duties and generally used the ball well by foot, beating out some classy teammates to best afield honours.
Claremont swingman Jacob van Rooyen has been lauded for his ability to thrive down back for his state side given its surplus of tall forwards, but snuck into attack during the dying moments of Saturday’s game to kick the match-winning major. While an unsurprising headline without that context, it really was a treat to see the bigman take on such responsibility after playing quite a selfless role for WA this year. We had to look twice, but knew he would slot the goal as natural forwards do.
There were key injuries to either side throughout the match, including a couple of first round prospects. Jye Amiss, who has looked a little sore over the last couple of weeks, was in the wars before going down with a knee injury for WA. He was hit hard in many contests and came up jarred in one on the wing, which saw him limp off in the second term and take no further part in the game. Intercept and rebound defender Jack Avery also had his day cut short with concussion meaning the host’s tall stocks were dented. Luckily enough, arguably WA’s strong point is its key position depth, so the Black Ducks managed to adjust accordingly. For South Australia, Arlo Draper‘s shoulder injury looks likely to disrupt his first AFL preseason. The South Adelaide talent had been faring well in a shift to half-back, but was collected solidly and will undergo surgery to repair an injured AC-joint after his day (and season) ended with his right arm in a sling. For Amiss and Draper in particular, the injuries should not massively impact their draft stocks. Draper has suffered a couple of knocks this season but remains in top 15 contention on the back of his enormous upside, while Amiss has proven otherwise durable in a year where his output has been unbelievably consistent despite doing a wealth of travelling.
Both sides were heavily rotated from game one, allowing a few talents on the precipice to make good on a wonderful opportunity. Pick one contender Jason Horne-Francis headlined the outs alongside South Adelaide teammate Matthew Roberts, as the pair suited up in the Panthers’ SANFL League preliminary final loss last Friday night. Jase Burgoyne (groin) was another key player who became unavailable for SA. With the WAFL Colts finals taking precedence, a combined nine players from East Fremantle and Swan Districts instead ran out on Sunday morning for their preliminary final bout. Among them were state bookends Jack Williams and Rhett Bazzo, who matched up on each other, along with Sharks midfielders Warner and Browne, and Swans running machine Max Chipper.
AFL U19 National Championships fixtures
Sunday October 3 – SA v Allies – Adelaide Oval, SA
Sunday October 10 – SA v WA – Thebarton Oval, SA