Author: Tom Wyman

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL U18s – Grand Final

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as Woodville-West Torrens defeated Glenelg to take home its third premiership in four seasons. 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.

>> Match Report

2021 SANFL UNDER 18 GRAND FINAL
GLENELG 10.9 (69) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 13.8 (86)

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

The diminutive small forward imposed himself on the contest early, laying a couple of very strong tackles in the opening minute of the game. Tunkin’s toughness and fearless attack on the ball would continue to be staples of his grand final performance. He showed good positioning up forward, working into dangerous spaces at the feet of the key forwards. He booted a goal mid-way through the second term, however the Prince Alfred College product would loved to have also converted a couple of his flying snaps on goal. Tunkin spent more time in the middle as the game wore on and showed some ability at the stoppages, providing spark and energy around the contest. In a solid outing, he gathered 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four clearances and 1.3 in front of goal.

#5 Hugh Stagg

The skipper set the tone early in the game with a terrific smother. Moments later he cut off an errant Eagles kick before delivering a beautifully weighted ball to key forward Jack Harding. Early in the second term, Stagg marked deep inside forward 50 but his kick from a difficult angle missed. With his side struggling to generate meaningful attack, Stagg took a strong mark and booted a captain’s goal midway through the second quarter which triggered a short-lived switch in momentum for the minor premiers. Stagg’s foot skills let him down at times, but his work around the contest was strong as it has been all season. Stagg finished with 20 disposals, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Despite his side being beaten on the day, Rayson was arguably the Tigers’ best performer. Dividing his time between half-back and a midfield role, Rayson showed a willingness to play on and take the game on at all costs. He complimented some meaningful dash with mostly clean and measured disposal by foot. He did the tough stuff well too, tackling hard and displaying good vision in-close. His positioning down back and ability to intercept mark proved valuable as well. Rayson capped off a strong season with another admirable showing in the grand final, amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and three rebounds.

#32 Oscar Adams

Versatile key position player, Adams was given the job on Woodville-West Torrens forward Lukas Cooke for much of the day, restricting him to just one goal. He took a number of big pack marks to highlight his strong aerial ability and clean hands overhead. Adams was clean by hand and foot but will regret giving up a soft 25-metre penalty for an off-ball incident as the Eagles piled on the goals. He was sent into the ruck in the hopes of providing something extra around the ground in the final stages, but the writing was on the wall by that point. In a season which saw him earn state honours, Adams’ final club match of the season saw the athletic utility gather 16 disposals and six marks (four contested).

#38 Jakob Ryan

Bottom-ager, Ryan produced a fine showing for Glenelg. Operating across half-forward, he was caught for speed a couple of times early in the game but adjusted nicely and displayed nice composure with ball in hand. He did his best work in the air on the outer wing of Adelaide Oval, using his athleticism and height to take mark after mark. Arguably the goal of the game, in a match with several excellent efforts, was slotted by Ryan on the run from outside 50 to show everyone his high-end talent. Ryan’s overhead strength continued to stand out, along with his strong tackling and clean delivery inside 50. Ryan finished with 20 disposals, nine marks (five contested), five tackles and seven inside 50s.

#44 Jarrad Parish 

Full-back, Parish was given the daunting task of stopping Eagles captain Jordan Lukac, and kept the talented big-man goalless for three quarters. Although Lukac had a clear height and reach advantage over the Sacred Heart College defender, he wasn’t able to convert his opportunities early in the game. Parish never gave in, taking a number of hits for his side and continuing to fight it out. The Eagles’ midfield dominance would ultimately provide Lukac with a number of shots in the final term, which he duly converted, but Parish should be commended for his efforts. He provided solid rebound, with his ball use particularly impressive. He finished with 15 disposals, five marks (two contested) and six rebounds.

Others:

Harrison Kaesler was a standout for the Bays, with his run-and-carry from the defensive 50 a highlight. The Tigers’ leading ball-getter, Kaesler left his best performance of the season for last, finishing with 29 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s and seven rebounds. Cooper Beecken spent the game on the wing and finished with 21 disposals and five marks. Fellow outside midfielder Hunter Window worked hard and was also prolific, gathering 25 touches and three marks. Utility Darcy Gluyas ran hard all game to take six marks and gather 20 disposals. Key forward Jack Harding booted the first goal of the game and added two in the final term. Strong overhead and on the lead, he managed 10 disposals and six marks (four contested).

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#2 Sam Nicholls

Nicholls has done some of his best work in the midfield this season, but his three first half goals up forward proved invaluable for the Eagles in their 17-point grand final win. His roving in and around the packs and intelligent positioning up forward allowed him to have a number of cracks at the goal in attack. Nicholls’ finishing was sublime and provided the Eagles with the fast start which alluded them in the previous two finals. He provided good pressure around the ball, finishing with 16 disposals, five tackles and three clearances.

#8 Brock Thomson

One of the premier small defenders in the SANFL Under 18 competition, Thomson again played an important role in the big dance. He spent some time on powerful Glenelg skipper Hugh Stagg early on and nullified a couple of one-on-one contests. Charged with the kick-in duties, Thomson’s foot skills stood out over a range of distances. He finished off a terrific season with 18 disposals, two tackles and nine rebounds in the decider.

#18 William Neumann

Neumann was in everything early in the game, with his fierce attack on the ball complimenting his handy run-and-carry through the midfield. A contested ball beast in the opening term, he moved to defence and continued to impact the game with his toughness and bash-and-crash style. He laid consecutive bone-crunching tackles in the second half to bring down two Tigers, who saw Neumann’s intense tackling first-hand. Rock solid down back, Neumann gathered 21 possessions, three marks, three tackles and three rebound 50s.

#21 Adam D’Aloia

If draft watchers hadn’t previously noted Eagles midfielder and SA Under 17 skipper D’Aloia, they certainly will now after the bottom-ager produced a dominant performance on the big stage. Having already spent some time at Reserves level this season, D’Aloia looked a class above the rest from the get-go. The inside midfielder was freakishly clean and quick with his hands in-tight. His ability to free his arms when being tackled and flick out a quick handball spoke of his high football IQ. D’Aloia was far and away the most dominant contested ball winner on the ground, using smarts at stoppages to amass clearance after clearance for the Eagles. In the second term, D’Aloia took a terrific mark on the 50m arc, then received a 25m penalty and slotted the set-shot goal to extend Woodville-West Torrens’ lead prior to half-time. D’Aloia’s stoppage brilliance continued after the main break, reading the tap-work of Zac Phillipsat centre clearances particularly well. A deserved winner of best on ground honours, D’Aloia gathered a game-high 30 disposals, four marks, eight clearances and nine inside 50s.

#26 Jordan Lukac

Lukac entered the grand final in hot form, following a match-winning five-goal effort in last weekend’s preliminary final win over West Adelaide. Although a couple of promising inside 50s just dropped short of Lukac’s leads early on, his attack on the ball and cleanliness at ground level were terrific. He had an early set-shot from long range which unluckily hit the post, then later sent a set shot out on the full. However, he used his body beautifully in the marking contest, edging direct opponent Jarrad Parish under the ball and marking well. Lukac continued to use his height and reach to advantage and looked dangerous whenever the ball was sent in his direction. Despite looking so threatening, he entered the three-quarter time huddle without a goal to his name. That quickly changed, as Lukac converted a couple of set shots to put the exclamation mark on the win. Lukac finished the game with 16 disposals, five marks (four contested), two tackles, seven hit-outs and 2.3.

Others:

Consistent midfielder Dustin Launer perhaps didn’t have his usual influence on the game by foot, but worked his way into it nicely to finish with 18 disposals and three marks on the wing. Mattaes Phillipou booted a terrific running goal to open the Eagles’ account. He flew high multiple times in attack and was clean with his hands in the midfield, collecting 17 possessions, three tackles and three inside-50s. 16-year-old Brody Mair played an important role, winning 13 disposals, applying three tackles, sending the ball inside 50 on five occasions and booting a goal.

The Eagles’ forwardline proved too tall for the Bays. Centre half-forward Lukas Cooke lead up well all game and brought the ball to ground well when he didn’t clunk it. Going head-to-head with Oscar Adams, he won 13 disposals, six marks (three contested), four tackles and a goal. Will Pearce was quiet early but turned it on after half-time. His damaging left foot sliced open the Glenelg defence and his presentation and strength in the air was excellent. Charlie Blair was exciting across half-forward, pushing up the ground to provide an option and doubling back to boot two goals.

Image Credit: Glenelg FC

Draft Central’s 2021 SANFL Under 18s Team of the Year

WITH only Saturday’s grand final left to play, now is the perfect time to look back at the SANFL Under 18s season that was in Draft Central‘s 2021 Team of the Year (TOTY). Finalists Glenelg and Woodville-West Torrens combined to contribute nine members of the 22-man squad, which is led by West Adelaide midfielder Cade Kennedy (captain) and highly touted South Adelaide prospect Arlo Draper (vice-captain).

Nine of the selected group represented South Australia in last month’s Under 19 National Championships bout against Western Australia, while a further two did so at Under 17 level this year. There were also plenty of talented South Australians who narrowly missed, either due to playing more football up the grades, in school competitions, or through the squad’s overall strength.

We take you through all 22 selections line-by-line, highlighting the strengths each squad member brings to the collective and exactly why they each feature.

DEFENCE

FB: Charlie Pridham (West Adelaide) – Dayne McGary (Glenelg) – Brock Thomson (Woodville-West Torrens)
HB:
Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide) – Oscar Adams (Glenelg) – Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

Clean foot skills and composure with ball in hand are prominent traits of the TOTY defence. Named in the back pocket, West Adelaide’s Charlie Pridham enjoyed a standout season for the Bloods, playing every game (including two finals), and finishing with the most disposals and kicks of anyone in the competition. A reliable contributor down back, Pridham remained calm under pressure and provided plenty of rebound and drive from the backline.

Glenelg’s Dayne McGary earned selection at full back following a strong season in the yellow and black, which saw him average 15 disposals and six marks per game. Often assigned the oppositions best tall forward, McGary’s strength and clean kicking were vital for the Bays’ success. Eagles defender Brock Thomson was an obvious selection down back following an ultra consistent year for the grand finalists, which saw him average 23 disposals, four marks and close to six rebound 50s.

North Adelaide gun Blayne O’Loughlin demanded a half-back spot after a terrific season at Prospect which saw him earn state Under 19 selection. As clean and composed as anyone under duress, O’Loughlin’s attacking instincts and dash from defence were hallmarks of the Roosters’ game plan. Oscar Adams joins fellow Tiger McGary in defence, slotting into the centre half-back role. Adams spent the year rotating between the ruck and a defensive role, with his height, reach and aerial prowess earning him state honours.

State Under 19 vice-captain Lewis Rayson slots in on the other half-back flank, having provided the Bays with plenty of trademark run-and-carry throughout the season. Also effective through the midfield, Rayson is a high metres gained type of player, whose dare and attack on the ball has proven valuable for SA and Glenelg alike.

MIDFIELD

C: Isaac Birt (South Adelaide) – Cade Kennedy (West Adelaide, captain) – Dustin Launer (Woodville-West Torrens)
FOL:
Will Verrall (South Adelaide) – Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide) – Arlo Draper (South Adelaide, vice-captain,)

South Adelaide’s Isaac Birt was a simple selection on the wing following a breakout season which saw him rise to become one of the state’s best outside midfielders. His combination of speed, endurance and crisp ball use cut apart games week-after-week, with his Round 10 effort against Norwood (31 disposals, two goals, 11 marks, five tackles and eight inside-50s) sure to have caught the attention of scouts.

Hard-working West Adelaide skipper Cade Kennedy is the starting centreman in the TOTY and has been named captain after displaying tremendous on-field leadership to inspire the Bloods’ rise from bottom last season to a preliminary final berth. He averaged 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s as one of the competition’s most well-rounded on-ballers. Hard at the contest but an effective run and carry option, Kennedy is well-deserving of a spot in the starting midfield.

Eagles utility Dustin Launer could have slotted into just about any position on the team, such is his versatility, but his efforts in a balanced midfield role see him selected on the wing. A classy ball user and hard runner, Launer collected 30 disposals in five games, including efforts of 42 and 37 (twice). Talented bottom-aged Panther Will Verrall narrowly edged out Centrals’ Saxon Evans and West’s Oscar Steene to win the number one ruck role. Verrall finished second in the competition for total hitouts, but was arguably more dominant when the ball hit the ground, with his ball-use and willingness to compete at ground level impressive for a player of his height.

North Adelaide’s Hugh Jackson was another obvious choice in the midfield rotation. He shot out of the blocks and finished with an average of 29 disposals, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s. A smooth mover and good ball user on his left foot, Jackson was also clever by hand throughout the year. Despite spending time in the Reserves and League grades, South Adelaide’s Arlo Draper was too good at Under 18s level to leave out of the team of the year. Averaging 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances and a goal per game, Draper was a class above the field in his nine matches. A classy mover who excels in traffic at stoppages, Draper also proved difficult to handle up forward and has been named vice-captain of the side.

FORWARD

HF: Hugh Stagg (Glenelg) – Will Pearce (Woodville-West Torrens) – Jesse Thackeray (West Adelaide)
FF:
Jack Delean (South Adelaide) – Corey Brougham (Glenelg) – Zyton Santillo (North Adelaide)

The half-forward line of the TOTY certainly packs a punch, led by Glenelg bull Hugh Stagg. Stagg’s power and strength was integral to the Bays’ engine room throughout the year, but he also proved his worth up forward by kicking 23 goals in 13 games for the minor premiers. At centre half-forward, competition leading goal kicker Will Pearce demanded selection after a dominant season with the Eagles which saw him bag 47 majors from 20 matches and lead the competition in contested marks. Loxton North product Jesse Thackeray produced a great season for the Bloods. Splitting his time between the midfield and half-forward, Thackeray’s work rate was always high and his defensive work wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the West Adelaide coaching staff.

Despite not being draft eligible for another couple of years, brilliant small forward Jack Delean is thoroughly deserving of his forward pocket role. He booted 26 goals in eight Under 16 matches to help the Panthers to the flag earlier in the season, then took to the Under 18 competition like a duck to water, bagging 35 goals in 13 matches – including two hauls of five, never failing to hit the scoreboard. Electric at forward-50 stoppages, Delean wrecked havoc in the air and on the ground in a sensational season in the blue and white.

Glenelg’s Corey Brougham narrowly edged teammate Jack Harding to take out the all-important full forward position. A reliable set shot for goal, booting 38 goals in 14 matches, Brougham was unstoppable on the lead and his vice-like hands saw him mark just about everything which came his way. Zippy Rooster Zyton Santillo‘s defensive pressure and creative ball use through the midfield and in attack saw him earn a spot on the opposing pocket. Santillo produced a consistent season, finishing with an average of 23 disposals, five marks, five tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s per game.

INTERCHANGE

Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood) – Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens) – Saxon Evans (Central District) – Harvey Harrison (North Adelaide)

The interchange bench was hotly contested, but Norwood’s Matthew Dnistriansky simply had to be picked to fill a role across the backline. Norwood’s most consistent player in what was a tricky year for the defending premiers, Dnistriansky’s measured ball use, sound vision and decision making were highlights of his year.

Following a dominant preliminary final showing, in which he booted five goals and lead his team to victory, Eagles captain Jordan Lukac was a late inclusion into the squad. Impressive up forward, the athletic big man also helped out in the ruck and got stronger as the season wore on. Bulldogs tall Saxon Evans finished the season with the most hit-outs of anyone and is arguably the best tap-ruckman in the state. Athletically gifted, Evans was perhaps unlucky not to be given a run in the state side against Western Australia.

Harvey Harrison is North Adelaide’s fourth selection in the team of the year. A midfielder with terrific running power and handy skills at top speed, Harrison is good in-tight but spreads as well as anyone in the competition. He finished the year averaging 25 disposals, six marks, four tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s.

Unlucky to miss: 

As is the case with all representative sides, there are a number of talented players who should consider themselves unlucky to have missed the cut. Glenelg had a number of fantastic contributors throughout the season, including medium defender Cooper Beecken, smart forward Harry Tunkin, classy midfielders Darcy Gluyas and Hunter Window, and strong-marking tall forward Jack Harding.

West Adelaide’s Kobe Ryan would have easily made the side but spent much of the year playing college football with Sacred Heart. His Bloods teammates Dylan White and Luke Young also narrowly missed out. Central District struggled at times, but Tahjin Krieg and Isaiah Dudley were standout performers. From South Adelaide, rebounding defender Lachlan Hayes and nimble midfielder Luke Mitton could also consider themselves unlucky to have narrowly missed the cut.

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

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL U18s – Semi Finals

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season moved into finals 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 members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WEST ADELAIDE 12.11 (83) def. SOUTH ADELAIDE 11.6 (72)  

WEST ADELAIDE:

#9 Kobe Ryan

Ryan started the game by winning the opening clearance. The 17-year-old midfielder wasted no time in getting to work, putting his body on the line, winning some contested ball then using it well by foot. A smooth-mover, Ryan always looked balanced and level-headed despite doing much of his handy work on the inside, where his distribution by hand and often times freakish cleanliness shone through. A smart footballer, Ryan worked tirelessly up and down the ground and won a team-high seven clearances along with 22 disposals and three marks.

#10 Cade Kennedy

West Adelaide regained its skipper for the semi-finals after the Mitcham junior was called up to the state side last weekend. One of the competition’s premier ball winners, Kennedy set the tone with his attack on the ball and work rate away from the stoppages. His kicking was inconsistent, with a couple of clever kicks working nicely as others resulted in a couple of turnovers. However, his hard two-way running was evident as he gathered important possessions down back, in the centre of the ground, and in the forward 50, proving he is far from a pure stoppage midfielder. Kennedy tackled with intent and lead from the front for the Bloods. He finished with 22 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#36 Tyson Coe

Whilst the likes of Kennedy, Ryan and Jesse Thackeray have received plenty of attention for their efforts in the Bloods’ engine room this season, Coe produced a best-on-ground performance to will West over the line. Coe was fearless at the contest, hitting the ball at pace and scrapping hard at ground level. He looked to break open the game at the stoppages by bursting through and using his strength to discard tacklers. He was excellent defensively too, with a bone-crunching bump on schoolmate Angus Bradley sure to be talked about at recess throughout the week. The sloppy conditions at ACH Group Stadium clearly suited his bash-and-crash style, but Coe’s ball use on his left foot was terrific, with his kick to the leading Harry Lemmey particularly noteworthy. The bottom-ager finished the game with 24 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles, four clearances and five rebounds in a confidence building effort.

#45 Oscar Steene

After leading the South Australian ruck division in Perth last weekend, Steene started the semi-final at full forward as Tom Scully handled the ruck duties. He was quiet in the first half, but kicked into gear after the half time break, booting his first goal at the six-minute mark of the third term. Steene spent more time in the ruck after the break, competing well against South Adelaide star Will Verrall. Steene competed well once the ball hit the deck, tackling hard and winning a couple of clearances for his side. With the South Adelaide defence clearly bothered by his extra height, Steene crashed a couple of packs in the final term. He sealed the deal with two final term goals to finish with three majors, along with eight disposals, five tackles, 19 hit-outs and four clearances.

#54 Harry Lemmey

Lemmey returned to the Bloods’ Under 18 setup and performed well. Likened to fellow West Adelaide product and current-Crow Riley Thilthorpe for his height, running capacity and clean skills, Lemmey booted an early goal after being rewarded for a strong tackle with a holding-the-ball free kick. He snapped his second just a couple of minutes later, reaping the benefits of playing in front. Lemmey presented well all game, leading up at the ball-carrier and almost demanding the footy at stages. He booted a terrific goal from 45m to give West the fast start in the third term, and a lead that would ultimately prove insurmountable. The talented 17-year-old finished with nine disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

Others:

Up forward, Luke Young combined well with the aforementioned Lemmey. His strength overhead was impressive, taking a couple of contested marks. He booted two goals from 10 disposals, five marks and five tackles. Dylan McCormick was important early for the Bloods, booting two first term goals as West Adelaide jumped out of the blocks. He was quiet after that, finishing with 10 touches, but still managed to win four clearances and lay four tackles. Dylan White’s defensive pressure was noticeable, particularly early. He gathered 19 disposals and nine marks but finished with 0.2 in front of goal. Jed Obst (19 disposals and six marks) and Jesse Thackeray (22 disposals, six marks, six tackles, four clearances and a goal) worked well in the midfield and up forward, while the ever-reliable Charlie Pridham (20 disposals, five tackles and three rebounds) was solid down back.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Jack Delean

The in-form forward of the competition was held reasonably quiet for much of the game, but still managed to kick 3.2 for South in a testament to the 16-year-old’s prodigious talent. He gave South the ideal start by streaming in to kick the first of the match, but was relatively unsighted for the rest of the first term. West Adelaide clearly did its homework on Delean, and looked to block his run at forward 50 stoppages, where he has proven incredibly dangerous throughout the season to-date. He was flattened by a shirt-front hit by West’s David Midwinter but, to his credit, bounced back up and lated kicked his second after an errant kick landed in his welcoming hands. He flew for the ball in attack and was equally as dangerous at ground level. Along with his three majors, Delean finished with 12 disposals, two marks and a couple of clearances.

#5 Angus Bradley

Bradley was industrious in the Panthers’ engine room. He found plenty of the ball early and used it well by hand and foot, setting up Jack Delean for the game’s opening goal. In sluggish conditions, Bradley applied plenty of defensive pressure and ran hard into defence to provide an option for his under-siege teammates. He always looked to be near the footy and played a very well-rounded game to finish with 17 disposals, five marks, 10 tackles and three clearances.

#10 Isaac Birt

The wingman enjoyed a busy start to the game, with much of the match being played on his outer side wing. He faded out of the quarter, but still looked to use his terrific foot skills and line-breaking capabilities to break open the game on the outside. Although he didn’t hit every target, the Strathalbyn wingers kicking was always well-shaped and placed and looked good off the boot. However he struggled to impact the game on a consistent basis, winning just 11 disposals to go with four marks and three inside 50s.

#11 Jaiden Magor

With key forwards Koby Cockshell and Tom Schirmer struggling to impact the game and Jack Delean flashing in and out, Magor stood tall to provide a genuine goalkicking option in attack. After nearly 10 minutes of tough, contested football in the second term, he slotted his first to break the deadlock and trigger a flurry of goals from South Adelaide. On restricted midfield minutes, Magor made the best of his half-forward role to boot his second in the third quarter before adding another couple in the final term, including one after the siren. Magor kept South Adelaide in it at times, managing 11 disposals and four tackles.

#33 Arlo Draper

Potential top 10 pick, Draper returned to bolster the Panthers’ Under 18s side after spending time across both League and Reserves levels throughout the year. He didn’t disappoint either, providing class on the inside when others fumbled. Stationed in the middle for the majority of the match, his first noteworthy act was a goal-saving smother in the defensive 50, quick gather and side-step, before lowering his eyes and hitting the target with a short kick. He was one-touch at ground level and brilliant in traffic, using poise and acceleration to dance out of trouble. His vision and spatial awareness was excellent and he backed it up with precise skill execution and some handy contested marking too. Some of his movement in congestion screamed first round pick, and his foot skills, decision making and stoppage smarts were similarly impressive. In a well-rounded display, Draper finished with 24 disposals, five marks, six tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Verrall well and truly announced himself as star of the future with a terrific display in the ruck for South Adelaide. His follow-up work at the stoppages was exciting and much-needed, as the Bloods on-ballers dominated the clearances for much of the game. As he’s shown all season long, Verrall was willing to get down low and compete to win his own ball, showing rare athleticism and good skills in general play. He had a clear advantage in the ruck, winning the majority of hit-outs against West’s duel-pronged ruck attack of Tom Scully and Oscar Steene. He was instrumental in South’s second quarter comeback, following a disappointing start to the game. Verrall concluded the game with 21 disposals, 28 hit-outs, a game-high 11 clearances and a staggering eight inside 50s to finish off a sensational 2021 season from the Christies Beach bottom-ager.

Others:

The Panthers simply did not have enough contributors for significant parts of the game, with 11 players registering below 10 touches. Lively forward Blake Rodrigues managed just six touches but slotted three goals in his lively spurts. Zippy midfielder Luke Mitton gathered 18 disposals and eight clearances, while Lachlan Hayes amassed 18 disposals and seven rebounds.

GLENELG 16.10 (106) def. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 8.6 (54)

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

It was a classic small forward’s game from Prince Alfred College teenager Tunkin, whose football intelligence and natural ability shone through. He operated up forward for most of the game, albeit for a couple of shorter bursts through the midfield, and did exactly what head coach Darren Trevena would have asked for. He brought an intense and relentless tacking pressure and matched the hardness with polish in front of goal. His efficiency in attack to boot four goals, ensured the Bays’ midfield supremacy received just reward. He used his core strength to brush off a number of tacklers and ran into all the right spaces in a well-rounded showing, complimenting his four majors with 16 possessions and six tackles.

#3 Hunter Window

Window was in everything for Glenelg, playing an important role through the midfield. He won most of his possessions on the outside and ran relentlessly to seemingly always be available as an outlet option. A highlight was his dribble effort in the second term which trickled through for a major. Not all of his touches were particularly damaging, but they were important and often proved the starting point of a Glenelg attack. His clean skills by hand were particularly noteworthy, including his quick give to set up a Hugh Stagg goal. Window laid a bone-crunching tackle on Eagles half-back Mishai Wollogorang inside 50, however he wasn’t able to take his free kick after leaving the ground under the blood rule. Clearly a smart runner, Window finished the day with a game-high 29 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds.

#5 Hugh Stagg

One of several state Under 19 representatives running around at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday, Stagg had his moments for the hosts. The Immanuel College product displayed the sort of grunt, power and explosiveness which earned him state honours, ripping the ball away from the stoppages on a couple of occasions. However, he did his best work in attack, snapping truly early in the first term before running in to boot his second later in the game. His big body and aggression proved important around the stoppages, with Stagg winning four clearances to go with his 22 disposals, three marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#11 Jacob Owens

Owens pieced together a solid showing to help the Bays book a place in the SANFL Under 18 grand final. His flying shot at goal missed but registered the game’s first score, however he would add a couple of goals to his name later on; kicking a settling goal in the third term from a tight angle before capping off the win with a classy right-foot snap with the outside of his boot. The wingman occasionally could have lowered his eyes with ball in hand, but was generally reliable with his disposal and clean with his hands. He accumulated 21 disposals and three marks.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Rayson’s adventurous running and long kicking was a highlight in Glenelg’s 52-point semi-final win over Woodville-West Torrens. He won an early holding-the-ball free kick, however his first couple of kicks missed their intended target and were turned over. Rayson worked his way into the game though and his ball use certainly improved. Rayson’s 50m kick from centre half-back to centre half-forward landed in the lap of Darcy Gluyas and was a textbook example of the high metres-gained style of game he plays. He dodged and weaved his way out of traffic well, sent the ball inside 50 on a game-high eight occasions and took a courageous mark under duress in the final term. The South Australian vice-captain gathered 24 possessions, four marks and three rebounds in the win.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Wiry utility Beecken was a standout for Glenelg. He lined up on the wing for much of the game, but demonstrated terrific work rate and football smarts to drop back into defence when required. Down back he took a couple of important intercept marks by floating in from the side. Importantly, he made the most of his possessions, often finding a target out wide to initiate the counter attacks. Particularly effective in the second half, Beecken nailed a couple of inside 50 kicks which would have caught the attention of the AFL scouts watching on. Beecken, who has had a consistent year in the black and yellow, collected 18 disposals, five marks and four rebounds.

#38 Jakob Ryan

Talented wingman, Ryan was among the Tigers’ best as the minor premiers cruised into the decider. After starting the game up forward, he was soon moved into the wing role he’s played so well in throughout the second half of the season. He got his game going by laying a textbook tackle, before showing good awareness and vision with a couple of possessions. Ryan, who claimed best afield honours in Sacred Heart’s All-Schools Cup triumph last month, connected with Harry Tunkin inside 50 after summing up the situation with composure and poise. The catalyst of many attacks, Ryan was everywhere in the third quarter, dominating his opponent on the outer wing. Although he had a couple of prior blemishes in front of goal, Ryan was rewarded for his efforts with a late major after taking an easy mark in the goalsquare. The SA Under 17 representative finished the day with 24 touches, seven marks (two contested) and six inside 50s.

Others:

Half-back Joel Virtanen impressed with his precise kicking in the defensive-half, gathering 21 possessions and five rebounds. Brodie Edwards (17 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) had a hot start to the game, showing some class in traffic and cleanliness with his disposal in a number of roles. Midfielders Darcy Gluyas (15 disposals and four marks), Darcy Porter (18 disposals, six marks and a goal) and Archie Lovelock (20 disposals and four clearances) also featured prominently for the home side.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#4 Jase Burgoyne

Burgoyne lined up at the centre bounces against fellow father-son prospect Brodie Edwards and spent virtually the entire game on-ball, despite showing his class across half-back for the SA Under 19s last weekend. Burgoyne was typically composed and assured with ball in hand. He didn’t win a lot of contested ball against a well versed and deep Glenelg midfield unit, but was clean on the outside when many others wasted the ball in tricky conditions. Burgoyne took a couple of strong contested grabs when drifting back into defence to remind everyone of his high-end talent. The Eagles’ leading possession winner, Burgoyne finished with 28 touches, four marks and six rebounds in a tough loss.

#6 Dustin Launer

Launer had patches of excellent play in an otherwise disappointing day for Woodville-West Torrens. He took a while to work into the game, but broke it open with a couple of trademark run-and-carry efforts through the centre of the ground. Launer, who has risen to become one of the competition’s most prolific ball winners, ran into an open goal to kick-start the Eagles in the second term. He certainly looked to carve up the Bays’ defensive structures with his terrific kicking, but wasn’t quite able to have the influence on the outside of the contest as he has had in recent weeks. However, he was strong in the trenches, winning a game-high seven clearances to go with 20 disposals and seven inside 50s, and finishing as one of the Eagles’ best.

#8 Brock Thomson

Clean-kicking defender, Thomson held up well despite Glenelg dominating possession of the ball from start to finish. Charged with the kick-in duties, his raking foot skills were effective and well complemented by composure and a touch of class. As others around him turned it over, Thomson’s kicking remained steady as he set things up nicely from the Eagles defensive 50. He finished the game with 23 disposals and six rebound 50s.

#18 Lukas Cooke

Key forward, Cooke fought hard and provided a marking option all day for the Eagles. Battling head-to-head with South Australia’s centre-half-back Oscar Adams early, the pair engaged in a competitive battle, with both players having their moments. Cooke presented nicely and was clean above his head. When the Eagles were able to move the ball with speed and precision, the Westminster College product was there to get on the end of it. However, he will rue passing off a gettable set shot instead of walking back and taking the honours himself after a solid lead-up mark. His long range set shot in the final term gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope, but it proved too little, too late. One of the Eagles’ best, the tall forward gathered 11 disposals, six marks (four contested) and booted one major in the loss.

#26 Jordan Lukac

Lukac alternated between full forward and the ruck and looked the most threatening key position player on the field for a large part of the contest. In the ruck, the Eagles skipper used his reach and leap to really propel himself at the contest and often looked to clear the area rather than palm it down with finesse. He finished with the most hit-outs of the four ruckman on the ground, in an effort which will impress recruiters after showcasing his raw athleticism in last weekend’s state match. In attack, he timed his leads well and made the most of his opportunities in front of goal by converting a couple of set shots. Lukac finished the day with 11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and 15 hit-outs.

Others:

Eagles midfielder Sam Nicholls fought hard in-and-under, had a couple of nice moments by foot, and laid a tough tackle on Glenelg wingman Jacob Owens to finish with 16 disposals and nine tackles. Henry Hawker was strong down back, gathering 19 possessions, five marks and four rebounds. Henley High School duo Jay Watson (11 disposals and a goal) and Brayden Calvett (14 disposals and a goal) used the ball well and injected some speed across the wing and half-forward. Mattaes Phillipou was quiet but still chipped in with 13 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal.

Featured Image: Glenelg’s Cooper Beecken stretches for a mark | Credit: Glenelg FC

2021 SANFL Under 18s: Round 18 wrap

AS South Australia’s Under 19 team jetted off to Perth to face Western Australia, the final round of the SANFL Under 18 competition took place across metropolitan Adelaide on Saturday. Glenelg collected the minor premiership, winning 15 of their 18 matches to sit three games clear of second-placed Woodville-West Torrens. After finishing on the bottom of the ladder with just one win to their name last season, West Adelaide jumped to third spot with 12 minor round victories. Meanwhile, South Adelaide won eight of its last 11 matches to round out the top four ahead of the SANFL Under 18 finals series.

North Adelaide 14.20 (104) def. Sturt 11.11 (77)

North Adelaide bounced back from a lacklustre first term to claim a 27-point win over Sturt at Prospect Oval. Talented utility Adam Heath booted the opening goal of the game at the 11-minute mark of the first term, before unanswered goals to Sturt’s Tom Gibson, Luca Slade, Cormac Dwyer and Hugo Kittel gave Sturt the strong start they were after. Roosters key forward Isaac Keeler kick-started a strong second term from the home side with an early goal, before Max Blacker and William Dowling booted goals and Heath nailed his second. The game would ebb and flow until the final siren, with both sides finishing their respective seasons in attacking fashion.

Despite the Double Blues providing a close contest, the Roosters proved too strong, led by midfielder Harvey Harrison. Named as an emergency for the state game, Harrison gathered 34 disposals, seven marks and 10 clearances to lead North to victory. Heath finished with three goals from 27 disposals, while Dowling booted 1.3 from his 30 touches. Hughen Wissman sent the ball inside 50 on a game-high 13 occasions from 29 disposals and eight marks. For the Double Blues, Alex Holt gathered 26 disposals, six marks, five inside 50s and 10 rebounds, while Kade Harvey was solid in defence, managing 20 touches and 10 rebounds. Jake AishDeclan Hortle and Tom Gibson each finished with two goals to their name.

Central District 7.8 (50) def. by Woodville-West Torrens 17.16 (118)

A slow start condemned Central District to a hefty defeat at the hands of a strong Woodville-West Torrens outfit. The Bulldogs appeared helpless as the Eagles added seven first term goals to race away to a 39-point lead at the opening break. Tall swingman Jonte Hunter-Price added two goals and five Eagles booted singles in the opening term at X Convenience Oval. The Eagles proved a class above in the second term, with their talented midfield getting on top. The Bulldogs stemmed the flow after the main change, with key talls Cody Gilchrist and Brodie Tuck hitting the scoreboard, but ultimately fell by 68-points.

Eagles ball magnet Dustin Launer continued his rich vein of form with another outstanding performance. The midfielder collected 26 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and six inside 50s to go with his three goals from the engine room. The ever-reliable Brock Thomson had another strong game, ending up with 28 disposals and eight marks, while Jay Watson managed 27 disposals, nine marks and a goal. Hunter-Price and fellow forward Will Pearce finished with three goals for the visitors, with Charlie Blair and Ben Schwartz adding two apiece. For the Bulldogs, Thomas Clements was strong down back, collecting 36 disposals, 11 marks and eight rebounds. After leading Sacred Heart to victory in the All Schools Cup during the week, Luca Whitelum gathered 25 disposals and seven marks for Central District, while fellow Barossa product Austin McDonald collected 21 touches and four clearances.

Norwood 6.8 (44) def. by Glenelg 15.12 (102)

An eight-goal second term propelled minor premier Glenelg to victory over the defending champion, Norwood at Coopers Stadium. Two goals in as many minutes to clever small forward Harry Tunkin gave the Tigers the early ascendancy before goals to Alastair Lord and Benjamin Belperio evened things up heading into quarter time. After Redleg Jack Ianniello booted an early goal to start the second term, the Bays kicked seven unanswered goals to race out to a lead. The sides both added two goals in an even third quarter, but Glenelg’s dour defence held Norwood goalless in the final term to run out 48-point victors.

Despite missing defensive duo Oscar Adams and Cooper Beecken, speedster Lewis Rayson, midfield bull Hugh Stagg, classy wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, and outside ball winner Jacob Owens to state commitments, the Bays showcased their tremendous depth to take care of business away from home. Darcy Gluyas stood tall in the midfield, accumulating a game-high 38 possessions, six marks, five tackles and five clearances in a best-on-ground performance. Lachie Burtt and William Wiseman both nailed three goals for the match, with key forward Jack Harding adding a couple. Shouldering the bulk of the ruckwork for the Redlegs, Ned Carey won 23 hit-outs and kicked a goal from his 10 touches. Jayden Gale collected 21 disposals, five marks and a goal and the returning Alastair Lord finished with 21 touches of his own.

West Adelaide 12.15 (87) def. South Adelaide 10.9 (69)

West Adelaide will commence its finals campaign in winning form after claiming a three-goal win over South Adelaide in a seesawing affair at Hisense Stadium. The Panthers kicked the first four goals of the match to take a healthy lead into the first break before Westies hit back with a four-goal-to-zero second quarter to take a slim two-point lead into half-time. Despite some wayward accuracy in-front of goal, the Bloods kicked on after the break to secure their twelfth win of the 2021 season.

Talented bottom-aged midfielder Kobe Ryan was the star of the show for the victors, booting three goals and collecting 24 touches for the home side. He was well supported in the middle by schoolmate Tyson Coe, who won seven clearances in his 21 disposals, and the consistent Jesse Thackeray, who accumulated 22 possessions, seven marks and five tackles. Rebounding defender Charlie Pridham notched 23 disposals and managed seven rebounds. The forwardline combination of Luke Young and Tom Scully proved effective, with the former booting three goals and taking nine marks and the latter adding 2.4 in-front of goal. Lachlan Hayes played an important role down back for South, gathering 31 possessions and 12 rebounds, while midfielders Cooper Rogers, Angus Bradley and Luke Mitton each won plenty of the ball. Star forward Jack Delean was well-held by the Bloods’ defence, booting just one goal for the match to finish the home and away season with a remarkable 32 majors in just 12 games. Bottom-ager Koby Cockshell proved a handful though, taking three contested marks on his way to kicking four goals.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography via South Adelaide FC

Roberts rises up the ranks with skills, smarts, and composure

SOUTH Adelaide teenager Matty Roberts likens his best traits to that of Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli, and appears set to be among the first handful of midfielders selected in November’s National AFL Draft.

A consistently prolific ball-winner with clean skills and a high work rate, Roberts’ ability to hit the scoreboard has set him apart from those around him in recent years.

“I would say I’m skilful, smart, composed and have the ability to go forward and impact the scoreboard,” Roberts said. “I look at Marcus Bontempelli to model my game off, I’m not as tall as him but I feel we have similar attributes, such as being a left footer, a good ball user and decision maker and being able to impact up forward.”

Roberts, who has boarded at Adelaide’s St. Peter’s College since Year 10 but lives on a farm between Langhorne Creek and Strathalbyn, reinforced his first round credentials by averaging 32 disposals, 7.7 tackles and 1.7 goals in three Under 18 matches earlier in the year.

“I’ve really enjoyed my season so far,” he said. “It was really good to spend the full pre-season with the senior squad at South and then start the season really strongly in the Under 18s and school football at St. Peters.”

He didn’t stay at the Under 18 level for long and bypassed the Reserves entirely en route to making his SANFL league debut in Round 6, where he gathered 14 disposals and kicked a goal alongside fellow gun teenager Jason Horne.

“I loved being able to play up in the seniors,” he said. “It was really good to play alongside the senior boys that I’ve looked up to at South from when I was coming through the ranks, so that was really good experience. I found the speed definitely quicker, but as long as you were clean and made your decisions quickly I found it fine.

“I learnt a lot from Bryce Gibbs and Joel Cross regarding where to run and set up and how to use you body to give yourself the best chance to get the ball and use it well,” said Roberts, who turns 18 on July 31.

Image credit: Nick Hook Photography

While the ascent was steep, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the consistent midfielder, who has spent the past two months nursing a syndesmosis injury sustained whilst playing college football.

“I hurt my right ankle in a school game against Rostrevor,” he said. “It got stuck underneath in a tackle and rolled over inwards. But I’ve been back running now for around four weeks and have been doing change of direction (drills) for about three weeks.

“I’ve been trying to build my fitness back up over that time. I was hoping to be back playing this weekend but due to (South Australia’s) lockdown I’m hoping to be back next week, as I need to do a full week of full training before I get back to playing. So that will make it 10 weeks since (sustaining) the injury.”

Roberts is a natural sportsman, who is just as comfortable on the cricket field as he is on the golf course.

“I like to play pretty much all sports but my main get away from footy would be to go out and play golf,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty competitive matches with my dad, brother and mates. But I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and mates, going away with family up the river with the boat or heading down to the beach,” he said.

2021 is an important year for Roberts who, like many draft hopefuls, has had to juggle footballing commitments with Year 12 studies.

“Sometimes it gets a bit tricky, especially at the start of the year as I had cricket finishing up and footy getting underway, but I did a Year 12 subject last year so this year I’ve only got four subjects, so I have more free lessons,” he said. “I try to do most of my homework in those free lessons so after school I’m free to focus on footy or the gym. I feel like I’ve managed things pretty well so far this year.”

Along with his obligations to South Adelaide and St. Peters, Roberts also spent a week rubbing shoulders with the AFL Academy squad in April. While the elite Under 19 group was beaten handily in their showcase outing, Roberts says he learned plenty from the overall experience.

“It was really good to spend time with the best players in the country and see what kinds of things the other players do to get themselves ready for games, how they recover and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “The game (against Geelong’s VFL side) was not too bad, but we lost by 130 points which was the biggest loss I’ve been a part of. I learned you just have to be clean, make good decisions, always talk as a team to help each other out and just hit the easy kicks,” said Roberts.

Heading into the second half of the season, with the National Championships approaching, Roberts highlighted South Adelaide teammates Jason Horne and Arlo Draper, Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne, smooth-moving utility Nasiah Wanganeen and North Adelaide ball magnet Hugh Jackson as the South Australians to watch. He also made mention of potential bolter Isaac Birt, who Roberts said has “worked really hard and has been really consistent” in his role on the wing.

Featured Image: Matthew Roberts gets a kick away during the 2021 SANFL Under 18s season | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Draper more than the third wheel in promising Panthers trio

THE South Adelaide Panthers boast the most promising junior footballing trio in South Australia in 2021.

Pick one candidate Jason Horne has spent the past couple of seasons matching it with the SANFL’s best at League level and ball-magnet Matthew Roberts appears a strong chance to join him in the first round of the National Draft.

But Arlo Draper has been on the radar of AFL recruiters for as long as Horne and Roberts, with the teenaged Panthers standing out at club and state level since bursting onto the scene as Under 16s.

Hailing from the Willunga Football Club in South Australia’s acclaimed McLaren Vale region, Draper has compiled an impressive resume of his own.

Recruiters and scouts from across the country have high hopes for Draper, whose class, one-on-one strength and considerable upside has seen him also pegged in as a likely first round selection.

“I’m a fairly unique type of player,” Draper said. “I move well and tend to make good decisions and I also have the ability to play anywhere on the ground.

“I think I have some similarities with Connor Rozee in regards to his speed, agility and forward prowess.”

Away from the footy field, Draper describes himself as a “relaxed kind of guy” who loves watching a good movie.

“I like to consider myself somewhat humorous, but that’s debatable I’m sure,” said the on-baller.

Although he has spent the past month sidelined with a high ankle sprain sustained whilst training in June, Draper earned a promotion to the Reserves earlier in the year after proving a class above the Under 18 competition.

“I’ve really enjoyed the season so far, I’ve been playing pretty consistent footy with the Under 18s which has been great,” Draper said.

A consistent ball-winner throughout the year, Draper’s standout game of the season to-date came in South Adelaide’s narrow three-point triumph over Central Districts at Flinders University Stadium, in Round 4 of the SANFL Under 18 competition.

Draper started the game in the centre square, winning his fair share of contested ball and proving a handful at stoppages, before coach Mark Clayton shuffled the magnets and sent him to the goal-square.

He flourished up forward, easily outmuscling his direct opponent and reading the flight of the ball well to take a couple of strong marks in attack, finishing the game with 24 disposals, three goals, four marks (two contested), six clearances and five inside 50s in a match-winning display. It saw him elevated to the Reserves just a couple of weeks later.

“I’ve loved getting a bit of exposure to the senior program,” Draper said. “I’ve found that I transitioned pretty comfortably. I know a fair few of the boys in the ressies so having those connections has helped.

“Some of the seniors guys have been really good with getting me adjusted to the structures and what not. I think I adjusted to the speed and bigger bodies fairly quickly and felt really comfortable in the midfield role I was playing.”

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Draper credits much of the recent success of the South Adelaide junior program to former Panthers Centre of Excellence and current SA pathways coach, Tony Bamford.

“I think the change of culture especially in the junior levels started with Tony Bamford,” Draper said. “Although I never got to play under ‘Bangers’ at South, he’s regarded as the one that got our programs going and then that’s been followed on by Mark Clayton who runs it all now.”

“Mark does more work than anyone and is extremely passionate about the junior footy at South,” added Draper.

Given South Adelaide’s willingness to blood their talented juniors in the club’s league side, Draper has his sights set on a potential senior debut in the later stages of the season.

“I believe I have what it takes to play in the league side,” he said. “The head coach ‘Boofa’ (Jarrad Wright) is really good with communicating with me about where I’m at and what I need to work on and I feel I’m building really well.

“Obviously our league team is pretty strong this year, if I get the call up at some point I’d be really excited and ready to go,” added the teenager.

Although the AFL faces an uphill battle to stage the Under 19 National Championships, Draper looks set to play a pivotal role for South Australia, should the carnival take place.

“If I’m lucky enough to get into the playing team I think I’d see myself running through that midfield/forward type of role, but I can also move down back if there’s a specific role I can play down there on the day,” he said.

Draper is one of the standout prospects in a South Australian team which looks capable of matching it with the highly-fancied Victoria Metro and West Australian sides – at full strength.

“Obviously Jason Horne and Matty Roberts have been doing alright for themselves so far, but I really like how (Sturt’s) Morgan Ferres has been playing this year,” Draper said.

Despite missing out on selection into the AFL Academy, Draper has pieced-together a consistent season for South Adelaide and has demonstrated his ability to dominate games through the middle and up forward. His talent may well spark a bidding war between the top flight’s two South Australian sides, within the first 15 picks.

Featured Image: Arlo Draper fires off a kick | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

SANFL League Player Focus: Shay Linke (Central District)

CENTRAL District midfielder Shay Linke has enjoyed a successful 2021 season to date, proving a class above Under 18s level and earning a call-up to the club’s reserves side. A product of the Tanunda Football Club in the heartland of South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Linke performed well against seasoned bodies at Reserves level and, last weekend, was selected to make his League debut with the Bulldogs.

A member of South Australia’s preliminary squad ahead of the Under 19 National Championships, Linke is regarded as one of the state’s top prospects. Standing at 190cm, the teenager boasts a tall frame which will likely make him an enticing prospect for scouts and recruiters. Throughout the season, Linke has used his height advantage to good effect in the air. Although he will need to add some muscle, Linke has displayed effective skills through the midfield and thoroughly deserved his call-up to league level.

In this week’s SANFL Player Focus, Draft Central analyses how he performed on debut.

Player Profile:

Club: Central District
State:
South Australia

DOB: 8/05/2003
Height/Weight: 190cm/79kg
Position: Inside Midfielder/Forward

2021 Averages:

SANFL Reserves: 6 games | 13.5 disposals | 9.2 kicks | 4.3 handballs | 3.7 marks | 5 tackles | 2 clearances | 1.5 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (2 total)

SANFL Under 18s: 3 games | 27.7 disposals | 20 kicks | 7.7 handballs | 9.7 marks | 3.3 tackles | 4.3 clearances | 6 inside 50s | 2.7 rebound 50s | 0.7 goals (2 total)

2021 SANFL League, Round 11 | Central District 10.10 (70) def. West Adelaide 7.10 (52)
#2 Shay Linke (Central District)

Stats: 12 disposals (7 kicks, 5 handballs), 4 marks, 6 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Q1: 

Linke started the game at half-forward and didn’t have to wait long to encounter his first contest at League level, as the opening clearance of the game headed his way. Linke, being closely checked by West Adelaide’s Elliot Dunkin, contested the mark but the Bloods defender spoiled the ball to ground. Moments later, Linke roved well but was immediately brought to ground and the ball spilled loose. Despite being involved in a couple of early contests, the rangy utility won his first effective possession by receiving the handball from teammate Aiden Grace. He side-stepped a would-be Bloods tackler with some class and his long right-foot kick inside 50 fell perfectly for medium-forward Ethan East who marked but could not convert the set shot.

After a brief stint on the bench, Linke returned to the field to play a midfield role. He took possession of a loose ball in West Adelaide’s forward 50, however was instantly pounced upon. But at the subsequent stoppage he was able to fire out a quick and effective handball after a clean ground ball pick-up. He looks a great size and was just about the tallest midfielder on the field. After moving back to half-forward, Linke gathered on the 50-metre arc but again found himself with little time or space and was tackled and forced to shoot an errant handball off to avoid being caught holding the ball.

In the latter stages of the first term, Linke attended his first centre bounce and made a impact, laying a strong tackle on Lachlan Squire who was forced to leave the field with a bloodied nose. The debutant finished his busy start to the game by taking an uncontested mark in defence and dishing off a quick handball to a running teammate just before the quarter time siren sounded.

Q2:

Linke began the second term from the bench at X Convenience Oval but moved into the centre bounce at the six-minute mark. Deep in the Bloods’ forward 50, he found himself in the right spot to collect the handball and quickly hack it out of the danger zone. The kick, although not graceful by any means, managed to calm things down momentarily for the Bulldogs. At the opposite end of the ground he laid another very strong tackle to ground Bloods captain Tom Keough.

As half-time approached, Linke found himself in a patch of space in the middle of the ground and was spotted by a teammate. He took the simple uncontested mark and followed up with a clean, short kick as the Bulldogs looked to generate some forward movement. He didn’t get his hands on the ball as often in the second term but fought hard at ground level and tackled with real intent and ferocity.

Q3:

After the half-time break, Linke spent the early stages of the third term on the bench or across the half-forward line. Senior coach Paul Thomas rotated Linke through the centre bounce in order to get his hands on the ball, but it was his hustle and defensive pressure which was on show again. Seasoned West Adelaide on-baller Kaine Stevens managed to evade Linke at a forwardline stoppage and kick a classy goal, but the Bulldogs teenager will learn plenty from lining up on the Bloods premiere midfielder.

Linke’s tackling again featured in consecutive stoppages as the teenager appeared eager to physically immerse himself in the contest on debut. Minutes before the final change, the Tanunda teenager picked up another simple mark and kick after spreading wide from the centre bounce.

Q4:

It took Linke a while to get onto the field in the final quarter, but when he did he rushed straight into a stoppage on the wing. The utility again found himself under a heap of pressure when he gathered the ball deep in defence and was forced to cough up the handball. At the 12-minute mark Linke copped a big hip-and-shoulder but fortunately for the Bulldogs, the ball fell into safe hands after being comprehensively knocked from the teenagers grasp. To his credit, Linke bounced straight back up after the heavy collision. Later, he couldn’t quite pick up a loose ball near the boundary line but recovered well to lay another solid tackle. As the game entered its closing stages, Linke won a holding free kick and opted for the safe kick down the line.

Final thoughts…

Shay Linke performed well on debut for Central District in their 18-point win over West Adelaide. He split his time between an inside midfield role and the half-forward flank and didn’t look overawed by the occasion. Linke was particularly involved in the first quarter as both sides struggled to hit the scoreboard early on. Although slim, Linke threw himself at the contest and tackled strongly. He managed to spread from the contest and found some space at-times to accumulate uncontested possessions, however most of his work was done at the coalface. Due to the nature of the role, Linke often found himself under immediate pressure after gaining possession which impacted his ball use. Overall, Linke produced a solid showing and will certainly have benefitted from the opportunity to rub shoulders with seasoned SANFL campaigners.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

2021 SANFL U16 Round 4 wrap: Roosters double-up as Panthers win big

IT was another fascinating week of results in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 16s competition, with some one-sided results, and 21 points being the closest margin of the weekend.

West Adelaide 5.6 (36) DEFEATED BY North Adelaide 9.4 (58)

The Roosters made it two wins in as many weeks by defeating the Bloods at Hisense Stadium on Saturday morning. North Adelaide kicked the first four goals of the contest and controlled proceedings for much of the day, led by the prolific midfield duo of Angus Tully and Kane McAuliffe. The pair looked a class above from start to finish, dominating at the stoppages and working hard around the ground to provide an option away from the coalface. Although West Adelaide were able to more-or-less hold their own for the final three quarters of the match, the Roosters never truly looked like losing the contest and will be thrilled to have pieced together back-to-back wins after starting the season with two defeats.

Tully finished the game with 41 disposals to go with three marks, 12 tackles, nine clearances, four inside-50s and six rebounds, with the Bloods on-ballers unable to restrict his impact. McAuliffe ended with a similarly brilliant stat-line of 33 touches, 11 marks, ten tackles, six clearances, six inside-50s and four rebounds. Jed Dignan and Jack Dundon each kicked three goals-straight for the red and whites with big-man DJ Smith also contributing a couple. North’s Darcy Kelly got the better of the ruck contest, winning 23 hit-outs. Toby Turner’s rebound from defence was another highlight in what was a well-rounded showing from North Adelaide.

Despite the loss, Lukas Zvaigzne pieced together another strong performance for West Adelaide. One of the standout performers so far this season, Zvaigzne collected 29 disposals, six marks, four clearances and six rebounds. Oscar Talbot‘s aerial work was also admirable, with Will Patton once again featuring amongst his sides best performers.

South Adelaide 14.9 (93) DEFEATED GLENELG 5.8 (38)

South Adelaide showed why they are among the competition’s best sides by easily beating Glenelg at Flinders University Stadium. The Panthers took a slim five-point lead into the main break but dominated proceedings in the second half, kicking nine goals to Glenelg’s one.

Up forward, South Adelaide’s Jack Delean looked threatening all day, with his competitiveness in the air particularly noteworthy. Delean took four contested marks (seven in total) and booted four goals to take his season tally to seven. Tom Wheaton was arguably best afield, gathering 34 disposals, eight marks (three contested), seven tackles, ten clearances and ten inside-50s in his on-ball role. He benefitted greatly from the excellent tap-work of Tom Schirmer (26 hit-outs), who laid four tackles and managed six clearances of his own. Blake Rodrigues (25 disposals, four marks and five rebound-50s) and Sid Draper (19 disposals, one goal, five marks and seven tackles) also found plenty of the ball, with Jake Agnew, Benny Barrett and Phoenix Hargrave all booting two goals.

Glenelg’s midfield were unable to stop South Adelaide when they got on a roll after half-time. The Tigers lost the clearances (-15), hit-outs (-12) and inside-50s (-16) and couldn’t find a multiple goal kicker in attack. However, the efforts of hard-nosed Benjamin Ridgway will have impressed the Bays coaching staff, finishing with 21 disposals, eight marks (three contested) and five inside-50s. Kaiden Adkin (22 disposals, four marks and eight rebounds) was strong in defence and son-of-a-gun Lucas Camporeale (22 disposals and four marks) also found the ball at ease.

NORWOOD 11.5 (71) DEFEATED Woodville-West Torrens 5.8 (38)

The Redlegs handed Woodville-West Torrens their second consecutive loss of the season on the back of a terrific second half performance. Not dissimilar to the Panthers and Tigers clash, the Eagles and ‘legs were evenly poised heading into the half-time break. However a four goal to one third term propelled Norwood across the line at home.

Consistent performer Kade Madigan once again led his team in disposals, finishing the game with 22 touches, along with nine marks, three clearances, five rebounds and a goal. His work rate around the ground was particularly evident as the game wore on. Jaidyn Mead and William Rowland each booted three goals for the Redlegs. The ruck combination of Caleb Barton (10 disposals and 18 hit-outs) and Brayden Rachwal (8 disposals and 14 hit-outs) was a major reason behind Norwood gaining a midfield edge. The Redlegs won the hit-outs (+20), clearances (+13), inside-50s (+8) and used the ball more efficiently than their cross-town counterparts.

Brody Mair can certainly hold his head up high in spite of his sides 33-point loss. His strength and competitiveness in the air complemented his ability to find plenty of the ball around the ground. He gathered a team-high 24 disposals, 11 marks (four contested) and nine rebound-50s. Harry Dodd (23 disposals and four marks), William McKay (20 disposals and seven marks) and Jett Hasting (16 disposals and seven marks). Tall Oscar Pearce was the only multiple goal kicker for the Eagles, booting three majors to go with his 11 hitouts and four inside-50s.

CENTRAL DISTRICTS 8.8 (56) DEFEATED BY STURT 12.8 (80)

Central Districts suffered a heartbreaking last quarter fadeout for the second match in a row, slumping to their fourth-straight defeat of the 2021 season. Sturt, who hadn’t led since early in the first term, trailed by 13-points at three quarter time, but piled on six unanswered goals in the final term to move into second place on the ladder. The Bulldogs won many of the key statistical areas, but Sturt’s superior ball-use came to the forefront as the game wore on.

The Double Blues benefited from an even spread of contributors, led by Kobe McEntee. Although he missed a couple of attempts on goal, McEntee produced another strong showing, featuring 19 disposals, eight marks, three tackles, three clearances and six inside-50s. Finn Wakelin capitalised on his shots, nailing three majors while George Pope and Ben Spehr both contributed two. Pope was also strong in the contest, laying eight tackles and four clearances.

Although the Bulldogs lost their fourth straight matchup, it wasn’t the fault of ruckman Jayden Matz or gun midfielder Trent Tattoli as the pair produced scintillating performances in the red, white and blue. Matz has announced himself as the competition’s premier ruckman this season, averaging 31 hitouts in the opening month of action. Matz has the sort of workrate AFL clubs are crying out for in their big men. His ability to accumulate the football around the ground, compete ferociously at ground level and throw his weight around at stoppages has been ultra impressive, and was again evident against Sturt. He finished the contest with 16 disposals, nine tackles, 33 hit-outs, six clearances and four inside-50s. Tattoli clearly benefited from Matz’s dominance, winning five clearances of his own, to go with 39 disposals, 11 marks, five tackles, four inside-50s and four rebounds. Brody Arias (three goals), Liam Fawcett (14 disposals and two goals), Seb Wauer (26 disposals and eight marks) and William O’Brien (24 disposals and seven inside-50s) were also among the ‘Dogs best.

 

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton

2021 SANFL U16 Round 3 wrap: Upsets galore across weekend

THERE were plenty of upsets across the third round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 16s competition, with some sides claiming their first win, and others suffering their first losses.

Woodville-West Torrens 8.6 (54) DEFEATED BY North Adelaide 10.8 (68)

The Roosters recorded their first win of the SANFL under-16 season with a strong showing against Woodville-West Torrens at X-Convenience Oval. North Adelaide booted the first three goals of the contest and led for most of the day, but the Eagles wrestled back momentum at-times and managed to steal the lead for parts of the second and third terms. But the red and whites responded well, nailing four last quarter goals to hand the Eagles their first defeat of the 2021 season.

A huge game from North Adelaide midfielder Kane McAuliffe went a long way to securing the points for the Roosters. McAuliffe’s work rate was immense, seemingly making an impact at every contest he attended. He finished a scintillating performance with a mesmerising stat-line of 43 disposals, 17 marks, nine inside 50s and seven rebound 50s. He was not alone, however, with Angus Tully once again finding plenty of the ball on the inside of the contest and Toby Turner generating effective rebound from half-back (26 disposals and 10 rebound 50s). Up forward, DJ Smith made the most of his opportunities, booting three majors and clunking three contested grabs. Owen Kalic and ruckman Darcy Kelly were also among the bests for North Adelaide.

Onballer Pat Toole was the Eagles best performer, finishing the contest with 34 disposals, six clearances seven marks, five tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal. His midfield partner Jedd Thomson (29 disposals and six marks) also found plenty of the football. Declan O’Dea and Oscar Pearce were the only multiple goal kickers for Woodville-West Torrens, both kicking a couple.

Central Districts 10.7 (67) DEFEATED BY Norwood 12.10 (82)

Norwood bounced back from a tough six-point loss to Glenelg last round by snatching a late victory over the winless Bulldogs in hostile territory. The Bulldogs jumped out of the blocks, piling on four-goals-to-one in the opening term. Norwood hit back in the second but Central Districts entered the main break with a seven-point advantage. Brayden Rachwal‘s third goal ensured the Redlegs took a slim lead into the final change. Bulldog Oliver Robinson put the home side ahead at the 16th-minute mark of the last quarter, but Norwood rallied to kick three majors in four minutes and secure the win.

The aforementioned Rachwal caused a number of headaches for the Central Districts defenders. The big-man’s aerial ability was impressive all day, finishing with three goals and four contested marks to go with nine hit-outs. Connor Butcher led the way through the midfield, gathering 25 disposals, one goal, seven clearances and five inside 50s. Kade Madigan (21 disposals, six marks and six rebound-50s) continued his solid start to the season, with Jaidyn Mead (13 disposals and two goals) and William Rowlands (19 disposals, one goal, five tackles and six inside-50s) also providing strong contributions.

Trent Tattoli was clearly the Bulldogs best player, racking up 35 disposals, six marks, five tackles, six clearances, six inside 50s and a goal through the midfield. The efforts of Jayden Matz through the ruck will have impressed ‘dogs coach Chris Gerhardy. Matz regularly provided his side with first use in the middle, recording a game-high 24 hitouts. However it was his work around the ground which really stood out, gathering 19 touches and laying five tackles. Thomas Cochrane (20 disposals and four rebound 50s) and Josh Davey (19 disposals and five clearances) will also be proud of their efforts.

West Adelaide 11.9 (75) DEFEATED South Adelaide 8.10 (58)

The Bloods got their season rolling with a 17-point win over the previously undefeated Panthers at Hisense Stadium. West Adelaide’s defence restricted South to just one goal in the first half, however the game broke open after the half-time break, with the Panthers compiling four unanswered majors to steal the lead. But the Bloods rallied, kicking four goals in a handful of minutes to wrestle back the momentum and post a game-high lead, one that would not be overcome a second time.

It was an even effort from the Bloods juniors, with five players recording over 20 touches and seven collecting 15 or more. Will Patton was the standout, offering an abundance of rebound from defence. He finished with a game-high 28 disposals, 10 marks and nine rebounds. Lukas Zvaigzne (26 disposals, one goal and six marks) showed plenty, as did Judd Hansen (22 disposals and seven marks) and Max Jones, who booted three goals from 14 disposals.

Ryan Pearsons looked the most threatening forward on the ground. He kicked four goals and took six marks but also provided some handy rebound when thrown further afield. Panthers ruckman Tom Schirmer asserted his dominance on the game through the middle. He proved a step above the Bloods rucks, finishing with 29 hitouts and five clearances. He also sent the ball inside 50 seven times. Jace Daris was the leading disposal winner for Clay Sampson’s men, with Sid Draper and Sebastian Oliver also among the Panthers better performers.

Glenelg 9.11 (65) DEFEATED BY Sturt 12.8 (80)

Sturt handed Glenelg their first defeat of season 2021 with a 15-point triumph on Sunday evening. Glenelg booted the first goal of the game after just 26 seconds, however Sturt took until the 15 minute mark to land their first blow. The Double Blues entered the half-time break with a 12-point buffer as both sides added two majors in the third quarter. Goals to Tigers’ Kai Reid and James Dutton gave Glenelg the lead early in the final quarter, but Sturt booted four of the final five goals to record their second win in as many weeks.

Tough-nut Kobe McEntee was relentless all day for the victors, laying a game-high ten tackles. He also collected 21 disposals and seven inside 50s. He was well supported by Ned Atkinson and Luca Lade, however it was the work of forward Chad Reschke which proved invaluable. Reschke booted four goals for the game and could have had an even bigger bag, if not for some inaccuracy in front of goal. Nevertheless, his contested marking proved very difficult to defend against. Tarran Sanderson also booted two goals for Sturt, including the sealer.

Benjamin Ridgway continued his prolific ways, accumulating a game-high 34 touches, along with six marks, six tackles and seven clearances. Ridgway has emerged as one of the under 16 competition’s most well-rounded onballers, piecing together three consistent games to start the season. Lucas Camporeale, the son of former-Carlton star Scott, also performed well despite the result, finishing with 26 disposals, eight marks and two goals. Kaiden Adkin was strong in the coalface, while James Dutton and Brock Summerhayes both booted two goals.