Category: South Australia

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 5 – Roosters, Panthers and Tigers quartets impress

A TRIO of teams each had four representatives in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Team of the Week in Round 5 as football returned to the state’s elite competition. North Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg all had four representatives in the team, with other winners, West Adelaide and Norwood, as well as Central District having three players. Sturt had two and Woodville-West Torrens the one in what was a really difficult week to select just 24 players.

North Adelaide had a massive 77-point victory and had a plethora of eligible representatives who could have squeezed into the side, however four achieved just that feat. Anne Hatchard was the dominant player over the weekend and earned the captaincy for her ball-winning efforts through the middle. She is joined the team by fellow midfielder Katelyn Pope who was named on a wing, as well as young gun Hannah Ewings at half-forward and Lauren Daniel on the bench.

South Adelaide and Glenelg played out a thriller with both teams having plenty of top-end quality and had one third of the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Week between them. South’s Nikki Gore was a star through the midfield and starts onball with Hatchard, whilst Hannah Munyard – who predominantly played on the wing – managed to win touches all over the ground and due to the strength of the midfield lands at half-back in this team. Also in the back six is another AFL Women’s talent in Lisa Whiteley, whilst competition leading goalkicker Jess Kirk slotted three majors to continue her stranglehold on that award and made the side.

While the Tigers might have lost, they had their fair share of top performers, with three players making the 24-player squad and another making the emergencies. The Tigers have three of the six forward spots with midfielder Ebony Marinoff one pushed out to a flank – though she did rest forward – given the midfield strength. Fellow Crows players Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould are the others to make the starting side. On the bench, Deni Varnhagen makes the side, whilst Soriah Moon narrowly missed out.

Another game had plenty of representatives with Norwood’s victory over Central District. The Redlegs had starting ruck Leah Cutting made the side once more, whilst up and coming midfielder Matilda Zander booked her spot in the tough midfield group. Najwa Allen also made her way onto the team, coming off the bench in this side. For the Bulldogs, they have the bookends in Sarah Allan and Katelyn Rosenzweig up either end, whilst Alicia Butler was also impressive in the loss and makes it into the squad. Fellow Bulldog, Latiah Huynh was close to making the side and earned a spot as one of the emergencies.

West Adelaide also had a trio of players making the 24-player squad, led by Rachelle Martin who starred and earned the vice-captain nod in our side. Also in the team was reliable defenders, Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann who were superb out of the back 50. Fellow young midfielder Abbie Ballard was also named as emergency for the team. Rounding out the team was Sturt young gun Hannah Prenzler at centre half-back, alongside Double Blues co-captain Maya Rigter on the bench, whilst Woodville-West Torrens utility Renee Forth finalises the full squad.

B: Madison Newman (WA) – Sarah Allan (CD) – Lisa Whiteley (SA)
HB: Hannah Munyard (SA) – Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Keeley Kustermann (WA)
C: Matilda Zander (NW) – Rachelle Martin (WA – vc) – Katelyn Pope (NA)
HF: Ebony Marinoff (GL) – Eloise Jones (GL) – Hannah Ewings (NA)
F: Jess Kirk (SA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Caitlin Gould (GL)
R: Leah Cutting (NW) – Anne Hatchard (NA – c) – Nikki Gore (SA)
INT: Najwa Allen (NW) – Alicia Butler (CD) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Renee Forth (WWT) – Maya Rigter (ST) – Deni Varnhagen (GL)
EMG: Latiah Huynh (CD) – Abbie Ballard (WA) – Soriah Moon (GL)

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

AS if you needed any reminder, state league football returned this past weekend with all South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades kicking off season 2020. In this year’s first edition of Caught the Eye, we highlight the key performers from each Under 18 side who stood out in the opening round of action. For extended profiles on each player, click on their names highlighted in red, and for our full scouting notes, click here.

>> 2020 SA U18 Squad Prediction

Glenelg vs. Norwood

Xavier Robins
Glenelg | Half-back
2/09/2002 | 182cm | 72kg

Stats: 26 disposals (19 kicks), 6 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 8 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Robins comes from decent pedigree as the son of former Melbourne and Richmond player, Haydn, and could be a dashing defender to keep an eye on. He was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018 and while he is outside of the current academy bubble, could push for state selection if his form continues – especially given a shortage of options in his position.

Cooper Murley
Norwood | Balanced midfielder/forward
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 66kg

Stats: 20 disposals (14 kicks), 4 marks, 3 tackles , 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: While he is quite light-on, there is no doubting Murley’s hunger for the contest. His speed and agility often get him out of trouble anyway, and the bottom-ager pulled off a couple of incredible passes going forward which he placed perfectly between opposition defenders. He earned Under 16 All Australian honours for a reason, and may creep into the Under 18 state squad in an outside role or up forward.

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

Tariek Newchurch
North Adelaide | Forward/Midfielder
21/07/2002 | 181cm | 73kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 4 marks, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Be prepared to hear plenty more about Newchurch, who looms as a potential first round candidate. That may prove a bittersweet statement for Adelaide fans, with the Crows set to claim first dibs on the Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect. His evasiveness and ability to break games open make him an eye-catching prospect, and one who should put together a decent highlight reel by season’s end.

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide | Balanced midfielder
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain… he was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: It was a hell of a start to the season from Chamberlain, who put in an incredible first half display. His burst from the contest, ability to cover the ground, and aggression make him a well balanced midfield prospect. While he is the Bloods’ primary ball winner through the inside at Under 18 level, expect him to feature a touch more on the outside given his pace and slight frame as he climbs the grades or slots into the state squad.

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles | Midfielder/forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm 

Stats: 34 disposals, 7 marks, 10 tackles, 7 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: Undoubtedly the player of the round across the Under 18 competition, Poulter continues to rise as a bolter in the South Australian field. While he has some filling-out to do, Poulter is the ideal size for a modern day midfielder at over 190cm, and has all the athletic traits to also thrive up forward as many champion midfielders do at the next level. If he continues to return such well-rounded performances as this one, don’t expect to see him remain at the Under 18 level for long.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide | Inside midfielder
3/04/2002 | 185cm | 82kg

Stats: 19 disposals (14 kicks), 6 marks, 9 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. He played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield.” – Ed Pascoe

Verdict: The Panthers have such a versatile engine room, and Kraemer is arguably the leader of it given the talented bottom-agers around him. At 185cm, he is built well and does all the tough stuff around the stoppages, remaining relevant going both ways. He played every Under 18 game last year en route to a Grand Final appearance, but should have eyes on climbing the grades in 2020 and slotting into the state side once again.

Central District vs. Sturt

Austin McDonald
Central District | Inside Midfielder
1/01/2004

Stats: 27 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 12 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “(McDonald) was terrific around the stoppages… he was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: It was hard to believe that McDonald is an Under 16 player watching him go about it on the weekend, and bringing it to some of the better Under 18 midfielders in South Australia. His willingness to hunt the ball, extract, and work both ways was impressive, and we will surely see much more of the same over the next couple of years.

Tom Powell
Sturt | Balanced midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 7 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “The Sturt midfielder was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval… akin to fellow on-baller Mani Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Powell was certainly raring to go after missing large chunks on 2019 through injury, and started the season on the right foot. His burst from the contest was on show, as was his ability to accumulate with a game-high 34 disposals. He was on a different level to much of his opposition on the weekend, and while it would be interesting to see him go up against a strong Eagles midfield next week, expect to see Powell make his way up the ranks soon if his form persists.

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

WITH the return of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) comes our usual series of scouting notes, focu\sing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. While a bunch of juniors plied their trade at higher levels in Round 1, we turned our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a heavy focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line.

Please consider that each set of notes showcases the opinion of our scouts individually, and there are only so many players we can keep an eye on each week.

Glenelg vs. Norwood

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#12 Xavier Robins

Robins is the son of former Richmond and Melbourne defender, Haydn, and impressed across the same line for Glenelg on Saturday. The classy half-back showed terrific pace to break the lines and possesses a sweet left-foot kick, but was able to balance his offensive prowess with defensive duties well.

He had a big third term and broke to all the right places inside defensive 50, displaying sharp skills through his kick-in duties and providing a reliable rebounding outlet. He finished with 26 disposals, which included 19 kicks and eight rebound 50s.

#13 Luke Pedlar

Like Robins, Pedlar is a top-aged prospect outside of the current state academy hub, but was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. As part of the midfield-forward rotation, Pedlar showcased his explosive burst out of congestion and desire to hunt the ball, racking up a game-high 28 disposals while also laying six tackles and pumping four clearances forward.

He boasts a penetrating left side but can sure up his short-range game at speed. Pedlar also showed a good work-rate while employed up forward, working well up the ground and using his pace to get back quickly. He capped off a terrific outing with a goal at the start of the fourth term, slamming the ball home on the run.

#22 Lewis Rayson

One of his region’s leading 2021 draft candidates, Rayson assumed his usual role across half-back and even snuck forward to snap through a goal in the final term. The bottom-ager is light-on, but is sure to evade opposition heat while in possession with terrific speed and agility.

At times, Rayson’s willingness to move the ball on and turn defence into attack saw his disposal come undone, but he provided reliable use once he slowed himself down. The 181cm prospect was another to position himself well across the backline, picking up 16 disposals in a solid performance.

#25 Luke Edwards

It was somewhat of a surprise not to see Edwards named at a higher grade to start the season, but he took it all in his stride to be one of Glenelg’s better performers. Another to rotate through the midfield and forwardline, Edwards displayed terrific vision and clean use by hand at the centre bounces, while proving strong in one-on-one contests up forward. He was often first to the ball at stoppages too, an invaluable trait for inside types.

While the Adelaide father-son candidate displayed intelligence by hand, he blazed away with his kicks at times and missed a couple of attempts on goal. His work rate inside forward 50 to find space and manufacture those opportunities was commendable, though, and he also managed to dish off a nice assist to Pedlar in the final term. Edwards finished with impressive statistics of 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances, and four inside 50s.

#33 Will Schreiber

Another big body to float through the midfield at 190cm, Schreiber arguably looked more comfortable down back where he could better utilise his strength and shrewd reading of the play. He was caught holding the ball on two occasions early in the piece, but adjusted his previous flat-footedness in the second half while adding fends to his stoppage craft.

Schreiber looked to have regained a deal of confidence as the game wore on, winning a couple of nice one-on-one aerial battles and correcting his short-range kicking with more time on the ball in the defensive half. The versatile prospect positioned expertly behind the ball to intercept, and ended up hauling in a team-high seven marks.

#39 Riley Holder

It is easy to forget that Holder is just 190cm with the way he plays, providing that focal point at centre half-forward while also pinch-hitting in the ruck. He took a big pack mark in the first term to set the tone for Glenelg, duly converting the set shot before impressing further with his strength and marking on the lead. Holder had a slightly quieter second half, but was a solid target working up the ground with his strong hands. The utility finished with 1.2 from 13 disposals and six marks (four contested).

Others:

Lucas Schultz worked well in tandem with Holder inside forward 50, booting a game-high four goals from 12 disposals and six marks as another marking option. Jaden Grosser was Glenelg’s other multiple goalkicker, finding the big sticks twice from midfield while also providing hardness at the ball. Hagan Wright and Kye Dean were others to have moments around the contest, with Riley Drum a solid figure in defence and bottom-ager Nasiah Wanganeen classy on the outer.

>> GLENELG TEAM PAGE


Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

There is a lot to like about the zippy bottom-ager, who showed flashes of brilliance moving forward from midfield. He has a happy knack of finding space on the outside, where he can carve the opposition up with line-breaking speed and precision kicking. While he grassed a couple of attempts on the fly, Murley pulled off a couple of terrific passes to targets inside 50; the first coming on the end of a 1-2 handball chain to assist Finn Heard‘s goal, and the second a pass which perfectly split multiple Glenelg defenders.

Murley’s lateral vision and smarts around the contest are high-level, boding well for more midfield time despite being a bit light at 66kg. He looked lively inside forward 50 too, particularly in the third term despite not finding the goals himself. The 2019 Under 16 All Australian ended up with 20 disposals and four marks in a promising display.

#9 Alastair Lord

Another bottom-aged small to impress was Lord, who triggered much of Norwood’s forward motion from defence. The 177cm prospect was sound at ground level, sweeping up the loose balls and darting around opponents to find the space to effectively move the ball on. He positioned well to intercept too, proving an apt rebounder with his composed distribution after cutting off opposition forays. Lord finished with 19 disposals, eight marks, and six rebound 50s.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Was Norwood’s designated kicker in defence having been tasked with the kick-in duties, and did well to find targets consistently on a tough day for the Redlegs’ back six. He played somewhat of a sweeper role inside defensive 50, mopping up when needed while spreading well to provide an outlet for his teammates. While Dnistriansky often took the safe option via foot, he was a reliable figure and notched a team-high 25 disposals (22 kicks) to go with nine marks and 10 rebound 50s.

Others:

Michael Cavallaro (22 disposals, eight marks) and Daniel Fairbrother (21 disposals, 10 marks) were others to work hard around the ground for Norwood, while Jack Saunders provided solid presence around the ball with 16 touches, as well as team-highs in tackles (eight) and clearances (seven).

>> NORWOOD TEAM PAGE

North Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

By: Peter Williams

North Adelaide:

#9 Jamison Murphy

The North Adelaide co-captain was busy from the first bounce until the final siren, winning plenty of touches through the midfield. His best work was done in close, but predominantly it was his vision and use by hand that opened up the game for his teammates. When tackled, Murphy was strong, able to stand up and either shrug off the tackler or get the ball free to a teammate.

Along with his inside work, Murphy’s big first half included setting up goal scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he did all the one percenters required such as blocks or shepherds. In the third term, Murphy took a goal-saving mark on the last line of defence, and then later on was able to win the ball inside 50 and put it into his teammate’s path running inside 50.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

A tale of two halves for Newchurch, who went from an okay first half to a match-winning second half. It was clear even in patches through that first half he has the capability of doing something special with terrific speed on the lead, and great evasion techniques. He took a strong mark despite front-on contact about 40 metres out on a 45-degree angle, but his shot drifted to the left. His ability to get out of trouble was evident in the second term by earning a free kick for being held at half-forward.

The second half was something special though, as Newchurch stepped up to boot three goals, the first of which came eight and a half minutes into the third term. He received the handball and snapped around his body under pressure and then six minutes later kicked another one from a bit further out but with the same technique to sail home. Later in the term he took a great mark on the lead with his hands stretched in front of him, but the shot drifted across the face. His third goal game was the sealer when he lead out inside 50 to take a strong grab and put it straight through the middle. Not only did he finish the game with his execution, but he also applied pressure to opponents inside 50.

Others:

Leo Coates had a huge start to the game with a couple of strong marks and a long-range goal (almost two) in the first term. He was quieter after that, but showed signs he has improvement in him. Kallis Freer won a heap of the ball, racking up 27 touches, four marks, three clearances and three tackles to be the Roosters’ number one ball winner on the day. Samuel McTaggert booted a goal off a great crumbing effort and has a great burst of speed. Charlie Dowling and James Willis were very strong around the stoppages.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE


West Adelaide:

#2 Harvey Bock

A player who really stood out across the ground, Bock was particularly impressive in the defensive 50. His disposal was effective and he covered the ball well in transition. Often attacking the loose ball with vigour, Bock presented as an option to teammates, and seemed to have the smarts to find space and be a kick and a half behind the play for the quick opposition kick forward. He took a terrific drifting intercept mark to stop a forward marking, chopping off the kick inside 50 by reading it so well.

#5 Lachlan De Cesare

He had a huge game for the Bloods and showed some terrific skill around the ground, teaming up well with Chamberlain. De Cesare was able to read the ball well in flight, chopping off a pass going inside 50 and used the ball well coming out of defence. He kept presenting and won a fair chunk of the ball through midfield, giving off some neat handballs and allowing his teammate to clear it. De Cesare has a good centre of gravity to swivel the hips and try and get free when tackled. He just finds space around the ground and does it well.

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

A really consistent four-quarter effort from Chamberlain who could have been mistaken for the Energiser Bunny for his ability to cover ground and really cause headaches for opposition. He was fierce around the stoppages and laid some huge tackles, and while his aggression could sometimes see him give away free kicks, he was always willing to crack in and have a go.

At times his kicking was not perfectly executed, but his work by hand was terrific, often winning the ball in tight and freeing up teammates on the outside. What really stood out about Chamberlain was his ability to read the stoppages and often duck around the back of an opponent to win the ball from the ruck tap and exit the stoppage before others were aware he was off and running. His work rate and ability to put on the jets and burst away from an opponent, backing himself in was strong. If he irons out the kicking a bit more, he has a lot of other boxes he has already ticked.

Others:

Dylan White was another big performer in a low-scoring game, kicking three goals from 19 touches, five marks and four tackles to be the dominant forward for the Bloods. The other South Australian hub member Jye Sindeberry played in the game, but had a quieter outing with seven disposals and one mark.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide 

By: Ed Pascoe

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield 

Despite not having his usual output, the Port Adelaide father-son prospect was classy with ball in hand, rarely making a bad decision by hand or foot and keeping composed when in possession. Playing more of an outside role, he showed plenty of signs as to why he is rated one of the better ball users in this year’s draft. It was overall a quiet outing by his standards, finishing the game with 14 disposals, three clearances and four tackles. 

#7 Caleb Poulter 

It was a huge game from the talented tall midfielder, who would have certainly gotten recruiters’ attention with a commanding game playing through midfield and up forward. Poulter won plenty of the ball but it was his disposal that really stood out, with his long and accurate kicks hitting targets inside 50 and his long handballs with great vision also catching the eye. 

Poulter showed great agility and clean hands at ground level which was impressive for a 190cm-plus player, but even with his attacking side coming to the fold it was also his defensive game which stood out as he was always prepared to tackle despite looking gassed late in the game, but you couldn’t fault that. Poulter finished the game with 34 disposals, seven clearances, seven marks, 10 tackles, and a goal to be the standout player not just for this game, but for the whole round in general. 

#19 Zac Phillips 

The big ruckman/key forward Phillips looked imposing early, taking a strong mark on the wing and also kicking a lucky goal later in the first quarter, getting over the top and quickly kicking the goal before getting run down. Phillips would add to his tally with some good pressure up forward before getting the rewards with a nice dribble goal. Phillips showed good follow up work in the ruck and his hit outs where often to his teammates’ advantage. He finished the game with 11 disposals, three clearances, two goals, and 24 hit outs. 

#31 Jase Burgoyne  

Another Port Adelaide father-son prospect but for the 2021 draft, Burgoyne was clean and classy down back; showing good agility and composure and often using the ball neatly by hand and foot. Burgoyne showed a good ability to not only create from defence with his skill and class, but also defend well and knew when to get back to man up on an opponent, Burgoyne looks an exciting talent for the 2021 draft and he finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, and countless rebounds from defence. 

>> WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE


South Adelaide: 

#9 Jason Horne  

Horne will certainly be in discussions for the pointy end of the 2021 draft as the talented midfielder displayed of plenty of his tricks that make him a complete midfielder. Horne certainly isn’t one-dimensional, showing his ability overhead with one mark in particular in the first quarter, going up with great courage.

His ability to work forward and back is impressive, complementing his attack at the footy at stoppages and his explosiveness with and without the ball to hold him in good stead. He could have had greater output if he was able to convert his opportunities around goal, finishing the game with 21 disposals, three clearances and 10 marks.  

#21 Matthew Roberts  

A talented midfielder who is highly rated for the 2021 draft, Roberts started the game in unfamiliar territory up forward. While he couldn’t quiet have his usual impact in that position, he certainly started to build up his game, getting to move into his favoured midfield position as the game went on.

With his output improving, so did his ability when he did have go back forward, kicking a nice set shot goal late in the gameRoberts finished the game with 21 disposals, four clearances, and a goal in a well-rounded performance. 

#33 Arlo Draper  

Another talented South Adelaide prospect for the 2021 draft, Draper looked all-class up forward with his skill and athleticism on show. Draper kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap and although he wouldn’t add to the tally, he did set up plenty of other scoring opportunities with his decision making and skills forward of centre.

Playing mostly as a third tall forward, Draper did well to get up the ground and make and impact, and he is the type of player you want with ball in hand with his ability to create and run with the ball. Draper finished the game with 17 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.  

#35 Nicholas Kraemer  

Kraemer was a bull for South Adelaide, using his strong frame to impact stoppages and lay strong tackles. Kraemer played with a lot of grit and determination, attacking the footy hard and also laying some crunching tackles to be the real grunt in the talented South Adelaide midfield. 

Kraemer’s best isolated bit of play came with a strong overhead mark and then a quick long handball forward which almost lead to a good team goal. Kraemer looks set to be a handy addition to the South Australian state side if those games go ahead, finishing with 19 disposals, four clearances, six marks, and nine tackles. 

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Central District vs. Sturt

By: Tom Wyman

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald 

Barossa Valley junior, McDonald took it right up to the talented Sturt midfield. The 16-year-old was terrific around the stoppages, finishing with 12 clearances and 27 disposals. He was not afraid to have a crack and applied plenty of tackling pressure around the ball. Despite being eligible for the Under-16 competition, McDonald’s productivity and dominance in-tight has ensured he is one of the Bulldogs’ most exciting prospects already. Expect to see him feature prominently for South Australia soon enough.

#15 Lewis Cowham

It was a tough day for Central Districts, but midfielder, Cowham was among his side’s best. He imposed himself early by laying a strong tackle on Mani Liddy which was perhaps unlucky to be called a high free-kick against. He was industrial throughout the contest, particularly with his hands in-tight, finishing with 27 touches. Cowham and teammate, McDonald battled hard and stood-out for the Bulldogs, who were ultimately outclassed by a talented Sturt side. 

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT TEAM PAGE


Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Carruthers was one of the Double Blues’ best performers on the day. He exhibited excellent composure in the backline and showed flashes of his neat skillset in a well-rounded performance. His marking was also a highlight, with Carruthers positioning himself well to cut off several of the Bulldogs’ forward entries. He concluded the match with 25 disposals, eight marks and six rebound-50s.

#13 Bradley Jefferies 

Jefferies was a strong presence for the Doubles Blues throughout the contest. In a predominantly inside-midfield role, he provided excellent support for Academy Hub duo Liddy and Tom Powell. A highlight was when he nailed a right-foot snap for Sturt’s second major of the match. He finished the game with 24 disposals and seven marks.

#15 Mani Liddy 

Prolific SA Academy Hub member, Liddy was a dominant presence on the inside of the Double Blues’ midfield all day. Tough and relentless at the contest, Liddy started well, winning the ball in the coalface before dishing off a neat handball to William Staples, who nailed the game’s first goal. Later in the first term, he gave another handball to Jordon Cocks who kicked truly.

His neat skills by hand really stood out all day. Even when being tackled by his Bulldogs opponents, he was clean and helped get the ball moving Sturt’s way on numerous occasions. Arguably best-on-ground, Liddy finished with 32 disposals and is firming as a first-choice midfielder for South Australia during the upcoming National Championships.

#18 Tom Powell 

Recruiters will be encouraged to see Powell have some success early on in the season, given his recent battles with injury. The Sturt on-baller was everywhere at Elizabeth Oval, finishing with 34 touches. Akin to fellow-on-baller Liddy, Powell started the contest well, bursting out of the midfield following the opening bounce, having a bounce and streaming inside-50 before snapping a behind.

While he put together a very strong game, it could have been even better had he converted some of his attempts on goal. Expect to see more of Powell in the Reserves later in the season, as he appeared a cut above Under 18 level against the ‘Dogs. 

#22 Ned Walter 

In his distinctive black helmet, Walter showed strength and skill across the half-back line for Sturt. He almost took a mark-of-the-year contender from a kick-out and his hands overhead were strong across the four quarters. He produced an excellent intercept spoil in the second quarter to break-up a potential Bulldogs inside-50. After a strong outing, Walter has emerged as one to watch in defence. 

#32 Morgan Ferres 

Ferres presented well all game for the Double Blues and was the side’s go-to marking option across half-forward. He took a number of contested grabs and appears to have excellent aerial ability. However, I really liked Ferres’ cleanliness at ground level as well. He dished off several neat handballs to get the Blues going inside-50. Booted a game-high three goals and could have finished with a handful.

James Borlase (Reserves)

The potential Crows NGA prospect was named at full-back for the Sturt reserves, having played eight matches at the level last year. At 191cm and 88kg, Borlase is strongly-built and able to hold his own against the bigger bodied forwards – a trait which will certainly help his case for senior selection later in the year.

Against a relatively strong Central Districts outfit, Borlase’s performance was encouraging. He spent considerable time matched-up against athletic 196cm tall forward Leek Alleer. While Alleer possesses serious speed and a high leap, he was largely nullified by the lock-down abilities of Borlase. He took a number of kick-ins as well, a testament his improving skillset.

Tom Lewis (Reserves)

Returning from an ACL injury which saw him miss the entire 2019 season, Lewis was back to his hard-at-it ways which proved invaluable for SA during its undefeated National Championships in 2018. Viewed by many draft watchers as being unlucky not to be picked up in his first draft eligible year, Lewis was tough at the ball throughout the match.

He attacked every contest with ferocious intent, often smashing into and bouncing-off opponents in-tight. He tackled with vigour, attempting to rip the ball out on several occasions. Expect to see Lewis be given a few games in the reserves before making the step-up to senior football for the Double Blues.

>> STURT TEAM PAGE

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

SANFL Player Focus: Corey Durdin (Central District)

IN a return to our Player Focus piece, we take a look at a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 1 of the competition, our eyes were on Corey Durdin who ran out for the Bulldogs in the opening match of the season against Sturt.

SANFL STATISTICS:

6 kicks
3 handballs
9 disposals
4 marks
7 tackles
1 clearance
1 behind

Durdin was the sole South Australian hub member running around in the game between the Bulldogs and Double Blues, and did not disappoint playing off half-forward and spending time in midfield. He might have only had the nine disposals, but his pressure work and highlights he showed throughout the match were eye-catching even against much bigger opponents.

His first touch was a clean scoop off the ground to a teammate that was unrewarded through the live statistics, with his handball looking smooth. He might not have had another touch for the term, but his running work – such as where he offered up a link with Troy Menzel – was constant. He won the ball midway through the term, but was immediately tackled.

He took his first mark 14 minutes into the second term where he stood his ground well at half-forward, and he passed nicely to Ryan Carnelly who was in a better position. It led to a series of passes ending up in the hands of star recruit, Daniel Menzel who slotted Centrals’ first of the contest. His other noticeable moment of the second term was another great mark, earning a goal assist for his kick to Chris Olsson, meaning already the teenager was lively in two scoring passages.

Moving into the second half, Durdin continued his good form from the previous quarter, laying a big bump to set the tone early. He had a really exciting play when he marked 55m out at the eight and a half minute mark of the term, but you could see he was in two minds with the kick. He had a chance to deliver to Menzel at full forward or have a shot at goal, and in the end it went between the two, over the top of Menzel and bounced through for a behind.

Durdin’s positioning at stoppages was really impressive, and he was able to work his way to the front position with his opponent later in the term. It worried his direct opponent who put the arms around him and Durdin received the free kick, then moved it on to Trent Goodrem who was one of Centrals’ best on the day.

Durdin took a strong mark in the first minute of the final term coming out of half-back with his hands outstretched and took it cleanly. He had no options upfield so had to pass back inside defensive 50, but neatly hit a teammate. Moments later he laid a great tackle in the middle of the ground to stop a Sturt opponent charge in his tracks.

Others who impressed from a young guns perspective were former South Australian Under 18s representatives in Jed McEntee and Lachlan Burrows for Sturt. McEntee was strong in midfield, and whilst at times his disposal could be inconsistent, his defensive work and work rate were terrific, laying nine tackles from 10 touches. Burrows had a purple patch in the second term with a few good contested marks and kicked a strong goal from the pocket.

A couple of mature-agers to watch were Sturt’s Ash Johnson and Central’s Nick Lange. Johnson booted three goals from five scoring shots, but was incredibly impressive in the marking contest, both on the lead with speed, and one-on-one with strength. He took seven marks from 12 touches and the 22-year-old shone in his first game at the state’s top level. Lange won 21 touches and took 14 marks running at an absolute elite 90 per cent disposal efficiency with a game-high 124 Dream Team points on his League debut.

Draft Central All-Star Team: Norwood Redlegs

NORWOOD Redlegs have a strong defensive side that would be hard to beat, with plenty of accountable players and those who will make life difficult for the opposition.

THE TEAM:

This Norwood side would be right up there amongst the best of the South Australian sides. The backline is brimming with strong, battle-hardened key defenders who would make life very difficult for opposition forwards. The midfield is similarly workmanlike and features some of the toughest on-ballers to grace the competition. The forward-line is certainly exciting on paper and would pose a genuine threat to even the most dour of backlines.

DEFENCE:

The Norwood backline is stacked with quality key defenders, including Geelong premiership skipper Tom Harley, who has been named at centre-half-back. He is joined by former Swans full-backman Heath Grundy, who is regarded as one of the best lockdown defenders of the modern era. Making his debut in 2006, Grundy played 256 games in the red and white, including Sydney’s 2012 premiership triumph. A rookie selection by Melbourne in 1996, Nathan Bassett went on to play 210 games with Adelaide, finishing his career in 2008 as one of the Crows’ best defenders. He later coached Norwood to back-to-back SANFL premierships in 2012 and 2013. Current Power skipper Tom Jonas has notched up 139 games at Alberton and may prove to be the best defender amongst the starting six by the end of his career. Reliable small defender Jared Crouch joins Swans teammate Grundy in the side. Martin Pike‘s resume of four premierships and 247 games stacks up with the very best, making him a regulation selection.

MIDFIELD:

Whilst the backline consists of modern day players, the Redlegs midfield is largely dominated by stars of yesteryear. Although perhaps better known for his flamboyant hairstyles and off-field allegations, no-one would question the obvious talent of 125-gamer Adam Heuskes, who provided energy and zip from the wing or half-back. He is joined on the opposing wing by Kangaroo Trent Dumont. In 82 AFL games, Dumont has quickly become one of North Melbourne’s most important on-ballers. The centre position belongs to tough midfielder Roger James, who was one of the Power’s best players throughout their successful 2004 campaign. He played 147 games with the Power, kicked 87 goals and is a member of the SANFL Hall of Fame.

Matthew Primus faced some tough opposition but ultimately earned selection as the starting ruckman. In 20 games with Fitzroy and 137 with Port Adelaide, Primus was a dual All-Australian and renowned as one of the competitions best ruckman. Collingwood duo Scott Burns and Tony Francis form a formidable midfield partnership. A club great, Burns captained the Magpies in 2008 and played a total of 265 AFL games in the black and white. He kicked 149 goals in a polished 14-season career and is now seen as one of the best assistant coaches. Francis is a great of South Australian football, who represented the state on five occasions and kicked 103 goals in 142 matches with the ‘Pies. Despite standing just 171cm, Francis was an aggressive tackler and an excellent crumber.

FORWARD:

Despite an abundance of talent down back and throughout the midfield, the Norwood forward line could be the most dangerous of them all. Opponents would be tearing their hair out attempting to shutdown pocket-rockets Orazio Fantasia and Paul Puopolo  – two of the deadliest small forwards of the modern era. Yet for all their razzle-dazzle in front of goal, the pair are both capable of applying genuine defensive pressure. Despite his battles with injury, Fantasia has kicked 110 goals in 75 games with Essendon, whilst Puopolo, a three-time premiership Hawk, has kicked 181 goals in 190 matches. A famous last name at The Parade, versatile Magpie James Aish fits in on the forward flank, having played 82 games at AFL level. Nic Fosdike joins his former Swans teammates in the side by slotting in across half-forward. He played 164 games with Sydney, including the 2005 premiership, and kicked 66 goals. Although often criticised at times throughout his career, versatile tall Ryan Schoenmakers joins Puopolo in the starting forward-line. The full-forward spot went to Crows big man Matthew Robran. A two-time premiership star, Robran was often compared to his great father, Barrie, but overcame several serious knee injures to kick 110 goals in 137 games.

DEPTH:

Current Crow Luke Brown could consider himself unlucky to miss out on a starting position. Brown could be relied upon to negate the oppositions best small forward. Two-time premiership Crow Brett James joins his brother in the side and Will Minson was selected to provide support for Primus in the ruck. The selections of David Pittman and Rodney Maynard take the tally of Crows players to six, whilst two-time Lions best and fairest winner Joel Patfull complements a backline already loaded with tall timber.

SANFL weekly wrap Round 1: Tigers hold off Norwood in massive opening round clash

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) returned over the weekend, seeing matches played out between all eight teams across the three divisions, with the competition barring Adelaide and Port Adelaide this season. In the league division, Glenelg just held on for a daring win over Norwood, while North Adelaide came away with a quality win over West Adelaide to kick off the season.

Sturt v. Central District

League: Sturt 8.3 (51) defeated Central District 5.6 (36)

Sturt made a strong start to the season on Saturday, defeating Central by 15 points at the Adelaide Oval. Sturt fielded seven debutants in the clash after Jake Sutcliffe (illness) and Sam Colquhoun (hamstring) were late withdrawals. The new-look side was strong in the clearances from the outset with ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks (52 hitouts) providing first use to midfielders James Battersby (26 disposals, 11 clearances), Zane Kirkwood (21 disposals) and youngster Casey Voss (16 disposals, six clearances). The Blues kicked the first five goals of the game, including three from exciting forward Ash Johnson.

Central worked their way back into the game and ended up dominating the disposals 289-234, marks 107-39 and tackles 97-68. Unfortunately for them, the early deficit proved too difficult to come back from, and Sturt were more efficient with the ball inside forward 50. With Sutcliffe, Colquhoun, premiership wingman Steven Slimming (ankle) and former Port Adelaide livewire Aidyn Johnson (suspension) looking to return next week, Sturt coach Nathan Grima will have his hands full at the selection table.

Reserves: Central District 7.11 (53) defeated Sturt 5.9 (39)

Central’s Reserves side started the year with a comfortable victory over Sturt by 14 points. The final score did not reflect the Bulldogs’ dominance in this game, as they led by 32 points at three-quarter-time before Sturt piled on three goals to none in the last term.

Under 18s: Sturt 14.13 (97) defeated Central District 7.6 (48)

Sturt were far too strong in the Under 18s, getting over the line by 49 points at X Convenience Oval. Central kicked just one goal before half time and trailed by 49 points at the main break. AFL Academy Squad members Mani Liddy (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Tom Powell (33 disposals, seven clearances) were both impressive for the Double Blues, as was Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, three goals). Lewis Cowham and Austin McDonald both worked hard for the Bulldogs.

Woodville-West Torrens v. South Adelaide

League: South Adelaide 11.8 (74) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 10.8 (68)

Debutant Beau McCreery was the hero for South Adelaide, lifting his side over the line against Woodville-West Torrens in a close encounter. When scores were level late in the final term, McCreery ran down former Port Adelaide player Jimmy Toumpas and converted a goal from long range, before showing his speed one minute later to kick another from the goal square. Although Eagles veteran Angus Poole was able to bring the margin back to six points at the 28 minute mark, South were able to hold on.

Dual Magarey Medallist Joel Cross was outstanding for the Panthers, finishing with 34 disposals, 12 clearances and four tackles. Ex-Port Adelaide defender Matthew Broadbent was steady in his first game for the club with 26 disposals, six marks and seven tackles, while potential AFL draftee Zac Dumesny showed promise early in his SANFL League debut. For the Eagles, Jordan Foote collected 21 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50s, and the Hayes brothers kicked five goals between them in an impressive display. The Eagles will look to bounce back next week against Sturt, while the Panthers will take on the Tigers.

Reserves: Woodville-West Torrens 12.4 (76) defeated South Adelaide 10.8 (68)

Last year’s Reserves grand finalists Woodville-West Torrens got their season off to an ideal start, winning by eight points against the Panthers at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. South led for the majority of the contest but the Eagles ran over the top in the final term.

Under 18s: South Adelaide 10.12 (72) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 9.8 (62)

The Panthers had a nice come from behind win in the under 18s, getting over the line by ten points. Max Clifton had 26 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles for the Panthers, while Nicholas Kraemer was tough at the contest with nine tackles. 191cm midfielder Caleb Poulter kicked off his season in style, racking up an imposing 34 disposals, ten tackles, seven clearances, six inside 50s and a goal for the Eagles. He is definitely a prospect to watch in 2020.

North Adelaide v. West Adelaide

League: North Adelaide 15.6 (96) defeated West Adelaide 10.7 (67)

Lewis Hender helped North Adelaide start the season with a bang, kicking seven goals en route to a 29-point victory over the Bloods on Sunday. Hender took nine marks including an early mark of the year contender in the dominant performance. He made the most of some silver service from the Roosters’ experienced midfield made up of former AFL-listed players Harrison Wigg (27 disposals, nine marks), Andrew Moore (25 disposals, seven tackles) and Billy Hartung (19 disposals, four inside 50s). North were prevalent in the clearances (39-32) and tackles (72-53).

While the Bloods were able to regularly get the ball inside forward 50, they did struggle to keep it there as the day went on. Jordon Boyle (27 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s) was a standout in his first game for West, while Dallas Willsmore (25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles) worked hard all day. Potential number one pick Riley Thilthorpe had ten disposals, five tackles and five hitouts in his first game of the season.

Reserves: West Adelaide 14.2 (86) defeated North Adelaide 7.13 (55)

An accurate West Adelaide outfit proved too good in the Reserves, kicking just two behinds in their 31-point win. Kyle Kirk, Mitch Duval and Austin Forbes were impressive performers for the Bloods and will be pushing for League selection next week.

Under 18s: North Adelaide 8.10 (58) defeated West Adelaide 7.4 (46)

North Adelaide were too good in the Under 18s, defeating the Bloods by 12 points at Prospect Oval. West led for most of the game but North ran over the top in a frantic final term. AFL Academy Squad members Tariek Newchurch (three goals) and Jamison Murphy (26 disposals, four tackles) stood out in their first game of the season, as did Kallis Freer (27 disposals, four marks). Bailey Chamberlain was great for the Bloods with 28 disposals, five tackles and five clearances.

Glenelg v. Norwood

League: Glenelg 11.10 (76) defeated Norwood 10.13 (73)

Glenelg have started their premiership defence on the right foot, defeating Norwood by three points in a thriller at Adelaide Oval. The Redlegs got out to an early lead but the Tigers clawed their way back with an outstanding third term, kicking three goals to zero. This set up a final term with multiple momentum swings and lead changes until reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington kicked a long-range set shot to give Glenelg the victory.

Carl Nicholson was arguably best on ground for Glenelg, finishing with 21 disposals, eight inside 50s, six marks and a goal. Defensive recruit Luke Parks was brilliant in his first game for the club with 16 disposals and ten marks, several of which were intercepted. Max Proud was also great in defence with six marks and four tackles, while Liam McBean was his usual dominant-self up forward with four goals. For the Redlegs, Matthew Panos worked hard for his 21 disposals and two goals, former Crow Richard Douglas (20 disposals, seven tackles) played well in his first game since retiring from AFL, and veteran ruckman Sam Baulderstone displayed some brilliant ruck craft amongst his 41 hitouts. Norwood’s defence held up well all day and can consider themselves unlucky not to come out with the two points. They will hope to welcome Ryan Bastinac to the side for next week’s clash against the Roosters, while Glenelg will take on the Panthers in what should be an enthralling matchup.

Reserves: Glenelg 12.7 (79) defeated Norwood 8.9 (57)

Reigning Reserves premiers Norwood fell in their first match of the season to the Tigers by 22 points. It is a major scalp for Glenelg’s Reserves side and should give them great confidence going into next week.

Under 18s: Glenelg 12.12 (84) defeated Norwood 5.10 (40)

Glenelg were also too strong in the Under 18s, defeating Norwood by 44 points. The Redlegs failed to hit the front all game as they struggled to get the ball into their front half, losing the inside 50s 34-53. Potential draftee Luke Edwards collected 22 disposals, five clearances and six tackles for the Tigers, while Luke Pedlar (28 disposals, six tackles, six inside 50s) also impressed. Cooper Murley was the sole AFL Academy Squad member to play for the Redlegs in this game, finishing with 20 disposals and three tackles. Matthew Dnistriansky worked hard for his 25 disposals, ten rebound 50s and nine marks.

For more SANFL news and recaps, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Norwood Redlegs Player of the AFL Era: Vote for yours via our Instagram

NORWOOD REDLEGS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The Northern Knights All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Brent Harvey announced as the winner and captain of the Knights’ All-Star side.

Norwood has a lot of consistent players and you get the feeling that the team would be hard to beat if your side is underperforming. Most of the side play to a solid level each and every week, and it was hard to determine the top seeds. In the end, reliable defenders Heath Grundy and Tom Harley lead the charge, though any one of the players in the draw might advance victorious.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Monday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is Oakleigh Chargers starting on Tuesday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

AFL Draft Watch: Bailey Chamberlain (West Adelaide/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already garnered attention for state representation at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is West Adelaide prospect Bailey Chamberlain, a midfielder with well-balanced inside and outside traits. The 179cm prospect is exceptionally quick off the mark, able to burn opponents either on the outside or through traffic, and finish his carries with penetrative kicks.

Chamberlain managed to crack the Bloods’ Reserves grade for three appearances as a bottom-ager in 2019, and will be looking to go a step further once SANFL football returns in 2020. He will also play a key role among South Australia’s Under 18 midfield group, adding a touch of flair to the mix. Catch up on how he has been tracking thus far.

PLAYER PAGE:

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: June 26, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 70kg

Position: Balanced midfielder

Strengths: Speed, inside/outside balance, run-and-carry, penetration
Improvements: Kicking at speed

2019 SANFL Reserves Stats: 3 games | 13.7 disposals | 2.3 marks | 3.0 tackles | 4.6 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s | 0.7 rebound 50s | 0.7 goals (2)

2019 SANFL Under 18s Stats: 16 games | 21.6 disposals | 3.8 marks | 4.8 tackles | 4.6 clearances |  3.0 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (4)

PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 62cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 68cm/73cm
Speed (20m) – 3.08 seconds
Agility – 8.58 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo) – 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo

QUOTES FROM PRESEASON

Goals… “Just trying to push for a League game really. I’ve just been working as hard as I can to try and push into that selection so hopefully I can play some good footy in the Reserves and then get the call-up… and definitely (playing State Under 18s) is my major goal this year, just to play the champs, play every game and play well.”

Strengths… “My ability to play both inside and outside. I reckon I’m a pretty versatile player in the midfield, I can play that winger role or play an inside role.”

Favourite teammates… “Definitely Riley (Thilthorpe). We’re best mates so it’s pretty good running out next to him. Taj Schofield obviously, I go to school with him so I’m pretty close with him – those are the two main ones.”

>> Get to know: West Adelaide Under 18s

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

>> 2020 South Australia U18 Squad Prediction

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Tahj Abberley
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Brandon Walker
Joel Western

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is West Adelaide talent, Abbie Ballard who had a massive game at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s level in the opening round of the 2020 season, and despite her smaller size, attacks the ball with fierce intent and is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Height: 159cm
Position: Inside Midfielder
Strengths: Contested work, tackling, clearances, consistency, accumulation

2020 SANFL Women’s stats: 4 games | 18.3 disposals | 2.0 marks | 4.0 tackles | 4.0 clearances | 2.5 inside 50s

2019 SANFL Women’s stats: 10 games | 16.1 disposals | 1.5 marks | 5.4 tackles | 4.1 clearances | 2.1 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds | 1 goal

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 5.5 disposals | 1.0 marks | 2.0 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 1.0 inside 50s | 1.0 rebounds

The pocket rocket from West Adelaide had a breakout season in 2019 as a middle-ager when she won the West Adelaide best and fairest award. In 10 games she averaged 16 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and almost three inside 50s for the Westies, really announcing herself as one to watch coming into her top-age year. If anyone wondered if her exploits in 2019 were going to continue in 2020, fans did not have to wait long as Ballard racked up a competition-high 27 disposals and nine clearances in Round 1, as well as five marks, four tackles and three inside 50s leading her side to an impressive win over Sturt.

While she did not achieve the same numbers in the next three games, she still provided a fierce tackling presence and was able to win the ball in close and shovel it out to teammates on the outside. Her contested ball winning ability, and the knack of getting in the right spot to extract the ball from stoppages are among her strength, as well as her tackling. She is not a noted goal kicker – kicking just the one in 10 games last season – but she plays to her strengths and is not afraid to take on players much bigger than her.

Like many middle-agers at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, she was used sparingly across two games to give top-agers the best shot at being drafted in their 18-year-old year. Fast forward to 2020 though and expect she will have a much larger role assuming the carnival goes ahead.

With the SANFL Women’s set to kick off this weekend again, Ballard is one of a number of talented young guns in the league, and earned a place in our SANFL Under 22s side earlier in the year. Expect her to continue her form returning to competition after the long break.

2020 SANFL season preview: Can the Bays go back-to-back?

LAST year saw a drought-breaking year in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) with Glenelg taking home its first League premiership since 1986. The Tigers were able to bounce back from a loss earlier in the finals series to take out Port Adelaide in the grand final last year. The result also meant seven of the eight non-AFL affiliated clubs have won SANFL titles this turn of the century with only South Adelaide (1964) holding a drought longer than a decade from those sides. We take a look at the eight sides in contention for the 2020 SANFL premiership in order of ladder position last year (minus Adelaide and Port Adelaide).

GLENELG

Finished: Premiers
Wins: 13
Draws: 2
Losses: 3
Best & Fairest: Jesse White
Leading Goalkicker: Liam McBean & Luke Reynolds (53)

The reigning premiers return to the competition as deserving favourites in the new year, as the likes of Margarey Medallist Luke Partington and reigning leading goalkickers, Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds back in the yellow and black.

Over the off-season, the Bays have been able to bring in some young talent including former Crow Jackson Edwards who returns to South Australia, ex-Sydney Academy talent Luke Parks, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels forward, Mitch Martin. Unfortunately young star Kaine Baldwin will miss the season through another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. However, the Tigers have every reason to be buoyant about the season ahead.

After all, their list of ex-AFL talent is quite impressive, with names such as Cory Gregson and Billy Stretch alongside Luke Edwards. Expect the Tigers to be the team to beat in 2020.

STURT

Finished: 4th
Wins: 11
Draws: 0
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Sam Colquhoun
Leading Goalkicker: Josh Hone (35)

The Double Blues will be confident of a rise up the ladder in 2020 with a couple of handy pickups including talented high-flyer Jordan Houlahan who returns from the AFL, as well as another ex-Cat and Crow, Dean Gore.

Tom Lewis will provide some extra youth and inside hardness alongside the likes of outside movers, Josh Shute and Mihail Lochowiak who have been impressive in past years. Sam Colquhoun has been a star of the competition of late, and with last year’s leading goalkicker Josh Hone also coming back for 2020, Sturt will be competitive once again.

They have a lost a fair chunk of talent over the off-season including ex-AFL talent Danyle Pearce who opted to retire alongside four others including Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans. The Double Blues will likely need to time to adjust in the season.

NORWOOD

Finished: 5th
Wins: 11
Draws: 7
Losses: 0
Best & Fairest: Brad McKenzie
Leading Goalkicker: Peter Bampton (31)

The experience of the Redlegs after a grand final appearance the year before did not end up helping them get past the first week of finals in 2019. They have some serious big names on their list from best and fairest winner Brad McKenzie, to the likes of form AFL-listed talents Dom Barry, Lewis Johnston and Mitch Grigg.

A 2020 recruit in Daniel Johnston will help add some extra height to the side, and provide some firepower alongside the likes of Matthew Panos and Peter Bampton up forward. The biggest inclusion is former Crow, Richard Douglas, who should immediately be in the top five players across the league, whilst another ex-AFL talent in Ryan Bastinac announced yesterday that he would be joining the Redlegs after initially pulling out of the league due to commitments.

If the inclusions are anything to go by, Norwood will be the biggest threat to Glenelg’s crown and could well go all the way if their players remain fit throughout the season.

SOUTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 6th
Wins: 9
Draws: 2
Losses: 7
Best & Fairest: Joel Cross
Leading Goalkicker: Joel Cross (26)

All eyes will be on the Panthers in season 2020 as they try and crack into the top four on the back of some savvy recruiting. Former AFL talent, Matthew Broadbent will help South Adelaide to try and mount a case to rise up the ladder.

Along with the experienced duo, Canberra’s Tom Highmore and Sydney Swans Academy’s Ky McGrath were both vying for draft selection last year, and will be among those looking to take over from a number of Double Blues stars who have left the club. With Brad Crabb and Nick Liddle both exiting, Mark Noble joining his brother in Victoria and Emmanuel Ira also on the out, the main role of the recruits will be to support Joel Cross with some extra depth through the team.

Cross won both the leading goalkicker and best and fairest award last season, and with a young side that has a number of South Australians coming through the state team, the Panthers would be keen to bring through their next crop of players.

WWT EAGLES

Finished: 7th
Wins: 8
Draws: 0
Losses: 10
Best & Fairest: Jordan Foote
Leading Goalkicker: James Rowe (35)

The Under 18s premiers have now lost their array of young talent to the AFL, with the likes of Kysaiah Pickett, Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg among those who landed on AFL lists last year. They have brought in Kai Pudney and Mitch Mead from Port Adelaide’s SANFL side, whilst the big recruit might be Liam Buxton from Casey Demons.

It will be an interesting season for the Eagles who have some genuine elite talents through the side, including best and fairest winner Jordan Foote – an ex-AFL talent himself – and small forward James Rowe who made the transition to senior footy seamlessly.

They should be among the mid-table log-jam of teams to battle for a top four place, and with the senior experience still on the list after a seventh placed finish last year, they could well get it done whilst other teams are still trying to gel.

CENTRAL DISTRICT

Finished: 8th
Wins: 5
Draws: 0
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Jarrod Schiller
Leading Goalkicker: Troy Menzel (33)

One of the potential bigger improvers in season 2020, Central District has acquired the services of a second Menzel brother with Dan joining Troy at the Bulldogs. Troy was huge last season winning the leading goalkicker award and now the double trouble of the goalsneaks will make life difficult for the opposition. The big question mark will be losing the Neagle trio in Jydon, Jaxon and Matthew back to Wodonga.

Through the midfield, the other brother combination in Jarrod and Travis Schiller will be tough to combat again, whilst former Tiger, Ben Nason has crossed from Woodville-West Torrens. The Bulldogs have also brought in some big ball winners from Victoria, with Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild and Dandenong Stingrays’ Jack Toner joining the club along with former Stingrays’ goalsneak Jai Nanscawen for the 2020 season.

Given the talent on the list and two less sides, it would be a near-certainty that the Bulldogs reach the finals.

NORTH ADELAIDE

Finished: 9th
Wins: 4
Draws: 1
Losses: 13
Best & Fairest: Aidan Tropiano
Leading Goalkicker: Lewis Hinder (28)

The ninth placed Roosters have added some extra firepower in 2020 with the recruitment of former Adelaide and Gold Coast ball-winner Harrison Wigg and ex-Hawk and Roo, Billy Hartung. Along with another ex-AFL player in Andrew Moore, and hopefully a full season out of former Port Adelaide goalsneak Jake Neade, and the Roosters will look to rise up the ladder again.

Last year’s reigning premiers were always going to have a tough season after starting on negative points due to the 19th man saga, and losing a number of players to AFL level. They have gained one back in Robbie Young returning to the club. Unlucky overagers not to be drafted last year, Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder are back again and provide some height in the defensive end.

The recruits will need to take over from Aidan Tropiano who has headed west this season. The Roosters will rise up and expect them to contend for finals again.

WEST ADELAIDE

Finished: 10th
Wins: 2
Draws: 0
Losses: 16
Best & Fairest: Logan Hill
Leading Goalkicker: Jono Beech (21)

The only way is up for the Bloods and with a number of solid recruits alongside the potential number one AFL Draft pick, West Adelaide has what it takes to get off the bottom of the ladder. Riley Thilthorpe will be a much talked about name this year and the talented tall will get plenty of time in the League side in 2020.

The Bloods have also recruited a couple of over-agers and former Sydney Swans Academy members Hamish Ellem and Kyle Martin to provide some strength in attack. With Bailey Chamberlain another talented top-age teenager in the line-up, it will take some of the pressure off the likes of 2019 best and fairest winner, Logan Hill, as well as ex-Hawk Dallas Willsmore.

No doubt it will still be a tough year for the senior side with so many huge recruits to a number of other sides, but the youth in the team will give the Bloods great depth and help out across the board. They will need to overcome the losses of Jono Beech and Chris Schmidt this season who were both huge contributors to the team.

Draft Central predictions:

Premiers: Norwood
Runners-Up: Glenelg
Big Improver: North Adelaide