Category: WWT Eagles

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

Eagles soar above minor premiers to claim third Under 18 flag in four years

WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens has upset minor premier Glenelg by 17 points on Saturday afternoon to claim a third SANFL Under 18s flag in four years. The Eagles incited a remarkable 70-point turnaround from their semi-final loss to the Bays just a fortnight ago, even without the services of their best player on that day, Jase Burgoyne.

Bottom-age midfielder Adam D’Aloia was awarded the Alan Stewart Medal as best afield, proving a worthy recipient for his game-high 30 disposals, eight clearances and nine inside 50s. Winning skipper Jordan Lukac, who booted crucial consecutive goals at the start of term four, also marked his 19th birthday with the memorable victory which read 13.8 (86) to 10.9 (69).

The Eagles led at every break but Glenelg made arguably the better start, as Jack Harding opened the scoring in term one. After the Bays built a 10-point lead, Woodville-West Torrens clicked into gear with a run of three goals in five minutes to surge ahead by nine points at the first break, converting from a clinical spurt of six inside 50s.

Having built a block of momentum, the Eagles carried it into the second quarter as Sam Nicholls popped up with back-to-back majors to stretch his side’s unanswered run to five goals. Glenelg’s steadiers came via the reliable boots of Hugh Stagg and Harry Tunkin, before another frantic end to the term saw three goals added in as many minutes. Woodville-West Torrens had the last laugh, boosting its half time buffer to 13 points.

In what looked an ominous sign of things to come, the Eagles nabbed an important six-pointer within the first minute of the second half, but it lead to a tense 20-minute stalemate where the majors dried up. Eagles speedster Jay Watson eventually broke the deadlock and secured a then game-high 25-point lead, before Jakob Ryan hit back almost instantly to give Glenelg a sniff heading into the last break.

With quick goals a must for the Tigers, they could not quite convert in the clutch and Lukac made them pay by sending home two in the first five minutes. The Eagles began to wind the clock down with over 10 minutes left, before Glenelg added three late consolation goals to trim the losing margin to 17 points. It proved much too little, too late as the Eagles again saluted in the junior grade.

While D’Aloia’s midfield dominance proved a key factor, the Eagles were also served well by an almost impenetrable backline. Will Neumann (21 disposals) set the tone with his physicality, while Charlie Adams (18) provided plenty of drive as tall pair Liam Ueding and Jonte Hunter-Price chimed in aerially.

Charlie Blair booted two goals from 19 touches and Brock Thomson (nine rebound 50s) was another defensive standout, while Nicholls’ three goals broke the game open and Cormack O’Reilly was a sound outside outlet. Competition leading goal kicker Will Pearce also worked hard up the ground, with Lukac and Lukas Cooke fellow forward threats.

For Glenelg, Harrison Kaesler had the most ball with 29 disposals and seven marks, followed closely by Lewis Rayson (27 and seven). Hunter Window worked hard as usual on a wing with Cooper Beecken complimenting him on the other, while bottom-ager Ryan was impressive in his work up the ground, clunking nine marks (five contested).

Skipper Stagg and Tunkin both had their chances to convert inside 50, and Oscar Adams played a key role in defence before shifting into the ruck. Up forward, Harding was the main source of goals with a total of three to go with his usually strong marking. Two of his majors came in the last 10 minutes of the game.

South Australia’s brightest Under 19 prospects, including a bunch from either side of this contest, can now look forward to representing their state on AFL Grand Final day. The Croweaters take on Western Australia for a second time this season, jerking the curtain for this year’s top flight decider in Perth.

FINAL SCORE

GLENELG 3.0 | 6.2 | 7.6 | 10.9 (69)
EAGLES 4.3 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 13.8 (86)

GOALS:

Glenelg: J. Harding 3, C. Brougham, B. Ridgway, J. Ryan, H. Stagg, W. Trevena, H. Tunkin, W. Wiseman
Eagles: S. Nicholls 3, C. Blair 2, J. Lukac 2, J. Watson 2, L. Cooke, A. D’Aloia, B. Mair, M. Phillipou

DC BEST:

Glenelg: L. Rayson, J. Ryan, H. Kaesler, H. Window, C. Beecken, J. Harding
Eagles: A. D’Aloia, W. Neumann, C. Adams, B. Thomson, C. O’Reilly, S. Nicholls

Alan Stewart Medal: Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)

Featured Image: Eagles captain Jordan Lukac gets a kick away | Credit: Glenelg FC

2021 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final – Glenelg vs. WWT Eagles

WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles will be out to win their third flag in four years in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s competition, after reaching the 2021 grand final following a consistent year in the state’s top junior competition. They take on minor premiers Glenelg, who had an additional three wins, though the Eagles finished with two draws – against West Adelaide and North Adelaide – showing just how close they could have been to top spot. We take a look at the match and who might get up.

GLENELG vs WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS EAGLES
Saturday, September 18 @ 12:40pm
Adelaide Oval

These two sides reached the 2021 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final in the traditional way after finishing top two. Glenelg won the minor premiership, and with the home ground advantage, defeated WWT Eagles by a whopping 52 points in the semi-final to automatically qualify for the decider. Eagles then had to utilise its double chance by defeating West Adelaide at Thebarton Oval last week by 31 points as Jordan Lukac (5.4) and Charlie Blair (3.1) had days out in front of goal.

Last time they met: Semi-final

GLENELG 4.2 | 11.5 | 12.7 | 16.10 (106)
WWT EAGLES 2.2 | 3.3 | 7.4 | 8.6 (54)

It was one-way traffic in the second term for the Bays, as Glenelg fired up with seven goals to one in the quarter and all but end the contest with a 50-point lead at the main break. Whilst both teams kicked five majors after half-time, the game was done and dusted with that onslaught, which included two goals apiece each to Harry Tunkin (finished with four) and Jack Harding (three) in that term. Tunkin was indeed outstanding with 16 touches, five marks, six tackles and three inside 50s as well, whilst Harding kicked the three from eight touches – five kicks – and three marks. Hunter Window (29 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal) was among a further six players with 20-plus disposals for the winners. Jase Burgoyne lit it up for the Eagles with 29 disposals, four marks – two contested – three tackles, two inside 50s and six rebound 50s, with Brock Thomson (23 disposals, two marks and six rebound 50s) and Dustin Launer (20 disposals, three marks, seven clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal) the other key layers.

Changes:

WWT Eagles have been dealt a big blow for the weekend’s game, with Port father-son prospect Burgoyne out of the team. The talented teenager is likely the first Eagle selected in this year’s AFL Draft, but will miss the grand final after pulling up sore with a groin issue, along with Henry Hawker (shoulder) who was the other confirmed out. Into the side comes six players on an extended bench with Noah Goldie, Jayden Hendry and Oscar Mansell all among the inclusions.

Glenelg has sat pretty since booking its spot in the decider, with Dayne McGary, Lachlan Scannell and Daniel Nicotra the three additional inclusions for an extended bench at this point.

KEY PLAYERS:

Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

The South Australian vice-captain is one of four Glenelg players to receive an initial AFL Draft Combine invite this year, and one of only three to be playing in the match. He has stepped up to play two Reserves games this year, but has otherwise been a ball-winning machine in the Under 18s, often providing the run and carry required down the field. Not picking up less than 21 touches in a game this year, he has been a driving force from midfield to attack, playing an outside role perfectly. Running at an elite 90 per cent disposal efficiency, Rayson has averaged 26.7 disposals, 6.5 marks, 2.4 tackles, 2.2 clearances, 4.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s.

Lukas Cooke (WWT Eagles)

Like Rayson, Cooke has managed to play a couple of Reserves games, but has been a crucial goalkicking cog for the Eagles when available in his seven games. In his first four games of the year, Cooke slotted 14 goals to lead all-comers at that stage, including a stunning seven-goal haul against South Adelaide, and then four-goal performance against North Adelaide. He has only played the three games since, adding a further five goals, with a goal in each of his finals. In both games against Glenelg, Cooke has managed the one goal from nine and 11 touches, but the Draft Combine invite is capable of blowing sides away if not tightly watched.

Others:

It is hard not to look past a host of Bays talents who have stood out this year, but Bays’ captain Hugh Stagg, and Cooper Beecken are the other AFL Draft Combine invites, with Oscar Adams also included in the additional 30 players later on. For the Eagles, Lukac has been in outstanding form all year, with the captain slotting 11 goals in his past three games for his side. He was kept to  one goal across his first two outings against the Bays, but kicked a couple in the semi-final loss, and also provided a key role through the ruck as he has a few times over the past month.

TIP:

It is too hard to look past a Glenelg outfit that won the minor premiership and waltzed to a 52-point win in the semi-final. The positives for the Eagles are that they were fairly even in the other terms which could have made it a much closer game, and have kept their opponents to under 80 points in the other two matches, winning the second encounter in Round 11. With Burgoyne out of the side it makes the job even tougher, so while it should be closer, Glenelg is likely to take home this year’s cup.

 

Picture credit: SANFL

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.

SANFL U18s Player Focus: Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens Under 18 skipper Jordan Lukac was recently added to the extended AFL Draft Combine list, proving reward for the promising rate of improvement he has shown in 2021. The 196cm prospect turns 19 in September and represented his state at the level this season, with his athleticism and physical intent serving well.

On Saturday, he helped lead the Eagles to a fourth Under 18s decider in five years with a handful of goals as one of the dominant bigmen afield. We put Lukac’s preliminary final performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

>> Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s Preliminary Final

POCKET PROFILE

Jordan Lukac
Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

DOB: 18/09/2002
Height/Weight: 196cm/89kg
Position: Key Forward/Ruck

Strengths: Vertical leap, physicality, leadership

2021 Averages:

Under 18s: 14 games | 8.6 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.9 tackles | 0.9 inside 50s | 2.4 goals (33 total)
Reserves: 3 games | 7.3 disposals | 2.0 marks | 5.7 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1 total)

2021 SANFL U18s Preliminary Final | Woodville-West Torrens 13.15 (93) def. West Adelaide 9.8 (62)

#26 Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Starting up forward with fellow tall Zac Phillips taking up the primary ruck duties, Lukac was presented with very limited opportunities to showcase his craft in the opening term. West Adelaide was well on top, restricting the Eagles to just one forward 50 entry across the first 15 minutes.

Lukac was eventually rotated into the ruck after 19 minutes but could not quite get his hands on the ball as Westies continued to surge ahead, ending up with a statless quarter – but not for a lack of effort from the skipper.

Q2

After the Bloods’ period of superiority, it was time for Woodville-West Torrens to hit back in term two. Lukac played a solid part in the scoring swing, notching a goal and two behinds from his sole three kicks for the quarter.

The bigman’s size and physicality drew extra attention from direct opponent, David Midwinter, who had the tough job of marking him one-out inside defensive 50. Lukac and the Eagles took toll.

He drew a holding free kick while leading to the top of the arc, which lead to Jase Burgoyne’s first goal as the Port Adelaide father-son prospect took the advantage into an open goal.

Protecting the drop zone well on long kicks in transition, Lukac snared his own score (a behind) from a 30m set shot, and later kicked his opening major after 17 minutes of play. He had the opportunity to add another from a similar spot but put the 45m set shot wide.

Q3

Contributing an identical scoring output of 1.2 in term three, Lukac continued to help the Eagles soar to a defining lead on the back of a greater wealth of opportunities. While he missed two gettable free kick conversions, Lukac produced one of the day’s highlights with his second goal.

Stationed behind the play outside attacking 50, Lukac marked and sensing a big moment, moved straight on with the ball. He carried it just past the arc and let fly with a booming shot on goal which carried through, with only about 90 seconds left in the term.

The captain’s goal cliché is, well, exactly that, but Lukac’s goal helped lift his side heading into the final term. Three of his four touches resulted in scores, with the remainder an errant bomb kick which ended up out of bounds on the wing.

Q4

Lukac’s finish to the game was indicative of his side’s efforts, as he added another three goals with surer conversion. The first came from a terrific juggled mark in deep a one-on-two contest, before Lukac turned and slammed the ball home with ease.

He found a bit more space for his next mark and goal, before again being infringed in a marking contest en route to snaring his fifth and final major score. Lukac also showcased some deft ruck craft in the second half, hitting nicely to his accelerating rovers for a few clean clearances breaks which caught the eye.

Closing thoughts…

While he started slowly with limited opportunities, Lukac ended up having a big say on the result with nine of his 10 kicks resulting in scores. He eventually straightened up but could have claimed an even bigger haul if not for inaccuracy, as he constantly drew free kicks with defenders struggling to combat his size and strength. The Eagles played to his strengths by stationing him one-out inside 50, where he only needs a few looks to do some damage. He got better and more effective with his ruck craft as the game wore on too, making for a well-rounded and impactful overall effort from the rising tall.

Image Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

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

PREVIEW | Finals fever hits SANFL as prospects crack senior grades

THE SENIOR SANFL grades roll into finals this weekend, with qualifying and elimination finals complementing a promising Under 18s preliminary matchup. There is a good scattering of junior talent looking to make an impact up the grades; from state Under 19 representatives, to AFL Draft Combine invitees, and bottom-agers on the rise.

With minor premier Glenelg getting the week off, Woodville-West Torrens (second) and Norwood (third) are the highest ranked sides in action during Sunday’s League fixtures. The Eagles, who defend their crown this finals series, have beaten the Redlegs twice in 2021 by a combined 83 points. Both sides should come in with a good deal of confidence though, having won in each of their last three outings.

State Under 19s representative Max Litster is in contention to keep his spot after debuting last week, named on the Eagles’ extended bench as skipper Luke Thompson and Daniel Menzel both return form injury. Small forward Henry Nelligan is a Norwood youngster to watch, along with rising defender Jack Heard. The Redlegs will also have their captain, Matthew Nunn, make a timely return.

North Adelaide and South Adelaide lock horns in the League elimination final, with both sides landing a game clear in the top five on the back of 10-win seasons. The two sides have met twice in 2021 for an even 1-1 ledger, though both are slightly out of form. The Panthers started hot but could only muster a 3-6 record in the back-end of the season, while the Roosters come in off two losses on the end of a six-game winning run.

All eyes will be on top draft pick contender Jason Horne-Francis after his magnificent performance last week, with the teenager primed to make a real impact on the big stage. Matthew Roberts has also been named on an extended interchange, as South brought in the likes of Matthew Broadbent. North has unfortunately lost a couple of players to injury, with former AFL-listed products Billy Hartung and Cameron Hewett sidelined.

A strong bunch of state Under 19 squad members are in line to hit the Reserves grade across both finals on Saturday, with Central Districts naming four for its elimination bout against West Adelaide. Speedy forwards Isaiah Dudley and Lachlan Grubb are in alongside tall midfielder Shay Linke and Luca Whitelum, who made a successful debut last week. Electric wingman Ronald Fejo Jnr also features for Westies after his combine inclusion.

In the qualifying final between Woodville-West Torrens and Sturt, state vice-captain Mani Liddy will look to continue his solid run of form. Defender Zac Becker will line up alongside him for the Double Blues, while Brayden Calvett and bottom-ager Adam D’Aloia are among both the two’s and Under 18s squads.

Speaking of the Under 18s, Woodville-West Torrens takes of West Adelaide for the chance to take on Glenelg in next week’s grand final. Both sides carry plenty of class across each line, fielding players across multiple age groups and a few each who will be in draft contention going forward.

Eagles skipper and recent combine addition Jordan Lukac lines up at full forward, looking to spearhead the attack with reliable goalkicker Lukas Cooke. The latter has been named at centre half-forward next to gun bottom-agers D’Aloia and Mattaes Phillipou, while Port Adelaide father-son candidate Jase Burgoyne starts out on the wing.

It’s land of the giants over at West Adelaide, with plenty of talls to choose from. Tom Scully and Oscar Steene take up the starting key forward posts, with Harry Barnett rotating from the ruck and Harry Lemmey another to choose from off the bench. 2005-born prospect Will Patton is one to watch up the other end, while bottom-agers Kobe Ryan and Tyson Coe compliment Cade Kennedy well in midfield.

Stay tuned to Draft Central over the next week, as we bring you Scouting Notes and Player Focus pieces on some of the weekend’s best performances, with the SANFL Under 18s Team of the Year also to be released mid-week.

Featured Image: West Adelaide tall Harry Lemmey in action at League level | Credit: Hannah Howard via SANFL

SANFL Player Focus: Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)

AFTER a solid season at Reserves level and a call up to the recent Under 19s championship match between Western Australia and South Australia, where he was one of SA’s best, Max Litster earned himself a late season League debut for the second placed Woodville-West Torrens. 

The 2002-born defender ended his maiden senior outing as one of the top handful of ball winners for his side in the resounding 104-point victory as Woodville-West Torrens built confidence heading into their finals campaign, which begins next week against Norwood. Litster impressed most with his defensive focus through the game, and impressive speed with ball in hand.

POCKET PROFILE

Max Litster
Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

DOB: 6/07/2002 (19)
Height: 184cm
Weight:
83kg

Position: General Defender

2021 Averages:
SANFL Reserves (15 games)

 18.9 disposals | 13.3 kicks | 5.5 handballs | 4.7 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.0 inside 50s | 4.8 rebound 50s

Source: SANFL

2021 SANFL League, Round 19 | Woodville-West Torrens 19.8 (122) def. Central Districts 2.6 (18)

#51 Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)

Stats: 23 disposals (14 kicks, 9 handballs), 7 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Q1

Like most senior debutants, Litster started the game on the bench, having to wait until the six-minute mark to get on field. His first involvement in play saw him used in the corridor of the defensive 50 as he led into a smart spot for his teammate who was stuck up against the boundary line. Litster’s follow-up kick was penetrating to a teammate on the wing, who was able to continue the ball movement quickly given Litster put it in front of him so he didn’t lose momentum. As the quarter drew on, Litster got more involved with play from the defensive 50 and pushed up the ground, and whilst at times his ball use was below par, he never dropped his head and continued to present and try to get involved.

What was impressive about Litster was his defensive focus in open play, and ability to quickly transition and find his opponent, sticking with them and spoiling the ball before they could hold it. Litster also showed an ability to gut run defensively, at one point sprinting into the goal square to take a mark just before the goal line and move the ball on well by foot.

Q2

Coming out in the second term looking to have gained confidence, Litster’s ball use improved dramatically as he looked to use his run and carry more aggressively out of defensive 50, starting handball chains that led to inside 50s with some creative ball use. Litster showed off his leap a couple of times in the second quarter, taking an intercept mark in the middle of a pack by jumping above everyone else then using the ball well with his switch kick, and another time getting caught behind his opponent but making up the distance with his closing speed and again leaping to spoil his opponent. 

Litster looked a lot more confident approaching contested situations or winning the ball under pressure in the second quarter, not being easily knocked around by opposition to get in good positions to win the ball. This was best demonstrated when there was a stoppage inside the Eagles defensive 50, Litster got the ball as it went over the top of the rovers, using his hips to block an opponent and quickly flicked it up to a teammate that was running past.

Q3

In a quieter quarter than his first two, Litster took some time to get involved in the game and have a meaningful impact, but came in strongly with a contested intercept mark just outside of forward 50, bombing long to create a contest for his forwards. Litster took a few marks around the ground with some smart positioning and his speed to beat opponents to the footy and hold it well. Unfortunately Litsters ball use dropped from where it was in the second quarter, missing teammates by foot when he was running straight at them, but looking good with his quick hands in close.

Litsters push up the ground was encouraging to see as he started to win more footy in the forward half and generally caused headaches for Central District as they tried to get the ball out of their defensive 50.

Q4

In a somewhat lacklustre end to the game, Litster didn’t get much of the ball, with the Eagles keeping the it in their forward half for the most of the quarter. When the opportunity was there for Litster to impact he took it with both hands, once again showing off his speed. One of his kicks was a nice highlight, chipping it over the top of a teammate so they could run onto the ball and then kick it long inside 50

Closing thoughts…

Overall it was a promising senior debut from Litster following on from his impressive championship game against Western Australia, slotting into the Eagles’ backline seamlessly and looking like on of their more accountable defenders, focusing more on his opponent and cutting off opposition plays than being around the contest in hopes of getting an extra touch. His leap and speed allowed him to impact contests that he looked like he wouldn’t get to. The one thing Litster can improve on from this performance is to find more consistency with his ball use.

Featured Image: Max Litster (far left) celebrates with his Eagles teammates | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

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

SANFL Women’s and Under 16 boys programs expand

A WOMEN’S development league and a full season of Under 16 boys were among the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) expansion announcements yesterday. Looking ahead to the 2022 season, the SANFL announced it would be further growing its elite talent pathways in order to provide Under 16s boys with a full season, and also creating a SANFL Women’s development league in order to have a direct feeder competition for the clubs to play non-selected players.

The SANFL Women’s development league will commence in February and conclude at the end of March, running for seven rounds aligning with the league competition. SANFL General Manager Matt Duldig said the additional development league would provide non-selected SANFL Women’s players with a chance to maintain match fitness during the season and follows on from the SANFL’S decision to move to a 16-a-side league competition in 2022 to align with the AFL Women’s.

“The female development league will provide an essential feeder competition into SANFLW, enhancing the skill level and depth of our elite female competition,” Duldig said.

“Importantly, it will also benefit those players not selected in a SANFLW team to continue to develop their game in an elite training and playing environment with their SANFL Club.”

Meanwhiile, the Under 16 Boys competition will expand from a seven-round season to a full season, aligning with the Under 18s competition and allowing talented future SANFL stars to maintain their match fitness and development at the higher level throughout the whole season.

Mr Duldig said the extended competition would increase the Under 16 players access to an elite talent program at their respective clubs for a longer period of time.

“Ultimately our aim is to provide the best possible talent pathways for male and female players, coaches and umpires in SA, giving them the best opportunity to participate at either SANFL or AFL level,” Duldig said.

“Growing the pool of talent within our SANFL Clubs is also vital to underpin the strength and growth of our elite men’s and women’s State League competitions which provide an aspirational pathway for young up and coming players.”

Glenelg is the reigning premiers from the women’s competition, whilst South Adelaide took out the Under 16s title.

 

Picture credit: SANFL