Tag: 2020 sanfl

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Grand Finals

GRAND Final week in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we widen our scope to cover the prospects running around across all three grades, with a particular focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line.

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE/RESERVES

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

WWT Eagles:

#9 Rhyan Mansell (League)

The young defender again played an integral role down back for the premiers. The Tasmanian combined well with Lachlan Jones and veteran Patrick Giuffreda in the back half, finishing with three rebounds. Mansell used the ball with precision and orchestrated a number of successful attacks. He showcased his sound vision, composure, and decision making and positioned himself well to take a number of intercept marks. Mansell finished the game with 19 disposals, eight marks and five tackles.

#16 James Rowe (League)

As has been the case all season, the excitement machine looked threatening whenever he was near the footy. He demanded attention all day and capitalised on his opportunities, as all good small forwards do. North’s Mitch Clisby was given the big job on Rowe and kept him quiet early on as the Roosters started strongly. However, when the Eagles were well on top, he nailed a goal in the dying minutes of the first half. The son of former-Crow Stephen, Rowe kicked a fantastic goal from 40 metres out after his Eagles teammates forced a turnover in the third term. Whenever he wasn’t lurking around the forward line, Rowe was getting under the skin of his Roosters opponents. He used the ball to terrific effect in general play and finished the day with 15 disposals and four inside 50s to go with his two goals. After a dominant season, Rowe is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook for a spot at the elite level.

#28 Jacob Wehr (League)

The 22-year-old from Balaklava in South Australia’s mid-north was excellent for the Eagles. Wehr was able to get the ball in some time and space, allowing him to cut up North’s defence with his pin-point foot skills. The wingman worked hard both ways between the arcs and continuously provided an outlet for Woodville-West Torrens. He finished the contest with 19 disposals, six marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s. Wehr has been a revelation for the Eagles this season and is one of several mature-aged prospects who could attract some AFL attention over the coming months.

#34 Lachlan Jones (League)

The bull-like defender produced another sensational performance on the big stage and once again showed class beyond his years. As he has shown time and time again throughout the year, Jones refused to be beaten one-on-one. He was deployed as the loose defender for much of the day and read the play exceptionally well. He positioned himself like a seasoned veteran, taking a number of important intercept marks. He showed great composure and poise both with and without the ball, using it efficiently by hand and foot. He produced a number of terrific defensive actions which didn’t show up on the stats sheet, but will have impressed coach Jade Sheedy. Jones finished with 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s. A premiership medal is a fitting way to end a wonderful season for Jones, who appears likely to be a first round selection come draft night.

#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)

In a game where all the Eagles youngsters contributed well, McNeil was the best of the bunch. He provided relentless run along the wing and used the ball as well as anyone. McNeil’s high work rate allowed him to take a host of marks on the outer side. He used the ball well and his teammates clearly looked for him to hit a target going inside 50. But the clear highlight of his game was a terrific running goal in the second quarter, which featured two bounces and a beautiful finish. He concluded the match with 23 disposals, nine marks, two tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s. The Clare product missed out on being drafted as an 18-year-old last year, but after a great performance on Grand Final day and a consistent season at senior level with the Eagles, McNeil could find himself a home at AFL level at the second time of asking.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

It was a difficult day for the Roosters, who struggled to get anything going after quarter time as Finlay and his fellow backmen had their backs against the wall all day. However Finlay was one of North’s best, particularly in the air. He spent some time on dangerous Eagle forward Jack Hayes and also rolled onto Jake Von Bertouch at times. Given the duo’s ability to clunk big contested marks, Finlay held his own. He was thrown up forward by coach Jacob Surjan for a brief stint when the Eagles were in full control and took one of his three contested marks. Finlay tackled hard at ground level and also provided some rebound. He finished with 13 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two inside 50s.

#38 Dyson Hilder (Reserves)

Much like Finlay in the League game, fellow teenaged defender Hilder was similarly strong in the air for the Roosters’ Reserves. He took a couple of strong contested marks and finished the game with seven grabs overall. Hilder, who played a couple of senior games with North Adelaide earlier in the season, provided some clear rebound by foot and was among his side’s best players, despite the loss. He also gave number one ruckman James Craig a break by rotating through the ruck and winning seven hitouts. He finished with 16 disposals and four rebound 50s.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Norwood vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

With Norwood at full strength and solid top-age operators roaming through the engine room, Murley has been squeezed out a touch in this finals series after an outstanding regular season. Nonetheless, the speedy bottom-ager managed to have an impact with bursts of pace and some crafty plays forward of centre. His instinctive attacking runs allowed him to find space inside 50 from the get-go, sinking one of two first term set shots. His kicks were a touch rushed on the outside under the heat of battle, but most of his running game came in that kind of fashion. He missed a few more chances to hit the scoreboard, albeit from tough positions and distances, with a two-bounce dash through the corridor during the final term ending in a flying shot which just did not have the legs. It was more a game of glimpses for Murley compared to his previous form, but he looms as a first round prospect for next year’s draft.

#4 Henry Nelligan

Nelligan is the kind of player you want on your side during a big game, with his consistency and work rate up there with the best of players. Starting in midfield and rotating forward, the diminutive ball winner ended with a game-high 28 disposals to go with six inside 50s and 1.3 in an inspired display. Not only did Nelligan showcase his clean hands and quick skills at ground level, but he was also able to accumulate around the ground and provide a reliable outlet in all areas. A lot of his clearances were booted over his shoulder, but still gained good meterage in the high-stakes contest. While stationed forward, Nelligan stayed busy and used his smarts to position beautifully upon Norwood’s inside 50 entries. His lone goal came in the first term from a strong mark close to goal, and he put two other chances just wide with another touched before bouncing through the big sticks. After some massive performances for the Redlegs, he remains an outside chance to be drafted as a natural footballer with great smarts.

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

Donning the knee brace once again, Schwerdt was a very handy part of Norwood’s midfield-forward rotation. His first big contribution came inside attacking 50, as he put a quick snap wide, but followed up with a shrewd crumb and dribble goal in the opening term. Schwerdt’s skills were neat in the short range and his little bursts of speed away from congestion proved key in setting Norwood on the front foot. His second goal, which came in the final term, was undoubtedly his highlight of the day. Schwerdt bravely marked between two opponents, moved on immediately to burn both of them, and slotted home a long-range bomb on the run.

#11 Xavier Tranfa

Another of Norwood’s prolific midfielders who also impacted in the front half, Tranfa’s two third term goals truly broke the game open. His first came via a strong mark directly from the centre clearance against a couple of opponents, with the set shot converted emphatically from around the 50-metre arc. Shortly after, he found himself on the end of another forward chain, wheeling on his favoured left side and sinking a powerful shot through the big sticks. That kind of impact was complimented by some strong work at the contest, as Tranfa attacked both the ball and carrier with intent. He was clean at ground level and while not overly quick, he would get his legs pumping or buy enough time to eventually send Norwood into attack. 19 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, and a couple of goals made for a terrific all-round game.

#15 Harlee Chandler

Chandler has proven somewhat of a finals wildcard for Norwood, slotting into the midfield with aplomb and providing great balance at the contest. He began proceedings with a sharp run through the middle and goal assisting pass inside 50, with that kind of run and movement through the corridor a sign of things to come. He was able to fend off opponents and break free, with much of his work as clean as and impactful as anyone else afield. A rush of blood saw Chandler miss his final term attempt on goal after a terrific play to win the ball, but it hardly took away from what was an eye-catching performance from the youngster. He finished with 19 disposals, six tackles, and three clearances.

#27 Nathan Hearing

The 2020 Alan Stewart Medal winner was best afield, Hearing was his usual heroic self through the ruck. Hardly a one-dimensional bigman, the 195cm prospect won a game-high 11 clearances, one more than his 10 hitouts throughout the day. His 21 disposals all-up came in various positions and fashions, but the majority of his work was done at the fall of the ball at stoppages to release his runners at ground level. Hearing’s imposing figure was also sighted down back where he took a couple of relieving marks close to goal, using his reach and timing to stand tall amid forming packs. He may have been beaten vertically at times at the centre bounces, but fared well around the ground and even took balls directly out of the ruck to send the Redlegs forward.

Others:

As is often the case for Norwood, an even team spread saw many contributors stand up across the day. Mitchell Trepka stood up early from defence, with Billy Haebich providing some dash and Sam Duke proving an important aerial figure on the same line. Daniel Fairbrother, who gained senior experience this year was also part of Norwood’s sturdy defence. Marcus Roberts fared well up forward with a couple of goals while big Finn Heard spearheaded the attack, and Michael Cavallaro provided a classy outlet on the wing.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Usually one of the more attacking defenders who is capable of impacting through the corridor, Carruthers’ rebounding efforts mostly came from inside own defensive 50. While his long-range kicking was as sound as ever amid the breeze and Norwood’s pressure, Carruthers seldom had reliable targets to kick to as the ball would often eventually find its way back to his area. He was one of Sturt’s only consistently cool heads down back, but was too often forced too far away from positions in which he would normally attack. Carruthers seemed to lift in the third term as the Double Blues’ hopes began to fade, with his intercept marking, urgent running, and weighted kicks all coming to the fore. It would end up being an effort in vein, but the potential draft bolter finished with a very handy 21 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebound 50s as one of Sturt’s best.

#17 Mani Liddy

Arguably Sturt’s most impactful midfielder in the first half, Liddy was particularly prolific at the centre bounces. His core strength and clean hands gave the Double Blues numerous opportunities to attack first, though some grubber kicks out of congestion on Liddy’s end did his side few favours in that sense. His disposal on the move was a touch untidy in those opening stages despite finding the ball at will, apart from his obvious proficiency via hand. Not shy of a bit of niggle, Liddy’s lone goal for the game came in the second term after being crunched inside 50, with his set shot conversion proving sound. He attempted to force some forward momentum in the latter stages, finishing with 18 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal.

#18 Tom Powell

Powell may have seen the most ball for Sturt with 25 disposals and six marks, but had a touch less than his usual impact around the stoppages. His ability to extract and quickly release via hand was still on show, with numerous drawing handballs and well-timed distributive touches showcasing his best assets. It also lent to his high-level vision and decision making, especially amid the contested Grand Final chaos. Powell’s clean hands were also shown as he gathered well below his knees and snapped home a sharp goal in the second term, something he is increasingly bringing to the fore. With a couple of goal assists to cap off his outing, that attacking prowess is something which will be important in shaking that one-dimensional accumulator tag. He lived up to his billing for the most part, but could not quite help Sturt get over the line.

#25 James Borlase

Borlase was in the thick of the action as tensions boiled over in the third term, not afraid to throw his large frame around and get involved in the biff. He was hardly the only one, but got very heated and seemed to be a prime target for Norwood as ill discipline crept into Sturt’s game. Outside of that, Borlase once again proved a class above many of his Under 18 competitors with terrific reading of the play down back and strong intercept marking. His ball use was often sound and allowed Sturt to retain possession, without being overly damaging. He had a purple patch in the second term with a string of aerial marks, while also bringing his kick penetration into play. He was thrown into the centre bounces during the final quarter in hopes of turning the midfield battle with his physicality, but would have little impact there and revert back to his defensive duties in open play. The Crows Academy prospect finished with 22 disposals and eight marks (three contested) as arguably Sturt’s best player afield.

#32 Morgan Ferres

Ferres finished his bottom-age season strongly, providing a much-needed target leading up from the forward half. It proved a tough gig as Sturt struggled to transition the ball, with Ferres forced to search all the way up to defensive wing at times to find the ball. Half of his six marks were contested, and he was also able to make an impact closer to goal with some touches inside 50. Ferres ended the game with 1.1, sinking a set shot in the final term after seeing multiple attempts either go wide, fall short, or end up out of bounds. If he can tidy up that conversion, Ferres may well prove to be a force in next year’s competition.

Others:

Will Spain‘s efforts to win the ball and tackle at ground level were noted by his coaches, while fellow bottom-ager Brad Jefferies also gave it his all while rotating forward through midfield. Blake Higgins provided his usual run on the outside, while skipper Ned Walter was valiant in defence. Declan Hortle‘s 33 hitouts in the ruck also proved a big effort against the player judged best afield.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Featured Image: Norwood’s Under 18s celebrate their 2020 SANFL premiership | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Grand Final wraps

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS (WWT) took out both senior South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premierships on Sunday, defeating North Adelaide in the League and Reserves Grand Finals at Adelaide Oval. Meanwhile, Norwood’s even team spread helped the Redlegs take home the Under 18s flag.

With young guns impressing at state league level, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our final edition for the year, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade. Amid make-or-break situations in dramatic season finales, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

LEAGUE:

WWT EAGLES | 1.1 | 10.3 | 12.8 | 13.9 (87)
NTH ADELAIDE | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 (48)

Woodville-West Torrens converted its minor premiership into a League flag after defeating North Adelaide by 39 points at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. Just a fortnight removed from their semi final defeat to the Roosters, the Eagles soared to victory on the back of a nine-goal to one second term. The match-defining period saw WWT inflict a 50-point turnaround, inspired by three goals to Jack Oatley medal winner, Jordan Foote en route to seven unanswered majors. North was unable to truly recover from there, with a pair of late consolation goals only slightly trimming the final margin.

As has been the case all season, a bunch of promising young types excelled for the Eagles. Competition leading goalkicker, James Rowe has attracted a heap of elite level interest after a fantastic season, which he capped off with two goals from 15 disposals. Jacob Wehr is another in the same boat, and he was strong once again with 19 disposals, six marks, and five tackles. Defender Rhyan Mansell proved his worth with eight marks from 19 touches, joined down back by Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones (18 disposals, five marks). Up the other end, VFL import Sam Lowson snared 1.2, while Ben Jungfer‘s mid-finals senior promotion yielded seven disposals and plenty of promise.

Former Adelaide and Gold Coast player Harrison Wigg was among North Adelaide’s best, notching a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight tackles and seven breaches of either arc. His rating for effort was arguably matched by 2020 Magarey Medallist Campbell Combe, who got his hands dirty with 15 disposals, seven clearances, and a game-high 10 tackles. Will Combe managed a goal from his 10 touches, while 19-year-old defender Karl Finlay justified his senior selection once again with 13 disposals, three marks, and five tackles.

RESERVES:

WWT EAGLES | 2.1 | 3.5 | 5.8 | 8.11 (59)
NTH ADELAIDE | 2.2 | 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.8 (44)

The Eagles’ Reserves provided the perfect base for their League teammates to build off, trumping North Adelaide by 15 points in a tense decider at Adelaide Oval. 20-year-old Mitch Mead earned the Bob Lee Medal as best afield, as he snared a goal from 15 disposals and laid a whopping 15 tackles. While the Roosters snuck ahead during the first and second terms, they could not catch the Eagles back up after half time as fresher legs perhaps prevailed for the premiers.

An injury to key midfielder Harrison Magor in the first term meant North was always going to be up against it, though Lee Minervini showed just why he has played at League level this season with 20 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and a goal. He formed a strong partnership with 2020 Reserves Magarey Medallist Dakota Nixon, who also managed 20 touches. Patrick Davies was another to impress up forward with two majors from 19 disposals, while Dyson Hilder had it 16 times and clunked seven marks.

For the triumphant Eagles, Ethan Haylock clearly led all comers with 27 disposals, topped by five clearances and a goal. Jackson Lee also contributed a handful of clearances among his 21 touches, while former Port Adelaide rookie Kai Pudney showed his class at the level with 17 disposals and a goal. But it was Mead, the son of Port champion Darren who stole the show and best afield honours.

UNDER 18s:

NORWOOD | 4.4 | 5.7 | 11.10 | 15.13 (103)
STURT | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.5 | 8.5 (53)

The best two SANFL Under 18s sides went head-to-head in this year’s decider at Thebarton Oval, but it was Norwood who claimed a second victory in three weeks over minor premier, Sturt to claim the premiership flag. Kicking towards the wind-favoured end, the Redlegs put together four goals in the opening term to set up a two-goal buffer, and proceeded to strangle any form of Sturt attack in the following period. The Double Blues seemed to grow increasingly frustrated as the contest wore on, with Norwood’s astute defensive structure and quick transitional play allowing them to stay on top. Undisciplined acts followed as the umpires kept their whistles up, with Norwood cruising home to an emphatic 50-point win.

Redlegs ruckman Nathan Hearing was named best afield after bombing forward 11 clearances from his 21 disposals. Teammates Henry Nelligan (28 disposals, 1.3), Xavier Tranfa (19 disposals, two goals), and Harlee Chandler (19 disposals, six tackles) were not far behind either. Nelligan worked hard to accumulate around the ground, while Tranfa’s majors came in quick succession to break the game open, and Chandler proved a very handy finals addition. Ethan Schwerdt also booted two goals from midfield, while pacy 17-year-old Cooper Murley managed 1.3, and bigman Finn Heard provided a terrific target en route to bagging three majors. Up the other end, co-captain Sam Duke was solid as ever, leading a phenomenal team effort from his side.

Mani Liddy was arguably Sturt’s best in a losing effort, particularly early as he finished with 18 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. If not, Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase (22 disposals, eight marks) was a worthy candidate having brought some serious fire and physicality to the contest, albeit a touch overzealous. Malachy Carruthers‘ ball use off half-back was quality as he booted forward nine rebound 50s from 21 touches, while usual suspect Tom Powell found the most ball with 25 disposals and a goal. Skipper Ned Walter tried hard with five rebound 50s in a tough gig from defence, with Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, six marks, one goal) a lively target leading up the field. Will Spain also had an impact, digging in at ground level and laying a game-high seven tackles.

Featured Image: Eagles coach Jade Sheedy holds aloft the 2020 SANFL League premiership trophy | Credit: SANFL

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals

PRELIMINARY finals week in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we widen our scope to cover the prospects running around across all three grades, with a particular focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line.

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Eagles:

#5 Sam Lowson

The Victorian forward kicked Woodville-West Torrens’ first goal of the game at the tenth minute mark of the opening term. Although he didn’t see a lot of the ball (seven disposals), in-part due to James Rowe‘s dominance, Lowson made the most of his opportunities as all good forwards do. He booted his second of the game in the dying moments of the third quarter and certainly complimented the likes of Rowe, the Hayes brothers, and Jake von Bertouch well inside the Eagles’ forward 50.

#9 Rhyan Mansell

Another interstate import, Mansell consistently breached the arcs at both ends of the ground and provided plenty of run-and-carry, as he has done all season. The Tasmanian used the ball beautifully and his teammates evidently trust his delivery whenever he’s in possession of the footy. The damaging half-backman finished his side’s impressive preliminary final victory with 11 disposals, six tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#16 James Rowe

The sheer brilliance and craftiness of Rowe turned the game on its head in the second half and proved vital in the Eagles’ win. He booted goals late in first and second terms, then nailed the first three shortly after half-time to heap the pressure on South Adelaide. One of the hottest mature-aged prospects in the country, if Rowe’s Ken Farmer Medal hadn’t already gotten recruiters talking, his forward smarts, terrific vision, innate goal sense and ability to win the game off his own boot will have almost certainly impressed AFL onlookers. Rowe produced a classic small forward’s game by sparking an abundance of excitement inside 50; drawing free-kicks at ground level, nailing most of his opportunities in front of goal, and annoying the Panthers defenders with his constant niggle and banter. He finished with 22 disposals, five goals, three marks, three tackles and three inside 50s and looms as key to the Eagles’ chances in next weekend’s Grand Final.

#28 Jacob Wehr

Wehr continues to go from strength-to-strength for the Eagles. His neat disposal was a real feature of his game, along with his drive from defence and run up and down the wings. Another Eagle who looked to utilise his damaging foot skills whenever he had possession, Wehr has been one of several youngsters to perform well for the club in season 2020. He finished with 14 disposals (including 12 kicks), three marks, three inside 50s and six rebound 50s.

#34 Lachlan Jones

As he has been all season, the Port Adelaide Academy prospect was a rock in defence. Calm and composed with ball in hand, Jones rarely went to ground, kept the ball in front of him at ground level, and was typically strong in the air, taking a couple of nice contested marks. He read the play well in what was another strong defensive game down back from the potential top 10 draftee, concluding the match with 13 disposals, five marks and three rebound 50s.

#51 Lachlan McNeil

McNeil produced another strong showing in the gold, green and blue as Woodville-West Torrens booked its ticket to Sunday’s SANFL decider. His ability to win the ball on the inside, then run-and-carry the ball when in space was an important factor in the win. His clean, quick hands in-tight were also a highlight of his game. One who will need to perform strongly against the Roosters next week if the Eagles are to claim their eighth premiership, McNeil finished with 14 disposals, a goal, three marks and three inside 50s in a neat display.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#32 Beau McCreery

The teenage small forward has enjoyed a terrific season at SANFL League level, but unfortunately, like many of his teammates, McCreery struggled to have much of an impact on the contest. However, he kicked a true small forward’s goal in the second term when the game still hung in the balance and did just about all he could from minimal effective forward entries. McCreery finished with nine disposals and three tackles.

#33 Jason Horne

The 17-year-old battled hard all day but ultimately struggled against the fast-finishing Eagles, who proved far too good in the second half. After starting up forward, Horne was moved into the midfield in an attempt to stop the Eagles’ momentum as James Rowe ran amok. Horne showcased his overhead marking capabilities by taking a contested grab and nailing a goal in the fourth term, and will certainly have benefitted from the SANFL finals experience. He finished with eight disposals, a goal and a couple of inside 50s.

#35 Tom Highmore

The Canberra native fulfilled a key position role down back and did just about all he could against an onslaught of Eagles inside 50s. He wasn’t as effective in the air as we have become accustomed to seeing, but generally used the ball well when exiting the backline. He backed his foot skills in and provided some nice rebound, finishing with nine touches and five rebound 50s. It was a disappointing end for South Adelaide, but Highmore has proven to be one of the recruits of the season and may find his way onto an AFL list later in the year.

#45 Daly Andrews

Andrews was the most prolific of the young Panthers. South’s best clearance winner for the game, the former-Williamstown and Western Jets product ran tirelessly between the arcs, helping to rebound from defence and also sending the ball inside 50 on three occasions. Andrews pieced together an excellent season after joining the club in July and will likely have caught the eyes of a couple of AFL recruiters.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

RESERVES

Central District vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#49 Thomas Graham

He may come from good pedigree as the son of former Hawthorn and Richmond defender, Mark Graham, but Thomas is quite raw in a footballing sense having only committed to the code over the last couple of years. Much like his champion father, the basketball convert is sound aerially and kicks on his left side, with both assets coming to the fore in this outing. Taking up a key defensive post, Graham was seen following his direct opponent up the ground and getting a hand in for countless spoils. He also chimed in with some nice intercept marks inside defensive 50, with one clunked after shrewdly deciding to run off his man.

Graham was quite sound with ball in hand and despite a somewhat unconventional kicking action, he showed good composure to spread the ball out of defence. He also bolted up the corridor in the third term to get on the end of a handball receive and boot a booming goal on the run from 50 metres. Versatility and scope are ticks for Graham, as he also showed off his vertical leap in the ruck late on. The next step in his defensive development will be to clunk contested marks where he would usually opt to spoil.

#52 Lachlan Grubb

The flying wingman has returned some of his most notable performances in the forward half this season, but played almost exclusively on the wing throughout this outing. His first contribution came through a strong mark at half-forward, keeping his hands up to hold on as opposition heat arrived from behind. He was often stationed on the outside of stoppages, hunting the loose ball when not afforded the space or opportunity to handball receive. In general play, Grubb worked hard to find space on the outer and link into forward 50, but could not always use his pace to close down direct opponent, Mason Neagle in the opposite situations. The defensive side is something Grubb is working on, and the 17-year-old is still quite light-on at senior level.

The highlight of Grubb’s day came in the attacking realm; as he latched onto a loose ball over the back, burnt his opponent with three running bounces inside 50, steadied, and kicked arguably the goal of the day on his right foot. It takes a good deal of confidence to pull off such a play on the big stage, and it provided a window into what the youngster can do in full flight. He was a touch scrappy by foot, particularly on the move, but backed himself to dispose on either side of his body and gained some decent meterage down the line. As a December birth, the top-ager could be one to come on quickly with a touch more time to develop, but has plenty of eye-catching qualities.

Others:

Small midfielder Steve Burton worked hard through the engine room to be Centrals’ most prolific ball winner, while Joseph Brown was relentless in his pursuit to take the game on from defence. 21-year-old Cooper Dahms snared a couple of nice goals up forward, including the Bulldogs’ first of the day. Fellow forward Ben Kelly was another to contribute in the front half, and is the son of Sydney Swans champion, Paul.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#27 Harrison Magor

The 19-year-old was one of North Adelaide’s best, doing all the tough work and one-percenters through midfield. He extracted plenty of ball at the coalface, able to stay strong through the hips, gather cleanly at ground level, and flick out handballs to release teammates. Magor also managed nine clearances among his team-high 23 disposals, but saw many of them bombed forward with no real direction. Nonetheless, his ball winning prowess allowed North to gain meterage and control the territory.

Not one for frills, Magor’s most significant efforts came on the defensive end, as he laid some tone-setting tackles to earn possession back for his side. His run-down effort to win a holding the ball free kick in the second term was crucial, thwarting a Centrals fast break. He continued with the same vigour, digging in hard and punishing his opponents who proved idle in possession. Magor could not quite cap off his day with a goal in the final term as a quick snap fell short of the big sticks, but it was a solid outing in any case.

#32 Mason Neagle

Neagle was in everything early, putting in a monster first term to help his side gain the major ascendancy. Stationed out on the wing, his work-rate to push back into defence and spark North Adelaide’s transitional play was impactful. He gained plenty of ground, and even added a goal to his monster first term. While a little quieter in the latter proceedings, Neagle popped up with some nice moments on the outer, carrying the ball forward with purpose and putting it into dangerous areas. He even got under the opposition’s skin, frustrating Nicholas Gillard into giving away a free kick in the second term. His line-breaking ability could prove key in the Grand Final for the Roosters.

#42 Dakota Nixon

The 2020 Reserves Margery Medal winner showed just why he was so deserving of the award this year, returning another powerful display from midfield. The strongly built engine room operator kicked off his game with a courageous two-grab overhead mark, before playing on quickly and hitting up Mason Neagle for a goal assist. His ability to wrench the ball free from congestion and bomb it forward proved a tick to his contested game, but Nixon was also able to improvise some nice kicks on the outer as he moved forward. His lone goal of the day came in the second term while resting forward, as he found space to mark and converted the set shot opportunity. In essence, Nixon is hard at the ball and uses his physicality to put the Roosters on the front foot. As much was evident on this occasion.

Others:

Mackenzie Slee was outstanding in defence, providing a cool head with his intercept marking and sound use of the ball. He also shut down dangerous Bulldogs forward, Nicholas Lange, which went a long way to earning credit as North’s best player afield. James Langley was a busy figure up forward, and Charlie Dowling put the cherry on top of North’s even team performance with a goal after the final siren.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Sturt vs. WWT Eagles

By: Eli Duxson

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

One of the better performers in a strong team performance for Sturt, the dashing half-back ended with 21 disposals, one goal, six marks, and six inside 50s. A massive first half after missing last week’s game saw him reach 16 disposals as he was prepared to defend stoutly and intercept mark, but then run off his opponent and break lines. His strong work in tackling and nice kicking were both aspects which allowed him perform defensive and offensive duties. He quietened up in the second half as the Double Blues began to get on top, so he was seen pushing higher and higher up the ground to impact. He eventually intercepted an errant kick and after gathering the bouncing ball, he accelerated and goaled from 50 metres.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Another good game for Jefferies saw him playing in every third as he reached 24 disposals, while managing a goal, nine marks, and six inside 50s. He kicked a goal in the forwardline early from a nice set shot, having moved to a dangerous spot after trusting his teammates to work it out of congestion. Not just a glory-hunter, he pushed back defensively when playing in the midfield to help clear or work it out of the back half. Jefferies hunts the ball and does the bulk of his work on the inside, staying strong over the ball and often extracting a kick or a handball from nowhere. He provided some run off half-back in the final quarter and showed off his composure and tidiness with ball in hand. He even managed to sneakily work his way just inside 50 to mark, but just missed the set shot.

#17 Mani Liddy

The equal-leading ball winner, Liddy put up strong numbers as he usually does; finishing with 29 disposals, one goal, five tackles, eight clearances, and seven inside 50s. His innate ability to always manage a handball out of obscurity highlighted his inside work in the first half, utilising the strength that we have come to expect from him. A three-versus-one on the wing saw him apply relentless pressure and then force a stoppage, a team-lifting sort of play. A big second half saw him do some damage on the outside as Sturt dominated possession. He was everywhere on their slow play and though he lacks blistering pace, he found space on the outside to construct forward sequences. A beautiful set shot from the boundary saw Sturt’s lead get out to two goals and capped off a good game for him.

#18 Tom Powell

The Torrens University Cup MVP winner was again a big contributor the Double Blues, but that is hardly a surprise at this point as he further pushes his case for draft night. Powell finished with 29 disposals, one goal, 10 marks, seven clearances, and seven inside 50s to help his side reach a Grand Final. His strong handballing and spread from stoppages were his main modes of contribution, sensing the opportunity to go on several occasions and provide supporting runs. A quiet second quarter all but reserved energy for a 17-disposal second half where he started on fire, intercepting Eagles forward entries and running endlessly to be involved in transition. He runs all day so even if he is closely checked at a stoppage, he will just run off and seek another opportunity to get ball in hand. The closing stages of the game highlighted the highs and lows of football for Powell, copping a whopping falcon, but then scoring the final goal with a snap out of a stoppage.

#25 James Borlase

Returning to the Under 18s to bolster the Double Blues’ defence saw Borlase start the game on fire, taking intercept mark after intercept mark. After quietening down after the first term, he finished with 11 disposals and five marks. He spent all game in the defensive half and was mopping everything up early as it looked like he was going to have the massive game he has been waiting for. The Eagles eventually worked it out to avoid him, although sometimes if you do not notice a defender, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Besides an undisciplined 25-metre penalty, there were no real blemishes to his game either defensively or offensively. He pushed up the ground with the Sturt squeeze later in the game to try and impact so it will be interesting to see if he stays in his defensive post in the Grand Final, or if he is tried up forward.

#27 Ned Grieve

A bit of a quiet game for Grieve but much like Borlase, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He finished with 13 disposals, five marks, and six rebound 50s as he just did his job. The height of the Eagles’ forwardline did not seem to bother the key defender as he hardly lost a contest. He also pushed up the ground at times to get involved and in combination with Borlase, proved difficult to get through. A brilliant one-handed mark was the highlight of his game in the final quarter, having read the flight of the ball better than his opponents. Sturt’s midfield and forward line will play a big role in Grieve’s and Borlase’s effectiveness next week as they managed to slow down the Eagles’ transitions and force long, high, and poorly placed entries. If Norwood can use its fast and attacking style of ball movement well, it may stretch the tall stalwarts of Sturt.

Others:

A good spread of input is exactly what Sturt was after, needing to bounce back from the Norwood game to earn another crack at the Redlegs. Morgan Ferres enjoyed a good game but was not far off a best afield performance. He kicked 2.4 from his 17 disposals and nine marks, providing a solid leading target for much of the game. He found space on leads and held his marks, with only wayward kicking letting him down. Jordan Opperman also provided a good target up forward, kicking 2.3 and taking eight marks, while Lachlan Thomas worked hard for his 20 disposals.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

Under an injury cloud coming into the game, Schofield’s heavily strapped right hamstring was aggravated after receiving a crunching tackle in the first quarter. He hobbled off and did not return, ending the game with just the three disposals.

#7 Caleb Poulter

One of the best for the Eagles as he continues to push his name up the draft board with 22 disposals, seven marks, and four clearances. He started on the wing but eventually pushed forward and into the midfield, showing his versatility with his height. A very reliable distributor, he made good decisions with his trusty left boot while also working hard both ways. He was forward for much of the third quarter and proved to be a viable option, but the delivery was not great. A nifty one-hand intercept mark and inside 50 gave the Eagles a bit of hope early in the final quarter, but the Sturt dominance left little room for rectification. A solid game capped off a very handy season for Poulter as he bolstered his draft stocks in a big way.

#19 Zac Phillips

One of the twin-towers for the Eagles lost the ruck battle and even though he worked hard around the ground, it was a quiet return. Finishing with just 10 disposals and 11 hit outs, Phillips did do a decent job of at least not letting Sturt ruckman Declan Hortle get clear taps to advantage. Although he did not get a lot of it, he looked to be trusted by teammates with ball in hand to clear defensively and handball in-tight. A tall with a lot of potential, but still quite raw it seems.

#25 Henry Smith

Played a similar game to Phillips but at 204cm, he was able to make more of an impact up forward. His five marks from 13 disposals were mostly taken on the lead as he managed to get separation from his opponent, but his finishing let him down. Although he was not able to get great looks on goal, his kicking still needs some work, but his movement and agility is a positive for someone of his height. Also a player who is raw with potential, it will be interesting to see how and where he develops.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

Starting in the midfield, Burgoyne again managed to find plenty of it, finishing with 21 disposals and a goal. His speed allowed him to accumulate the ball, although it must be said that he still does move it forward as he opts to kick more than handball. He spent some time down back but when he moves into the middle, he tends to float and drift unnoticed by defenders. This allowed him to sneak forward and boot a goal. His second half saw him get more uncontested ball which is where he is most damaging. He has shown glimpses of inside prowess but with his slight frame, he is not someone who breaks packs open but rather extracts it. In saying that, he has proven to be a great outside option with his tidy ball use. The final quarter saw him give away a silly free kick when playing in defence. Whether it was the warm weather or his otherwise, he seemed to lack intensity and his checking was loose in the closing stages.

Others:

The Eagles stayed in it for the three quarters, but it was perhaps Sturt’s depth that had them undone in the end. The leading ball winner was Brock Thomson who had 31 disposals, but as the designated kickout taker, 22 Sturt behinds contributed to that a decent amount. Liam Ueding showed effort to the very end as he still provided contests late. His defending was valiant and with some work on his kicking technique, he could become a very handy player. Jay Watson managed 22 disposals and a goal, while Max Litster had 17 disposals and two goals, one of them being the very first of the game.

Featured Image: Sturt’s Tom Powell gets a kick away | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals wrap

TWO of three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) minor premiers booked Grand Final tickets in their respective grades, while Central District’s Reserves bowed out in straight sets. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the second week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

WWT EAGLES | 3.8 | 7.12 | 14.14 | 16.15 (111)
STH ADELAIDE | 5.2 | 8.5 | 9.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Eagles: J. Rowe 5, S. Lowson 2, J. Foote 2, M. Goldsworthy 2, A. Poole, L. McNeil, N. Hayes, J. Lonergan, J. Firns
Panthers: E. Wilkinson 3, S. Overall 2, B. McCreery, N. Schwarz, J. Horne, L. Bogle, A. Cailotto

BEST:

Eagles: J. Rowe, J. Tsitas, J. Sinor, J. Wehr, J. Redden, M. Goldsworthy
Panthers: M. Broadbent, E. Wilkinson, M. Karpany, J. Summerton

Minor premier, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) earned passage to the 2020 League decider after bolting home 43-point winners over South Adelaide. Electric small forward James Rowe turned it on when it mattered, booting five goals for the Eagles to only enhance his stocks as a mature-age AFL Draft candidate this year. Rowe’s scoreboard impact helped the Eagles overcome a half-time deficit, as they piled on nine goals to South’s two in a romping second half display.

Fresh off four majors in the Reserves, Sam Lowson made the most of his senior return with two goals in this outing, while 19-year-old midfielder Lachlan McNeil also found the big sticks. Defender Jacob Wehr, who is also attracting some elite level interest, managed 14 disposals (12 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones contributed 13 touches and five marks. Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell proved his fitness in making a return, while Ben Jungfer was another to earn a call-up via the Reserves.

There were a few Panthers who stood tall as their season came to an end, with Eamon Wilkinson among them. The 20-year-old forward snared three goals to take his season tally to 25. 17-year-old gun Jason Horne capped off a fine maiden run of senior football by hitting the scoreboard, with boom Victorian recruit Daly Andrews managing 16 touches and six clearances in a balanced effort. National Combine invitee, Tom Highmore (nine disposals, five rebound 50s) did not quite have his usual impact, but has enjoyed a stellar debut SANFL season.

The Eagles will go on to face North Adelaide in the SANFL League Grand Final, just a fortnight after going down by 15 points to the Roosters in an entertaining semi final bout.

Reserves:

CENTRAL DISTRICT | 0.3 | 1.4 | 4.4 | 6.9 (45)
NORTH ADELAIDE | 3.2 | 7.6 | 8.11 | 10.14 (74)

GOALS:

Bulldogs: B. Kennedy 2, C. Dahms 2, T. Graham, L. Grubb
Roosters: S. Davis 2, T. Rigney, C. Dowling, D. Nixon, C. Barns, J. Neade, J. Langley, J. Byrne, M. Neagle

BEST:

Bulldogs: J. Brown, N. Madden, S. Burton, T. Graham, D. Haydon, E. East
Roosters: M. Slee, S. Parsons, D. Nixon, P. Davies, H. Magor, M. Neagle

Reserves minor premier, Central District has been knocked out of the finals in straight sets after falling short for a second-straight week, this time at the hands of North Adelaide. A seven-goal to one first half saw the Roosters crow to a 38-point lead at the main break, which they comfortably managed to hold onto despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts. 29 points was the final margin of victory, seeing Centrals bow out after losing just once during the home-and-away rounds. North goes on to meet Woodville-West Torrens in the decider, with the ledger sitting at one win apiece between the two sides in 2020.

20-year-old Mackenzie Slee was recognised as best afield for the victors, returning eight marks and six rebound 50s from his 15 disposals in the back half. Meanwhile, Harrison Magor notched a team-high 23 touches to go with nine clearances, seven inside 50s, and five tackles, forming a formidable midfield partnership alongside Dakota Nixon, who managed 20 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. Charlie Dowling was another to find the big sticks for North.

In a losing effort, Joey Brown was named the Bulldogs’ best for his 23 disposals and nine marks, while Steve Burton led all comers with 28 touches to go with nine tackles and six clearances. Nicholas Madden racked up nine rebound 50s from defence, with Thomas Graham providing solid cover on the same line. Among those to kick goals were Cooper Dahms and Brett Kennedy (both two), while Lachlan Grubb also got in on the act with one major.

Under 18s:

STURT | 2.6 | 4.11 | 8.14 | 12.22 (94)
WWT EAGLES | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.4 | 10.4 (64)

GOALS:

Blues: J. Opperman 2, O. Britten-Jones 2, M. Ferres 2, M. Liddy, M. Carruthers, T. Powell, J. Ferrari, Z. Parker-Boers, B. Jefferies
Eagles: B. Calvett 2, M. Litster 2, J. Burgoyne, Z. Scott, J. Godden, J. Hunter-Price, J. Kasianowicz, J. Watson

BEST:

Blues: M. Carruthers, M. Liddy, J. Opperman, W. Spain, B. Higgins, M. Ferres
Eagles: R. Williams, Z. Buck, J. Burgoyne, L. Ueding, C. Poulter, D. Branford

Sturt leant on its finals double chance, bringing an end to the Eagles’ premiership defence while punching its own Under 18s Grand Final ticket in one fell swoop. The Double Blues found themselves trailing at the second and third breaks, but found an extra gear when it mattered. In a remarkable turnaround, Sturt slammed home a total of 4.8 (32) while keeping the Eagles scoreless in a one-sided final term, which saw the ball locked in the victors’ front half. A 30-point final margin was the result, with Norwood awaiting the Blues for what will be a semi final rematch.

AFL Draft bolter and National Combine invitee Malachy Carruthers was again outstanding for Sturt, showcasing all of his class with 21 disposals, six marks, and a goal. Mani Liddy accumulated a team-high 29 touches, which included eight clearances and a booming final term goal, while Tom Powell also managed 29 disposals, 10 marks, seven clearances, and a classy major of his own. Bottom-age forward Morgan Ferres snared two goals from 17 disposals and nine marks, while Will Spain laid 10 tackles, and Crows NGA hopeful James Borlase returned to the level with five marks.

Caleb Poulter was arguably the Eagles’ best in a losing cause, doing his draft chances no harm with 22 disposals and seven marks. Ryan Williams was also recognised for his efforts, while 2021 Port father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne capped off a brilliant year with 21 touches and a goal, with Brock Thomson (31 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) leading all comers from defence.

Featured Image: Eagles forward Sam Lowson celebrates a goal | Credit: SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL semi finals wrap

MINOR premiers fell across all three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades in 2020’s first finals week, as strong upset wins reigned supreme. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the first week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

South Adelaide 14.12 (96) def. Glenelg 10.11 (71)
WWT Eagles 9.8 (62) def. by North Adelaide 11.11 (77)

South Adelaide trumped Glenelg by 25 points on Sunday, bringing an abrupt end to the Bays’ 2019 premiership defence. After getting on top early, the Panthers remained in control throughout the contest, earning passage to a preliminary final meeting with Woodville-West Torrens (WWT).

A strong 20-year-old representation helped propel South to the second week of finals, with the likes of Luke Bogle (21 disposals, eight rebound 50s, one goal), Hayden Sampson (18 disposals, one goal), Daly Andrews (17 disposals), and Reece Milsom (16 disposals, six rebound 50s) all contributing well. Bogle is one who has timed his run back at senior level perfectly, while Victorian coup Andrews has added some balance to the lineup through midfield.

Potential 2021 number one pick Jason Horne was up to the challenge of his maiden League finals appearance, collecting 15 touches and booting a classy goal. National combine invitee Tom Highmore was again steady down back with six marks from 11 disposals, while crafty forwards Beau McCreery and Eamon Wilkinson made the most of their opportunities to snare two goals apiece.

For Glenelg, former AFL-listed midfielders Jackson Edwards (23 disposals) and Luke Partington (22) topped the statsheet, even adding defensive work to their respective games with six tackles each. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Callum Park capped off his consistent season at senior level with 16 disposals (14 kicks) and seven rebound 50s.

The Panthers will meet minor premier, WWT in the preliminary finals after the Eagles went down to second-ranked side, North Adelaide by 15 points at Adelaide Oval. Having fallen slightly behind in the second term, the Roosters edged back ahead at the main break and managed to hold off each of the Eagles’ surges to book a spot in this year’s Grand Final.

First year player Will Combe booted 3.2 for the victors, a feat matched by former Carlton small forward Kym Lebois. Combe’s older brother, Campbell laid an astonishing 19 tackles in a true finals performance, while fellow 25-year old Mitch Harvey contributed 18 disposals and 23 hitouts in the ruck. Another former AFL-listed player, Harrison Wigg was again productive through midfield with 17 disposals and four clearances.

For the Eagles, Jacob Wehr returned a team-high 23 disposals to go with 10 rebound 50s, as AFL clubs keep an eye on the 22-year-old defender’s progress. Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) gun Lachlan Jones managed 11 rebounds from his 19 touches, while Lachlan McNeil had it 18 times and booted 1.2. Electric small James Rowe managed two majors as he enjoyed some added midfield minutes, also notching five clearances from his 19 disposals.

Reserves:

Sturt 7.12 (54) def. by North Adelaide 8.12 (60)
Central District 9.7 (61) def. by WWT Eagles 12.11 (83)

Central Districts suffered just its second Reserves loss for the season, bettered by WWT to the tune of 22 points. The Eagles remain the only team to beat the Bulldogs in 2020, with the result just a week removed from Centrals’ minor premiership-clinching win over their weekend opponents. A five-goal third term from the second-ranked Eagles ensured they would break away comfortably, opening up a 40-point lead heading into the final term. They would cruise home to victory, booking a Grand Final spot despite Centrals’ consolation efforts to somewhat even up the scoreboard.

Mature-age VFL recruit Sam Lowson responded perfectly to being relegated to the twos after a three-goal League outing, booting four majors in the win. 19-year-old Ben Jungfer was in the same boat, but held his head high to feature among the Eagles’ best half-dozen players. For Centrals, Ben Kelly and Lachlan Grubb each bagged a single goal, but will look forward to redemption across the upcoming fortnight.

North Adelaide will be the Bulldogs’ next test, after the Roosters stayed alive with a thrilling six-point victory over Sturt on Saturday. Having led at every break, the fourth-ranked side looked like cruising home to an easy win when they held a 27-point buffer at the final break, boasting double Sturt’s goal tally with eight. But the Double Blues were not done with yet, as they put through three goals to North’s nil to draw back within a goal. It proved too little, too late though as the Roosters held on.

Harrison Magor and Dyson Hilder were among the best Roosters afield, with Hilder’s strong run of form constantly making him hard to deny in terms of League selection. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase returned for Sturt, while Anzac and Mihail Lochowiak both found the goals, and Tom Emmett and Tyson Hone (two goals) were named among the best in a losing effort.

Under 18s:

WWT Eagles 16.7 (103) def. South Adelaide 14.8 (92)
Sturt 8.10 (58) def. by Norwood 16.14 (110)

Two out of three ain’t bad, and that is exactly what the WWT Eagles produced in week one of finals as their Under 18s trumped South Adelaide to keep their premiership defence alive. Despite a valiant effort from South’s stacked side, who even snuck ahead in the third term, the Eagles’ pressure at the contest and true conversion saw them get up in a high-scoring contest.

2021 Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne was again prolific for the Eagles; notching 22 disposals, six clearances, seven inside 50s, and a clutch final term goal. Nick Mitzithras and Brock Thomson also managed 22 touches apiece, while Caleb Poulter was lively with 20 alongside Taj Schofield (19 disposals, five clearances, one goal). Harrison Dawkins was another midfielder to find the big sticks with two majors, a feat matched by bigman Henry Smith, who also clunked four contested marks.

There were plenty of strong performers for the Panthers too, with bottom-agers Matthew Roberts (24 disposals, two goals) and Arlo Draper (four goals) among those to lead the charge. Max Clifton managed nine inside 50s from his game-high 26 disposals, while highly-rated top-agers Zac Dumesny and Nick Kraemer both contributed 20 touches. Jack Flett was a surprise goalkicking packet as he snuck forward for three majors, while 16-year-old Jaiden Magor booted two classy goals of his own.

Minor premier, Sturt will have to lean on its second chance, after being thumped by Norwood to the tune of 52 points. The Redlegs trailed by a point at the first break, but came out firing with five goals in the second term, and another handful in the third to set up an unassailable lead. They will meet either Sturt, or WWT in the Grand Final.

As has been the case all season, Norwood progressed on the back of an even team performance. Though, among the standouts were Ethan Schwerdt (27 disposals), along with industrious small pair Henry Nelligan and Jack Saunders, who both collected 25 touches. Xavier Tranfa snared a couple of goals from 20 disposals, while Finn Heard made the most of his nine touches as five of his seven scoring shots sailed through the big sticks. For Sturt, Mani Liddy booted forward 10 clearances, joined in midfield by Brad Jefferies (20 disposals, one goal) and a restricted Tom Powell (18 disposals).

Featured Image: South Adelaide’s Jason Horne celebrates | Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

SANFL weekly wrap: Round 6 – Roosters down Panthers to keep touch with Eagles

ROUND 6 of the SANFL was an important one for teams at the pointy end of the League standings, with North Adelaide crucially downing South Adelaide to jump the Panthers for second spot. Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) continues to set the pace, having flexed its muscle against the winless Central District. The Eagles also find themselves atop the Reserves ladder, joining Norwood this week as the only two clubs to achieve wins across each grade. We recap the action from all four triple-headers.

>> SCROLL for full results 

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

League: WWT Eagles 11.13 (79) def. Central District 7.7 (49)
Reserves: WWT Eagles 10.7 (67) def. Central District 10.6 (66)
Under 18s: Central District 7.15 (57) def. by WWT Eagles 15.13 (103)

WWT’s trio of wins over the Bulldogs counted for a lot in the senior grades, with the Eagles flying ahead atop the League and Reserve ladders. Jack Hayes was the League star this week with 28 disposals, 14 marks, and two goals in a mammoth effort, beaten out only by teammate Joseph Sinor (29 disposals) and Centrals’ James Boyd (31) in the ball winning stakes as a bigman. State Under 18 gun Lachlan Grubb had 11 touches on debut for the Bulldogs.

While a five-goal to nil head start in the opening term was reigned back by the Bulldogs, WWT was in control throughout to come away 30-point winners. The Eagles’ Reserves now stand alone as the sole undefeated side left in the grade, having ended Central District’s five-game winning streak in a one-point thriller. A far more straightforward victory capped off the three-peat at Under 18s level, with the Eagles running out 46-point winners.

Brayden Calvett booted 4.4 from 19 disposals in a big effort for the victors, while the likes of Jase Burgoyne (31 disposals, one goal), Max Lister (25 and two), and Caleb Poulter (25 and one) all hit the scoreboard in big ball winning displays. Henry Smith was also good for two goals from his 13 disposals and seven marks. For Centrals, Shay Linke played somewhat of a lone hand; with his 29 disposals 10 more than the next best Bulldog, and his two majors ensuring he would finish as his side’s lone multiple goalkicker.

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

League: West Adelaide 8.9 (57) def. by Norwood 19.10 (124)
Reserves: West Adelaide 5.9 (39) def. by Norwood 13.7 (85)
Under 18s: West Adelaide 9.4 (58) def. by Norwood 14.12 (96)

Norwood became the second of two clubs to pull off a straight sets weekend, trumping West Adelaide in all three grades – on the road, no less. The Redlegs look to be putting it together at League level, with their 67-point thrashing of the Bloods making for three wins on the trot. A positive weekend was also had for the Reserves as they picked up their first win, while the Under 18s moved into second in extending West Adelaide’s winless run to the tune of 38 points.

Plenty of Redlegs saw a heap of the ball in their League outing, with Richard Douglas (35 disposals) leading a pack of four more teammates to crack the 30-mark, including Mitch Grigg (32 disposals, two goals) and Lewis Johnston (34 disposals, one goal). Johnston and Brad McKenzie combined for 32 marks, while Matthew Panos (27 disposals, four goals) and Ryan Bastinac (29 and two) only extended the list of outstanding individual performers for Norwood.

Kaine Stevens again led the way for Westies with 31 touches, while Murray Waite was dangerous up forward with two majors. The Bloods’ League and Reserves sides remain second-last with one win in each competition, but are firmly planted to the bottom at Under 18s level at 0-6.

Bailey Chamberlain was again a shining light for the Bloods in the junior grade, collecting a game-high 36 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances, five inside 50s, and six rebound 50s in a lone-handed display. Cooper Murley was not far behind for Norwood with 14 clearances from his 34 disposals, while Samuel Duke (four goals), Jackson Murphy (three), and Marcus Roberts (two) were among those to do most of the scoreboard damage.

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

League: North Adelaide 9.12 (66) def. South Adelaide 8.10 (58)
Reserves: North Adelaide 11.8 (74) def. South Adelaide 8.9 (57)
Under 18s: South Adelaide 14.9 (93) def. North Adelaide 7.13 (55)

North Adelaide completed the senior double over its Southern counterpart on Saturday, with the League points most significantly ensuring the Roosters remain level with frontrunners, WWT. After sneaking ahead at half time, North looked to be cruising in the run home, but were made to earn the win after a late surge from the Panthers. Holding firm, the Roosters came out eight-point winners.

Andrew Moore was instrumental in the victory, booting three important goals from his 25 disposals. Harrison Wigg just beat him out with 28 touches, while Lewis Hender (three goals) and Mitchell Harvey (two) were lively inside forward 50. Thomas Highmore was typically stoic in defence for Souths, clunking seven marks among a team-high 26 disposals. Matthew Broadbent wasn’t far behind with 24, and Joel Cross came to life in the second half to finish with 20 disposals and a goal.

The Roosters’ Reserves also came away with the chocolates in their hitout, getting up by 17 points, but South Adelaide got one back in the Under 18s with a 38-point triumph. Both sides sit just outside the top four at Reserves level, while South’s 4-2 Under 18s record sees them placed firmly in the finals race.

Brayden Cook (26 disposals, two goals), Jason Horne (25 and one), and Jamison Snelling (21 and three) were among the many outstanding performers for Souths, finding both the ball and the big sticks. Shaun Bennier booted four goals for North as their only multiple goalkicker, while Matthew Borg and Blayne O’Loughlin had 26 touches apiece, followed closely by Harvey Harrison.

Glenelg vs. Sturt

League: Glenelg 12.10 (82) def. Sturt 8.16 (64)
Reserves: Glenelg 8.5 (53) def. by Sturt 12.9 (81)
Under 18s: Glenelg 5.2 (32) def. by Sturt 18.24 (132)

Glenelg’s League flag unveiling spurred the Bays on to a fighting 18-point win over Sturt in Sunday’s lone fixture, helping them improve to 3-3. A plucky Sturt outfit pushed them all the way, but the Tigers were able to hold on as they look to push back into the top four. The Double Blues got the wood over their weekend adversaries in the Reserves and Under 18s though, with the juniors’ 100-point win a particular highlight.

Liam McBean‘s five League goals again spearheaded Glenelg’s effort, as Matthew Snook continued his rich vein of form with 29 a game-high disposals. The usual suspects – James Battersby (28 disposals, 11 clearances), Sam Colquhoun (28 and seven), Abe Davis (26 and six) – all stood up again despite being on the wrong side of the result.

One of the best individual performances again belonged to Tom Powell in the Under 18s, as he dominated for 39 disposals and three goals. Mani Liddy (29 disposals, two goals) also made an impact, while Zabien Parker-Boers booted four goals and Tom Emmett, three. Jayden Davis and Hagan Wright combined to lead Glenelg’s ball winning effort, with the former also adding two goals to his side’s cause.

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

2020 SANFL Club Preview: West Adelaide

AFTER a tough 2019 season where injuries and the mid-season losses of John Noble and Will Snelling hampered their campaign, the West Adelaide Bloods will look to scrape themselves off the bottom of the SANFL ladder as state football returns. The road to redemption begins against last year’s ninth-placed side, North Adelaide, a team which Westies picked up one of their two wins against in 2019.

>> CHECK OUT OUR SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

The Bloods have certainly been busy during the off-season, bringing in over 10 fresh faces to the squad in hopes of gaining a big performance boost. While the likes of 2019 leading goalkicker Jono Beech and former skipper Chris Schmidt are significant losses, West Adelaide has managed to hold onto a decent core of its rebuilding list and had most of its turned-over players head either interstate or into retirement – not into the hands of rival clubs.

The incoming crowd have come in bunches from right around the country, with young St Albans pair Matthew McKenzie and Hayden Elliot crossing over from Victoria for a taste of state league football, while graduates of the Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS Academies will also make the transition to South Australia. Of them, Hamish Ellem is a well-built key forward who competes at ground level, joined by sharp-kicking half-back Kyle Martin out of the Swans’ system, while athletic midfielder Lachlan Squire crosses from the GIANTS’ ranks.

Pace and squad depth were also on the agenda come recruiting season, with Josh Koster and Sam Davidson completing transfers from Glenelg and Port Adelaide respectively, providing great running power alongside Jordon Boyle (Adelaide) and Ed Allan (Sturt). Stuart Tavener was a best and fairest winner at local level with Plympton last year, and boosts the ruck stocks at 202cm as somewhat of a late bloomer. Capping of the recruits is another expansive get, with Domonic Grant making the move from NT Thunder.

Much of the leadership responsibilities will again fall on captain Tom Keough and last year’s club champion Logan Hill, with young talents like Elliot Dunkin and Dallas Willsmore continually improving and 13 Under 18 products training with the senior side. Consistent figure Kaine Stevens is again set be a factor, forced to shoulder much of the heavy lifting through the engine room given the Bloods’ losses in that position.

A last-place League finish in 2019 means the only way is up for West Adelaide, with a run of five-straight losses to end the year a big chance of being snapped right off the bat. At Reserves level, improving on seventh spot should also be a realistic goal, with finals football not far off if both sides can showcase cohesion early and follow the example of its notable leaders. Watch for some exciting talent to emerge, and expect some big improvement from the Bloods.

UNDER 18s:

Contrary to the form shown by their senior teammates, West Adelaide’s Under 18 prospects finished second in 2019 with a 12-6 record and on the back of seven wins in their last eight regular season outings. The Bloods’ finals campaign did not quite go to plan as they exited in straight sets to each of the eventual grand finalists, but having a first round draftee (Will Day, Hawthorn) come out of the system would have been exciting.

The junior side may ironically suffer from the high-end talent it boasts, with top 2020 draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe already a figure in the League side, while fellow State Academy hub members Bailey Chamberlain and Jye Sinderberry cracked the Reserves grade as bottom-agers. Thilthorpe is a dynamic ruck/key forward who dominates aerially and covers the ground like a midfielder, while Chamberlain is a lightning-quick midfielder, and Sinderberry a dour defensive type who can play above his size.

Elsewhere, Harvey Bock is a prospect outside of the current academy bubble who may get a look-in, while Under 16 captain Tyson Coe and fellow standout Kobe Ryan have all the talent to make the step-up to Under 18 level this year.

>> GET TO KNOW: West Adelaide Under 18s

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction

2020 SANFL Club Preview: South Adelaide

AFTER narrowly missing out on finals in both senior grades for the second time in three years, South Adelaide will return to the well in 2020 led by senior coach Jarrad Wright, and aided by shrewd recruiting from around the nation to make up for some massive, experienced losses.

>> CHECK OUT OUR SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

LEAGUE/ RESERVES:

The 171-game Port Adelaide veteran Matthew Broadbent headlines South Adelaide’s list of offseason recruits, set to bolster the Panthers through midfield and on the defensive line. Former Swan James Rose was another ex-AFL signing poised to return to SANFL football, but the 24-year-old will unfortunately have to miss the season on the back of heavy interruptions. Adding to that blow, Keegan Brooksby‘s homecoming has also been delayed by another opportunity at AFL level, this time with Hawthorn.

While Broadbent’s experience somewhat makes up for the other two would-be’s, that level of talent looked likely to be a key part of South’s next finals push. The retirements of 200-gamer Brad Crabb and five-time best and fairest Nick Liddle leave much of the leadership responsibilities on the shoulders of co-captains Matt Rose and Joel Cross, while the defections of Abe Davis (Sturt), Emmanuel Irra (Norwood), and Mark Noble (Werribee) to chase other opportunities will also hurt.

With two-time Margery Medalist, reigning club champion and leading goalkicker Cross spending more time up forward, the inclusions of Ben Sawford and Ky McGrath look to be shrewd ones in strengthening the Panthers’ midfield depth. Sawford makes the cross over from Glenelg alongside Brad Potter, while 2019 NEAFL team of the year defender Tom Highmore will make the transition from out East alongside McGrath. Henry Kerinaiua is another addition who will add value to the side, an eye-catching goalsneak from the Northern Territory who comes in off a solid season with Waratah.

On top of a highly-touted Under 18s group looking to transition into the senior ranks will inevitably come last year’s junior state representatives, with the likes of Daniel Sladojevic, Damon Freitag, and Darnell Tucker all players who already boast experience at Reserves level, and may be up for League selection in 2020. Players like Joseph Haines and Reece Milsom are also continually improving, and Malcolm Karpany is another who will constantly be running amok, putting the Panthers on track to mounting a top five charge.

UNDER-18s:

Coach and talent manager Mark Clayton will have the pleasure of leading a very promising Under 18s group throughout a shortened 2020 campaign, though the talent of some of South Adelaide’s state academy members may push them into the senior ranks.

Leading 2020 draft target Zac Dumesny will inevitably be a key member of the team alongside Nick Kraemer, an inside midfielder who played every game in the Panthers’ grand final run last year. 2019 State Under captain and MVP Jason Horne is one of the best talents of his own cohort, and is complemented well by the versatile Matthew Roberts and Arlo Draper among the bottom-aged ranks.

>> GET TO KNOW: South Adelaide Under 18s
>> GET TO KNOW: Nicholas Kraemer

2020 South Australia Under 18 Squad Prediction