Tag: 2021 sanfl under 18s

Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 14

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued 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 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 4.13 (37) def. by NORWOOD 10.10 (70)

By: Michael Alvaro

Woodville-West Torrens:

#14 Blake Hansen

With plenty to do in the Eagles’ defence, Hansen racked up an equal game-high 25 disposals and nine rebound 50s. The bottom-ager took on the kick-in duties while stationed in his usual defensive post, often snatching metres out of the goalsquare before unleashing a long kick. He was also shifted up onto the wing, showing the same kind of positive forward run and looking for handball receives on the outer.

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce was a strong and consistent part of the Eagles’ midfield mix, proving prominent around the contest in conditions which made clean extraction tough. He managed to get his hands on the ball plenty of times and finished with 21 disposals, seven marks, and six tackles in a pretty well-rounded display, though he couldn’t quite find the goals like he usually does up forward.

#18 William Neumann

Another strong body in midfield, Neumann seemed well suited to the conditions with his ample work over the ball and ability to break tackles with brute force. Neumann also showed some nice points of difference, with one being his overhead marking as he rose for a couple of solid grabs around the ground. He also won a free kick inside 50 and slotted a well-hit set shot goal, adding to his 20 touches and four clearances.

Others:

Dustin Launer again finished as one of the Eagles’ highest ball winners with 23 disposals, as the likes of Jack Murphy (19 disposals, nine marks) and Nathan Barkla (16 disposals, five tackles) put in solid shifts. Meanwhile, state Under 17s squad member Hunter Carter had it 14 times though midfield and snared a goal early in the final term.

Norwood:

#3 Noah Hyde

Hyde was super busy for Norwood on the outer, breaking the lines with positive run-and-carry and proving clever with ball in hand. He racked up 22 touches, seven marks and five inside 50s for the Redlegs, helping link forward in transition and breaking into some really dangerous areas. He very nearly impacted the scoreboard in a major way too, but could only register two behinds.

#9 Tyson Walls

Like Hyde, Walls helped link Norwood into attack with productive carry and clever ball use between the arcs. He looked to get creative with ball in hand; darting short kicks to his forwards, chaining possessions by hand, and working hard to have repeat impacts in his side’s passages of play. The state Under 17 squad member had another terrific outing overall, finishing with 21 disposals and five inside 50s.

#10 Taj Rahui

Arguably best afield for the Redlegs, Rahui was perhaps even better than his final statline of 25 disposals, six marks, and three rebound 50s. The bottom-ager mopped up beautifully across Norwood’s defensive half, setting a high line to help force turnovers and keep his side locked into attack mode. He handled the ball cleanly in tough conditions and was not afraid to take on tackles, with rebounding run a key feature of his game. Rahui also looked to kick through the corridor, hitting some aggressive passes through the middle to really compound his impact in a well-rounded performance.

#20 Charles Kemp

Another player who handled the ball exceptionally well in muddy conditions, Kemp clunked a remarkable seven contested marks among his total of eight overall. He used his strength well when stationed as Norwood’s deepest forward, engaging well with his opponent before snapping the ball up. As the game wore on, Kemp also worked further afield and presented strongly on the lead, proving a reliable marking target. He kicked three goals for the game, turning crumber for the last with a nice shark off hands and snap finish.

Others:

Norwood’s midfield worked hard at the coalface to set the Redlegs on the front foot, with the likes of Benjamin Belperio (24 disposals, eight clearances), Peter Minervini (23 disposals, five inside 50s, and Will Charlton (21 disposals, two goals) all returning really solid efforts. Jayden Gale was productive with nine inside 50s, while Will Bowman and Riley Verrall stood up in defence.

NORTH ADELAIDE 10.5 (65) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 15.7 (97)

By: Tom Wyman

North Adelaide:

#5 Shaun Bennier

Donning the long-sleeves, defender Shaun Bennier was one of the Roosters best performers on an otherwise disappointing day for the red and whites. Starting the game deep in defence, he was seemingly involved in everything for the Roosters as West Adelaide peppered the goal-face. His long kicking was on display as Bennier was charged with the kick-in duties. He had some good battles with a couple of the West Adelaide forwards, including Tom Scully, and did well despite giving away some height. Late in the second term he was moved to the other end of the ground, with the change paying immediate dividends as Bennier booted a set-shot goal. Moving back into defence after the main break, his ball use remained clean and his rebound proved important. He finished the game with 16 disposals, three marks and seven rebounds.

#28 Max Blacker

With important midfielders Hugh Jackson, Harvey Harrison and James Willis out of the side due to state commitments, bottom-aged on-baller Max Blacker was given a more balanced role through the midfield. He found plenty of the ball and seemed to enjoy spending some more time on the inside, compared to his predominately wing-role when the Roosters are at full-strength. He used the ball fairly well for most of the game, with his disposal by foot generally careful and precise. The equal-leading disposal getter for the home side, Blacker finished with 24 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three inside-50s.

Others: 

Midfielder William Dowling (24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three clearances, six inside-50s and a goal) was certainly one of North’s best, working hard through the middle. He was joined by Kane McAuliffe (18 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and two goals) and Adam Heath (17 disposals and four clearances) who both fought hard. The former produced one of the highlights of the game by launching a left-foot goal from outside-50 late in the game. Angus Tully joined McAuliffe as the Roosters only multiple goal-kickers, booting a couple apiece, while James White laid a game-high 12 tackles to go with 16 disposals and a goal.

West Adelaide:

#7 Kobe Ryan

Bottom-aged midfielder Kobe Ryan was once again his sides most prolific player in the triumph over North Adelaide. The Sacred Heart College student showed excellent vision and skill to hit up his targets with ball in-hand. The placement of his kicks, despite the blustery conditions, highlighted his terrific skillset. He cracked in typically hard all-game, drawing a number of free kicks simply by going in lower than his opponent. A natural ball-winner who reads the game well in-tight, Ryan was knocked off the ball at-times by bigger bodied opposition, but concluded another positive showing with 32 possessions, five tackles, eight clearances and nine inside-50s.

#37 Tom Scully

Key forward Tom Scully had a great day in attack for West Adelaide. Scully provided teammate Harry Barnett with a cop-out in the ruck at-times, but was stationed deep in attack for much of the contest. He presented up the ground well, with his size and reach clearly worrying the North Adelaide defenders. He looked capable overhead without being dominant. A highlight was his strong one-on-one mark in the third term which led to a set-shot goal. Scully was very clean below his knees and showed a willingness to get involved in the game in general play rather than simply wait for his opportunities in the air. The tall utility finished with 12 disposals, three goals, two marks and 17 hit-outs.

#40 Luke Young

Medium forward Luke Young tore open the game with a brilliant passage in the second quarter which saw him boot three goals in as many minutes. Strong overhead, Young used his size to advantage in attack, nudging his opponent under the ball to take a couple of solid grabs. He combined well with Tom Scully inside-50, with the duo proving difficult to stop in-tandem. Young would add a fourth goal in the final term to complete a terrific showing which saw him also manage 17 disposals and six marks (two contested).

#51 Harry Barnett

Big-man Harry Barnett was terrific in the ruck for West Adelaide, often getting both hands to the ball at stoppages and either clearing space or palming it down to his midfielders. However Barnett’s ability to impact the game aerially was particularly exciting. His judgement of the ball in-flight and strong hands overhead allowed him to take five grabs for the game – two of which were contested. Barnett showed off his leap and athleticism by soaring high early in the first term to haul in a spectacular grab. The teenager worked hard around the ground and booted a second-term goal. He finished the day with 9 disposals and 23 hit-outs in an encouraging performance given the less-than favourable conditions at Prospect Oval.

Others:

Small defender Charlie Pridham didn’t accumulate as much of the ball as in recent weeks, however he still had some important touches, particularly under pressure down back. The under-18 competition’s leading rebounder, Pridham managed 17 disposals, four tackles and three rebounds in the Bloods win. Midfielders Tyson Coe and Dylan McCormick produced workmanlike performances through the middle. Coe impressed with his brute strength and clean hands in-tight, finishing the game with 18 touches, five tackles, six clearances and four inside-50s. The speedy McCormick also gathered 18 possessions, to go with four tackles, five clearances and three inside-50s.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 6.7 (43) def. GLENELG 4.9 (33)

By: Tom Wyman

South Adelaide:

#5 Angus Bradley

The blonde-haired utility spent the game in the midfield, having shown an ability to fill a role across half-back earlier in the year. Bradley was effective at stoppages, positioning himself well, reading the ruckman’s taps and often clearing the area with a quick snap. In tricky conditions, he showed a desire to break open the game with some passages of run and carry. However Bradley could have lowered his eyes to spot up shorter targets at-times instead of kicking long, particularly when going forward. He added a goal in the third term after capitalising on a Bays fumble on the goal-line and finished the day with 22 disposals, five tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s.

#11 Jaiden Magor

Bottom-ager Jaiden Magor started the game at half-forward but rotated through the midfield as the game wore on. He didn’t accumulate the numbers of fellow on-ballers Angus Bradley or Luke Mitton, however Magor showed some glimpses which suggests he has a very bright future. He was clean at ground level and weaved through traffic nicely. His highlight of the game came tucked against the boundary line where Magor danced past a couple of would-be tacklers, located a target in the corridor and picked him off with a pin-point drop punt. He tackled hard as always and moved well across the ground but missed a couple of opportunities in-front of goal, finishing with three behinds to go with 13 disposals, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s.

#13 Lachlan Hayes

Lachlan Hayes was South Adelaide’s glue down back in what was arguably a best on-ground performance. The diminutive defender read the play well and positioned himself well to cut off a number of Glenelg attacking moments. Spending some time on the dangerous Harry Tunkin at-times, he not only held his own in one-on-one situations, but covered for a number of his teammates, always seeming to be in the thick of it in defence. He provided plenty of rebound from South Adelaide’s defensive-50 and used the ball well in windy and slippery conditions. The 17-year-old from the Cove Football Club finished with a team-high 27 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and 11 rebounds.

Others: 

Small midfielder Luke Mitton was combative in his on-ball role, providing some all-important energy around the contest. He gathered 20 disposals (including 18 kicks), five tackles and six clearances. Fellow midfielder Tom Wheaton managed 17 disposals, five tackles and three clearances. Talented ruckman Will Verrall fought hard against Glenelg big-man Henry Gould, with the pair both having their moments. Verrall finished with 24 hit-outs along with eight disposals. Clever forward Jack Delean booted two goals from his seven touches, including a well-taken set-shot.

Glenelg:

#6 Darcy Gluyas

With a couple of Glenelg’s best players absent from the under-18 side due to state commitments on Friday night, Darcy Gluyas was the Bays go-to guy in the middle. He was dominant in the first term, winning 14 possession and providing some calmness and composure in an otherwise scrappy, heavily contested-style game. Wearing the long-sleeves, Gluyas spent some time on the inside and the outside and looked particularly damaging when given some time and space. He gathered 26 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s in a well-rounded display.

#29 Hayden Brokensha

Bottom-ager Hayden Brokensha played arguably his best game in Bays colours in the clubs ten-point defeat. He was deployed across half-back where he demonstrated good poise and looked quite at home. An unfortunate mistake on the Panthers goal-line led to a South Adelaide major, however Brokensha accumulated plenty of the football and showed some promising signs in the yellow and black, finishing with a game-high 29 disposals, two marks and six rebounds.

#38 Jakob Ryan

Jakob Ryan lined-up across half-forward to start the game but was moved onto the wing as the game progressed. He had a set-shot early in the game but pushed the kick across the face. He was clean by hand on a couple of occasions on the outer wing and was composed with his ball-use all day, both by hand and by foot. A classy mover who has performed well for Glenelg’s under-18s since re-joining the team a couple of weeks ago, Ryan gathered 26 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three inside-50s.

Others:

Adelaide father-son product Brodie Edwards produced another solid performance playing a variety of roles for Glenelg. Clean by hand throughout the contest, he finished with 22 disposals, four clearances and three rebounds. Harry Tunkin managed 20 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal and was typically busy around the ball. Archie Lovelock and Will Watts both accumulated 22 disposals, whilst key forward Harry McInnes booted three of Glenelg’s four goals for the game.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 7.12 (54) def. by STURT 15.13 (103)

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#17 Tahjin Krieg

Krieg was Centrals’ best player afield and the most prolific across both sides, finishing with impressive numbers of 37 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. He was constantly on the move in midfield, breaking to the outer and generating plenty of forward momentum for his side. While Sturt was well on top for most of the game, Krieg proved a consistent figure and was clever in his decision making with ball in hand. Whether it was darting away to avoid tacklers or drawing the opponent one way before moving the other, Krieg found ways to manufacture room to run, with his sharp kicks the only facet which sometimes let him down.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Considering his side was dominated for much of the contest, Tuck fared well to come away with 21 disposals, eight marks, and 3.3 as Centrals’ rotating ruck-forward. He was mostly stationed forward and proved a focal point for the Bulldogs, but not always in a traditional key position sense. While Tuck presented nicely up the ground as a marking option, he was also made to work with plenty of ground balls inside 50, and showcased some dynamism when doing so. The bottom-ager snagged two of his three majors during the third term, putting through consecutive snaps with class for a man of his 193cm standing.

Others:

Ruben Carreno had plenty to do down back before being shifted to midfield, showcasing a sound short kicking game among his 25-disposal effort. Henry Ratcliff also rolled through midfield and collected 21 touches, while Jake Grubb (17 disposals, seven marks) was handy on the outer and Adam Deakin (12 disposals, six marks, three behinds) was dangerous once swung forward from defence.

Sturt:

#7 Nick Sadler

Sadler was superb for Sturt, showcasing every bit of his class from midfield with 26 disposals, six clearances and a goal. He looked as polished as anyone in possession, with his clean hands and punchy kicking helping the Double Blues gain ascendancy in the centre. The bottom-ager proved a slippery customer and utilised his speed on the ball, snatching metres or gaining ample separation to ensure his kicks were either well directed or at least penetrative. He was even busy when resting forward and speared some lovely passes to others, while also producing a highlight-reel speccy and goal at the end of the third term.

#11 Luca Slade

Sturt has some really promising Under 16 talent coming through its 18s squad, and Slade is one of them. The 2005-born midfielder-forward enjoyed plenty of minutes in the engine and looked dangerous on the break, using his speed to carry the Double Blues into attack. When stationed forward, Slade worked up to the arc and helped link his side towards goal. His smarts showed more and more as the game wore on, and Slade finished with 28 disposals, seven marks and a goal – with more than just one look at the big sticks.

#28 George Pope

Another of Sturt’s up-and-coming Under 16s, Pope continues to show promise after contributing 24 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals. The under-ager rotated through midfield but spent plenty of time forward, using his strength to bustle through tackles and release handballs under that kind of pressure. He helped the Double Blues break into attack and while his disposal by foot remains a touch raw, Pope managed to convert two terrific goals.

Others:

Sturt was served well by its forwards, as Jackson Bishop (13 disposals, four goals), Chad Reschke (15 disposals, nine marks, two goals), and Blake Fidge (14 disposals, one goal) formed a very handy trio. Cormac Dwyer was productive in midfield with 28 disposals, five clearances and a goal, while the likes of Jamie Taylor and Kai Tucker also had their moments on either side of midfield.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography via South Adelaide FC

SANFL U18 Scouting Notes – Round 8

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s returned and rolled on into Round 8, with the latest weekend of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

GLENELG 8.10 (58) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 9.8 (62)

By: Tom Wyman

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

Hugh Stagg once-again appeared a class above the rest at ACH Group Stadium. The bull-like utility went head-to-head with fellow ball-magnet Cade Kennedy at various stages when deployed through the middle. However it was his work in attack which almost won the game for the previously undefeated Bays. He opened the scoring for the home side by caressing through a stab kick on the run from a tricky angle. His third-term set-shot cut the margin to two points, before he added a third major late in the frame to extend Glenelg’s lead. He could’ve added a couple more goals too, finishing with three behinds. Stagg’s ability to burst through would-be tacklers with speed, strength and bustle set his game apart. Also showcasing his overhead marking strength, Stagg concluded the match with 30 disposals, five marks (two contested), four tackles, seven clearances and eight inside-50s in another sensational performance from the teenager.

#6 Darcy Gluyas

With teammate and potential first-round draftee Lewis Rayson missing from the side, Gluyas spent some extra minutes on the ball, while still impacting the game when moved to the forward flank. One of several Tigers boasting the versatility to fill a role almost anywhere on the ground, Gluyas was heavily involved early, showcasing plenty of composure and an effective side-step. Although he dropped a couple of marks he would’ve normally taken, Gluyas slotted an important goal from a 45-metre set shot in the second term. Overall, the consistent Gluyas made another solid contribution for Glenelg, accumulating 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three clearances.

#12 Brodie Edwards

Brodie Edwards started in the centre-bounce and spent much of the day rotating through the midfield for the Tigers. Edwards was typically workmanlike throughout the game, working hard to apply plenty of pressure around the contest. He was, however, caught out for a lack of pace in the defensive half when he was mowed down from behind. It was a quieter day for Edwards, who finished with 14 disposals, however he still was able to demonstrate level-headedness with ball in hand and a willingness to apply plenty of pressure, laying seven tackles.

Others: Full-back Dayne McGary was strong in the defensive half for the yellow and black. His strength overhead was a real feature of the game, and so too was his ability to read the play and peel off his direct opponent to impact the contest. He was also careful and assured by foot and provided some serviceable rebound. He gathered 22 disposals, 11 marks and five rebounds.

Playing his third game of the season, Benjamin Ridgway collected 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances and a goal for the Tigers, with Darcy Porter and Bailey Durant also among the home side’s best performers.

 

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

The ever-reliable Charlie Pridham produced another clean and composed performance in his customary role as the kicker across half-back. Pridham backed his skillset in even when under pressure and displayed good vision to spot up several difficult targets throughout the morning. The blonde-haired ball magnet, who is averaging 26.9 disposals per game in 2021, was largely clean by foot when kicking in from defence and finished the game with 25 disposals, three marks, four tackles and seven rebound-50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Following a 49-disposal effort last weekend, West Adelaide captain Cade Kennedy once again led from the front in the middle. Kennedy threw himself at the contest, winning plenty of contested ball and displaying some excellent stoppage nous. When the Tigers won the ball in the coalface, Kennedy ran hard defensively and looked to pressure the ball carrier, as evidenced by his equal team-high ten tackles. He was also effective in general play, working into helpful spaces and often stationing himself in the centre square as an in-board option. Although he wasn’t always effective by foot, Kennedy finished with 23 disposals, four marks, five clearances and five inside-50s.

#13 Hugh Desira

Wingman Hugh Desira played an important role in West Adelaide’s upset win. The hard-working midfielder used the ball well on the outside but also proved more than capable when moved into an inside role, winning a team-high six clearances. His quick snap goal five minutes into the second term helped continue West’s early dominance. In arguably his best game of the season to-date, Desira gathered 19 disposals, two marks, six clearances and four inside-50s.

Others: Midfielder/forward Jesse Thackeray finished the game as the leading ball-winner on the ground, gathering 31 disposals to go with seven marks (three contested), three clearances, six inside-50s, four rebounds and a goal. Opportunist forward Saleh Baltagie booted the first goal of the game from a free kick then capitalised on the loose ball twice to finish the game with three majors. His pressure in the forward half was excellent and his goals were reward for effort.

West’s dual-ruck set-up of Tom Scully and Oscar Steene overwhelmed the undersized Tigers big-men. They finished with 24 and 27 hit-outs respectively and, importantly, worked well around the ground, remaining clean below their knees and effective in general-play.

STURT 5.4 (34) def. by NORTH ADELAIDE 20.16 (136)

By: Tom Wyman

Sturt

#12 Jamie Taylor

Prolific midfielder Jamie Taylor was clearly Sturt’s best player despite the 102-point smashing. He started at the centre-bounce and showed a couple of positive glimpses, including a damaging fend-off, effective side-step and good penetration by foot, in what was an overwise dour day for the Double Blues. One of very few Sturt players who looked capable of matching the Roosters star-studded midfield, Taylor worked hard around the ground and finished the game with ten marks. He also managed 30 disposals, six clearances and a couple of inside-50s.

Others: The Sturt backline was peppered from start to finish, which placed defenders Mitch Felton and Kade Harvey under the pump. Given the ball breached Sturt’s defensive 50 on no less than 67 occasions for the game, the duo did just about all they could. In charge of the kick-ins, Felton provided some important rebound from defence, concluding the game with 24 disposals, three marks, four tackles and 13 rebounds. His racking foot skills were a standout. Meanwhile, Harvey gathered 21 disposals, eight marks and five rebound-50s.

Blake Fidge booted the clubs only two goals of the second-half, while George Pope (23 disposals, eight clearances and five inside-50s) and Patrick Tidemann (22 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and five rebounds) were others who could hold their heads up high.

 

North Adelaide

#3 Adam Heath

North Adelaide’s second term acceleration was largely thanks to a four goal quarter from key forward Adam Heath. Heath benefitted greatly from some excellent inside-50 foot skills from the talented Roosters midfield brigade, always playing in-front, timing his leads well and marking relatively unobstructed. His set-shot goal kicking was solid, albeit for a couple of misses. He will rue hitting the post from point-blank range early in the second, however his four-goal heroics more than made up for the blemish. Heath finished the game with 20 disposals, five goals, 12 marks and three inside-50s.

#4 Isaac Keeler

The athletic key forward again proved far too good for the Sturt backline as the Roosters pilled on goal after goal. He wasted little time getting into the contest, having a set-shot sighter early in the first term. He booted his first goal by intelligently staying down when others flew and slotting the regulation goal after the ball fell into his hands. Keeler nailed his second from just inside the 50-metre arc on the tightest of angles, and added a third from a set-shot after simply outreaching the Sturt defender. Possessing natural forward instincts, Keeler often read the play a fraction earlier than everyone else, and these football smarts, combined with his explosive acceleration on the lead, saw him have several shots on goal. Keeler also had an impact when he worked his way up the ground, with his leap allowing him to get on top of the Sturt ruck department. The bottom ager’s speed and mobility allowed him to have a genuine impact at ground level too. Keeler finished the game with 19 disposals, ten marks (two contested), three tackles, ten hit-outs and three majors.

#12 Hugh Jackson

It was another strong showing for Hugh Jackson, who has proven himself to be one of the best ball users in the nation so far this season. Even though the Sturt midfielders were clearly well aware of his damaging left foot and ability to accumulate the ball at will, they were unable to get near the Roosters number twelve. He worked tirelessly throughout the game, moving well in traffic and swinging onto his left-foot whenever possible. North Adelaide were always going to be hard to stop when Jackson and O’Loughlin were afforded time to deliver it inside 50 to damaging effect. Jackson, who leads the competition for disposals by no-less than 48 to West’s Cade Kennedy, added another 37 to his mounting tally, while also managing 12 marks, six clearances, 11 inside-50s and four rebounds in another wonderful performance.

#15 Harvey Harrison 

Prolific onballer Harvey Harrison took a little while to get going, but when he did, his speed and run and carry through the middle of Unley Oval was great to watch. His kicking was inconsistent but his stoppage work was excellent, scrapping around at ground level and feeding it out to the plethora of Roosters waiting to receive. He calmly curled home a major on his left-foot to inflict more pain upon the opposition in the dying minutes of the third term. One of the competition’s best performers over the opening two months of under-18 action, Harrison finished the game with 31 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances and three inside-50s.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

Those who have had the pleasure of watching Crows Next Generation Academy member Blayne O’Loughlin go about his business this season will hardly be surprised to see him notch up another 42 disposals in the Roosters 102-point win. Blayne started down back but wasn’t afraid to leave his man and push up around the ball to impact at the stoppages. O’Loughlin’s ball-use got better as the game wore on, with many of his earlier touches being relatively simply short passes. His run and carry through the middle of the ground was important, as was his crafty disposal and calmness under duress down back. O’Loughlin was effective between the arcs, accumulating seven inside-50s, seven rebounds and ten marks to go with his 31 kicks and 11 handballs.

#26 Kelsey Rypstra

The diminutive Rypstra has been one of North Adelaide’s most underrated performers so far in 2021, and his performance against the Double Blues was excellent. He snapped the first goal of the game for the red and whites then, in the final term, added a second on the run after getting on the end of a fast break from the centre bounce. Rypstra’s ball-use, like so many of his teammates, was clean and often damaging. His kicking, particularly going forward, made the job of the Roosters forwards much easier. In addition to his two majors, the half-forward/midfielder finished the game with 24 touches, six marks and seven inside-50s.

Others: Speedster Zyton Santillo played an important role for the Roosters through the midfield. Although he may be small in stature, Santillo broke tackle after tackle and won his fair share of contested ball at the coalface but, importantly, delivered the ball well by foot. He applied plenty of pressure, finishing with seven tackles to go with 23 disposals, six marks, three clearances and three inside-50s.

James White and James Willis both found plenty of the ball for the Roosters. White was clean throughout the contest, gathering 26 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four inside-50s. Willis managed 23 touches, four marks, four tackles, six inside-50s and a goal and showed some draftable qualities, including a quick turn of pace, run and carry and a booming long kick. He was unlucky to have a long-range effort on goal touched on the line.

CENTRAL DISTRICTS 7.5 (47) def. by SOUTH ADELAIDE 14.10 (94)

By: Liam Badkin

Central Districts:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

Displayed his classy playmaking ability again through the midfield, finding the ball 17 times in another impressive outing for his club. His ability to find the ball on the run was on display, hitting up teammates from all over the ground. Rarely took the ball when he was stationary at stoppages, always seeming proactive and attempting to generate some run around the contest. Missed an opportunity to hit the scoreboard in the final term when his team faced an impossible deficit. One of the better ball users in the league and displayed it fully throughout this contest.

#21 Austin McDonald

One of the standout players for his side, McDonald was instrumental through the midfield, finding the ball 24 times and rarely wasted it. His hands within the contest are as elite, and constantly generated some run by moving the ball on quickly. When giving the ball to teammates, he found them on the run, and was brutal around the contest. Headed forward and booted two goals on a day where his side was desperately short on scoring opportunities. No Central Districts player found the ball more than McDonald, and his run of strong form continues.

Others: Through the midfield, Tomas Hahn laid a whopping 19 tackles in one of the toughest performances of the year. Also found the ball 23 times, showcasing his all-around ability, while Adam Deakin was a constant threat in the backline with six rebound-50’s.

 

South Adelaide:

#4 Jack Dealan

The talented youngster was once more a looming threat up forward for South Adelaide, booting three goals in another solid outing. Dealan’s arial presence was once again on display, highlighted by a strong contested mark. Two second-quarter goals proved perfect in demonstrating his ability to rip a game apart in a short period of time. Dealan’s draft stock continues to rise and will likely rank towards the top when his draft eligibility comes in a couple of years’ time.

#10 Isaac Birt

The midfielder was solid without being outstanding in the win for South Adelaide, racking up 15 disposals. With the return of Arlo Draper, Birt spent more time on the outside of the contest, and when given time and space, hurt the opposition with his outside run. Took a strong contested mark to add another bow to his game, and his disposal efficiency improves on a weekly basis. Might have had less of the ball than recent weeks, but certainly lost no respect from coaches and teammates with a decent outing.

#33 Will Verrall

The bottom-aged ruckman beat his opponent, and certainly got the job done in his role, proving crucial to the side’s victory. Finishing with 33 hitouts, Verrall gave his midfielders first use, with his ruck craft improving on a weekly basis. He combined well with a variety of South Adelaide’s midfielders, and even followed up his tap work on plenty of occasions, finishing the match with 19 disposals and even winning eight clearances of his own. Did his draft stock no harm at all.

Others: Draper was strong through the middle, finishing with 27 touches and his contested work was once again a clear standout. Defender Lachlan Hayes found plenty of the ball, racking up 25 touches and consistently repelled the ball from defensive 50.

NORWOOD 5.9 (39) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 13.12 (90)

By: Liam Badkin

Norwood:

#11 Connor Kent

The midfielder stood out on a tough day for the side’s engine room, finishing with 32 disposals in a tough performance. With virtually no ruck dominance all day, Norwood had to get creative in getting their clearances, so Kent and other mids began reading the opposition’s tap. Had the opportunity to kick a much-needed goal for his side, but the shot just missed. Nine tackles and seven clearances were reflective of his willingness to get his hands dirty in the contest.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Racked up a game-high 36 disposals from the backline, and worked hard to try and defend countless Eagle attacks on goal. Always clean with his disposal, Dnistriansky took risks with his kicks, and while they didn’t always come off, some attacking ball movement was a nice change of pace on a day where his side was convincingly beaten in most areas of the ground. Finished with eight rebound-50s as he tried to get the ball moving forward for his team.

Woodville West Torrens:

#16 Will Pearce

Was once again one of the focal points for his side, when they were moving the ball forward, mainly due to his strong arial presence at times combined with his impressive work when the ball hit the deck. Could have had four majors, but missed two gettable shots, so only finished with two snags for the day. 13 disposals showed that he can be more than a threat in front of goal, finding teammates in space when he was given the opportunity.

#18 William Neumann

Spending time through the midfield and up forward, Neumann was once again lethal for the winning side, finishing with 17 disposals in a typically tough outing. Like previous weeks, his pressure was outstanding around the contest, constantly harassing opponents into making errors that he or teammates would swoop on. Hit the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, as his side went into party time with the game locked away. Certainly lost no fans with this showing.

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 7

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s returned and rolled on into Round 7, with the latest weekend of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

NORTH ADELAIDE 17.10 (112) def. NORWOOD 6.6 (42)

By: Tom Wyman

North Adelaide:

#4 Isaac Keeler

Ultra-talented bottom-ager Isaac Keeler added another four goals to his season tally, proving far too good for the Norwood backline. Having spent time at full-forward and as the number one ruckman at stages throughout the season, Keeler began the clash in attack. He pushed up the ground nicely, gaining separation on the lead with ease and providing the Roosters midfielders with a spot-up target. At full-stretch, he proved near-on impossible to defend. Along with Keeler’s supreme athleticism, he is also a beautiful set-shot for goal, with his natural, laid-back style cooling converting more often than not. He was even effective when deployed a kick behind the play for a brief period in the second half. Suspect his speed, ground-level cleanliness and leap will cause plenty of headaches for defenders in years to come. Keeler finished the game with 15 disposals, eight marks (two contested), five hit-outs and four goals.

#12 Hugh Jackson

The form-player of the competition was at it again on Prospect Oval, starting from where he left off last round. Jackson waisted no time in getting started, seemingly involved in everything for the red and whites. At the stoppages, the Rostrevor College prospect often lined up on the defensive-side, and if he didn’t win the clearance himself, his Roosters teammates found him by hand and allowed him to swing onto his trusty left-foot. His foot skills are a huge weapon and his ability to pick-off target-after-target has been a treat to watch throughout the season. An aesthetically pleasing midfielder who moves so well, his quick handballs always seemed to find their targets regardless of the nearby pressure – a testament to his skill and vision. Although he didn’t find as much of the ball in the second half, Jackson had already made his mark on the contest and finished with 27 disposals, eight marks, three clearances, eight inside-50s and a goal.

#15 Harvey Harrison

Harvey Harrison has been forced to play second-fiddle to Hugh Jackson for most of the season to-date, but he finished as the best player on the ground in the Roosters 70-point win over Norwood. One of the SANFL Under-18 competition’s most prolific ball-winners, Harrison had managed just one goal for the year before the clash with the Redlegs. However that soon changed, as he nailed four majors, including a beautiful running goal from just inside-50 to highlight his precise ball-use at top speed. A line-breaking midfielder who runs and runs, Harrison was also prepared to crack in and do the hard stuff, laying nine tackles. His contested ball winning and stoppage nous was excellent, as the teenager finished with 26 disposals and eight clearances.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

The Adelaide NGA product lined up down back at the opening bounce but quickly worked his way into the on-ball rotation. After proving himself as one of the best small defenders in the country over the first two months of the season, O’Loughlin showed he can also play a role through the midfield. He fought hard at ground level, winning his fair share of contested ball and using his nimble footwork, composure and poise to work his way through congestion on several occasions. However it was O’Loughlin’s long-range goal in the third term which was the highlight. He finished another solid outing with 22 disposals, three tackles and three rebounds.

Others:

Zippy small midfielder Zyton Santillo has been one of North Adelaide’s best performers this season and his round seven effort was no exception. Providing plenty of speed and creativity, Santillo zigged and zagged his way through congestion with ease, and used the ball well inside-50. He gathered 20 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five inside-50s and a goal.

His fellow midfielder James Willis also had an excellent game. He was strong at the coalface, winning six clearances, and tackled hard all day. He finished with 25 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and five inside-50s. Half-forward Sam McTaggart was heavily involved from the get-go and concluding the game with 20 touches, seven marks, six tackles and a goal. Ruckman Oliver Moors was utterly dominant, winning 45 hit-outs. He also found plenty of the ball around the ground, gathering 16 touches, four marks and five clearances.

Norwood:

#11 Connor Kent

Midfielder Connor Kent was Norwood’s best player in what proved to be a difficult day at the office for the visitors. The leading possession-winner on the ground, Kent’s ability to win the contested ball and distribute it cleanly by hand was promising. With the Roosters dominating the hit-outs (54-17), the Norwood midfielders were on the back-foot for most of the day and spent a considerable portion of the day chasing the likes of Jackson, Santillo, Harrison and O’Loughlin. However Kent, arguably Norwood’s most consistent player in 2021, can hold his head up high, finishing the game with 31 disposals, four marks, five tackles and three inside-50s.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Talented backman Matthew Dnistriansky stood tall down in defence, despite the Roosters belting it inside-50 on 54 occasions. The clean-kicking Dnistriansky read the play well and was strong in the air. Although he did try to bite off a bit more than he could chew at-times, particularly when looking to bring the ball back into the corridor, Dnistriansky was largely effective by foot. He provided a game-high 11 rebounds, to go with 29 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and four inside-50s.

Others: 

Half-back Riley Verrall was serviceable in defence, collecting 22 disposals and using it well by foot for the most part. He also registered five marks, three tackles and six rebounds. Forward Jett Boxer kicked three of Norwood’s six goals. His strength overhead was a highlight, hauling in nine marks for the game, three of which were contested. He also managed 23 disposals, three tackles and a couple of hit-outs. Elsewhere, Peter Minervini managed 16 disposals and seven clearances, while Louis Joseph collected 16 disposals, six tackles and a goal.

GLENELG 23.11 (149) def. SOUTH ADELAIDE 5.6 (36)

By: Tom Wyman

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

Hugh Stagg has emerged as one of the best players in the under-18 competition this season, and his round seven effort was similarly dominant. Involved in everything from the get-go, Stagg hit every contest with the sort of speed and power of a Patrick Dangerfield-type, looking to use his superior size and strength to burst his way through traffic. Not one to fear using the fend-off, Stagg clearly relished the competitive side of the game. Although not everything he touched turned to gold, with some of his kicks lacking penetration or just missing their desired target, you just felt like something was going to happen whenever he was around the ball. His overhead strength saw him take a couple of nice grabs up forward, as he ended the game with three goals. The goal kicking forward/midfielder, who seems to be going from strength-to-strength with each game, gathered another 31 disposals, nine marks (three contested), three tackles, four clearances and five inside-50s in his sides 113-point demolition.

#17 Corey Brougham

Strong forward Corey Brougham was the beneficiary of the Bays midfield dominance and excellent ball-use inside-50. The clear leading target, Brougham was seemingly always in-front of his man, which allowed him to get first bite at the ball on the lead. His clean hands overhead were once again a big part of his game. Brougham has a simple and effective set-shot routine, but he would have loved to have converted a couple of gettable chances in-front of the big sticks. Nevertheless, the powerful forward finished with 13 disposals, six goals and five marks (three contested) in a dominant display.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Rayson started the game down back, but as we’ve seen all throughout the season, he proved just as effective when thrown into the middle. In either role, his attack on the football and ability to break the lines with both his speed and penetrating foot skills proved damaging. Deceptively strong overhead for a player of his size and stature, Rayson once again played a big part in securing Glenelg their seventh win of the season. Rayson finished the game with 27 touches, five marks, two tackles, four clearances, five inside-50s, four rebounds and a set-shot goal in another well-rounded performance.

Others: 

Utility Darcy Gluyas showed some real class with ball in-hand. His composure was excellent and his ball-use was effective. He finished with 25 touches, seven marks, three tackles and three clearances. Brodie Edwards was also typically calm and assured with ball in-hand. He slotted a goal after the half-time siren and gathered 20 disposals, four marks, five tackles and five clearances. Down back, Cooper BeeckenBailey Durant and Harrison Kaesler generated some meaningful rebound, finished with four, five and seven rebounds respectively. Ethan Murdock and Brodie Patter each booted four-straight for the home side, with Daniel Nicotra and Matthew Wolfenden also contributing two apiece.

South Adelaide:

#4 Jack Delean

Having led the Panthers to a flag in the SANFL Under-16 competition earlier in the year, young forward Jack Delean once-again suited up for South Adelaide’s under-18 side for their clash with the undefeated Glenelg. And he immediately looked the most promising of South’s forwards. Touted as a likely high-pick despite being a couple of years away from draft eligibility, Delean’s aerial ability was immediately obvious, running back with the flight of the ball and hauling in a great grab early in the first term. He kicked his first goal after finding himself in the right place and the right time and also found himself in position-A to soccer home his second. He pushed up the ground well and finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks (four contested) and three goals.

#10 Isaac Birt

Consistent midfielder Isaac Birt was probably South Adelaide’s best player in what was a difficult day for the Panthers. Birt found himself spending more time on the inside this week, with star midfielders Arlo Draper and Matthew Roberts both out of the side. He seemed to relish the added responsibility and really flew the flag even as the Tigers seemed to pile on goal-after-goal in the second half. Birt found plenty of it and used the ball fairly well, especially when he found himself with some time and space. He concluded the game with a team-high 21 disposals, eight marks, three tackles, six clearances and five inside-50s.

#39 Will Verrall

The Panthers may have been soundly beaten on the day, but bottom-aged ruckman did his reputation as one of the state’s most exciting key position prospects no harm. His tap-work and ruck craft at stoppages was impressive, as regularly palmed it down to the Panthers on-ballers with the sort of touch rarely seen in young rucks. He combined particularly well with midfielder Luke Mitton, who seemed to read his tap-work the best of anyone. Verrall followed-up well at ground-level and finished the game with 14 disposals and 33 hit-outs.

Others:

Diminutive on-baller Luke Mitton was certainly one of his sides best, gathering 17 touches, five tackles, nine clearances  and five inside-50s. Cooper Rogers found himself involved in the contest as a high half-forward, winning 12 touches and five inside-50s, while Lachlan Hayes and Dylan Miller were effective in defence, finished with 11 rebounds between them.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 12.17 (89) def. STURT 6.11 (47)

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

Always a creative type through midfield, Dudley proved once again on Saturday that he is exactly the player Centrals would want delivering the ball inside attacking 50. While some of his darting kicks fell short, the Adelaide NGA prospect was often able to hit leading targets with great class on the move, finishing his productive forward runs. That same active streak could also be observed at the stoppages, as Dudley looked to take the ball in motion and either burst forward, or draw an opponent before dishing laterally. He would also repeat run in an attacking sense if the opportunity to go inside 50 presented, as the highlight of his day a long goal which came on the end of two running bounces through the corridor. As expected, he was also clean below his knees and clever around goals, with another major coming in term four from a coolly finished snap.

#7 Austin Poulton

Poulton was part of Centrals’ forward-midfield rotation and like Dudley, was able to compliment his ball winning feats with some scoreboard impact. He started the game as well as anyone, getting busy with presentation up at half-forward, before making his mark with two first-term goals. Both were quickfire, opportunistic shots out of congestion which showed he knew exactly where the big sticks were. Poulton also got his hands on the ball through midfield, but looked most impactful when receiving up on the arc where he would twist, turn, and pick the right option looking laterally or towards goal.

#21 Austin McDonald

In his first Under 18s outing for the year, McDonald picked up from where he left off by unsurprisingly leading all comers with 28 disposals. The bottom-ager simply knows how to find the football, earning or receiving it at the contest and also working to be an option around the ground. His use by hand looked typically sound, and his willingness to move the ball on quickly is a trait which suits the Centrals style of play. McDonald often looked to snatch meterage by foot, but has plenty of area for growth with his kicking – even if some of those left-foot floaters found the intended target. As a bottom-ager, he has plenty of time to fill out his promising skillset.

#29 Saxon Evans

Evans has established himself as a dominant kind of ruck at Under 18s level and was again in the thick of things for Centrals on Saturday. He had his moments at the centre bounces and stoppages with some nicely directed hits to his rovers, but was arguably more impactful with his work around the ground. Evans was able to find the ball between the arcs and at either end of the field – including an contested mark in defensive 50 as Sturt took a long-range set shot. In his time up forward during the second half, Evans continued to prove a solid aerial target, capping his day with a free kick conversion in the fourth quarter after assisting a Brodie Tuck major.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Another impressive bottom-ager for Centrals, Tuck has some nice traits for his size. He worked well in tandem with Jayden Matz up forward to provide a reliable marking target, with his strong hands and contested marking ability coming to the fore. The bigman opened his account in the first term with a straightforward mark and goal deep inside 50, before adding a second in the third term after taking a strong pack mark. He could well have ended up with an absolute bag if not for inaccuracy, finishing with four behinds and a couple of attempts which failed to register scores. While his overhead marking was a highlight, Tuck also showed an uncanny knack for finding space in tight areas, able to shrug off opponents or fein a handball to buy a bit more time on the ball. His poise in those situations was good, proving a nice extra string to his bow.

Others:

The Bulldogs had a number of strong performers, with the likes of Henry Ratcliff, Tahjin Krieg, and Tomas Hahn proving productive members of the forward-midfield rotation. Jayden Matz booted three goals and presented nicely both inside 50 and up the ground, while Matthew Borlace positioned expertly to intercept in the back half and got his side going with positive movement on the rebound.

Sturt:

#8 Lachie Thomas

The hard-working wingman was sighted running deep into either arc, providing some reinforcement on the last line of defence while also pushing forward aggressively. Not only did he work hard up and back, but Thomas also competed in the air and on the ground, proving nice and strong in the contest. His efforts to drop back and help the defence with intercept marks were notable, as were a couple of running-bounce passages going the other way, with Thomas working well in space to create some drive on the outer.

#12 Jamie Taylor

A relatively permanent part of Sturt’s midfield group, Taylor won the first centre clearance of the match and was often able to get his hands on the ball at stoppages. He had a team-high six clearances which allowed him to put the ball into dangerous areas and give his forwards opportunities to strike with quick delivery into the attacking arc. He booted a goal in the second term and could have had another after the siren, but put the shot wide for no score. In what was a solid performance from the engine room operator, he had little trouble getting his hands on the ball and imposing himself on each contest.

#20 Jaymes Tragakis

Another productive member of the midfield group, Tragakis had a nice purple patch in the second term and provided Sturt with some forward drive out of the middle. He was able to work forward and find the ball in advanced areas, not afraid to get his legs pumping with some run-and-carry before delivering inside 50. At the stoppages, he peeled off well on a couple of occasions to get a handball receive in space, allowing him to stream forward unimpeded. One of his best moments started with a possession at half-back, which he followed up to receive back and continue his run before delivering a goal assist inside 50.

Others:

Jake Aish was the Double Blues’ leading ball winner and was a constant in midfield, as Patrick Tidemann lit up the outside on numerous occasions with electric run-and-carry. Kade Harvey proved reliable down back with strong marking, while using his kick-in duties to gain meterage and rebound out of the defensive arc. All 21 of his disposals were kicks, with 12 of them rebound 50s. Archer Bawden was another who had his moments, clunking some nice intercept marks late in the piece.

WWT EAGLES 13.5 (83) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 13.9 (87)

By: Tom Cheesman

Eagles:

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce was the Eagles’ most prominent contributor up forward in this contest. He provided a reliable target for teammates kicking down the line, took some strong marks on the lead and hit the scoreboard with four goals. His third term was a standout, where he nailed two goals on the run (including one from the 50-metre arc) and another from a set shot, helping his side erase the five-goal deficit and hit the front just before the final break. Although Pearce missed two very kickable shots early in the match, the work he did to earn these goal-scoring opportunities were highlights. One was a clever front and square in the first term, and the other was a strong contested grab in the second term after brilliantly working his opponent under the ball. Throughout the match, Pearce brushed off oncoming tacklers with ease, collected ground balls cleanly and pushed back to help his midfielders defend in transition. Pearce’s delivery into the forward 50 was also consistently effective, including when he hit Samuel Harnas lace out on the lead in the second term. Pearce finished with 13 disposals, five marks (two contested), three inside 50s and four majors.

#18 William Neumann

Neumann was another of Woodville-West Torrens’ best players in their four-point defeat. Rotating between midfield and forward, Neumann tirelessly hunted the ball all day, applied strong pressure at stoppages and helped out his teammates when they were under pressure around the ground. Neumann proved that he is a tough player during this contest, as he took multiple very solid hits and kept his feet on each occasion. His ability to take contact from the opposition before cleanly disposing of the ball with quick hands is a major strength, and this opened up the play for the Eagles in several instances. Neumann also used his body well in marking contests, laid some strong tackles and hit the scoreboard with three majors, including a nice set shot in the final term. He finished with 24 disposals, six marks, six clearances, three tackles and three goals.

Others:

Dustin Launer (24 disposals, four tackles, four clearances) and Sam Nicholls (16 disposals, three tackles, three clearances) worked hard all day for the hosts. Speedster Jay Watson (two goals, 14 disposals, seven marks, three tackles) had some important moments up forward.

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Pridham continued his brilliant season for the Bloods on Saturday at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. His ball use coming out of defence was outstanding, as he found targets with ease down the wings and through the corridor. The small defender’s ability to find the footy is profound, and his teammates love getting the ball in his hands because of his reliable decision-making and impressive foot skills. Pridham works hard into space to earn uncontested possessions, rarely panics with ball in hand and is not afraid to take heavy contact from the opposition despite his short stature. Pridham finished with 31 disposals (26 kicks), four marks, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy put in of the best Under 18 performances you will see in 2021 on Saturday, collecting an incredible 48 (yes, 48) disposals (including 34 kicks) to go with 15 marks, nine clearances, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, five rebound 50s and a goal. For AFL Fantasy fans out there, that is 209 points in one match.

Kennedy used the SANFL bye last weekend as an opportunity to make his A-Grade debut for the Mitcham Hawks in the Adelaide Footy League, and it is clear that this experience playing against stronger bodies in the seniors was great for his immediate development. Returning to the Under 18s with aplomb, Kennedy was every bit as dominant as his statline suggests. He was impactful at the clearances, used his pace to breakaway from opponents, initiated plenty of link up through the middle of the ground and worked hard into defence to help his side extract the ball from dangerous areas.

Many of his 48 touches came across the half-back line, where he released teammates into space and started attacking forward thrusts with clean ball use. Kennedy’s kicking, an area that he has needed to work on in the past, was very effective in this contest. He has a reliable left-foot (opposite foot) kick as well, a rare but important attribute for a player to have in today’s game. The number of uncontested marks he took was astounding, and each of these provided his side an opportunity to control the ball and set up across the ground to stretch the defence.

At stoppages, Kennedy showed the ability to keep his feet while being tackled, which allowed him to distribute clean handballs to teammates in space on the outside. If no handball options were on offer, he was more than willing to throw it on the boot and get the ball moving forward. In the third term, Kennedy kicked one of the goals of the day when he intercepted an opposition handball and brilliantly booted a snap off just a few steps to put his side back in front. In typical Kennedy fashion, he immediately got on with the job and won the next centre clearance as well. Kennedy is undoubtedly one of the South Australian prospects to keep an eye on as the 2021 season progresses.

Others:

Jesse Thackeray (25 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, one goal) was important in the midfield, while Ben Burbridge (19 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, one goal) used the ball effectively around the ground. Ruckman Harry Barnett (12 disposals, 19 hitouts, four marks, four inside 50s) showed impressive agility for his size and Luke Young (17 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two goals) had some great moments up forward.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard / SANFL

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

STATE league football returned in South Australia on the weekend, with AFL Draft prospects scattered throughout all three grades as they begin their quest for elite level recognition. In the first SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we narrow our focus to the Under 18s competition, where a bunch of promising talents had big games across the four fixtures. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Pridham spent most of the day in the defensive half of the ground as the dedicated kicker down back. He was tasked with kick-in duties early on and his teammates clearly looked for him when exiting defence. Although some of his ball use, particularly early in the game, was not super effective, Pridham exhibited some nice awareness of time and space and appears to understand the game well. The Bloods’ most prolific player, the diminutive Pridham accumulated 32 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a game-high 12 rebound 50s in what was a strong opening effort.

#9 Kobe Ryan

The bottom-aged midfielder showed why he has a big future with a stunning performance in his Under 18 debut. Having spent most of last season playing college football with Sacred Heart, Ryan was in everything early on, winning the opening clearance before following up his kick with a strong tackle. Impossible to miss with his long blonde hair, Ryan consistently showed an ability to be in the right areas at the right time. He looks to be a very natural footballer who can find the ball at will, but also use it creatively. Ryan showed he has several different types of kicks at his disposal too, possessing the capacity to spear one long into the forward 50, chip it into space for a teammate to run onto, or size up a leading teammate with a clever snap. Despite his slim build, Ryan was fantastic in the air and tackled brilliantly at ground level. A textbook tackle on the broadcast wing was another highlight of his game. If his 28 disposals, six tackles and four clearances is anything to go by, the midfielder appears set for a terrific year.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy was one of the Bloods’ best despite his side going down by 26 points. He tried hard all day, cracking in whenever necessary but also having an impact on the outside of the contest. He exhibited quick evasiveness on a couple of occasions and looked threatening at stoppages inside-50.

#36 Tyson Coe

Coe, in-tandem with teammate and schoolmate Kobe Ryan, provided something to look forward to for Bloods fans after a difficult 2020 season for the clubs’ Under 18s. A strong physical specimen despite being a year younger than most others, Coe used his size and strength to advantage in his inside midfield role, winning a game-high seven clearances. He has a well-developed inside game, with his strong tackling, contested ball winning and overhead marking all very sound. His pack mark in the first quarter was indicative of his strength. However, it was his turn of speed from the stoppages which really impressed. Coe possesses a nice burst of power and, although his kicking technique could use some minor refinement, his skills over a variety of distances were predominately effective. One of several talented bottom-agers on show at Hisense Stadium, Coe finished with 24 touches, six marks and five tackles.

#40 Luke Young

The key forward presented up at the footy all day and was also clean when the ball hit the ground. Clearly the number one target in attack for the Bloods, Young brought the ball to ground well whenever he didn’t manage to mark it. He showed great strength to stand up on numerous occasions, both in the air and in general play. His tacking was strong for the entirety of the contest and his leading patterns ensured he was often available as a target down the line. Young kicked two goals, both from close range, and finished the night with 20 touches, 10 marks and four tackles in what was a very strong start to the new season. Expect him to be the focal point in attack for the Bloods throughout the season.

#54 Harry Lemmey

Lemmey kicked the first goal of the game after marking Kobe Ryan’s inside 50 kick. He looks to have a beautiful set shot goalkicking technique. Spending most of the game as a key forward, Lemmey didn’t get a heap of opportunity, with the Bloods’ ball-use going inside 50 not always benefitting his aerial skillset. Regardless, Lemmey appears to have some nice traits and will no doubt take some positives from the Round 1 clash. The bottom-ager finished with nine disposals and five marks to go with his two majors.

Others:

Dylan McCormick did some nice things throughout the game for West Adelaide. He accumulated 16 touches and took seven marks. Adam Bunworth was effective down back, providing six rebounds from his 17 disposals and Harry Barnett fought well in the ruck, finishing with 19 hit-outs.

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

After piecing together a strong 2020 season, Tunkin was again impressive in the Tigers’ Round 1 victory. Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Tunkin regularly won first possession at the stoppages he attended. His awareness in-tight, football smarts, vision and ball-use by hand were the primary features of his game. A natural ball-winner, Tunkin regularly found teammates on the outside with clever over-the-back handballs and applied plenty of pressure around the ball carrier. He collected 31 disposals and booted one goal, along with three marks, five tackles and five clearances in what was a strong first-up effort from the Prince Alfred College junior.

#5 Hugh Stagg

Stagg was one of several strong performers for the Tigers. A strong physical presence, Stagg was utilised as a forward but also spent considerable time as a big-bodied on-baller. He displayed great strength above his head in the first quarter, taking the mark and finding key forward Harry McInnes with a well-placed kick which lead to the Bays’ second goal of the match. At times he could have been sharper with his ball use, however the forward-midfielder was a threat for the duration of the contest and applied a heap of intense tackling pressure. Stagg could consider himself unlucky not to have walked away with a couple more goals to his name. He finished with 26 disposals, one goal, five marks, eight tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.

#13 Hayden Brokensha

Bottom-ager, Brokensha pieced together a reasonably strong game for the Bays Under 18s. The SANFL State Talent Hub member spent a large portion of the game on the wing with stints through the inside of the contest. He worked hard both ways and provided some important run-and-carry between the arcs. His kicking was clean for the most part and he showed an ability to win his own ball when thrown into an inside role. Brokensha accumulated 14 disposals and took six marks in a performance which the midfielder will look to build upon as the season gets rolling.

#16 Harry McInnes

Key forward, McInnes threatened to tear apart the game in the first quarter, bagging two goals within the first seven minutes of the contest. Clearly the most dominant forward on the ground, McInnes’ lead-up work was fantastic as he used his power, size and strength to advantage. However, it was a frustrating night for the PAC product, who converted just two of his eight shots on goal, with a couple of snaps rattling the post. He was super busy around the ground, gathering 19 disposals and five marks in what proved to be a ‘what-if’ game for the big man. Still, his dominance on the lead will cause plenty of headaches for opposition sides this season.

#20 Lewis Rayson

One of the standout South Australian prospects heading into season 2021, Rayson wasted no time in showing recruiters what he can do. Stationed in his customary half-back position, the speedster never backed down from the contest and refused to be beaten, both in the air and once the ball hit the deck. His positioning allowed him to cut off several West Adelaide attacks and from there he used his speed and precise ball-use to damaging effect. In general play, he backed himself to hit targets which few players would dare to attempt. Although his speed, skills and intercept marking down back are the main strengths of his game, it was Rayson’s contested ball work which was particularly impressive against the Bloods. Rayson fought harder than his West Adelaide opponents, willing himself into the contest and refusing to give up the ball. He concluded the game with 31 possessions at a brilliant 94 per cent disposal efficiency, six marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s.

Others:

Jacob Owens was prolific all day, winning 29 disposals, sending the ball inside-50 five times and taking an equal game-high 11 marks. His run-and-carry through the middle of the ground was a highlight. Bottom-ager Archie Lovelock showed a touch of class with ball in hand. He kicked a beautiful snap goal in the second term and looked very much at home at Under 18s level, filling a variety of roles around the ground. He finished with 23 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency and took eight marks. Darcy Gluyas was vital for Glenelg, mopping up plenty of West Adelaide forward entries and marshalling the troops from his half-back role. He gathered 27 disposals and took seven marks. Adelaide father-son prospect Brodie Edwards was typically clean with ball in hand across half-back, operating at 84 per cent efficiency by foot. Harrison Kaesler finished with 26 disposals, ten marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-aged talent Lachlan Scannell also performed well, collecting 20 disposals, six marks and four tackles.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT

By: Tom Wyman

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

It was the Isaac Keeler show for much of the day at Prospect Oval, with the athletic big man bagging five majors as his side easily accounted for Central District. After featuring in the ruck a few times last season, Keeler spent the whole day in attack and really showcased his elite athleticism. He was able to get separation from his various direct opponents with relative ease, using his natural speed to put distance between the Bulldogs defenders. One of the most exciting young talents in South Australian football, Keeler slotted the opening goal of the day with a beautiful kick from 50 metres out and followed that up 10 minutes later with another long-range effort, this time on the run. He finished with five goals but could have easily added another couple as the forward missed a couple of gettable opportunities. Keeler benefitted from the Roosters’ midfield domination and the Bulldogs simply had no answers for him on the lead. Also extremely threatening once the ball hit the deck, Keeler will have plenty of recruiters and Crows fans excited about his prospects, finishing the game with 12 disposals and six grabs.

#5 Shaun Bennier

One of three Roosters included in the Under 17 SANFL State Talent Hub, Bennier showed flashes of his talents at Prospect Oval. He did his best work coming out of defence, where he managed five rebounds and showed some excellent evasiveness. A good size at 190cm and 80kg, the Ingle Farm product tackled hard and accumulated 19 touches in North’s 49-point triumph.

#12 Hugh Jackson

Isaac Keeler booted five and Harvey Harrison was terrific, but it was the work of Crystal Brook midfielder, Jackson which took centre-stage for the Roosters. Spending all game in the midfield, Jackson was everywhere from start to finish, accumulating the ball at will and combining with the likes of Harrison, James White, Zyton Santillo and Max Blacker to completely dominate the midfield battle. Not only did he find the ball at will, Jackson used it to perfection by hand and foot. Exceptionally clean below his knees, his kicking was a real treat to watch at times. For a tough inside-leaning midfielder, his ability to spot up targets over short and long range and execute both in-tight and in space made it easy for the Roosters forwards to capitalise upon. He switched the play efficiently, hit multiple targets inside 50 and, crucially, looked to spot up teammates out of stoppages where others would have blasted away. He was equally as creative by hand too, consistently hitting targets with crafty handballs, especially at stoppages. Instead of completing simple one-metre handballs in congestion to a teammate under pressure, Jackson evidently looked to pass it to players with some space, a skill which has been mastered by some the best inside midfielders in the game. Jackson was sensational for the Roosters, finishing with 37 disposals, six marks, three tackles, seven clearances and a goal.

#15 Harvey Harrison

Harrison was one of a handful of North Adelaide on-ballers who had a field day in the opening round of the season. Like Hugh Jackson, Harrison was not afraid to back his skills and hit tricky targets, particularly when looking to go inboard. A beautiful kick to the leading Isaac Keeler early-on in the contest was a real highlight of his game. Harrison provided some fantastic run and carry through the midfield and showed some tricks around the ball, including a well-executed pirouette. The midfielder’s work rate was evident, as he tirelessly ran from contest to contest, even as the game was in its dying stages. Some of his clearance work also proved vital. Harrison finished the game with 33 disposals, a game-high 13 marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

The North Adelaide captain picked up from where he left off in 2020, after impressing as a bottom-ager for the Roosters last season. O’Loughlin spent the day in the half-back role which he has well-and-truly made his own over the past year or two. The Gepps Cross junior and Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy prospect, who describes himself as a ‘crafty backman’, was typically cool and calm with ball in-hand. He rarely wasted a possession and plays with such poise and calmness. O’Loughlin has a tremendous ability to sense how much time he has and isn’t afraid to wait until the right option presents itself, rather than kick long in hope. Against the Bulldogs, he also made a couple of strong defensive efforts one-on-one, to compliment his ball-use. Easily one of SA’s most talented prospects, O’Loughlin finished with 29 disposals (including 23 kicks) and seven rebound 50s for the red and whites.

#28 Max Blacker

Bottom-aged midfielder, Blacker was one of the standout performers for the Roosters. The midfielder is one of those players who seems to always be involved and around the footy. He was particularly busy early on as North Adelaide asserted its dominance over the contest in the opening quarter of action. Blacker used the ball well for the majority of the game and was one of several Roosters who consistently delivered the ball on a silver platter to their leading forwards. However, he will likely be peeved with having finished with three behinds. Blacker concluded the game with 21 disposals, three tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

#29 Zyton Santillo

Santillo was at his creative best for the Roosters. Part of North’s superb midfield rotation, the zippy Payneham product certainly has some tricks up his sleeve, but wasn’t afraid to crack in and do the hard stuff. He worked tirelessly all game and managed to take an impressive 10 marks. He won three clearances and showed off his neat foot skills to hit-up Charlie Froling on the lead with a perfect pass in the first half. Santillo racked up 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s for the game.

Others:

Exciting forward Kelsey Rypstra produced a very good performance for the victorious Roosters, making the most of his shots on goal to finish with three-straight majors. He also managed 19 disposals and eight marks. Key forward Charlie Froling worked well in tandem with Isaac Keeler and was another beneficiary of the Roosters’ slick ball movement and efficiency going forward. A mobile tall with great hands overhead, Froling nailed three goals and took five marks for the game. Midfielder James White finished the clash with 24 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect entered the game with high expectations, having been earmarked as a potential draftee for a number of years now. The talented pocket-rocket started the game at the centre bounce and was shifted forward at various stages. Despite being smaller than many of his opponents, Dudley attacked the ball with ferocity and bounced off several would-be tacklers. It was clearly difficult for Dudley to have much impact on the game up forward, given the Bulldogs lacked the polish of the Roosters. He was perhaps unlucky to be caught holding the ball a couple of times, however Dudley applied plenty of pressure of his own through the midfield and in attack, laying seven tackles for the game. He booted a classy goal from the pocket to start the second term to highlight his skills around goal. Dudley finished the game with 18 disposals, seven tackles, two clearances and six inside 50s.

#16 Shay Linke

The Central Districts leader and SANFL Academy member was clearly his side’s best in what proved to be a tricky day for the red, white and blue. Spending most of the game in the midfield, the versatile Linke accumulated a team-high 27 disposals and was particularly effective around the contest, winning four clearances. The top-ager from Tanunda looks a good size at 188cm and, at 75kg, has some growth left in him which will excite recruiters.

#37 Cody Gilchrist 

The big full forward was one of the Bulldogs’ bright spots, booting three goals in attack. Although he missed a number of chances to finish with a bag, Gilchrist provided a presence in the air, hauling in three contested marks for the day and helping set up a couple of Bulldogs majors. Gilchrist looked mobile when the ball hit the deck and did just about all he could, all things considered. He finished with 11 disposals and seven marks.

Others:

Midfielder Luigi Mondello was one of the Bulldogs’ best. He showed some real burst from the contest and wasn’t afraid to take the game on, using his speed to good effect. He kicked two goals from nine disposals. Ruckman Saxon Evans narrowly got the better of North Adelaide big-man Durant Tindale in the ruck contest, finishing with 23 hit-outs to Tindale’s 20. Ruben Carreno managed 23 disposals and six rebounds while Tahjin Krieg competed well, collecting 20 disposals, a team-high eight clearances and seven inside-50s. Finn Read also had some nice moments, booting a goal to go with six marks and 17 touches.

STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

By: Tom Cheesman

STURT:

#11 Will Spain

A member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, Spain was fantastic for the Double Blues and will be one of their most reliable performers this season. The midfielder has good aerobic fitness, which enables him to get to plenty of contests and work into defence to help his side’s offensive transition. In Friday’s match, he was also clean below his knees, positioned himself well at stoppages and spread well once his side won the ball. With eight clearances and strong bodywork to make space for other Sturt midfielders, it is evident that Spain has a high football IQ. These attributes, along with his willingness to repeatedly apply tackling pressure, will hold him in good stead this season. The only negative was that he missed a shot at goal in the third term that he should have nailed. Nonetheless, he finished with 29 disposals, eight clearances, four marks and five tackles.

#12 Jamie Taylor

Taylor, a powerful midfielder with a booming left foot kick, was one of Sturt’s most consistent contributors throughout the match. With 30 disposals (the most on the ground), six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s, it was an impressive all-round performance by Taylor. He has the strength to fend off oncoming tackles, crumbs marking contests well, and uses his kicking ability to open up the play. He will be dangerous in combination with Will Spain and Brad Jefferies in the midfield for Sturt this season.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Jefferies is a potential bolter this year and he had a good start to the season against the Eagles. The midfielder stayed composed when tackled, worked hard around the ground and found plenty of the ball. A highlight was a clever forward handball out of a stoppage to teammate Will Spain in the third term that initiated some fast attacking play. He worked forward to kick two majors in the second half, including an important one just before three-quarter time to give Sturt the lead. He finished with 21 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three inside 50s.

#32 Morgan Ferres

A hybrid forward with elite marking capabilities, Ferres was easily the best player on the ground. He kicked six majors to go with 17 disposals, 10 marks (two contested) and two inside 50s. Ferres was the centrepiece of our first Player Focus piece for the year, which took a deep-dive into his Round 1 performance.

Others:

Charlie Fryer (four marks, six tackles, two rebound 50s) was reliable in defence for the hosts, and he produced a couple of incredible highlights for the local crowd. The main ones were a run-down tackle in the first quarter and an unbelievable mark of the year contender at the start of the second term. Mitcham Hawk Kai Tucker (17 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s) was brilliant all day on a wing, while Felix Packer (three goals) and Nick Sadler (21 disposals, seven clearances) were also strong contributors in the victory.

EAGLES:

#12 Brayden Calvett

Calvett showed how important he is to the Eagles’ Under 18 side in Round 1 with an impressive performance. He rotated between midfield and forward, often playing the sweeper role at centre clearances. This allowed teammates to find Calvett out the back of stoppages and enabled him to utilise his lethal left foot to send the Eagles inside 50. The Eagles love Calvett having the ball around the 50-metre arc, as his ball movement going forward is near elite. This ability was on display frequently throughout the contest, including when he hit Lucas Cooke in the second term to set up a goal, and when he booted a major himself at the start of the third term to give his side the lead. When Calvett took marks in the defensive half, he often looked to switch and open up the play, and his explosiveness when breaking away from stoppages caused plenty of trouble for the opposition. Calvett finished with 22 disposals, five inside 50s, five rebound 50s, four clearances, four tackles, three marks and a goal.

#17 Lukas Cooke

Cooke provided a strong presence for the Eagles up forward. After not getting many opportunities in the first term, Cooke earned a free kick inside 50 but missed the shot on goal. The important thing to come from this was that Cooke did not let the miss sour his confidence. He made a major impact in the second term, kicking back-to-back goals and becoming a key reason why the Eagles got back into the contest. His contested marking was fantastic and he was their most reliable target going forward. He also pushed back to take some intercept marks behind the play, thus showing that he can play a defensive role if need be. The delivery to him wasn’t always great in the second half and, as a forward, he was understandably a bit quieter once Sturt took full control of the game in the final term. He finished with 17 disposals, two goals, 11 marks (two contested), four inside 50s and a tackle.

Others:

Adam D’Aloia (24 disposals, eight tackles, nine clearances) was great in the midfield for the visitors, while Will Pearce (two goals, six marks) and Brock Thomson (20 kicks, eleven rebound 50s) also had good starts to the season.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#21 Matty Roberts

Roberts is the among the highest rated South Australian midfielders in this year’s draft class, and on Friday at Flinders University Stadium, he showed exactly why that is. He played predominantly as an inside midfielder and eased himself into the contest, collecting several marks around the ground and displaying his quick hands. While he found plenty of ball on the outside, he wasn’t his usual dominant self at the stoppages early in the match. With that said, the last quarter was when he really stepped it up. Norwood were within a goal for most of the final term, and Roberts responded to their efforts by frequently pushing back to help the defence, taking intercept marks and hunting the football at stoppages to get it moving in his team’s direction. Once South earned a seven-point lead with a couple of minutes to go, Roberts pushed forward and kicked the sealing goal with a volley out of mid-air. He finished his well-rounded performance with 25 disposals, eight marks, six clearances, six tackles, six rebound 50s, five inside 50s and a goal.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper is a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub and was dominant for the Panthers on Friday, collecting 25 disposals to go with seven marks, six tackles, seven clearances and two inside 50s. While he is extremely versatile and can play any position on the ground, he was predominantly played as a midfielder in this contest. In this role, he proved that he is a class above Under 18 level and certainly can impose his will on a contest at the centre clearances. Draper has great closing speed and spreads well from stoppages, and he provided plenty of exciting link-up play through the middle of the ground. He is also a strong tackler, as demonstrated when he caught Redlegs speedster Archie Richardson holding the ball in the first term. Draper went forward at times, looked dangerous in one-on-one situations and booted two goals in the second half. His second goal was a clever soccered effort off the ground from a forward 50 stoppage, a moment that should feature on his highlight reel come the end of the season.

Others:

Cooper Rogers (15 disposals, four marks, seven tackles) found plenty of the ball early, while Lachlan Hayes (16 disposals, six marks, five rebound 50s) showed great agility in defence by weaving through trouble and using quick hands on multiple occasions. Hugo Hoeck (17 disposals, two goals) and Dylan Brown (13 disposals, one goal) were also lively throughout the match.

NORWOOD:

#1 Tyson Walls

Under-ager, Walls was very impressive for Norwood, their most prominent contributor on the day. He has an electric first couple of steps once he receives the ball, clean hands and a clever sidestep that he used to get past opponents on numerous occasions. This included when he used it on the 50-metre arc to shake off an oncoming tackler and boot Norwood’s first major of the day. Walls is also fantastic at working into space, has a fluent set shot routine and solid foot skills. His delivery inside 50 was effective in most instances, and he booted a nice 40-metre goal in the third term. He finished with 25 disposals, eight inside 50s, four marks, four tackles, three clearances and two goals.

#9 Alastair Lord

Lord, a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, was reliable in defence for the Redlegs. He is a crafty half-back flanker that reads the ball well, uses it brilliantly by foot and has an innate ability to get free for uncontested marks. Lord was great at helping his side control possession whenever necessary, an important trait in half-back flankers at all levels of the game. He also made an impact at times coming off the back of the square at centre clearances, and this is something he should look to do more in future contests. He collected a game-high 26 disposals to go with eight marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s.

Others:

The skills of Noah Hyde (14 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Bailey Gal (14 disposals, five marks) were impressive for Norwood, as was the run provided by under-ager Taj Rahui (17 disposals, three tackles). Matthew Dnistriansky (20 disposals, seven marks) was good in defence.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

SANFL Player Focus: No first round blues for Sturt’s Morgan Ferres

ATHLETIC Sturt youngster Morgan Ferres is a member of the 2021 State Talent Hub, and one of the most highly-rated South Australian forwards in this year’s draft class. His season commenced on Friday at Unley Oval when Sturt came up against Woodville-West Torrens, and he started the year in blistering form. With six goals, ten marks (two contested), 17 disposals and two inside 50s, it was a day out against reasonable opposition. With four behinds and multiple unselfish goal assists during the contest, it is fair to say that he could have kicked nine or ten. Regardless, he leads the SANFL Under 18 goalkicking tally after Round 1 and has set himself up for a strong season.

Ferres started the match by taking a nice mark on the lead, but sprayed his first shot on goal. He quickly redeemed his miss by juggling a mark, playing on and snapping the Double Blues’ second major in the opening six minutes. This was the first of many instances where Ferres read the flight of the ball far better than the Eagles defenders and got himself into ideal positions. Later in the first term, Ferres pushed up to half-forward to create a higher option for teammates streaming off half-back. He showed that he has quick hands when his handball released a teammate into space and led to a goal from Kai Tucker. Ferres should have kicked his second from the next centre bounce, but he missed an open shot from 35 metres out. Soon after, he worked hard to get open, marked and quickly delivered to Henry Read inside 50, who kicked Sturt’s fourth goal of the day. Ferres’ score involvement numbers were very high on Friday, and he regularly attempted to give the ball to teammates who were in better positions to kick at goal. Another example of this occurred late in the first term when, after earning a free for a hold on the 50-metre arc, Ferres looked like he was going to have a shot but instead passed it off. This unselfish play led to a goal by Cormac Dwyer.

Ferres linked up well with wingman Tucker throughout the match, who used his accurate foot skills to find the leading Ferres on numerous occasions. In the second term, after Ferres got on the end of a pass from Tucker, he was tight on the boundary and attempted to pass it off, but the kick fell short of his target. Ferres is naturally unselfish and passing was the right option on this occasion, it was just the execution that missed the mark. Four minutes in, Ferres completed a beautiful fat-side lead to earn an uncontested mark and he drilled his set shot from 35 metres out. His marking appears to have gone to another level this year, as demonstrated when he took a tough contested grab after a long kick down the line from Brad Jefferies. Ferres immediately looked inside and found Jordan Hein in the corridor, thus opening up the other side of the 50 for Sturt forwards to lead into. At the 22-minute mark, as the deepest forward, Ferres outbodied his opponent, marked and strolled into an open goal for his third. Sturt went into half time with a two-point lead, thanks in large part to Ferres’ three majors and numerous score involvements to that point.

The Eagles got well on top at the start of the third, so the ball did not enter the Blues’ forwardline much during that period. With Sturt ten points down, Ferres claimed a mark but was penalised for a push in the back. It was not until the 23-minute mark that Ferres got another opportunity to make an impact, and he did not waste it as he took a chest mark on the lead and booted through his fourth. He had another chance to goal from the next centre bounce after picking up the ball cleanly and turning sharply around his opponent, but his snap went through for a behind. Sturt reclaimed the lead just before three-quarter time and looked to have the momentum at the break.

Early in the last quarter, Ferres led into the pocket to took a strong overhead mark. With his impressive vertical leaping ability and long reach, it is difficult for his opponents to get a spoil in without chopping his arms. These traits will assist him as he rises up the grades, and this is why coaches will encourage him to take more marks overhead or out in front as he continues his development. After his grab, Ferres went back and kicked a beautiful snap around the body for his fifth. Ferres said in his preseason interview that he has been working on his goalkicking during the offseason, and this hard work clearly paid off in this instance. Ferres is very good at letting his man play in front and calling for the kick over the top into space, thus allowing him to take comfortable uncontested marks. He did this again at the 12-minute mark, which led to his sixth and final goal of the day from approximately 35 metres out. Soon after, Ferres crumbed a contest in the forward pocket, sidestepped an Eagles defender and attempted to dribble through a goal, but he just missed to the near side. As the siren sounded, Sturt ran out winners by 40 points. Ferres would have been happy with the result and his performance, as he proved that he is already a class above Under 18 level.

The scoreboard flattered Sturt in the end, as it kicked the final nine goals of the match to come away with the points. Ferres was certainly their most prominent contributor throughout, and the side required his contributions to be able to score consistently. Although Ferres will also be playing school football at St Peter’s College for much of 2021, he could earn an opportunity to play at SANFL League level depending on how Sturt’s senior side fares. Playing against bigger bodies would be a fascinating challenge for Ferres, and he will seek to compete and shine at the Under 19 National Championships in September and October. It will be interesting to see how Ferres’ game develops throughout the year as he attempts to impress AFL scouts en route to the 2021 AFL Draft.

Image Credit: Mel Faull/Get Snapt