Tag: AFL Draft Central

Scouting Notes: 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars – Game Two

THE 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars went head-to-head for a second time on Saturday, serving as the final chance for budding WA draft prospects to impress AFL recruiters. Potential top five selection Denver Grainger-Barras was ultra-impressive, leading Team Gold to a mighty turnaround from game one in his side’s 55-point victory. Claremont prospect Max Spyvee won best afield honours, while last weekend’s most valuable player, Joel Western sustained a nasty finger injury. Our scout, Ed Pascoe was on hand to jot down his notes on some of the big performers and familiar names who took the field.

>> POWER RANKINGS: October 2020

TEAM GOLD:

#4 Max Spyvee

Spyvee has been impressive playing for Claremont’s League side this year and he brought that form into his one and only All-Stars appearance, winning a tonne of the ball in the middle. He was one of the main catalysts in Team Gold’s rebound after a disappointing performance last week. Spyvee got involved very early, using the ball quickly and cleanly at stoppages and winning plenty of clearances. While he is slight in stature, he was a constant around the packs, winning the ball easily on the inside and working hard on the outside to follow up a lot of his grunt work. His disposal started to get a bit scrappy after the main break but he got back to his best in the last quarter, with his clean hands around the ball leading to many scoring chains. Spyvee was a worthy winner of the best on ground honours and would have surely caught the eye of the recruiters in his last chance to do so.

#7 Isiah Winder

Winder had a quieter outing on this occasion but still managed to show some of his eye-catching traits, with his kicking inside 50 his main point of difference this week. The talented Pell Thunder prospect will always lower his eyes going inside 50 and any forward leading out would love the ball in his hands. On the flip side, Winder himself provides a great forward target as he leads hard and his hands overhead are also clean. This came into effect with his goal in the second quarter, judging the flight of the ball well inside 50 and slotting the set shot goal with ease. Winder’s composure and smooth movement have been staples of his game this year, but a stronger four-quarter impact will help maximise his skillset going forward.

#13 Joshua Browne

The talented bottom-ager has had a terrific season for East Fremantle, this year graduating from the back flank to the midfield with ease – not too dissimilar to former East Fremantle player, Trent Rivers. He showed both his defensive and offensive traits in this game playing off the wing and at half-back. Browne showed a great mix between his outside run and ability to attack the ground balls to win his own possessions, which helps set him apart. The smooth mover was a hard player to catch on the run and he rarely fumbled chances to win his own ball. Browne would kick a nice set shot goal in the last quarter, drifting forward to mark 30 metres out in front of goal. His best bit of play would come afterwards with a great run, bounce, and a sublime kick into the middle which opened up the game.

#27 Denver Grainger-Barras

What a performance from the top five prospect, who wowed recruiters with his dominant first half display down back before being sent forward where he kicked two goals and showed his potential versatility. Grainger-Barras started the game extremely well, winning plenty of the ball down back and taking some ripper marks, which he does time and time again in every game he plays. His competitiveness and confidence were again on display, throwing himself into every aerial and ground level contest to give Team Black nothing every time the ball was in his area. The second half is what recruiters would have loved more than anything, as not only was he moved forward to show his versatility, but he also played well in a role he has spent little time in over the last two years. His energy brought a lot to the forward mix with some desperate spoils in the forward 50 creating scoring opportunities and his lead-up marking also impressive. His first goal came from a nice mark on the lead and set shot, while the other was a classy snap which showed his bag of tricks. With his athleticism, combativeness, and football talent it is easy to see why the Swan Districts prospect is considered one of the very best players in the 2020 draft pool.

TEAM BLACK:

#20 Matthew Johnson

Once again the talented bottom-age prospect from Subiaco found it all too easy to earn plenty of possessions, with his ability to win the ball all over the ground again coming to the fold. Although handball happy, Johnson rarely wasted a disposal and often stayed composed and confident whenever he had possession. He exploded in the third quarter, winning an absurd amount of the ball which included two nice bits of play; the first saw Johnson sell candy to a player on the mark, while the second was a nice fend-off to show just how confident Johnson is in his ability. The tall 192cm midfielder is firming as first round prospect in the 2021 talent pool and has put himself ahead as Western Australia’s leading prospect going into that draft.

#25 Heath Chapman

It was a quiet game by Chapman’s standards, especially given the rebound defender averaged more than 20 disposals for West Perth this year. Of all things, he certainly wouldn’t have expected a match up with fellow elite backman, Denver Grainger-Barras in the second half, which forced Chapman to play a more defensive game. Chapman was classy with ball in hand with only one blemish in the last quarter. A lot of his possessions put his teammates in good spots with some risky kicks into the middle. Chapman did well to take a goal-saving mark on the goal line in the third quarter, and this outing perhaps a good indicator of his defensive game, with his offensive game more than proven at Colts level this year.

#31 Kalin Lane

Spending a bit less time in the ruck compared to last week, it was great to see Lane spend more time forward to show of a few more tricks. While missing his partner in crime and Claremont teammate, Joel Western for the second half, he did well to form other partnerships with the likes of the Johnson boys, Matthew and Callum. Lane nailed his only goal in the third quarter, coming from a strong outstretched contested mark which has been a real feature for him in the last month. It is an asset which is sure to separate him from other rucks across the states. He had another chance to kick a goal in the pocket but unfortunately kicked into the man on the mark.

#37 Shannon Neale

Neale finally got to capitalise on his chances up forward, as the big 202cm ruck/forward from South Fremantle was his side’s leading goalkicker with three majors which all came in different ways. His first goal came in the second quarter, kicking a nice goal in general play off two steps. His second was from a nice juggled contested mark and set shot conversion, while the last came in the final quarter as Lane got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal. He could have had even more from another two shots on goal, with one snap just missing. Neale didn’t really influence enough in his time in the ruck, so being able to impact forward of centre was important. With his athleticism and size, he will prove a great project for recruiters.

Featured Image: Retrieved from @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals

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

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Eagles:

#5 Sam Lowson

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

#9 Rhyan Mansell

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

#16 James Rowe

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

#28 Jacob Wehr

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

#34 Lachlan Jones

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

#51 Lachlan McNeil

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#32 Beau McCreery

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

#33 Jason Horne

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

#35 Tom Highmore

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

#45 Daly Andrews

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

RESERVES

Central District vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#49 Thomas Graham

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

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

#52 Lachlan Grubb

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

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

Others:

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

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#27 Harrison Magor

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

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

#32 Mason Neagle

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

#42 Dakota Nixon

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

Others:

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

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Sturt vs. WWT Eagles

By: Eli Duxson

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

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

#13 Bradley Jefferies

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

#17 Mani Liddy

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

#18 Tom Powell

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

#25 James Borlase

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

#27 Ned Grieve

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

Others:

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

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

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

#7 Caleb Poulter

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

#19 Zac Phillips

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

#25 Henry Smith

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

#31 Jase Burgoyne

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

Others:

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

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

Scouting Notes: 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars

THE 2020 Western Australia Under 18 All-Stars went head-to-head on Saturday, with a bunch of budding AFL Draft prospects boosting their stocks in Game One. Fremantle Next Generation Academy member Joel Western was named best afield as Team Black came up trumps by 55 points. Our scout, Ed Pascoe was on hand to jot down his notes on some of the big performers and familiar names.

>> POWER RANKINGS: October 2020

Team Gold:

#7 Isiah Winder

A classy display from Winder, who was a standout at the WA combine. In this outing, he showed what he couldn’t at the combine – his football smarts and skills. Despite his side not having a great day on the scoreboard, Winder had a lot of say in the scores they did get. He crafted some lovely kicks to advantage going inside 50 and received one of his own, but his set shot would fall short. One of his better bits of play came in the last quarter, having a run at half-back and starting a chain of handballs which showed of his speed and class. He would unfortunately come off the ground late with an injury.

#17 Zane Trew

Trew, along with his fellow midfielders couldn’t really get his side going. While Trew has been a huge disposal winner this year for Swan Districts, he found the going tough. Despite not getting ideal delivery form his rucks, he still managed to get some nice clearances and showed his standout traits with clean hands and creative handballs from stoppages. He was handball happy which he usually does well, but he may look to find a better balance between kicking and handballing, and his kicking could have been tidied up a bit. Nonetheless, Trew’s composure in heavy traffic was impressive, showing nice agility to get around opponents.

#24 Logan Young

Young played a solid game through the midfield, attacking contests hard and using his bigger frame to his advantage to dish out to his running players. A trait that has made Young a well-rounded player is his work-rate around the ground, as he is able to find the ball outside of stoppages unlike most bigger midfielders at junior level. His skills by hand and foot where decent and some of his vision with his kicks inboard where eye-catching. It was great to see Young play so well despite the opposition ruck dominance.

#27 Denver Grainger-Barras

It wasn’t a massive game stats wise by any means from Grainger-Barras, but his impact was always apparent whenever he made a contest. He had an eye-catching play early with a nice spoil, followed by a quick gather of his own spoil to showcase his fantastic agility and nimbleness for a player of 194cm. Another great play was his manic attack to make a contest, running full tilt at the ball and his opponent. Upon gathering, he also laid a nice don’t argue. Some great spoils highlighted his second half but it was an impressive leap and intercept mark in the last quarter which really caught the eye. It has been a fantastic year for Grainger-Barras, who is destined to be taken very high in this year’s draft.

#29 Logan McDonald

McDonald continued his impressive year with another strong performance up forward, finishing with 15-plus disposals and two goals. He was made to wait until the third quarter for his two goals, however, with one from a free kick and the other from a very nice conversion on the boundary from about 45 metres out. McDonald played more of a centre half-forward role, showcasing his impressive endurance and taking many marks on the wing, while also showing great composure with ball in hand. He was well held by Jaiden Hunter close to goal, but it was McDonald’s work-rate up the ground that proved a handful. This was showcased in the last quarter as he took a mark on one wing, passed inside, and worked to the opposite wing to provide another target – although this time it was spoiled. McDonald finished his campaign on a strong note as he made his claims to be the first player taken in this year’s draft.

Team Black:

#1 Joel Western

Fremantle supporters must be thrilled, but also annoyed that Western keeps impressing and improving his standing in this year’s draft, with the small and nippy midfielder doing what he does best – exploding away from stoppages with his elite speed. Western loved the supply he got in the ruck from fellow Claremont player Kalin Lane and he would always make the most of his clearances, bursting away and driving his side forward. Western would also hit the scoreboard with a nice goal on the run, followed by another from a mark and easy set shot conversion. He could have had even more goals if he were a bit more accurate on the run. His size hasn’t worried him and he plays very similarly to emerging Richmond midfielder Shai Bolton, with his clean hands and speed a real worry for opposition midfielders. He was named best on ground which was certainly deserved.

#20 Matthew Johnson

The 2021 prospect continues to further his standings in next year’s draft with another impressive display through the midfield. The tall midfielder again showcased his impressive work around stoppages and his ability to win the ball seamlessly on the outside, while using the ball well by hand and foot. Johnson shows plenty of composure with ball in hand and is never flustered. Another thing he does well is block for his teammates after giving a handball, to further put his teammates in better positions. His best bit of play came in the last quarter where he showed great agility to get around two opponents 30 metres out form goal, before slotting a lovely major on his opposite foot.

#25 Heath Chapman

It was another classy display from Chapman down back, where he showcased his ability to intercept and use the ball well from defence. He took numerous intercept marks and after the one he did drop, he did really well to quickly gather the loose ball by attacking it hard and making sure he made up for his mistake. Chapman’s attacking flair is his best trait but he also showed his strong defensive game as well in the second quarter, punching a nice spoil and then nailing his opponent with a strong tackle near the boundary. Chapman has firmed into top 20 calculations in this year’s draft and this game only helped confirm his talent.

#31 Kalin Lane

A brilliant game from Lane who was the standout ruckman on the ground, giving his midfield first use and particularly forming a good partnership with fellow Claremont Tiger, Joel Western. His competitiveness to go with his hitout work was really impressive, as he took numerous strong marks around the ground and was more than willing to tackle once he had competed in a ruck contest. Perhaps his most eye-catching movement came in the second quarter when he managed to nail the elusive Denver Grainger-Barras with a strong tackle, which would lead to his side kicking a goal.

#37 Shannon Neale

It wasn’t a big day for Neale, who played mostly forward for Team Black with Kalin Lane getting the major ruck duties. Neale did some nice things forward without hitting the scoreboard himself, with a nice smother close to goal and numerous leaps at the ball to kill contests. His best work came when he was able to move into the ruck, where he was more involved with some nice taps and follow up work once the ball hit the ground. He will need to push up the ground more as a forward and really showcase his endurance as a former runner.

Featured Image: The 2020 WA Under 18 All-Stars post-match | Retrieved from: @WAFLOfficial

TSL weekend preview: Semi finals – Youngsters loom as Northern Bombers’ finals wildcard

FINALS time has hit the Tasmanian State League (TSL), with two Saturday semi finals set to decide this year’s grand finalists. Minor premier, North Launceston takes on fourth-placed Clarence at UTAS Stadium, while Launceston (2nd, 9-3) meets with Lauderdale (3rd, 7-5) at Windsor Park, with both games bounce down at 2pm. We take a look at where some of the best Tasmanian youth prospects will line up this weekend, as the final four is trimmed to two.

>> SCROLL for full fixtures and teams

North Launceston could have a finals wildcard or two up its sleeve, with a couple of young Tasmania Devils guns entering the fold at team selection. The Northern Bombers have slotted bottom-ager Baynen Lowe straight back into the starting lineup at half-forward, with the diminutive ball winner set to provide a spark inside attacking 50. Oliver Sanders, who found the goals last week comes in on the bench, while bigman Jackson Callow looms as a massive returnee having been named as an emergency.

After edging out North Hobart to secure a finals spot, Clarence boasts arguably the competition’s best group of Under 18s, all of whom will be keen to impact on the big stage. Oliver Davis, Samuel Lewis-Johnson, and Sam Banks were all named among the Roos’ best last time out, while Noah Holmes and Darcy Gardner hit the scoreboard. Davis remains a crucial cog at the heart of midfield alongside Gardner and Ethan Jackson, while Banks will again provide class off half-back. Jacques Barwick and Lachlan Borsboom have been squeezed out to the emergency spots.

Clarence has given the highly-fancied Bombers side a good run on two occasions this season, going down by a combined 24 points in their Round 4 and 10 meetings. While the minor premiers have proven dominant in 2020, they cannot take anything for granted given the ruthless nature of this year’s knockout finals format.

In the weekend’s other fixture, Launceston and Lauderdale also duke it out for a spot in the Grand Final, with their head-to-head ledger sitting even at one win apiece in 2020. The Blues come in fresh off a bye, while Lauderdale will hope for an improved performance after sneaking home by just three points against Tigers in Round 13.

After being named among the best in Launceston’s last outing, Jared Dakin again takes up his spot in the side across half-back, while fellow Tasmania Devils representative Isaac Chugg has been named on the bench. Dakin’s work rate and toughness should suit the rigours of finals football, while Chugg’s speed could prove handy in helping break the game open. Meanwhile, Samuel Foley comes out of the side after a sole senior outing. For Lauderdale, Sam Tilley again lines up inside forward 50, while Oscar Shaw takes up his spot in defence. Tilley was among the Bombers’ best last week, so should prove a dangerous outlet.

>> FULL TSL SEMI FINALS TEAMS

Fixtures:

Saturday, October 10:

North Launceston vs. Clarence | 2:00pm @ UTAS Stadium

Launceston vs. Lauderdale | 2:00pm @ Windsor Park

Featured Image: North Launceston’s Baynen Lowe | Credit: Simon Sturzaker/The Advocate

Scouting Notes: 2020 WAFL Colts Grand Final – Claremont vs. Subiaco

SUBIACO took out the 2020 WAFL Colts Grand Final on Sunday, trumping reigning premier and warm favourite, Claremont by 59 points at Fremantle Oval. Our scouts were on hand to take note of some of the outstanding performers, including AFL Academy members, Next Generation Academy prospects, and recent National Combine invitees.

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

Claremont:

#2 Logan Young

It was a quieter game for the big-bodied midfielder, but Young still managed a solid outing and a balanced game. Young covered the ground well, doing some nice work inside the contests but also working hard to push back and help his defenders. Young was later moved forward to switch things up and took a nice mark on the wing. At his size, he could be a hard match up as a midfielder who can push forward and make an impact. Young finished the game with 17 disposals, five marks, and six tackles.

#10 Joel Western

The smooth moving captain of Claremont did all he could to try and get his side over the line. A strong four-quarter performer, he could hold his head high. Western was very silky playing through the midfield, often running from congestion with ease and delivering multiple slick handballs. While not always accurate, he was getting plenty of penetration on his kicks and he would have likely had the most metres gained from his side. Western showed he had a few tricks with a scissor kick over his head in the last quarter – although not exactly effective, it did show his athleticism. Western finished the game with 25 disposals and the Fremantle NGA prospect will now look towards the All-Star games taking place in the next few weeks to continue to show to recruiters his special talent.

#21 Jack Avery

Another big game from the underrated defender who was a recent call-up to the AFL combine, and you could see why with the intercepting machine starting the game in fine form. He showed great courage early with a strong intercept and contested mark, and continued in a similar manner as he went back wit the flight in the second quarter. Despite a hiccup close to goal that lead to an opposition major, he was his side’s best player in the first half. Avery was moved into the midfield in the second half and still won plenty of the ball. Midfield is a position he can hopefully play in the All-Stars games to show off his versatility. While his disposal let him down from the midfield, he had no issues winning it despite not playing the role at all this year. Avery finished with 33 disposals and seven marks and was certainly one of his side’s better players who played hard for four quarters.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen

The talented 2021 key position prospect started the game in fine form, kicking a nice set shot goal and doing well in ruck contests inside attacking 50. His marking is a strength which he showed all game, but it was his nimbleness that really stood out in a nice passage of play in the second quarter as he streamed through the middle of the ground and kicked long inside 50, showing his athleticism. He would show that athleticism again in the last quarter, almost kicking a nice running goal from long range that just missed. Van Rooyen was moved into the midfield after the game was already lost and he showed some great signs, especially at the first centre bounce, showing a lot of energy by looking to get involved and throw his big frame around. Van Rooyen finished with 17 disposals, five marks and kicked 1.1 in an impressive outing that will help build into his draft year in 2021.

#28 Kalin Lane

Lane was the standout ruck on the ground with his tapwork and follow-up work being first class. Standing at 204cm, it was great to see a player of his size so willing to tackle and impact the contests after his ruckwork. He was rewarded for it with a nice tackle which yielded a holding the ball call in the first quarter. Some of his tapwork was sublime, especially one to his teammate Western who couldn’t have asked for better silver service. His marking around the ground was also strong, which is what you want from your primary ruckman. Lane was a strong four-quarter performer with 14 disposals, five marks and 32 hit outs as he made claims to be the premier ruckman in this year’s draft.

Subiaco:

#12 Matthew Johnson

Perhaps Western Australia’s best prospect going into the 2021 draft, the tall midfielder showed a lot of class with his ability to win the ball in close and distribute by hand cleanly to his teammates’ advantage. His vision by hand was outstanding, whether it was from a clearance or in general play. There was one fine example in the second quarter where he faked a handball nicely and then quickly dished off a perfect pass to his teammate to release him into space. Johnson’s goal came in the second quarter after earning a free kick. His second half was huge, winning plenty of the ball at ease and using it effectively by hand and foot. He had another great play in the last quarter, attacking the ground ball hard, cleanly giving a handball, getting it back, and almost evading another tackle before getting done in the back. Johnson had a complete game in the midfield, finishing with 21 disposals, five marks, six tackles and a goal.

#13/17 Lachlan Vanirsen

What a week it has been for Vanirsen, who capped it off by winning the Mel Whinnen Medal for best on ground after taking out the Jack Clarke Medal as best and fairest of the WAFL Colts earlier in the week, and a premiership medal to go with it. A deserving winner of the each medal, Vanirsen was unstoppable through the midfield where he showed a great mix of class, hard work and impact. He had a number change to start the second quarter, going from 13 to 17 which may have confused some onlookers. He went into full attacking mode in the second half, kicking a lovely goal by crumbing and snapping truly to put the game beyond doubt at that point. He made plenty of chances in the last quarter to add to his goal tally and he really deserved another goal. His work-rate was highlighted with one passage of play where he got multiple possessions starting from defence, and finally latched onto the last chain inside 50 where he won a free kick, but would miss the long range shot at goal. Vanirsen can’t have done much more to help his draft stocks with 33 disposals, 11 marks, five tackles, and 1.3. He will have more chances to stake his claim with the upcoming All-Star games, too.

#22 Blake Morris

Morris started the game slowly but really came into his own in the second half, becoming an intercept marking machine which is a role he played well at last year’s Under 16 championships. Despite not having the size to play as a true key position player, he has shown a great ability to play taller with his marking ability, but what also stood out was his ground level play. Morris showed some great composure and agility to evade opponents, as he rarely gets caught. The third quarter showcased his intercept marking and his work down back really gave Claremont no chance of making any damaging forward entries. Although his kicking was shaky at times, Morris was certainly one of his side’s most damaging players, finishing with 16 disposals and eight marks. Like a few other teammates, he will get more chances to show his wares in the upcoming All-Star games.

#23 Sandon Page

Page has been a constant scoring force for Subiaco this year, but it was his set-up and outlet work up the ground where he was found to be most damaging and useful for his side on this occasion. Page didn’t waste much time with his disposals, often providing a hard contest, gathering cleanly, and quickly forcing the ball forward at all costs, which was a good ploy in a Grand Final when territory can be so important. He would be rewarded for his work up the ground with some goals in the third quarter; one coming from a free kick close to goal, and another being a mark close to goal where he would slot both set shots with ease. Page had a solid outing with 12 disposals and two goals while also setting up others. He is another Subiaco product who will play in the upcoming All-Star games.

#33 Neil Erasmus

Erasmus sure does know how to find the goals. The bottom-ager provided an early spark for Subiaco, helping the Lions get away with three first-half majors. Having plied his trade for Hale School during the PSA season, Erasmus only made his WAFL Colts debut in Round 9, and booted his maiden goal during the first term of this outing. Blink, and you may have missed all four of his scores, as the lively forward showed great goal sense to quickly put boot to ball and find the big sticks each time. His ability to compete aerially, and then show a clean pair of heels across the ground was excellent, as commentators likened him to Port youngster, Mitch Georgiades. He seems a promising, raw prospect for next year with plenty of scope.

Featured Image: Subiaco and Claremont’s fliers contest for a mark | Source: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

Capable Chaplin knows believing is achieving

HER coaches know it, her teammates know it, anyone who has observed her journey through the NAB League pathway knows it, but only now is Maeve Chaplin realising that she truly belongs among the best women’s football has to offer.

The Northern Knights defender has come a long way since starting football at age seven; originally playing alongside boys, then moving to girl’s sides at West Preston Lakeside and the Darebin Falcons, while also advancing through Northern’s elite talent program.

As a middle-ager, Chaplin was part of the Knights’ undefeated premiership team, shining across half-back with her mix of physicality and class on the ball. An injury in Round 3 of her top-age campaign was unideal, though it would matter little in the grand scheme of things as the season would eventually be scrapped amid a global pandemic.

By her own estimation, Chaplin was “travelling pretty well” and was as fit as she had ever been. She was in the midst of a move into the midfield, joining co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald at the centre bounces and waxing well with the probable first-round draft talents.

While the 18-year-old and her teammates may have had plenty more to give in 2020, Chaplin says the break in play has allowed her to work on the mental side of her game.

“I definitely tried to use (the lockdown period) to my advantage and I really worked on myself mentally,” Chaplin said. “It was a big thing for me because I didn’t really have the time like I do now to just focus on myself. “It was a time for me to understand that I really do want to get far in footy and that I am prepared to play at a professional level. “In order to do that I really wanted to mature in those areas.

“I just wish I did believe in myself… but it’s something that I really want to work on and I have been working on throughout this isolation period. Just knowing mentally that I am good enough and I can get to that next level, it’s just all about pushing myself.”

The friendship of a Knight-turned-Bulldog who has also been part of the Darebin football family, Nell Morris-Dalton has helped Chaplin thrive. Chaplin says she has remained in constant contact with her former teammate throughout the lockdown period.

“A big (mentor) for me has definitely been Nell,” she said. She’s really helped, inspired, and guided me a lot throughout the season because we’ve got the same personality in a way. “I’ve been texting her quite a bit during isolation so she’s a really good friend.

“It’s pretty amazing to play with (the Northern Knights), they’re all so talented. “You really grow off each other and challenge each other, so it helps everyone get better at the end of the day. “Playing with them, you don’t really think about how good they are, they’re just more your friends.”

Maeve Chaplin moves through traffic

Northern’s cohesive team and a family-like atmosphere has certainly played a part in Chaplin’s rise. The aforementioned midfield move was one bought on by coach Marcus Abney-Hastings and talent manager Nat Grindal, allowing Chaplin to bring her defensive nous to a rather potent midfield group.

She says the move was somewhat of a natural progression from the defensive post she owned throughout 2019, though she still harbours hope of returning to half-back in future.

“It was kind of expected,” she said. “Nat and Marcus let me know that they were going to put me up into the midfield and get me a bit more of the ball which was good to have.

“I definitely brought some of my defensive traits into the midfield, using my bodywork, so that was a bonus. “I felt like in doing that, I helped Ellie and Jess play their best footy as well. “It was definitely a good move up the ground, it was fun.

“I would prefer to play on the half-back flank (at AFLW level) but playing in the midfield does come naturally to me just as much as the backline. “But I’ll obviously put my best effort in playing there and it’d be a really good opportunity.”

The versatile prospect, who models her game on Richmond defender Phoebe Monahan, has not only improved herself off-field, but has reaffirmed some of the improvements to be made through contact with AFLW clubs. While “feeding off” their directive, Chaplin has also put the onus back on the recruiters and coaches during their meetings.

“They have given me some things that I need to work on, or they’ve mentioned them and I’ve fed off them a little bit,” she said. “But I’ve been more self-directing, I’ve just told them what I feel like I need to work on and ask them how they’re going to support me and all that kind of stuff.”

“Obviously there’s a few things (to improve on). My aerobic endurance I definitely want to work on, I want to be the fittest that I can be because that was definitely me at the start of the year. “With the right support staff I can definitely get to that level again and even better than that.

“A few other things that I really want to work on are just my mentality, that’s a big thing for me. Just knowing that I am at that level physically to play, and getting myself there mentally as well.”

Outside of football, Chaplin is working through her Year 12 studies and hopes to move into either nursing or paramedicine next year. She sought to thank all the people at the Northern Knights for all the support and life lessons she has received from them, as well as her teammates Fitzgerald, McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Ash Snow, and Abigail Bennett.

“They’re all just really good teammates, I really love them.”

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 14

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia rolled on into Round 14 of the SANFL Under 18s competition, with a number of standouts continuing to emerge. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we have again compiled a list of the best and most promising performers from across the weekend, with one representative from all eight SANFL clubs. For extended profiles on each AFL Academy member and National Combine invitee listed, click on their names highlighted in red. For our full weekend scouting notes, click here.

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 190cm | 79kg

Stats: 27 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Poulter proved once again that he is a class above Under 18s level… in this game, he always followed up his possessions and attacked the ball with ferocity. He frequently pushed back to help the defence and provided a strong marking target when required. Although he made a couple of skill errors early, he cleaned this up as the game wore on. Poulter kicked two majors for the day, including a goal of the year contender in second term.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Having completed a solid school football campaign and a stint in the Reserves, Poulter looks primed to make an impact during the Under 18s finals series. The tall midfielder showed off all of his athletic prowess during Wednesday’s South Australian combine, and continues to thrive on-field. His consistency has been remarkable this year, putting him within reach of a potential first round draft shout. 190cm, goalkicking midfielders who can mark and run well are in vogue at the moment, making Poulter a highly-fancied prospect among this year’s pool.

Austin McDonald
Central District | Midfielder
1/01/2004

Stats: 32 disposals (24 kicks), 4 marks, 4 tackles, 12 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player on the day. He is a hard-working midfielder who reads stoppages well and finds plenty of the ball around the ground. His tackling was fantastic, as he never let players run past him and won free kicks for holding the ball. McDonald won many loose balls because he simply attacked it harder than his opposition, and he also has great vision and composure under pressure.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: The 16-year-old capped off a remarkable Under 18s season on Saturday with one of his best performances to date. He was again Centrals’ most prolific ball winner, something which has come so naturally despite his age, size, and the fact that the Bulldogs only won four games this year. McDonald looms as one of South Australia’s top midfield prospects for the 2022 draft, but there remains plenty of room for improvement and a long way to go, yet. Such consistency does not go unnoticed, though.

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

Cade Kennedy
West Adelaide | Midfielder/Small Utility
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 71kg

Stats: 21 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Another talented bottom-ager to impress for the Bloods was midfielder, Kennedy, who once again showed why he is one of South Australia’s leading small midfield prospects for next season. Kennedy gave it his all at each contest, cracking in hard against some of Norwood’s strong-bodied on-ballers. Although his work in-tight was the highlight, Kennedy was also able to impact the play away from the stoppages. He tackled hard as always and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick early in the first term.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Kennedy is another player who has managed to shine among a side which has lost most of its games, with his work-rate and tenacity ensuring he has an impact on each contest. He was up against it on Saturday given the depth of Norwood’s midfield, but constantly gets his hands on the ball and wills himself out of congestion with pace, while also getting his hands dirty with defensive acts. Should he hit the 180cm mark as a top-ager and truly take over the Bloods’ midfield, it will go a long way to putting Kennedy within draft contention in 2021.

Jack Saunders
Norwood | Midfielder
11/02/2002 | 178cm | 71kg

Stats: 29 disposals (20 kicks), 8 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 5 goals, 2 behinds

Our scouts said: “Saunders was the clear best-on-ground in Norwood’s comprehensive triumph. He started in the middle and impressed with his breakaway pace. Although his foot skills have been questioned by some throughout the course of the season, his kicking was precise for much of the contest against West Adelaide. His tackling pressure remained high for the entirety of the contest and Saunders was able to break the game open with his burst running and intensity around the ball. He used his strength well one-on-one while up forward and harassed the ball carrier relentlessly, but his impact on the scoreboard was what separated his game from the rest.”  – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Saunders’ senior experience has clearly done his confidence and form a world of good, taking his game to another level as he dropped back down into the Under 18s setup. The hard-running midfielder put on a show for Norwood and will likely make them a finals force in the coming weeks, with some terrific class on the inside allowing him to run the show on the outer. As are scouts suggested, Saunders did it all, but it was his five goals which truly set his game apart. He would have been a smoky for South Australia’s state squad, and is a reliable player with good qualities at SANFL level.

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

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

Stats: 17 disposals (13 kicks), 3 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said: “The Crows NGA product was electrifying in the first quarter, having four shots on goal in the early stages of the game and kicking two of them. His pressure and efforts without the ball stood out all game, with a big chase down tackle in the middle of the ground exemplifying that. He looked dangerous moving up the ground and in the middle with his pace and core strength, managing five clearances during his time in the midfield. He could have been a little wiser at times to not blaze away around goals kicking a couple out on the full, but his efforts are nonetheless exciting.” – Eli Duxson

Verdict: Newchurch’s first term is exactly what would have Crows fans most excited about nabbing their NGA talent come draft time. The small forward set the game alight, producing a raft of scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. At his best, that’s the kind of freakish, game-winning quality Newchurch provides. It was pleasing to see him put in a more consistent performance, with some midfield time also allowing him to show off a different side to his game. He remains one of the better small forward options in this year’s pool, but his ties to Adelaide should stave off would-be bidders in the top 30.

Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide | Midfielder/Utility
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 76kg

Stats: 28 disposals (22 kicks), 13 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said: Undoubtedly a best on ground performance for the hard-working midfielder… Roberts was active at stoppages but spread well to find space often, finding a lot of ball between the arcs during slow play from the Panthers. His preferred left boot looked as clean as it gets, although he did look reluctant to go on his right side on one occasion. He normally had enough time and space to steady on his left though. Roberts’ poise going inside 50 was classy, but he was also very effective being on the receiving end from forward entries. A great game for him as he will look to carry that play into finals.” – Eli Duxson

Verdict: Roberts is another player set for a huge finals series, with the Panthers bottom-ager already a potential top 10 prospect for next year’s draft. He simply works harder than most others, accumulating the ball at will while holding a great presence around the ball, and being able to find the goals from range. He has a good balance of class and grunt, with his no-fuss style, red hair, and shared initials among the other traits which help draw comparisons to Matt Rowell. He may not reach the exact same heights, but Roberts is a dependable player who has picked up from where he left off after completing his school football duties.

Nasiah Wanganeen
Glenelg | Wing
22/02/2003 | 187cm | 69kg

Stats: 13 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

Our scouts said: “While the lively wingman looked a little proppy on a couple of occasions, he still managed to have an impact and put his leg speed to good use. Wanganeen’s ability to close while chasing and apply manic defensive pressure is undoubtedly one of his key strengths, though he could not quite utilise that same factor going the other way. The bottom-ager tracked back well in the early stages, but found more ball forward of centre in the second half with much of the sting sapped from the contest.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The stats hardly did justice to Wanganeen’s game on the weekend, as one of Glenelg’s more impactful players. His closing speed was a particular highlight despite only registering three tackles, and it was great to see him hold a consistent endeavour throughout the contest despite Sturt getting well on top. The bottom-ager is usually most damaging going forward with his speed and raw talent, so look forward to catching more of that as he moves into his top-age campaign next year.

Malachy Carruthers
Sturt | Half-Back/Utility
11/05/2002 | 183cm | 69kg

Stats: 34 disposals (27 kicks), 15 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “It is not hard to see why Carruthers earned a national combine invite, as the sharp-kicking defender proved a class above with his use by foot in what was otherwise a turnover-heavy contest. The top-ager broke the game open with his ability to hit targets in the corridor, putting Sturt in the best possible position to attack. His pin-point delivery to runners allowed them to continue in their stride, opening up the stale, short-kicking trend of the game. As somewhat of a loose outlet, Carruthers was also able to generate some run through the corridor himself via handball receives, while dropping back into defensive 50 as a relieving option. Another string to his bow is intercept marking, with some nice floating grabs making for a complete highlight package.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: One who has somewhat flown under the radar is Carruthers, who has hardly missed a beat since returning from school football duties with St Peter’s. Having returned to the SANFL fold with Sturt, the top-ager has sent a reminder of his draftable talent with some outstanding form. It was no different on Saturday, with his game-high disposals and marks tallies backing up his perceived impact. Not only can Carruthers break the game open by hitting attacking options via foot, but he also has the work-rate to chain his possessions or provide a safe outlet deep in defence. His pacy runs through the corridor also catch the eye, with intercept marking yet another highly desirable trait for the half-back. There’s plenty to like about what Carruthers presents, and a big finals series should further consolidate his draft stocks.

Featured Image: Sturt’s Malachy Carruthers in action for St Peter’s | Credit: Brenton Edwards/The Messenger

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> 2020 Power Rankings: September | July | August

SANFL League Player Focus:
Rd 1 – Corey Durdin
Rd 2 – Riley Thilthorpe
Rd 3 – Lachlan Jones
Rd 8 – Jason Horne & Lachlan Jones

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
James Borlase
Bailey Chamberlain
Brayden Cook
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Henry Smith
Riley Thilthorpe

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

Knights star Bannan leaves it all out on the field

BUDDING AFL Women’s draftee Alyssa Bannan came into her top-age year looking to “put everything out onto the field with every game.” Little did she, or any of her fellow NAB Leaguers know that their season would be cut short to just three games, but an increase in work-rate, work ethic, and intensity certainly payed off for the Northern Knights key forward.

“I was actually very proud of how I went,” Bannan said. “Knowing that this was my last year as a top-ager and it was my opportunity to get drafted, I went out thinking that I had to play my best game, every single game. “How I felt coming off the field definitely made me think that I did myself proud, did my family proud, and did my friends proud with how I played.”

Nine goals in three outings, including a bag of five in the season-opening Grand Final rematch goes a long way to instilling such pride. It even saw Bannan shift her original end goal of being drafted, to being selected within the first round. But more significantly than simply being a great player on-field, the 18-year-old is determined to prove her worth as a quality person, off it.

“It’s definitely not so much about being a good player on the field, but also being a good person off the field,” she said. “I’ve found that clubs have been very big on not only being a very skilful player, but being kind, being caring, being motivated, and that’s what has been the focus throughout the year.”

Alyssa Bannan gets a kick away during this year’s NAB League season

The break from football has somewhat proven a blessing in disguise. While Bannan admits the early unknown was “difficult”, she says the time off has allowed her to find a greater balance in life.

“At the start it was definitely very difficult not knowing if we were going to be able to finish off our season,” she said. “But I think having this break has allowed me to develop individually on aspects of my game that I wouldn’t normally focus on, such as my mental heath with wellness sessions and being able to (practice) mindfulness. “Although it has been disappointing not being able to finish, I’ve definitely been able to work on those different aspects of my life to balance it out.”

Having played a key part in Northern’s unbeaten NAB League premiership last year, Bannan has risen through the ranks alongside some of the greatest players the competition has seen. Namely, 2019 captain and current Western Bulldogs rising star Gabby Newton has had a major impact on the Knights’ no. 6, helping establish a healthy and competitive environment to improve in.

In line with the standard such players set, Bannan says she also sought to become a leading figure in her side’s setup.

“Having played alongside Gabby Newton and personally getting to know her, her qualities and attitudes as a player have definitely been something that I look up to,” she said. “Her teamwork, her (desire) to do really well and continue to improve are definitely qualities that really strike home to me as ones I want to present.”

“The new role as a top-ager really made me want to lead and present myself as someone who people can look up to and can think ‘She’s a really good player, I want to aspire to be like her.’ That’s been my overall goal throughout, especially this season.”

The Northern Knights celebrate their 2019 NAB League premiership

Bannan, a Carlton supporter also looks up to AFL Women’s trailblazer Tayla Harris. If a player comparison is what you are after, an easy link can be made between the two high-flying forwards.

“Tayla Harris is a big player who I wanted to model my game style on,” Bannan said. “Playing in similar positions, having a similar style of play, she’s definitely been a player that I really look up to and who I would like to emulate when I hopefully get to play AFLW.”

Football has also impacted the youngster in terms of her other potential career options, too. As she completes her Year 12 studies, Bannan has one eye on a vocation in the sporting realm, helping athletes get the best out of their game. It is a theme she says her football career has helped bring out.

“Sport is definitely on the list,” she said. “I’d love to do anything to do with strength and conditioning, high performance, even if it’s performance analysis. “Just improving players and their performance, because that’ll definitely help me see how to improve my performance as well. I think footy’s definitely brought that side out in me.”

With her first round draft dream in tow, Bannan is seeking to hit the ground running once her shot at the big-time is sealed, out to prove not only to herself and clubs, but to fans that she is “on the field for a reason.” The Northern Knights graduate also sought to thank the “long list of people” to have influenced her footballing journey; from her supportive family, to her coaches, teammates, staff, and everyone in between who helped her get to where she is.

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL – Round 14

ROUND 14 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in.

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

>> Power Rankings: September Edition

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

By: Tom Cheesman

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield

Schofield put together a strong performance at Prospect Oval on Saturday. He is a silky midfielder that never fumbles and is willing to do the little things such as smothering and blocking to help his team. His work rate was fantastic in this game, as he ran into space on numerous occasions to take uncontested marks. Schofield’s skills were consistently good, highlighted by a beautiful spearing kick to half-forward in the second quarter. He also displayed some nice forward craft when he produced a clean front-and-centre crumb and set up a Henry Smith goal in the third term. Schofield finished with 25 disposals, six marks, eight inside 50s and two clearances.

#7 Caleb Poulter

Poulter proved once again that he is a class above Under 18s level with 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles. He has great size and rotates between midfield and forwardline. In this game, he always followed up his possessions and attacked the ball with ferocity. He frequently pushed back to help the defence to help out and provided a strong marking target when required. Although he made a couple of skill errors early, he cleaned this up as the game wore on. Poulter kicked two majors for the day, including a goal of the year contender in second term where gave a forward handball, pushed hard to get the hands back and then casually drilled the drop punt from 50 metres out on the boundary.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

With 31 disposals for the day, under-ager Burgoyne was the leading ball winner for his side. He rotated between half-back and midfield, where he was able to break away from opponents with speed. His first couple of steps are incredibly quick, and from there he becomes very difficult for opposition players to tackle. Burgoyne has great hands overhead and a nice leap, as shown when he took a beautiful mark at half-back in a one-on-one in the second term. He also looks to switch or kick the ball into the corridor whenever possible to open up the game for his side offensively. Burgoyne capped off the strong performance with a clever snap goal from a stoppage in the final term.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald

McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player on the day. He is a hard-working midfielder who reads stoppages well and finds plenty of the ball around the ground. His tackling was fantastic, as he never let players run past him and won free kicks for holding the ball. McDonald won many loose balls because he simply attacked it harder than his opposition, and he also has great vision and composure under pressure. McDonald finished with 32 disposals, 12 clearances, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Gilchrist was a standout for the Bulldogs, particularly early in the contest. He provided a great presence up forward with some fantastic leads at the ball carrier. It is always important for a key forward to be reliable when kicking for goal, and Gilchrist was very dependable on Saturday. He nailed three majors including a beautiful set shot from the boundary in the third term. Gilchrist finished with 11 disposals and three marks to go with his three goals.

#39 Wyatt Ryan

Ryan has had a good season in 2020, and this continued at Prospect Oval. He had a great battle with Eagles ruckman Zac Phillips, as both men displayed fantastic body-work and tap craft when they were in the middle. Ryan was a dominant force around the ground, as he often provided an option coming out of defence and gave quick hands to teammates running past to start some attacking play. He also got involved in link-up chains out of stoppages, applied strong tackling pressure, and demonstrated that he has a good field kick for a man his size. Ryan kicked a goal from a set shot in second term after some poor Eagles defending allowed the ball to bounce through. He finished with a very impressive statline of 25 disposals, 25 hitouts, nine marks, five clearances and five inside 50s.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

West Adelaide:

#1 Charlie Pridham

Despite his smaller stature, Pridham was one of West Adelaide’s best performers at ACH Group Stadium. Primarily deployed on the wing and through the midfield, he made an immediate impact on the game at the first couple of stoppages, where he was able to read the tap and break free from his opponent to dish off an effective handball. He cracked in when it was his turn to go, laying six tackles. Although he was out-bodied at times in one-on-one contests, Pridham will look to add some size in the off-season and build on this encouraging performance ahead of the 2021 season. He finished the contest with 19 disposals, six tackles and three rebound 50s.

#4 Cade Kennedy

Another talented bottom-ager to impress for the Bloods was midfielder, Kennedy, who once again showed why he is one of South Australia’s leading small midfield prospects for next season. Kennedy gave it his all at each contest, cracking in hard against some of Norwood’s strong-bodied on-ballers. Although his work in-tight was the highlight, Kennedy was also able to impact the play away from the stoppages, finishing with six inside 50s. He tackled hard as always and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick early in the first term. One of his side’s shining lights in what has been a challenging season, Kennedy concluded the final minor round game with 21 disposals, four tackles and five clearances.

#10 Eduard Van den berg

The strongly-build defender gave it his all despite facing an onslaught of Norwood inside 50s. Van den berg was strong in the one-on-one contests and asserted himself on the game with a couple of strong tackles. He was once again handed the kick-in duties and used his raking left foot to deposit the ball beyond the defensive 50 arc. Van den berg’s short kicking was also precise for the most part. He finished the final game of the season with 27 disposals, three tackles, four clearances and a game-high 12 rebound 50s.

Others:

Small forward Connor Blackwell booted three of West’s five goals for the game, making the most of limited opportunities inside 50. He applied plenty of pressure on the ball handler inside 50, finishing the game with seven disposals and five tackles. Centre half-forward Luke Young provided a lead-up target down the line, finishing with 11 disposals, four marks and a couple of tackles. Luke Heitmann and Thomas Faulkner shared the ruck responsibilities and combined for 23 hit-outs. After spending much of the season playing school football, Hamish Dunkin returned for the Bloods’ final game and had some nice moments running between the arcs, finishing with ten disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

The talented midfielder has pieced together a wonderful bottom-aged season, however he didn’t quite have the impact he would have liked agains the Bloods on Saturday; finishing with 15 disposals, one goal and three inside 50s. He made a couple of uncharacteristic errors, including an errant kick out-on-the-full and fumble at ground level. However, he attacked the contest at speed and was still able to have some eye-catching moments through the middle, showing off his elite speed and high endurance. With the likes of Michael Cavallaro, Ethan Schwerdt, Daniel Fairbrother and Jack Saunders joining he and Henry Nelligan in the Redlegs’ midfield rotation, Murley didn’t get the on-ball minutes he has become accustomed to across the season. However, expect him to be prominent in Norwood’s finals campaign.

#4 Henry Nelligan

One of the competition’s most relentless and consistent ball winners, Nelligan was at it again at The Bay. He was everywhere early on, winning clearances and also contributing in attack. He was very clean at ground level and used it efficiently by hand and foot on most occasions. He, like several other Norwood midfielders, was able to get forward and impact the scoreboard to compliment his ball-winning capabilities through the middle. Nelligan has been fantastic since returning to Under 18s level and finished the game with 33 disposals, one goal, four marks, six clearances and ten inside 50s.

#6 Michael Cavallaro

The Redlegs have certainly welcomed the return of Cavallaro to the Under 18s lineup. He added some much needed composure and clean disposal to the side, complimenting the speed of Cooper Murley and Jack Saunders and in-and-under ball-winning of Henry Nelligan. He had numerous intercept possessions, where he was able to use his elite football smarts to cut-off the West Adelaide attack. Crucially, the wingman/half-back also made the most of his opportunities in front of goal, nailing three majors for the game to go with 21 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s. Expect his poise and decision making to have a impact as the Redlegs enter finals.

#13 Marcus Roberts

Roberts made another strong contribution through the midfield and up forward for the victors. He dribbled home an easy goal out the back of the stoppage late in the first quarter to extend his sides lengthy lead. He also worked well with the other talented Norwood midfielders and provided some strong clearance winning when on the ball. Roberts finished with 28 disposals, five marks and five clearances in the Redlegs’ 83-point hammering.

#21 Jack Saunders

Saunders was the clear best-on-ground in Norwood’s comprehensive triumph. He started in the middle and impressed with his breakaway pace. Although his foot skills have been questioned by some throughout the course of the season, his kicking was precise for much of the contest against West Adelaide. After booting a couple of behinds, he slotted his first major via a set shot from 30 metres out directly in front. Later on, his terrific run down tackle was rewarded with a free kick, which he converted after originally looking to pass it off. His tackling pressure remained high for the entirety of the contest and Saunders was able to break the game open with his burst running and intensity around the ball. He used his strength well one-on-one while up forward and harassed the ball carrier relentlessly, but his impact on the scoreboard was what separated his game from the rest. Saunders finished with 29 disposals, five goals, eight marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

Others: 

It was an ‘all played well’ type of game for the Redlegs, who finished off the minor round in the best way possible. Ethan Schwerdt made a strong contribution through the midfield, winning 25 disposals, one goal, seven clearances and six inside 50s. Xavier Tranfa booted two goals within a minute up forward and looms as a potential wildcard in attack over the next couple of weeks. The booming leg of Sam Duke was on display down back, launching a couple of kick-ins close to the centre circle. The athletic Benjamin Ianniello provided some run-and-carry from half-back and used the ball well across a variety of distances. He managed 15 disposals, a goal and four marks. Regular ruckman Nathan Hearing spent more time in attack this week and was able to clunk a couple of trademark contested marks. Daniel Fairbrother made a positive return to the Under 18s after his stint with the Norwood League side. He took a little while to get involved but worked his way into the game nicely, taking several intercept marks and using the ball typically well. Fairbrother concluded the outing with 12 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

North Adelaide:

#5 Leo Coates

It was a relatively quiet game for the key forward who had to push up the ground more than usual to make an impact. He finished with just the nine disposals, but six marks and six tackles are indicative of his effort. He worked into defensive 50 to assist with rebounds on a few occasions but could not find the same space he found around the ground inside forward 50. He would have liked to have more of an impact on the scoreboard, but his efforts around the ground are commendable.

#12 Hugh Jackson

The crafty wingman put together a very handy game for the Roosters as he ended up with 20 disposals, one goal, and seven marks. He showed early a delicate poise on his trusty left boot, poise that he would continue all game with 90 per cent of his disposals being kicks. His work rate was impressive as he often filled holes in defensive 50 from the wing, while working forward to threaten goals. Some silky agility and evasion to get around a couple of defenders was a highlight in his first half of play. He looked to impact the scoreboard more in the second half and managed to do so after drilling a set shot. Jackson looked clean below his knees and with his disposal all game.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

The Crows NGA product was electrifying in the first quarter, having four shots on goal in the early stages of the game and kicking two of them. He finished with four goals from his 17 disposals and was finding space on the lead and around the contest. His pressure and efforts without the ball stood out all game, with a big chase down tackle in the middle of the ground exemplifying that. He looked dangerous moving up the ground and in the middle with his pace and core strength, managing five clearances during his time in the midfield. He could have been a little wiser at times to not blaze away around goals kicking a couple out on the full, but his efforts are nonetheless exciting.

#28 Matthew Borg

Borg was a little quieter than his usual output, but he toiled away in the midfield all game to finish with 15 disposals, four tackles, and five clearances. He was not far off enjoying a big game as he was often there or thereabouts, fumbling at times or being overlooked for handball receives. Borg scraps on the inside but looks the most dangerous when following up, with his repeat efforts a key feature of his game. He made good decisions with ball in hand and should be pleased with a fine season.

#29 Zyton Santillo

The nuggety Santillo capped off a solid season with 20 disposals and a goal playing out of the forward half. His agility was on show early as he lost his defender who was hot on his tail quite easily, but was also very impressive with his disposal. He was deliberate and accurate through either handballs or kicks as he recorded 10 of each. Despite his height, he found plenty of space and proved to be a good option as a link player going forward, his disposal efficiency being a key in that. He also showed a wise ability to hold space at stoppages to be an outlet player, doing so on multiple occasions.

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

Another serviceable game for the 19-year-old in one of North Adelaide’s key defensive slots, as he ended the game with 12 disposals and five marks. As he continues to grow in confidence, he looks to become more attacking and involved in forward moving plays, while also continuing the sturdy defensive side of his game. His reading of the flight of the ball was again reliable with a few thumping spoils killing the play. Finlay was an option on kick-ins for the Roosters, marking twice outside 50 to continue the ball forward. An ambitious yet perfect kick into the corridor is also indicative of his confidence levels growing and with finals to play, it will be exciting to see what he can do.

Others:

The Under 18 season is over for the Roosters, but Jayden Davison finished a consistent year with 28 disposals and six clearances while James Willis (18 disposals, six clearances) and Kallis Freer (16 disposals, one goal) were also solid. Other Adelaide NGA products in Lam Simon (nine disposals) and Blayne O’Loughlin (eight disposals) did not enjoy the attacking liberties they usually do, with the South Adelaide forwards keeping them accountable and the South midfielders looking for better options than the long bomb in hope. Dyson Hilder played in the seniors again and was challenged defensively, but still managed to play a role.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#10 Brayden Cook

The medium forward was South Adelaide’s primary option going forward and could have very well kicked a bag. He finished with 2.5 from his 12 disposals and looked threatening whenever he was near it all game. Competing aerially is no issue for his height as he makes the most of a strong vertical leap to throw himself at the contest. Though he had just the three marks, he was able to get separation from his direct opponent on several occasions, with misguided entries or another defender preventing more shots on goal. His five behinds did not come from poor shots either, missing a couple of set shots narrowly, but he proved he was able to dob them with a 35-metre set shot from the boundary giving him his first major for the game. Naturally playing a bit more between the arcs, he showed a strong ability to push up the ground to provide an option, as well as be efficient once the ball hits the deck. A serviceable game in the end, but not far off a huge one.

#20 Zac Dumesny

In his first game this season in the Under 18s to help the Panthers qualify for finals, Dumesny accumulated in the back half amassing; 33 disposals (26 kicks), and 11 marks. It was a forgettable start to the game for him though with two turnovers from poor kicks in South’s defensive 50 directly resulting in goals, and another leading to a behind. Although he found a lot of the ball, a lot of his disposals were relatively easy being from taking the kick-outs, last touch out of bounds kicks, or getting it back from sideways chips. He was often loose defensively and was able to provide run out of the backline and rebound to effect, as his kicking became very clean and effective. He was useful with his attacking setups out of the back half but being given a tougher task defensively would appear to stretch him. It would be interesting to see how he plays in the midfield going forward, as with no tackles and clearances, he appeared most comfortable on the outside and was quite useful there.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Undoubtedly a best on ground performance for the hard-working midfielder as he ended up with 28 disposals, four goals, 13 marks, and eight inside 50s. Roberts was active at stoppages but spread well to find space often, finding a lot of ball between the arcs during slow play from the Panthers. His preferred left boot looked as clean as it gets, although he did look reluctant to go on his right side on one occasion. He normally had enough time and space to steady on his left though. Roberts’ poise going inside 50 was classy, but he was also very effective being on the receiving end from forward entries. His first goal came in the first term from a lead up mark and set shot goal, while his second came from a 25-metre penalty, advancing him to the goal square after putting his head over it. His final two goals came at a crucial time in the final quarter as it pushed the lead slightly out of reach for North Adelaide. His third goal would have travelled the best part of 60 metres, as he kicked the next one soon after from a quick snap out of pack on his opposite boot, proving he is capable when needed on his non-preferred. A great game for him as he will look to carry that play into finals.

#33 Arlo Draper

The fleet-footed Draper worked himself into the game nicely finishing with 17 disposals, two goals, eight marks, and five tackles. He played mostly half-forward and pushed up the ground to be an option around the centre of the ground and with his pace and aerial ability, he showed good versatility as he was able to gather cleanly off the ground as well. He kicked a very nice set shot from 40 metres on the wrong side for a right footer after finding space. Draper found space all game with ease and had a stint on the ball in the final quarter to show off his dash. Draper showed he is a bit of a utility and his team will be hoping he can continue to put up performances like this one, a solid game all round.

#35 Nick Kraemer

Kraemer started the game on Tariek Newchurch who was on fire early, but built himself into the game to finish with 19 disposals and seven marks out of South’s defensive end. The pace of Newchurch proved to be a little too much, but Kraemer was able to use his strength in static contests to halve them. His ball use was generally sound and he looked to provide some run off half-back at times as well. With a decent balance between kicks and handballs (12 kicks, seven handballs), he showed a level head under pressure and often made good decisions.

#35 Tom Highmore (League)

The 22-year-old from Canberra continued to show his class out of the defensive half for the Panthers, putting up another respectable game with 19 disposals, seven marks (four contested), and three rebound 50s. In his return game from a thigh injury, his intercept marking ability was on display in the first term, taking a nice contested one-handed mark, and reading the Roosters’ rebound the best to chop off a Harrison Wigg bullet. That particular play highlighted his ability to read the play and the flight of the ball, popping up at important times on several occasions. He courageously backed into oncoming traffic in the second quarter to take another impressive mark. Highmore’s kicking was tidy as usual, hardly putting a foot wrong as he was entrusted with kick-out duties a couple of times. He took aggressive positions in marking contests and was strong defensively, having to do battle with Keenan Ramsey (seven disposals, no goals) for most of the game. Highmore’s positioning when playing as a loose allowed him to set up rebounds, but more importantly fly and impact contests when necessary. This performance certainly would not have done any harm to his draft stocks.

Others:

A win cemented South Adelaide’s place in the finals for the Under 18s and while the inclusion of Dumesny was handy, players like Harry Spacie (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Max Clifton (20 disposals, one goal, seven inside 50s) stepped up as they enter finals footy. Luke Mitton was quieter than usual with just the six disposals, while William Verrall dominated the ruck battle with 30 hitouts. Williamstown Seagull Daly Andrews continues to play a role in the seniors since crossing the border, finishing with 13 disposals, six tackles, and a goal late in the game. He enjoyed good midfield minutes and worked hard on the inside all game having usually been cited as an outside threat.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Glenelg vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#1 Harry Tunkin

The diminutive and tough Glenelg midfielder/forward led his side for disposals, earning 24 to go with six marks, seven tackles, and three clearances. Coming off a solid school football season, the bottom-ager has slotted straight into the Bays’ side and performed well. He works hard for each possession and that was no different on this occasion, as he burrowed in time after time to try and generate some forward momentum for his side. He also found a good amount of ball while up forward too, but up at half-forward rather than close to goal. The only real knock on Tunkin’s effort was his kicking at times; often bombing out of congestion or scrubbing the ball forward in a rush. With another year to sharpen that tool, Tunkin should be a reliable outlet for Glenelg.

#2 Nasiah Wanganeen

While the lively wingman looked a little proppy on a couple of occasions, he still managed to have an impact and put his leg speed to good use. Wanganeen’s ability to close while chasing and apply manic defensive pressure is undoubtedly one of his key strengths, though he could not quite utilise that same factor going the other way. The bottom-ager tracked back well in the early stages, but found more ball forward of centre in the second half with much of the sting sapped from the contest. 13 disposals and three tackles far from do justice to his true form on Saturday in what was a tough game for the Tigers.

#19 Jayden Davis

Another reliable Glenelg bottom-ager, Davis was below his best of the weekend but popped up with some nice contributions. The midfielder again showcased his clean hands, able to hold onto overhead marks while also collecting the ball well at ground level. He booted a superb set shot goal from around 50 metres out in the third term and generally used the ball neatly around the ground. Having returned a solid overall campaign, Davis has plenty to build on in 2021 – his draft year.

#25 William Wiseman

Shock, another bottom-ager who stood up for the Bays on Saturday. Wiseman was terrific in all areas of the field, not afraid to inflict the force of his 192cm/102kg frame on opponents in his vicinity. His first signs of form were made while rotating through the ruck, following up well at centre bounces to win strong holding the ball free kicks. The bigman went on to lay four tackles overall, with much of his impact in the second half coming through a raft of contested marks. Utilised at either end of the ground, Wiseman was able to control the airways and in particular, pump the ball out of an under-siege defence during the final term. He has some nice traits to build off, especially if he grows a few more cm’s.

#32 Jarrad Parish

Parish was a mainstay down back for the first three terms, working well to intercept and provide a cool head on the last line for Glenelg. The 188cm prospect even attended the centre bounces in the final term as Glenelg looked to shuffle the magnets and extract more ball through midfield. He struggled a touch in that department, but was sound when stationed behind the ball, even adding kick-in duties to his aerial work. Parish finished with 15 disposals (13 kicks) and eight marks.

Others:

There were plenty who rotated through the Bays’ engine room, with the likes of Oscar Clark (23 disposals) and Henry McAuliffe (23 disposals, five clearances) both working hard throughout the game. Bailey Durant saw plenty of ball down back alongside Brodie Edwards, while the likes of Hugh Stagg, Jesse Boag, and Jaden Grosser all showed good signs. Jarman Sigal had a terrific final term down back too, covering well as Parish moved further afield.

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

It is not hard to see why Carruthers earned a national combine invite, as the sharp-kicking defender proved a class above with his use by foot in what was otherwise a turnover-heavy contest. The top-ager broke the game open with his ability to hit targets in the corridor, putting Sturt in the best possible position to attack. His pin-point delivery to runners also allowed them to continue in their stride, opening up the stale, short-kicking trend of the game. As somewhat of a loose outlet, Carruthers was also able to generate some run through the corridor himself via handball receives, while dropping back into defensive 50 as a relieving option. Another string to his bow is intercept marking, with some nice floating grabs making for a complete highlight package. The half-back finished with 34 disposals and 15 marks on a dominant day.

#11 Will Spain

As he has done all season, Spain put in another solid shift for the Double Blues, rotating well through midfield as a well-balanced small option. The bottom-ager not only put his head over the ball, but was able to find more possessions on the outer with his hard running and clean hands at ground level. Add speed to the equation, and Spain was able to produce some nice breakaway plays from congestion. A well-struck set shot goal in the final term capped off a decent day, as Spain finished with 20 disposals, eight marks, and five tackles.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Jefferies has been another terrific inclusion back into the Sturt lineup after school football commitments, and thrived once again from the engine room. The bottom-age talent was a mainstay through midfield and won his fair share of clearances (10), though lacked some depth on his kicks out of congestion at times. Jefferies also snuck forward on many an occasion and was unlucky not to hit the scoreboard. That lack of strength in his kicks perhaps cost him, as his range of snapped attempts did not have the required bend or whip around the corner to squeeze through the big sticks. Still, 34 disposals, 10 clearances and three behinds makes for a great midfield outing by anyone’s standards. He should be another to watch for next year’s South Australian draft crop.

#17 Mani Liddy

Arguably Sturt’s premier established top-age player in the absence of Tom Powell, Liddy was again able to find the ball at will; racking up 34 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. While some of those touches were had in the latter stages as Sturt looked to control the pace of the game, Liddy still worked hard to get to the right positions and won a mountain of his own ball earlier on. The nuggety midfielder showed good strength to stand up in tackles and distribute from the clinches, but could perhaps have sent clearances forward more often instead of handballing to space, or a teammate under pressure. His short kicking was usually sound, though he saw a few fall short while on the move as he looked to stab them into the wind. Liddy’s attempts to fend and burst from stoppages was also noticeable, and bodes well for his scope of improvement. A second term set shot conversion proved the cherry on top of his performance.

#27 Ned Grieve

Grieve was again a key fixture in defence for the Double Blues, able to impact aerially with sound intercept marking, while also moving the ball into transition via foot. Whether he was cutting across the contest or standing up in one-on-one situations, Grieve managed to clunk 13 marks in his 25-disposal outing, while also contributing to Sturt’s short chains in the back half. With another strong performance, the top-ager is well primed for a big finals series with the minor premiers.

Others:

Ned Walter was another strong defensive outlet alongside Grieve, taking 10 marks while penetrating either arc five times each. Jacob Lochowiak showed some eye-catching athleticism, with his vertical leap helping him present forward of centre. Ethan Field rotated through the middle to find plenty of ball, while Morgan Ferres made the most of his chances to boot three majors up forward.

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Featured Image: Sturt’s Will Spain in action against Glenelg | Credit: Phil Radoslovich/SANFL