Tag: aidyn johnson

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

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

Sturt v. Central District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woodville-West Torrens v. South Adelaide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Adelaide v. West Adelaide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glenelg v. Norwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 SANFL Round 1 preview: Football returns to South Australia

AFTER weeks of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season 2020 of the SANFL Statewide Super League will officially kick-off proceedings on Saturday. With Port Adelaide and Adelaide unable to compete, the league’s eight remaining clubs will play rounds one and two in the form of double-headers at the Adelaide Oval, across two weekends. Further fixtures are set to be released at a later date.

Central District V Sturt

Central District will be eager to unveil prized-recruit Daniel Menzel when the Bulldogs lock horns with the Double Blues on Saturday afternoon. Sturt were victorious in both encounters between the two-clubs last season but bid farewell to a continent of premiership players in the off-season. Former AFL-listed trio Abe Davis, Aidyn Johnson and Dean Gore were recruited to bolster the clubs forward and midfield stocks. Centrals finished eighth in 2019 for the second-consecutive season, despite having won three of their final five matches, whilst Sturt reached another SANFL finals series but exited following an elimination final defeat at the hands of Norwood.

As is so often the case, the midfield will likely be where this game is won. Sturt has built a formidable on-ball unit, led by the prolific Sam Colquhoun, brilliant Zane Kirkwood, skipper and clearance king James Battersby and former Cat-turned-Crow Gore. For the ‘Dogs, Travis and Jarrod Schiller, will again be heavily relied upon in the engine-room, having finished second and seventh for disposals last season, respectively. The brothers were prolific, consistent and as industrial as ever in the midfield last season and will again be expected to do much of the heavy lifting, alongside retuning premiership-winning on-baller James Boyd.

Clean-kicking captain Luke Habel, the reliable Justin Hoskin and former-skipper Trent Goodrem will also be integral to their sides success in 2020. The Central District backline will be kept busy attempting to contain lively forwards Josh Hone and Mark Evans, who booted 32 and 30 goals last season, respectively. Meanwhile, with key defensive duo Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans announcing their retirements, the Double Blues will usher-in a new era in the backline, but may have their work cut-out for them by the potent Menzel-brothers.

Central District and Sturt will do battle in the reserves competition at X-Convenience Oval on Sunday. The Bulldogs seconds managed nine wins last season to finish fourth and will benefit from a number of new signings, whilst Sturt were one of the leagues best, finishing the year with 12 wins. Draft hopefuls Corey Durdin (Central District) and James Borlase (Sturt) may feature for their respective clubs at reserves level. Later that afternoon, the under-18s will face-off. Both underage-sides struggled last season, with Centrals finishing last and Sturt seventh. Look out for Bulldogs small forward Isaiah Dudley and midfielder Lachlan Grubb and, for Sturt, on-ballers Mani Liddy and Tom Powell.

 

Woodville-West Torrens V South Adelaide

In the second game of a Saturday double-header, Woodville-West Torrens take on South Adelaide. Both sides narrowly missed out on finals berths last season, with the Eagles loosing four of their final five matches and South pondering what could have been after recording a pair of draws earlier on in the year. The Eagles claimed victory over the Panthers twice in 2019, by 42-points in round 8 and 3-points later in round 13. But South likely enter this clash as favourites, despite losing star Abe Davis to Sturt.

The Panthers recruited well in the off-season, signing long-kicking, former-Power half-backman Matthew Broadbent and promising midfielder James Rose from Sydney. However Rose will not take part in the Statewide Super League season. Although the Eagles didn’t land a big-name recruit, their depth will be bolstered by the return of hard-running wingman Kai Pudney and signing of Rhyan Mansell from North Launceston.

South co-captains Joel Cross and Matthew Rose are amongst the leagues best on-ballers and will go head-to-head with former-AFL listed midfielders Jordan Foote and Jesse Lonergan. Foote, in-particular, has emerged as arguably Woodville-West Torrens most valuable player after winning the best and fairest award in 2019. He averaged 24.7 disposals (at 84% efficiency), 4.6 marks and 6 tackles. The Panthers defensive unit, led by Broadbent and Joseph Haines must nullify the impact of dangerous tall-forward Jack Hayes and lively small James Rowe, who combined to boot 60 goals in 2019.

The two clubs will face each other in the under-18s on late Sunday morning at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, with the reserves to follow in the afternoon. The Eagles and Panthers have been two of the best sides in the underage competition previous years and their round one encounter is likely to be a close-one, with both sides featuring potential draftees, including South’s Zac Dumesny, Nick Kraemer and bottom-agers Jason Horne and Matthew RobertsTaj Schofield, Henry Smith and Lachlan Jones are likely types from the Eagles.

 

North Adelaide V West Adelaide

‘Westies’ and the Roosters will kick-off proceedings on Sunday, with both sides undoubtedly eager to bounce-back after disappointing 2019 campaigns. Having been forced to start last season with -4 premiership points, North Adelaide will be grateful to commence the new season on a level playing-field under recently-appointed senior coach Jacob Surjan. The Bloods ended the season on the bottom of the ladder but will no-doubt be eyeing off a scalp first up, having defeated the Roosters by two-points in round 13 last season for one of their only two victories.

West bid farewell to loyal veterans Chris Schmidt and Jono Beech but gained Sam Davidson and Jordon Boyle in the off-season. The Roosters were exceptionally busy in the signing-department, landing former-Hawk Billy Hartung, tough on-baller Andrew Moore, classy backman Harrison Wigg and regaining small forwards Robbie Young and Kym LeBois from St.Kilda and Carlton. Alongside their flashy recruits, Tom Schwarz, Jarrod Almond and co. are expected to get the red and white over this line in this encounter, but battle-hardened Bloods midfielders Tom Keough and Kaine Stevens will do their best to inspire West.

Stevens was once-again brilliant last season, averaging 27 disposals (at 88 per cent efficiency), 5.2 clearances and 4.8 tackles. Matchups against dangerous Roosters forwards Keenan Ramsey, Mitch Harvey and Alex Barns may prove critical to the end result. Watch-out for exciting young West Adelaide ruckman Riley Thilthorpe, who looks a likely first-round draftee.

The league and under-18 sides from North Adelaide and West Adelaide will meet on Saturday at Prospect Oval. Like their respective league sides, the Roosters and Bloods reserves struggled last season, finishing in the bottom-two spots. However, North Adelaide, in particular, will be hoping an increase in depth via strong recruiting can lift them to the heights of 2018.

West’s under 18s side was strong last season, recording 12 wins but failed to make the grand final. Watch for medium-forward Jye Sinderberry and wingman Bailey Chamberlain for the Bloods. Under-16s skipper Tyson Coe may also break-through for an under-18s game after the competition was cancelled for the year. Jamison Murphy and Tariek Newchurch are likely to feature prominently for the Roosters at either level.

 

Glenelg V Norwood

In what has been marketed as the game of the round, reigning premiers Glenelg face Norwood to close-out the opening weekend. Both sides are tipped to feature prominently come the pointy-end of the season. The clubs split their two contests in 2019, with Norwood claiming a narrow five-point victory in round one before Glenelg earned-back bragging rights with a dominant 46-point win in round 13. This match is brimming with talent across all zones of the ground, after both clubs added further to their talent in the off-season. In the heart of the midfield, reigning Magarey Medallist Luke Partington will be joined by tough-duo Jonty Scharenberg and Matthew Snook, classy wingman Marlon Motlop and recruits Billy Stretch and Jackson Edwards.

They will compete all-night against stars Lewis JohnstonMitch Grigg and Matthew Panos, reigning best and fairest winner Brad McKenzie, impressive youngster Cole Gerloff and experienced new signings Richard Douglas and Ryan Bastinac. The midfield-battle will be hotly contested and looms as the key to victory in this matchup. Following Jesse White’s retirement, the Bays big-men will be up-against-it, battling dominant ruckman Sam Baulderstone.

In attack, Glenelg will be looking to lace-out Ken Farmer medalist Liam McBean, x-factor medium-forward Luke Reynolds and newcomer Matthew Allen, whilst Peter Bampton and Dom Barry will again be the focal points in attack for the Redlegs. Captain Max Proud is set to anchor the Bays defence once-again, whilst Norwood look to cover the departures of retired defenders Jace Bode and Alex Georgiou.

The Redlegs ended a 21-year drought when they defeated Woodville-West Torrens to claim the 2019 Reserves premiership. They should be around mark again whilst the Tigers will be looking to improve upon a fifth-placed finish. The clubs face each other in the lower grades on Saturday at ACH Group Stadium. Glenelg’s Lewis Rayson and Cooper Horsnell are ones to watch at under-18s level, along with Norwood’s Henry NelliganNed Carey and Cooper Murley.

SANFL weekly wrap: Glenelg gets up in standalone game as five SANFL players are drafted mid-season

IT was a quiet week for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), with the sole game as part of a split round, and some top-end Under 16s, Under 17s, Under 18s talent and South Australian squad members away from their clubs with trial games as part of National Championships preparation. It was a significant week off-field for the SANFL competition with the mid-season AFL draft impacting the League with five South Australian players drafted. Jamie Morgan and Tom Wyman take a look at what made news in South Australia the past week.

Glenelg vs Port

League: Glenelg 15.17 (107) defeated Port Adelaide 8.10 (58)

Glenelg consolidated its grasp of top spot with a 49-point victory over Port Adelaide in wet conditions at the bay. Defying early inaccuracy, the high-flying Tigers controlled much of the game against their AFL-listed counterparts, before a stellar third-term put the game all but beyond the Magpies grasp. The slippery conditions meant contested ball was key, and Glenelg’s engine room was strong all day, led by young duo Luke Partington (34 disposals, six marks, six tackles, six clearances) and Jonty Scharenberg (23 disposals, five marks, seven tackles and two clearances). Fellow onballers Marlon Motlop and Matthew Snook helped overcome a Magpie onball brigade led by prolific 2016 draftees Joe Atley (31 disposals, four clearances) and Willem Drew (31 disposals, nine tackles, nine clearances), who battled hard through all four quarters. Glenelg defenders Chris Curran and Aaron Joseph controlled the play in the backline, whilst up forward, Liam McBean booted four and was supplemented well by Luke Reynolds‘ pair. Also chipping in with two was medium forward Lachlan Hosie, who was recently drafted by North Melbourne in the AFL’s Mid-Season Rookie Draft. Jack Trengrove was slightly down on his usual output, managing 21 disposals and seven tackles, however Sam Mayes, Kai Pudney and Riley Bonner all won their fair share of the ball.

South Australian Under-18 squad member Will Gould showed his defensive flexibility, manning the 198cm Todd Marshall and 195cm Dallas Hill, before rolling onto the medium-sized Aidyn Johnson, Mitchell Mead and Tobin Cox, at times. Gould spent the entire game on-field, testament to his strong endurance base, and was rarely beaten one-on-one. Additionally, he was able to zone off and take several intercept marks (seven marks in total), often playing as the last man back and filling ‘the hole’ in the defensive-50 to good effect. He was extremely clean by foot, granted most kicks were short, but provided rebound when necessary. Arguably his best moment of the day was a contested, overhead mark deep in defence to save a shot at goal in the first half. His third-man up spoil, which killed the contest and flew 20 metres out of bounds, into the neighbouring cricket nets, further demonstrating the rare talent he possesses. He finished with 17 disposals, seven marks and five rebounds.

AFL Mid Season Draft – SANFL Impact

SANFL clubs were impacted this week, with a drafting of some talent from the competition and putting some SANFL sides into a tough position.

Players drafted from SANFL were:

– Michael Knoll (South Adelaide) – drafted to Sydney
– Lachlan Hosie (Glenelg) – drafted to North Melbourne
– Will Snelling (West Adelaide)- drafted to Essendon
– Cam Sutcliffe (Port Magpies) – drafted to Port Adelaide
– John Noble (West Adelaide) – drafted to Collingwood

SANFL remained firm in its opposition to the mid-season draft despite the competition producing top end talent, the impact on the competition for the remainder of the year for these clubs affected will be detrimental according to SANFL CEO Jake Parkinson’s statement.

With Glenelg losing leading goalkicker Lachlan Hosie, the impact on their forward line will be a watch as they also lost other key forward Josh Scott to injury earlier in the year. West Adelaide lose their two key ball getters and prime midfielders which will make their season harder from here on in.

School/College Football:

Sacred Heart held off arch-rivals Rostrevor by ten points on home soil to remain undefeated, four games in to the Messenger Shield competition. Both sides were without arguably their best players, with state representatives Will Day (SHC) and Cameron Taheny (Rostrevor) both sitting out. For the Hearts, captain Beau Macrae was again excellent in the middle and at half-back, as were South Adelaide duo Zach Dumesny (SA squad) and Marcus Lippett. For Rostrevor, Anzac Lochowiak was solid without being at his damaging best. Sacred Heart now sit as the only undefeated side for the year and look to launch into the second half of the season

In other games, PAC narrowly escaped a scare against Westminster holding on by seven points, whilst PAC were missing some of their top talent in particular Kossie Pickett and Karl Finlay. St Peters accounted for Trinity by 74 points, while Immanuel defeated Scotch by 33 points.

SANFL weekly wrap: Norwood wins in thriller as Tigers tame Crows

FOLLOWING Round 2 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, our writers Jamie Morgan, David Chapman, Tom Wyman and Damon Mattiazzo recap some of the impressive performances across the weekend.

Glenelg v Adelaide

League: Glenelg 18.7 (115) defeated Adelaide 9.8 (62)

Glenelg collected their first premiership points of the new season by defeating a young Adelaide side under Friday night lights at the bay. Former Richmond Tiger, Liam McBean was the hero for the home side, bagging nine majors from full-forward. He was well-supported by a half-backline comprising of skipper Chris Curran, who amassed 31 disposals and 17 marks, and former-Carlton player Aaron Joseph (24 disposals and six marks). Potential high draft pick Will Gould was solid in defence, collecting 19 touches and seven marks, whilst 2018 state-representative Finn Betterman managed eight disposals in just his second league appearance. For the Crows, Myles Poholke slotted three majors to stake his claim for a call-up and Cam Ellis-Yolmen continued to find the ball, racking up 36 disposals and 7 marks. Recent draftees, Lachlan Sholl (34 disposals, six marks and eight rebounds), Jordon Butts (19 disposals) and Ned McHenry (15 disposals, five marks and five tackles) were also impressive. Expect Hugh Greenwood (19 disposals and 10 clearances) and Jordan Gallucci (16 disposals) to return to the Crows senior onball rotation within weeks.

Central District vs. Norwood

League: Central District 12.14 (86) defeated by Norwood 13.11 (89)
Reserves: Central District 10.8 (68) defeated Norwood 10.7 (67)
Under 18s: Norwoood 13.14 (92) defeated Central District 5.5 (35)

Two of the three clashes between the Bulldogs and Redlegs were absolute thrillers, as the Redlegs claimed victory in the League clash by just three points, before Central District scored the points in a one-point victory over Norwood in the Reserves. All eyes were on potential first round pick, Dylan Stephens who cracked his way into a strong Norwood League side and looked the part, collecting 18 disposals, four marks, three tackles and booting a goal on debut. Lewis Johnston continued his ripping form with 38 disposals, four clearances and seven marks, while for the winners, Jarrod Schiller had 28 touches, eight marks, seven clearances and a goal. In the Reserves, Isaac Saywell had a team-high 29 touches as well as four marks and four clearances for Norwood, while Cameron Taheny was lively up forward, booting three goals from 14 disposals and nine marks (three contested). For Central District, Steve Burton recorded 34 disposals and 13 clearances in a midfield masterclass. At Under 18s level, Henry Nelligan was impressive for Norwood, racking up 28 disposals, 10 clearances, five marks, six tackles and booting two goals in the win, while Xavier Tranfa finished with 26 touches, three marks, four clearances and seven tackles. For the Bulldogs, Rhys Cannizzaro was the one to watch, racking up nine clearances and laying 10 tackles from 27 disposals and five marks.

North Adelaide vs West Adelaide

League: North Adelaide 14.11 (95) defeated West Adelaide 9.12 (66)
Reserves: North Adelaide 6.9 (45) defeated by West Adelaide 13.11 (89)
Under 18s: West Adelaide 7.6 (48) defeated by North Adelaide 14.7 (91)

In the Reserves match, North big man Dyson Hilder started off in a midfield role and after half-time switched to key defender on the dangerous Westies forward. In the Under 18s, North got the win against Westies, led by Harrison Magor with 33 disposals including six clearances, while Charlie Dowling kicked four goals from his 18 possessions and eight marks. For Westies, Bailey Chamberlain had 28 possession and 13 marks to be in his side’s best. In the League clash, North Adelaide ran out 29-point winners as Aidan Tropiano racked up 32 disposals, two marks, six tackles and nine clearances, while Max Thring booted three goals from 30 touches and four marks. For West Adelaide, Christopher Schmidt had a team-high 31 disposals and eight clearances, while John Noble booted three goals from 27 touches and Kaine Stevens finished with 30 disposals and a goal.

South Adelaide v Port Adelaide

League: Port Adelaide 8.10 (58) defeated by South Adelaide 14.10 (94)

South Adelaide continued its fine start to the season with a dominant 36 point win against Port at Alberton Oval. South were led by co-captain Joel Cross who contributed 24 disposals and two goals, while former Eagle Tom Whittlesea made a big impact with five goals for his side. For Port Adelaide, Jack Trengove backed up his 44-disposal game from the opening round with another 42 touches for his side and could be rewarded with a call-up to the AFL side. Matthew Broadbent had 28 touches as he continues to stake his claim for a recall, while Category B rookie Kai Pudney continues to find plenty of the ball with 30 disposals coming from the wing. New Mapgies captain Cam Sutcliffe, and Aidyn Johnson both missed majority of the game with hamstring and concussion problems respectively.

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg

Reserves: Glenelg 10.9 (69) defeated by South Adelaide 14.9 (93)
Under 18s: Glenelg 8.12 (60) defeated South Adelaide 8.7 (55)

South took on Glenelg in Under 18s and went down in a five-point game. Glenelg’s Clayton Symonds (son of Tony) finished with a game high three goals while Sam Liambis led possession count with 24 disposals and nine tackles. Big man Riley Holder backed up another solid game in the ruck. South’s talented Zac Dumesny showed he is in for a big year in a strong performance for the Panthers. In the Reserves, South Adelaide claimed a big win, but it was Glenelg’s Darcy Bailey dominating with 39 disposals, 10 marks, seven clearances, three tackles and a goal, while teammate Declan Carmody is a name to watch, racking up 24 disposals, six marks, four tackles and booting a goal. Key forward Daniel Sladojevic was strong for the Panthers, booting a goal from 15 disposals and five marks (one contested), while Cameron McGree had 28 hitouts from 17 disposals and booted two goals.

Woodville-West Torrens vs Sturt

League: Sturt 12.12 (84) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 11.11 (77)
Reserves: Sturt 7.9 (51) defeated by Woodville-West Torrens 8.9 (57)
Under 18s: Woodville-West Torrens 17.5 (107) defeated Sturt 10.7 (67)

The Under 18s talent at the Eagles disposed of Sturt easily by 40 points and that was with some players up into the Eagles Reserves side. Forward Josh Morris finished with six goals, and Harry Shoenberg played well again. The Eagles Reserves side hung on in a close tussle with young talent, Jackson Mead (son of Darren) again playing well finishing with two goals and 16 possessions, while young Ruckman Sam Michael showed he is up to the challenge against bigger bodies. Teammate Jamie Coff also impressed up forward snagging three goals. Sturt’s Jed McEntee found his feet along with Anzac Lochowiak who looked at ease against the strong Eagles side. Sturt were victorious despite a late charge from the Eagles in the league game. Kysaiah Pickett kicked a goal in his League debut for the Eagles and Jordan Foote was a beast again in the midfield. Ex-Docker Danyle Pearce was also good for the Double Blues.

Who will the Roos draft?

Ben Crocker kicks the ball around the body. Photo: Supplied
Ben Crocker kicks the ball around the body. Photo: Supplied

The Kangaroos took a punt on Jed Anderson, but through some shrewd deals, they’ve ended up with three picks in the late first-early second round range. Last year, they took three players who all look comfortable as defenders, but whether they plan to use Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin in other roles is yet to be determined.

Pick 21 (originally 17)

The big fish: Jade Gresham

North Melbourne don’t have too many list deficiencies, so they should be looking at best available at most of their selections. Gresham can find plenty of the football as a midfielder, but he can also be used as a smart small forward or an accountable defender.

Plan B: Mitch Hibberd

The Roos could do with a versatile defender who can provide some rebound and play some time in the middle too. Hibberd is great overhead and he’s got a strong endurance base. He could make an impact right away, which is important for an aging side.

Pick 31 (originally 26)

The big fish: David Cuningham

Cuningham is a quick midfielder who has shown glimpses of brilliance for Oakleigh. He’s got explosive acceleration around stoppages, and he’s elusive in traffic. Cuningham can also head forward and hit the scoreboard.

Plan B: Aidyn Johnson

Johnson is a very quick and agile small forward who can hit the scoreboard in bunches. He applies defensive pressure and he can play in a variety of roles. Due to his injury struggles, we haven’t seen a lot of what he can do, but his speed could bridge the gap for when Brent Harvey eventually retires.

Pick 33 (originally 28)

The big fish: Ben Crocker

Crocker is a medium forward who marks really well over his head. He can finish nicely around the body at ground level, and he continually presents as a lead up forward. At his best, Crocker can use the ball with class and even provide some midfield relief.

Plan B: Mason Redman

Redman is a lead up medium forward who takes the ball at full stretch. He’s a nice user of the football and he’s got great size for a half forward. Redman is very quick off the mark, which makes him a very difficult player to match up against.

Pick 43 (originally 47)

The big fish: Mitch Brown

The Roos are looking at Nielson as the eventual key defender replacement for the likes of Michael Firrito and Scott Thompson, but he’s got a way to go before he develops. North Melbourne could look towards Brown as a stop-gap who can come in, take overhead marks and be used as a swingman option alongside Jarryd Waite to give them some versatility.

Plan B: Michael Hartley

Hartley could also be used to bridge that age gap in defence. As a pure key defender, Hartley reads the play well and he’s physical enough to play on the gorilla forwards, which would be crucial if they played Sydney or Geelong in the finals.

Who will the Suns draft?

Wayne Milera evades a tackle. Photo: Matt Loxton
Wayne Milera evades a tackle. Photo: Matt Loxton

The Suns curiously downtraded from pick three to six, which suggests they believe they will snare the player they were originally keen on a little later. The Suns also have a late first round pick and a mid-second round pick to use. There are definitely some holes in the list, but the Suns seem to be perfectly placed to fix those.

Pick nine (originally six)

The big fish: Aaron Francis

The Suns downtrading makes sense if they are keen on Aaron Francis. The Demons and Bombers seem far more interested in Darcy Parish, Charlie Curnow and Sam Weideman, based on list needs. Francis trailed off towards the end of the year, but there is no doubting that he can be an elite intercept player at the next level. He would compliment Rory Thompson and Steven May nicely as that third tall defender.

Plan B: Wayne Milera

Losing Harley Bennell means the Suns have lost a spark in the midfield, but perhaps more importantly, they need another mercurial goal kicker. Milera has produced several great performances up forward in the SANFL. He floats through traffic with his evasiveness, while his skills are top class. He’d be a great fit for the Suns.

Pick 20 (originally 16)

The big fish: Riley Bonner

The Suns could do with another classy rebounder, especially considering Josh Glenn’s absence. Bonner’s long kicking could prove a force with Trent McKenzie on the other flank. Having two weapons operating in tandem back there, alongside possibly Francis, would be ideal. Scores launched from defensive 50 chains are becoming an increased focus, so Bonner would certainly aid there with his elite footskills.

Plan B: Darcy Tucker

Tucker plays in a similar fashion to Bonner, but he’s better at winning his own ball at this stage. Tucker looks best as a rebounding half back, but he’s shown spurts as a midfielder too, and he could even be a classy half-forward at the next level. Tucker has elite endurance and he’s showing all the signs that he can potentially become a lethal outside player at the top level.

Pick 34 (originally 29)

The big fish: Daniel Rioli

Rioli hasn’t showed consistant flashes of brilliance, but he looks like a great athletic project. The Suns can afford to put time into him due to their age profile, while other clubs perhaps wouldn’t be afforded that luxury. Rioli is quick, he can jump and he has great endurance. He’s got a knack of being able to take some nice overhead marks, despite his small frame. He’s clean at ground level, but he’s got a long way to go before he becomes a solid AFL player.

Plan B: Aidyn Johnson

Johnson presents as a medium utility who could be anything. He’s got elite agility and speed, while also being able to hit the scoreboard and lay several tackles. The Suns could do worse than taking a punt on him as a well-rounded forward, despite only seeing limited glimpses of him.

Pick 56: Adam Saad (rookie upgrade)

Pick 79: Keegan Brooksby (rookie upgrade)

Jourdan Canil’s top 30 draft prospects

Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)
Darcy Parish is likely to be a top five pick. Photo: Brian Bartlett (Geelong Advertiser)

The AFL Draft is nearing, and despite suggestions of a weak draft, the top 30 prospects are still relatively strong in comparison to previous years. This is my list of the top prospects, but it does not indicate where they will go in the draft.

1. Jacob Weitering
Club: Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Alex Rance

Weitering’s got the whole package. His best asset is his intercept marking. He runs off his opponent and reads the play so well. He’s strong enough to not only compete at AFL level, but immediately win contests. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and positions himself well. A terrific rebounder, Weitering also has a long and classy kick, often putting the ball out into space for his team mates to run into. Athletically, he’s got a good leap and he’s got good closing speed. I firmly believe he will be one of the two or three best key defenders in the league in years to come.

2. Josh Schache
Club: 
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Key forward
Height: 199 cm
Weight: 93 kg
Player Comparison: Tom Lynch (Gold Coast)

Probably the most promising ‘true’ key forward of 2015, Schache kicked 27 goals from 15 games as a 17 year old. Schache prides himself on his contested marking. His size allows him to crash through packs, but he also takes the ball out at full stretch. Schache is a great player below the knees, and unlike most key forwards, he is a reliable field kick and shot for goal. Schache has speed on the lead and he also likes to use his physicality. Schache can kick a goal from most places on the field, and he’s got a 55 metre cannon too. In terms of agility, Schache is actually quite impressive for his size. He could potentially improve on the defensive side of his game, which is for me, what separates him from Tom Boyd and Patrick McCartin, as they are probably less likely to become well-rounded key forwards. Schache’s conversion rate this year has been impressive and he’s stood up in key games. Definitely the second best player in the draft for mine.

3. Darcy Parish
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Whitfield

Darcy Parish is a classy outside midfielder, who despite his flaws, should be a top five pick. Parish is a very slight framed player who has great speed. He runs hard to receive a handball or take an uncontested mark, then will keep zipping past others to break lines. Parish loves to kick, and he can often have 20 or more kicks in a game. Most will hit the targets, as he prefers to do short sharp chips. He’s a good decision maker and with that comes a high disposal efficiency. I think at AFL level that efficiency may drop a little as he will be encouraged to be bolder. It’s scary that a player with so much hurt factor still has so much room to grow. Parish has become more of a goal kicker, and he’s put on a bit of weight to increase his core strength. He’s got room to improve his defensive efforts, as his strong tank and speed should really see him taking down few more players. I see him growing into that Lachie Whitfield mould, but perhaps with a little more pace.

4. Callum Mills
Club:
 North Shore
Position: Midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Lenny Hayes

Mills is the complete package, and he will head to Sydney through their academy. He would certainly have been a top three pick if he was on the open market. Mills is an exceptional accumulator, as he averaged 32 disposals at 65% through his six TAC Cup games last year as a 17 year old. . He was named in the bests in five out of his six games. Mills also averaged over six tackles and six marks per game in the TAC Cup. Mills is a beast of an inside midfielder. He’s fairly balanced, as he gets around 50% of his ball on the outside, as he finds space to take uncontested marks and handball receives. But his courage to throw himself at the ball is incredible. He is impossible to tag. Mills is a leader and works hard defensively.

5. Aaron Francis
Club: West Adelaide
Position: Utility
Height: 191cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Adam Goodes

Francis is just a shade below the top two in my eyes, but he’s got the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. He’s a terrific intercept mark, has tremendous athleticism and literally plays in every position. Francis has played his best footy as a third tall or key defender, as his intercept marking and ability to rebound are his two best assets. He’s also extremely strong around the contest, so he can win his own footy on the inside. His kicking is well above average, and he is quickish, so he’s a good player on the outside too. I liked his smarts when playing as a forward. He lead up consistently, and he provides a great target. When the ball hits the deck, he is too big and strong for small defenders, and too agile for bigger ones. The one query I have on him is his goal kicking, but I haven’t seen a big enough sample size of him as a forward to say whether that’s a true weakness

6.Jacob Hopper
Club:
North Ballarat Rebels
Position:
Inside midfielder
Height:
186 cm
Weight:
82 kg
Player Comparison:
Ollie Wines

Hopper is clearly the best pure inside midfielder in this draft. His extraction skills are supreme and he’s got a great understanding of where to position himself at stoppages to have an impact. Hopper is an excellent goal kicker – he heads forward and he can be effective at ground level or as a marking target. He’s a terrific tackling presence and he never stops trying. His kicking is just okay, but his vision and spatial awareness are excellent, so he doesn’t get caught out often. He’s very clean by hand in traffic.

7. Charlie Curnow
Club:
Geelong Falcons
Position: Key forward/midfielder
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Player Comparison: Jake Stringer

Curnow looks like a possible top five pick. He can be a bit lazy, often looking to engage in one on one contests, rather than leading up and using space. Having said that, he’s an elite runner with a very high beep test score, so clearly he’s got a strong work ethic. He gets by in under 18’s with his strength, and obviously coming off that knee injury he wasn’t able to show his running strength. He’s a great contested mark, he wins his own ball on the inside, and at times, his skills are usually pretty good. I think his 21/30 on the kicking test at the combine was a bit misleading. He’s a below average converter on goals, and he’s not a great field kick either.  He’s got a very high upside with his great frame and the ability to grow into a big-bodied midfielder, but I personally see him as a forward in the Jake Stringer role.

8. Matthew Kennedy
Club:
Collingullie-GP
Position: Inside midfielder
Height: 187cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Elliot Yeo

Kennedy is a big-bodied inside midfielder with terrific endurance and a great overhead mark. He finished with a 14.12 beep tests and some really good scores in various leaping tests at the combine. He’s very hard at the contest, and while he’s not in that elite level for racking up the footy, you can tell that with development, he’ll be able to make that transition at AFL level. Kennedy looks damaging in the forward line, and whilst he is pretty clean with either foot, if it was a bit better he could be challenging for a top three pick.

9. Wayne Milera
Club:
Central Districts
Position: Outside midfielder/small forward
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Player Comparison: Shaun Burgoyne (early career)

Milera has far exceeded expectations this year. He’s a creative midfielder/half forward with some of the best skills in this draft class. Milera is a terrific decision maker and he offers something a bit different to the rest of the midfielders in this draft class, where there seems to be one or two clear options, but he’ll cut through the middle and pick a more damaging option that most players wouldn’t even consider. He’s very agile and hard to tackle, and he loves using his speed through the centre of the ground. Milera has been the best performed junior in the top flight of the SANFL, where he’s consistently found the football and chipped in for several goals on a few occasions.

10. Rhys Mathieson
Club: 
Geelong Falcons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 79 kg
Player Comparison: Jordan Lewis

I don’t like to overrate players, but Mathieson has a similar style to Jordan Lewis in the way he plays on the inside and outside. Mathieson is a big time accumulator, but it’s the way that he does it that really makes his 30 disposal games really impressive, despite being just an above average kick of the ball. Mathieson hunts the ball on the inside. He throws himself at the contest, and despite not being the new prototype big midfielder, his body strength in packs is advanced for his age. He knows how to position himself on the inside, and once he has the ball, he executes handpasses in traffic and out of the bottom of a pack quickly and usually to the best outside option. Mathieson is terrific on the outside too, and this is what makes him such a champion type. Mathieson is fairly quick on the outside, with a solid 20 metre burst that breaks games open. He doesn’t have to run a long distance, because with the separation he creates in a short space, he gives himself enough time to launch a kick into the forward 50. Mathieson has above average skills by hand and foot, and he’s a solid overhead mark too.

11. Kieran Collins
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Key defender
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Player Comparison: Daniel Talia

Collins is the best lockdown key defender in the draft. He’s that classic disciplined Darren Glass type, where he doesn’t give his opponents any room to move. He’s got a very high football IQ and he doesn’t try to exceed his limitations. Collins is exceptional overhead and he can take plenty of intercept marks, but he’s not the type to take a massive risk and fly if he didn’t think it was the right time to do so. Collins won the handball test at the combine with an exceptional 29/30. His kicking is fine, but he’s not a great rebounder at this stage of his career. He’s not the quickest player, but his football smarts and spatial awareness make up for that. He’s also shown a little bit as a forward, but he looks like a 200 game player as a key back already.

12. Harley Balic
Club: 
Sandringham Dragons
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 186 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Jackson Macrae

Balic is a really classy half forward who can pull off some incredible things. Balic is a terrific overhead mark, and he leads to the right places. His contested marking is incredible for a medium forward. He is a really intelligent forward who pushes up to create space for his full forward to lead in to. He has a very strong body and last year he lacked opportunity in the midfield. His inside game development is arguably the biggest leap of any top talent in the draft this year. Last year I would have said he was a pure outside player, but he has learnt the nuances of the inside game in terms of positioning himself at contests. His developmental curve is extremely encouraging and it’s one of the reasons I like him more than most. The fact he is now a balanced midfielder who can find the footy, as well as being a forward with flare makes me believe he has a sneakily very high ceiling.

13. Ben Keays
Club: 
Morningside
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Christian Petracca

Keays in my mind is close to a top 10 pick, but he will be going to Brisbane through their academy a little later. Keays is a gut running type, who shows absolute class on the outside most of the time (although he does make some poor choices sometimes). Keays has the ability to kick it long or hit short targets with ease.

Keays has a really strong body, and his work on the inside is outstanding. Indeed, Keays’ most exciting ‘Petracca like’ feature is his overhead marking and work as a forward. Keays can really dominate up forward with strength, but he can also kick freakish, skillful goals. He fends off players as he takes on the game, and backs himself in to finish off with a goal. He’s increased his ability to rack up the football, and as such, his disposal efficiency has dropped off a touch, which I think is why he hasn’t been talked about as much in that top 10 equation.

14. Callum Ah Chee
Club: 
South Fremantle
Position: Forward/midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Player Comparison: Chad Wingard

Ah Chee offers a bit of a different look this year, and though I suspect he has more potential than most of the players in the top 10, he probably hasn’t had the year he would have liked. Ah Chee is lightening quick, in terms of acceleration and over a long distance. There’s not too many ultra quick players who have multiple strings to their bow in this year’s draft class. Ah Chee is an excellent kick of the football. He gets a fair bit of penetration on it and I’ve noticed his decision making has improved over the course of this year. Ah Chee is very dangerous around goals. He’s an excellent crumber, but as you’ve all seen with his mark in the AFL Academy game, he’s a high flier and a good over head mark, despite his light frame. I’d love to see him build up his tank and also his core strength, as he’s struggling to win much of his own footy.

15. Jade Gresham
Club: Northern Knights
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Position: Midfielder
Player Comparison: Travis Boak

Gresham is one of those players you know what you are going to get. While he does lack that punishing hurt factor that the elite players have, he uses his limitations to the best of his ability. Skill wise, he was clearly the best tester at the NAB AFL Combine, which helps tick those boxes. Defensively, he’s not too bad. He doesn’t rack up a lot of tackles, but he is accountable and he reads the play well enough to choose when to peel off his man as well. Gresham is a outside-leaning midfielder, with the potential to develop an inside game in the future. He reads the ruck taps so well and knows where to run and break away. While he’s not fast, he’s smart and this helps him at stoppages. He is fearless in the way he throws himself into packs, despite being a shorter midfielder. His hands in traffic are really clean and quick. Gresham has added goal kicking to his repertoire of late. He hasn’t had the opportunity to play much as a crumbing small forward, but he has kicked a goal per game on average this season. Gresham looks to be an excellent leader already.

16. Sam Weideman
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Key forward
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Levi Casboult

Weideman’s injury issues have made him an intriguing prospect, as he has so much that he must improve on. 2014 was an up and down year for the forward. He was able to play 15 games, but only kicked 19 goals and 15 behinds. His statline is poor, but recruiters will look to his best games to find out why he is so highly regarded. Again in 2015, he struggled statistically, despite receiving very good delivery from a strong midfield group. Weideman is a terrific mark of the ball. His contested marking is a standout in pack situations. However, what is most impressive is his ability to take one grab marks on the lead, particularly in sticky situations. You know if the ball is within his long reach, then he won’t drop it. He’s a below average kick of the football. He’s probably one of only a handful of players in this draft class who have one truly dominant skill, but when you cannot convert simple set shots at goal, then it really hurts. Weideman plays as a true leading centre half forward, but he also has the size and skill set to play as a full forward.

17. Darcy Tucker
Club: 
North Ballarat Rebels
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 73 kg
Player Comparison: Sam Docherty

Tucker looks best as a half back in my eyes. He reads the play really well, and he plays pretty wide of the contest, so he’s often in a dangerous spot on the rebound if the ball leaks out. He’s not a great individual defender, but I can see with his mindset and leadership that his defensive game will grow. As a midfielder, Tucker plays almost exclusively on the outside, but I can see scope for that developing as he seems to have good core strength. Tucker’s endurance is terrific, as he came in with a 15.3 beep test. That gives me hope that he can be a midfielder, but he’s got a bit to learn in terms of stoppage set ups and the general nuances of that position. Tucker is an excellent kick of the footy. Although he’s a bit down the pecking order, I don’t think there is a massive class difference between Darcy Parish, Cal Ah Chee and Tucker.

18. Ryan Clarke
Club: 
Eastern Ranges
Position: Midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: David Zaharakis

Clarke’s speed is excellent over the first few steps and he really breaks lines, but he’s probably a couple of rungs slower than the absolute best. He’s an excellent distributor by hand and foot. His decision making and vision is in the top class of this year’s draft, and he backs himself to hit difficult targets. Clarke is a strong runner who loves to break through the middle. He’s also got a fairly long kick too, and on the run he can impact the scoreboard from 55 out. He can go forward, but he’s probably got some work to do in that regard. He’s not a great mark overhead, and although he has the physical attributes to be a good crumber, he hasn’t shown that he’s got those talents as of yet.  Clarke’s inside game is developing. He’s got great core strength, so he breaks tackles fairly easily. He reads the tap well and he’s physical, so he throws himself at the footy. Clarke is sharp and quick by hand too, so there aren’t too many doubts over whether he’ll be a well-rounded midfielder. He’s not the prototype big-bodied inside beast that recruiters are infatuated with, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be a clearance machine at the top level, but he’ll be serviceable.

19. Eric Hipwood
Club:
Aspley
Position: Key back/forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Player Comparison: Harris Andrews

Hipwood will probably attract a top 10 bid, although his form doesn’t quite warrant it. He’s a project player who has terrific agility and a great overhead marking ability. He’s an okay user of the footy, who finds it more than your traditional key backman, but he doesn’t really know his limitations. He looks a bit more at home as a key defender, although he’s showed spurts of form as a forward here and there this year. He’ll take a long time to develop, but then again, we thought that of Harris Andrews and look how quickly he’s adapted.

20. Harry McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key forward
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Drew Petrie

Harry McKay is a raw prospect who has shown great signs for his age. He should basically be considered a 2016 prospect, as he is only a few days off being eligible for next year’s draft. For a 200 cm player, McKay is very quick and agile. He can twist and turn and crumb like a small forward. He’s a terrific overhead mark, and he continually leads up the ground to present as a link up target. He’s a pretty good kick for goal too. At this stage, he’s a long-term prospect. He’s going to need to put on plenty of size to be able to compete, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class.

21. Ryan Burton
Club: 
North Adelaide
Position: Forward
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 89 kg
Player Comparison: Brett Burton

Burton’s broken leg could see him as a big slider, so it’s really difficult to get a gauge on where he sits. Although he is in that inbetween size, I can see Burton being a key forward. Burton has a massive leap, and his overhead marking is exceptional. Indeed, his game style isn’t too dissimilar to his namesake Brett Burton. Burton is a wonderful kick for goal, and he isn’t shy when it’s a clutch situation. Burton needs to improve his field kicking and forward smarts (ie where to lead and how to space himself). However, one thing that cannot be questioned is his defensive efforts, as he averaged three tackles per game in the Championships as a 17 year old.

22. Riley Bonner
Club:
West Adelaide
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player Comparison: Grant Birchall

Bonner is your classic elite ball user off the back flank. He’s probably the best long kick in the draft, and he can use both feet to a very high level. Bonner can play on the wing, or as a half forward too, but he’s played his best footy as a half-back this year. Bonner isn’t super quick, but he’s agile and he runs hard all game to present as a link-up target. The biggest issue with Bonner is his complete lack of accountability, but that should get better with a few years of development.

23. Clayton Oliver
Club:
Murray Bushrangers
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Comparison: Luke Parker

Oliver is a big bodied inside midfielder who has a few different tricks. He wins his own ball easily, and while he has a large frame, he needs to develop a bit more physically for his game to translate to the AFL. Oliver can go forward and take a strong mark, and his finishing around the goals is excellent. Oliver is a strong tackler and a hard worker who runs both ways. Interestingly, Oliver tested much better than most expected in the speed and agility drills, which perhaps raises his ceiling in the eyes of recruiters. He ran a 2.99 20 metre sprint, which isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s pretty good for an inside midfielder. His agility time of 8.11 seconds was third in the entire AFL combine, and incredible feat that will no doubt be taken into account on draft night.

24. Josh Dunkley
Club:
 Gippsland Power
Position: Midfielder
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 84 kg
Player Comparison: Early career Jobe Watson

Dunkley is an inside midfielder who finds the goals easily. His drive and work ethic is incredible, reminiscent of Jason Johnson in his prime.He uses his size to bully his opponents, which should still work relatively well at AFL level, but he hasn’t become the great extractor his skillset should allow him to. Dunkley is an incredible tackler and a strong overhead mark. His leadership is a plus as well. Dunkley averaged 6 and a half tackles in the TAC Cup over 13 games, with an astounding 18 tackles leading the way against the Falcons as a 17 year old. He’s a really poor kick and lacks any form of an outside game at this stage. He’s pretty sluggish off the mark too, but he’s got a pretty good tank. He showed that he can hold his own at VFL level, which is crucial for a player of his ilk.

25. Mitchell Hibberd
Club:
Clarence
Position: Half back
Height: 191 cm
Weight: 85 kg
Player Comparison: Brad Sheppard

Hibberd would be a nice complimentary player on any team. He’s a smart defender, who is really solid in the air. He reads the flight of the ball well and he’s a good athlete. Hibberd isn’t an elite kick, but he hits targets consistently and rarely turns the ball over. He makes the right decisions and he takes the game on when he’s rebounding. Hibberd finds plenty of the ball on the outside, and he’s damaging enough to float forward and have an impact. With his size, athleticism and skills, he’s a very solid option.

26. Ben McKay
Club:
Gippsland Power
Position: Key defender
Height: 200 cm
Weight: 91 kg
Player Comparison: Lachie Henderson

Ben McKay is the identical twin of Harry. Ben’s best skill is contested marking, which was showcased against Oakleigh, when he took five of them. Like Harry, he is quite agile, although Ben is a bit stronger at this stage. McKay is a solid user of the footy, although he doesn’t offer too much at this stage from a rebounding point of view. He’s a solid intercept mark, but at this stage, he’s more concerned with being accountable than peeling off his man. McKay also showed he can head forward effectively, as well as providing a chop out in the ruck.

27. Luke Partington
Club:
Norwood
Position: Outside midfielder
Height: 182 cm
Weight: 78 kg
Player Comparison: Leigh Montagna

Luke Partington looks to be a really well rounded midfielder. He’s got a bit of speed, and he’s the type to work hard all game, so he’s always providing a link up target on the outside. He’s a pretty neat kick and a nice decision maker too. He’s become a better inside midfielder this year too, using his smarts and speed to read the tap and win clearances, rather than using his strength.

28. Aidyn Johnson
Club:
Bendigo Pioneers
Position: Utility
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Comparison: No real comparison

It’s been hard to get a gauge on what type of player Aidyn Johnson is, due to his injury troubles. Johnson is one of the fastest and most agile players in this draft class, and will probably be taken in the second round based on that. Michael Ablett and Brett Anderson rate him very highly, with his agility (fourth in the AFL Combine), speed and also the ability to create space around goals that others can’t being the really exciting features of his game. Johnson is a great volume tackler, averaging four per game last year in the TAC Cup. He’s also got that match winning ability. He kicked four goals and laid seven tackles last year against the Falcons, and he had a two other games where he was the best player for the Pioneers. He’s got a fair bit that he needs to improve on based on the ten or so games he’s played in the last two years. His kicking is a little too erratic, and he can give away clumsy free kicks. He’s also got to try and use his pace to receive more handballs on the outside, as he struggles to get more than 10-15 touches most games.

29. Nick O’Kearney
Club: 
Calder Cannons
Position: Midfielder
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Player Comparison: Brent Stanton

I like O’Kearney more than most, and I think that comes with accepting that he is a limited role player. His ball winning is incredible, as he averaged 25 disposals in the TAC Cup as a 17 year old, and he’s shown that he can do that again as an 18 year old. Despite playing in a star studded Calder team, O’Kearney took out the Cannons’ best and fairest as a 17 year old, and may do so again. O’Kearney reminds me a lot of Brent Stanton, in that he is a terrific two way runner. He gets 65% of the ball on the outside, but he’s improved his inside game as well this year. O’Kearney captained Vic Metro in the Under 16’s and he has natural leadership qualities. However, despite his leadership and high production, there are clear knocks on his game. His kicking is pretty average for someone who is predominately an outside midfielder. It has improved a little bit, but not enough to be a top 25 pick in my eyes.

30. Bailey Rice
Club:
Dandenong Stingrays
Position: Half back/midfielder
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 81 kg
Player Comparison: Zak Jones

Rice is a real competitive beast who has made big strides this year. He’s a really strong contested mark for a half back, and he’s shown some real physicality when defending. He offers a lot on the rebound, and even though he’s not an elite kick, he’s very neat and rarely turns the ball over. Rice has shown that he can win his own football as a midfielder, and with increased running power, he can be a balanced midfielder. Rice throws himself at the footy and really reads the flight of the ball well.