THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 17 and 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 4.13 (37) def. by NORWOOD 10.10 (70)
By: Michael Alvaro
#14 Blake Hansen
With plenty to do in the Eagles’ defence, Hansen racked up an equal game-high 25 disposals and nine rebound 50s. The bottom-ager took on the kick-in duties while stationed in his usual defensive post, often snatching metres out of the goalsquare before unleashing a long kick. He was also shifted up onto the wing, showing the same kind of positive forward run and looking for handball receives on the outer.
#16 Will Pearce
Pearce was a strong and consistent part of the Eagles’ midfield mix, proving prominent around the contest in conditions which made clean extraction tough. He managed to get his hands on the ball plenty of times and finished with 21 disposals, seven marks, and six tackles in a pretty well-rounded display, though he couldn’t quite find the goals like he usually does up forward.
#18 William Neumann
Another strong body in midfield, Neumann seemed well suited to the conditions with his ample work over the ball and ability to break tackles with brute force. Neumann also showed some nice points of difference, with one being his overhead marking as he rose for a couple of solid grabs around the ground. He also won a free kick inside 50 and slotted a well-hit set shot goal, adding to his 20 touches and four clearances.
Dustin Launer again finished as one of the Eagles’ highest ball winners with 23 disposals, as the likes of Jack Murphy (19 disposals, nine marks) and Nathan Barkla (16 disposals, five tackles) put in solid shifts. Meanwhile, state Under 17s squad member Hunter Carter had it 14 times though midfield and snared a goal early in the final term.
#3 Noah Hyde
Hyde was super busy for Norwood on the outer, breaking the lines with positive run-and-carry and proving clever with ball in hand. He racked up 22 touches, seven marks and five inside 50s for the Redlegs, helping link forward in transition and breaking into some really dangerous areas. He very nearly impacted the scoreboard in a major way too, but could only register two behinds.
#9 Tyson Walls
Like Hyde, Walls helped link Norwood into attack with productive carry and clever ball use between the arcs. He looked to get creative with ball in hand; darting short kicks to his forwards, chaining possessions by hand, and working hard to have repeat impacts in his side’s passages of play. The state Under 17 squad member had another terrific outing overall, finishing with 21 disposals and five inside 50s.
#10 Taj Rahui
Arguably best afield for the Redlegs, Rahui was perhaps even better than his final statline of 25 disposals, six marks, and three rebound 50s. The bottom-ager mopped up beautifully across Norwood’s defensive half, setting a high line to help force turnovers and keep his side locked into attack mode. He handled the ball cleanly in tough conditions and was not afraid to take on tackles, with rebounding run a key feature of his game. Rahui also looked to kick through the corridor, hitting some aggressive passes through the middle to really compound his impact in a well-rounded performance.
#20 Charles Kemp
Another player who handled the ball exceptionally well in muddy conditions, Kemp clunked a remarkable seven contested marks among his total of eight overall. He used his strength well when stationed as Norwood’s deepest forward, engaging well with his opponent before snapping the ball up. As the game wore on, Kemp also worked further afield and presented strongly on the lead, proving a reliable marking target. He kicked three goals for the game, turning crumber for the last with a nice shark off hands and snap finish.
Norwood’s midfield worked hard at the coalface to set the Redlegs on the front foot, with the likes of Benjamin Belperio (24 disposals, eight clearances), Peter Minervini (23 disposals, five inside 50s, and Will Charlton (21 disposals, two goals) all returning really solid efforts. Jayden Gale was productive with nine inside 50s, while Will Bowman and Riley Verrall stood up in defence.
NORTH ADELAIDE 10.5 (65) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 15.7 (97)
By: Tom Wyman
#5 Shaun Bennier
Donning the long-sleeves, defender Shaun Bennier was one of the Roosters best performers on an otherwise disappointing day for the red and whites. Starting the game deep in defence, he was seemingly involved in everything for the Roosters as West Adelaide peppered the goal-face. His long kicking was on display as Bennier was charged with the kick-in duties. He had some good battles with a couple of the West Adelaide forwards, including Tom Scully, and did well despite giving away some height. Late in the second term he was moved to the other end of the ground, with the change paying immediate dividends as Bennier booted a set-shot goal. Moving back into defence after the main break, his ball use remained clean and his rebound proved important. He finished the game with 16 disposals, three marks and seven rebounds.
#28 Max Blacker
With important midfielders Hugh Jackson, Harvey Harrison and James Willis out of the side due to state commitments, bottom-aged on-baller Max Blacker was given a more balanced role through the midfield. He found plenty of the ball and seemed to enjoy spending some more time on the inside, compared to his predominately wing-role when the Roosters are at full-strength. He used the ball fairly well for most of the game, with his disposal by foot generally careful and precise. The equal-leading disposal getter for the home side, Blacker finished with 24 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three inside-50s.
Midfielder William Dowling (24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three clearances, six inside-50s and a goal) was certainly one of North’s best, working hard through the middle. He was joined by Kane McAuliffe (18 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and two goals) and Adam Heath (17 disposals and four clearances) who both fought hard. The former produced one of the highlights of the game by launching a left-foot goal from outside-50 late in the game. Angus Tully joined McAuliffe as the Roosters only multiple goal-kickers, booting a couple apiece, while James White laid a game-high 12 tackles to go with 16 disposals and a goal.
#7 Kobe Ryan
Bottom-aged midfielder Kobe Ryan was once again his sides most prolific player in the triumph over North Adelaide. The Sacred Heart College student showed excellent vision and skill to hit up his targets with ball in-hand. The placement of his kicks, despite the blustery conditions, highlighted his terrific skillset. He cracked in typically hard all-game, drawing a number of free kicks simply by going in lower than his opponent. A natural ball-winner who reads the game well in-tight, Ryan was knocked off the ball at-times by bigger bodied opposition, but concluded another positive showing with 32 possessions, five tackles, eight clearances and nine inside-50s.
#37 Tom Scully
Key forward Tom Scully had a great day in attack for West Adelaide. Scully provided teammate Harry Barnett with a cop-out in the ruck at-times, but was stationed deep in attack for much of the contest. He presented up the ground well, with his size and reach clearly worrying the North Adelaide defenders. He looked capable overhead without being dominant. A highlight was his strong one-on-one mark in the third term which led to a set-shot goal. Scully was very clean below his knees and showed a willingness to get involved in the game in general play rather than simply wait for his opportunities in the air. The tall utility finished with 12 disposals, three goals, two marks and 17 hit-outs.
#40 Luke Young
Medium forward Luke Young tore open the game with a brilliant passage in the second quarter which saw him boot three goals in as many minutes. Strong overhead, Young used his size to advantage in attack, nudging his opponent under the ball to take a couple of solid grabs. He combined well with Tom Scully inside-50, with the duo proving difficult to stop in-tandem. Young would add a fourth goal in the final term to complete a terrific showing which saw him also manage 17 disposals and six marks (two contested).
#51 Harry Barnett
Big-man Harry Barnett was terrific in the ruck for West Adelaide, often getting both hands to the ball at stoppages and either clearing space or palming it down to his midfielders. However Barnett’s ability to impact the game aerially was particularly exciting. His judgement of the ball in-flight and strong hands overhead allowed him to take five grabs for the game – two of which were contested. Barnett showed off his leap and athleticism by soaring high early in the first term to haul in a spectacular grab. The teenager worked hard around the ground and booted a second-term goal. He finished the day with 9 disposals and 23 hit-outs in an encouraging performance given the less-than favourable conditions at Prospect Oval.
Small defender Charlie Pridham didn’t accumulate as much of the ball as in recent weeks, however he still had some important touches, particularly under pressure down back. The under-18 competition’s leading rebounder, Pridham managed 17 disposals, four tackles and three rebounds in the Bloods win. Midfielders Tyson Coe and Dylan McCormick produced workmanlike performances through the middle. Coe impressed with his brute strength and clean hands in-tight, finishing the game with 18 touches, five tackles, six clearances and four inside-50s. The speedy McCormick also gathered 18 possessions, to go with four tackles, five clearances and three inside-50s.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 6.7 (43) def. GLENELG 4.9 (33)
By: Tom Wyman
#5 Angus Bradley
The blonde-haired utility spent the game in the midfield, having shown an ability to fill a role across half-back earlier in the year. Bradley was effective at stoppages, positioning himself well, reading the ruckman’s taps and often clearing the area with a quick snap. In tricky conditions, he showed a desire to break open the game with some passages of run and carry. However Bradley could have lowered his eyes to spot up shorter targets at-times instead of kicking long, particularly when going forward. He added a goal in the third term after capitalising on a Bays fumble on the goal-line and finished the day with 22 disposals, five tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s.
#11 Jaiden Magor
Bottom-ager Jaiden Magor started the game at half-forward but rotated through the midfield as the game wore on. He didn’t accumulate the numbers of fellow on-ballers Angus Bradley or Luke Mitton, however Magor showed some glimpses which suggests he has a very bright future. He was clean at ground level and weaved through traffic nicely. His highlight of the game came tucked against the boundary line where Magor danced past a couple of would-be tacklers, located a target in the corridor and picked him off with a pin-point drop punt. He tackled hard as always and moved well across the ground but missed a couple of opportunities in-front of goal, finishing with three behinds to go with 13 disposals, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s.
#13 Lachlan Hayes
Lachlan Hayes was South Adelaide’s glue down back in what was arguably a best on-ground performance. The diminutive defender read the play well and positioned himself well to cut off a number of Glenelg attacking moments. Spending some time on the dangerous Harry Tunkin at-times, he not only held his own in one-on-one situations, but covered for a number of his teammates, always seeming to be in the thick of it in defence. He provided plenty of rebound from South Adelaide’s defensive-50 and used the ball well in windy and slippery conditions. The 17-year-old from the Cove Football Club finished with a team-high 27 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and 11 rebounds.
Small midfielder Luke Mitton was combative in his on-ball role, providing some all-important energy around the contest. He gathered 20 disposals (including 18 kicks), five tackles and six clearances. Fellow midfielder Tom Wheaton managed 17 disposals, five tackles and three clearances. Talented ruckman Will Verrall fought hard against Glenelg big-man Henry Gould, with the pair both having their moments. Verrall finished with 24 hit-outs along with eight disposals. Clever forward Jack Delean booted two goals from his seven touches, including a well-taken set-shot.
#6 Darcy Gluyas
With a couple of Glenelg’s best players absent from the under-18 side due to state commitments on Friday night, Darcy Gluyas was the Bays go-to guy in the middle. He was dominant in the first term, winning 14 possession and providing some calmness and composure in an otherwise scrappy, heavily contested-style game. Wearing the long-sleeves, Gluyas spent some time on the inside and the outside and looked particularly damaging when given some time and space. He gathered 26 disposals, four marks, six tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s in a well-rounded display.
#29 Hayden Brokensha
Bottom-ager Hayden Brokensha played arguably his best game in Bays colours in the clubs ten-point defeat. He was deployed across half-back where he demonstrated good poise and looked quite at home. An unfortunate mistake on the Panthers goal-line led to a South Adelaide major, however Brokensha accumulated plenty of the football and showed some promising signs in the yellow and black, finishing with a game-high 29 disposals, two marks and six rebounds.
#38 Jakob Ryan
Jakob Ryan lined-up across half-forward to start the game but was moved onto the wing as the game progressed. He had a set-shot early in the game but pushed the kick across the face. He was clean by hand on a couple of occasions on the outer wing and was composed with his ball-use all day, both by hand and by foot. A classy mover who has performed well for Glenelg’s under-18s since re-joining the team a couple of weeks ago, Ryan gathered 26 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three inside-50s.
Adelaide father-son product Brodie Edwards produced another solid performance playing a variety of roles for Glenelg. Clean by hand throughout the contest, he finished with 22 disposals, four clearances and three rebounds. Harry Tunkin managed 20 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal and was typically busy around the ball. Archie Lovelock and Will Watts both accumulated 22 disposals, whilst key forward Harry McInnes booted three of Glenelg’s four goals for the game.
CENTRAL DISTRICT 7.12 (54) def. by STURT 15.13 (103)
By: Michael Alvaro
#17 Tahjin Krieg
Krieg was Centrals’ best player afield and the most prolific across both sides, finishing with impressive numbers of 37 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. He was constantly on the move in midfield, breaking to the outer and generating plenty of forward momentum for his side. While Sturt was well on top for most of the game, Krieg proved a consistent figure and was clever in his decision making with ball in hand. Whether it was darting away to avoid tacklers or drawing the opponent one way before moving the other, Krieg found ways to manufacture room to run, with his sharp kicks the only facet which sometimes let him down.
#38 Brodie Tuck
Considering his side was dominated for much of the contest, Tuck fared well to come away with 21 disposals, eight marks, and 3.3 as Centrals’ rotating ruck-forward. He was mostly stationed forward and proved a focal point for the Bulldogs, but not always in a traditional key position sense. While Tuck presented nicely up the ground as a marking option, he was also made to work with plenty of ground balls inside 50, and showcased some dynamism when doing so. The bottom-ager snagged two of his three majors during the third term, putting through consecutive snaps with class for a man of his 193cm standing.
Ruben Carreno had plenty to do down back before being shifted to midfield, showcasing a sound short kicking game among his 25-disposal effort. Henry Ratcliff also rolled through midfield and collected 21 touches, while Jake Grubb (17 disposals, seven marks) was handy on the outer and Adam Deakin (12 disposals, six marks, three behinds) was dangerous once swung forward from defence.
#7 Nick Sadler
Sadler was superb for Sturt, showcasing every bit of his class from midfield with 26 disposals, six clearances and a goal. He looked as polished as anyone in possession, with his clean hands and punchy kicking helping the Double Blues gain ascendancy in the centre. The bottom-ager proved a slippery customer and utilised his speed on the ball, snatching metres or gaining ample separation to ensure his kicks were either well directed or at least penetrative. He was even busy when resting forward and speared some lovely passes to others, while also producing a highlight-reel speccy and goal at the end of the third term.
#11 Luca Slade
Sturt has some really promising Under 16 talent coming through its 18s squad, and Slade is one of them. The 2005-born midfielder-forward enjoyed plenty of minutes in the engine and looked dangerous on the break, using his speed to carry the Double Blues into attack. When stationed forward, Slade worked up to the arc and helped link his side towards goal. His smarts showed more and more as the game wore on, and Slade finished with 28 disposals, seven marks and a goal – with more than just one look at the big sticks.
#28 George Pope
Another of Sturt’s up-and-coming Under 16s, Pope continues to show promise after contributing 24 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals. The under-ager rotated through midfield but spent plenty of time forward, using his strength to bustle through tackles and release handballs under that kind of pressure. He helped the Double Blues break into attack and while his disposal by foot remains a touch raw, Pope managed to convert two terrific goals.
Sturt was served well by its forwards, as Jackson Bishop (13 disposals, four goals), Chad Reschke (15 disposals, nine marks, two goals), and Blake Fidge (14 disposals, one goal) formed a very handy trio. Cormac Dwyer was productive in midfield with 28 disposals, five clearances and a goal, while the likes of Jamie Taylor and Kai Tucker also had their moments on either side of midfield.
Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography via South Adelaide FC