Tag: isaac birt

Draft Central’s 2021 SANFL Under 18s Team of the Year

WITH only Saturday’s grand final left to play, now is the perfect time to look back at the SANFL Under 18s season that was in Draft Central‘s 2021 Team of the Year (TOTY). Finalists Glenelg and Woodville-West Torrens combined to contribute nine members of the 22-man squad, which is led by West Adelaide midfielder Cade Kennedy (captain) and highly touted South Adelaide prospect Arlo Draper (vice-captain).

Nine of the selected group represented South Australia in last month’s Under 19 National Championships bout against Western Australia, while a further two did so at Under 17 level this year. There were also plenty of talented South Australians who narrowly missed, either due to playing more football up the grades, in school competitions, or through the squad’s overall strength.

We take you through all 22 selections line-by-line, highlighting the strengths each squad member brings to the collective and exactly why they each feature.

DEFENCE

FB: Charlie Pridham (West Adelaide) – Dayne McGary (Glenelg) – Brock Thomson (Woodville-West Torrens)
HB:
Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide) – Oscar Adams (Glenelg) – Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

Clean foot skills and composure with ball in hand are prominent traits of the TOTY defence. Named in the back pocket, West Adelaide’s Charlie Pridham enjoyed a standout season for the Bloods, playing every game (including two finals), and finishing with the most disposals and kicks of anyone in the competition. A reliable contributor down back, Pridham remained calm under pressure and provided plenty of rebound and drive from the backline.

Glenelg’s Dayne McGary earned selection at full back following a strong season in the yellow and black, which saw him average 15 disposals and six marks per game. Often assigned the oppositions best tall forward, McGary’s strength and clean kicking were vital for the Bays’ success. Eagles defender Brock Thomson was an obvious selection down back following an ultra consistent year for the grand finalists, which saw him average 23 disposals, four marks and close to six rebound 50s.

North Adelaide gun Blayne O’Loughlin demanded a half-back spot after a terrific season at Prospect which saw him earn state Under 19 selection. As clean and composed as anyone under duress, O’Loughlin’s attacking instincts and dash from defence were hallmarks of the Roosters’ game plan. Oscar Adams joins fellow Tiger McGary in defence, slotting into the centre half-back role. Adams spent the year rotating between the ruck and a defensive role, with his height, reach and aerial prowess earning him state honours.

State Under 19 vice-captain Lewis Rayson slots in on the other half-back flank, having provided the Bays with plenty of trademark run-and-carry throughout the season. Also effective through the midfield, Rayson is a high metres gained type of player, whose dare and attack on the ball has proven valuable for SA and Glenelg alike.

MIDFIELD

C: Isaac Birt (South Adelaide) – Cade Kennedy (West Adelaide, captain) – Dustin Launer (Woodville-West Torrens)
FOL:
Will Verrall (South Adelaide) – Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide) – Arlo Draper (South Adelaide, vice-captain,)

South Adelaide’s Isaac Birt was a simple selection on the wing following a breakout season which saw him rise to become one of the state’s best outside midfielders. His combination of speed, endurance and crisp ball use cut apart games week-after-week, with his Round 10 effort against Norwood (31 disposals, two goals, 11 marks, five tackles and eight inside-50s) sure to have caught the attention of scouts.

Hard-working West Adelaide skipper Cade Kennedy is the starting centreman in the TOTY and has been named captain after displaying tremendous on-field leadership to inspire the Bloods’ rise from bottom last season to a preliminary final berth. He averaged 27 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s as one of the competition’s most well-rounded on-ballers. Hard at the contest but an effective run and carry option, Kennedy is well-deserving of a spot in the starting midfield.

Eagles utility Dustin Launer could have slotted into just about any position on the team, such is his versatility, but his efforts in a balanced midfield role see him selected on the wing. A classy ball user and hard runner, Launer collected 30 disposals in five games, including efforts of 42 and 37 (twice). Talented bottom-aged Panther Will Verrall narrowly edged out Centrals’ Saxon Evans and West’s Oscar Steene to win the number one ruck role. Verrall finished second in the competition for total hitouts, but was arguably more dominant when the ball hit the ground, with his ball-use and willingness to compete at ground level impressive for a player of his height.

North Adelaide’s Hugh Jackson was another obvious choice in the midfield rotation. He shot out of the blocks and finished with an average of 29 disposals, five marks, four clearances and five inside 50s. A smooth mover and good ball user on his left foot, Jackson was also clever by hand throughout the year. Despite spending time in the Reserves and League grades, South Adelaide’s Arlo Draper was too good at Under 18s level to leave out of the team of the year. Averaging 24 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six clearances and a goal per game, Draper was a class above the field in his nine matches. A classy mover who excels in traffic at stoppages, Draper also proved difficult to handle up forward and has been named vice-captain of the side.

FORWARD

HF: Hugh Stagg (Glenelg) – Will Pearce (Woodville-West Torrens) – Jesse Thackeray (West Adelaide)
FF:
Jack Delean (South Adelaide) – Corey Brougham (Glenelg) – Zyton Santillo (North Adelaide)

The half-forward line of the TOTY certainly packs a punch, led by Glenelg bull Hugh Stagg. Stagg’s power and strength was integral to the Bays’ engine room throughout the year, but he also proved his worth up forward by kicking 23 goals in 13 games for the minor premiers. At centre half-forward, competition leading goal kicker Will Pearce demanded selection after a dominant season with the Eagles which saw him bag 47 majors from 20 matches and lead the competition in contested marks. Loxton North product Jesse Thackeray produced a great season for the Bloods. Splitting his time between the midfield and half-forward, Thackeray’s work rate was always high and his defensive work wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the West Adelaide coaching staff.

Despite not being draft eligible for another couple of years, brilliant small forward Jack Delean is thoroughly deserving of his forward pocket role. He booted 26 goals in eight Under 16 matches to help the Panthers to the flag earlier in the season, then took to the Under 18 competition like a duck to water, bagging 35 goals in 13 matches – including two hauls of five, never failing to hit the scoreboard. Electric at forward-50 stoppages, Delean wrecked havoc in the air and on the ground in a sensational season in the blue and white.

Glenelg’s Corey Brougham narrowly edged teammate Jack Harding to take out the all-important full forward position. A reliable set shot for goal, booting 38 goals in 14 matches, Brougham was unstoppable on the lead and his vice-like hands saw him mark just about everything which came his way. Zippy Rooster Zyton Santillo‘s defensive pressure and creative ball use through the midfield and in attack saw him earn a spot on the opposing pocket. Santillo produced a consistent season, finishing with an average of 23 disposals, five marks, five tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s per game.

INTERCHANGE

Matthew Dnistriansky (Norwood) – Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens) – Saxon Evans (Central District) – Harvey Harrison (North Adelaide)

The interchange bench was hotly contested, but Norwood’s Matthew Dnistriansky simply had to be picked to fill a role across the backline. Norwood’s most consistent player in what was a tricky year for the defending premiers, Dnistriansky’s measured ball use, sound vision and decision making were highlights of his year.

Following a dominant preliminary final showing, in which he booted five goals and lead his team to victory, Eagles captain Jordan Lukac was a late inclusion into the squad. Impressive up forward, the athletic big man also helped out in the ruck and got stronger as the season wore on. Bulldogs tall Saxon Evans finished the season with the most hit-outs of anyone and is arguably the best tap-ruckman in the state. Athletically gifted, Evans was perhaps unlucky not to be given a run in the state side against Western Australia.

Harvey Harrison is North Adelaide’s fourth selection in the team of the year. A midfielder with terrific running power and handy skills at top speed, Harrison is good in-tight but spreads as well as anyone in the competition. He finished the year averaging 25 disposals, six marks, four tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s.

Unlucky to miss: 

As is the case with all representative sides, there are a number of talented players who should consider themselves unlucky to have missed the cut. Glenelg had a number of fantastic contributors throughout the season, including medium defender Cooper Beecken, smart forward Harry Tunkin, classy midfielders Darcy Gluyas and Hunter Window, and strong-marking tall forward Jack Harding.

West Adelaide’s Kobe Ryan would have easily made the side but spent much of the year playing college football with Sacred Heart. His Bloods teammates Dylan White and Luke Young also narrowly missed out. Central District struggled at times, but Tahjin Krieg and Isaiah Dudley were standout performers. From South Adelaide, rebounding defender Lachlan Hayes and nimble midfielder Luke Mitton could also consider themselves unlucky to have narrowly missed the cut.

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL U18s – Semi Finals

THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season moved into finals 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 representative squad members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WEST ADELAIDE 12.11 (83) def. SOUTH ADELAIDE 11.6 (72)  

WEST ADELAIDE:

#9 Kobe Ryan

Ryan started the game by winning the opening clearance. The 17-year-old midfielder wasted no time in getting to work, putting his body on the line, winning some contested ball then using it well by foot. A smooth-mover, Ryan always looked balanced and level-headed despite doing much of his handy work on the inside, where his distribution by hand and often times freakish cleanliness shone through. A smart footballer, Ryan worked tirelessly up and down the ground and won a team-high seven clearances along with 22 disposals and three marks.

#10 Cade Kennedy

West Adelaide regained its skipper for the semi-finals after the Mitcham junior was called up to the state side last weekend. One of the competition’s premier ball winners, Kennedy set the tone with his attack on the ball and work rate away from the stoppages. His kicking was inconsistent, with a couple of clever kicks working nicely as others resulted in a couple of turnovers. However, his hard two-way running was evident as he gathered important possessions down back, in the centre of the ground, and in the forward 50, proving he is far from a pure stoppage midfielder. Kennedy tackled with intent and lead from the front for the Bloods. He finished with 22 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#36 Tyson Coe

Whilst the likes of Kennedy, Ryan and Jesse Thackeray have received plenty of attention for their efforts in the Bloods’ engine room this season, Coe produced a best-on-ground performance to will West over the line. Coe was fearless at the contest, hitting the ball at pace and scrapping hard at ground level. He looked to break open the game at the stoppages by bursting through and using his strength to discard tacklers. He was excellent defensively too, with a bone-crunching bump on schoolmate Angus Bradley sure to be talked about at recess throughout the week. The sloppy conditions at ACH Group Stadium clearly suited his bash-and-crash style, but Coe’s ball use on his left foot was terrific, with his kick to the leading Harry Lemmey particularly noteworthy. The bottom-ager finished the game with 24 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles, four clearances and five rebounds in a confidence building effort.

#45 Oscar Steene

After leading the South Australian ruck division in Perth last weekend, Steene started the semi-final at full forward as Tom Scully handled the ruck duties. He was quiet in the first half, but kicked into gear after the half time break, booting his first goal at the six-minute mark of the third term. Steene spent more time in the ruck after the break, competing well against South Adelaide star Will Verrall. Steene competed well once the ball hit the deck, tackling hard and winning a couple of clearances for his side. With the South Adelaide defence clearly bothered by his extra height, Steene crashed a couple of packs in the final term. He sealed the deal with two final term goals to finish with three majors, along with eight disposals, five tackles, 19 hit-outs and four clearances.

#54 Harry Lemmey

Lemmey returned to the Bloods’ Under 18 setup and performed well. Likened to fellow West Adelaide product and current-Crow Riley Thilthorpe for his height, running capacity and clean skills, Lemmey booted an early goal after being rewarded for a strong tackle with a holding-the-ball free kick. He snapped his second just a couple of minutes later, reaping the benefits of playing in front. Lemmey presented well all game, leading up at the ball-carrier and almost demanding the footy at stages. He booted a terrific goal from 45m to give West the fast start in the third term, and a lead that would ultimately prove insurmountable. The talented 17-year-old finished with nine disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

Others:

Up forward, Luke Young combined well with the aforementioned Lemmey. His strength overhead was impressive, taking a couple of contested marks. He booted two goals from 10 disposals, five marks and five tackles. Dylan McCormick was important early for the Bloods, booting two first term goals as West Adelaide jumped out of the blocks. He was quiet after that, finishing with 10 touches, but still managed to win four clearances and lay four tackles. Dylan White’s defensive pressure was noticeable, particularly early. He gathered 19 disposals and nine marks but finished with 0.2 in front of goal. Jed Obst (19 disposals and six marks) and Jesse Thackeray (22 disposals, six marks, six tackles, four clearances and a goal) worked well in the midfield and up forward, while the ever-reliable Charlie Pridham (20 disposals, five tackles and three rebounds) was solid down back.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Jack Delean

The in-form forward of the competition was held reasonably quiet for much of the game, but still managed to kick 3.2 for South in a testament to the 16-year-old’s prodigious talent. He gave South the ideal start by streaming in to kick the first of the match, but was relatively unsighted for the rest of the first term. West Adelaide clearly did its homework on Delean, and looked to block his run at forward 50 stoppages, where he has proven incredibly dangerous throughout the season to-date. He was flattened by a shirt-front hit by West’s David Midwinter but, to his credit, bounced back up and lated kicked his second after an errant kick landed in his welcoming hands. He flew for the ball in attack and was equally as dangerous at ground level. Along with his three majors, Delean finished with 12 disposals, two marks and a couple of clearances.

#5 Angus Bradley

Bradley was industrious in the Panthers’ engine room. He found plenty of the ball early and used it well by hand and foot, setting up Jack Delean for the game’s opening goal. In sluggish conditions, Bradley applied plenty of defensive pressure and ran hard into defence to provide an option for his under-siege teammates. He always looked to be near the footy and played a very well-rounded game to finish with 17 disposals, five marks, 10 tackles and three clearances.

#10 Isaac Birt

The wingman enjoyed a busy start to the game, with much of the match being played on his outer side wing. He faded out of the quarter, but still looked to use his terrific foot skills and line-breaking capabilities to break open the game on the outside. Although he didn’t hit every target, the Strathalbyn wingers kicking was always well-shaped and placed and looked good off the boot. However he struggled to impact the game on a consistent basis, winning just 11 disposals to go with four marks and three inside 50s.

#11 Jaiden Magor

With key forwards Koby Cockshell and Tom Schirmer struggling to impact the game and Jack Delean flashing in and out, Magor stood tall to provide a genuine goalkicking option in attack. After nearly 10 minutes of tough, contested football in the second term, he slotted his first to break the deadlock and trigger a flurry of goals from South Adelaide. On restricted midfield minutes, Magor made the best of his half-forward role to boot his second in the third quarter before adding another couple in the final term, including one after the siren. Magor kept South Adelaide in it at times, managing 11 disposals and four tackles.

#33 Arlo Draper

Potential top 10 pick, Draper returned to bolster the Panthers’ Under 18s side after spending time across both League and Reserves levels throughout the year. He didn’t disappoint either, providing class on the inside when others fumbled. Stationed in the middle for the majority of the match, his first noteworthy act was a goal-saving smother in the defensive 50, quick gather and side-step, before lowering his eyes and hitting the target with a short kick. He was one-touch at ground level and brilliant in traffic, using poise and acceleration to dance out of trouble. His vision and spatial awareness was excellent and he backed it up with precise skill execution and some handy contested marking too. Some of his movement in congestion screamed first round pick, and his foot skills, decision making and stoppage smarts were similarly impressive. In a well-rounded display, Draper finished with 24 disposals, five marks, six tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Verrall well and truly announced himself as star of the future with a terrific display in the ruck for South Adelaide. His follow-up work at the stoppages was exciting and much-needed, as the Bloods on-ballers dominated the clearances for much of the game. As he’s shown all season long, Verrall was willing to get down low and compete to win his own ball, showing rare athleticism and good skills in general play. He had a clear advantage in the ruck, winning the majority of hit-outs against West’s duel-pronged ruck attack of Tom Scully and Oscar Steene. He was instrumental in South’s second quarter comeback, following a disappointing start to the game. Verrall concluded the game with 21 disposals, 28 hit-outs, a game-high 11 clearances and a staggering eight inside 50s to finish off a sensational 2021 season from the Christies Beach bottom-ager.

Others:

The Panthers simply did not have enough contributors for significant parts of the game, with 11 players registering below 10 touches. Lively forward Blake Rodrigues managed just six touches but slotted three goals in his lively spurts. Zippy midfielder Luke Mitton gathered 18 disposals and eight clearances, while Lachlan Hayes amassed 18 disposals and seven rebounds.

GLENELG 16.10 (106) def. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 8.6 (54)

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

It was a classic small forward’s game from Prince Alfred College teenager Tunkin, whose football intelligence and natural ability shone through. He operated up forward for most of the game, albeit for a couple of shorter bursts through the midfield, and did exactly what head coach Darren Trevena would have asked for. He brought an intense and relentless tacking pressure and matched the hardness with polish in front of goal. His efficiency in attack to boot four goals, ensured the Bays’ midfield supremacy received just reward. He used his core strength to brush off a number of tacklers and ran into all the right spaces in a well-rounded showing, complimenting his four majors with 16 possessions and six tackles.

#3 Hunter Window

Window was in everything for Glenelg, playing an important role through the midfield. He won most of his possessions on the outside and ran relentlessly to seemingly always be available as an outlet option. A highlight was his dribble effort in the second term which trickled through for a major. Not all of his touches were particularly damaging, but they were important and often proved the starting point of a Glenelg attack. His clean skills by hand were particularly noteworthy, including his quick give to set up a Hugh Stagg goal. Window laid a bone-crunching tackle on Eagles half-back Mishai Wollogorang inside 50, however he wasn’t able to take his free kick after leaving the ground under the blood rule. Clearly a smart runner, Window finished the day with a game-high 29 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds.

#5 Hugh Stagg

One of several state Under 19 representatives running around at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday, Stagg had his moments for the hosts. The Immanuel College product displayed the sort of grunt, power and explosiveness which earned him state honours, ripping the ball away from the stoppages on a couple of occasions. However, he did his best work in attack, snapping truly early in the first term before running in to boot his second later in the game. His big body and aggression proved important around the stoppages, with Stagg winning four clearances to go with his 22 disposals, three marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#11 Jacob Owens

Owens pieced together a solid showing to help the Bays book a place in the SANFL Under 18 grand final. His flying shot at goal missed but registered the game’s first score, however he would add a couple of goals to his name later on; kicking a settling goal in the third term from a tight angle before capping off the win with a classy right-foot snap with the outside of his boot. The wingman occasionally could have lowered his eyes with ball in hand, but was generally reliable with his disposal and clean with his hands. He accumulated 21 disposals and three marks.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Rayson’s adventurous running and long kicking was a highlight in Glenelg’s 52-point semi-final win over Woodville-West Torrens. He won an early holding-the-ball free kick, however his first couple of kicks missed their intended target and were turned over. Rayson worked his way into the game though and his ball use certainly improved. Rayson’s 50m kick from centre half-back to centre half-forward landed in the lap of Darcy Gluyas and was a textbook example of the high metres-gained style of game he plays. He dodged and weaved his way out of traffic well, sent the ball inside 50 on a game-high eight occasions and took a courageous mark under duress in the final term. The South Australian vice-captain gathered 24 possessions, four marks and three rebounds in the win.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Wiry utility Beecken was a standout for Glenelg. He lined up on the wing for much of the game, but demonstrated terrific work rate and football smarts to drop back into defence when required. Down back he took a couple of important intercept marks by floating in from the side. Importantly, he made the most of his possessions, often finding a target out wide to initiate the counter attacks. Particularly effective in the second half, Beecken nailed a couple of inside 50 kicks which would have caught the attention of the AFL scouts watching on. Beecken, who has had a consistent year in the black and yellow, collected 18 disposals, five marks and four rebounds.

#38 Jakob Ryan

Talented wingman, Ryan was among the Tigers’ best as the minor premiers cruised into the decider. After starting the game up forward, he was soon moved into the wing role he’s played so well in throughout the second half of the season. He got his game going by laying a textbook tackle, before showing good awareness and vision with a couple of possessions. Ryan, who claimed best afield honours in Sacred Heart’s All-Schools Cup triumph last month, connected with Harry Tunkin inside 50 after summing up the situation with composure and poise. The catalyst of many attacks, Ryan was everywhere in the third quarter, dominating his opponent on the outer wing. Although he had a couple of prior blemishes in front of goal, Ryan was rewarded for his efforts with a late major after taking an easy mark in the goalsquare. The SA Under 17 representative finished the day with 24 touches, seven marks (two contested) and six inside 50s.

Others:

Half-back Joel Virtanen impressed with his precise kicking in the defensive-half, gathering 21 possessions and five rebounds. Brodie Edwards (17 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) had a hot start to the game, showing some class in traffic and cleanliness with his disposal in a number of roles. Midfielders Darcy Gluyas (15 disposals and four marks), Darcy Porter (18 disposals, six marks and a goal) and Archie Lovelock (20 disposals and four clearances) also featured prominently for the home side.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#4 Jase Burgoyne

Burgoyne lined up at the centre bounces against fellow father-son prospect Brodie Edwards and spent virtually the entire game on-ball, despite showing his class across half-back for the SA Under 19s last weekend. Burgoyne was typically composed and assured with ball in hand. He didn’t win a lot of contested ball against a well versed and deep Glenelg midfield unit, but was clean on the outside when many others wasted the ball in tricky conditions. Burgoyne took a couple of strong contested grabs when drifting back into defence to remind everyone of his high-end talent. The Eagles’ leading possession winner, Burgoyne finished with 28 touches, four marks and six rebounds in a tough loss.

#6 Dustin Launer

Launer had patches of excellent play in an otherwise disappointing day for Woodville-West Torrens. He took a while to work into the game, but broke it open with a couple of trademark run-and-carry efforts through the centre of the ground. Launer, who has risen to become one of the competition’s most prolific ball winners, ran into an open goal to kick-start the Eagles in the second term. He certainly looked to carve up the Bays’ defensive structures with his terrific kicking, but wasn’t quite able to have the influence on the outside of the contest as he has had in recent weeks. However, he was strong in the trenches, winning a game-high seven clearances to go with 20 disposals and seven inside 50s, and finishing as one of the Eagles’ best.

#8 Brock Thomson

Clean-kicking defender, Thomson held up well despite Glenelg dominating possession of the ball from start to finish. Charged with the kick-in duties, his raking foot skills were effective and well complemented by composure and a touch of class. As others around him turned it over, Thomson’s kicking remained steady as he set things up nicely from the Eagles defensive 50. He finished the game with 23 disposals and six rebound 50s.

#18 Lukas Cooke

Key forward, Cooke fought hard and provided a marking option all day for the Eagles. Battling head-to-head with South Australia’s centre-half-back Oscar Adams early, the pair engaged in a competitive battle, with both players having their moments. Cooke presented nicely and was clean above his head. When the Eagles were able to move the ball with speed and precision, the Westminster College product was there to get on the end of it. However, he will rue passing off a gettable set shot instead of walking back and taking the honours himself after a solid lead-up mark. His long range set shot in the final term gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope, but it proved too little, too late. One of the Eagles’ best, the tall forward gathered 11 disposals, six marks (four contested) and booted one major in the loss.

#26 Jordan Lukac

Lukac alternated between full forward and the ruck and looked the most threatening key position player on the field for a large part of the contest. In the ruck, the Eagles skipper used his reach and leap to really propel himself at the contest and often looked to clear the area rather than palm it down with finesse. He finished with the most hit-outs of the four ruckman on the ground, in an effort which will impress recruiters after showcasing his raw athleticism in last weekend’s state match. In attack, he timed his leads well and made the most of his opportunities in front of goal by converting a couple of set shots. Lukac finished the day with 11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and 15 hit-outs.

Others:

Eagles midfielder Sam Nicholls fought hard in-and-under, had a couple of nice moments by foot, and laid a tough tackle on Glenelg wingman Jacob Owens to finish with 16 disposals and nine tackles. Henry Hawker was strong down back, gathering 19 possessions, five marks and four rebounds. Henley High School duo Jay Watson (11 disposals and a goal) and Brayden Calvett (14 disposals and a goal) used the ball well and injected some speed across the wing and half-forward. Mattaes Phillipou was quiet but still chipped in with 13 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal.

Featured Image: Glenelg’s Cooper Beecken stretches for a mark | Credit: Glenelg FC

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFLU19s – Western Australia vs. South Australia

THE 2021 AFL Under 19 National Championships got underway on Saturday in a last-minute clash between Western Australia and South Australia at Lathlain Park, with the hosts getting up 9.13 (67) to 5.8 (38). In a bumper edition of Scouting Notes, we take a look at the performances of every player afield, including some defining showings from top draft prospects. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: WA claims big win in champs opener

WESTERN AUSTRALIA #1-19:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

The Fremantle NGA member didn’t have that four-quarter performance he would have been after, but still managed to show his eye-catching traits – starting in the first quarter with a trademark rove and snap goal, showing his forward craft. Motlop provided great pressure and second efforts in the second quarter, but was very quiet in the third quarter before moving into the midfield in the last and winning plenty of the ball, while also taking a few marks around the ground.

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)

The only 2022 draft prospect to take the field, Hagan looked as comfortable as anyone out on the ground and showed plenty of composure and competitiveness down back. Hagan provided some meaningful drive of half-back, often using the ball well by hand and foot, but it was his competitiveness for his size that really impressed. In one instance he won a contest against SA tall forward Morgan Ferres, who had been beating most taller opponents all day in marking contests. A consistent four-quarter performer, Hagan looks a great prospect for the 2022 draft.

#4 Judd McVee (East Fremantle)

The speedy half-back didn’t do a lot wrong, playing a new position this year after showing signs as a midfielder at Under 16s state level. McVee was smooth in most things he did with ball in hand, using it by hand and foot and looking stylish in the way he carried the ball from defence. Although his production wasn’t as high as other teammates in defence, his slick ball use and role was still very important.

#7 Angus Sheldrick (Claremont)

It was a typical game from Sheldrick with the strong bodied midfielder showing his contested prowess around the ball, and equally strong drive and attacking mindset. Sheldrick’s kicking wasn’t at his best standard and he could have kicked a nice goal on the run which ended up hitting the post, and that kicking will be something he continues to work on. His attack on the ball, however, is just about the best amongst this year’s draft crop – winning some free kicks from some courageous plays. His third quarter was his best highlighted by a one-handed intercept mark and another play brushing off an opponent with ease to kick long inside 50.

#9 Max Chipper (Swan Districts)

Chipper was a late in for the injured Neil Erasmus and he made the most of his call-up to be among his side’s major ball winners playing on the wing. Chipper did well to work into defence to be an outlet for a switch and his ball use from the defensive half was solid. Although not the quickest with ball in hand, his work-rate around the ground helped him take plenty of marks and contribute well in transition for WA.

#12 Lochlan Paton (West Perth)

One of the pressure forwards for WA, Paton played his role well despite his low production and he was rewarded late in the game with a nice intercept mark and snap goal. Paton’s pressure and ability to get some timely smothers in set up plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates and despite a few unlucky free kicks given away, he kept up his pressure for all four quarters. A midfielder for the last few years, Paton has fared well in this forward role of late.

#13 Bryce Watson (Swan Districts)

The athletic small defender didn’t lose too many contests as his leap and speed gave the SA forwards a lot of trouble, with some nice spoils and an ability to close down his opponents on the lead. Watson’s kicking wasn’t to a great standard at times but his work by hand was often clean and creative, and he showed a solid mix of defending and attacking. His strong contested intercept mark in the third quarter was a real highlight.

#14 Taj Woewodin (East Fremantle)

The Melbourne father-son prospect had a solid game playing on the wing and across half-back, showing safe decision making with ball in hand and good skills by hand and foot. His knack of taking intercept marks showed his ability to read the play well and he almost kicked a nice goal from long range in the second quarter, but just missed. It’s been a solid year for Woewodin, with that consistency on show in his game against SA in an as-expected sort of performance from him.

#15 Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle)

The captain of WA was a steady head in defence, often using the ball well by foot and barely losing a one-on-one contest. It was no surprise to see him favour his kicking over handballing, with some very nice kicks well weighted to his teammates. Although this game wasn’t his most productive, he still managed to show why he was made captain of the side.

#18 Josh Browne (East Fremantle)

Although it took until the second half for Browne to really get going, it turned out a rather typical performance form the East Fremantle ball magnet with his ability to win the ball on the inside and outside. Browne’s consistency by foot was just about his only blemish with some great kicks inside 50 but a few poor kicks as well, which where uncharacteristic. Where he excelled was his ability to win the contested ball and feed out nicely by hand, and while usually winning plenty of the ball in the middle, he also managed to win his fair share while playing at half-forward – taking a few marks and being a great outlet. He would finish as one of WA’s most productive players for the day.

#19 Kade Dittmar (East Perth)

A typical performance from the inside midfielder who won his fair share of his disposals at the coal face, using his big frame to his advantage. His ability to break tackles was on show, as was his ability to stick the hard ones, which earned him a free kick in the second quarter where he would slot his only goal for the game. Although his kicking at times was poor, his ability to win clearances cleanly and not just with his strong frame was very promising.

WA's Jesse Motlop (left) and Jack Williams celebrate a goal | Credit: SANFL

WESTERN AUSTRALIA #20-43

By: Declan Reeve

#20 James Tunstill (East Perth)

Having produced a good season to date at WAFL Colts level, Tunstill took the opportunity against South Australia to put his name in the mind of recruiters with a strong display, particularly in the first half. Early on it felt like Tunstill was involved in every bit of WA play, winning the ball from stoppages or receiving a releasing handball to move the ball forward quickly. He timed his runs well and positioned smartly around contests to be in the best spot to win it. In the thick of it, Tunstill did well to keep the ball away from opponents, then fire out sharp handballs to teammates in space. What was arguably most impressive about Tunstill’s game was how he tracked the ball on the ground and refused to be knocked off balance, winning the ball against opponents and flicking it up to teammates before he could be brought to ground.

#22 Jack Avery (Perth)

Having experienced the intensity of WAFL League level, Avery looked mostly composed in the defensive 50, using his strength and size to take intercept marks or throw a fist in to impact an opponent’s attempt when required. Later, he would also followed up with safe ball use to keep WA in possession. In the moments that Avery did push up the ground, he wasn’t afraid to take on opponents and try to hit the most aggressive option.

#23 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco)

The highly touted WA midfielder showed exactly why he is in first round consideration with a skilful display. Whilst Johnson isn’t the fastest player going around, his decision making and evasion in traffic gives him more than enough tools to appear quicker than most opponents, able to spot out a target in the thick of things and execute the skill well. Johnson’s work-rate meant that he was always a chance to impact the play, going in to win it himself or working hard forward of the ball to provide an option, then following up with clean ball use to keep WA going forward. That same work-rate saw Johnson impact inside his defensive 50 more than most other midfielders and worked it out well. When Johnson had the ball he more often than not looked to move it into the corridor to open up the forward 50 for his side. 

#25 Ethan Regan (East Perth)

A game of almosts for Regan saw him show off his best athletic traits in patches, just lacking consistent impact across the game. Regan did well to win the ball below his knees on the move for a taller player, consistently picking the ball up off on half-volleys and turning his opponent around quickly, before moving the ball on by foot. His kicking inside 50 was superb, setting up multiple scoring opportunities by hitting up leading targets rather than bombing long, although he did kick a great goal from outside 50. Regan also utilised his leap to take the ball in the air uncontested, with his intercept of a chip kick in the midfield the best example of this.

#29 Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont)

After making a name for himself as a tall forward option over the past couple of years, van Rooyen has been playing in defence at state level recently, continuing his development in the role with an impressive display. van Rooyen was rarely beaten through the contest, able to spoil the ball when caught behind his opponent, but more often bodying his opponent to protect the drop zone and take the mark. van Rooyen’s disposal was good throughout the game, looking to use it safely out of the defensive 50 but aggressively when going into the forward half. His defensive work-rate stopped a few promising SA plays, working hard to impact the ball on the goal line early on in the game, and then building more confidence to leave his opponent and take marks in front of packs, or fill the hole in defence to take marks from rushed kicks further up the ground. 

#30 Jye Amiss (East Perth)

Amiss had an outstanding display, with his two-goal first half particularly impressive. His opening major was the first of the game, where he was held without the ball in a pack inside 50, earning a free kick and kicking well from straight in front. His second was arguably the highlight of the day, collecting a half-volley along the boundary line inside 50, where he took a couple of steps to balance and slotted the goal from about 40 out. Apart from two goals, Amiss showed off his danger on the lead, where he managed to get separation from his opponents easily and held the ball out in front, more often than not looking to pass it off to a teammate leading towards him or hand it off to a runner if he was further up the ground. In keeping teammates involved, he ultimately sacrificed what could’ve been a four or five goal game. It was promising to see Amiss actively look to push up the ground and take marks on the wings, keeping the SA defence guessing and allowing other teammates to be the main target inside 50 at times.

#31 Eric Benning (Claremont)

Although Benning wouldn’t have put up massive numbers compared to some of his other tall teammates, the Fremantle NGA hopeful’s athleticism caught the eye with his leap and agility particularly impressive for his size. This was highlighted best with a few marking contests where Benning was caught behind but still managed to take a mark over the top of his opponent, or took a clean one grab pick up below his knees and weaved through traffic. 

#34 Corey Warner (East Fremantle)

Playing in his usual wing role, Warner had a few key moments especially early on in the game. Pushing to be an option in the corridor when the ball was on the other wing, but also showed his willingness to win the inside ball and work through traffic with his evasiveness, or at times, sheer strength when pushing opponents away. It was encouraging to see Warner lose opponents by turning them inside out and then getting the ball to a teammate with his quick hands or inside 45 kicks.

#36 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts)

This was somewhat a breakout performance for Bazzo, showing off his reading of the game by taking plenty of intercept marks, but also able to drift across the front of packs and take marks out in front, quickly playing on with the ball. Bazzo more often than not looked to switch the ball across the 50 when he won it, putting it in front of his teammates so they could keep running after they had taken the mark. Bazzo was also confident when pushing up the ground, providing as an option in the corridor, even earning himself a free kick and 25m penalty, unfortunately unable to convert the goal from 50 out, although this was one of very few blemishes on his long kicking with his kick ins from SA behinds often getting distance and kick starting offensive plays. What was arguably most impressive from Bazzo was his two way running, where he’d push back hard when SA won the ball to impact contests inside 50, even spoiling a ball right on the goal line.

#38 Brady Hough (Peel Thunder)

The only other multiple goal kicker apart from Amiss, Hough enjoyed a solid display where he showed off some smart leading patterns in the forward half, able to get separation with ease, getting used more often as the game went on and he started to stamp his authority on the contest. The first of his two goals came from a free kick inside 50 where he went for a ground ball and had his legs taken out from under him, kicking it from right in front with ease. The second was more challenging, where he had a set shot pressed into the deep pocket and put it through.

#40 Jake South (Subiaco)

South took advantage of a relatively weaker SA ruck division and flexed his muscle to win most hitouts by outbodying his opponents in the ruck, initiating contact and knocking them off balance to control the stoppages. South grew in confidence as the game went on, starting to take the ball out of the ruck and taking on opponents himself. South also positioned well behind the play, taking intercept marks and looking solid below his knees.

#43 Jack Williams (East Fremantle)

Struggling in front of goal for the day, Williams still looked a dangerous option in the forward 50 where his strength was too much for the SA defenders to handle at times, taking contested marks without really looking challenged. That same strength gave him an advantage when he took ruck contests inside 50, pushing opponents out of the way and taking the ball himself or tapping it straight down in front of a teammate. Williams’ work-rate in the forward half can’t be overstated, consistently providing repeat leads and drawing an opponent to free up space for a teammate to lead into. He did get himself on the scoreboard to reward his efforts, pushing an opponent under the ball and taking it over his head, slotting a goal from right in front about 35 out.

WA skipper Finn Gorringe addresses his side | Credit: WAFL

SOUTH AUSTRALIA #1-18:

By: Tom Wyman

#1 Isaiah Dudley (Central District)

The Adelaide NGA prospect had a quiet start to the game, as South Australia struggled to get the ball past the halfway mark in the early stages. With the Western Australia midfield controlling the game, the small forward was starved of opportunity to impact the game. However Dudley had his moments as the game wore on, particularly when moved into the midfield for the final term. His speed and run and carry was evident in patches, as was his clever football smarts, however the nature of the game denied the Central Districts teenager of an opportunity to assert himself.

#2 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide)

It was a tough day for North Adelaide defender Blayne O’Loughlin, who wasn’t able to assert his usual calmness upon the contest. Given a close-checking role on dangerous WA forward Jesse Motlopfor much of the game, O’Loughlin struggled defensively as the son of Kangaroos and Power star Daniel gained separation and booted a regulation goal early in the piece. Although he looked more composed down back as the game wore on, nailing a couple of kicks in the defensive-50, he wasn’t able to impact with his usual offensive flair. An uncharacteristic turnover by foot in the final term gifted the home side with the easiest of goals.

#5 Jase Burgoyne (Woodville-West Torrens)

Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne was one of the croweaters best on a difficult day. Stationed across half-back, his work rate and two-way running was admirable. He was involved in much of South Australia’s offensive play, with a couple of nice passages of run and carry along the wing reinforced by some clean ball-use. However he was also quick to run back and offer support when the visitors were under siege down back. The talented utility, who made his SANFL league debut with Port Adelaide earlier in the year, was efficient by foot but his disposals lacked damage. Overall, it was a solid if unremarkable display from Burgoyne, who appears likely to join the Power come draft night.

#6 Lachlan Grubb (Central District)

The speedy 19-year-old small forward struggled to impact the game, but he certainly wasn’t alone. Grubb had a couple of ‘nearly’ moments, including a smart rove and quick snap at goal which ultimately fell short but, like Dudley, wasn’t favoured by the nature of the contest.

#8 Lewis Rayson (Glenelg)

The South Australian vice-captain was one of the visitors best performers in their 29-point defeat. Despite being stationed across half-back in the first couple of quarters, the Glenelg product strolled forward and registered the first genuine shot on goal for SA, a long-range attempt which was touched on the line. Under immense pressure, with the WA midfield sending it inside-50 regularly, Rayson was one of few South Australian’s to exhibit calmness and composure with the ball. Rayson’s run out of defence was important and his quick hands were noticeable. His kicking was largely clean, albeit for a costly turnover in the final term. He pushed up into the midfield at-times as the SA coaching staff looked to shuffle the magnets, but looked at home at half-back, where he read the play well and was able to take a couple of strong intercept marks.

#9 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)

Hugh Jackson managed to get his hands on the ball often, but didn’t have the impact on the contest he would’ve liked. Starting on the wing before given a stint on-ball, the skilful Rooster was clean by hand in the clinches, but got caught trying to do too much a couple of times on the broadcast wing. He had a snap on goal after a nice bit of roving, but had an inconsistent day by foot, with some kicks finding their targets and others missing. Nevertheless, he demonstrated a natural ability to find the footy around the ground.

#10 Isaac Birt (South Adelaide)

South Adelaide’s Isaac Birt ran hard up and down the wing all day, working relentlessly to consistently provide an outlet option on his side of the ground. He was able to use his precise left-foot on a couple of occasions and was largely clean with his ball-use. A draft bolter who has risen to become one of the SANFL Under-18s best players this season, Birt showed some run and dash and produced an admirable performance for South Australia.

#12 Cade Kennedy (West Adelaide)

The West Adelaide skipper started the game in the midfield. He got his hands on the ball early but was lacked some cleanness with his first touch. He tackled hard and spread well across the ground to provide an option between the arcs. He found key forward Lukas Cooke inside-50 with a nice kick against the flow of play in the first term, then later released defender Lewis Rayson with a clever gather and intelligent handball. Although he faded out of the game, Kennedy had a couple of nice moments in difficult circumstances.

#13 Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (Glenelg)

Wanganeen-Milera was clearly South Australia’s best player in the tough loss. One of few to show poise and execute under pressure, the Glenelg teenager looked up to the level immediately. The wingman used the ball intelligently and his work under pressure was outstanding. Whilst many of his teammates appeared rushed and fumbly as WA brought the heat, Wanganeen-Milera read the game well, moved like a Rolls Royce, made the correct decisions and showed off a couple of nice tricks under duress. He was crunched by WA star Jye Amiss in the final term when going back with the flight of the ball, and was forced to leave the field, but later returned to bravely run out the match. Perhaps one of the only South Australian’s whose draft stocks will have risen after his performance, Wanganeen-Milera appears likely to feature in first round calculations on draft night after a classy display.

#14 Jacob Owens (Glenelg)

Jacob Owens spent the game rotating from the half-forward flank to the wing. A ball-magnet for the Tigers in the SANFL Under-18 competition, Owens ran into some good spaces but lacked composure with his first couple of touches, throwing it on the boot and lofting it forwards instead of lowering his eyes. Appearing rushed at-times, Owens, like many of his teammates, struggled to adapt to the pace of the game at-times, despite finding a bit of the ball and working his way into some good spaces.

#17 Hugh Stagg (Glenelg)

Fresh off a four-goal performance against West Adelaide last weekend, Hugh Stagg spent the game at half-forward for South Australia. His kicking was poor early, contributing to a couple of turnovers, however he slotted the first goal of the game for SA after benefitting from a 50-metre penalty. The powerful flanker missed a shot on goal later in the game, and could have benefitted from a stint on the ball to gain some confidence.

#18 Arlo Draper (South Adelaide)

Top ten pick candidate Arlo Draper showed patches of class and was among South Australia’s best players at Lathlain Park. Draper split his time between the half-forward line and the midfield, as he has done all season. He was a marking target in attack and moved well in-traffic in the midfield. He was classy with his disposal by hand and foot and demonstrating some stoppage smarts to win a couple of clearances. In the final term, Draper expertly outbodied his opponent and took an easy mark before booting the first goal of the final quarter. He could have added a second with a set-shot after winning a high free-kick, then later passed off another gettable attempt to teammate Lukas Cooke in the pocket. He didn’t accumulate high numbers, but used it well and had an impact on the game.

Jason Horne-Francis captaining South Australia | Credit: SANFL

SOUTH AUSTRALIA #20-35:

By: Michael Alvaro

#20 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide)

It was a hit-and-miss kind of day for Roberts, who featured prominently in South Australia’s midfield. At his best, he found plenty of the ball and helped drag the Croweaters back into the game through sheer work-rate. The South Adelaide talent was particularly prolific in the second term and looked most productive in possession during said period, capping it off with a well hit 45m set shot goal. He made some good double efforts at ground level and was moved forward for longer stints in term four, but found himself rushed and a touch scratchy when disposing by foot at times.

#21 Jason Horne-Francis (South Adelaide)

There were plenty of eyes fixed of Horne-Francis, who skippered the South Australian side in his typical midfield-forward role. He didn’t quite have the impact he would have liked on-ball and just couldn’t get his hands on it, but showed some of his power with lunging pressure acts. His pure class in possession shone through though, as he used the ball well on the move and hardly looked rushed. One of his best kicks was a spearing ball across the top of the 50, hitting Hugh Stagg to prove his short game can be as effective as his long-range penetration. Horne-Francis ended up spending plenty of time forward in term four, converting a free kick and unselfishly handing off to Zac Becker for an assist.

#22 Mani Liddy (Sturt)

Another of the South Australian leaders and one of his side’s most prominent ball winners, Liddy proved an important four-quarter performer. The Sturt top-ager was typically strong around the ball, tackling hard and looking to bustle through congestion to release his outside runners. Liddy sometimes hacked his clearances forward but got good distance, and even found a bit of green ball around the ground through sheer work-rate. He put in a massive shift during the first half when WA was well on top, standing up in tough circumstances.

#23 Cooper Beecken (Glenelg)

Stationed among an under-siege defence, Beecken did a little bit of everything in an overall promising performance. The Glenelg backman was forced to play above his size in competing against the likes of Jack Williams at times, but fared well when running off his opponent on the rebound. Beecken timed his forward forays well to get on the end of handballs and deliver by foot, showing crisp skills and making good choices with his trust left boot.

#25 Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)

Another member of the backline who contributed aerially and across the ground, Litster proved his value as one of SA’s 2002-born prospects. The Woodville-West Torrens product has gained great experience at SANFL Reserves level this season and transferred his reliability to this outing. Litster made double efforts at the ball and wasn’t afraid to get in a contest, rising for spoils and chasing up ground balls. He was arguably among his side’s best handful of players overall, especially given he had plenty of work to do.

#27 Morgan Ferres (Sturt)

Ferres just about played a lone hand as SA’s most feasible forward target, presenting up the ground to good effect in what was a terrific first half performance. The Sturt tall worked his direct opponent over time and time again, easily getting separation on the lead and cleanly sticking his marks beyond the forward arc. Ferres was an important link for the Croweaters, but they could probably have done with another of him to make things happen inside 50. He wasn’t quite able to hit the scoreboard, and was moved to defence in term four.

#31 Lukas Cooke (Woodville-West Torrens)

Part of South Australia’s front six, Cooke usually does his best work as a marking option inside 50 but was made to work a little further afield on this occasion. The Woodville-West Torrens tall had a couple of difficult opportunities to kick goals in the first and fourth terms, but put one set shot out on the full while the other shaved the post. He had some nice moments in between when the going was tough, using his reach in the air and presenting on the lead.

#32 Zac Becker (Sturt)

Plenty of play went through Becker in defence, as he took on the task of manning Jye Amiss and mopped up plenty across defensive 50. He was tasked with the early kick-ins and went for distance with his massive boot, though saw plenty balls come straight back his way. Defensively, he got in good positions to make contests and intercept, including a couple of important marks and spoils. He was eventually shifted forward in term four and snared a goal for his efforts.

#33 Oscar Adams (Glenelg)

The tallest timber in South Australia’s starting back six, Adams had to be on his game against WA’s range of key forward options. The 198cm Glenelg prospect stood up strongly, attacking aerial contests and doing well to follow up once the ball had spilt off hands. He didn’t look to do too much with ball in hand, often taking the first and most effective option as SA shifted onto the rebound, using the ball cleanly for a player of his size.

#34 Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

Lukac’s physicality suited the intensity of the game, as the Woodville-West Torrens bigman looked to crash and bash his way into the contest. He played his usual ruck/forward role, rotating between both posts and faring well in the air. While he had a little more trouble gathering cleanly at ground level, Lukac worked hard for his side and added some strength around the ball.

#35 Oscar Steene (West Adelaide)

South Australia’s starting ruck, Steene showed promising potential as a 199cm prospect, but is still a touch raw. While he arrived at plenty of contests and got hands to the ball at most of them with his pure height and reach, Steene was made to battle hard to compete physically in the ruck and marking departments. Still, the West Adelaide tall has an aerial game he can build on.

Featured Image: Player’s fly in Saturday’s AFL U19 National Championships clash between WA and SA | Credit: SANFL via Twitter

TEAMS | 2021 AFLU19s – Western Australia vs. South Australia

THE 2021 AFL Under 19 National Championships have finally arrived, with Western Australia set to take on South Australia at Lathlain Park on Saturday afternoon. The highly anticipated clash was initially delayed in its original Sunday slot, but is back on after eased border restrictions. The Croweaters will thus travel West, led by pick one contender Jason Horne-Francis, who lines up in midfield alongside deputy Mani Liddy and South Adelaide teammate Matthew Roberts.

Western Australia will be skippered by East Fremantle top-ager Finn Gorringe, who takes his place in defence while vice-captain Josh Browne prepares for an epic engine room battle. Fellow deputy Neil Erasmus will miss due to a bad corky, replaced by running machine Max Chipper. There are few real surprises across either line-up, though the hosts’ tall forward riches sees Jacob van Rooyen starting in defence. The Black Ducks are stacked in midfield too, with first round prospect Matthew Johnson squeezed out to a forward flank.

The South Australians boast a good mix of speed and class, with the likes of Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne, Glenelg wingman Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, and top 10 candidate Arlo Draper among those to watch in the tricolours. Central District League representative Shay Linke was unlucky to miss the SA interchange, while electric Claremont small Jahmal Stretch would have narrowly missed the cut for WA. Both have been named as emergencies.

The action begins at 1:00pm local time, with both sides inevitably itching to get a proper taste of representative action. All 2021 National Championship fixtures are set to be broadcasted. Stay tuned to Draft Central over the next few days, as we’ll have a wrap of the game and Scouting Notes on every player to come on Monday.

>> PREVIEW: Where it’s won – WA vs. SA U19s

2021 AFL U19 National Championships

Western Australia vs. South Australia
Saturday August 28, 1:00pm AWST
Lathlain Park

FINAL SQUADS

Western Australia:

B: F. Gorringe, J. Avery, B. Watson
HB: R. Bazzo, J. van Rooyen, J. Hagan
C: C. Warner, G. Sheldrick, T. Woewodin
HF: M. Johnson, J. Williams, L. Paton
F: E. Benning, J. Amiss, J. Motlop
R: J. South, J. Tunstill, K. Dittmar

Int: J. Browne, B. Hough, J. McVee, E. Regan, M. Chipper
Emg: J. Busslinger, M. Chipper, K. Harbour, J. Stretch

South Australia:

B: M. Litster, Z. Becker, B. O’Loughlin
HB: C. Beecken, O. Adams, J. Burgoyne
C: I. Birt, M. Roberts, N. Wanganeen-Milera
HF: A. Draper, M. Ferres, L. Grubb
F: H. Stagg, J. Lukac, I. Dudley
R: O. Steene, J. Horne-Francis, M. Liddy

Int: L. Cooke, H. Jackson, C. Kennedy, J. Owens, L. Rayson
Emg: H. Harrison, S. Linke, L. Whitelum

Featured Image: (Left to right) West Australian leaders Josh Browne, Finn Gorringe, and Neil Erasmus | Credit: WAFL via Twitter

Where it’s won: Western Australia vs. South Australia Under 19s

THE 2021 AFL Under 19 National Championships are poised to go ahead in some form on Saturday afternoon, as Western Australia hosts South Australia at Mineral Resources Oval. While the clash, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed in the wake of state border closures, eased restrictions will allow the South Australian squad to travel without the need to quarantine.

With extended squads already announced for both states and plenty of stars among them, keen draft watchers will already have a good idea of who to watch in the highly-anticipated fixture. With those players in mind, we take a look at where the game will likely be won, and a few of the marquee match-ups poised to light up the big stage. Stay tuned, as both sides will be revealed tomorrow.

>> Squad Previews: South Australia | Western Australia

WHERE IT’S WON

The Midfield Battle

Both engine rooms match up quite well, with some of the premier players from either side set to feature at the centre bounces. All eyes will be on pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who skippers the South Australian squad and will likely anchor the Croweaters’ midfield alongside top-age deputy, Mani Liddy. Add Matthew Roberts into the starting mix, and SA has a strong, reliable mix of ball winners.

That trio is matched well by WA’s likely lot, set to feature Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson along with East Perth battering ram, Kade Dittmar. The trio has some serious size about it, measuring up at an average of 188cm compared to the 183cm stature of SA’s group. That may be levelled out by the physicality of Horne-Francis and Liddy, with Roberts and Johnson the types who will respectively look to thrive off that inside battle.

In terms of depth, both teams bat pretty deep. SA will look to rotate recent League debutant and top 10 prospect Arlo Draper from the front six, along with Glenelg bull Hugh Stagg. Classy Port Adelaide father-son candidate Jase Burgoyne is another viable option from half-back, along with the likes of Hugh Jackson, Cade Kennedy, and Shay Linke off the bench. On the outside are a couple of pure wingmen in Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Isaac Birt, who provide some class and running power to further the team’s balance.

Western Australia’s depth is equally formidable. Corey Warner, the brother of Sydney’s Chad, and East Fremantle teammate Josh Browne would fancy starting spots, with the former also a capable wingman. The strong-bodied Angus Sheldrick has proved his worth as a mid-forward rotation piece, while James Tunstill is another East Perth ball winner who may feature, and Melbourne father-son hopeful Taj Woewodin can chip in from half-back. On the outer, Max Chipper is a running machine, while Brady Hough and Lochlan Paton have the versatility to contribute in multiple roles.

With a handy balance of inside grunt, class, and outside run, both midfields will be quite obviously central to their sides’ fortunes. WA’s representatives have already gotten a taste of how they may work together in a number of trial games, and while the SA squad will share plenty of familiarity, they may have some catching up to do. Having two leaders at the source certainly helps, though.

The Talls

Plenty has been made about Western Australia’s array of tall forward options, with the Black Ducks boasting a true embarrassment of riches in said department. Leading WAFL Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss is an absolute deadeye and doesn’t need too many opportunities to impact with multiple goals, while versatile East Fremantle tall Jack Williams thrives aerially and looks a likely centre half-forward/ruck candidate.

Having been thrown into defence during WA’s trial games, Jacob van Rooyen booted 11.5 in his last two Colts outings, while Claremont teammate Eric Benning has also shown his developing forward craft of late and could pinch-hit from the ruck. The Black Ducks are not as strong at the other end of the ground, but Swan Districts standout Rhett Bazzo is a classy intercept-marker who should organise the fort well and Jack Avery can play above his 190cm standing. 195cm bottom-ager Jedd Busslinger may also feature.

South Australia’s starting key defenders, Zac Becker and Oscar Adams will certainly have their hands full. The former reads the play well and is built nicely at 92kg, but the latter will have plenty to do aerially at 198cm, while Cooper Beecken (191cm) may have to play slightly above his size. The Croweaters have some height and power of their own at the other end, with Jordan Lukac and Morgan Ferres strong starting pair supported by Lukas Cooke and Luca Whitelum off the bench.

We may well see some big bags of goals kicked given how well both sides stack up in attack compared to defence, at least in the tall department. With 2021 looming as largely a midfielder’s draft at the top end, opportunity awaits for the talls who can step up on the big stage and potentially shoot into top 15 contention.

The Smalls

With so many bigmen taking the field, the smalls will be equally important in helping capitalise on contest spills in attack or mopping up down back. South Australia will gain a good mix of speed and smarts from Central District pair Lachlan Grubb and Isaiah Dudley up forward, while the likes of Blayne O’Loughlin and Lewis Rayson are serious rebounders in defence. Rayson may also roll up to a wing, while O’Loughlin can play forward or impact in midfield at 171cm.

WA has some dangerous small forwards to watch, headlined by Fremantle NGA prospect Jesse Motlop. Along with Claremont’s Jahmal Stretch and East Fremantle’s Kaden Harbour, there is some serious skill, speed and smarts at the feet of WA’s talls. Down back, Swan Districts defender Bryce Watson has impressed of late, while Finn Gorringe would provide some physicality to go with the class of fellow Sharks, Jed Hagan and Judd McVee.

Whichever set of smalls can better capitalise on the work of their talls will contribute greatly to opening the game up and releasing a bit of pressure off the bigmen. With such a focus on the talls and midfielders, these are the types who may pop up in important moments or have an impact after flying under the radar.

Featured Image: Western Australia’s Matthew Johnson (left) and South Australia’s Jason Horne-Francis in AFL Academy colours | Credit: Michael Klein/Herald Sun

2021 AFL Draft Combine list released

THE list of 2021 AFL Draft Combine invitees was released on Monday, with 90 of the country’s brightest prospects selected to show their athletic wares next month. The list will be extended to 120, with 60 of that total allotment set to attend the National Combine on September 29-30 at Marvel Stadium. The remaining 60 invitees will participate in state-based testing days held around Australia.

>> Top 25: August Power Rankings update

Among the initial 90 invitees is an even spread of talent from each National Championships region. With Victoria supplying around half of the usual draft intake each year, 41 of the state’s best prospects (19 country, 22 metro) earned invites. 11 of the 13 included Allies squad members also turned out at NAB League level, giving the competition strong representation.

The West and South Australian crops look strong as ever, with both states producing 18 players to the initial intake. Among them is pick one candidate Jason Horne-Francis, who features alongside South Adelaide teammates and fellow first round fancies, Arlo Draper and Matthew Roberts. Subiaco pair Neil Erasmus and Matthew Johnson lead the WA contingent, along with a raft of key position options.

>> Indicative draft order: Who’s in the top 10 mix?

There aren’t too many surprises among the allotted crew, with only one player chosen outside of the Under 19 realm and 87 of the chosen 90 born in 2003. 20-year-old Central District key defender Leek Alleer is the lone ‘mature’ ager, while Eastern Ranges’ Corey Preston and Giants Academy member Harrison Grintell are the only 19th-year players in the mix.

For the most part, players have been selected directly from the representative squads put together ahead of this year’s National Championships, which continue to be postponed. Tasmanian Will Splann is one who came from outside the Allies squad, while Northern Knights pair Anthony Caminiti (tall forward) and Ned Long (midfielder) did not feature for Vic Metro after trials – though, the latter was injured.

Nick Daicos is a pick one contender

Nineteen players are club-tied, split between father-sons, Northern Academy products, and Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopefuls. Oakleigh Chargers teammates Nick Daicos (Collingwood) and Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs) are father-son candidates who could yield bids within the top two picks, while Jase Burgoyne (Port Adelaide) will likely end up at Alberton outside of the first round.

Giants Academy standout Josh Fahey headlines the Northern Academy input, along with fellow AFL Academy member Austin Harris (Gold Coast). Top 10 candidate Mac Andrew looks set to be the sole NGA product taken before pick 20, but there is plenty of talent clubs will have exclusive access to.

Among them is rising St Kilda-tied pair Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager, who impressed enough to earn Vic Metro selection. Over in WA, ruck/forward Eric Benning (Fremantle) and athletic utility Ethan Regan (West Coast) have risen into contention, and the has been conjecture over Jesse Motlop, who also features as a Dockers NGA selection but will only land there past pick 40.

2021 AFL DRAFT COMBINE LIST

NSW-ACT:

Angus Anderson – Sydney Swans Academy
Ryan Eyers – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Fahey – GWS Academy
Harrison Grintell – GWS Academy
Patrick Voss – Oakleigh Chargers/GWS Academy

Northern Territory:

Andy Moniz-Wakefield – NT Thunder
Ned Stevens – NT Thunder/Gold Coast Academy

Queensland:

Will Bella – Gold Coast Academy
Austin Harris – Gold Coast Academy
Bodhi Uwland – Gold Coast Academy

South Australia:

Leek Alleer – Central District
Cooper Beecken – Glenelg
Isaac Birt – South Adelaide
Jase Burgoyne – Woodville-West Torrens
Lukas Cooke – Woodville-West Torrens
Arlo Draper – South Adelaide
Morgan Ferres – Sturt
Jason Horne-Francis – South Adelaide
Hugh Jackson – North Adelaide
Shay Linke – Central District
Cooper Murley – Norwood
Blayne O’Loughlin – North Adelaide
Lewis Rayson – Glenelg
Matthew Roberts – South Adelaide
Hugh Stagg – Glenelg
Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera – Glenelg
Luca Whitelum – Central District
James Willis – North Adelaide

Tasmania:

Sam Banks – Clarence
Baker Smith – Clarence
Will Splann – North Hobart

Vic Country:

Mac Andrew – Dandenong Stingrays
Jamieson Ballantyne – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Miller Bergman – Dandenong Stingrays
Tom Brown – Murray Bushrangers
Sam Butler – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Campbell Chesser – Sandringham Dragons
Judson Clarke – Dandenong Stingrays
Toby Conway – Geelong Falcons
Josh Gibcus – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Cooper Hamilton – Bendigo Pioneers
Ben Hobbs – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Mitch Knevitt – Geelong Falcons
Kai Lohmann – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Connor Macdonald – Dandenong Stingrays
Charlie Molan – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Josh Rachele – Murray Bushrangers
Josh Rentsch – Greater Western Victoria Rebels
Jai Serong – Gippsland Power
Hamish Sinnott – Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Vic Metro:

Finn Callaghan – Sandringham Dragons
Anthony Caminiti – Northern Knights
Paul Curtis – Western Jets
Nick Daicos – Oakleigh Chargers
Sam Darcy – Oakleigh Chargers
Youseph Dib – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Goater – Calder Cannons
Blake Howes – Sandringham Dragons
Tyreece Leiu – Eastern Ranges
Ned Long – Northern Knights
Mitchito Owens – Sandringham Dragons
Corey Preston – Eastern Ranges
Lachlan Rankin – Oakleigh Chargers
Josh Sinn – Sandringham Dragons
Jake Soligo – Eastern Ranges
Tyler Sonsie – Eastern Ranges
Zac Taylor – Calder Cannons
Dante Visentini – Sandringham Dragons
Josh Ward – Northern Knights
Darcy Wilmot – Northern Knights
Marcus Windhager – Sandringham Dragons
Karl Worner – Oakleigh Chargers

Western Australia:

Jye Amiss – East Perth
Rhett Bazzo – Swan Districts
Eric Benning – Claremont
Josh Browne – East Fremantle
Kade Dittmar – East Perth
Neil Erasmus – Subiaco
Brady Hough – Peel Thunder
Matthew Johnson – Subiaco
Jesse Motlop – South Fremantle
Lochlan Paton – West Perth
Ethan Regan – East Perth
Angus Sheldrick – Claremont
Jahmal Stretch – Claremont
James Tunstill – East Perth
Jacob van Rooyen – Claremont
Corey Warner – East Fremantle
Bryce Watson – Swan Districts
Jack Williams – East Fremantle

SANFL Player Focus: Isaac Birt (South Adelaide)

SOUTH Adelaide wingman Isaac Birt made his SANFL Reserves debut on the weekend, turning out in the Panthers’ enthralling four-point loss to Central District. The 18-year-old is part of South Australia’s Under 19 state squad, and earned his recent call-up on the back of undeniably consistent Under 18s form. He collected 11 touches in his maiden outing, and may have eyes on joining a trio of top-end Panthers prospects at League level down the line.

We put his Round 18 SANFL Reserves performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down what was a promising debut quarter-by-quarter.

POCKET PROFILE

Isaac Birt
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 4/07/2003
Height/Weight: 181cm/70kg
Position: Wing

Strengths: Outside run, work-rate, kick efficiency

2021 Averages:
SANFL Under 18s (15 games)

21.3 disposals | 16.4 kicks | 4.9 handballs | 6.9 marks | 2.9 tackles | 1.5 clearances | 5.2 inside 50s | 1.9 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (6 total)

2021 SANFL Reserves Round 18 | Central District 12.9 (81) def. South Adelaide 11.11 (77)

#55 Isaac Birt (South Adelaide)

Stats: 11 disposals (9 kicks, 2 handballs), 6 marks, 1 clearance, 1 inside 50, 1 behind

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Claiming a starting spot out on the wing, Birt made a steady start to life at Reserves level. He set up with separation on the defensive side of his opponent, watching the flow of the ball like a hawk on the outer and spreading both ways as it broke.

His first touch came via a sliding mark just inside the boundary on the outer wing, before darting a left-foot ball inboard to open his disposal account. Birt managed a couple more possessions for the term, flicking out effective handballs as South looked to move forward.

One of those handballs was earned via a hard ball get with good intent, and Birt went on to crash an aerial marking contest at half-back to show he would be up for the fight, despite being quite light. He notched four disposals (one kick, three handballs) and a mark in term one.

Q2

Taking his place on the outer wing once more, Birt showcased his ability to move into dangerous outside territory when the Panthers broke on the counter. He continued to work his short kicking game, contributing a trio of effective passes for the quarter.

Two of his kicks were sent inboard, with Birt taking the attacking option as pressure neared. A factor in that decision making was favouring his left side, which proved no problem given his sharp skill execution. It added some variation while maintaining the flow of South Adelaide’s ball movement.

In another period of play where he made use of each touch, Birt added three kicks and to bring his half time tally to seven disposals (four kicks, three handballs) and two marks.

Q3

The intensity of the contest continued to lift, with plenty of niggle about and pressure around the ball mounting. Even on the outer, Birt was made to think quickly and would have taken some handy learnings from the pure pace of the game.

With South Adelaide playing catch-up, the intent to move the ball on quickly was evident. Birt exemplified that with his trio of kicks in term three, looking to dispose almost immediately and hitting space on a couple of occasions, rather than direct targets as he had been.

His one touch in a bit of space was a mark at half-forward, which resulted in an inside 50 entry – his only one for the day. Overall, Birt contributed those three kicks, one mark, and one inside 50 across the 26 minutes.

Q4

Birt made a relatively busy end to the game, notching up another three uncontested marks and finding his way into either arc. He showcased his work-rate to run forward hard and mark about 35m out from goal, but missed the chance to snare his maiden Reserves goal.

At the other end, he marked in the middle of defensive 50 and speared a nice pass into the corridor, making for his lone rebound 50 of the day. Birt marked for a third time in the defensive corridor, but was caught holding the ball as he wheeled around off his mark.

Despite the unfortunate last touch and result, Birt capped off his game well by adding a couple of kicks to his tally. He finished with 11 disposals and six marks overall, playing a pretty classic wingman’s game with plenty to built upon.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography/South Adelaide FC

Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 16

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 representative squad member and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

STURT 2.5 (17) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 21.17 (143)

By: Michael Alvaro

Sturt:

#12 Jamie Taylor

Taylor was Sturt’s most prolific ball winner with 25 disposals and nine clearances on what was a tough day for his side. He rotated forward through midfield but was also sighted dropping back a heap during the second half to try and help the Double Blues shift out of their defensive half. Taylor also worked to bustle through congestion and provide some intent in his tackling, while also getting around his teammates among what was an undermanned Sturt outfit.

#28 George Pope

A bright spot for Sturt in 2021 has been the emergence of 16-year-old Pope in midfield, and the 2005-born prospect again got his hands dirty on Saturday. He proved powerful with both his burst of speed and tackling pressure around the ball, putting in repeat efforts to help steady against the Eagles’ dominance. While there is work to do on his kicking, Pope got good purchase on a few long balls and was certainly willing to find it himself. He finished with 19 disposals, six tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Kade Harvey rolled up into midfield and again found a good amount of ball, finishing with 19 disposals and seven clearances for the Double Blues. Ethan Field was another to feature in the engine room and notched 12 touches after a promising start, while the likes of Mitch Felton, Lachlan Boscence, and Thomas McCourt all had plenty to do in a besieged defence.

Woodville-West Torrens:

#8 Brock Thomson

Rotating through midfield from defence, Thomson was again solid for the Eagles with his ability to drive his side forward. He had no trouble finding the ball having contributed 24 disposals and seven marks, with his work overhead quite sound. It complimented his burst across the ground and punchy kicking, which helped keep Woodville-West Torrens flowing in possession.

#9 Jase Burgoyne

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect has been nothing short of prolific at Under 18s level and that was no different on Saturday, as he amassed a game-high 40 disposals, nine marks, and nine clearances. He often found a way to claim the first centre break of each term; handling the ball cleanly either off taps, at ground level, or via a handball receive before, using the afforded time and space to deliver an effective kick inside 50. Burgoyne does the fundamentals well in terms of skill execution and while many of the options he chose were short and safe, he still hardly wasted a touch. He has also shown a good knack for taking overhead marks and registered three contested on the day, gaining the confidence to protect his space or leap at the ball. He dropped back plenty during the second half and accumulated at will, looking quite casual in his work.

#14 Blake Hansen

Hansen was another who had plenty of the pill with 34 disposals, nine marks and seven inside 50s, playing the wing role to a t. The dashing bottom-ager hit the scoreboard early with a nice checkside finish under heavy pressure, but put multiple other chances wide on the fly having pushed forward aggressively. Still, his ability to work hard both ways and find space to drive forward into allowed for ruthlessly quick Eagles transitions. Having previously done so off half-back, Hansen looks well suited to the wing position where his attacking instincts take toll.

#17 Mattaes Phillipou

It was a massive day out for Phillipou, who racked up 32 disposals and snared 6.2 in a rather fruitful outing. The developing bottom-ager set the game up in term one, creating separation on the lead and showing good ground level smarts to snare three of his majors from 11 touches. His clean hands both in the air and below his knees made for a dual threat in attack, before shifting into the midfield mix and remaining involved. Phillipou booted a goal in each of the following three quarters, with two coming from set shots and one from a quick snap closer to goal. He’s one to watch closely for 2022.

Others:

The Eagles were dominant around the ball, with thanks to the likes of Will Neumann, Sam Nicholls and Dustin Launer. Big man Jordan Lukac also took on the primary ruck duties and brought even more physicality to the engine room, before resting forward. Will Pearce again snared a trio of late goals to finish with five for the day, while Michael Papanotis claimed three. Elsewhere, Brody Mair provided a bit of dash out of defence and Jay Watson snuck forward well off a wing.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 6.3 (39) def. by GLENELG 18.15 (123)

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#14 Thomas Clements

Charged with plenty of responsibility in defence, Clements had his work cut out for him on Saturday but stood up well to amass a game-high 43 disposals, 10 marks, and 11 rebound 50s. He took on the kick-in duties and was Centrals’ general in defensive 50, where he found plenty of the ball and looked to set his side on the rebound. He had to fight hard to turn the ball over and keep the Bulldogs in possession as Glenelg piled on the pressure all day.

#17 Tahjin Krieg

The nippy Centrals midfielder had another productive outing on Saturday, notching 23 disposals, six marks and seven tackles. Most of his best work was done around the ground as Glenelg took over at the coalface, with Krieg showing good work-rate to drop back and help his side drive forward. He had a few eye-catching running passages, including one three-bounce foray to the wing, often finishing his work with a sharp left-foot kick.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Tuck was again outstanding for Centrals, rotating through the ruck from his usual forward post. While he only registered two marks, they respectively showed the bottom-ager’s terrific judgement of the ball in flight and ability to hold his ground in a wrestle. His clean hands were also observed in general play, as Tuck was able to snatch the bumbling ball with one grab and pump his side into attack. He booted booted three goals, with two slotted from around the 50m arc and the other a handy checkside finish after mopping up his own marking attempt.

Others:

The likes of Jake Grubb and Nash Haynes were others who also had plenty to do in defence alongside Clements, while Henry Ratcliff proved productive on the ball with his 21 touches, nine marks, and goal. Starting ruck Saxon Evans also returned to the grade after a Reserves dig, winning 19 hit-outs and three clearances.

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

It was another high-output game for Stagg, as the powerful midfielder registered a team-high 36 disposals, eight clearances, and 1.3 rotating forward from the engine room. He looked ominous when breaking forward and showcased terrific smarts in the clinches, able to rip the ball free and then burst into space. Stagg was dangerous when resting forward too, with his lone goal an outstanding but of one-on-one play where he sped past his opponent to win a loose ball inside 50 and slot the it home. He steadied well in front of goal but put multiple opportunities wide, which would have capped a massive game.

#17 Corey Brougham

Brougham was just about unbeatable in the air on Saturday, claiming 11 marks (three contested) among his 21 disposals. He presented strongly and read the ball better than anyone in flight, before taking it cleanly with one-grab clunks. Brougham also capped his work with four goals and could have had even more if not for a couple of errant set shots. His highlight for the day came in term four, marking at half-forward before taking two bounces and coolly slotting a terrific goal on the run.

#21 Cooper Beecken

The promising 18-year-old continues to show nice glimpses out on the wing, and worked into the contest strongly to finish with 21 disposals, six marks, and three goals. He was generally clean and quick with his skills, helping move the ball fluently without fuss while making an impact on the scoreboard that we haven’t yet seen from him. All three of Beecken’s majors came in the second half, with two snared in term three on the back of pure smarts and those quick skills of his.

#36 Darcy Porter

Starting brightly with the game’s first goal, Porter was always in the contest for Glenelg and finished with impressive numbers of 29 disposals, eight marks, and two goals. He took the game on with his speed and willingness to move the ball on quickly, helping the Bays launch into attack. He rotated through midfield but also worked hard while stationed forward to move up the ground and hurt Centrals on the way back. His positive carry and intent made for some swift ball movement in yellow and black.

Others:

There were plenty of solid contributors for Glenelg in what was a big win. William Watts and Darcy Gluyas were both productive through midfield, while Benjamin Ridgway got busy with a couple of goals up forward. Jack Harding came away with four majors, and Hunter Window also pitched in with some nice moments out on the wing.

North Adelaide 6.9 (45) def. by South Adelaide 18.10 (118)

By: Tom Wyman

North Adelaide:

#12 Hugh Jackson

It was a quiet start to the game for Hugh Jackson, with the clean-kicking onballer struggling to get his hands on the ball. And when he did manage to gather the ball, he seemed to be under immediate pressure from the South Adelaide midfield, who were clearly weary of his ability to inflict damage with his precise ball-use. Denied space to use his damaging left-foot, Jackson resorted to handballing, where he displayed good vision and decision making. Although down on his output from early in the season, Jackson was still one of North’s best, winning 21 disposals along with three marks, four tackles and four clearances.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

Blayne O’Loughlin was at his prolific best for the Roosters, despite their hefty loss. Across half-back he was involved immediately, swooping upon the loose-balls and doing lots of cleaning up in defence. His calm head under pressure matched his skill execution and willingness to involve himself in some attacking plays forward of centre. He provided some excellent overlap run and pushed forward to boot North’s third goal, but also ensured he hurried back to defence when South Adelaide looked to attack. The Crows NGA prospect fought to the bitter end and complimented his composure and skill with toughness one-on-one. He finished with a game-high 35 disposals and nine rebound 50s.

#26 Kelsey Rypstra

Kelsey Rypstra played an important role for the home side. Stationed at half-forward and rotating through the midfield, he injected some speed around the contest and, importantly, made the most of his opportunities in front of goal. He intelligently soccered home the Roosters first of the day, then read the play to perfection to take an intercept mark inside 50 and slot the subsequent set shot. The only Rooster who looked dangerous with ball-in-hand at times, Rypstra would go on to boot another two goals and finish the day with a bag of four. He also gathered 15 disposals and five marks.

Others: Utility Adam Heath played well in a variety of roles, but was particularly noteworthy when pushed into the midfield, where he won a team-high six clearances. His bigger frame ensured Heath won plenty of contested ball, which he complimented with sound ball-use going inside 50. Harvey Harrison showed glimpses of his talents in the midfield, with his speed and run and carry providing a point of difference. He gathered 20 disposals, three marks and five tackles. Angus Tully produced his best game of the season, gathering a season-high 23 disposals, five marks and four rebounds. Lewis Saint’s efforts were also commendable, finishing with 18 disposals, seven marks and six tackles down back.

South Adelaide:

#3 Luke Mitton

Clever midfielder Luke Mitton backed up his best-on-ground effort last weekend with another strong showing against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval. Busy from the get-go, his nimble foot work proved effective in the trenches and his speed was a staple throughout the contest. Despite doing most of his work on the inside, Mitton used the ball efficiently. His pressure around the ball-carrier was important, as was his two-way running and balance of defence and attack. Mitton finished with 24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five clearances and four rebounds.

#4 Jack Delean

After dazzling in South Adelaide’s big win over Central Districts last week, Jack Delean backed it up with another sensational showing. Despite being a couple of years away from draft eligibility, Delean has lit up the SANFL Under 18s competition this season, booting a goal in every match since debuting in Round 5. The small forward showed the Roosters defence just how dangerous he can be in attack when he exploded through a forward 50 stoppage and ran into an open goal not once but twice in the first term. Delean made his direct opponent look hopeless when he accelerated into back-to-back open goals, using his natural smarts and elusiveness to damaging effect. He continued to threaten as the game wore on, flying for marks and booting a couple of set-shots to finish with five goals, 12 disposals and five tackles.

#8 Cooper Rogers

Cooper Rogers is one of several South Adelaide midfielders to have produced consistent seasons to-date, and his efforts in the Panthers 73-point win over the Roosters was one of his best. His confidence received a boost early on when the balanced midfielder’s left-foot snap trickled through for a major. With North possessing some dangerous ball-users through the middle, the relentless and often-fierce tackling pressure applied by Rogers went a long way to restricting their impact. Playing a very physical game, Rogers spent time on Rooster Hugh Jackson at stoppages and nullified his influence to perfection. South Adelaide’s leading possession-winner, Rogers was dominant at stoppages, finishing with a game-high 11 clearances to go with 29 touches, four marks, seven tackles and 10 inside 50s.

#10 Isaac Birt

Wingman Isaac Birt had a decent day out at Prospect. One of South Australia’s best outside midfielders, Birt was often targeted by teammates when looking to turn defence into attack. He provided some meaningful run and drive on the periphery, particularly from the half-back line. His kicking was sharp and bullet-like at times, however Birt’s skills at full speed occasionally let him down. He finished with 25 disposals, seven marks and seven inside-50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Bottom-aged ruckman Will Verrall solidified his standing as one of SA’s brightest young talents with a great performance for the Panthers. Verrall set the tone early, using his strong athletic base to leap into ruck contests and outreach his North Adelaide opponent. He used his body well in the ruck contests but it was his work once the ball hit the deck and around the ground which elevated his game. Verrall worked into some handy positions around the ground, then capitalised on his positioning by taking some great marks down the line. A ruckman who is not generally renowned for his overhead work, it was encouraging to see Verrall haul in a couple of strong grabs. The icing on the cake came when Verrall snapped truly out of a forward-50 stoppage in the third term. He showed great strength and bustle to burst through a couple of stoppages, to further highlight his ground-level impact. Verrall finished with 20 disposals, four marks (three contested), 18 hit-outs, seven clearances and five inside-50s.

Others: Skipper Dylan Brown led from the front for the Panthers, laying six tackles. One of the best pressure players in the SANFL Under 18s competition, Brown also gathered 13 disposals and five marks and seven inside-50s playing on the wing. Busy half-back Lachlan Hayes played a typical game in which he read the play very well in defence, finishing with 25 disposals and nine rebounds. Bottom-aged centre half-forward Koby Cockshell was impressive for the visitors, booting two goals from 18 disposals.

WEST ADELAIDE 12.16 (88) def. NORWOOD 12.7 (79)

By: Tom Wyman

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

It was a stereotypical Pridham performance from the competition’s best small defender. He did as he pleased across the backline, mopping up when necessary, using the ball effectively and turning defence into attack. Although he opted for the safe option on many of his kicks, he executed well and player a key role in the Bloods grinding out a hard-fought victory against the Redlegs. He finished with 26 disposals, eight marks and six rebound 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Cade Kennedy did his draft hopes no harm with a dominant display at Hisense Stadium. The midfielder was everywhere but proved particularly useful in congestion, where his natural, hard-at-it ball-winning tendencies rose to fruition. He was easily the best clearance winner on the ground, but when he didn’t win the ball himself, Kennedy tackled well and denied the Redlegs on-ballers time and space. Although he could have lowered his eyes on a couple of occasions when he probably had more time than he thought, Kennedy’s skills were on full display in a terrific passage of play in the first quarter. It started when he won a free kick and hit up the leading Oscar Steene at half-forward with a precise right-foot kick. He kept on running and received it back before measuring an inside-50 ball to perfection on his left. Throughout the game, he continued to balance defence with attack and did some damage on the outside to compliment his inside grunt work. He finished the game with 34 disposals, six marks, six tackles, ten clearances and 10 inside 50s.

#33 Jesse Thackeray

Jesse Thackeray was again in the thick of it for West Adelaide. His strength in the contest was a highlight when utilised in the midfield, and his presentation and willingness to work hard impressed when he was thrown onto the half-forward flank. He produced a very balanced game, winning plenty of ball on the inside but also doing some damage on the outside, where Thackeray used the ball fairly well. He finished the game with 35 disposals, ten marks, three tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

#45 Oscar Steene

With Norwood’s first choice ruckman sidelined through suspension, Oscar Steene capitalised on his advantage in the ruck to give the Bloods on-ballers first look. He really looked to impose himself on the contest by punching the ball out of the ruck and clearing the area. However Steene balanced this out with some deft tap-work to set-up the likes of Cade KennedyDylan White and Jesse Thackeray at ground level. He took a couple of strong marks around the ground and should have finished with a goal to go with his 13 disposals, seven marks (two contested), four tackles and 29 hit-outs.

Others: Bloods’ forward Jaeden Watts booted four goals in his sides narrow win. Although he had limited opportunities, gathering just ten disposals, he made them count in-front of the big sticks. Midfielder Dylan White impressed with his gut-running. He worked relentlessly hard up and down the wing to accumulate 16 marks for the match, along with 27 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Unfortunately he’ll rue missing a handful of opportunities in front of goal.

Norwood:

#15 Riley Verrall

Stationed across half-back, Riley Verrall produced one of his best performances for the season. He looked to generate run and carry from the defensive-50 and showed a desire to cut open the Bloods defensive structures by foot. Although not all of his kicks inflicted damage, his intent was admirable. He read the play well and took a number of intercept marks. The leading disposal-getter for the Redlegs, Verrall collected 26 touches, ten marks and five rebounds for the match.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Half-backman Matthew Dnistriansky has been Norwood’s most consistent performer throughout the season to-date, and he was again among the clubs best in their nine-point defeat to the Bloods. He was composed and clean with ball in-hand but also pushed forward to boot the first goal of the second term and hand the Redlegs the lead. Dnistriansky was effective between the arcs and finished with 20 disposals and five marks.

Others: Over-aged full-forward Ned Carey snapped the Redlegs first from close range and competed well all game to finish with three goals. Small forward Taj Rahui was again one of Norwood’s best players, showing glimpses of his talents throughout the course of the match. He booted a good running goal in the opening term and gave the Redlegs a glimmer of hope with a late major, finishing with 13 touches. Combative on-baller Corey Jones-Bobridge tried hard, winning four clearances and 19 disposals. He was effective going forward, launching the Redlegs inside-50 on eight occasions.

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s – Round 15

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 representative squad member and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

NORWOOD 6.8 (44) def. by GLENELG 17.10 (112)

By: Tom Wyman

Norwood:

#10 Taj Rahui

Rahui was one of Norwood’s best in their disappointing defeat. He brought genuine speed and run and carry with ball in-hand, spending time in the midfield and across half-forward. Although his kicking was hit-and-miss, his intensity could not be faulted. Late in the game he was involved in a heated scuffle after his set shot from 15 metres out was smothered by the man on the mark. After receiving another free kick following the altercation, he made no mistake. Rahui finished with 19 disposals, four tackles, eight inside 50s and two goals.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Matthew Dnistriansky was Norwood’s best player in tricky circumstances. He started the game across half-back but pushed into the midfield at various stages, where his tall frame and efficient skills added some much-needed polish to the Norwood midfield. When he had ball in-hand, you felt as if the right decisions would be made. He booted an impressive long-range goal in the second term to showcase his clean kicking. Dnistriansky’s composure, vision and skill was evident throughout, but it was his acrobatic smother which proved the highlight of his game. When tensions boiled over in the last quarter, it was great to see Dnistriansky offer some calming words to teammate Taj Rahui before he re-took his set-shot, highlighting the skilful teenager’s leadership. The Rostrevor product gathered 19 disposals, seven marks and three tackles.

Others:

On-baller Grant Catalano found plenty of the ball through the midfield. He was strong overhead and battled gallantly in the trenches to finish with 20 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three rebounds. Benjamin Belperio was also good in the middle, collecting a team-high 22 disposals, seven tackles and six clearances. Key position player Ned Carey operated out of full forward and had a good battle with Glenelg backman Dayne McGary. Carey’s superior reach proved troublesome at times, but he unfortunately he couldn’t fully capitalise in front of goal, booting two goals and three behinds from eight touches and three marks.

Glenelg:

#5 Hugh Stagg

One of the SANFL Under 18 competition’s best performers across the season so far, Stagg again played an influential role in the Tigers win over Norwood. His trademark brute strength was on show as he powered his way through would-be tacklers and burst away from stoppages. He broke the game open with some moments of explosiveness, but occasionally Stagg wasted the ball by foot and lacked penetration in his kicking. He tackled well at ground level and won plenty of contested ball, finishing with 23 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and a first quarter goal.

#6 Darcy Gluyas

The dependable Gluyas has played a variety of roles for the Tigers this season, but started the Round 15 clash at the centre bounce. He would continue to ply his trade in the midfield for the duration of the game, fighting hard in congestion, tackling with intent and using the ball with efficiency. Gluyas’ class shone through when he took a terrific one-handed mark in attack. He finished the game with 22 disposals, four marks, six tackles, four clearances and seven inside-50s.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Cooper Beecken produced perhaps his best performance of the season in the Bays 68-point win over the Redlegs. Having spent most of the season stationed across half-back in an intercept-marking role, Beecken was deployed in a slightly more advanced wing role at The Parade. He spent passages of the game on the inside but did his best work in space. Beecken worked hard to present as an outlet option along the wing, where he showcased his high-end athleticism and aerial strength. When he drifted back, Beecken read the play well and positioned himself smartly. He displayed a willingness to take the game on by foot, which led to a couple of turnovers. However his vision and intent was admirable. Beecken gathered 22 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and completed a strong showing with a goal.

Others:

Small forward Kane Viska was ever-present in attack. Importantly, he made the most of his opportunities in front of the big sticks, nailing his set shots and making the most of a couple of down-field free kicks within range. The Westminster product collected 12 disposals to go with his bag of four goals. Strong-bodied forward Jack Harding used his strength to get on top of the Norwood backline. He took seven marks and booted three goals from 13 disposals, but could have had an even bigger day had he converted a couple of other opportunities.

Brodie Edwards displayed good skills and composure in the midfield. His natural football smarts, defensive pressure around the ball and sound decision making were also highlights of his game. Edwards booted a highlight-reel goal from the pocket in the final term to add to his 19 disposals and ten tackles. Hunter Window (18 disposals and three tackles) and Darcy Porter (20 disposals and a goal) were also serviceable through the midfield.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 15.13 (103) def. NORTH ADELAIDE 8.6 (54)

By: Michael Alvaro

Woodville-West Torrens:

#9 Jase Burgoyne 

In his first game at the level since Round 11 after a Reserves stint, Burgoyne picked up right where he left off. The silky skilled Port father-son prospect managed a well compiled 27 disposals and nine marks, rotating back from midfield. His clean kicking skills came to the fore around the ground, as Burgoyne distributed with poise and hardly wasted a touch. While many of his short passes found safe options, every side needs a cool head like Burgoyne showed. He also contributed some more contested work than usual and looked good when flying for overhead marks, of which he clunked a few.

#14 Blake Hansen 

The run-and-gun bottom-ager brought a spark to the backline with his pace and aggressive intent on the rebound. He would often charge off unopposed to get handball receives once the Eagles won possession in midfield, gaining serious meterage with his speed and penetrative boot. He even got dish-offs all the way up at half-forward for a couple of flying shots at goal, but couldn’t quite hit the target. Hansen can be a real threat in those instances, and looks to make things happen with ball in hand. He finished with 28 touches and nine marks from defence.

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce made a thundering impact on the scoreboard with seven goals on Saturday, including the game’s first and last majors. His opening score was the only one which didn’t come from a set shot, and he only missed one of his seven opportunities via that method. For most of the day, Pearce worked up to half-forward as a linking option when the Eagles advanced inside 50, bringing others into the game with quick ball movement. He was duly rewarded with four goals to three quarter time, before putting the cherry on top of a big win by piling on the last three of the game. 21 disposals, nine marks (three contested) and seven goals – fair statline.

#17 Mattaes Phillipou 

The Eagles have a really promising bottom-ager on their hands in Phillipou, a multi-sport athlete with plenty of upside. He rotated constantly through midfield and the forwardline on Saturday, finishing with balanced figures of 23 disposals, five marks and a goal. Phillipou is a good height for the hybrid type and combines his developing midfield craft with some handy aerial work forward of centre, proving hard to stop with his leap and reach. He also got his hands dirty at ground level and booted WWT forward quickly, while his goal came via a free kick in term three.

Others:

The Eagles had a bunch of players step up in their big win, with the likes of Dustin Launer (37 disposals, 12 marks), William Neumann (27 disposals, two goals), and Sam Nicholls (22 disposals) all productive around the ball. Brock Thomson had his moments rotating through the middle from defence, and Mishai Wollogorang provided his usual spark on the rebound. Talls Zac Phillips, Jordan Lukac, and Jonte Hunter-Price were also solid, with the latter enjoying an intercept-marking purple patch during the second term.

North Adelaide:

#4 Isaac Keeler

Keeler is as exciting as they come as a tall prospect, with his raw athleticism and skill making for eye-catching moments up forward and through the ruck. The Adelaide NGA product was initially stationed deep forward, but got into the game once rotated on-ball and when working further afield as a marking option. He stood under plenty of long kicks and took eight marks for the day with his impressive reach, even getting all the way down to follow-up at ground level. He showcased quick skills by hand to produce chances for others, but could not quite capitalise to hit the scoreboard himself on this occasion.

#12 Hugh Jackson 

While it was tough going at times for Jackson, who was down on his usually phenomenal disposal output, he still managed to produce some handy moments when carrying the ball forward from midfield. He ended up with 16 touches (13 kicks) and four inside 50s, numbers which were indicative of his style of play. Jackson often looked to manufacture some space to break clear at the back of stoppages, using his turn of speed to jet forward before delivering a sharp kick. While he faltered a touch at full tilt, Jackson managed to hit plenty of passes to leading forwards under pressure. He also helped the Roosters chain their transitions through the corridor and arguably looked the most likely midfielder to make something happen when in possession.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin 

Another of Adelaide’s exciting NGA hopefuls, O’Loughlin was given the chance to further showcase his versatility with an extended run through midfield. He started out in defence though and produced his usual work there, getting to plenty of ground level contests and sweeping North Adelaide into transition with his speed and kicking. O’Loughlin also took the kick-ins and even in general play, looked sharper when hitting short options rather than blasting it long. He looked busy in midfield and got his legs pumping on the attack, finishing with 21 disposals (18 kicks), three clearances, and five rebound 50s.

Others:

Midfielders Harvey Harrison (25 disposals, four clearances) and James White (22 disposals, five marks) were both solid for the Roosters in what ended up a big loss, while Sam McTaggart got busy out on the wing. Adam Heath and Zyton Santillo were others to find a good amount of ball rotating through midfield, and bottom-ager Kelsey Rypstra was one of two Roosters to snare a pair of majors.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 23.16 (154) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 7.8 (50)

By: Tom Wyman

South Adelaide:

#3 Luke Mitton

Diminutive South Adelaide midfielder, Mitton had a productive day at Noarlunga. He spent the game operating at the feet of the ruckman and proved a solid extractor at ground level. He spread well from the contest and worked hard throughout the game, and his work at stoppages when the ball was inside 50 ensured he added two goals to his tally. Mitton’s first major came from a set-shot and his second was a regulation snap after finding himself in a paddock of space out the back of the contest. He finished as the Panthers’ leading disposal getter, gathering 26 touches, seven marks, three tackles and five clearances.

#4 Jack Delean

Despite being a couple of years away from draft eligibility, small forward Delean put on a clinic at Noarlunga. He was involved in the action right away, presenting with intent to take a strong mark inside 50. Shortly after, he booted his first goal of the game from close-range and could have added another with his next effort – a set shot gettable by his lofty standards. However, Delean more than made up for the blemish by proving a class above one-on-one. His ability to read the flight of the ball and position his body well in the marking contests ensured he took a number of inside 50 grabs.

His second goal of the term was perhaps his best of the day. Delean brought the ball to ground in the marking contest, promptly gathered his own crumb, weaved past a would-be tackler and slotted a beauty from 45 metres. He slammed through his third first-term goal after bursting through a stoppage and continued to look like the most dangerous player on the ground with the ball in his vicinity. Delean’s vertical leap and marking prowess was exceptional, as was his movement through stoppages up forward. Already looking like a top talent, Delean finished with five goals to his name, to go with 14 disposals, seven marks (two contested) and three tackles.

#8 Cooper Rogers

Rogers worked well with fellow midfielder Mitton, with the pair proving a handful around the contest. Rogers attacked the ball with admirable aggression and showcased some excellent breakaway speed and burst. He was also excellent defensively, tackling hard and throwing himself into the packs to force a ball up. With ball in hand, Rogers could’ve lowered his eyes more often, instead of launching it long, particularly when he found himself in some space exiting stoppages. At times explosive, Rogers managed 23 disposals, five marks, six tackles, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal.

#10 Isaac Birt

One of the surprise packets of the 2021 SANFL Under 18 season so far, Birt again showed glimpses of his talents in the Panthers hefty win. His raw speed and acceleration along the wing broke open the game at-times, and his precise kicking was also a highlight. Birt’s foot skills going inside 50 were particularly noteworthy, measuring each pass with pin-point accuracy. He booted a nice snap goal and could have had another if not for a fumbled bounce when streaming into goal. His strength overhead was also on display as he hauled in a couple of contested marks. Birt finished the contest with 20 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and eight inside 50s.

Others:

Key forward Tom Schirmer had a wonderful day for the Panthers. He spent some time in attack but was also given an extended run in the ruck to relieve Will Verrall. Schirmer proved far too big and strong for his direct opponent, easily out-bodying them in the marking contest. Possessing a booming left-foot kick, Schirmer nailed his set shots and finished with four goals to go with 10 disposals and four marks.

Bailey Pilmore beautifully complimented the efforts of Delean. He tackled well at ground level but was vice-like in the air, taking three contested marks. A smooth-mover, he was another Panther to boot a bag, finishing with four goals from 15 disposals and five marks. Ryan Pearsons had a terrific start to the second term up forward. He presented well and also looked threatening above his shoulders. He gathered 10 disposals, took five marks and added two goals.

Central District:

#10 Dylan Wall

On an undoubtedly disappointing day for his side, Wall was one of Centrals’ bright spots. He booted the Bulldogs first goal of the game late in the opening term after taking a strong mark inside-50. He snapped home his second early in the third term and finished the game with three majors to his name, to go with 11 disposals, three marks and seven tackles.

#17 Tahjin Krieg

Central District was outclassed from the get-go against a talented South Adelaide unit, but Krieg worked hard throughout the contest, refusing to throw in the towel. Playing his customary midfield role, Krieg brought speed and intensity to the contest. He looked to use his breakaway pace to get things moving for the Bulldogs, particularly through the middle of the ground. Krieg tackled hard and showed admirable courage to take a strong contested mark in the first term. Krieg will look to tidy up his disposal in the final weeks of the season, as his kicking was hit-and-miss throughout the contest and in front of goal. Nevertheless, he tried hard and finished with 16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and three inside 50s.

#38 Brodie Tuck

Tuck shouldered most of the ruck work for the Bulldogs and fought well against South’s combination of Verrall and Schirmer. One of the more prolific Bulldogs, Tuck was arguably Central District’s best performer. He shared the spoils with Verrall in terms of hit-out numbers, both finishing with 17 taps, however Tuck showed excellent athleticism and work rate to be a factor around the ground. He gathered 20 disposals but also won a team-high six clearances to highlight his ability to follow-up his own work. The Salisbury North tall registered six inside 50s and also added a goal in what was a promising performance.

WEST ADELAIDE 19.18 (132) def. STURT 4.6 (30)

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Productive as ever in the back half, Pridham helped Westies turn defence into attack. The zippy small racked up 34 disposals (29 kicks), four inside 50s and three rebound 50s, helping his side force turnovers before helping spark a range of transitions. Pridham used his speed and short kicking game to good effect, while holding a high line behind the ball to pile plenty of pressure on Sturt when an attack was forming. Plenty went through him off half-back, and he helped get the Bloods into advanced areas of the ground time after time.

#10 Cade Kennedy 

Kennedy lead all-comers on Saturday with 35 disposals, nine marks and eight clearances, working well around the ground and generating some momentum from midfield for Westies. He snuck forward to mark uncontested and slot the game’s first goal in term one, helping his side maintain a forward flow in the first half. He was sometimes forced wide when breaking from centre bounces, but began to break straight towards goal after the main break to prove much more damaging in possession. His repeat running efforts and ability to carry the ball became more of a feature as the game wore on, capping a well-rounded effort.

#37 Tom Scully 

The bottom-aged key position prospect finished with a flurry, booting the game’s final three goals to end up with four overall. Rotating through the ruck and forwardline, Scully used his reach at 201cm to win a game-high 14 hit-outs, while also positioning well between the arcs to take a couple of nice overhead grabs. He utilised that same reach to snare his first goal, taking the ball at full stretch close to goal before duly converting. He showed handy mobility for his final three majors, with the third a very nice dribbler in the dying seconds of the match.

#45 Oscar Steene

Another West Adelaide tall around the 200cm mark, Steene showcased really promising aerial ability on Saturday. He rose to take nine marks (two contested) and won 13 hitouts rotating with Scully through the ruck and forwardline, but only managed a couple of behinds in front of goal. Still, Steene’s ability to read the ball in flight and take it at its highest point was great – whether it was presenting as a lead-up option up forward, or positioning well behind the ball to intercept. His speccy out on the wing during the fourth quarter drew a big reaction from the crowd, and rightly so as his side romped to a big win.

Others:

Among West Adelaide’s 10 individual goalkickers, Harrison Barker and Luke Young snared 3.3 apiece with some productive work up forward, while midfielders Jesse Thackeray (22 disposals, two goals) and Dylan White (26 disposals, two goals) broke into attack with intent. Another to do so was Dylan McCormick, who also snared a major from his 20 touches and six marks.

Sturt:

#12 Jamie Taylor 

Taylor was a constant in Sturt’s midfield, proving reliable at the contest while also working around the ground to help the Double Blues gain some fluency on the ball. While he didn’t hit every target, Taylor showed good endeavour in a solid performance despite his team being soundly beaten. He finished with 17 disposals (14 kicks), six marks, and six tackles.

#25 Kade Harvey 

Being a Sturt defender was a tough gig on Saturday, and Harvey would know all about just that. The Double Blues backman managed a team-high 25 disposals, 10 marks, and 15 rebound 50s in a game where he had plenty of work to do. Entrusted with the kick-ins, Harvey looked to snatch as much meterage as possible before clearing the ball long by foot, and was even pinged for running to far on one such occasion. He also tried hard to mop up across defensive 50 and made a couple of timely intercepts, but was truly up against it for most of the game.

Others:

Jake Aish was again solid in midfield, snaring a goal in the fourth term to cap his 21-disposal effort. Jaymes Tregakis and Ethan Field also had a crack through the engine room, while Thomas McCourt did so down back and Chad Reschke was a handy target at the other end, finishing with 1.2 from his seven touches.

Image Credit: North Adelaide FC via Facebook

Roberts rises up the ranks with skills, smarts, and composure

SOUTH Adelaide teenager Matty Roberts likens his best traits to that of Western Bulldogs superstar Marcus Bontempelli, and appears set to be among the first handful of midfielders selected in November’s National AFL Draft.

A consistently prolific ball-winner with clean skills and a high work rate, Roberts’ ability to hit the scoreboard has set him apart from those around him in recent years.

“I would say I’m skilful, smart, composed and have the ability to go forward and impact the scoreboard,” Roberts said. “I look at Marcus Bontempelli to model my game off, I’m not as tall as him but I feel we have similar attributes, such as being a left footer, a good ball user and decision maker and being able to impact up forward.”

Roberts, who has boarded at Adelaide’s St. Peter’s College since Year 10 but lives on a farm between Langhorne Creek and Strathalbyn, reinforced his first round credentials by averaging 32 disposals, 7.7 tackles and 1.7 goals in three Under 18 matches earlier in the year.

“I’ve really enjoyed my season so far,” he said. “It was really good to spend the full pre-season with the senior squad at South and then start the season really strongly in the Under 18s and school football at St. Peters.”

He didn’t stay at the Under 18 level for long and bypassed the Reserves entirely en route to making his SANFL league debut in Round 6, where he gathered 14 disposals and kicked a goal alongside fellow gun teenager Jason Horne.

“I loved being able to play up in the seniors,” he said. “It was really good to play alongside the senior boys that I’ve looked up to at South from when I was coming through the ranks, so that was really good experience. I found the speed definitely quicker, but as long as you were clean and made your decisions quickly I found it fine.

“I learnt a lot from Bryce Gibbs and Joel Cross regarding where to run and set up and how to use you body to give yourself the best chance to get the ball and use it well,” said Roberts, who turns 18 on July 31.

Image credit: Nick Hook Photography

While the ascent was steep, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the consistent midfielder, who has spent the past two months nursing a syndesmosis injury sustained whilst playing college football.

“I hurt my right ankle in a school game against Rostrevor,” he said. “It got stuck underneath in a tackle and rolled over inwards. But I’ve been back running now for around four weeks and have been doing change of direction (drills) for about three weeks.

“I’ve been trying to build my fitness back up over that time. I was hoping to be back playing this weekend but due to (South Australia’s) lockdown I’m hoping to be back next week, as I need to do a full week of full training before I get back to playing. So that will make it 10 weeks since (sustaining) the injury.”

Roberts is a natural sportsman, who is just as comfortable on the cricket field as he is on the golf course.

“I like to play pretty much all sports but my main get away from footy would be to go out and play golf,” he said. “I’ve had some pretty competitive matches with my dad, brother and mates. But I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and mates, going away with family up the river with the boat or heading down to the beach,” he said.

2021 is an important year for Roberts who, like many draft hopefuls, has had to juggle footballing commitments with Year 12 studies.

“Sometimes it gets a bit tricky, especially at the start of the year as I had cricket finishing up and footy getting underway, but I did a Year 12 subject last year so this year I’ve only got four subjects, so I have more free lessons,” he said. “I try to do most of my homework in those free lessons so after school I’m free to focus on footy or the gym. I feel like I’ve managed things pretty well so far this year.”

Along with his obligations to South Adelaide and St. Peters, Roberts also spent a week rubbing shoulders with the AFL Academy squad in April. While the elite Under 19 group was beaten handily in their showcase outing, Roberts says he learned plenty from the overall experience.

“It was really good to spend time with the best players in the country and see what kinds of things the other players do to get themselves ready for games, how they recover and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “The game (against Geelong’s VFL side) was not too bad, but we lost by 130 points which was the biggest loss I’ve been a part of. I learned you just have to be clean, make good decisions, always talk as a team to help each other out and just hit the easy kicks,” said Roberts.

Heading into the second half of the season, with the National Championships approaching, Roberts highlighted South Adelaide teammates Jason Horne and Arlo Draper, Port Adelaide father-son Jase Burgoyne, smooth-moving utility Nasiah Wanganeen and North Adelaide ball magnet Hugh Jackson as the South Australians to watch. He also made mention of potential bolter Isaac Birt, who Roberts said has “worked really hard and has been really consistent” in his role on the wing.

Featured Image: Matthew Roberts gets a kick away during the 2021 SANFL Under 18s season | Credit: Nick Hook Photography