Tag: lachlan grubb

State Leagues preview: Opening rounds kick-off across the country

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues returning to action over the Easter long weekend. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all kick-off over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview. At the time of publishing, only the South Australian and Tasmanian teams were out, with our West Australian and Queensland previews to come.

South Australia:

The much anticipated South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition kicks off starting tonight in a huge opening long weekend of action.

Tasmanian key forward Jackson Callow will be one to watch for Norwood tonight as they host Port Adelaide returning to the competition after a year off due to the COVID-19 restrictions regarding AFL non-selected players in state leagues. With ex-Geelong talent Jacob Kennerley and ex-Swans tall Michael Knoll returning to Coopers Stadium, the home team will be hard to beat. For Port fans, they will get a glimpse at recent draftees, father-son prospect Taj Schofield and key forward Ollie Lord, whilst the likes of Dylan Williams and Joel Garner are also named in there.

Speaking of ex-AFL talent, South Adelaide has bolstered its list with no bigger name than ex-Crow and Blue, Bryce Gibbs joining the Panthers. He joins ex-Cat Jake Tarca and ex-Lion Sam Skinner, whilst former State Under 18s player Damon Frietag has also joined the cause, Potential number one pick Jason Horne is the player many will turn in to watch, named on the bench to start 2021. Their opponents Adelaide is in the same boat to the Port Magpies, returning to the competition for 2021. Next-Generation Academy (NGA) member Tariek Newchurch is an exciting talent to watch named off half-back, with AFL-listed Crows Jackson Hately, Riley Thilthorpe and Fischer McAsey alongside another NGA draftee in James Borlase. Thilthorpe being named on a wing will be an interesting one to watch, showing off the 200cm key position player’s versatility.

Looking to the other Good Friday clash between Central District and North Adelaide, GWS GIANTS’ Academy member Harry Grant has crossed to the Dogs, with Tom Graham stepping up to League level after plying his trade with the Reserves following a 2019 premiership with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League. Tasmanian Aiden Grace arrives from Glenorchy, whilst the Bulldogs brother-duo of Travis and Jarrod Schiller will find plenty of the ball. Lachlan Grubb and Lewis Cowham are among the ones to watch in the Reserves side. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe will look to get his season off to a perfect start, with ex-Power and Suns talent Aaron Young joining the team, and former Under 18s state representative Dyson Hilder at full-forward.

In a mid-afternoon game at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval, the Eagles will unveil ex-Crow Riley Knight, as well as former Central talents Daniel and Troy Menzel for their clash against Sturt. James Tsitas has remained in South Australia rather than head back to the VFL, while Kobe Mutch will complete a dominant midfield hoping to get back on an AFL list after his time at Essendon. Ex-Crow Patrick Wilson will don the Double Blues colours in 2021 and is straight into the midfield, with former Under 18s state representative Josh Shute also in the side for his League debut. Jordan Houlahan and Zane Kirkwood will once again be keen players for the visitors.

In the final game of the round, Glenelg hosts West Adelaide tomorrow evening. The Tigers have brought in two ex-AFL talents in former Swan Toby Pink, and North Melbourne tall Sam Durdin. Both will provide great versatility around the ground, and back-to-back leading goalkicker Liam McBean will start off another season back at full-forward. Margarey Medallist from a couple of seasons ago Luke Partington will return again for the Bays, as Cooper Horsnell could be among a number of junior players to step up to League level in Round 1. For West Adelaide, Kieren Lovell has joined the side after a stint with Tigers in the TSL last season, while Tom Murphy has been named in the side after his stint with North Melbourne. Josh Gore will be a very handy goalkicker inside 50, while over-age draft prospect Jye Sindeberry has been named at centre half-back for the match.

 

TASMANIA:

Looking down on the Apple Isle, the youth of the competition will be reduced when Tasmania Devils enter the NAB League competition after it was cancelled in 2020. Nonetheless, there are still some good young talents to keep an eye on, and established players who will stand up.

North Hobart kicks off its campaign against Tigers in what should be a fascinating contest. Youngsters Jye Menzie and George McLeod are among the ones to watch for the Demons, as they hope to topple a Tigers side that has lost key ball winner, Kieren Lovell to the SANFL. Lachlan Gadomski remains an important tall for the Tigers, with Sam Duigan a key inclusion for the Kingborough-based side.

In a massive 2020 Tasmanian State League Grand Final rematch, the two Launceston sides go head-to-head with North Launceston up against reigning premiers, Launceston. Young midfielder Ollie Sanders will play a crucial role on the inside, with plenty of chances over the off-season for the Northern Bombers, though Jay Foon and Brad Cox-Goodyer remain among the top players in the side, and Angus Jeffries another teenager to keep an eye on in 2021. Launceston will have its forward line combination of Jay Blackberry and Dylan Riley, as Jake Hinds will line-up again in midfield for the team.

The other match for the weekend is Lauderdale up against Clarence. The Bombers will welcome Allen Christensen to the side, with the ex-AFL livewire named in the middle, team up with Sam Siggins in there. Clarence have a ton of youth on display, led by last year’s Rising Star in Ollie Davis back again, alongside Ethan Jackson, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes among others looking for a good 2021 season in the red and white.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

Peel Thunder vs. East Fremantle
Subiaco vs. East Perth
Perth vs. West Coast
South Fremantle vs. West Perth
Swan Districts vs. Claremont

QUEENSLAND:

Noosa Tigers vs. Wilston Grange Gorillas

Just the one match this weekend in a standalone clash between new Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) newcomers Noosa Tigers, and Wilston Grange Gorillas. The match, set to be played at Rococo Oval in Noosa, will have a 2pm start if it goes ahead. With much uncertainty around the COVID-19 outbreak in Queensland, there is yet to be confirmation the match will go ahead. The teams are also yet to be named due to the uncertainty around the outbreak.

Picture credit: Solstice Digital

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: South Australia

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. South Australian talents on the precipice are the first to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after an entertaining year of SANFL football.

Below are pocket profiles of each player, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> Power Rankings: November Update

KEY FORWARDS/RUCKS:

Ned Carey | Norwood
13/06/2002 | 198cm | 89kg

Carey has spent most of 2020 on the sidelines due to nasty injury niggles, but was a tall prospect of interest coming into the year having been included in the SA state academy hub. He can play in the ruck or at either end of the ground, is mobile for his size, and capable of taking big contested grabs.

Daniel Fahey-Sparks | Sturt
7/01/1998 | 196cm | 92kg

As somewhat of an undersized ruck, Fahey-Sparks covers the ground well and doubles as a forward threat. The 22-year-old’s strong athletic base and added League experience saw him really come into his own during 2020, proving dominant in the air and confident around the ground.

Riley Holder | Glenelg
18/12/2002 | 190cm | 84kg

The shortest and most forward-oriented player of this lot, Holder proved to be a reliable target for Glenelg and Sacred Heart in 2020. He is below true key position height at 190cm but has a strong frame and covers good ground, ensuring he is difficult to halt on the lead and in contested marking situations. Was included in this year’s state academy hub.

Zac Phillips | WWT Eagles
15/08/2002 | 200cm | 80kg

The rangy Eagles bigman made the move down to Henley High this year and performed well there while also juggling his SANFL Under 18 duties. He was his side’s primary ruck option and fared well at the centre bounces with his directional work, but is still improving on his strength, forward craft, and ability to have a greater impact around the ground.

SMALL FORWARDS/MIDFIELDERS:

Lachlan Grubb | Central District
7/12/2002 | 173cm | 69kg

Some may remember him taking out the 2019 SANFL Grand Final sprint, but Grubb is much more than merely a sprinter. His pace certainly helps when breaking lines and taking the game on, while also making for some punishing closing speed in the attacking half. As a December-birth, Grubb still has plenty of upside and development left but has already featured at League level.

Cooper Horsnell | Glenelg
19/04/2002 | 174cm | 68kg

Another who falls into the forward/wing category, Horsnell played out a full season among Glenelg’s Reserves setup in 2020 and also showed his wares by hitting the scoreboard during the Under 18 All-Stars fixture. He is a creative user on the fly who works hard up and down the ground, while also posing a threat close to goal. Had early interest as a state academy hub member.

Henry Nelligan | Norwood
7/03/2002 | 170cm | 69kg

Nelligan proved plenty of doubters wrong with his performances after missing out on a draft combine invite. The hard-working midfielder played a key role in Norwood’s SANFL Under 18s premiership and also gained senior experience earlier in the year. He is not overly quick, but is a natural ball winner who thrives at ground level and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Beau McCreery | South Adelaide
19/4/2001 | 184cm | 84kg

A 19-year-old prospect who has garnered attention on the back of a super SANFL League campaign which saw him boot 19 goals in 15 games. He was selected in the Under 18 All-Stars fixture come season’s end where he spent time rotating between the midfield and forwardline. McCreery gets stuck in on the defensive end and can often provide a spark just when his side needs it.

James Rowe | WWT Eagles
19/09/1999 | 173cm | 73kg

One of the most talked about mature-age hopefuls in this year’s crop, Rowe is a natural footballer who knows where the goals are. He was the equal-leading SANFL League goalkicker this year after earning a state combine invite in 2019 and played a vital role in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership triumph. The 21-year-old looks ready as ever and would appeal to clubs crying out for a small forward.

DEFENDERS:

Dyson Hilder | North Adelaide
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

A key defender with great poise, Hilder has worked hard since missing out on draft honours last year. He again rotated between the Roosters’ League and Reserves sides after gaining some experience in 2019, showcasing some of his best attributes at senior level; namely a strong marking ability and reading of the play from behind the ball.

Rhyan Mansell | WWT Eagles
4/06/2000 | 182cm | 75kg

A small-medium defender who has come on leaps and bounds this year, Mansell allayed late injury concerns to help Woodville-West Torrens take out the premiership flag. The Tasmanian native was a key rebounder out of the back half and showed good skills with ball in hand, while also bringing a hard edge to the side. It could be his year after being overlooked twice.

Callum Park | Glenelg
19/01/2001 | 190cm | 74kg

An outside-leaning utility who can carve up the opposition by foot on he wing or across half-back, Park served a reminder of his talents in 2020 after being overlooked in last year’s draft. He is still quite lean but measures up at a good height and has great upside, with his rebounding ability particularly effective for the Bays. His versatility will also appeal to recruiters.

Luke Parks | Glenelg
18/04/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

Another who was unlucky to be overlooked at last year’s draft, Parks has taken to senior SANFL football with aplomb since making the move to Glenelg in 2020. The Sydney Swans Academy graduate impressed this year with his athleticism and courageous intercept marking in the back half, and has a good frame to keep up with the rigours of League football.

Jacob Wehr | WWT Eagles
184cm | 71kg

The stylish half-back finally broke through to the League grade in 2020 and became a hit among Woodville-West Torrens highly touted team. Kicking is his greatest asset, with the left-footer able to hit targets both short and long to act as a key playmaker in the back half. Interest has grown in the 22-year-old this year having come from a fair way back.

MIDFIELDERS:

Daly Andrews | South Adelaide
22/02/2000 | 184cm | 81kg

Andrews has made improvements after missing out on draft honours for two years running, credit to his work-rate and willingness to succeed. The Victorian moved to South Adelaide in 2020 after NAB League experience with the Western Jets and added superb midfield balance to the Panthers’ side. He is now a readymade size and has built great consistency, with speed and kick penetration highlights of Andrews’ game.

Bailey Chamberlain | West Adelaide
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

A balanced ball winner with break-neck acceleration, Chamberlain was a clear standout among West Adelaide’s struggling Under 18s side. After proving a class above for much of the season and racking up plenty of possessions, he moved up to the Reserves grade and was eventually rewarded with a League debut. He is still quite light and can improve his kicking on the run.

Nicholas Kraemer | South Adelaide
3/04/2002 | 185cm | 82kg

A strong inside midfielder who thrives in contested situations, Kraemer overcame injury troubles to make an impact in the back-end of the season. He is a leader among the Panthers’ group who bases his game on Josh Kennedy and prides himself on his defensive acumen – so much so, that he even succeeded in a move to defence. He has been working hard his speed and overall running capacity as a midfielder.

Mani Liddy | Sturt
20/02/2002 | 181cm | 79kg

A tough inside type who can also rotate forward, Liddy loves to compete and wins plenty of the ball at stoppages. He formed a near-unstoppable combination with first round prospect Tom Powell in 2020 and was consistently among Sturt’s best players at Under 18s level. His ability to stand up in tackles, shrug off opponents, and release slick handballs are all key features of his game.

Lachlan McNeil | WWT Eagles
9/02/2001 | 182cm | 80kg

McNeil is another who proved plenty of doubters wrong in 2020 after being overlooked as a top-age draft prospect last year. Since, he slotted straight into Woodville-West Torrens’ League side and became one of the competition’s best young players, adding terrific balance in his play from midfield. He is a handy ball winner who usually contributes neat disposals and can play inside or out.

Jamison Murphy | North Adelaide
9/12/2002 | 180cm | 85kg

A talented junior cricketer made of leadership material, Murphy opted to chase another type of red ball in 2020 as he committed to football. He is a solidly built inside midfielder who also plies his trade in defence, entrusted with kick-in duties on account of his composure and clean disposal. He also proved to be an apt decision maker, showing good awareness in the back half despite not being the most athletic type.

Featured Image: Nicholas Kraemer gets a kick away | Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2020 South Australian Under 18 All-Stars

THE 2020 South Australian Under 18 All-Stars and Under 17 Futures took to Thebarton Oval on Friday night, performing in their final showcase for the year. While a number of highly touted top-age draft prospects were unable to take the field, other big names were able to show their class. In the main event, Team Grundy defeated Team Hurn 12.18 (90) to 4.12 (36), while Team Smith held on to beat Team Ebert 9.6 (60) to 7.10 (52) in the curtain raiser.

Draft Central Football Editor, Michael Alvaro was on hand to take note of the standout players and familiar names who impressed across both games. For the full teams and replays of either game, click here.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Under 18 All-Stars – Team Grundy (Red) vs. Team Hurn (Yellow)

Team Grundy:

#4 Jase Burgoyne

One of a half-dozen Team Grundy bottom-agers, the 2021-eligible Port Adelaide father-son prospect showed off some of his best traits in patches. Able to adapt on each line, the smooth moving son of Peter boasts plenty of upside, but remains quite raw and light-on at 184cm/62kg. He was able to show nice agility in traffic and evasive techniques which helped him keep clear of closing opponents. Much of his work was done in general play, but he is known to be a strong accumulator who can utilise his sound short kicking game to help his side maintain possession.

#6 Will Spain

Another bottom-ager on Team Red, Spain popped up with some nice moments throughout the game. The diminutive Sturt midfielder was mostly utilised on the outer, where he was able to get his legs pumping with ball in hand and provide quick linkage between the arcs. He conveyed a good work-rate to get back and take a relieving diving mark inside defensive 50 during the second term, but showed his best form when taking the game on and gaining repeat possessions with his line-breaking run.

#7 Blayne O’Loughlin

O’Loughlin is a 2021-eligible prospect who is sure to provide Adelaide fans with continued hope, given he is tied to the Crows’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). There may not be much of the 172cm defender, but he packs a punch. He was able to compete well in his usual defensive post, proving strong at ground level and rebounding quickly once he had snapped up possession. While stationed a touch deeper than usual, O’Loughlin’s penetration by foot was somewhat replaced by his sound decision making, as he was able to find shorter options. He was even entrusted with the kick-ins at times, much like he has been with North Adelaide.

#8 Henry Nelligan

The 2020 SANFL Under 18s premiership player had a case for being best afield, as his sheer work-rate and ability to accumulate possessions across the ground took full toll. Nelligan is one of the most consistent players among his South Australian peers in terms of pure ball winning; able to win it at ground level, in space around the ground, or even on the lead up forward. His craftiness forward of centre came to the fore, with a beautifully improvised snap to Tom Emmett in the second term making for a nice goal assist. He also had chances to find the goals himself, but saw a set shot and attempt on the run dragged wide, while a quick snap in the final term was rushed over. His second efforts and clear footballing smarts make up a lot for what he lacks in size, and it seems he had a point to prove having missed out on a National Combine invite.

#11 Lachlan Grubb

Perhaps another National Combine omission with a point to prove, Grubb seems to have gained a great deal of confidence having turned out at senior level. The speedy forward brought exactly that to the contest, breaking the lines and proving a menace going inside 50. While he missed multiple chances to get on the scoreboard himself, Grubb assisted goals to Zac Dumesny in the second term and Cooper Horsnell in the fourth, while also unselfishly hitting up Tom Emmett on the fly when he could easily have sunk a shot from 35 metres out. But arguably his biggest play of the night came via a three-bounce dash on the wing during the third term, where he showcased his high-level sprinting ability to burn an opponent and deliver inside 50. A solid outing, he just needs to refine that finishing product.

#12 Daniel Fairbrother

Fairbrother is another Norwood premiership player, and one who has also gained some valuable senior experience. In a defensive role which he looks comfortable in, the top-ager was able to prove his worth with ball in hand on the back of some clean kicks and composed touches. He is the type of player you want to be exiting the defensive 50, and was a strong contributor across half-back.

#15 Max Clifton

Another solid contributor, Clifton popped up with glimpses of his best form in each quarter. In the first term, it was his courage to mark strongly overhead and willingness to move the ball on immediately which stood out. In the second stanza, the midfielder showed nice agility and was difficult to tackle. After half time, he had more of an impact inside attacking 50 with a set shot attempt which went wide, followed by an assist to Nasiah Wanganeen who tapped-in a snap on goal from point-blank range.

#16 Mani Liddy

The hard-nosed Sturt midfielder proved a fast starter, nearly snaring two impressive goals within the opening term. He did manage to claim Team Grundy’s first major, taking advantage from a free kick inside 50 and finishing with aplomb on the checkside. He almost followed it up with a snap moments later, but could not find the same spark as the contest wore on, rotating between the midfield and forwardline.

#17 Cooper Beecken

Arguably the most impressive bottom-ager afield, Beecken is a light and athletic 190cm defender who boasts many similarities to Hawthorn’s Will Day. The Glenelg prospect proved very clean and composed in possession across the back half, chiming in with timely intercept marks and mopping up at ground level. He seems to cover the ground well too, able to float into good positions in the defensive arc and help initiate rebounding forays. Having spent a good chunk of his season turning out for Sacred Heart, Beecken has emerged as an early top 25 prospect ahead of his draft eligible year in 2021.

#20 Zac Dumesny

The highly touted South Adelaide prospect was back to his best in this contest, taking up a spot on the wing and even rotating through the inside at times during the second half. Dumesny’s third quarter was arguably his best; as his clean hands, sharp skills, forward running capacity, and intercept qualities all came to the fore. He got forward well to become an option in said term but hit the post with his 30-metre set shot, and was also sighted marking on the defensive goal line during the following stanza. A typical Dumesny play was evident in the second quarter, as he gathered superbly on the half-volley at pace and flicked out a releasing handball to Caleb Poulter on the run. Top effort overall, one of the best afield.

#21 Riley Holder

Another prospect out of Sacred Heart and Glenelg, Holder proved dangerous inside attacking 50 with his strong aerial marking and sound conversion in front of goal. He booted three majors overall, with all three coming from set shots. Two of them were claimed in the opening term, as Holder’s ability to gain separation on the lead and hold onto marks on the move helped earn those scoring opportunities. He sunk a third after half time by presenting well once again, capping off a handy display up forward.

#22 Nic Couroupis

Couroupis is an over-ager who has flown a little under the radar, but came to prominence with some nice plays in this outing. The strongly-built midfielder spent a lot of time in defence, utilising his overhead marking ability to relieve some contested situations in the back half. He had a nice attacking moment too, with a well-taken mark in the corridor helping him continue his run and provide Tom Emmett with a goal assist just before the half time siren, while his kicking game was also generally sharp.

#33 Caleb Poulter

Far and away the best and most classy player afield, particularly in the first half, Poulter may well have cemented his first round status with this performance. The 192cm midfielder started at the centre bounces and made an impact straight away with a couple of clearances right out of the middle. He was simply cleaner and more effective than any other player, extracting beautifully and hitting a teammate with nearly every disposal. His ability to release long handballs from congestion has always been a key trait, and one particular pass from the centre bounce found Zac Dumesny on the wing, who hardly had to break stride to gather. It is difficult to do justice to his impact in the first half, with his silk and poise on the ball proving a class above the rest. Hardly reliant on pure strength, Poulter proved elusive and athletic in his craft. He was quieter after the main break, but had done plenty to prove his worth beforehand.

#34 Tom Emmett

About a month shy of his 19th birthday, Emmett looks a mature type in terms of his physicality and willingness to compete. At 186cm/86kg, the Sturt forward provided great presence inside 50 and finished with a game-high four goals. He was particularly aggressive at opposition kick-ins, reading the play well to intercept and even snaring a turnover goal that way. His long-range set shot conversion right on the half time siren showed his finishing ability, and some Reserves experience this year seems to have boosted his stock back down at Under 18s level.

Team Hurn:

#3 Corey Durdin

The Central District product found some form in spurts as he returned from repeat hamstring injuries, though it was a tough night to be a Team Hurn forward. As has always been the case with Durdin, his ground level efforts were terrific; not only digging in to win his own ball, but also applying strong tackles, smothers, and attempting to accelerate away. The 173cm prospect moved high up the ground in search of possession and attended some stoppages in general play, before moving into the centre bounces during the final term. He was most prominent during the last quarter, showing good toe away from congestion and finding a couple of teammates inside 50 with neat kicks.

#4 Bailey Chamberlain

Having staked his claim for Westies’ Under 18s as a primary ball winner, Chamberlain showcased his balance with a decent performance on the wing. He played there upon earning a senior call-up and was able to utilise his speed in transition to help link Team Hurn inside attacking 50. He tended to shift into the corridor at times, which proved a dangerous ploy when his teammates found him and he was able to accelerate forward. Chamberlain’s kicking at speed remains a touch scrappy, though back-to-back forward thrusts in the final term proved he is capable of finding his targets, but just needs to do so more consistently.

#7 Xavier Robins

Somewhat of a bolter in this year’s talent pool, Robins comes from good pedigree and possesses some handy weapons at half-back. The dashing defender was in the thick of the action early, mostly sighted attempting to repel Team Grundy’s attacks within the defensive arc, and darting kicks forward. While still a touch light, Robins has great speed and repeatedly worked all the way up to half-forward to move his side into attacking 50. While it didn’t always come off, Robins GPS data should show some solid numbers from those efforts.

#8 Liam Hamilton

It was somewhat of an ‘almost’ performance from Hamilton, who ended up with plenty of chances inside forward 50 but could not quite come away with a major score. The South Adelaide top-ager found the ball in dangerous positions nonetheless and was particularly lively in the second half. Perhaps his biggest stumbling block was the distance many of his shots came from, with some falling short from around 40 metres out, while others went wide either on the run or at a closer range. With a more refined finishing ability, Hamilton could have ended up with a bag of goals.

#9 Tom Powell

It often takes a keen watcher to observed Powell’s true impact in midfield, as many of his disposals are easily missed on the inside. The 2020 McCallum Tomkins Medallist showcased his wonderfully clean and quick hands in congestion, keeping his hands up in tackles and flicking out accurate passes to his runners. He just always seems to be able to get a handball away at the ideal time and is one of the most effective stoppage players in this year’s crop. His biggest impact was arguably felt in the early stages, but he also finished well and was able to accumulate at either end in between.

#11 Tariek Newchurch

Plenty was made of Newchurch’s starting position on the wing for Team Hurn, though he did not quite have the overall impact he would have liked. He was first sighted making a darting run inside attacking 50, not afraid to go backwards to find space before delivering well across the arc. Newchurch then popped up with a couple of nice moments in the second and third terms, forced right into the defensive half to take a strong intercept grab overhead, and tracking back to take another in the following quarter. He looked to move the ball on and generate some attack with his pace, but it was a tough night for the men in yellow. Plenty of Crows fans will be excited to get Newchurch on board as an NGA selection.

#13 Brodie Lake

Lake was arguably his side’s most impressive player and was Team Hurn’s sole goalkicker for the best part of three quarters. The Northern Territory native was outstanding in the first half, booting a couple of classy majors and impacting the play from midfield. While rotating forward, he first latched onto a Luke Edwards kick on the lead and sunk a lovey set shot from 40 metres on a tough angle. His second goal was a party trick, converting a checkside attempt from a fair distance out on the boundary line. He also laid a fantastic tackle in the first term to force a stoppage in his defensive goalsquare, exemplifying his work-rate. Lake faded a touch in the second half, but his early moments would have stuck clear in the memory of onlookers.

#14 Nicholas Kraemer

The big-bodied South Adelaide midfielder had his top-age season interrupted by injury, but has fared well upon his return with plenty of time in defence. That was no different in this game, as Kraemer was able to bring great physicality and cleanliness to an under-siege back six. He was busy to start with and had an impact through midfield, but arguably did his best work down back with intercepts and hard work at ground level. It would not have been easy to compete so consistently given the one-sided nature of the game, but Kraemer stood up and was generally reliable with ball in hand, even from the kick-ins.

#15 Beau McCreery

Team Hurn’s only 19-year-old afield, McCreery provided some good spark for his side working up the field from his forward post. He was even thrown into the midfield during the second half having suffered from a lack of service inside attacking 50. The lively South Adelaide product got involved going forward, and his highlight for the game came via an outstanding run-down tackle in the second term to earn possession back.

#16 Luke Edwards

Edwards is one of the many South Australian prospects to have been highly touted from a long way out, especially given his father-son ties to the Adelaide Crows. He somewhat reverted back to a familiar state-level role in this outing, rotating between the midfield and backline for Team Hurn. He provided Brodie Lake with his side’s first goal in the opening term and was generally safe in his disposal via foot. Having won a clearance or two, most of Edwards’ contributions came in defence as he took the kick-ins and looked to calmly distribute out of the back half. He did run into trouble with a couple of turnovers from defensive 50, but worked to recover the ball and was a solid figure overall.

#24 Nathan Hearing

Fresh off his best afield SANFL Under 18s Grand Final performance, Hearing took on the ruck duties once again at 195cm. He is a competitive unit, able to claim the ball out of the ruck and pump it forward, or compete at ground level to help his midfielders with a physical presence. He missed the chance to cap off his game with a goal in the final term, sending a set shot wide.


Under 17 Futures – Team Ebert (Blue) vs. Team Smith (Yellow)

Team Smith managed to hold off Team Ebert in the Under 17 Futures fixture, with a bunch of promising 2021 and 2022-eligible prospects strutting their stuff at Thebarton Oval. As is often the case in showcase games, particularly at the end of a strenuous season, a raft of players popped up in patches throughout the contest to provide a taste of what’s to come in terms of South Australian talent.

For the Yellow side, Jacob Lochowiak was physical in midfield, while also proving dangerous within the attacking half. Eagles prospect Brayden Calvett had an enthralling battle with Isaac Birt on the wing, as both players showcased their line-breaking speed and forward running. Lachlan Scannell is a prospect to watch for 2022, as he rotated with fellow 16-year-old Kobe Ryan from half-back to the wing. Tyson Coe is another from that crop, and his work in midfield and defence was solid. Tyson Walls was a lively figure up forward, with Harry Tunkin doing some nice early work down back and through midfield. Sturt’s Brad Jefferies was able to find the ball as he moved forward from the middle, while Shaun Bennier was a dangerous figure inside 50 despite some conversion worries. Bigmen Adam Heath and Declan Hortle were also prominent, with the former presenting well from his starting forward post, while the latter booted two majors in his ruck/forward role.

Twin tall forwards Harry McInnes (three goals) and Luca Whitelum (two) were terrific targets for Team Ebert, with Glenelg’s McInnes mostly stationed inside 50 while Whitelum presented up the ground. James Willis‘ acceleration away from congestion was an eye-catching feature through midfield, and he was supported well by classy 16-year-old Jaiden Magor. Another 2004-birth, Austin McDonald also found plenty of the ball, while Isaac Keeler showed some promising athleticism in the ruck. Cade Kennedy was a handy member of the midfield/forward rotation, with Lachlan Thomas a threatening link into attacking 50 along with Blake Hansen.

Featured image: Nicholas Kraemer gets a kick away for Team Hurn | Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals

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

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Eagles:

#5 Sam Lowson

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

#9 Rhyan Mansell

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

#16 James Rowe

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

#28 Jacob Wehr

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

#34 Lachlan Jones

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

#51 Lachlan McNeil

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#32 Beau McCreery

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

#33 Jason Horne

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

#35 Tom Highmore

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

#45 Daly Andrews

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

RESERVES

Central District vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#49 Thomas Graham

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

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

#52 Lachlan Grubb

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

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

Others:

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

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#27 Harrison Magor

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

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

#32 Mason Neagle

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

#42 Dakota Nixon

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

Others:

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

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Sturt vs. WWT Eagles

By: Eli Duxson

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

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

#13 Bradley Jefferies

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

#17 Mani Liddy

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

#18 Tom Powell

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

#25 James Borlase

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

#27 Ned Grieve

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

Others:

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

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

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

#7 Caleb Poulter

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

#19 Zac Phillips

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

#25 Henry Smith

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

#31 Jase Burgoyne

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

Others:

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

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

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals wrap

TWO of three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) minor premiers booked Grand Final tickets in their respective grades, while Central District’s Reserves bowed out in straight sets. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the second week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

WWT EAGLES | 3.8 | 7.12 | 14.14 | 16.15 (111)
STH ADELAIDE | 5.2 | 8.5 | 9.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Eagles: J. Rowe 5, S. Lowson 2, J. Foote 2, M. Goldsworthy 2, A. Poole, L. McNeil, N. Hayes, J. Lonergan, J. Firns
Panthers: E. Wilkinson 3, S. Overall 2, B. McCreery, N. Schwarz, J. Horne, L. Bogle, A. Cailotto

BEST:

Eagles: J. Rowe, J. Tsitas, J. Sinor, J. Wehr, J. Redden, M. Goldsworthy
Panthers: M. Broadbent, E. Wilkinson, M. Karpany, J. Summerton

Minor premier, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) earned passage to the 2020 League decider after bolting home 43-point winners over South Adelaide. Electric small forward James Rowe turned it on when it mattered, booting five goals for the Eagles to only enhance his stocks as a mature-age AFL Draft candidate this year. Rowe’s scoreboard impact helped the Eagles overcome a half-time deficit, as they piled on nine goals to South’s two in a romping second half display.

Fresh off four majors in the Reserves, Sam Lowson made the most of his senior return with two goals in this outing, while 19-year-old midfielder Lachlan McNeil also found the big sticks. Defender Jacob Wehr, who is also attracting some elite level interest, managed 14 disposals (12 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones contributed 13 touches and five marks. Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell proved his fitness in making a return, while Ben Jungfer was another to earn a call-up via the Reserves.

There were a few Panthers who stood tall as their season came to an end, with Eamon Wilkinson among them. The 20-year-old forward snared three goals to take his season tally to 25. 17-year-old gun Jason Horne capped off a fine maiden run of senior football by hitting the scoreboard, with boom Victorian recruit Daly Andrews managing 16 touches and six clearances in a balanced effort. National Combine invitee, Tom Highmore (nine disposals, five rebound 50s) did not quite have his usual impact, but has enjoyed a stellar debut SANFL season.

The Eagles will go on to face North Adelaide in the SANFL League Grand Final, just a fortnight after going down by 15 points to the Roosters in an entertaining semi final bout.

Reserves:

CENTRAL DISTRICT | 0.3 | 1.4 | 4.4 | 6.9 (45)
NORTH ADELAIDE | 3.2 | 7.6 | 8.11 | 10.14 (74)

GOALS:

Bulldogs: B. Kennedy 2, C. Dahms 2, T. Graham, L. Grubb
Roosters: S. Davis 2, T. Rigney, C. Dowling, D. Nixon, C. Barns, J. Neade, J. Langley, J. Byrne, M. Neagle

BEST:

Bulldogs: J. Brown, N. Madden, S. Burton, T. Graham, D. Haydon, E. East
Roosters: M. Slee, S. Parsons, D. Nixon, P. Davies, H. Magor, M. Neagle

Reserves minor premier, Central District has been knocked out of the finals in straight sets after falling short for a second-straight week, this time at the hands of North Adelaide. A seven-goal to one first half saw the Roosters crow to a 38-point lead at the main break, which they comfortably managed to hold onto despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts. 29 points was the final margin of victory, seeing Centrals bow out after losing just once during the home-and-away rounds. North goes on to meet Woodville-West Torrens in the decider, with the ledger sitting at one win apiece between the two sides in 2020.

20-year-old Mackenzie Slee was recognised as best afield for the victors, returning eight marks and six rebound 50s from his 15 disposals in the back half. Meanwhile, Harrison Magor notched a team-high 23 touches to go with nine clearances, seven inside 50s, and five tackles, forming a formidable midfield partnership alongside Dakota Nixon, who managed 20 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. Charlie Dowling was another to find the big sticks for North.

In a losing effort, Joey Brown was named the Bulldogs’ best for his 23 disposals and nine marks, while Steve Burton led all comers with 28 touches to go with nine tackles and six clearances. Nicholas Madden racked up nine rebound 50s from defence, with Thomas Graham providing solid cover on the same line. Among those to kick goals were Cooper Dahms and Brett Kennedy (both two), while Lachlan Grubb also got in on the act with one major.

Under 18s:

STURT | 2.6 | 4.11 | 8.14 | 12.22 (94)
WWT EAGLES | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.4 | 10.4 (64)

GOALS:

Blues: J. Opperman 2, O. Britten-Jones 2, M. Ferres 2, M. Liddy, M. Carruthers, T. Powell, J. Ferrari, Z. Parker-Boers, B. Jefferies
Eagles: B. Calvett 2, M. Litster 2, J. Burgoyne, Z. Scott, J. Godden, J. Hunter-Price, J. Kasianowicz, J. Watson

BEST:

Blues: M. Carruthers, M. Liddy, J. Opperman, W. Spain, B. Higgins, M. Ferres
Eagles: R. Williams, Z. Buck, J. Burgoyne, L. Ueding, C. Poulter, D. Branford

Sturt leant on its finals double chance, bringing an end to the Eagles’ premiership defence while punching its own Under 18s Grand Final ticket in one fell swoop. The Double Blues found themselves trailing at the second and third breaks, but found an extra gear when it mattered. In a remarkable turnaround, Sturt slammed home a total of 4.8 (32) while keeping the Eagles scoreless in a one-sided final term, which saw the ball locked in the victors’ front half. A 30-point final margin was the result, with Norwood awaiting the Blues for what will be a semi final rematch.

AFL Draft bolter and National Combine invitee Malachy Carruthers was again outstanding for Sturt, showcasing all of his class with 21 disposals, six marks, and a goal. Mani Liddy accumulated a team-high 29 touches, which included eight clearances and a booming final term goal, while Tom Powell also managed 29 disposals, 10 marks, seven clearances, and a classy major of his own. Bottom-age forward Morgan Ferres snared two goals from 17 disposals and nine marks, while Will Spain laid 10 tackles, and Crows NGA hopeful James Borlase returned to the level with five marks.

Caleb Poulter was arguably the Eagles’ best in a losing cause, doing his draft chances no harm with 22 disposals and seven marks. Ryan Williams was also recognised for his efforts, while 2021 Port father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne capped off a brilliant year with 21 touches and a goal, with Brock Thomson (31 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) leading all comers from defence.

Featured Image: Eagles forward Sam Lowson celebrates a goal | Credit: SANFL

Out to impress: SANFL Preliminary Finals

BOTTOM-AGED superstar Jason Horne will take to Adelaide Oval when his Panthers clash with Woodville-West Torrens for a place in the SANFL Grand Final. The 17-year-old, who kicked the sealer for South Adelaide in their semi-final win last weekend, has been named on the bench for the Sunday afternoon match.

Canberra-born key defender Tom Highmore will once again be expected to handle one of the oppositions key forwards – a task he has excelled in throughout his first season at SANFL level. Victorian import Daly Andrews has been named on the half-back flank, after he gathered 17 disposals and three marks in the victory over Glenelg.

Meanwhile, Eagles teenager Ben Jungfer is in line to return to the senior side after being included on the extended interchange bench. If dashing defender Rhyan Mansell is unable to recover from his concussion sustained in the semi-final loss to North Adelaide, Jungfer looms as a likely inclusion. The aggressive tackler made his League debut earlier in the season and immediately looked at home at the level. Eagle forward Sam Lowson has also been named on the extended bench and is a chance to rejoin Ken Farmer Medalist James Rowe in attack.

Central Districts draft hopeful Corey Durdin has been named in the reserves for the Bulldogs’ semi-final clash with the Roosters. Durdin will be a valuable inclusion, after having missed several games this season with hamstring issues, which also prevented the forward from testing at the recent draft combine. He will be joined by Lachlan Grubb, who has been a regular in the reserves throughout the year.

At under-18s level, Sturt has named a strong side for their encounter with Woodville-West Torrens. Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been named on the half-forward flank for the Double Blues and looms as a potential match-winner. Malachy Carruthers will look to generate plenty of drive from half-back and midfield trio Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will need to perform strongly if Sturt is to keep their season alive, following a disappointing loss to Norwood last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have named a settled side for the clash, after recording a narrow and controversial victory over South Adelaide last weekend. Tall forward Henry Smith will look to be a focal point at centre-half-forward, with the likes of Taj Schofield and Jack Wheare also out to impress in the must-win clash. In the middle, Zac Phillips will lead the ruck division, with Jase Burgoyne, Max Lister and Caleb Poulter looking to gain the upper hand in the contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Central Districts vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Under-18s:

Sturt vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 10, 11:30am @ Thebarton Oval

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL semi finals wrap

MINOR premiers fell across all three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades in 2020’s first finals week, as strong upset wins reigned supreme. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the first week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

South Adelaide 14.12 (96) def. Glenelg 10.11 (71)
WWT Eagles 9.8 (62) def. by North Adelaide 11.11 (77)

South Adelaide trumped Glenelg by 25 points on Sunday, bringing an abrupt end to the Bays’ 2019 premiership defence. After getting on top early, the Panthers remained in control throughout the contest, earning passage to a preliminary final meeting with Woodville-West Torrens (WWT).

A strong 20-year-old representation helped propel South to the second week of finals, with the likes of Luke Bogle (21 disposals, eight rebound 50s, one goal), Hayden Sampson (18 disposals, one goal), Daly Andrews (17 disposals), and Reece Milsom (16 disposals, six rebound 50s) all contributing well. Bogle is one who has timed his run back at senior level perfectly, while Victorian coup Andrews has added some balance to the lineup through midfield.

Potential 2021 number one pick Jason Horne was up to the challenge of his maiden League finals appearance, collecting 15 touches and booting a classy goal. National combine invitee Tom Highmore was again steady down back with six marks from 11 disposals, while crafty forwards Beau McCreery and Eamon Wilkinson made the most of their opportunities to snare two goals apiece.

For Glenelg, former AFL-listed midfielders Jackson Edwards (23 disposals) and Luke Partington (22) topped the statsheet, even adding defensive work to their respective games with six tackles each. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Callum Park capped off his consistent season at senior level with 16 disposals (14 kicks) and seven rebound 50s.

The Panthers will meet minor premier, WWT in the preliminary finals after the Eagles went down to second-ranked side, North Adelaide by 15 points at Adelaide Oval. Having fallen slightly behind in the second term, the Roosters edged back ahead at the main break and managed to hold off each of the Eagles’ surges to book a spot in this year’s Grand Final.

First year player Will Combe booted 3.2 for the victors, a feat matched by former Carlton small forward Kym Lebois. Combe’s older brother, Campbell laid an astonishing 19 tackles in a true finals performance, while fellow 25-year old Mitch Harvey contributed 18 disposals and 23 hitouts in the ruck. Another former AFL-listed player, Harrison Wigg was again productive through midfield with 17 disposals and four clearances.

For the Eagles, Jacob Wehr returned a team-high 23 disposals to go with 10 rebound 50s, as AFL clubs keep an eye on the 22-year-old defender’s progress. Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) gun Lachlan Jones managed 11 rebounds from his 19 touches, while Lachlan McNeil had it 18 times and booted 1.2. Electric small James Rowe managed two majors as he enjoyed some added midfield minutes, also notching five clearances from his 19 disposals.

Reserves:

Sturt 7.12 (54) def. by North Adelaide 8.12 (60)
Central District 9.7 (61) def. by WWT Eagles 12.11 (83)

Central Districts suffered just its second Reserves loss for the season, bettered by WWT to the tune of 22 points. The Eagles remain the only team to beat the Bulldogs in 2020, with the result just a week removed from Centrals’ minor premiership-clinching win over their weekend opponents. A five-goal third term from the second-ranked Eagles ensured they would break away comfortably, opening up a 40-point lead heading into the final term. They would cruise home to victory, booking a Grand Final spot despite Centrals’ consolation efforts to somewhat even up the scoreboard.

Mature-age VFL recruit Sam Lowson responded perfectly to being relegated to the twos after a three-goal League outing, booting four majors in the win. 19-year-old Ben Jungfer was in the same boat, but held his head high to feature among the Eagles’ best half-dozen players. For Centrals, Ben Kelly and Lachlan Grubb each bagged a single goal, but will look forward to redemption across the upcoming fortnight.

North Adelaide will be the Bulldogs’ next test, after the Roosters stayed alive with a thrilling six-point victory over Sturt on Saturday. Having led at every break, the fourth-ranked side looked like cruising home to an easy win when they held a 27-point buffer at the final break, boasting double Sturt’s goal tally with eight. But the Double Blues were not done with yet, as they put through three goals to North’s nil to draw back within a goal. It proved too little, too late though as the Roosters held on.

Harrison Magor and Dyson Hilder were among the best Roosters afield, with Hilder’s strong run of form constantly making him hard to deny in terms of League selection. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase returned for Sturt, while Anzac and Mihail Lochowiak both found the goals, and Tom Emmett and Tyson Hone (two goals) were named among the best in a losing effort.

Under 18s:

WWT Eagles 16.7 (103) def. South Adelaide 14.8 (92)
Sturt 8.10 (58) def. by Norwood 16.14 (110)

Two out of three ain’t bad, and that is exactly what the WWT Eagles produced in week one of finals as their Under 18s trumped South Adelaide to keep their premiership defence alive. Despite a valiant effort from South’s stacked side, who even snuck ahead in the third term, the Eagles’ pressure at the contest and true conversion saw them get up in a high-scoring contest.

2021 Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne was again prolific for the Eagles; notching 22 disposals, six clearances, seven inside 50s, and a clutch final term goal. Nick Mitzithras and Brock Thomson also managed 22 touches apiece, while Caleb Poulter was lively with 20 alongside Taj Schofield (19 disposals, five clearances, one goal). Harrison Dawkins was another midfielder to find the big sticks with two majors, a feat matched by bigman Henry Smith, who also clunked four contested marks.

There were plenty of strong performers for the Panthers too, with bottom-agers Matthew Roberts (24 disposals, two goals) and Arlo Draper (four goals) among those to lead the charge. Max Clifton managed nine inside 50s from his game-high 26 disposals, while highly-rated top-agers Zac Dumesny and Nick Kraemer both contributed 20 touches. Jack Flett was a surprise goalkicking packet as he snuck forward for three majors, while 16-year-old Jaiden Magor booted two classy goals of his own.

Minor premier, Sturt will have to lean on its second chance, after being thumped by Norwood to the tune of 52 points. The Redlegs trailed by a point at the first break, but came out firing with five goals in the second term, and another handful in the third to set up an unassailable lead. They will meet either Sturt, or WWT in the Grand Final.

As has been the case all season, Norwood progressed on the back of an even team performance. Though, among the standouts were Ethan Schwerdt (27 disposals), along with industrious small pair Henry Nelligan and Jack Saunders, who both collected 25 touches. Xavier Tranfa snared a couple of goals from 20 disposals, while Finn Heard made the most of his nine touches as five of his seven scoring shots sailed through the big sticks. For Sturt, Mani Liddy booted forward 10 clearances, joined in midfield by Brad Jefferies (20 disposals, one goal) and a restricted Tom Powell (18 disposals).

Featured Image: South Adelaide’s Jason Horne celebrates | Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Round 14 wrap

WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior competitions, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade in Round 14. Heavy finals ramifications were in place during the ultimate regular season round, which saw the cream truly rise to the top.

Norwood vs. West Adelaide

League: Norwood 6.11 (47) def. by West Adelaide 8.9 (57)
Reserves:
Norwood 5.7 (37) def. by West Adelaide 9.14 (68)
Under 18s:
Norwood 18.12 (120) def. West Adelaide 5.7 (37)

West Adelaide finished both its senior seasons on a high, defeating Norwood in the League and Reserves grades. While the results saw Westies steer clear of the last-place Redlegs Reserves, the Bloods still finished bottom of the League and Under 18s ladders with a combined three wins in either competition. Norwood was the best of the rest at League level, and missed out on top spot in the Under 18s by percentage only after a second-straight win.

The top flight debuts of Bailey Chamberlain and national combine invitee Jye Sinderberry were made memorable, as the two Westies young guns performed solidly in their side’s win. Chamberlain racked up 17 disposals and booted a goal playing on the wing, while Sinderberry managed 12 touches from defence. Lachlan Squire and fellow NSW/ACT recruit Hamish Ellem were also part of the Bloods’ victory. Norwood’s Jack Heard made up another debut for the weekend, notching 14 disposals and five marks for the Redlegs.

Nicholas Couroupis, Cooper Gilbert, Michael Laudato, and Hugo Kelly were among the young Bloods to contribute as West Adelaide saluted to the tune of 31 points at Reserves level, trumping a Norwood team which also boasted some young talent in the form of Mitchell Carroll, Alexander Scali, Lachlan Falco, and Nathan Maunder, the former two of whom booted a goal each.

The junior Redlegs got one back with an 83-point thumping of Westies, headlined by 29 disposals and five goals from the returning Jack Saunders. Henry Nelligan (33 disposals, one goal) was another small to find plenty of the ball, while Xavier Tranfa and Michael Cavallaro joined Saunders in booting multiple goals from over 20 touches. Westies’ tough season ended bluntly, though Eduard van den Berg (27 disposals, 12 rebound 50s) and Cade Kennedy (21 disposals, five clearances) were among those to finish their consistent campaigns in good form.

Central District vs. WWT Eagles

League: Central District 13.10 (88) def. WWT Eagles 13.6 (84)
Reserves:
Central District 13.9 (84) def. WWT Eagles 6.6 (42)
Under 18s:
Central District 9.9 (63) def. by WWT Eagles 16.12 (108)

Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) officially secured the League minor premiership on Saturday despite a shock loss to Central District, with gun small forward James Rowe also tying for the competition’s leading goalkicker award. The Bulldogs also triumphed in the Reserves to secure a minor premiership of their own in front of the second-placed Eagles, while WWT’s Under 18s are every chance to go back-to-back having secured third spot.

Rowe’s sole major and three from Coburg VFL recruit Sam Lowson were not enough to help the Eagles finish the League regular season with a win, though there were some promising young performers. Among them, former Port rookie Kai Pudney managed 20 disposals, followed by 18 from 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil. Northern Territory product Ben Jungfer will also hope to have secured his finals place after 11 touches. Jackson Kelly (21 disposals, 10 tackles, one goal) and Jack Toner (19 disposals, six marks, one goal) were both terrific for the winners, finishing their senior campaigns off well along with the Bulldogs overall.

Lachlan Grubb and Nicholas Lange snared two goals apiece as the Centrals two’s got up by 42 points, doubling their opponents’ total score in the process. But it was 2019 Oakleigh Chargers premiership player Thomas Graham who was named best for the victors in a terrific performance. Thomas is the son of former Hawthorn and Richmond player, Mark Graham, and was eligible to be drafted to the Hawks via the father-son rule.

As usual, the Eagles managed a good spread of performers as their Under 18s secured a comfortable win, led by usual suspects Jase Burgoyne (31 disposals, one goal) and Caleb Poulter (27 disposals, two goals). Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield was in the thick of it, Jordan Kasianowicz booted four majors, and tall pair Henry Smith and Zac Phillips both fared well aerially while hitting the scoreboard. 16-year-old Austin McDonald capped off a stellar season with 32 disposals and 12 clearances against stiff opposition, aided by Lewis Cowham (30 disposals, 10 clearances) and bigman Wyatt Ryan, who matched his hitout haul (25) with disposals.

Sturt vs. Glenelg

League: Sturt 9.13 (67) def. by Glenelg 12.8 (80)
Reserves:
Sturt 7.16 (58) def. Glenelg 8.2 (50)
Under 18s:
Sturt 13.15 (93) def. Glenelg 3.4 (22)

Equal League leading goalkicker, Liam McBean‘s four majors led the Bays to a confidence-building win heading into finals, though it was Sturt who took the points across the Reserves and Under 18s fixtures. Having snuck into the top four, the Tigers’ premiership defence is alive, but their season came to an end in the two remaining competitions. Conversely, the Double Blues will boast finalists in both those grades, with the Under 18s finishing top, but the League side left behind in sixth while the Reserves claimed third.

Glenelg over-ager Callum Park will bring some good form into finals, having managed 19 disposals (17 kicks) and 11 rebound 50s from his usual defensive post. Double Blues ruckman Daniel Fahey-Sparks ended his own season in commanding fashion, winning a monster 49 hitouts to go with his 18 disposals, seven marks (four contested), five clearances, and one goal.

Despite five goals from Nicholas Leck and a raft of young contributors, the Bays’ Reserves couldn’t repeat the feat. Riley Holder and Xavier Robins both played their first games at the level for Glenelg, while the likes of Luke Edwards, Ty Murphy, Cooper Horsnell, Hagan Wright, and Mitch Martin made up the Bays’ youthful core. Anzac Lochowiak and Beau Schwarze both found the big sticks in a winning Sturt side which also boasted Josh Shute and Tom Emmett.

Three Sturt guns racked up 34 disposals each as the Double Blues won comfortably in the Under 18s; with Malachy Carruthers working hard to also claim 15 marks, Bradley Jefferies snaring 10 clearances, and Mani Liddy adding a goal to his tally. Bigman Morgan Ferres booted three majors as he looks to impact during the postseason. Harry Tunkin (24 disposals, seven tackles) was busy for Glenelg, leading the disposal count in front of three teammates – Oscar Clark, Bailey Durant, and Henry McAuliffe – who all managed 23 touches.

South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

League: South Adelaide 13.9 (87) def. North Adelaide 6.9 (45)
Reserves:
South Adelaide 8.7 (55) def. by North Adelaide 12.8 (80)
Under 18s:
South Adelaide 14.10 (94) def. North Adelaide 11.12 (78)

South Adelaide pulled off a confidence-boosting win over fellow finals bound League side, North Adelaide, while also securing finals at Under 18s level with another quality victory over the Roosters. North managed to get one back in the Reserves though, only cementing the status of their two senior sides in the postseason.

Mature-age national combine invitee Thomas Highmore provided a reminder of his class with 19 disposals and seven marks (four contested) from defence, while Victorian recruit Daly Andrews booted a goal from his 13 touches. For North, Karl Finlay was one of their best young performers with 12 disposals and five marks, as former Gold Coast listed player Harrison Wigg impressed with 23 disposals and seven marks for the Roosters.

Zac Dumesny made his return via the Under 18s, helping his Panthers lock in a top four spot with 33 disposals (26 kicks) and 11 marks. Bottom-ager Matthew Roberts had a day out with four goals from 28 touches, while Harry Spacie (23 disposals, 10 marks) was also handy, and Nicholas Kraemer (19 disposals) was another to return strongly. Draft bolder Brayden Cook booted 2.5 from his 12 disposals. Jayden Davison (28 disposals, six clearances) was again a top performer for the Roosters, while Hugh Jackson and Zyton Santillo both ticked over 20 touches and found the goals. Adelaide NGA gun Tariek Newchurch capped his season with four majors in a more consistent display.

Featured Image: North Adelaide’s Harrison Wigg is shut down by South Adelaide’s Daly Andrews | Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

Out to impress: SANFL Round 14 Preview

THE final round of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) action is here, with a host of young talent looking to impress for what could potentially be the final time on the field this year.

Bloods midfielder Bailey Chamberlain has been forced to wait patiently for his League debut after being named in the selected side for several weeks without managing to make the final cut. However, the draft hopeful from Roxby Downs has been named on the wing for West Adelaide’s final game of the season. Joining him in the senior side is defender Jye Sinderberry, who is also in line to make the step up to League level after spending time in the reserves and under-18s throughout the season. Strong overhead for his size, Sinderberry has been named on the half-back flank for the Bloods’ Friday night clash with Norwood at The Parade.

Promising key forward Luke Young will lead the Bloods forward-line into battle for one last time in 2020 when they take on the Redlegs at ACH Group Stadium in the under-18 competition, The Faulkner-brothers, Ed and Thomas, will also front-up for West Adelaide, alongside promising bottom-aged midfielder Cade Kennedy and hard-nosed defender Edward Van den berg.

Norwood teenager Daniel Fairbrother has performed well at senior level since debuting several weeks ago. Although he has been excluded from the Redlegs League side due to personal reasons, the defender has been included in the club’s under-18 squad. With the Redlegs well-placed ahead of the under-18 finals series, Fairbrother will reunite with midfield trio Jack Saunders, Cooper Murley and Henry Nelligan. Dominant key forward Finn Heard and defenders Alastair Lord and Michael Cavallaro will also front-up for the Redlegs, who boast an impressive core group.

Woodville-West Torrens teenager Ben Jungfer has retained his place in the Eagles side as they look to continue their winning ways against the Bulldogs before tackling the finals series. The Northern Territory native and Sacred Heart College product performed well on debut last week, winning 19 disposals and looking comfortable against seasoned campaigners.

The Eagles won’t risk potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones, who suffered a slight ankle injury in the resounding victory over West Adelaide last round. Woodville-West Torrens have named a strong under-18s side for their clash with the Bulldogs. Currently sitting in third place on the ladder with eight wins, the Eagles’ league-high percentage sees them perched narrowly above the Roosters and Panthers, who will go head-to-head in a tantalising match-up at Prospect Oval.

Despite playing in the All Schools Grand Final with Henley High School during the week, Taj Schofield, Jase Burgoyne and Zac Phillips will all be expected to play a major role, as will Caleb Poulter, who returns to the side after spending a couple of weeks with the reserves.

Victorian Jack Toner has been named on the bench for Central Districts when they take on the high-flying Eagles at their native Elizabeth Oval. Lachlan Grubb will again play with the Bulldogs reserves, who sit at the top of the ladder approaching the finals. At under-18s level, imposing ruckman Wyatt Ryan, highly-impressive 16-year-old Austin McDonald and smooth-moving on-baller Luigi Mondello will do battle for the final time this season, missing out on a finals berth despite victory over Glenelg last weekend.

Sturt wingman Josh Shute could play his first League game in the famous double blue when the club locks horns with Glenelg at the friendly confines of Peter Motley Oval. However, James Borlase will not feature at any level this round, after leading Prince Alfred College to victory during the week. The Double Blues under-18s will be without ball-magnet Tom Powell for their ACH Group Stadium encounter with the Tigers. In his absence, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will look to continue their strong seasons as the side readies itself for finals football.

Glenelg have promoted speedster Xavier Robins to the reserves after he impressed upon returning to the SANFL ranks in the loss to Central Districts. He joins fellow draft-hopefuls Cooper Horsnell, Luke Edwards, Hagan Wright and school-mate Riley Holder in the squad. Following a standout showing in the All Schools competition with Prince Alfred College, Harry Tunkin will look to back it up at under-18s level, alongside Cooper Beecken, Harry McInnes and Nasiah Wanganeen.

In the final match of the home and away season, the Panthers will host fellow finalists North Adelaide. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne will miss the match with a calf strain, but defender Tom Highmore has been named to return to the side after he missed last round with a minor thigh issue. With the Panthers under-18s required to beat the Roosters in order to qualify for the finals, utility Zac Dumesny has returned to play his first under-18s game of the year. Named on the interchange bench, he joins the likes of match-winning forward Brayden Cook, impressive bottom-aged midfielder Matthew Roberts, ball-winner Max Clifton and forward-flankers Liam Nye and Liam Hamilton in the selected side.

The Roosters have thrown their support behind the tall defensive duo Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder, who have both spend considerable time at League level this season. The white-hot North under-18s have named a settled side for their must-win clash. James Willis, Matthew Borg and Jayden Davison will do much of the heavy-lifting in the midfield, with the likes of Kyle Brazell and Zyton Santillo looking to wreak havoc on the wings and up forward. Crows Academy duo Lam Simon and Blayne O’Loughlin will hold back the fort in defence, leaving the dangerous Tariek Newchurch, strong-marking key forward Leo Coates and talented small Kallis Freer to impact the scoreboard in attack. The ruck combination of Adam Heath and Isaac Keeler is also set to play a major role in what shapes up as a thrilling contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 7:40pm @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 2:10pm @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 2:20pm @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 2:15pm @ Flinders University Stadium

Reserves:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 5:00am @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 11:15am @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 11:40am @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 11:35am @ Flinders University Stadium

Under-18s:

West Adelaide vs. Norwood | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ ACH Group Stadium
Woodville-West Torrens vs. Central Districts | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ Prospect Oval
Glenelg vs. Sturt | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ ACH Group Stadium
North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ Prospect Oval

Sprinting ace Grubb takes a tough year in his stride

KEEN South Australian draft watchers may remember him as the winner of last year’s SANFL Grand Final sprint, but Central Districts speedster Lachlan Grubb has more in his locker than pure straight-line speed. Sprinting and football run through the 17-year-old’s veins, with his father a former Reserves player at Norwood, while his uncle took out the 1970 Bay Sheffield meet. It makes his pedigree hard to shake, but the youngster is taking it all in his stride, with his genes helping form many of his most damaging traits.

The draft prospect’s pace, agility, and goal sense makes for an exciting package forward of centre, and Grubb has impressed across the senior grades in his top-age campaign.

“Speaking with ‘Bangers’ (Tony Bamford) and my coaches from Centrals at the start of the year, I think the plan for me was to play predominantly in the position where I was likely to get drafted, if I do at the end of the year,” Grubb said. “So playing that small forward role really suits me well with my goal awareness, speed, and being able to evade people with my agility.

“Last year I played six Reserves games when I was 16 so I guess I had the confidence from last year as well. “Especially with the speed of the game and the sort of player I am, I like to move the ball quicker, get out and use my legs, and I think that’s allowed me to show my weapons.

“It was awesome to play two League games (in 2020). “I was pretty disappointed to go back down into the twos but we’ve got a really good team and culture at the club at the moment so our twos are flying, top of the ladder. “Hopefully we can keep that form up heading into finals.”

After a wildly successful reign between 2000-2011, the Bulldogs have not returned to the final game of the League season since. But Grubb, and the Reserves side he has played most of his footy in this year looks primed for a premiership tilt in 2020, having won more games that the League and Under 18s teams combined to remain one game away from a minor premiership. Grubb is relishing the opportunity to play senior football, and at a “pretty good” standard, no less.

“There’s a really good spirit around the club at the moment and obviously heading into finals, we’ve only lost one game this year,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to play finals footy, obviously not many people in Australia are getting to play footy, and it’s all eyes on SA so it’s a really good opportunity we’ve got and hopefully we can go forward and win a flag.”

But the journey hasn’t been completely smooth sailing thus far, with the obvious early setback of a delayed season compounded by injury, the feeling that people are overlooking the Reserves grade this year and most recently, missing out on a National Combine invite.

“We had just done the whole preseason and found out that the season had stopped, and we didn’t know when it was going to come back,” Grubb said. “It was obviously a bit of a stab in the foot, but I guess everyone across Australia was suffering with it.

“Then starting off the season, I missed the first four games with a syndesmosis injury in my ankle. I did all my recovery pretty quickly, thought I was pretty professional with the way I went about that and just tried to get back as soon as possible.

“I played two League footy games, then went back down to the twos and I’ve been in some pretty good form, but I guess it’s just a bit frustrating because not many people are looking at the Reserves this year.

A breakout game of three goals, and bag of five in Round 12 would have caught plenty of eyes, though, with Grubb garnering some attention from AFL scouts. Having spoken to a couple of clubs recently, the youngster is also moulding his game on a couple of speedy Richmond favourites. Although, he doesn’t support an AFL club at the moment.

“I actually don’t (support) an AFL team,” he said. “Everyone did when we were growing up with the Crows and stuff, but it’s a bit weird, I don’t actually support an AFL team at the moment. “Dad goes for the Pies, they have a bit of a special spot in my heart.

Shai Bolton from Richmond, I mould my game on him. “Just his speed and his pressure – pressure has been a massive improvement for me this year, obviously that’s been the main feature to use my speed to get to players quicker. “At the start of the year I was more of an offensive player rather than a defensive player, so really just trying to hone in on that pressure role as a small forward. “Shai Bolton is definitely one I mould my game on and players like Jason Castagna as well, who can also roll through the forward and wing position.

“The main feedback (from AFL clubs) for me has been just that defensive pressure. “At the start of the year, it wasn’t as good, but it’s been really improving over the past few months of games.”

With help from manager Michael Doughty, a 231-game player at the Crows, Grubb has also taken on extra craft sessions throughout the week. Along with school, sessions at his local JT Performance Centre gym, training with his athletics coach, and regular commitments with Centrals, it makes for a pretty packed week. But as a “laid back” character by his own assessment, Grubb has been able to use each opportunity to his advantage.

“Life’s pretty good in SA,” he said. “School’s been pretty easygoing this year, I’m a laid back sort of a guy so I don’t get stressed over too many things. “The coronavirus hasn’t really effected me too much, I think I really bounced back from it pretty well… (it has been) pretty hectic but I don’t mind it.”

Nearing the end of his top-age campaign, there remains one big goal for Grubb to tick off, but a series of smaller ones come first.

“Obviously the main goal at the end of the year is to get picked up by an AFL club, that’s my dream since I was a young kid,” he said. “But (I am) just setting little goals and trying to play some consistent footy. “I guess I haven’t really been seen much over the last couple of years, last year was my breakout year. “Obviously all the other guys have played a lot of state footy, so I guess I’ve been coming from behind of everyone.

“I’ve just been trying to put some consistent games of footy together to really showcase what I can do to all AFL clubs. “Tackle numbers every game, trying to get that down pat, and then obviously finishing off my goals, because there was a couple of games where I kicked a few points this year.

“If footy doesn’t work out, there’s a lot of things that I can look to. “I do pretty well at school, I’ve got good grades this year and have really honed down on my Year 12. “I’m pretty good at psychology, so maybe just some sort of sports psychology at Uni. I like teaching the younger generation so maybe PE teaching at uni or something like that, too. But I’m really open to anything at the moment.”

Grubb sought to thank his family for their ongoing support, as well as his Centrals coaches for their help throughout the season, and his manager for the effort and time put into him this year.

Featured Image: Lachlan Grubb gets a kick away | Source: (Retrieved from) Central District Football Club