Tag: Lachlan Mcneil

2020 AFL Draft recap: Western Bulldogs

WITH the consensus best player available in this year’s draft tied to their Next Generation Academy (NGA), the Western Bulldogs did a heap of early work to ensure their man would arrive at the kennel, along with at least one more National Draft selection. The momentum of a bumper trade period carried on into the next intake opportunity and is set to put the Dogs in good stead for another finals push in 2021. Boasting a spine which is filling out nicely and a ridiculously deep midfield, Luke Beveridge‘s side looks primed to ascend in the coming seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

National Draft:
#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
#55 Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Rookies:
Lachlan McNeil (Woodville West Torrens), Roarke Smith (Re-listed)

The Bulldogs were well prepared to match a bid for NGA gun Jamarra Ugle-Hagan anywhere within the top three, and did so without second thought when Adelaide put them on the board with the very first pick. Their remaining selections were effectively wiped, leaving only a late third rounder to look forward to thereafter.

Ugle-Hagan promises to form a formidable forward combination with Aaron Naughton, adding even more aerial firepower and match-winning ability. The Oakleigh Chargers graduate is quick off the mark and has a sizeable vertical leap, making him near-impossible to stop on the lead. Despite the lack of a top-age season, he has long been pegged as this year’s first choice and could quickly become one of the competition’s elites. He should be in the frame for an early debut.

With just one more point of call in the National Draft, the Bulldogs added another raw and athletic talent in Dominic Bedendo at Pick 55. The lean Murray Bushrangers product has outstanding athleticism across the board and good versatility in the the sense that he can play either up forward or as a wingman. His ceiling is quite high, but there is plenty of development left to make and strength to be added to his 187cm frame.

The only other fresh face to arrive at Whitten Oval was 19-year-old Lachlan McNeil, taken in the Rookie Draft. After being overlooked last year, the Woodville-West Torrens midfielder remained in the conversation with a quality SANFL League campaign for the eventual premiers. His inside-outside balance and running capacity would have appealed to the Bulldogs, who admittedly now have an embarrassment of riches in the engine room.

VIDEO RECAP:

Featured Image: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was the consensus best player in this year’s draft | Credit: Western Bulldogs

2020 AFL PSD & Rookie Draft: Pick by Pick

THE 2020 AFL Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts completed today, with just one pick in the Pre-Season Draft, and in the Rookie Draft

Pre-Season Draft:

#1 Adelaide – Jackson Hately (GWS GIANTS)

Rookie Draft:

#1 Adelaide – Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide)
#2 North Melbourne – Patrick Walker (North Hobart/Tasmania)
#3 Sydney – Malachy Carruthers (Sturt/South Australia)
#4 Hawthorn – Jack Saunders (Norwood/South Australia))
#5 Gold Coast – Jacob Townsend (Essendon)
#6 Essendon – Martin Gleeson (Essendon)
#7 Fremantle – Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#8 Carlton – Luke Parks (Glenelg/South Adelaide)
#9 GWS – Sam Reid (GWS)
#10 Melbourne – PASS
#11 Western Bulldogs – Lachlan McNeil (Woodville-West Torrens/South Adelaide)
#12 West Coast – Zane Trew (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#13 Collingwood – Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#14 St Kilda – PASS
#15 Brisbane – Grant Birchall (Brisbane)
#16 Port Adelaide – Tyson Goldsack (Port Adelaide SANFL)
#17 Richmond – PASS
#18 North Melbourne – Connor Menadue (Werribee/VFL)
#19 Sydney – PASS
#20 Gold Coast – Jack Hombsch (Gold Coast)
#21 Essendon – Dylan Clarke (Essendon)
#22 Fremantle – Bailey Banfield (Fremantle)
#23 Carlton – PASS
#24 GWS – Zach Sproule (GWS)
#25 Melbourne – PASS
#26 Western Bulldogs – Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs)
#27 West Coast – Daniel Venables (West Coast)
#28 Collingwood – Isaac Chugg (Launceston/Tasmania)
#29 St Kilda – PASS
#30 Port Adelaide – PASS
#31 Richmond – PASS
#32 North Melbourne – PASS
#33 Gold Coast – Jordan Murdoch (Gold Coast)
#34 Essendon – PASS
#35 Collingwood – PASS
#36 St Kilda – PASS
#37 Port Adelaide – Taj Schofield (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#38 Gold Coast – Aiden Fyfe (Broadbeach/Queensland)
#39 Collingwood – PASS
#40 Gold Coast – Rhys Nicholls (Labrador/Gold Coast)

In Contention | AFL Draft smokies to consider: 19-year-olds

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, or being overlooked as top-agers. 19-year-old talents are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty of prospects around the mark having come on strongly after initially being overlooked. Of course, those from Victoria were unable to add to their resumes in 2020, but some have put strong runs on the board already.

Profiles for many of the players mentioned below can be found in our free to download AFL Draft Guide.

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

One over-age prospect has already realised his AFL Draft dream, with Gold Coast Academy graduate Hewago Paul Oea recently placed onto the Suns’ Category B Rookie List. ‘Ace’, as he is better known, is a Papua New Guinea native and earned an International Scholarship before his promotion. Last year, he remained one of the many Northern Academy products who were unlucky to be overlooked at the draft table. Former teammate Josh Gore was another, a small forward who has an uncanny knack of finding the goals. After a terrific senior QAFL campaign with Broadbeach, he could well remain in contention.

Sydney also has access to some fine over-age talent, of whom stood up during this year’s Academy Series. Sam Gaden put together a strong top-age campaign in 2019 before injury hit, but the strong and versatile bigman served a reminder of his talents this year. Likewise, Jackson Barling booted three majors in Game 1 of the Academy Series to put his hand up, while Sam Thorne‘s impact at ground level was evident as he shone in midfield. Both are solid operators, with Barling arguably the more flexible of the two, while Thorne is a reliable small with less expansive upside.

Still in NSW/ACT, the GWS Academy continues to produce some strong talent, albeit not quite in the same ballpark as Tom Green last year. Diminutive ball winner Harry Grant was impressive in his outings for the Giants Academy this year, as well as at his state’s draft combine come season’s end. The 173cm midfielder is tough and deceptively strong over the ball considering his size. Liam Delahunty is one who was widely considered unlucky last year, with his athleticism, marking ability, and versatility at over 190cm all desirable traits. He was set for a switch to the Northern Knights and North Melbourne VFL side before COVID intervened.

Continuing the Allies theme, Tasmania had a couple of 19-year-olds on the cusp after promising 2019 seasons. Jared Dakin attracted some interest after a couple of strong showings towards the end of last year, and his more recent TSL form saw him earn a late call-up for his second combine appearance in as many years. He is a tough inside type with terrific defensive attributes and a solid athletic base. Tall utility Jake Steele was another late inclusion to this year’s combine and has showed his wares on every line thus far. His competitiveness and versatility are key pillars of his overall game.

Of the other states in action this year, Western Australia has one of the deepest over-age pools and many of the prospects in this category boosted their standings in 2020. Max Spyvee is at the pointy end of that list, having burst onto the League scene and earned best afield honours in game two of the WA Under 18 All-Stars fixtures. Fellow Claremont product Kalin Lane, a 204cm ruckman, showed a similarly impressive rate of improvement and looms as a developable ruck option. Nick Martin was another tall to stake his claim having led Subiaco’s League goalkicking charts, while the likes of Conor McPartland and Callum Johnson found mountains of the ball at Colts level before earning promotions. Johnson’s West Perth teammate Brady Alvaro also showed handy balance through midfield, rotating in off the wing.

South Australia’s stocks have also proven to be quite strong, with plenty of mature-agers also entering the draft radar. In terms of 2001-births, Glenelg pair Callum Park and Luke Parks were outstanding after being overlooked in 2019, slotting straight into the reigning premiers’ League side and providing great intercept/rebound value from defence. Parks is also a former Swans Academy member. South Adelaide’s Beau McCreery was another to impress with his goal sense and defensive pressure, while Lachlan McNeil was a key part of Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership midfield, and Nic Couroupis earned an All-Stars call-up for his form across multiple levels. North Adelaide defensive pair Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay also rotated through the senior squads having been key members of the SA Under 18 squad as top-agers.

Last, but certainly not least are the Victorians, who typically make up over 50 per cent of the overall draft pool. There were a bunch of over-agers set to prove doubters wrong with another strong NAB League campaign but alas, that was not to be. Darcy Chirgwin would be near the top of that list, and the tall inside midfielder has not given up on his AFL pursuit having added nearly 10kg to his frame. He was set to rejoin the Geelong Falcons after a stint with Sandringham as he boarded at private school. Jay Dahlhaus, the cousin of Luke was also set to go around with the Falcons again, keen to impress after injury scuppered his top-age season. He earned a NTFL Rising Star nomination recently for Southern Districts, bringing his forward creativity and pressure to the Top-End.

A December-birth, Isaac Wareham also had his top-age run foiled by untimely injuries and could have developed quickly this year. Gippsland’s Jai Newcombe could have been a feel-good story having missed the cut in multiple preseasons prior to his selection in 2020, and the Power are high on his talents as a big-bodied inside mid. Another fast developer is former volleyballer Blake Kuipers, who represented Vic Country last year and has great potential as an athletic key position utility. On the Metro scene, Felix Flockart was set for a big year after impressing in the 2019 APS competition, but is still very much a raw prospect. Would-be Sandringham teammate Oscar Lewis has similar upside, but as a running outside midfielder with good height. Lachlan Gawel, who would have switched from Eastern to Northern, is forward with high class, but like many on this list, was looking to prove his value with a consistent season.

Featured Image: Max Spyvee was best afield in game two of WA’s Under 18 All-Star fixtures | Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

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 SANFL Grand Finals

GRAND Final 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/RESERVES

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

WWT Eagles:

#9 Rhyan Mansell (League)

The young defender again played an integral role down back for the premiers. The Tasmanian combined well with Lachlan Jones and veteran Patrick Giuffreda in the back half, finishing with three rebounds. Mansell used the ball with precision and orchestrated a number of successful attacks. He showcased his sound vision, composure, and decision making and positioned himself well to take a number of intercept marks. Mansell finished the game with 19 disposals, eight marks and five tackles.

#16 James Rowe (League)

As has been the case all season, the excitement machine looked threatening whenever he was near the footy. He demanded attention all day and capitalised on his opportunities, as all good small forwards do. North’s Mitch Clisby was given the big job on Rowe and kept him quiet early on as the Roosters started strongly. However, when the Eagles were well on top, he nailed a goal in the dying minutes of the first half. The son of former-Crow Stephen, Rowe kicked a fantastic goal from 40 metres out after his Eagles teammates forced a turnover in the third term. Whenever he wasn’t lurking around the forward line, Rowe was getting under the skin of his Roosters opponents. He used the ball to terrific effect in general play and finished the day with 15 disposals and four inside 50s to go with his two goals. After a dominant season, Rowe is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook for a spot at the elite level.

#28 Jacob Wehr (League)

The 22-year-old from Balaklava in South Australia’s mid-north was excellent for the Eagles. Wehr was able to get the ball in some time and space, allowing him to cut up North’s defence with his pin-point foot skills. The wingman worked hard both ways between the arcs and continuously provided an outlet for Woodville-West Torrens. He finished the contest with 19 disposals, six marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s. Wehr has been a revelation for the Eagles this season and is one of several mature-aged prospects who could attract some AFL attention over the coming months.

#34 Lachlan Jones (League)

The bull-like defender produced another sensational performance on the big stage and once again showed class beyond his years. As he has shown time and time again throughout the year, Jones refused to be beaten one-on-one. He was deployed as the loose defender for much of the day and read the play exceptionally well. He positioned himself like a seasoned veteran, taking a number of important intercept marks. He showed great composure and poise both with and without the ball, using it efficiently by hand and foot. He produced a number of terrific defensive actions which didn’t show up on the stats sheet, but will have impressed coach Jade Sheedy. Jones finished with 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s. A premiership medal is a fitting way to end a wonderful season for Jones, who appears likely to be a first round selection come draft night.

#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)

In a game where all the Eagles youngsters contributed well, McNeil was the best of the bunch. He provided relentless run along the wing and used the ball as well as anyone. McNeil’s high work rate allowed him to take a host of marks on the outer side. He used the ball well and his teammates clearly looked for him to hit a target going inside 50. But the clear highlight of his game was a terrific running goal in the second quarter, which featured two bounces and a beautiful finish. He concluded the match with 23 disposals, nine marks, two tackles, three clearances and six inside 50s. The Clare product missed out on being drafted as an 18-year-old last year, but after a great performance on Grand Final day and a consistent season at senior level with the Eagles, McNeil could find himself a home at AFL level at the second time of asking.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

It was a difficult day for the Roosters, who struggled to get anything going after quarter time as Finlay and his fellow backmen had their backs against the wall all day. However Finlay was one of North’s best, particularly in the air. He spent some time on dangerous Eagle forward Jack Hayes and also rolled onto Jake Von Bertouch at times. Given the duo’s ability to clunk big contested marks, Finlay held his own. He was thrown up forward by coach Jacob Surjan for a brief stint when the Eagles were in full control and took one of his three contested marks. Finlay tackled hard at ground level and also provided some rebound. He finished with 13 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two inside 50s.

#38 Dyson Hilder (Reserves)

Much like Finlay in the League game, fellow teenaged defender Hilder was similarly strong in the air for the Roosters’ Reserves. He took a couple of strong contested marks and finished the game with seven grabs overall. Hilder, who played a couple of senior games with North Adelaide earlier in the season, provided some clear rebound by foot and was among his side’s best players, despite the loss. He also gave number one ruckman James Craig a break by rotating through the ruck and winning seven hitouts. He finished with 16 disposals and four rebound 50s.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Norwood vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

With Norwood at full strength and solid top-age operators roaming through the engine room, Murley has been squeezed out a touch in this finals series after an outstanding regular season. Nonetheless, the speedy bottom-ager managed to have an impact with bursts of pace and some crafty plays forward of centre. His instinctive attacking runs allowed him to find space inside 50 from the get-go, sinking one of two first term set shots. His kicks were a touch rushed on the outside under the heat of battle, but most of his running game came in that kind of fashion. He missed a few more chances to hit the scoreboard, albeit from tough positions and distances, with a two-bounce dash through the corridor during the final term ending in a flying shot which just did not have the legs. It was more a game of glimpses for Murley compared to his previous form, but he looms as a first round prospect for next year’s draft.

#4 Henry Nelligan

Nelligan is the kind of player you want on your side during a big game, with his consistency and work rate up there with the best of players. Starting in midfield and rotating forward, the diminutive ball winner ended with a game-high 28 disposals to go with six inside 50s and 1.3 in an inspired display. Not only did Nelligan showcase his clean hands and quick skills at ground level, but he was also able to accumulate around the ground and provide a reliable outlet in all areas. A lot of his clearances were booted over his shoulder, but still gained good meterage in the high-stakes contest. While stationed forward, Nelligan stayed busy and used his smarts to position beautifully upon Norwood’s inside 50 entries. His lone goal came in the first term from a strong mark close to goal, and he put two other chances just wide with another touched before bouncing through the big sticks. After some massive performances for the Redlegs, he remains an outside chance to be drafted as a natural footballer with great smarts.

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

Donning the knee brace once again, Schwerdt was a very handy part of Norwood’s midfield-forward rotation. His first big contribution came inside attacking 50, as he put a quick snap wide, but followed up with a shrewd crumb and dribble goal in the opening term. Schwerdt’s skills were neat in the short range and his little bursts of speed away from congestion proved key in setting Norwood on the front foot. His second goal, which came in the final term, was undoubtedly his highlight of the day. Schwerdt bravely marked between two opponents, moved on immediately to burn both of them, and slotted home a long-range bomb on the run.

#11 Xavier Tranfa

Another of Norwood’s prolific midfielders who also impacted in the front half, Tranfa’s two third term goals truly broke the game open. His first came via a strong mark directly from the centre clearance against a couple of opponents, with the set shot converted emphatically from around the 50-metre arc. Shortly after, he found himself on the end of another forward chain, wheeling on his favoured left side and sinking a powerful shot through the big sticks. That kind of impact was complimented by some strong work at the contest, as Tranfa attacked both the ball and carrier with intent. He was clean at ground level and while not overly quick, he would get his legs pumping or buy enough time to eventually send Norwood into attack. 19 disposals, six tackles, four clearances, and a couple of goals made for a terrific all-round game.

#15 Harlee Chandler

Chandler has proven somewhat of a finals wildcard for Norwood, slotting into the midfield with aplomb and providing great balance at the contest. He began proceedings with a sharp run through the middle and goal assisting pass inside 50, with that kind of run and movement through the corridor a sign of things to come. He was able to fend off opponents and break free, with much of his work as clean as and impactful as anyone else afield. A rush of blood saw Chandler miss his final term attempt on goal after a terrific play to win the ball, but it hardly took away from what was an eye-catching performance from the youngster. He finished with 19 disposals, six tackles, and three clearances.

#27 Nathan Hearing

The 2020 Alan Stewart Medal winner was best afield, Hearing was his usual heroic self through the ruck. Hardly a one-dimensional bigman, the 195cm prospect won a game-high 11 clearances, one more than his 10 hitouts throughout the day. His 21 disposals all-up came in various positions and fashions, but the majority of his work was done at the fall of the ball at stoppages to release his runners at ground level. Hearing’s imposing figure was also sighted down back where he took a couple of relieving marks close to goal, using his reach and timing to stand tall amid forming packs. He may have been beaten vertically at times at the centre bounces, but fared well around the ground and even took balls directly out of the ruck to send the Redlegs forward.

Others:

As is often the case for Norwood, an even team spread saw many contributors stand up across the day. Mitchell Trepka stood up early from defence, with Billy Haebich providing some dash and Sam Duke proving an important aerial figure on the same line. Daniel Fairbrother, who gained senior experience this year was also part of Norwood’s sturdy defence. Marcus Roberts fared well up forward with a couple of goals while big Finn Heard spearheaded the attack, and Michael Cavallaro provided a classy outlet on the wing.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

Usually one of the more attacking defenders who is capable of impacting through the corridor, Carruthers’ rebounding efforts mostly came from inside own defensive 50. While his long-range kicking was as sound as ever amid the breeze and Norwood’s pressure, Carruthers seldom had reliable targets to kick to as the ball would often eventually find its way back to his area. He was one of Sturt’s only consistently cool heads down back, but was too often forced too far away from positions in which he would normally attack. Carruthers seemed to lift in the third term as the Double Blues’ hopes began to fade, with his intercept marking, urgent running, and weighted kicks all coming to the fore. It would end up being an effort in vein, but the potential draft bolter finished with a very handy 21 disposals, nine marks, and nine rebound 50s as one of Sturt’s best.

#17 Mani Liddy

Arguably Sturt’s most impactful midfielder in the first half, Liddy was particularly prolific at the centre bounces. His core strength and clean hands gave the Double Blues numerous opportunities to attack first, though some grubber kicks out of congestion on Liddy’s end did his side few favours in that sense. His disposal on the move was a touch untidy in those opening stages despite finding the ball at will, apart from his obvious proficiency via hand. Not shy of a bit of niggle, Liddy’s lone goal for the game came in the second term after being crunched inside 50, with his set shot conversion proving sound. He attempted to force some forward momentum in the latter stages, finishing with 18 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal.

#18 Tom Powell

Powell may have seen the most ball for Sturt with 25 disposals and six marks, but had a touch less than his usual impact around the stoppages. His ability to extract and quickly release via hand was still on show, with numerous drawing handballs and well-timed distributive touches showcasing his best assets. It also lent to his high-level vision and decision making, especially amid the contested Grand Final chaos. Powell’s clean hands were also shown as he gathered well below his knees and snapped home a sharp goal in the second term, something he is increasingly bringing to the fore. With a couple of goal assists to cap off his outing, that attacking prowess is something which will be important in shaking that one-dimensional accumulator tag. He lived up to his billing for the most part, but could not quite help Sturt get over the line.

#25 James Borlase

Borlase was in the thick of the action as tensions boiled over in the third term, not afraid to throw his large frame around and get involved in the biff. He was hardly the only one, but got very heated and seemed to be a prime target for Norwood as ill discipline crept into Sturt’s game. Outside of that, Borlase once again proved a class above many of his Under 18 competitors with terrific reading of the play down back and strong intercept marking. His ball use was often sound and allowed Sturt to retain possession, without being overly damaging. He had a purple patch in the second term with a string of aerial marks, while also bringing his kick penetration into play. He was thrown into the centre bounces during the final quarter in hopes of turning the midfield battle with his physicality, but would have little impact there and revert back to his defensive duties in open play. The Crows Academy prospect finished with 22 disposals and eight marks (three contested) as arguably Sturt’s best player afield.

#32 Morgan Ferres

Ferres finished his bottom-age season strongly, providing a much-needed target leading up from the forward half. It proved a tough gig as Sturt struggled to transition the ball, with Ferres forced to search all the way up to defensive wing at times to find the ball. Half of his six marks were contested, and he was also able to make an impact closer to goal with some touches inside 50. Ferres ended the game with 1.1, sinking a set shot in the final term after seeing multiple attempts either go wide, fall short, or end up out of bounds. If he can tidy up that conversion, Ferres may well prove to be a force in next year’s competition.

Others:

Will Spain‘s efforts to win the ball and tackle at ground level were noted by his coaches, while fellow bottom-ager Brad Jefferies also gave it his all while rotating forward through midfield. Blake Higgins provided his usual run on the outside, while skipper Ned Walter was valiant in defence. Declan Hortle‘s 33 hitouts in the ruck also proved a big effort against the player judged best afield.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Featured Image: Norwood’s Under 18s celebrate their 2020 SANFL premiership | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

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

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL – League & Under 18s semi-finals

FINALS time 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 turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18s and League competitions, with a 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 showcases 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

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg

By: Eli Duxson

South Adelaide:

#33 Jason Horne

The 17-year-old was eventually named in the final 22 and returned a serviceable performance of 15 disposals and a goal which all but iced the game. Moving between half-forward and the midfield, he managed to find a bit of the ball between the wings, and surged it forward with his four inside 50s. At times it looked clear that he lacked some body maturity, being pushed around at stoppages, but he also showed the inverse by breaking tackles and displaying strong evasive skills through traffic. Horne was clearly accountable and taking defensive positions around stoppages when playing in the middle, and he was able to take good attacking positions in the forwardline. He took and held front position several times, but also timed his run well to rove the contests from his key forwards. His goal came from holding space and hitting the crumbed ball at the optimal time before finishing neatly. He did not find a lot of space with ball in hand, so majority of his kicks were hacks out of contests, but when he found space, he used it well.

#35 Tom Highmore

It was not a big disposal game for the mature-age combine invitee, but it was a solid display down back which helped his Panthers to a preliminary final berth. His modest 11 disposals were of course coupled with six marks (two contested), as he continued to show his consistency at the contest. His aerial balance highlights his hip and core strength as he tackled hard and well for much of the day. He backed courageously into traffic on a couple of occasions and was also very capable moving the other way through traffic, building good energy through the ball with his size and speed. His strength allowed him to out-body opponents in one-on-one contests, but he also used it to put his body in front of an teammate’s direct marker to free them up for the mark. He will be looking to carry this output as deep into the season as possible to give himself the best run at the draft.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Glenelg:

#23 Callum Park

The smooth-moving and long-sleeve wearing Park played most of the game in defence while spending some stints on the wing in the second half, managing 16 disposals (14 kicks) and seven rebound 50s. The designated kick-out taker used the ball efficiently as he usually does and defended reasonably well, although at times he was caught out of position after turnovers in the back half. His highlight of the day was a massive run out of defence, taking several bounces with no options forward. He ran at least 100-150 metres and managed to find a short target to finish it off. The 19-year-old’s season is over after playing every senior game except for Round 1 and being a reliable performer in the back half for Glenelg.

#27 Luke Parks

Parks did not enjoy the run and jump at the ball that he normally does, playing a stricter defensive role on the last line for Glenelg. Although it was a disappointing day for the reigning premiers, no South Adelaide goals came from his direct opponent, further showing his key position qualities. When he was able to, he attacked the ball hard to clear and he still managed to take four marks, with two of them being intercepts. He spoiled and tackled well, but just did not enjoy the attacking freedom he normally does playing higher up the ground. A sturdy game overall, and a good season from the Swans Academy product.

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

Eagles:

#16 James Rowe

The Ken Farmer medallist added to his already impressive tally with two goals to go with 19 disposals and five clearances. With the early North Adelaide domination, Rowe was forced up the ground to impact and continued to rove higher for much of the day. His timing to rove and accelerate was good and while he would have preferred to be in front of goal, he was still making an impact. He took a strong overhead mark from a standing vertical jump in front of goal, and drilled the set shot for his first majors, and his side’s second. His second goal came in the second term after earning a holding the ball free kick and snapping it in from close range. While he did not impact the scoreboard for the rest of the game, he showed healthy aggression at the contest and was able to impact stoppages with his activity.

#28 Jacob Wehr

It was a massive opening quarter for the defender, setting up his team-high disposal count of 23, coupled with 10 rebound 50s. Wehr almost exclusively took the kick-outs for the Eagles but also found the ball in general play. When his opponent pushed up to add the extra number to the stoppage, he sat out the back and was available for a clearing handball or to run past. At defensive 50 stoppages, he also showed that he was a close checker despite being a ball winner. He has good dash, poise, is tidy below his knees, and tackles well. A good game overall for Wehr and he will be important in the Eagles’ chances of playing in the Grand Final.

#34 Lachlan Jones

Hardness at the contest and sturdy defence is what we come to expect from Jones, and he delivered again on the weekend. He managed 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s and seemed to be around the ball whenever it was in his defensive half. Running up with his opponent, he managed to get up the ground and be an attacking option but used his speed again to ensure he worked back just as hard. He is someone you do not want to deal with in traffic due to his size and strength, but also his intensity and evasive awareness. He continued to put himself into traffic to win the ball or halve a contest all game. In the final quarter, he seemed to be everywhere as he continued to repel the ball. Though the Port Academy product will be hoping he has two games left, performances like the one he put up have been consistent of his season, doing his draft stocks no harm.

#51 Lachlan McNeil

The 19-year-old played mostly on the wing and seems to be a true wing player. He managed 15 disposals and a goal and was disciplined with his positioning all game. He was continually aware of his opponent’s position around stoppages, and when the ball was in dispute, he would get goal side of the contest to be another defender if the opposition got the ball, or be a relieving option if his teammates won it. His attack on the ball was strong, often coming through with good pace. He took a Roosters player out to set the tone early in the second half. Spending some time in the midfield with wet conditions allowed him to display his cleanliness in possession and disposal. Back on the wing in the final quarter, he held his space around the 50-metre line with a deep forward 50 stoppage. The ball was eventually knocked out his way and he weaved through a couple of defenders to slot through a much-needed goal for the Eagles.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay

His defence was not needed for large patches of the game due to his side’s dominance at stages, ending with just the three disposals. He managed a few more thumping spoils, which has been a good aspect of his game for much of the season, but he just was not able to intercept mark like he usually can. This was partly due to the swirly and wet conditions for part of the game, but also the Eagles’ forward entries being more directed, yet scrappy. He took on a tackle in the second quarter in front of goal and was caught holding the ball. The confidence was admirable, but it was perhaps the wrong option. Although he was quiet, it meant his side will play in the final game of the year. It will be interesting to see how he goes.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

The Port Adelaide father-son hopeful produced a mixed bag in his most decent outing; producing some sharp work through traffic, but also scuppering a few of his kicks in the windy conditions. Rotating between the wing and centre bounces, Schofield worked hard both ways to find a good amount of ball, often relieving in the back half while providing a spark in forward transitions. He is often the receiver, but did well to sweep up at ground level and remain aware of his closing opponents throughout the hotly-contested game. The perceived pressure perhaps saw some of his spearing kicks fall short or go wide, though he had no trouble in converting a set shot in the second term for his lone goal of the game. Schofield lifted his output in the final term which was good to see, as the game was well and truly still alive.

#7 Caleb Poulter

Starting out on a wing, which may be a hint at which position he may suit at the next level, Poulter was a handy midfield wildcard for the Eagles once he eventually rotated to the inside. He looked most dangerous forward of centre in the early stages, latching onto long balls forward and pushing towards goal. He would then get his hands dirty at the coalface and showed good strength on many instances to stand up in tackles and flick a handball out, enabling the Eagles to continue their forward momentum. Poulter’s repeat ball winning efforts and kick penetration were important for his side, with his distinct casual style on the ball making him such a stylish player to watch.

#17 Liam Ueding

A rock at the back, Ueding seems to be the perfect player to thrive among the atmosphere of finals football. The bottom-ager competed hard one-on-one and at ground level, but the most eye-catching aspect of his game was observed through various aerial efforts to intercept. Ueding would be seen flying in late to clunk contested marks on numerous occasions, emphatically shutting down South’s attacks and allowing the Eagles to set up a counter attack. While most of his work was done inside defensive 50, the bottom-ager also pressed up the ground to take a handy grab in the corridor during the final term.

#25 Henry Smith

At just about 200cm, Smith is a difficult matchup at the Under 18s level on the pure basis of his height. While stationed up forward, the Eagles bigman was near-impossible to stop when he took front position, with no South Adelaide defender able to reach the same heights as Smith. He used that clear strength to his advantage to take a number of strong marks inside forward 50, while also booting a pair of goals in the first half. Smith spent some time in the ruck too, an area of growth for him, and managed to clunk some relieving marks around the ground.

#28 Nick Mitzithras

Mitzithras has caught the eye of late with his speed and damaging use by foot across half-back, both of which were again useful in this outing. The daring small defender started the game brightly, dashing out of the back half and helping the Eagles generate some forward momentum. His line-breaking ability was a handy asset given the contested nature of the game, though that kind of output wavered as the contest wore on. Although, Mitzithras’ closing speed again came to the fore in the final term, as he hunted down a South Adelaide opponent inside defensive 50.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

Another potential Port Adelaide father-son (2021 eligible), Burgoyne has enjoyed a stellar bottom-age season. The versatile midfielder was often seen slipping away and out of congestion at the centre bounces, while also roving the taps beautifully to set him on his way. That roving ability was obvious in the first term as Burgoyne got moving forward with a centre clearance, and provided a daring corridor run to help set up a Max Litster goal. He had a shocking turnover in the final term which led to a Souths goal almost directly from the kickout, but Burgoyne’s disposal by foot was often clean in the short range. He can perhaps work on bombing less by foot, but otherwise has a sound overall game. He capped off his outing with a sealing goal in the final term while resting forward.

Others:

Brock Thomson was another Eagles defender to impress, able to read the ball in flight and fly for intercept marks while also providing a safe outlet in defensive 50. Harrison Dawkins‘ strong hands and sizeable leap were on full show, and the top-ager even pitched in with a couple of very classy goals at crucial moments. Max Litster was another to fare well through midfield, as the cream rose to the top for WWT.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#4 Max Clifton

A perennial forward mover, Clifton was arguably South Adelaide’s best and most consistent player afield. The small midfielder often used his low centre of gravity and breakaway speed to burst clear from the centre, pumping the ball forward on his favoured left foot with terrific penetration. While not all of his booming kicks hit targets in the front half, meterage is often important in finals football and Clifton gained plenty. As the anchor at centre bounces, Clifton would paddle the ball to his advantage if the heat was too close, but also managed to cleanly gather and dispose of it by hand or foot. As his side’s leading ball winner on the day, there is not much more Clifton could have done.

#10 Brayden Cook

This was a rare goalless game from Cook, who was blanketed well by the Eagles defenders throughout. Starting out on the wing, the top-aged draft bolter generated some handy run between the arcs and often sought to play on immediately. While his attacking mindset sometimes worked to bring others into the game and but South into dangerous positions, Cook came undone as the contest drew tighter and he looked to take on too much. In the end, he could not find the same rhythm and transitional creativity as he did in the early stages, and was set upon immediately each time he neared the ball up forward.

#20 Zac Dumesny

Having built a reputation for his class on the ball and efficient disposal, Dumesny had some forgettable moments with turnovers from defence in this outing. Stationed off half-back, the highly-touted prospect took on South Adelaide’s kick-in duties and would often provide a safe outlet inside defensive 50. His use by foot was often sound, but most of his disposals were sent either short or sideways. He began to take the game on with his runs up to the wing, receiving and looking to move the ball forward quickly. That is perhaps where he came unstuck, with a couple of rushed disposals leading to direct chances at goal for WWT. He was utilised a touch further afield in the latter stages, but found most of his possessions in the opening half.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts was on track for a monster day after dominating the first half alongside fellow bottom-ager, Arlo Draper. A midfield staple, Roberts began his accumulative exploits from the get-go, providing a good balance of neat short kicks and long, penetrating balls inside 50. He was the most prolific player afield in the second term, starting with a series of centre clearances and providing a well-weighted pass to Dylan Brown for a goal assist. Roberts was eventually swung forward himself, using his elite work-rate to lead up hard at the ball and snare a pair of goals to keep his side in the hunt. He was a little quieter after half time as the Eagles began to get back on top, but popped up late with a set shot on the wrong side for a left footer which hit the post. Has top 10 potential for 2021.

#33 Arlo Draper

The second of South Adelaide’s damaging bottom-agers, Draper looked like tearing the game apart in the first half. Starting up forward, the athletic youngster read the ball in flight and used his sizeable vertical leap to outdo his opponent one-on-one close to goal. He booted the Panthers’ first goal of the game with a set shot conversion, and took a massive pack mark on the goal line to bag his second in the same term. He was also influential when thrown into the midfield, using his size at the contest and coming away cleanly with slick hands and slippery agility. His bodywork and goal sense again came to the fore as he bagged goals in the second and third terms, and there were a number of times where Draper was able to burn his opponent over the back with full confidence in his pace. A versatile, crafty player with raw talent, he is another who could prove a first round prospect in 2021.

#35 Nicholas Kraemer

The South Adelaide skipper has taken on a variety of roles upon returning to the fold post-injury, and played predominantly in defence during this outing. He often manned Caleb Poulter throughout general play, able to match the dynamic Eagles midfielder for size and strength. Kraemer’s intercept marking also stood out on this occasion, as he read the ball well in flight and marked strongly to relieve pressure inside defensive 50. This was more evident in one-on-one situations, as Kraemer sometimes trailed when packs formed, though his clean hands at ground level allowed him to impact at the fall of the ball. A crucial holding the ball tackle in the third term further showcased his defensive appetite, as he stopped an Eagles fast break in its tracks. It was a solid overall outing for the top-ager, who started the season so promisingly through midfield.

Others:

Jack Flett proved a livewire up forward in the second half, finishing with three goals and loving each of them with some bigtime celebrations. His aerial ability and pace are very handy up either end of the ground. Jaiden Magor sured up his conversion in the second half to snare a couple of very sharp goals from the boundary line, while 16-year-old ruck Will Verrall showed some great signs and Dylan Brown‘s physicality shone through.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Sturt vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

Sturt:

#11 Will Spain

Spain started positively by booting the first goal of the game from a set-shot from just inside 50. As he has all season, the talented bottom-ager battled hard through the midfield, despite his side being comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard as the game wore on. He spent time on the dangerous Henry Nelligan and was able to hold his own and find a bit of the ball on the outside as well as the coal-face. On a tough day for Sturt, Spain was one of their better performers, finishing with 18 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three inside 50s.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Jefferies, like fellow bottom-ager Will Spain, had his work cut out for him when the Norwood on-ballers began to dominate proceedings. He still found his fare share of the ball at ground level, fighting hard for every possession in and under. Jefferies booted a nice running goal from just inside the 50-metre arc in the third quarter to keep the Double Blues within striking distance, and his kick to the leading Jacob Lochowiak resulted in a shot at goal a couple of minutes later. The midfielder pieced together a nice game and finished the semi-final with 20 disposals and five marks.

#17 Mani Liddy

The ultra-consistent Liddy was again among Sturt’s best despite the frustrating result. As always, his clean hands at ground level and quick and effective handballing were standouts. Liddy was by far Sturt’s best clearance winner for the game, proving a handful at the stoppages all day. He was also effective in general play, particularly early on, displaying great composure in traffic before finding Jacob Ferrari with a short kick inside 50 to set up the Double Blues’ second goal. As the game wore on, his quick hands were integral to Sturt getting the ball going their way. Another highlight of Liddy’s game was his bone-crunching tackle on Norwood on-baller Jack Saunders, which won him a holding the ball free kick. Liddy finished with 22 disposals, five tackles, nine clearances and three inside 50s in what was a gallant display from the inside midfielder.

#18 Tom Powell

After he missed the final minor round game with calf tightness, Powell was a welcome return to the Sturt midfield. His presence was felt immediately, taking a terrific one-on-one mark and kicking long. His shot for goal from long range certainly would have tested the calf but sailed through with ease, albeit for a minor score only. Some of Powell’s shepherding and blocking didn’t register a statistic but proved invaluable in releasing the likes of Liddy, Spain, and Jefferies. Throughout the semi-final, Powell spent some time on close friend Nelligan in a clash between two of the Under 18 competition’s most prolific on-ballers. His kicking has been one of his only knocks so far this season, but his disposal by foot was largely sound on Saturday afternoon. He worked very hard around the ground, was typically clean below his knees, attacked every contest with ferocity and won plenty of contested ball, despite not quite finishing with the numbers we’ve become so accustomed to seeing from Powell. He finished with 18 disposals, nine marks, eight tackles, three clearances and five inside 50s, but expect him to lift his output in next weeks all-important preliminary final.

Others:

George Skeet Manuell held up well in defence when forced to weather an onslaught of Norwood forward entries. He provided some nice rebound when exiting the defensive 50, concluding the game with 18 disposals and a game-high 13 rebounds. The Double Blues lacked a genuine target up forward, but Jacob Lochowiak proved a handy outlet on a couple of occasions. The strongly-built forward showed off his vice-like hands and long right-foot kick and finished the game with 10 disposals, two goals, five marks and five tackles. Ned Walter performed well under-siege in defence and Lachlan Thomas provided an outlet on the outside of the contest. Blake Higgins finished with 15 disposals and six marks and ruckman Declan Hortle won a game-high 22 hit-outs.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

Although in recent weeks Murley hasn’t registered the massive numbers of earlier in the season, he has shown flashes of brilliance with ball in hand which will have AFL recruiters excited. In the first term, it was his clean disposal by hand which stood out. His clean pick-up at ground level at quick handball to Xavier Tranfa led to Norwood’s first goal of the contest. Throughout the game, Murley showed a willingness to use his opposite foot and hit his targets more often than not. He was always on the move at stoppages when around the ball and looked to open up the game on the outside with his elite speed. He finished with 19 disposals, three marks, thee tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s.

#4 Henry Nelligan

Nelligan was once again outstanding for Norwood through the midfield. He was opposed to Tom Powell at various stages and probably ended up on top in that battle. His classy spin through traffic was a highlight in the first term and his use of the ball was clean and effective, by both hand and foot. He was often the first player to get his hands on the ball at stoppages and was quick to find a target in some space. The pocket-rocket has been tremendous since returning to Under 18s level and will be difficult to stop in the Grand Final, set to be played in a fortnight’s time. He finished the contest with a well-rounded stat-line consisting of 25 disposals, five marks, four tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

Schwerdt sprung to life in the third term and was a key reason behind Norwood’s inside 50 dominance. The Double Blues had no answer for his ball-winning around the contest and were unable to prevent him from thrusting Norwood back into attack time-after-time. Schwerdt has become an instrumental component of the highly talented Norwood midfield unit. He was clean at ground level and finished the match with a game-high 27 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s.

#21 Jack Saunders 

Saunders backed up his best-on-ground performance last weekend with another standout showing in Norwood’s big semi-final victory over Sturt at Thebarton Oval. He spent some time off half-back early on, where he was able to use his speed and booming right-foot kick to turn defence into attack. However, he was most effective when moved onto the ball. Saunders provided an instant spark and became the most damaging player on the ground. He attacked every contest at high-speed and ran hard both ways to link up the play between the arcs. He was very clean and precise by foot and backed-himself to hit a couple of difficult targets through the middle of the ground. Saunders will have accumulated an abundance of metres-gained in what was another fantastic performance from the dynamic, hard-running midfielder. He finished with 25 disposals, eight marks, three tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#30 Finn Heard

Throughout the season, the Redlegs have proven to be a much better side whenever Heard is in the line-up. The big full forward again showed why he is one of the best tall forwards in SA by producing a strong performance in attack. Although he missed his first two attempts on goal from gettable opportunities, he was on the receiving end of Norwood’s midfield dominance as the ‘Legs began to take over. Heard’s leading patterns generated ample opportunities and his ability to gain separation on the lead was terrific. Heard, who played a stay-at-home role in attack, will have enjoyed being handed two goals from the square in the third term. He finished with five goals and two behinds from four marks and nine disposals.

Others:

Corey Jones-Bobridge was one of his side’s best in the 52-point triumph. He nailed two goals, to go with 17 disposals, five marks, three clearances and three inside 50s. The powerful Xavier Tranfa also did some damage on the scoreboard, booting two goals from his 20 disposals. He also laid four tackles, won four clearances when pushed into the midfield and sent the ball inside-50 on a team-high six occasions. Michael Cavallaro finished with 12 disposals and seven marks, while Harlee Chandler won 20 disposals, five marks, four clearances and four inside 50s. Ruckman Nathan Hearing was a force around the stoppages, winning seven clearances and the booming long kick of Sam Duke proved effective down back.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

Featured Image: Eagles midfielder Taj Schofield evades tacklers | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

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