THE 2021 SANFL Under 18s season continued over the weekend, with the latest round of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
CENTRAL DISTRICT 12.7 (79) def. by NORTH ADELAIDE 16.12 (108)
By: Declan Reeve
#21 Austin McDonald
McDonald was the major ball winner for Central through the contest, with his balance around the contest particularly impressive, able to win the ball in close or hold out and get a handball receive on the outside, he’d get the ball and spread well from the contest to give himself space to weigh up his options. Often good use by hand, especially in tight, it was McDonald’s kicking that at times let him down, looking rushed even without pressure sometimes; it was obvious when he did take his time the technique was more than good enough to get the ball to the advantage of teammates.
#37 Cody Gilchrist
Playing as the main forward target for Centrals, Gilchrist continued his impressive form in the forward half, getting a return of five goals and two behinds from the standout performance. Gilchrist was dominant aerially and on the lead, able to consistently clunk marks or draw in a free kick from his opponent, the reliability he presented as a target kept Central in the game. With the goals all fairly standard full forward goals, mostly from set shots, it was promising to see that Gilchrist looked to pass off the footy when on tougher angles, and pushed up the ground to be an option higher up and give into the 50, playing an overall selfless game.
Trent Tattoli (28 disposals and 10 marks) never gave up despite Centrals being behind for so long, with Brodie Tuck (15 disposals, five marks and a goal) also looking good in patches as he did his best to assist Gilchrist as a forward target.
#22 Blayne O’Loughlin
Playing his usual role in the back line, O’Loughlin brought really dangerous drive out of the defensive half as he pushed up to get handball receives. He was often used when he called for it coming from behind, getting it at top speed and kicking long forward. When he had the opportunity to steady himself, or when he was taking the kick ins, O’Loughlin delivered well to the advantage of his teammates. Managed to sneak forward and kick two goals to round out an impressive performance.
#4 Isaac Keeler
Splitting his time between the forward line and the ruck, Keeler did his best to make every play he was involved in dangerous, even if it meant sacrificing his own stats sheet with a tap to advantage of a teammate, or a give off inside 50. Despite his tall stature, Keeler covers the ground remarkably well, and finds ways to beat opponents with his agility and speed quite often, even after collecting the ball from below his knees he’s able to burst away and pass it off elsewhere. Didn’t have the greatest day in terms of accuracy returning with two goals and three behinds, with his consistency on goal a noted area of improvement.
#51 Angus Tully
Whilst not the tallest player out there, Tully looked strong aerially when required to prove it, with his aerial strength getting him a contested mark in the first quarter and a goal to follow it. He showed a real natural instinct for ground balls as well in the forward half of the ground, able to win them under pressure and dish out a handball, or burst away and kick to leading teammates. Earned his highest goal return of the season so far, accurately putting four goals on the board with no behinds.
James Willis (34 disposals, three goals and six marks) was as solid a contributor as the Roosters could’ve asked for splitting his time between the midfield and forward-line, with Max Blacker (27 disposals, one goal and six marks) and Zyton Santillo (26 disposals) also registering high returns for their hard work. Despite registering his lowest disposal tally for the season, Hugh Jackson (17 disposals) still had some nice moments.
GLENELG 10.21 (81) def. STURT 5.3 (33)
By: Michael Alvaro
#5 Hugh Stagg
A solid body in the Bays midfield, Stagg contributed plenty of work at the coalface with his strength over the ball and ability to dish out handballs under tackling pressure. He would often win possession and be forced to dispose with opponents hanging off him, but backed himself to break clear of congestion with power. He booted his lone goal for the game with a well-steadied finish in the third term, having also registered two behinds and even more opportunities as he looked to manufacture some space.
#11 Jacob Owens
Finishing as the most prolific player afield with 38 disposals, Owens seemed to be everywhere at times on the back of his unrelenting two-way running. That exact trait saw him play the wing role perfectly, breaching either arc consistently while also carrying the ball positively everywhere in between. Whether he was dropping back or driving forward, Owens used the ball relatively neatly, but found less space to operate as the game wore on. Overall, it was an ultra consistent display from the running machine.
#13 Hayden Brokensha
Another Tiger who played his role effectively, Brokensha swept beautifully out of defence and was at the fall of nearly every contest formed in the back half. When not intercepting himself, Brokensha would mop up the spills and chase the loose balls, providing a cool head across Glenelg’s high defensive line. He tended to use the ball well in tough spots and knew when to either hand off under pressure, or release a lateral kick to open the play up.
#20 Lewis Rayson
Rotating through the midfield and defence, Rayson’s running power and ability to chain possessions saw Glenelg drive forward with force. He used his turn of speed to set off in space after winning ground balls, dishing a handball and working hard to receive the next possession. Rayson also did so when using the ball by foot, targeting shorter options at times to stay involved in the play. His radar was a touch off in the first half, but he steadied after the main break to deliver some cleaner passes inside 50. He pressed up aggressively behind the ball and forced turnovers, even showing his handy vertical leap with an intercept mark during term three. Productive as always, it was another solid 25-disposal outing for Rayson.
#21 Cooper Beecken
Beecken didn’t finish with the formidable numbers of others, but looked sharp as ever on the ball when working it out of defence. He’s a smooth operator across half-back and showed as much on Saturday with clean and composed contributions in tough areas of the ground. His best stint came during term three, where his assured handling and distribution allowed Glenelg to force the turnover and move swiftly into its array of transitions.
#38 Jakob Ryan
The bottom-ager was exceptional, working high up the ground from his forward post to provide a reliable marking target. Ryan constantly got separation on the lead and presented strongly all the way up to half back, taking clean marks and quickly moving the ball on. He proved a key link in Glenelg’s rebounding play, with his repeatable skill proving hard to stop. A fourth term free kick conversion proved reward for his effort, before pulling up a bit sore in the dying stages. 23 disposals and 10 marks just about does his performance justice.
Brodie Edwards, Ben Ridgway, and Will Trevena were all productive members of Glenelg’s midfield rotation with over 20 disposals each, while William Watts also got a run in there and snared 3.2 up forward. Harry Tunkin and Hunter Window were good at ground level, as the likes of William Wiseman and Jarrad Parish looked to contribute aerially at either end of the ground.
#5 Jordan Hein
Having gained some experience in the Reserves grade, Hein returned to the Under 18s and had no trouble getting his hands on the ball. He finished as Sturt’s highest disposal getter with 30, including 23 kicks and 10 rebound 50s. Hein worked hard to accumulate from the last line, all the way up to centre half-forward with his running game sending the Double Blues forward with intent. While he looked to get good distance on some kicks, he also saw the ball come straight back in some instances. The zippy mover held a high line and came off it hard to receive off centre bounces, attempting to immediately drive his side into attack with green ball.
#8 Lachlan Thomas
The wingman produced another solid performance for the Double Blues, taking up his usual post and playing the position well. He dropped back to help the defence but tended not to get sucked into the forward arc, or into the contest. Still, Thomas fought for the ball when called upon and took a courageous mark under the high ball in term one. He took up handy positions on the outer and was a positive runner with ball in hand.
#15 Alex Holt
Along with Hein, Holt had plenty to do in defence as Glenelg poured on 31 scoring shots. He was only second to his teammate for disposals, but that haul included a game-high 23 kicks and 15 rebound 50s. Those numbers were slightly inflated by his kick-in duties, but Holt was made to compete on the last line of defence and chimed in with some really nice intercept marks – particularly in term three – before quickly moving the ball on by foot.
Bottom-ager Nick Sadler did some nice things in his 12-disposal effort from midfield, while the likes of Loch Rawlinson and George Pope also sought to provide some resistance at the source. Another state Under 17s representative in Luca Slade also had his moments and Kai Tucker provided some handy run.
SOUTH ADELAIDE 15.10 (100) def. NORWOOD 9.3 (57)
By: Michael Alvaro
#4 Jack Delean
The crafty small forward again got to work and was a menace inside attacking 50 with 4.2 from 15 touches. Delean built into the game steadily and snared three of his four majors after half time, though his first game before the main break from a smart front-and-centre crumb. The bottom-ager proved handy on the lead and converted three set shots with aplomb. His third goal came on the back of a terrific overhead mark against two opponents, defying his size, while the fourth was earned via a free kick as he got busy at a forward 50 stoppage. Undeniable in attack.
#10 Isaac Birt
Birt was again outstanding in his customary wing role, linking South into attack with his work between the arcs. While listed in an outside role, Birt also did the tough stuff with hard tackles, eye-catching spins out of traffic, and solid overhead marks. He brought his usual wingman traits to the fore too, running and delivering forward with intent – backing his pace and skills to do so. He finished with 25 disposals, seven marks, and a combined eight breaches of either arc.
#11 Jaiden Magor
The other major goal-getter on the day, Magor proved a deadeye in front of the big sticks with four six-pointers. Three of his four goals came from set shots, as Magor dealt with tough angles and a variety of distances with aplomb. He was courageous with a couple of his marks going back with the flight and proved powerful over the ball, working hard up the ground before earning his eventual reward inside attacking 50. His last goal came in the third term, as he was gifted the ball by an opponent and did well to snap home quickly on his left foot.
Midfielder Luke Mitton led all comers with 30 disposals and provided constant effort around the ball for South, supported well by the likes of Angus Bradley and bottom-ager Tom Wheaton. Lachlan Hayes and Cooper Rogers were also productive, while ruck Will Verrall took full toll of a height and leap advantage to finish with 32 hitouts and six clearances.
#2 Tyson Walls
Rotating through both sides of midfield from the forwardline, Walls worked hard to provide the Redlegs with some attacking momentum. He started in the front six and looked to craft ways forward with his speed and agility, searching all the way up to half-back to find the ball and move it on immediately. He was everywhere at times, and it was no surprise to see him finish as Norwood’s top ball winner with 23 disposals. When thrown into the centre bounces, Walls held his own and was tough in tackles against a pretty handy South midfield.
#20 Max Michalanney
The bottom-ager was a constant down back for Norwood, proving particularly influential in the first half with his ability to repel South Adelaide’s attacks. He took on some of the kick-in duties and was generally neat in those situations, but tended to bomb a bit more under pressure in general play. Michalanney did plenty to win the ball back for Norwood though, positioning in all the right spots to either intercept aerially or impact the ground ball. He registered six rebound 50s among his 19 disposals.
#25 Matthew Dnistriansky
Playing in a variety of roles, Dnistriansky was one of the cleaner and more composed ball users for Norwood. He started out on the wing and was thrown into the centre bounces, dropping back well to support the defence in both roles where he picked off safe short options by foot. Dnistriansky was not afraid to look inboard or use either foot, helping steady the Redlegs under pretty substantial pressure. He also moved forward after half time and hit the scoreboard with a well-finished snap goal in the third quarter.
State Under 17s representative Taj Rahui provided some nice run out of defence, with Will Bowman another to rebound by foot. Will Charlton carried the ball forward well through midfield, while Oskar De Luca snared two goals and looked lively up forward. Starting on the same line, standout top-ager Cooper Murley was injured in his very first involvement, appearing to hurt his shoulder while being tackled.
WEST ADELAIDE 9.3 (57) def. by WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS 18.14 (122)
By: Michael Alvaro
#9 Kobe Ryan
As a classy fixture in the West Adelaide engine room, Ryan again proved his value not only with ball in hand, but also without it. The bottom-ager notched up 26 disposals, five tackles and seven clearances, showcasing a good balance of inside and outside traits along the way. He looked polished in possession but was also willing to crack in and do the tough stuff when required. Ryan capped his game with a goal from nothing in the third term, barrelled out of a contest from range.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Kennedy again stood up to finish as Westies’ main ball winner, managing a team-high 28 disposals and 11 marks in a workmanlike outing. As a near-permanent part of his side’s centre bounce combination, Kennedy was able to burrow in to win his own ball, but was arguably more impactful with his driving plays through the corridor – where he would often mark uncontested, get the legs pumping, and thrust a long ball inside 50. He also looked to chain handballs through the middle and popped up everywhere at times. That included up forward, where he bagged a set shot goal in the opening quarter.
#35 Will Patton
The 2005-born prospect defied his age to provide plenty of solidity down back, proving a cool head in the face of Woodville-West Torrens’ 32 scoring shots. A key feature of Patton’s game was his intercept marking, with the youngster rising high to pluck marks either drifting across, one-on-one, or in the thick of packs. He was as reliable as anyone afield in that department and generally distributed the ball well too, marshalling the play under plenty of pressure.
#51 Harry Barnett
One of the more impressive bigmen afield in context, Barnett had a heck of a job in front of him coming up against the sheer array of Eagles talls. He stood up well, particularly in the first half, showcasing his mobility at 202cm. The state Under 17s representative looked quite polished for his size and was able to earn a few chances on goal before half time. He missed a set shot in the first term, but came back to convert another set shot opportunity in the second after presenting well on the lead. He finished with 12 disposals, six marks and 16 hitouts.
Jesse Thackeray was a prominent part of the West Adelaide midfield once again with 23 disposals and four clearances, while the likes of Charlie Pridham and Kye Roberts got to work in an under-siege defence. Jed Obst was also handy on the wing on what ended up being a tough day for the Bloods.
#17 Adam D’Aloia
The state Under 17s captain went about his usual ball winning business, finding plenty of it on the inside but also using the ball well for a player of his typing. He finished with 29 disposals, seven clearances and seven inside 50s, lowering his eyes nicely when released and driving inside 50. He was quite a permanent fixture in midfield for the Eagles, proving reliable once again and setting a solid tone to follow.
#20 Lukas Cooke
Cooke is undeniably dangerous with his aerial threat deep inside attacking 50, and the Eagles’ forwardline structure played to his strengths on Saturday. With just 10 disposals and four marks, Cooke registered five scoring shots which included three goals from grabs near the big sticks. He missed a couple more gettable chances, but still made an impact with majors and showcased his clean marking ability.
#21 Mattaes Phillipou
The bottom-ager is truly firming as one to watch for next year, with his athleticism and ability to find the goals again coming to the fore. He took advantage of two Westies defenders slipping over to put through the game’s first goal, and went on to add two more in the final term to cap off a promising outing. Phillipou looked dangerous when working up the ground, linking the play with his marking and pace to be a really productive attacking force. He also got a run in the midfield, where he shows great versatility.
#24 Zac Phillips
The over-aged ruck continues to show nice signs of development, furthering his game past the obvious strength of ruck craft. Phillips worked around the ground well to provide a marking option between the arcs, clunking nine grabs with four of them contested. His overall output of 22 disposals and seven inside 50s would read well for a much smaller player, let alone a player of Phillips’ 201cm frame.
#26 Jordan Lukac
Another of the Eagles’ dangerous talls, Lukac looked at his best when stationed inside 50 where he booted a game-high four goals from seven disposals. Five of his seven touches were scoring shots, but it felt like Lukac impacted more than his numbers would suggest, or perhaps his avenues to goal were just impressive. He showed strong hands on the lead and good athleticism inside 50 at times, especially in snaring his two second half majors. The first saw him cut inside and snap truly from the boundary, while the second was an opportunistic soccer finish in the goalsquare. He tapped well while rolling through the ruck too, playing his role well.
The Eagles had a plethora of strong contributors, none more so than leading ball winner Dustin Launer (42 disposals, 13 marks, 11 inside 50s, one goal). Blake Hansen (33 disposals) also found plenty of it, while smalls Sam Nicholls and Jay Watson got to work with the latter booting three goals. William Neumann had his moments in midfield too, and Jonte Hunter Price held firm in defence. Early on, Mishai Wollogorang set the game alight with his speed on the rebound.
Picture credit: On The Ball Media