Tag: luke pedlar

State Leagues wrap: Contenders appear after two rounds

STATE League football continued across the country on the weekend, with plenty of teams recording back-to-back wins, while others look for improvement across the board following a disappointing first week. We take a look at the action in the QAFL, SANFL, TSL and WAFL across Round 2.

QUEENSLAND:

By: Peter Williams

A couple of massive wins to sides – including a triple-figure thumping – saw plenty of goals kicked in what was effectively a very one-side round in the QAFL. Aside from one 14-point differential, the other four games were between 32 and 100 points. The largest of them all was Maroochydore’s 25.18 (168) to 10.8 (68) shellacking of Wilston Grange. The Gorillas were coming off a first round one-point win over newcomers Noosa Tigers, but ran into an unstoppable force in the Roos.

Maroochydore piled on a whopping 12.12 to 3.1 by half-time, and booted six goals in each of the first three quarters, and seven in the final term for 43 scoring shots to 18. After narrowly missing out on the leading goalkicker award last year, Maroochydore’s Mitchell Scholard wasted no time getting some runs on the board with 11 majors, kicking more goals than the entire opposition side. Lochie Laing booted four snags, while Lachlan Robinson and Josh Govan were also impressive for the winners. Hugh Fidler managed three majors for Wilston Grange, while Harry Wilson and Mitchell Crawley were steadfast in defeat.

League newcomers Redland-Victoria Park also wasted no time asserting themselves on the competition with a high-scoring 58-point win over 2019 QAFL premiers Surfers Paradise. In the combined highest scoring match of Round 2, the Sharks won 24.10 (154) to 15.6 (96). Twenty two players hit the scoreboard in the match, with Josh Brown and Harrison Kerr snagging four goals apiece for the winners, while Thompson Smith‘s three majors were the most of any player on the losing side. Matthew Walters (Redland-Victoria Point) and Jack Prestegar (Surfers Paradise) were named the top players for their respective sides.

Reigning premiers Morningside also kicked off their season in style with a 43-point triumph over Palm Beach Currumbin. Rising star talent Nathan Colenso slotted five majors in the win, with Sam Godfrey (one) and Liam Dwyer (two) also among the best for the Panthers. Nick Crowley and Frazer Eaton both kicked a couple of goals for the Lions, as Corey Joyce was named best-on for the home side.

The result sets up a tantalising grand final rematch next week after Connor Nutting (five goals) and Jordan Moncrieff (four) put Labrador to the sword during Broadbeach’s 15.7 (97) to 9.11 (65) win. Trailing by 10 points at quarter time, the Cats piled on 13 goals to six in the final three quarters to get the win, with Tyrone Armitage and Ryan Gilmore both impressive. Shaydan Close and Blair Rubock both kicked three goals for the Tigers, while Andy Hollis was named the best in a losing side.

In the tightest game of the round, Mt Gravatt held on to run out the stronger side against Sherwood Districts, defeating the Magpies, 12.12 (84) to 9.16 (70). Trailing by a goal at half-time, and then leading by only four points at the final break, the Vultures booted 4.3 to 2.5 in the final term to secure the win. Jonah Licht nailed half a dozen goals in the victory, while Craig Malone and Gavin Grose were among the Vultures’ best. For Sherwood, Kobe Tozer made a successful return from injury the last couple of years to slot three goals for the Magpies, as Luca Winton and Riley Easton were also among the losing team’s top players.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

By: Liam Badkin

At Alberton Oval, Port Adelaide pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Bulldogs, kicking 4.6 to 0.0 in the last quarter to run out 17-point victors. Boyd Woodcock led his side with 23 disposals and a goal, while Jarrod Lienert had 23 touches of his own but missed both of his opportunities to put his name in the goalkickers column. Luke Surman kicked 3.2 and led the come from behind victory. Kyle Presbury was the best for the Bulldogs, racking up 36 disposals and nine marks, while Ethan East was dangerous around goal, kicking three.

At Prospect Oval, the North Adelaide Roosters fell to a second quarter surge courtesy of the South Adelaide Panthers, who kicked seven goals to one in the second term, to put the game out of reach. The Roosters battled hard in the second half, but the comeback couldn’t be completed as they were defeated by 11 points. South Adelaide’s Joseph Haines found plenty of the ball, accumulating 28 disposals, while midfielders Joel Cross and Bryce Gibbs combined for 11 clearances. Liam Fitt, Damon Frietag and Eamon Wilkinson kicked two goals each. For the Roosters, Harrison Wigg had 29 disposals, while Jarred Allmond impressed with 27 touches and a goal. William Combe kicked two goals while an inaccurate Aaron Young kicked 1.4 for the day.

Moving to Unley Oval, the Redlegs backed up last week’s win with another, beating Sturt by 21 points in a solid outing. Sturt trailed all game, and while the margin was only four points at half time, the Redlegs did enough to keep their opponents at bay and leave the ground 2-0 after two games. Matthew Nunn and Nikolaus Rokahr finished with 24 disposals each, while Michael Knoll was the main extractor from stoppages, finishing with nine clearances. Dom Barry and Tom Wagner slotted two goals apiece. For Sturt, James Battersby won a game high 25 disposals and was able to hit the scoreboard with a goal in a solid performance, while Ashley Johnson kicked two goals to try and bring his side back into the contest.

Across at ACH Group Stadium, the Glenelg Tigers proved too good for the Woodville West Torrens Eagles, winning by a comfortable 29 points. Inaccurate to start the game, the Eagles punished their opponents, who were left ruing their missed opportunities. A second half told a different tale as the Tigers kicked 11 goals to three and would be pleased with their turnaround. Tigers midfielder Matthew Snook was unstoppable in the midfield, finishing with 24 disposals, 12 tackles, 10 clearances and a goal, setting the tone for his teammates. Luke Partington (32 disposals) and Brett Turner (26 disposals and 10 clearances) both found themselves with the ball plenty of times, while Luke Reynolds and Lachie Hosie chimed in three goals each. For the Eagles, Daniel Menzel (three goals) and Dane McFarlane (25 disposals) fought hard.

Hisense Stadium was home to a classic on Saturday afternoon, as the Adelaide Crows scraped past the North Adelaide Bloods by six points in a thriller. With the game tied at three quarter time, both sides were inaccurate, kicking three behinds each, but a James Matthews goal in time on proved to be the match winner. For the Crows, skipper Matthew Wright found plenty of the ball, disposing of it 27 times and combined well with ruckman Kieran Strachan who displayed dominance in the air. Luke Pedlar kicked three goals, all of which proved to be handy. For the Bloods, former Hawthorn player Kieran Lovell dominated through the midfield with 39 disposals and six clearances, while Logan Hill continued to find the ball with 27 touches.

TASMANIA:

By: Liam Badkin

Saturday’s Tasmanian football action saw some big wins across the grounds. Clarence bounced back from last week’s loss to Lauderdale by defeating Glenorchy by 32 points at KGV oval. Coming off the bye last week, Glenorchy found themselves trailing by four goals at the main break. A third quarter fightback saw scores level heading into the final term, but Clarence kicked five goals to none in the last quarter to walk away with their first win of the year. There were a plethora of goal kickers for the victors. Former Brisbane Lions and Essendon player Josh Green and Oliver Preshaw kicked three goals each, while Jacques Barwick chimed in with two. Onballer Baxter Norton was judged best afield for his work through the midfield, while playing coach and former Richmond Tiger Jeromey Webberley was also amongst the best. For Glenorchy, Ben Karamic booted a game high five goals to be his side’s best performer and start his season off in style.

Moving to Kingston’s Twin Ovals, the Tigers took down Lauderdale by 29 points in a convincing win. The Tigers started the game in style, kicking 5.0 to Lauderdale’s 3.1, and the lead only continued to grow. Lauderdale struggled to contain the Tigers, particularly in the second term, and it didn’t help that the Tigers didn’t miss a shot on goal until the third term. For the Tigers, Tyler Carter kicked three goals, while Sam Duigan, Elijah Reardon, Marcus Gardner and Max Collidge all kicked two each, and midfielder Lachlan Clifford was judged best afield. For Lauderdale, Josh Mcguinness kicked four goals and was his side’s best, while Will Poland also impressed in his first game of the year.

In the north of the state, North Launceston bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat to crush North Hobart by 113 points at UTAS Stadium. Last year’s runners up dominated all day, not allowing their opponents from the south any room to score, while piling on the goals themselves. For the winners, there were 10 individual goal kickers, led by Thomas Bennett’s four goals and Brad Cox-Goodyer’s three. Daniel Withers kicked two of his own and was his side’s best performer. For the Demons, Jack Mcculloch was the lone goal scorer for his side, while Callum Kilpatrick tried all day.

Launceston had the bye.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

By: Peter Williams

Subiaco has set the bar high in the early stages of the WAFL season, with an impressive 33-point win over fellow Round 1 winners, East Fremantle. The teams were evenly matched to three quarter time with the Lions leading by just two points, before running away with it in the final term thanks to 5.8 to 1.1 in order to post a 12.14 (86) to 8.5 (53) victory over the Sharks. Leigh Kitchin had a day out with a match-high 28 touches, as well as 10 tackles and six inside 50s, working hard alongside Gregory Clark (21 disposals, five marks, 11 tackles, one goal). Ryan Borchet (three goals) and Harrison Marsh (two) were both prominent in the win. For the Sharks, ball magnet Josh Schoenfeld racked up 27 touches and 10 tackles to go with his 40-plus disposals from last week, while Luke Strnadica dominated the ruck with 48 hitouts and a goal to accompany 23 disposals, five marks and four tackles.

Claremont is hot on Subiaco’s tail after Round 2, accounting for another Round 1 winner in South Fremantle on Saturday. The Tigers won 17.6 (108) to 13.14 (92) in the game of the round. Lachlan Martinis and Jye Bolton combined for 63 disposals and nine tackles, while Jake Patmore (26 disposals, four marks) and Kane Mitchell (25 disposals, eight marks and three goals) were also prominent. Top draft-eligible tall Jacob Van Rooyen had a quieter day out compared to Round 1, managing the seven touches and three marks. Dylan Main (26 disposals, four marks and three tackles) and Haiden Schloithe (24 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) were the most prominent players for the Bulldogs.

After suffering a Round 1 defeat, Peel Thunder completely dismantled East Perth with a 15 goals to three second half, to run away with the 24.10 (154) to 7.7 (49) victory. The Thunder were far too strong in posting the 105-point shellacking, as a combination of past and present AFL talents took control. Fremantle duo, Taylin Duman (30 disposals nine marks and three inside 50s) and Connor Blakely (26 disposals, seven marks and two inside 50s) were both impressive, while ex-Eagle Will Schofield (26 disposals, seven marks, 16 hitouts and a goal) and ex-Bomber Jackson Merrett (25 disposals, seven marks) all stood out. For the Royals, Angus Scott had a day out with 34 touches, four marks, three tackles and six inside 50s, while Jackson Ramsay did all he could in the loss with 28 disposals, 10 tackles and six inside 50s.

West Perth bounced back from a Round 1 loss to easily account for a disappointing West Coast side, piling on nine and 10 goals in the respective first and second halves, as the Eagles only managed the three apiece in those halves. The Falcons dominated possession with four players picking up 30-plus disposals, and only one player having single-digit disposals on their way to a team total of 457 disposals. Aaron Black had a lazy 43 disposals, nine marks and six inside 50s in his 200th WAFL game, joined in the 40-plus club by Trent Manzone (40 disposals, seven marks). Shane Nelson (31 disposals, five marks) and Connor West (30 disposals, six marks) were also massive ball winners, whilst up forward, Tyler Keitel was unstoppable thanks to six goals from 17 touches and nine marks, while Mitchell Antonio snagged four goals from 25 touches and a whopping 15 marks. The Eagles had a couple of players pushing for a recall with Brayden Ainsworth (36 disposals, 10 marks and three inside 50s) the clear best, while Alex Witherden managed the 26 touches, six marks, four tackles and two inside 50s.

In the only game of the round where a Round 1 loser defeated a Round 1 winner, Swan Districts got on the board with a 50-point victory over Perth. While the Bombers kicked 3.6 in the final term to reduce the deficit, the damage was already done in the first three quarters, when the Swans booted 11 goals to three. Ball magnet Sam Fisher had a lazy 41 touches with seven marks, six tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal, teaming up well with fellow ex-Carlton VFL midfielder Frank Anderson (31 disposals, five marks, six tackles and five inside 50s). Nelson Waite (29 disposals, five marks and four tackles) and Aidan Clarke (28 disposals, 14 marks and four inside 50s) were also strong, as Matt Riggio (20 disposals, six tackles, five inside 50s and four goals) was a dominant goalkicker alongside Jesse Palmer (11 disposals, three marks and four goals). For Perth, Chris Masten had the 29 disposals and six marks, while Brady Grey (28 disposals, six marks, seven tackles and eight inside 50s) and Brent Edmonds (25 disposals, eight marks, five inside 50s and a goal) were also consistent despite the loss.

Picture credit: WAFL

State Leagues preview: QAFL’s first full round begins as other states go again for Round 2

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues coming back for Round 2 after a big opening round. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all take place over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview.

QUEENSLAND:

The full bill of teams will be out in force for Round 2 of the QAFL after last year’s wooden spooners Wilston Grange got the one-point win over newcomers Noosa Tigers last weekend. The Gorillas matched their total wins from last season – albeit from a shorter nine-game season – from just one match, and will host Maroochydore this weekend. The Roos have teenager Ben Thomas on the wing, with key position tall Max McDonald named at half-back. For the Gorillas top-age draft prospect Bae Gallop has been named onball, alongside Kuot Thot (half-forward flank). Ky McKenzie (interchange) and Oscar Stewart (back pocket) are others who are young talents to watch for the home side.

Meanwhile grand finalists Broadbeach will host Labrador in the Cats’ first game of the year, while reigning premiers Morningside will travel to Palm Beach Currumbin for an away game first up. Naturally the Panthers were happy to wait until Round 3 to unfurl the flag against the team they conquered in the 2020 decider. The Cats will have a couple of Suns Academy members who have come through the program in Ryan Pickering and Finn Brown (emergency), while for Labrador, small forward Blair Rubock is back again in the yellow and black, with Bryce Retzlaff to provide a a tall target and crucially, ex-Gold Coast and Brisbane talent Pearce Hanley named onball.

Will Bella is the one to watch for the Lions as they try to take down the reigning premiers in Round 1, as the Gold Coast Suns’ tall has been named in the forward pocket. He will play alongside the likes of Ethan Hunt and Ashton Crossley who have both come through the Northern Academy programs in recent years. For Morningside, Ben McCarthy has been named at half-back and is one to watch from the Brisbane Academy, while Nathan Colenso and Tom Griffiths have come through the Northern Academies in recent years and remain youngsters to keep an eye on.

The 2019 QAFL premiers Surfers Paradise will be eyeing off a much better season in 2021 after just two wins last year, taking on another new team in Redland-Victoria Point. The Demons will hit the road against the Sharks in the clash, whilst the final match of the round will see Sherwood Districts hosting Mt Gravatt. Noosa Tigers will have a bye after the tight Round 1 loss.

Not named as a starter, but young Jaspa Fletcher will be one to watch for Sherwood this season, with Adrian’s son set to create plenty of headaches inside 50. Speaking of headaches inside 50, it is great to see Kobe Tozer returning from injury to be named at full-forward for the black and whites. Up the other end, Conner Bulley has been named in a forward pocket as another teenager in the side, whilst for the Vultures, Lochlan Harrop (half-forward) and Ethan Kerr (back pocket) are a couple of teenagers in the Round 2 team.

Surfers Paradise have players to keep an eye on as they keep developing such as Matthew Green and Myles Jewell returning to the side to take on the Sharks. Redland-Victoria Point is a new side entering the QAFL, though Redland has had its success in the NEWAFL, and ex-Collingwood talent Peter Yagmoor is one to watch on the list, as well as ex-Sherwood player Caleb Franks.

South Australia:

Former Tasmanian State League (TSL) and ex-West Coast Eagle Mitch O’Neill has been named for his South Adelaide debut, coming into the Panthers’ team alongside another former TSL and ex-AFL talent in Fraser Turner. They will beef up the Panthers’ starting team to take on North Adelaide in the SANFL League clash, who celebrate Jarred Allmond‘s 200th game. Top draft prospect will start on the interchange for the Panthers, whilst Dyson Hilder will be at full forward for the Roosters.

Another Tasmanian coming into the league is Hamish Allan, with the ex-North Hobart 20-year-old running out for Sturt this year. He will be amongst the side that features past South Australian representatives at Under 18s level, Tom Lewis, Josh Shute and Jed McEntee among others. Their opponents Norwood will celebrate Cameron Shenton‘s 100 games, but will be without Richard Douglas for the clash due to personal reasons, though a player who has garnered draft interest in recent years in Cole Gerloff returns to the Redlegs.

A trio of teenagers will potentially line-up for the League side with Brady Searle, Cooper Horsnell and Will Chandler all named in the side for their debuts, with ex-Demon Billy Stretch out with an ankle injury. Their opponents Woodville-West Torrens will unveil Canberra Demons’ recruit Mitchell Hardie who comes into the side along with the huge – physical and metaphorical – inclusion of ruck Jarrad Redden.

Teenage talent Bailey Chamberlain has been named for West Adelaide as one of three inclusions up against Adelaide’s reserves side. He joins new recruit Nick Steele as a potential inclusion, with no outs as of yet, and the likes of Josh Gore and Elliot Dunkin as ones who have caught AFL clubs attention in past years. The Crows will include ex-Glenelg onballer Luke Pedlar for the first time, with Daniel Jackson rested from the match.

Meanwhile Port Adelaide will be without Lachie Jones (debut) and Tom Rockliff (concussion) in a couple of massive outs, which gives Central District a big bonus at the selection table, welcoming in former Panther Brett Kennedy alongside ex-Tiger Ben Nason who returns into the team for the clash against the Magpies.

 

TASMANIA:

In Round 2 of the TSL, Glenorchy enter the competition after a Round 1 bye, set to take on a Clarence team coming off a hard-fought seven-point defeat. The Roos took a little too long to get going against an Allen Christensen-inspired Lauderdale outfit, and they will be keen to step it up against the Magpies.

Glenorchy will of course be without legend Jaye Bowden who retired last season, with Matthew Joseph set to be the focal point up forward, whilst youngster Callum Thompson is one to keep an eye on in the match. The Roos lose a shot of young guns due to Tasmania Devils returning to the NAB League with Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes all out, while ex-Demon Colin Garland has been named at full-forward.

In the Tigers-Lauderdale clash, much has been spoken about the huge impact that Sam Siggins and Nat Franklin had through the midfield with Christensen dominating up forward. The trio will look to have a similar impact when they travel to Kingborough to take on Tigers, who had a young gun stand out in Round 1 with Zach Adams impressing off a wing, whilst Lachlan Gadomski and Riley Ashlin are other young talents.

North Launceston will be without the Sanders brothers in Ollie and Ryley Sanders, as well as Nathan Pearce for the clash against North Hobart, as the Northern Bombers need to find a way to bounce back from a 55-point loss to reigning premiers Launceston. They still have experience in Brad Cox-Goodyer through the middle, but have a new-look side to its recent years. For the Demons. The Demons are coming off a loss themselves, going down to Tigers by 11 points, and will be massively depleted with a ridiculous amount of young talent out of the side including George McLeod and Jye Menzie. It will be up to the next ground of players coming in, with 12 inclusions – including four emergencies – to the Demons side.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

East Perth and Peel Thunder will be keen to quickly move on from Round 1 losses as they do battle in Round 2. The Royals will be without Nick Robertson, but still have Jackson Ramsay and Rohan Kerr among the midfielders as former AFL talents. Peel Thunder will bring in a quartet of Fremantle players with Griffin Logue and Liam Henry joining Mitch Crowden and Bailey Banfield in the side, with Sam Sturt‘s five-goal haul enough to earn a recall at the Dockers, as Connor Blakely and Taylin Duman also are out. A non Fremantle-listed talent to watch for is young gun Brodie Lake who is named in the back pocket.

Two teams that picked up wins in Round 1 were Claremont and South Fremantle, with ex-Dockers Jason Carter and Alex Pearce a couple of big inclusions for the Tigers. They have plenty to like about their lineup with Jye Bolton, Kane Mitchell and Jake Patmore among the talented experienced players in there, though Jacob Van Rooyen is the one to watch as a potential Top 10 pic, lining up on ex-Geelong Cat Blake Schlensog who is playing for South Fremantle. The Bulldogs will be without Cam McCarthy for this match, but still have Haiden Schloithe and Matthew Parker, and the exciting Ben Rioli.

A potential matchup between Chris Masten and Lewis Jetta on the team selection sheets is a mouth-watering clash for any West Coast Eagles fan, with the two ex-talents doing battle for Perth and Swan Districts respectively. Jetta might just have the leg speed in that head-to-head, with Sam Fisher, Jesse Palmer and Frank Anderson among the other Swans to keep an eye on. For Perth, ex-Murray and St Kilda talent Doulton Langlands joins ex-Docker Brady Gray and ex-Eagle Brant Colledge in the Perth midfield which will provide some resistance for the clash.

It is early days, but a top of the table clash between Round 1’s big winners in East Fremantle and Subiaco opens the second round with plenty to get excited about. Ex-Docker Hugh Dixon is joined by youngster Finn Gorringe who comes into the Sharks’ League side, while Jonathon Marsh and Dillon O’Reilly make a damaging forward duo. For the Lions, Ben Sokol is a goal-scoring machine, with Lachlan Delahunty starting his year off strong, set to go head-to-head with Josh Schoenfeld in a battle of the leather poisoning talents from the opening weekend.

At the time of publishing, the West Perth and West Coast teams were not out.

Picture credit: Bronia Henty-Smith Photography

2020 AFL Draft recap: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE went into the 2020 AFL Draft holding all the power with pick one and knowing it would need to absolutely nail each pick or movement as its rebuild continues. Armed with the greatest draft points total of any side coming in, the Crows were able to bolster their midfield stocks, fulfil the pressing need for a genuine small forward, and obtain one of the best tall prospects available to form their list regeneration around. With all bar one of Adelaide’s picks originally hailing from South Australia, there was a real local feel to this draft haul.

ADELAIDE

National Draft:
#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Pre-Season Draft: Jackson Hately (Greater Western Sydney)

Rookies: Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide), James Borlase (NGA), Tariek Newchurch (NGA)

Adelaide had no problem relinquishing its pick one status in using it to place a bid on Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, which was inevitably matched. Having subsequently slid back to the second selection, the Crows were delighted to snare local bigman Riley Thilthorpe, a genuine key forward who can also rotate through the ruck. National recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie shared the view that Thilthorpe had long been the best player for his age group in the State, helping confirm the feel-good local choice. Out of West Adelaide, the 201cm talent should prove a pillar of Adelaide’s rebuild and with senior experience under his belt, will likely be given early opportunities if fit.

The Crows then pulled one of the shocks of the first round by pouncing on Luke Pedlar with pick 11, an explosive inside midfielder who may begin his career up forward. The Glenelg product was also captain of this year’s Prince Alfred College side and while injury cut his season short, Pedlar showed enormous quality at each opportunity. The Crows obviously rated him highly and were happy to act at such a high cost with the likes of GWS and Fremantle lurking within the next few picks. The lone Victorian of the group, Sam Berry is another hard-working midfielder who will add to Adelaide’s ball winning stocks, likely to provide great value at pick 28. Speed is his main knock, but his effort and endurance are high-level.

From one bolter in Pedlar to another in Brayden Cook, the Crows obviously did their homework on the vast array of SANFL products this year. The South Adelaide wingman/forward came from seemingly nowhere to enter draft contention this year with 26 goals in 13 Under 18 games. He has grown nicely and shown an equally steep rate of development; with overhead marking, goal sense, and creative nous his main weapons. Mature-age small forward James Rowe rounded out the Crows’ National Draft intake at pick 38, right after Carlton nabbed Corey Durdin. The Woodville-West Torrens goalsneak booted 38 majors this year to top the SANFL charts, showcasing impressing natural smarts and ability inside 50 to suggest he could slot into the Crows’ starting side immediately.

Adelaide also got their man in Jackson Hately, who returns home after quitting GWS at the end of this season. The tall midfielder fits the Crows’ need for midfield depth and is an absolute steal at effectively no cost in the preseason draft. A sense of deja vu came over fans as Bryce Gibbs was called out with pick one, only this time in the Rookie Draft and purely for administrative reasons. He will be moved onto the inactive list and remain retired in 2021. The Crows also managed to land their two NGA products in James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch through Category B listings, a terrific result given their levels of talent and potential to develop.

Featured Image: Riley Thilthorpe dons Adelaide’s tricolours | Credit: Getty Images

2020 AFL Draft Fallout: Bolters and Sliders

THE DUST has settled on another AFL Draft after the rookie intake was completed this morning; leaving keen watchers, fans, and analysts to pick up the pieces and make something of what was a rollercoaster event which seemed to drag on for an eternity. Like any other intake, the 2020 version was littered with sliders and bolters, so we take a look at some of the names which perhaps ended up with surprising numbers left next to them by night’s end.

Full draft profiles on each prospect mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide.

THE BOLTERS:

While already pegged as a top five selection, Will Phillips somewhat bolted into North Melbourne’s considerations at pick three, throwing as spanner in the works among the top 10. But arguably the biggest first round bolters were selected right after that mark, with Adelaide pouncing on Luke Pedlar at pick 11. The explosive midfielder has battled injuries over the last two seasons but showed great quality on-field when given the opportunity, proving a key cog for Glenelg and Prince Alfred College, the latter of which he captained.

GWS snapped up a couple of Victorians they were keen on in Conor Stone (pick 15) and Ryan Angwin (18), with Collingwood also said to be in the market for Stone. The Oakleigh Chargers product is a medium forward with great goal sense who can also run off the wing with elite running capacity. Angwin, who has drawn comparisons to Xavier Duursma is a different type of wingman with plenty of raw potential. He has filled out nicely and attacks the ball with vigour despite his light frame, while also boasting nice athletic traits.

Geelong traded up twice to snap up Max Holmes at pick 20, who proved one of the biggest late bolters among round one. Holmes’ running capacity appealed to many clubs around the mark, with the Cats pouncing before the likes of Melbourne and St Kilda. At pick 24, Collingwood snuck in a Blake Coleman bid, which was threatened even earlier before trading out for Adelaide to select Brayden Cook, who came from nowhere to be considered a massive first round chance this year. Rounding out the early surprises, Matt Allison was snapped up by St Kilda at number 26, with some other clubs lurking for a dynamic tall around that mark.

The second round was headlined by a few neat risers, including Seamus Mitchell at pick 29 to Hawthorn. He is a pacy small forward with good x-factor, similar to West Australian Tyler Brockman who landed at the Hawks in the following round. Collingwood secured a need in Liam McMahon, who could develop into the long-term key forward option fans have been crying out for. Shannon Neale was off the board at 33, shipped off to Geelong as a prospect who could follow a path similar to Mark Blicavs. Richmond pulled a cheeky bid on Essendon NGA Josh Eyre before taking Samson Ryan from nowhere at pick 40, a developing ruck who is a couple of years on from his top-aged peers.

Looking at the Rookie Draft, Jack Saunders was one of the big surprises as Hawthorn snapped him up with the fourth selection. The South Australian is a hard outside runner who provides long-term cover in that role for the Hawks, who are bringing in some good youth. Isaac Chugg was another choice to attract some attention as Collingwood pounced on the athletic Tasmanian. He looms as a developable half-back or wingman with raw pace.

THE SLIDERS:

A couple of slight sliders emerged early, with the dominoes falling after North Melbourne opted to snare Phillips with pick three. Elijah Hollands, who was widely predicted to be taken there, fell to Gold Coast at number seven and was the Suns’ sole National Draft selection. Tanner Bruhn was one pegged for top 10 status but ended up just escaping that range. It hardly took long for GWS to snap up the classy midfielder at pick 12, before the Giants opted to secure a couple of sliders almost immediately after.

Oliver Henry was another linked with one of Essendon’s three top 10 picks, but the dynamic swingman slid to Collingwood’s pick 17. He looms as a terrific replacement for Jaidyn Stephenson in the Pies’ forwardline. Collingwood NGA Reef McInnes was one who would have tempted clubs in the 8-12 range, but the Magpies were able to maximise their hand after he dropped late into the first round. At pick 23, he was a quickly matched bid for Collingwood, who will likely give him some early exposure around the ground before being thrust into midfield.

Outside of the early proceedings, Jack Carroll proved one of the steals of the draft as Carlton took little time in taking him off the board with pick 41. The classy West Australian was said to have first round suitors, but adds some terrific late value for the Blues as a balanced kind of midfielder who uses the ball excellently and has promising athleticism. Similarly, Eddie Ford was a steal for North Melbourne all the way down at pick 56. He is one who cut his teeth as a high-flying medium forward but has eye on long-term midfield development and brings good variety to the Roos’ overall draft haul. Fremantle would also be laughing with its two NGA products in Brandon Walker and Joel Western only attracting bids in the 50s. Both looked a class above at Colts level this year and have some seriously impressive athletic attributes across the board.

Inside midfielder Zane Trew was a surprise slider into the rookie draft but was given his chance by local side, West Coast, while Jack Ginnivan found his way to Collingwood as yet another shrewd Victorian pick for the Pies. Plenty of talls missed out altogether, with key forwards Kaine Baldwin and Jackson Callow among the most unlucky, while Zavier Maher and Liam Kolar were a couple of potential bolters who did not find a suitor.

Featured Image: Collingwood’s Victorian 2020 AFL Draft haul | Credit: Collingwood FC

2020 AFL Draft: Club by club

IF you are waking up to try and scroll through and find who your club’s newest players are, look no further as we piece together last night’s National Draft club by club. To check out the player profiles of each player selected, click below:

Adelaide:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)
#11 Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)
#25 Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#28 Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#38 James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Carlton:

#37 Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)
#41 Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

Collingwood:

#17 Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#19 Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#23 Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#30 Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
#31 Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#44 Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Essendon:

#8 Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#9 Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#10 Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#39 Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#53 Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Fremantle:

#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

Geelong:

#20 Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
#47 Nick Stevens (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59  Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Hawthorn:

#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Melbourne:

#21 Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#34 Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

North Melbourne:

#3 Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#13 Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)
#36 Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#42 Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
#56 Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Port Adelaide:

#16 Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)
#49 Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Richmond:

#40 Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

St Kilda:

#26 Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
#45 Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Sydney:

#4 Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)
#5 Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)
#32 Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

West Coast:

#52 Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)
#57 Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

Western Bulldogs:

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

2020 AFL Draft: Pick by pick

AFTER an unconventional season of football, the 2020 AFL National Draft has come to a close with a number of young and exciting players finding their way to new homes for the 2021 season. Here is the full run down of picks, with the highly touted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan making his way to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 1.

Round 1

1 Western Bulldogs – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

2 Adelaide Crows – Riley Thilthorpe (West Adelaide/South Australia)

3 North Melbourne – Will Phillips (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

4 Sydney Swans – Logan McDonald (Perth/Western Australia)

5 Sydney Swans – Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

6 Hawthorn – Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

7 Gold Coast Suns –  Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

8 Essendon –  Nik Cox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

9 Essendon – Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

10 Essendon – Zach Reid (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

11 Adelaide Crows – Luke Pedlar (Glenelg/South Australia)

12 GWS GIANTS – Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

13 North Melbourne – Tom Powell (Sturt/South Australia)

14 Fremantle – Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)

15 GWS GIANTS – Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

16 Port Adelaide – Lachlan Jones (Woodville West-Torrens/South Australia)

17 Collingwood – Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

18 GWS GIANTS – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

19 Collingwood – Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

20 Geelong –  Max Holmes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

21 Melbourne Demons – Jake Bowey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

22 Melbourne Demons – Bailey Laurie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

23 Collingwood – Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

24 Brisbane Lions – Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

25 Adelaide Crows – Brayden Cook (South Adelaide/South Australia)

26 St Kilda – Matt Allison (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Round 2

27 Fremantle – Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)

28 Adelaide- Sam Berry (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

29 Hawthorn – Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers)

30 Collingwood – Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

31Collingwood – Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

32 Sydney Swans – Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans Academy/Allies)

33 Geelong – Shannon Neale (South Fremantle/Western Australia)

34 Melbourne – Fraser Rosman (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

35 Hawthorn – Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

36 North Melbourne – Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons)

37 Carlton – Corey Durdin (Central District/South Australia)

38 Adelaide – James Rowe (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

39 Essendon – Josh Eyre (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

40 Richmond – Samson Ryan (Brisbane Lions Academy)

41Carlton – Jack Carroll (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

42 North Melbourne – Phoenix Spicer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

Round 3

43 Brisbane Lions – Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

44 Collingwood – Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/South Australia)

45 St Kilda – Tom Highmore (South Adelaide/South Australia)

46 Hawthorn – Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

47 Geelong – Nicholas Stevens (GWV Rebels)

48 Brisbane Lions – Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

49 Port Adelaide – Ollie Lord (Sandringham Dragons)

50 Fremantle – Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

51 Richmond – Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

52 West Coast – Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)

53 Essendon – Cody Brand (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

54 Fremantle – Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)

55 Western Bulldogs – Dominic Bedendo (Murray Bushrangers)

56 North Melbourne – Eddie Ford (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

57 West Coast Eagles – Isiah Winder (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

58 GWS GIANTS – Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons)

59 GWS GIANTS – Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens)

2020 Draft Central Phantom Draft: First Round prediction

THE STAGE is set for the 2020 AFL National Draft to get underway tomorrow night, poised to present one of the most unpredictable and even events in history. It has been an unprecedented year in many aspects; with Victorian talents, who typically make up over half of the selected players, unable to take the field as top-agers, while prospects from around the nation showed their wares throughout improvised state league seasons.

There are plenty of moving parts to play out, but Draft Central can finally reveal its first round Phantom Draft ahead of the big day. Live trading has not been taken into account in this effort, but club needs, preferences, and our own rankings have been considered with each pick. The shape of the first round will likely look much different after high-stakes live trades and academy bids, but this is an insight into what each club at the top end may be looking for with their picks.

Pick 1 | Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – Western Bulldogs (Adelaide bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 195cm | 90kg

The consensus best player in the draft pool yields a bid where he ultimately should, at pick one. Adelaide will not have access to the Lance Franklin-like key forward though, as he is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy (NGA). The Dogs will quickly match the bid, putting Adelaide back on the clock. Ugle-Hagan promises to bring great athleticism and aerial prowess to the Bulldogs’ forwardline alongside Aaron Naughton, coincidentally fitting their most pressing list need perfectly.

Pick 2 | Logan McDonald – Adelaide
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

Having bid on a key forward with pick one, Adelaide will almost inevitably snap up another when its selection slides to number two. McDonald is arguably the next best option in his position and has enjoyed a stunning campaign at WAFL League level with Perth. His contested marking and endurance combine for a package similar to that of Nick Riewoldt, but the West Australian is set to blaze his own trail. While it has been a talking point, the go-home factor is minimal here, with local talent Riley Thilthorpe also in the mix and Crows supporter Elijah Hollands another who has been considered for much of the year.

Pick 3 | Elijah Hollands – North Melbourne
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

One who could easily have pushed to be the number one ranked player with a top-age campaign, Hollands fits North Melbourne’s need for a dynamic midfielder in the long-term. He spent 2020 recovering from an ACL tear and has mainly cut his teeth as a half-forward thus far, but has all the traits necessary to make a more permanent midfield transition down the line. Given the Roos’ need for key forward support with Ben Brown out the door, McDonald and Riley Thilthorpe could also be desired options here, but Hollands has long been linked with this pick – which North Melbourne has also committed to.

Pick 4 | Will Phillips – Sydney
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 180cm | 80kg

While others are bullish on linking key defender Denver Grainger-Barras to this pick, the Swans may also look to add to their long-term inside midfield depth with Phillips. He may not be the big body to replace Josh Kennedy down the line, but is a reliable ball winner with very few weaknesses who looks every bit the 250-game prospect. As far as comparisons go, he may well be this year’s Matt Rowell, who he spent time alongside in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield during 2019. He looms as the best pure midfielder available at the top end.

Pick 5 | Braeden Campbell – Sydney (Hawthorn bid matched)
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 75kg

Hawthorn, who could well be looking for a midfielder like Phillips, might then be the one to keep Sydney accountable with a top 10 bid on academy product, Campbell. The 181cm midfielder has some elite traits, headlined by his versatility, searing speed, and damaging left-foot kick. The Swans will likely be a touch perturbed by a bid this early, but should take little time to match the selection and end up with consecutive picks. They will then sweat on when a bid for Errol Gulden arrives, ideally in the second round.

Pick 6 | Riley Thilthorpe – Hawthorn
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

With its first top five pick in 15 years, Hawthorn is in a great position to stock up in a couple of key areas. With McDonald and Phillips off the board in our draft, Thilthorpe is a terrific option should he survive Adelaide’s first selection. The 201cm ruck/forward has two years of senior SANFL football under his belt and moves incredibly well for his size, covering plenty of ground and winning the ball both in the air and at ground level. He plays mostly as a key forward, but can also rotate through the ruck as a quality second option.

Pick 7 | Denver Grainger-Barras – Gold Coast 
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

This is your typical best available kind of pick, with Grainger-Barras a true bargain outside of the top five. He is clearly the best key defender available and showed off all of his intercept marking prowess against top three fancy, McDonald during the WAFL League season. He is quite lean but makes up for it with courage and athleticism and has plenty of time to fill out. The Suns may already lay claim to a solid key defensive set-up, but they also tend to look for star power with their picks and the West Australian has plenty of it. A midfielder could also come into consideration here.

Pick 8 | Tanner Bruhn – Essendon
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

Essendon fans may bemoan this selection because of the current profile of their team’s midfield. At 183cm, Bruhn is not exactly the big-bodied ball winner the Bombers have been crying out for, but has plenty of classy qualities on the inside with the potential to also utilise his skill on the outer or up forward. The Geelong Falcons product may not have gained a ton of exposure on-field over the last two years, but has shown all of his worth when given the opportunity and would be a terrific addition to Essendon’s starting side.

Pick 9 | Zach Reid – Essendon
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 83kg

The Bombers will almost certainly look for a tall option with one of their three-consecutive picks within the top 10, and Reid looms as the best of the lot in that range. He looked incredibly sharp at the recent Victorian testing day and at 202cm, possesses wicked skill by foot. The Gippsland product is also incredibly versatile and has a knack for swinging forward to kick clutch goals, but looks most suited to a key defensive post where he can read the play, intercept, and rebound.

Pick 10 | Archie Perkins – Essendon
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 188cm | 79kg

Linked to clubs as high as the top five, Perkins has also long been attached to Essendon’s picks and we have taken the opportunity to snap him up. It looms as somewhat of a prospective selection, but Perkins is exactly the kind of explosive, powerful midfielder which Essendon fans would love to get on-board. He is billed as one who could turn into that prototype midfielder/forward in the mould of Nat Fyfe, especially given his aerial ability and knack for finding the goals. A bid on Collingwood NGA member Reef McInnes could also be considered here, and the Bombers could field bids for the pick from the likes of GWS and Collingwood.

Pick 11 | Finlay Macrae – Adelaide
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 186cm | 78kg

Having already snared a tall, Adelaide can focus on building its midfield at this range and Macrae is a terrific option should that be the case. The half-brother of Jackson, he boasts a similar appetite for the ball and is exactly the kind of player you want delivering it inside 50. He is clean and dual-sided with terrific decision making to boot. The Crows could also be the ones to bid on McInnes here, though Collingwood may be proactive and trade with Adelaide to this pick, thus ensuring that is not the case.

Pick 12 | Lachlan Jones – Port Adelaide (GWS bid matched)
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Jones would be a very handy fit for the Giants’ backline, but is tied to Port Adelaide through its NGA and will quickly have a bid in this range matched. Essendon is another club which has been linked to Jones, but the feeling is that he will slide into the teens, potentially even further than this point. A bid here is still quite realistic though, especially given Jones’ exposed form at senior level in 2020. He was a key part of the Eagles’ premiership defence and stood out with his mix of aggression and class on the rebound. A readymade player if there ever was one.

Pick 13 | Nik Cox – GWS
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
15/01/2002 | 200cm | 87kg

With their first defensive choice unavailable to them, GWS would likely spend little time in looking for someone like Cox to fill that gap in the long-term. While he is a versatile type who can also play up forward, Cox’s magnificent ball use on either side and athletic traits suit the defensive caper. He still has plenty of filling out to do and improvements to be made in the contested side of the game, but should develop well alongside the likes of Phil Davis and Nick Haynes. Heath Chapman is another who could be snapped up here, while Macrae would be an enticing midfield option if still on the board.

Pick 14 | Tom Powell – North Melbourne
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

The Kangaroos may already lay claim to a bunch of inside types through midfield, but Powell would be hard to pass up at this range. He averaged over 35 disposals in the SANFL Under 18s this year and was a consistent clearance machine. His outside game and damage by foot are areas to work on, but the 183cm prospect is well aware of that and even showed improvement there throughout the year. Could form the future of North’s midfield alongside Hollands, Jy Simpkin, and Luke Davies-Uniacke.

Pick 15 | Nathan O’Driscoll – Fremantle
Perth/Western Australia | Balanced Midfielder
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

Perhaps a bold choice here by the Dockers, O’Driscoll is one whose range divides many a draft watcher. What we do know for certain is that he gives 100 per cent each time he plays, making him one of the hardest working midfielders going both ways. His character will appeal to clubs and the local factor makes him a desirable choice for Fremantle. The likes of Chapman, Jack Carroll, and Brayden Cook may also be around the mark here.

Pick 16 | Oliver Henry – GWS
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 188cm | 77kg

One who had top 10 potential, was pegged for such status, and has perhaps now slipped back out of that range, Henry would be a quality choice for GWS at pick 16. The brother of Geelong’s Jack, he is able to play up either end of the ground and thrives aerially. He could be the dynamic marking forward which many clubs are after, so would be too hard to ignore if he slides all the way back here.

Pick 17 | Heath Chapman – Collingwood
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

After a disastrous trade period, Pies fans would be absolutely chuffed if Chapman gets to their first pick and he would suit their needs well; potentially freeing up Darcy Moore to fill a key forward post, or acting as another intercept defender in tandem with Jeremy Howe. Collingwood could also be one to trade up and get a selection like Chapman in just outside the top 10, with Cox and Reid other players in contention. The concern will also surround a potential McInnes bid, but that is allayed in this scenario.

Pick 18 | Bailey Laurie – GWS
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

Laurie has been heavily linked with the Giants’ first round picks and would be a shrewd selection in our eyes. He is another classy ball user who adds to GWS’ strong creative element in the front half and while he may be pegged as a bolter, Laurie looms as one who could quickly repay the faith. He makes things happen and will quickly endear himself to fans.

Pick 19 | Conor Stone – Collingwood
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Wing
22/04/2002 | 188cm | 81kg

Another first round bolter of sorts from the Oakleigh Chargers, Stone has attracted interest from Collingwood on the back of some promising form as a bottom-ager. His five-goal haul on NAB League debut was a particular highlight, but the medium forward also showed some star power on the wing while running out for St Kevin’s. His running power and goal sense make for a versatile package who could prove too hard to ignore.

Pick 20 | Reef McInnes – Collingwood (Richmond bid matched)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 193cm | 86kg

While this bid has been linked to picks as high as the top 10, one at pick 20 would arguably suit McInnes’ true value a little more. The inside midfielder tore up the draft combine with a searing 20m sprint time and has risen up draft boards as a result, making him a player of interest inside the top 20. Collingwood would be more than happy to match here, after their first two selections.

Pick 21 | Zavier Maher – Richmond
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
5/05/2002 | 184cm | 83kg

Richmond is not afraid to make surprise selections and Maher could be the next in that category. The Murray midfielder has recently been linked to the top 25 and might match the Tigers’ need for some long-term squad depth, despite the array of midfielders they already boast. With his burst from the contest, he looms as one with a point of difference from the others, though.

Pick 22 | Jack Carroll – Melbourne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

This was one of the more straightforward picks across a very even first round. The West Australian looks like developing into the wingman Melbourne is crying out for and did not quite cover last trade period, while also having the potential to cover as a classy half-back or develop into an inside type. He uses the ball beautifully, can find the goals, and is a great size for modern-day football.

Pick 23 | Brayden Cook – Melbourne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Yes, perhaps another wingman, but one who looks likely to develop as a forward early in his career. Cook is this year’s great bolter and shot onto the scene on the back of a SANFL Under 18s season where he averaged over two goals per game. He is terrific in the air and makes good decisions going forward, while also boasting the wildcard of being a game-winning type close to goal.

Pick 24 | Luke Pedlar – GWS
Glenelg/South Australia | Inside Midfielder/Forward
17/05/2002 | 183cm | 80kg

The Giants are said to have great interest in Pedlar and should they not pounce with a pick in the teens, he would be a steal for them at this stage. While injuries have curtailed his last two seasons at different points, Pedlar has shown his outstanding hunger for the ball and eye-catching burst from congestion on every occasion afforded to him. Add leadership quality and forward potential to the mix, and you have a very handy bolter.

Pick 25 | Max Holmes – St Kilda
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Wingman
29/07/2002 | 189cm | 74kg

Holmes’ running capacity is what will appeal most to clubs around this range and he has come from seemingly nowhere to jet into draft contention in 2020. He comes from good athletics pedigree but has played high-level football throughout his junior career and will be a handy developable pick. Jake Bowey and Eddie Ford could also be in the mix here.

From the clouds: This year’s biggest AFL Draft bolters

EACH year a great deal of AFL Draft intrigue surrounds the prospects who seemingly come from the clouds to land on clubs’ radars. Labelled the bolters, these players are the ones who enjoy steep rises as top-agers to trade obscurity for potential stardom. Last year we saw Will Day, Mitch Georgiades, and Sam Philp taken in round one, Sam Sturt was famously snapped up with Pick 17 the year before, Gold Coast pulled a surprise with Wil Powell in 2017 and well, you get the gist.

In taking a look at the potential bolters in this year’s crop, we are not just talking about players like Logan McDonald or Archie Perkins, who have risen from first round projection to possible top five status. Instead, we will take you through the names from around the nation who have come from greater obscurity to enter the draft frame at differing points. Some will feature at the top end, others might just scrape in at the back, but they all share the common story of coming from a long way back to gain recognition from AFL club recruiters.

Full profiles for all the players mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide, which is free to download.

THE BOLTERS

STATE BY STATE

South Australia:

South Australia not only lays claim to arguably the biggest bolter of the lot this year, but potentially the biggest overall list of players who suit the category. Headlining the crop is of course South Adelaide wingman/forward Brayden Cook, who went from battling for gametime as a bottom-ager to earning a Reserves call-up early in 2020 and averaging two goals per game in the Under 18s. His nous close to goal and overhead marking ability proved to be game-winning traits for the Panthers this year, propelling Cook into first round contention.

Likely joining him in the top 25 are gun midfielders Tom Powell and Caleb Poulter, who were two of the most consistent ball winners in this year’s SANFL Under 18s. Powell is one of the finest exponents of the handball to come through the junior ranks and proved impossible to ignore on pure numbers in 2020. He was highly rated internally but hardly got the opportunity to show his wares in 2019, suffering multiple injury setbacks and having hip surgery in his bottom-age campaign. Poulter is somewhat of a late bloomer who has enormous upside and great presence on the field as a tall midfielder. His range of weapons include a raking left peg, clean hands, and the ability to play inside, out, and up forward.

Other top-agers in the extended conversation include Luke Pedlar, Malachy Carruthers, Phoenix Spicer, and Xavier Robins. All four earned national draft combine invites after promising seasons, with Pedlar one who has also recently garnered first round interest. The tough and explosive midfielder was a leader among the Glenelg and Prince Alfred College squads this year, before injury cut his campaign short. Defenders Carruthers and Robins both impressed during the school football season before returning to SANFL competitions, while Spicer caught the eye with his dash and x-factor playing on a wing for South Adelaide.

Last but not least are the mature-agers. Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore both earned draft combine invites and were the only prospects over 19 years of age to do so this year. Both read the play beautifully across half-back, mark well, and provide value on the rebound. Premiership Eagles James Rowe and Jacob Wehr will also attract interest. Rowe is a small forward with excellent smarts and natural ability, while Wehr is a rebounding defender with class who was struggling for Reserves games not too long ago.

Victoria:

Despite not getting the chance to put in a full top-age season, there are a bunch of Victorians that have put their hands up for draft bolter status with impressive preseason showings and testing performances. Hulking Sandringham Dragons ruck Max Heath is near the top of the pile after returning dominant trial games. He took on some stern advice after his bottom-age year and came back a different player, throwing his weight around as an aggressive tall who can impose himself on the contest.

Northern Knights product Liam Kolar is in a similar boat after his preseason efforts, making for a steep rise having come from a soccer and athletics background. The raw tall debuted late last year for the Knights but seemed to have hit new heights in 2020 with his speed-endurance mix and rate of development impressing onlookers all the way back in March. Matt Allison and Fraser Rosman are other dynamic talls with great athleticism and upside who have entered the conversation.

Sandringham not only lays claim to Heath in the bolter category, but has also seen the likes of Luke Cleary, Max Holmes, and Lachlan Carrigan burst onto the scene. All three come in at over 189cm and can play in multiple roles. Holmes is the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Lee Naylor, while Carrigan’s genetics have seen him benefit from a massive growth spurt which has coincided with his overall footballing development as a wingman.

One who has come from arguably the furthest back is Corey Preston, who earned a draft combine invite this year despite not having yet made his NAB League debut. The 180cm Eastern Ranges graduate is a midfielder/forward with nice athletic traits. Speaking of, Oakleigh’s Conor Stone has really cemented himself among the top-end group of late. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut last year and was part of the Chargers’ premiership side.

Among the ranks in country regions, Geelong’s stacked top-age cohort includes the likes of Blake Reid and Charlie Ham. Reid did some impressive things last year as the Falcons struggled to string results together, while Ham is a late bloomer much like elder brother, Brayden of Essendon. Both players earned combine invites and performed well, just like new 2km time trial record holder Harry Sharp. The former steeplechaser was primed for a big year after showing nice glimpses as a hard working wingman/small forward for Greater Western Victoria.

Western Australia:

Much like the South Australian crop, those from the West have benefitted greatly from being able to prove their worth on-field in a compromised year. Even before then, 204cm Claremont ruck Kalin Lane loomed as a massive bolter in 2020 after being included in the West Australian academy hub. It came after just one bottom-age appearance and he repaid the faith with an outstanding top-age campaign at Colts level.

Isiah Winder also hit great heights this year and was a standout combine tester come season’s end. He earned plenty of plaudits for his breakout performance in last year’s WAFL Colts Grand Final and has since transitioned from a small forward role to impact through midfield and even earn a League debut with Peel Thunder. Along with Lane, he is a developmental option with plenty of desirable traits for his role.

Among the smokies to have come on strongly are Tyler Brockman and Jaiden Hunter. Brockman is an exciting small forward/midfielder with great speed and goal sense, while Hunter is a tall usually accustomed to key defensive duties, but made to take on Perth’s primary ruck role at 194cm. His athleticism and mobility are outstanding. Claremont pair Jack Avery and Logan Young also enjoyed stellar campaigns in 2020, with Avery a promising intercept defender, and Young a reliable midfield ball winner.

Featured Image: South Adelaide bolter Brayden Cook gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

Draft Central Power Rankings: October 2020

COMBINES, All-Star showcases, and state league finals have brought new life to the 2020 AFL Draft scene, as budding prospects around the nation look to prove their worth ahead of that one day in (likely) early-December. Victorian talents remain in the unknown, but feature aplenty in our list which has undergone a series of minor shuffles. In Draft Central’s latest Power Rankings, the form guide has shot out to 30 names; compared to 25 in our September analysis, and 20 in both August and July.

Among the fresh faces, a South Australian bolter enters the top 25, while two Fremantle Next-Generation Academy (NGA) prospects make their way onto the board alongside a highly-touted Sydney Swans Academy gun. All that, and more in our October Power Rankings update.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion and each players’ ability, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 84kg

Western Bulldogs fans may not entirely enjoy seeing Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, Ugle-Hagan perched atop the tree given the hefty price that comes with it, but should be buoyed by their club having first dibs on such a remarkable talent. The 194cm key position forward has been compared to champion goalkicker Lance Franklin for his athleticism and left-foot kick, but he plays a little differently. Ugle-Hagan’s pace off the lead and sticky hands overhead set him apart, while elite scores in each of the preseason testing events make him an irresistible prospect alone. He is the consensus number one choice at this point, having delivered on the hype as he moved to the Oakleigh region via a scholarship with Scotch College.

September Ranking: #1

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#2 Elijah Hollands
Murray Bushrangers/Vic County | Forward/Midfielder
25/04/2002 | 188cm | 80kg

Hollands’ placing in these rankings will inevitably prove one of the hardest to call throughout the year, given he is set to sit out the entire 2020 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). At this point though, he has done more than enough to warrant top five status at the least, and finds a place in second spot once again. While his knack for producing game-defining periods has most significantly been achieved forward of centre, Hollands has the size and skill to warrant his goal of earning more midfield minutes. With clean hands, athleticism, and a booming boot which often finds the goals, Hollands is all you could ever want from a high-ceiling prospect. Not playing shouldn’t hurt his value too much, but it would have been nice to see him get an uninterrupted crack at NAB League level having finished his schooling at Caulfield Grammar.

September Ranking: #2

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, and recovery from long-term knee injury.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#3 Logan McDonald
Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Forward
4/04/2002 | 196cm | 86kg

A dominant key position forward with terrific endurance is McDonald, who adds to the strong tall and West Australian representation on this list. The high-marking spearhead ran out for his state thrice during last year’s Under 18 National Championships, averaging a goal per game and impressing with his ability to clunk marks leading up the ground. He has terrific hands on the lead and usually has no trouble finding the big sticks, while his high-level endurance confirms his status as a true, modern-day centre half-forward. Having grown and filled out to a more conventional key position size, McDonald has showcased his game-winning ability from forward of centre in 2020 – something which earned him All-Australian honours as an Under 16s player.

September Ranking: #3

Last Month: McDonald showed off his endurance at last week’s West Australian combine, scoring third in the 2km time trial. On-field, the key forward capped off his season by helping Perth qualify for the WAFL League finals for the first time in over 20 years, but was kept goalless in the Demons’ week one loss. He booted one major the week before, and managed three against Swan Districts before Denver Grainger-Barras was switched onto him.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#4 Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
14/04/2002 | 194cm | 78kg

Another tall amongst the top five, and a versatile one at that. While he is definitely most comfortable and renowned as a key position defender, the Swan Districts hopeful’s versatility lies in the varying roles he play inside defensive 50. Credit to his athleticism and slender frame, he is able to keep up with medium types at ground level, while also showing form as a lockdown type on the opposition’s best big forward, or as an intercept marking outlet. Grainger-Barras is a cool head in possession too, boasting a sound kick for his size and composure beyond his years. That same level-headedness and footballing IQ makes him a sound reader of the play from the back, and the leading option in his position.

September Ranking: #4

Last Month: Grainger-Barras was another to showcase his high-level athleticism at the West Australian combine; scoring third in the running vertical jump (left), fifth in the 20-metre sprint, and second in the agility test. After a terrific outing against Logan McDonald’s Perth, the prolific defender rounded out his season with just six disposals and two marks as Swan Districts failed to make finals.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus | Player Focus

#5 Will Phillips
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
22/05/2002 | 179cm | 78kg

We all marvelled at how well Oakleigh graduates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson have adapted to life in the AFL, and Phillips could be the next Charger in line to do just that having leant on the pair during his bottom-aged campaign. Like Rowell, Phillips is a sub-180cm prospect who consistently finds plenty of the ball and possesses great leadership qualities. He is a well-balanced midfielder too, having plied his trade at times on the outside for Oakleigh en route to premiership glory. Phillips seems to thrive on the inside though, with his hardness and ability to weave through traffic making him an invaluable stoppage asset. The Caulfield Grammar student was set to juggle APS football and NAB League duties in 2020, while standing as a clear leadership candidate for Vic Metro come national carnival time – all before the pandemic hit.

September Ranking: #5

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#6 Riley Thilthorpe
West Adelaide/South Australia | Ruck/Key Position Forward
7/07/2002 | 201cm | 100kg

In a welcome change from last year’s crop, key position prospects will be in abundance at the top end. Thilthorpe is one of them, an athletic ruck/forward who possesses enormous running capacity and can dominate the airways. In his ruck duties, the 201cm West Adelaide product plays more like a fourth midfielder, able to follow up at ground level and cover the ground like a small. He has been utilised in a more forward-oriented role for the Bloods at SANFL League level though, with his goalkicking attributes and diverse skillset already making him a handful for senior players with more mature bodies. Ask any of the South Australian Under 18s who they have most been looking forward to playing alongside in 2020, and Thilthorpe is among them. Jot the name down, he should be among those you are most looking forward to watching, too.

September Ranking: #6

Last Month: The West Adelaide bigman has battled through injury trouble over the last month, unable to get back on the park at SANFL League level despite being named. A niggling groin injury also kept him from testing at the South Australian combine.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus

#7 Braeden Campbell
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Balanced Midfielder/Forward
4/02/2002 | 181cm | 72kg

While he has again been squeezed out to number seven, Campbell is a player who could potentially sit among the top five come season’s end. Uncertainty lingers over how much exposure NSW/ACT athletes will be able to gain in 2020 given the NEAFL and NAB League scrappings, but one must only watch last year’s Under 17 Futures All-Star showcase to be reminded of Campbell’s talent. He was best-afield in that game, with electrifying speed, hardness at the ball, and a booming left-foot kick catching the eye of all who bore witness. The Swans Academy product is also apt in the short range as well, and has the invaluable ability to impact games in multiple positions. Whether it be on the inside, outside, or forward of centre, Campbell is a match-winner and should cost the Swans a pretty penny in terms of draft points.

September Ranking: #7

Last Month: The exciting Swans Academy prospect booted a goal in each of his three AFL Sydney Premier Division outings for Pennant Hills in September. The Demons won two of those games, but lost most recently in their lone finals dig against St George. The NSW/ACT combine on October 25 will be Campbell’s next point of call.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#8 Tanner Bruhn
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
27/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Class with a capital ‘C’ is what Bruhn has been described as, despite his limited on-field opportunities of late. The Geelong Falcons midfielder burst onto the scene as Vic Country’s Under 16 MVP in 2018, but injuries have cruelled him since; having initially required knee surgery after a 2019 preseason incident, and undergone a follow-up procedure that would have had him in doubt to feature early this year. He still managed to add two NAB League outings to his resume towards the end of last season, showcasing his terrific stoppage craft with clean hands and wonderful movement around the ball. Should he eventually enjoy an extended run and put his best form on display, Bruhn could well push to be the premier midfielder of this year’s bunch.

September Ranking: #8

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

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>> Draft Watch

#9 Lachlan Jones
WWT Eagles/South Australia | General Defender
9/04/2002 | 186cm | 89kg

Yet another NGA prospect, Jones is tied to Port Adelaide and features quite highly on this list. His big frame has seen him adjust well to the rigours of SANFL League football, running out against mature bodies in nearly all of the Eagles’ fixtures thus far. As a general defender, Jones possesses obvious hardness at the ball and can compete both aerially and at ground level, remaining relevant going both ways too. His skills are also a big asset, able to spear passes to high percentage options while also breaking games open with his long-range efforts. Jones may well be one to push further up the list as he progresses in 2020, with some solid traits which point to a quick transition into the next level.

September Ranking: #10

Last Month: Jones is another to have missed some football over the past month, but thankfully not much. An ankle injury kept him from testing at the recent South Australian combine, and also saw him miss Round 14 in the SANFL. After some hit-and-miss form, the big-bodied defender returned in week one of the finals with 19 disposals and 11 rebound 50s as his Eagles went down to North Adelaide.

>> Draft Watch
>> Player Focus Round 3 | Round 8

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll 
Perth/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
17/05/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

One of Western Australia’s leading prospects is O’Driscoll, a hard-at-it inside midfielder who can also double as a damaging half-back or wingman. The 187cm Perth Demons product was a standout at Colts level last year, while also breaking through for three outings in the Black Ducks’ Under 18 National Championships campaign as a bottom-ager. Having learnt off the likes of former Perth teammate and Brisbane draftee, Deven Robertson, O’Driscoll is primed to become a permanent midfield fixture having already proven his ball winning capabilities. His penetrating boot and speed-endurance mix make him a prospect with many desirable traits, not to mention his older sister, Emma is already plying her trade at AFLW level for Fremantle.

September Ranking: #11

Last Month: O’Driscoll finished off his top-age campaign as a regular fixture in Perth’s League midfield. While a disposal average of 11 over his last three games does not jump off the page, O’Driscoll looked composed on the ball and was able to impact defensively as well. He runs all day, and proved as much my finishing second in WA’s 2km time trial. He also came runner-up in the 20-metre sprint, while taking out the agility test. He boasts an impressive speed-endurance mix through midfield.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup
>> Player Focus

#11 Nikolas Cox
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Key Position Defender/Utility
15/01/2002 | 199cm | 82kg

A 199cm player who can run, kick on both sides, and play just about anywhere? It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly what Cox brings to the table as his region’s most outstanding draft candidate. Cox cut his teeth as a tall wingman and key position swingman in 2019, juggling his time between school football, 10 NAB League outings, and a berth in the Under 18 Vic Metro squad as a bottom-ager. In 2020, the Northern Knights co-captain was set to develop as a centre-half back, with his athleticism and versatility in the role lending to the fact he has an enormous ceiling. He was also set to be a prime candidate to lead Vic Metro this year, lauded for his professionalism and the example he sets via training standards.

September Ranking: #9

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and AGSV Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#12 Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS/Allies | Inside Midfielder
18/03/2002 | 192cm | 85kg

A second Northern Academy prospect and the first Queenslander on this list, Davies is one of the more highly touted big-bodied midfielders of his cohort. Standing at 192cm and filling out to 85kg, the SUNS Academy hopeful boasts the ideal size to not only dominate his junior competitors, but more importantly make an immediate impact at the next level. He has been his state’s prime ball winner for some time and thrives on racking up high contested numbers, but has also displayed terrific poise in traffic and adds releasing handballs to his thumping kicks away from the stoppages. He ran out for four of Gold Coast’s NAB League outings as a bottom-ager, and looked set to prove lynchpin among the Allies squad in 2020.

September Ranking: #12

Last Month: Davies has been inactive due to an elbow injury sustained in August, missing out on Broadbeach’s run to the QAFL Seniors Grand Final.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#13 Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
12/12/2002 | 192cm | 84kg

Sitting outside the top 10 due to others’ rises is another inside midfielder and a second NGA product from both the Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers systems. Attached to Collingwood, McInnes is set to be yet another in the production line of academy and father-son prospects made available to the Magpies, and looms as a first round candidate. While he was pushed out to the forward line in Oakleigh’s stacked premiership side, McInnes is a bull on the inside who can dominate at stoppages. He is hardly the typical slow, strength-dependant type either, able to lean on his agility and awareness to effectively extract from midfield. The versatility he was made to learn as a bottom-ager adds another string to his bow, with goals a valuable part of his game in 2019.

September Ranking: #13

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#14 Zach Reid
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Key Position Defender/Utility
2/03/2002 | 202cm | 82kg

A versatile tall who could push for top 10 status, Reid returned a consistent output during his bottom-age season as a key member of Gippsland’s spine. He was tried up either end and through the ruck across 15 NAB League outings, but looked most comfortable down back and should find a home there once again in 2020. At 202cm, Reid is filling out nicely and can utilise that added strength to compete better one-on-one against big key forwards. He is a terrific judge of the ball in flight and positions intelligently, not just relying on his height to compete aerially. Reid is also both a sound handler and user of the ball for his size, providing a cool head in rebounding transitions.

September Ranking: #15

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and Gippsland Football League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#15 Kaine Baldwin
Glenelg/South Australia | Key Position Forward
30/05/2002 | 193cm | 90kg

The news of Baldwin’s second ACL tear in as many years – albeit partial this time – was shattering. It means the promising 193cm forward will miss out on yet another season of football after earning All Australian honours at Under 16s level in 2018, and a crack at the SANFL Reserves grade as a bottom-ager. In our eyes, he remains a first round prospect on talent alone, and looked poised to really crack on in 2020 after his initial recovery. He was a handy preseason testing performer, with good returns in the vertical jumps and yo-yo test conveying Baldwin’s ability to crash packs and clunk big contested marks, while also harnessing that aerial dominance in his work up the ground.

September Ranking: #14

Last Month: Inactive due to recovery from long-term knee injury. Earned a National Combine invite for September 30 but did not participate.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#16 Heath Chapman
West Perth/Western Australia | Key Position Defender
31/01/2002 | 192cm | 81kg

A player who has risen into top 20 calculations, Chapman is a key position defender with many points of difference. Having cut his teeth in the role during his bottom-age year, the 193cm prospect has been able to roll off as a third tall down back for West Perth in 2020, utilising his shrewd reading of the play and athleticism to provide dominant intercept marking prowess. His ability to open up the play in transition with long, rebounding kicks is Chapman’s other key strength, making him a versatile defensive outlet who finds plenty of the ball. Given his size and athletic attributes, that third tall prototype seems his most likely avenue to the elite level, though he is just as capable competing as a more traditional key position player.

September Ranking: #16

Last Month: Chapman earned a League call-up in Round 8, but saw his senior stint prove one-and-done after 11 disposals against Claremont. He made a terrific return to the Colts level with 24 disposals and eight marks against eventual premier Subiaco, before managing 16 disposals and six marks amid tough conditions as the Falcons went down to East Fremantle in a preliminary final. He was an impressive performer at the combine too, faring well in the 2km time trial.

>> Draft Watch

#17 Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Medium Utility
29/07/2002 | 187cm | 77kg

A brother-of who could eventually feature at the top end of this year’s rankings is Henry, the younger sibling of Geelong Cats defender, Jack. The Geelong Falcons product has top 10 potential, able to play up either end of the ground and pull down big marks. While he looks most comfortable up forward as a high-flying third tall type, Henry is just as capable down back where his aerial prowess translates to intercept value. At 187cm, he plays above his size through sheer athleticism and reading of the play, with the potential to also move up onto a wing. If Victorian prospects had been allowed back onto the park in 2020, Henry would likely have been one to rise quite steeply given his enormous upside and versatility.

September Ranking: #17

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League, local, and school football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#18 Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
26/03/2002 | 186cm | 77kg

Perkins has all the makings of a special talent. Having caught the eye as a forward and outside midfielder in 2019, the Sandringham Dragons standout was poised to spend more time on the inside as a top-ager, with just the right size and some incredible athletic attributes to aid his transition. Perkins boasts a monster vertical leap, covers 20 metres in less than three seconds, and is brilliantly agile, making for an ideal athletic base. His finishing touch is an area he can refine, but the 186cm prospect is no stranger to finding the goals and can be a real game changer when required. Damage or impact is a key trait which is often hard to measure, but Perkins ranks highly in that department.

September Ranking: #20

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#19 Caleb Poulter
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 192cm | 79kg

One of this year’s brightest bolters, Poulter has rocketed up draft boards after an eye-catching start to his top-age season. The big-bodied midfielder brings a serious presence through midfield, able to win plenty of the ball himself while also hunting the opposition with tackling pressure. Add to his midfield craft the ability to take big marks overhead, hit the scoreboard with his penetrating left boot, and utilise his terrific athletic base, and you have a prospect who can wreak absolute havoc at his best. With some senior football also under his belt in 2020, Poulter has stood up and been noticed quickly. It has been a steep rise since his Under 16 carnival in South Australian colours last year.

September Ranking: #23

Last Month: Poulter’s stocks have risen not only on the back of a Reserves call-up and some solid form, but also due to his outstanding combine results. The tall midfielder came fourth in South Australia’s 20-metre sprint, second in the running vertical jump (right), and fifth in the 2km time trial. On-field, he managed four Reserves outings before returning to the Under 18s with a bang, booting two goals from 18 disposals. He also managed 20 touches in the Eagles’ finals win over South Adelaide, most recently. Poulter has spent a bit of time on a wing, and boasts great versatility in the sense that he can also roam forward or impact on the inside.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch

#20 Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 185cm | 80kg

Trew is one of many top-end prospects who have had to battle injury throughout their bottom-age seasons, but he looks primed to bounce back well in 2020. Hailing from the talent-stacked Swan Districts program, Trew is a classy inside midfielder who can rack up plenty of ball in style, backed by his 40-disposal effort in last year’s WAFL Colts competition. While he was limited to just three outings and missed Under 18 selection for WA, the 186cm prospect should not be forgotten in first round discussions. Trew is a handball-happy extractor, able to flick out releasing touches to his runners, but he is just as effective by foot with clean skills at short range and penetration when required. Should be a lock for the WA engine room this season with representative games ahead.

September Ranking: #19

Last Month: Despite Swan Districts’ inability to make finals, Trew finished his WAFL Colts campaign on a high. The inside midfielder was seemingly teased with a senior call-up, but instead racked up 22 and 32 disposals in his final two Colts appearances. He also laid a combined 19 tackles in those games, and took part in the West Australian draft combine. Trew achieved a much more consistent run this season, despite some slight injury troubles.

>> Draft Watch
>> Draft Diary 1 | 2
>> Marquee Matchup

#21 Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 183cm | 74kg

There are few more consistent ball winners than Powell, who has put an interrupted bottom-age season behind him to emerge as arguably Sturt’s most promising draft prospect. The Double Blues standout simply finds the ball at will, able to get his side going on the front foot from midfield with clever positioning, movement, and extraction. He may be a touch handball happy, but is an elite exponent of that tool and is beginning to mix in his kicking to have an even greater impact on games. At his best, Powell is nothing short of dominant, though goals and a greater run-and-carry game would make him a complete midfielder – think Lachie Neale‘s development.

September Ranking: #18

Last Month: Calf tightness restricted Powell in light of the recent South Australian combine, and he seemed to carry the same niggle into his latest game. The midfielder returned a rare performance of under 20 disposals in Sturt’s semi final loss to Norwood, but averaged 31.7 disposals and 8.3 clearances across his other three September appearances. It will take something big to keep him down for a second week, as he looks to help the Double Blues qualify for an Under 18s Grand Final.

>> Feature (April) | (September)
>> Draft Watch

#22 Finlay Macrae
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
13/03/2002 | 184cm | 75kg

You may recognise the name and yes, Finlay is the half-brother of Western Bulldogs midfielder, Jack. They are quite clearly cut from the same cloth, with the younger Macrae possessing a similar ball winning appetite and class on the ball to his established older sibling. The 184cm Charger also boasts a terrific balance in his traits, able to impact the play moving forward with sound decision making and precise execution via foot, on top of his obvious exploits in extraction. While he is not overly quick, Macrae’s evasiveness comes through agility and awareness, which would have been on full show as he prepared to feature prominently for Oakleigh, Xavier College, and Vic Metro in 2020.

September Ranking: #21

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

#23 Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
20/12/2002 | 187cm | 76kg

A fresh face to last month’s expanded list, Carroll has plenty of first round suitors. Coming into his top-age season, Carroll was pegged as a classy outside midfielder or half-back who moved well and used the ball efficiently by foot. But after nearly a full season of WAFL Colts football through midfield, the 187cm prospect has also shown his worth inside the engine room. Carroll measures up at a good height and while he may be a touch light around the contest, he uses his high-level agility and poise to weave through traffic before effectively disposing of the ball. A versatile talent with good upside, Carroll is destined to rise even further.

September Ranking: #22

Last Month: Carroll’s season ended after he suffered a broken wrist in Round 8 of the WAFL Colts, having run out the game against Subiaco to collect 18 disposals. He still managed to test at the West Australian combine, achieving second place in the standing vertical jump, and fifth in the running jumps off either foot. He faces a race against time to play in the upcoming All-Star fixtures.

>> Draft Watch

#24 Brayden Cook
South Adelaide/South Australia | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 189cm | 82kg

Search for the 2020 AFL Draft bolter, and Cook’s name is likely the one you’ll find top of any list. The South Adelaide prospects has come from the clouds to not only put himself within draft contention, but right up into top 25 calculations. Plying his trade either up on a wing or inside forward 50, Cook is a game-winner who is capable of kicking bags of goals and taking eye-catching marks. His size allows him to not just rely on his vertical leap, but also out-work his opponents one-on-one, with his terrific goal sense often helping finish the job. Having put his name on the map, the wingman/forward can now look forward to featuring among his state’s All-Star showcase.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Cook enhanced his draft stocks with some handy combine results; coming fifth in the 20-metre sprint, fourth in the standing vertical jump, and fifth again in the running vertical jump (right). Most recently, he was kept goalless as South Adelaide bowed out of the Under 18s finals race, though Cook has proven his worth with a bag of five goals this month, and two majors in every other effort.

>> Draft Watch

#25 Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies | Utility
12/03/2002 | 192cm | 80kg

The sole representative from the Northern Territory in our top 25, Jeffrey is arguably the region’s most promising draft prospect this year. Having grown to 192cm, Jeffrey is a true swingman who can dominate aerially up either end. His reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and his sticky hands do the rest of the work as he pulls down big marks. The son of NT legend Russell Jeffrey, Joel comes from good pedigree and is terrifically athletic for his size; boasting speed to burn, a sizeable leap, and clean hands at ground level. Having gained senior football experience with Wanderers in the NTFL, Jeffrey was set to move to Queensland this year given his ties to the Gold Coast SUNS via their access to the Darwin zone. The move was ultimately put on hold due to the current pandemic, but Jeffrey looks likely to end up in the Sunshine State come season’s end.

September Ranking: #25

Last Month: The NT native took part in the recent Queensland combine, while also starring in the NT All-Stars game with three goals. He was utilised as a lead-up forward in that outing, the position he is said to prefer, although he is arguably just as good as an interceptor down back.

>> Draft Watch

#26 Brandon Walker
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Half-Back
17/10/2002 | 183cm | 75kg

Introducing one of the smoothest movers of the potential 2020 AFL draft cohort, who is tied to Fremantle’s NGA. Dockers fans will be desperate to downplay Walker’s potential, with elite speed, agility, and vertical leaps combined with clean skills to make up the East Fremantle prospect’s game. He looks a damaging outlet off half-back with his line-breaking ability and precision via foot, while also providing solid defensive cover credit to eye-catching aerial feats and reading of the play. Walker can also move through midfield, adding another string to his bow as he develops. His twin brother, Chris joins him at East Fremantle and in the Dockers Academy.

September Ranking: #24

Last Month: A sore foot post WAFL Colts finals football kept Walker from performing at the WA combine, though he has shown some handy form on-field. The defender averaged 18 disposals over his last four games, and managed 15 in East Fremantle’s preliminary final loss to Subiaco. He has been named at centre half-back most weeks, but loves to break the lines and deliver forward. He’ll be a half-back at the next level.

>> Draft Watch

#27 Bailey Laurie
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Forward/Midfielder
24/03/2002 | 178cm | 76kg

Another member of Oakleigh’s talent-rich 2019 premiership side, Laurie also features highly in our estimations. The small forward/midfielder is a livewire, and can take games away from the opposition quickly as a high-impact player. His forward running and wonderful agility make for some highlight-reel snippets, consisting of line-breaking bursts and baulks which make his opponents look silly. The Caulfield Grammar student is a great character and a teammate who others love to play alongside, adding a different element to his on-field prowess.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League and APS Football.

>> Feature
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#28 Eddie Ford
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Medium Forward/Midfielder
21/06/2002 | 186cm | 80kg

If you’re after one of the best Under 18s highlight packages among this year’s crop, then look no further than Western’s Ford. The Jets’ leading prospect is capable of taking high marks, booting long goals, and bursting forward to break the lines with his explosive athleticism and speed. Having cut his teeth as a medium forward, the 186cm Victorian has recently requested tape of Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe as he looks to sharpen his midfield craft. He certainly has the size and athletic profile to make the transition, and would have done so with some time on the park as a top-ager. You may remember his Under 17 Futures All-Stars performance from last year, which is what he can produce at his best. Consistency will be key.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Inactive due to lack of NAB League.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

#29 Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies | Small Forward/Midfielder
18/07/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Seemingly joined at the hip with fellow Swans Academy gun Braeden Campbell throughout their journey to the bigtime, Gulden has long been a highly-touted prospect. The small utility broke through to claim the Division 2 MVP award at the 2018 Under 16 National Championships, racking up mountains of the ball and kicking bags of goals. Since, he has carried such form into his outings with the Swans Academy, while also playing senior footy in the AFL Sydney Premier Division, and representing the Allies Under 18s last year. The crafty mover is small, but holds his own and is as naturally talent a prospect as there is this year.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Gulden’s month began brightly with two goals, and second-best afield honours as his AFL Sydney Premier Division side beat the Inner West Magpies. He returned against the North Shore Bombers but was held goalless, with a Grand Final appearance against Sydney University and the NSW/ACT combine his next points of call.

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>> Marquee Matchup

#30 Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/10/2002 | 172cm | 68kg

Fremantle’s NGA talent program has proven one of the more successful producers of AFL-level players since its inception, and Western is one of a few highly touted prospects set to take the next step in 2020. The Claremont captain took his side to a second consecutive WAFL Colts Grand Final after last year’s premiership triumph, overcoming some early injury concerns to run out an outstanding season. The small midfielder is all-class through the engine room, able to zip out of traffic and deliver the ball forward with freakish skill. As will be expected at the elite level, Western is also capable of playing up forward and even across half-back, making him a player with plenty of upside for Dockers fans to look forward to.

September Ranking: NR

Last Month: Claremont’s Colts Grand Final commitments saw Western become unavailable for the WA combine, though it mattered little given his on-field performance. Playing predominantly through midfield, Western raised his stocks with a consistent end to the year, averaging 23 disposals across his last three games. He stands up in big games and can find the goals, making for a couple more handy points of difference.

>> Draft Watch

IN THE MIX:

The recent combines and finals football has brought out the best in a lot of players, who may be flirting with top 30-40 contention. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase was recently best afield for Prince Alfred College in the SA All Schools Cup Grand Final, while Port father-son prospect Taj Schofield lit up the South Australian combine. Zac Dumesny made a solid return from injury in the SANFL Under 18s, as did Luke Edwards in the Reserves. The likes of Corey Durdin and Luke Pedlar remain sidelined, however.

Over in WA, Isiah Winder was another to test well in his state’s combine, while Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen and Claremont’s Jack Avery have shot into draft contention on the back of fantastic finals series. Vanirsen took out the Jack Clarke Medal and was also named best afield in the WAFL Colts Grand Final, which the Lions won.

Brodie Lake‘s impressive All-Stars outing and combine results will have Gold Coast fans smiling, as the NT native falls under their Darwin zoning. Brisbane Academy members Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier recently helped Morningside upset Broadbeach in the QAFL Seniors Grand Final, while Tasmanian Jackson Callow was in a rich vein of form before being injured.

Victorians Connor Downie, Jake Bowey, Max Heath, and Cody Brand are among those also around the mark.

SANFL Round 5 Preview: Sturt and Norwood look for form in big League clash

THERE will be plenty of eyes on this weekend’s action of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, as a number of teams searching for form face off. We take a look at the big games across the weekend.

Central Districts VS North Adelaide

League:

North Adelaide will make the trip into the outer suburbs to face Central Districts on Saturday afternoon. The Roosters were made to pay for their goal kicking inaccuracies by ladder leader Woodville-West Torrens at Prospect Oval last weekend. Meanwhile at The Parade, despite a spirited fourth quarter comeback, the Bulldogs winless streak continued with a loss to Norwood.

The Roosters depth has been tested over the past few weeks, with injuries to gun recruits Billy Hartung, Cam Hewett and Robbie Young and first choice ruckman James Craig. Midfielder Harrison Magor was called upon to provide engine room assistance, with forward Lee Minervini and speedy utility Keanu Miller also elevated from the reserves to fill the gaps. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were encouraged by last weekend’s return of star medium forward Justin Hoskin and two-time best and fairest winner Travis Schiller, who reunited with brother Jarrod in the Bulldogs midfield.

With North Adelaide key forward Alex Barns set to miss several weeks with a hand injury and Mitch Harvey required to cover the ruck duties in the absence of Craig, the red and white have been perhaps too reliant upon enigmatic forward Lewis Hender. Hender is a gamebreaker at his best, with his seven straight goals in round one a clear example of his goalkicking talents. The 26-year-old booted just one goal in round two and was held goalless against the Tigers, only to bounce back and nail three majors in last round’s loss, such is his inconsistency. The Bulldogs backline will be wary of Hender’s talents, but have kept him goalless in the past three matches between the sides.

Since returning to Elizabeth, prolific Bulldog James Boyd has formed a strong partnership in the middle alongside Troy Menzel  and the Schiller brothers, however they were simply outclassed by a talented Norwood unit. Although slightly depleted, the Roosters also boast an imposing midfield core, led by tackling machine Campbell Combe. The potential battle between Boyd and North’s Andrew Moore will be interesting, with both able to find the ball with ease. On the outside, classy duo Jarrad Allmond and Harrison Wigg have been excellent for the Roosters across halfback and along with wings.

Bulldogs skipper Luke Habel has been consistent at halfback and John Butcher has provided the side with a genuine leadup option alongside Nick Lange, who is perhaps the Dogs’ most exciting talent. The Roosters smalls were not as dominant against the Eagles, but Kym LeBois and Frank Szekely are just about as dangerous as the league has to offer. The Bulldogs will likely recall Jonathan Marsh after they were comprehensively beaten in the hitouts last weekend.

The Roosters were edged in the clearances last weekend and will be hopeful of regaining some of their injured stars. Central Districts will be looking to capitalise on North’s injury misfortunes, with Hoskin’s return giving the Bulldogs a much needed boost. The teams split their two meetings last year, with the Dogs gaining an early victory but North recording their second win of the year with a victory later in the season.

After booting six goals last weekend, Hoskin will play his 150th SANFL league match against the Roosters, but he may be without Butcher in attack, who suffered a hamstring injury. Karl Finlay, Cam Hewett and James Craig will face fitness tests for the Roosters.

Reserves:

Although the League side may be struggling, the Bulldogs Reserves are flying at the top of the ladder. They smashed the reigning premiers, Norwood, by 88 points at Coopers Stadium last round and will start as favourites against a Roosters side who suffered a narrow loss to the undefeated Eagles.

Under 18s:

At Under 18s level, North Adelaide and Central Districts both sit at one win and three losses after four rounds of action. The potential clash between two of the best midfielders in the competition, Jamison Murphy (North Adelaide) and Lewis Cowham (Central Districts), is set to be a beauty.

 

Glenelg VS Woodville-West Torrens

League:

Since prevailing in two close encounters in rounds one and two, the Bays have suffered consecutive losses to North Adelaide and, most recently, West Adelaide. While the side which won it all last season remains relatively intact, coach Mark Stone will be eager to right the wrongs of the past fortnight. It has been a different story for the Eagles, however, who soared to the top of the ladder after running over the top of the Roosters on Saturday afternoon.

The Bays lost their mojo against an energetic Bloods side chasing their first win in over 12 months, with key defenders Matthew Merrett and Max Proud unable to stop Westies skipper Tom Keough, who booted five goals. This weekend they face another tough challenge in the form of the Hayes brothers, Jack and Nick. The brothers from Red Hill have kicked a combined 13 goals this season and their strong contested marking ability has caused plenty of headaches already.

However small forward James Rowe has perhaps been the most impressive Eagle so far in season 2020. He currently leads the Ken Farmer Medal race after nailing 13 majors in four games, including three bags of three and a tally of four last round. The former Sacred Heart College skipper is arguably the competition’s most dangerous forward, with his elite goal sense and football smarts impressing.

Glenelg have their own dangerous small forward in Darcy Bailey, who was restricted to just five disposals in round four. The Eagles will be hopeful of restricting dangerous Tigers duo Liam McBean and Luke Reynolds, who combined to kick five of Glenelg’s seven goals. However reigning Ken Farmer medallist McBean will be eyeing a bounce back game after he was held to just three touches by the Bloods.

Glenelg were outworked by West Adelaide, loosing the possession battle, clearances and inside 50s. However they boast one of the most talented onball units in the league, including tough nuts Matthew Snook and Bradley Agnew and star Luke Partington. The Eagles lost many key statistical areas, but made the most of their shots on goal, booting ten goals and nine behinds to North’s seven goals and 12 behinds. Jordan Foote will be expected to lead the way in the midfield after he ran wild in a best on ground performance against the Roosters. He brings real energy to the side with his speed around the contest and ability to hit the scoreboard.

Consistent trio Joseph Sinor, Matthew Goldsworthy and Angus Poole have also been vital to the Eagles strong opening month, while youngsters Lachlan Jones, Lachlan McNeil and Jacob Wehr have all performed well since slotting into the senior side. They will be required to stand up again if the Eagles are to topple the reigning premiers away from home.

The Tigers defeated the Eagles in both clashes between the two clubs last season, by 50 points in round six and 15 in round 12. Woodville-West Torrens have really found their grove in the past few weeks but, like all good sides, Glenelg will be expected to respond strongly. The Bays reported no injuries from their loss but Jade Sheedy‘s men may be without captain and defensive general Luke Thompson, who faces a fitness test to prove he has recovered from a thigh complaint. The clash will be Eagle Matthew Goldsworthy‘s 200th match at SANFL league level.

Reserves:

Much like the league battle, the Reserves matchup is also poised to go down to the wire, with both sides yet to drop any points after four rounds of competition. The Eagles have a couple of injury concerns but will have been encouraged by their gritty 17 point win over the Roosters last round, while the Bays continued their strong start with a victory over the Bloods.

Under 18s:

A handful of South Australia’s brightest talents will be on show when the two clubs Under 18s sides clash at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval. Jase Burgoyne‘s starred for the Eagles last weekend, winning the round four under 18 MVP nomination. Caleb Poulter has also been in some terrific early season form for Eagles, with draft watchers beginning to sit up and take notice of his talents. Glenelg is undefeated in the Under 18s competition and will be full of confidence after recording a powerful 109 point win over West Adelaide on Saturday evening. Luke PedlarRiley Holder and Lewis Rayson are ones to watch for the yellow and black, alongside a number of other talented juniors.

 

South Adelaide VS West Adelaide

League:

The battle of the feel good stories will be played out at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday afternoon. South Adelaide have made a promising start to the campaign, as they continue their seemingly neverending quest to deliver the club its first league premiership since 1964. Meanwhile in the western suburbs, the Bloods will be full of confidence after knocking off Glenelg to snatch their first victory in over 12 months.

West Adelaide outworked the Bays last round, winning more of the ball around the ground and generally using it more effectively (80 per cent efficiency to Glenelg’s 74 per cent). Their tackling pressure was strong for the entirety of the match and they made the most of their chances in front of goal, finishing with an impressive 71 per cent scoring accuracy. The Bloods also dominated the inside 50s (48 to Glenelg’s 31), clearances (42 to 25) and hitouts (47 to 26).

After Sturt cut the margin just before half time, South Adelaide coach Jarrad Wright will have loved seeing his sides ability to wrestle back the momentum after the long break. Similar to West, the Panthers easily won the inside 50 battle (57 to Sturt’s 32) despite loosing the clearances and hitouts. The blue and white took 71 marks to Sturt’s 35, with key forwards Ben Haren and Sam Overall clunking four contested grabs between them.

Intercept marking machines Tom Highmore and Joseph Haines have been instrumental for the Panthers in the back half. Highmore leads the league for marks (38), with the underrated Haines sitting behind him having taken 33 grabs. The 27-year-old Haines has elevated his game to a whole new level this season, taking intercept marks at will and providing plenty of rebound from half back. He is also averaging 23.3 disposals at an incredible 96 per cent efficiency.

It has taken Highmore just four games of league football to cement his place amongst the league’s best defenders, after crossing over from the NEAFL’s Canberra Demons in the off-season. This round, their sights will be set on cutting off supply to dangerous West Adelaide pair Tom Keough and Riley Thilthorpe. Captain Keough booted five goals to drag his side over the line in round five. Thilthorpe took some time to get involved but worked his way into the contest well, with his run and leap at the contest particularly exciting.

The ever-reliable Joel Cross has been at it again this season and it comes as no surprise to see the two time Magarey medallist averaging 25.8 possessions and 7.3 clearances per game. Matthew Broadbent has been very good since joining the Noarlunga-based Panthers. The former Power defender, who kicked his first goal for the Panthers against Sturt, sits equal fifth with Cross for total disposals, averaging 25.8 per game at 80 per cent efficiency to go with 6.3 marks, 4 tackles and 5.8 clearances.

Like Cross, West Adelaide’s Kaine Stevens has been a consistent SANFL A-grader for a number of years. His toughness around the contest and stoppage-nous have remained impressive throughout what has been a challenging past few years for the club. He will no-doubt be loving the service being provided by ruckman Andre Parrella, who accumulated 43 of West’s 47 hitouts in his return to the side, having missed the round three match. The 204cm giant has not been super effective around the ground, but has dominated the ruck duals, recording 43 taps against Central Districts and Glenelg and 49 against North Adelaide.

He poses a tough matchup for 21-year-old Cameron McGree, in what will be just his tenth game of league football. Draft hopeful Zac Dumesny has enjoyed a consistent start to his first grade career, while the X-factor of Liam Fitt and goal sense of Beau McCreery have been exciting to watch up forward for the Panthers. The likes of former Crows top-up player Jordon Boyle, onballer Brett Turner, defender Elliott Dunkin and forward Lyndon Hupfield have all had positive moments so far in 2020.

South key defender Jake Summerton is set to play his 50th league match this round. The Panthers reported no injuries against Sturt, but could bring back Malcolm Karpany following a back injury. Six players will face tests for West Adelaide, including midfielder Josh Schiller, livewire Gibson Turner, former Tiger Josh Koster and outside midfielder Dallas Willsmore. South Adelaide were victorious in both games against Westies last season, first by 32 points in round six then by 28 points in round eleven. However Bloods coach Gavin Colville will have his side up-and-about following last rounds emotional victory at Hisense Stadium. However South have been excellent this season and will enter the clash as deserved favourites, especially at home.

Reserves:

The Panthers and Bloods Reserves have not performed the way they will have liked so far, with West sitting in sixth spot with one win and South Adelaide stuck down the bottom along with fellow winless side, Norwood. But for one team, victory at Flinders University Stadium could kickstart their season.

Under 18s:

South Adelaide’s Under 18s are loaded with talent, with bottom-agers Matthew Roberts and Jason Horne already amongst the competition’s best midfielders. Skipper Nick Kraemer, exciting wingman or small forward Phoenix Spicer and Arlo Draper are also names to watch. Things have not been so rosy for West, but midfielder Bailey Chamberlain continues to find plenty of the ball through the midfield.

 

Sturt vs Norwood

League:

Many SANFL watchers would have expected better starts from Norwood and Sturt – two clubs that have consistently played finals football across the past few seasons. The Double Blues just edged the winless Bulldogs in the opening round before suffering a heavy loss to the Eagles and just limping over the line against West in round three. Last weekend the Double Blues trailed all day and kicked bellow 50 points for the third time in four matches.

Norwood have had their troubles too, suffering narrow losses to Glenelg and North before copping a 65 point hiding against Woodville-West Torrens. However things are beginning to look up after the talented eastern suburbs side finally earned its first premiership points of the season against the ‘Dogs. With both clubs desperate to keep up with the league leaders given recent revisions of the finals system, this contest is expected to be closely fought.

Norwood proved too good for the Bulldogs last weekend, with their skills clearly a class above at times, finishing with an excellent efficiency of 82 per cent. The small-tall combination of Peter Bampton and Tommy Pinyon worked well for the victorious Redlegs,  with each booting four goals from limited disposals. The Double Blues were smashed around the ground by South, who took 71 marks to Sturt’s 35.

Despite winning the hitouts and clearances, Sturt has struggled to get the ball inside 50, doing so just 31 times compared to the Panthers 57. Up forward, Ash Johnson has kicked six goals, Jake Sutcliffe has nailed five and Josh Hone has booted four. Gun recruit Abe Davis has kicked just one goal after booting 21 in 2019. Sturt will need him to bring more offence to the table against the Redlegs.

Skipper and clearance specialist James Battersby has led from the front despite Sturt’s inconsistencies, with ball magnet Sam Colquhoun and dual Magarey Medalist Zane Kirkwood both producing arguably their best performances of the year against South Adelaide. Norwood’s midfield is also loaded with established talent, headlined by Richard DouglasMitch Grigg and Matthew Panos – all of whom hit the scoreboard in round four and are known goalkickers.

However the ruck battle looms as perhaps the most fascinating, with impressive Sturt youngster Dan Fahey-Sparks set to face the imposing Sam Baulderstone. Fahey-Sparks has recored the most hitouts of anyone so far in 2020, however Baulderstone is just 15 taps behind. Baulderstone’s work around the ground has been particularly impressive, with the 29-year-old averaging 18.8 disposals and 7.8 clearances (ranked third in the competition). Fahey-Sparks has been providing first use to the Double Blues onballers and his field kicking has been clean (70 per cent efficiency compared to Baulderstone’s 58 per cent).

Sturt will have been wrapped with the early season performances of young trio Casey VossTom Lewis and Jed McEntee, who certainly don’t appear to be shy of a tackle. Voss struggled a bit at times against the Panthers, but is averaging 16.8 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency, three clearances and six tackles in an onball role.

Pocket rocket Lewis has enjoyed a wonderful start to his SANFL career, laying an elite 22 tackles in just two games, including an equal game high 14 against South. He tackles and hunts with genuine ferocity, is a capable clearance winner and has terrific athleticism to match. McEntee has also provided plenty of defensive pressure, averaging 5.3 tackles per match. Norwood have already blooded promising teenager Henry Nelligan, who got more involved against Centrals after debuting in tough circumstances the week prior.

Norwood are expected to start as favourites, having beaten Sturt in all three meetings between the two clubs last season, winning by five points in round three, 59 in Round 16 and 14 in the Elimination Final. Aidyn Johnson will play his 50th league match for the Double Blues, who reported a clean slate of injuries in Saturday’s loss. Norwood have an extensive injury list, with several senior players sidelined. However Lewis Johnston has been listed as available after recovering from a quad injury, with Ryan Bastinac also a likely inclusion.

Reserves:

At Reserves level, Sturt finds itself just inside the top four with a two and two record. With both wins coming in the past fortnight, the Double Blues will be looking to keep the Redlegs winless, despite Norwood winning the reserves premiership last season.

Under 18s:

Sturt’s Under 18s have been exciting to watch so far in season 2020, with midfielders Tom Powell and Mani Liddy turning heads and earning some recognition for their domination. Morgan Ferres and Malachy Carruthers have also shown exciting glimpses. Norwood’s under 18s have pieced together three very solid weeks after an opening round loss to Glenelg, with bottom-ager Cooper Murley, smart midfielder Michael Cavallaro and tall forward Finn Heard starring. An in form Norwood could be the side to end Sturt’s winning streak.