STATE league men’s football returned across the weekend, with the SANFL, WAFL and TSL all back to full-strength competitions, whilst a standalone fixture in the QAFL went ahead despite some concerns, ahead of a blockbuster Round 2 next weekend.
Noosa Tigers had a promising return to the QAFL in the standalone Round 1 match despite going down in defeat, as Wilston Grange got up by one-point in a thriller. The league newcomers fought it out after being down by 14 points at the final break to boot 7.3 to 4.8 in the final term after a sluggish start, but it would not be enough in the 7.14 (56) to 8.7 (55) loss. Hugh Fidler and Max Hewett both booted two goals for the Gorillas, while Aaron Wilson starred with four majors for the Tigers. Corey Lobb (Noosa) ad Errin Wasley-Black (Wilston Grange) were their respective sides’ top players.
In the SANFL, all eyes were on Pick 1 contender Jason Horne, as he ran out for South Adelaide against the Crows’ reserves. The teenage talent racked up 19 disposals, six marks, four tackles and four clearances in the win, whilst it was ex-Crow Bryce Gibbs who stole the show with a match-winning 36 disposals, six marks and five clearances. Ex-Lion Sam Skinner had 17 disposals and booted two goals in the win, whilst Liam Fitt (four goals) was the busiest inside 50. Joel Cross (28 disposals, seven marks) and Hayden Sampson (25 disposals, 12 marks and one goal) were other to win plenty of the football in a massive 61-point smashing, while Crows’ reserves talent Hamish Latchford stepped up with 31 disposals, 12 marks and two clearances. Jackson Hately (25 disposals, 10 marks and two clearances) was the eye-catching one, as young talls Josh Worrell (20 disposals, five marks), Darcy Fogarty (14 disposals, three marks) and Fischer McAsey (14 disposals, six marks) also played.
It was not much better news for Port Adelaide’s reserves who also went down, losing to Norwood by 45 points. Father-son prospect Taj Schofield racked up 22 disposals, three marks and booted a goal, while Sam Mayes (28 disposals, seven clearances) and Jarrod Lienert (26 disposals, seven tackles) also worked hard. Matthew Nunn was unstoppable for the Redlegs with 39 disposals, five marks, 11 tackles and five clearances, whilst ex-Crow recruit Richard Douglas did as he pleased with 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal. Ex-Cat Jacob Kennerley also impressed with 24 disposals, five marks and six tackles, whilst ex-Hawk Paul Puopolo booted 2.3 from 19 disposals and three marks. Draft hopeful Jackson Callow booted 2.2 from 11 disposals and five marks on his SANFL debut, working well with Dom Barry (21 disposals, five marks and three goals) inside 50.
In the tightest game of the weekend, Central District toppled North Adelaide by nine points, in what saw 20 goals kicked in the first half. Whilst only nine more were kicked in the second half, the Bulldogs got up thanks to four goals from Justin Hoskin and Aiden Grace. Ethan East also slotted two goals, while ex-Oakleigh premiership player Thomas Graham kicked a goal from eight touches and two marks on his League debut. Ex-GWS GIANTS Academy member Harry Grant was also lively with 25 disposals, seven marks and six clearances, as Kyle Presbury (26 disposals, 13 marks), Brendan Dew (24 disposals, six marks) and Travis Schiller (24 disposals, six marks) were among eight players to reach 20-plus disposals. For North Adelaide, reigning Margarey Medallist Campbell Combe had 26 disposals, eight clearances and five tackles, while Jarred Allmond (31 disposals, six marks) and Aaron Young (15 disposals, four goals) were also impressive.
Woodville-West Torrens Eagles easily accounted for Sturt thanks to a massive seven goals to one final term to run away with the contest by 46 points in the end. The Menzel brothers booted seven goals between them, as Troy (four goals) and Daniel (three) had days out in their new colours. James Tsitas (29 disposals, three clearances and four tackles) and Riley Knight (26 disposals, seven clearances, six tackles and a goal) were both lively, as was ex-Bomber Kobe Mutch on debut with 21 disposals and nine marks. For Sturt, Tom Lewis was hard as usual around the stoppages on his way to 19 disposals and eight clearances, teaming up well with James Battersby (21 disposals, five clearances), while Casey Voss (20 disposals, six marks) and Josh Shute (17 disposals, 10 marks) were busy once again on the outside.
In the final game, Glenelg knocked off West Adelaide by 11 points, with Michael Virgin (32 disposals, 11 marks) and Luke Partington (31 disposals, five clearances) both racking up the ball. Matthew Allen (28 disposals, 11 marks and a goal) and Darcy Bailey (28 disposals, seven marks, six clearances, six tackles and two goals) were sensational, while Callum Park (26 disposals, six marks) and Matthew Snook (29 disposals, eight clearances) also found plenty of it. In the loss, Isaac Johnson slotted 3.3 from 23 touches and five marks, while Kieran Lovell‘s SANFL debut was a success with 22 disposals, five marks, four clearances and four tackles. Ex-Gold Coast Academy goalsneak Josh Gore kicked a goal from nine touches and impressively made 10 tackles in the loss, while Jonathon Beech was also good with two goals from 13 disposals and seven marks.
Reigning premiers Launceston kicked off its season with a big win over rivals North Launceston in a grand final rematch, defeating the Northern Bombers by 55 points at UTAS Stadium. Dylan Riley (three goals) and Jake Hinds (two) stepped up to the plate once again in the big win, as Michael Musicka and Cody Thorp slotted multiple goals as well. For the Bombers, Brad Cox-Goodyer was the standout, as Ollie Sanders kicked a goal and was amongst the best for the losers, one of a number of youngsters running through the team, while Thomas Bennett was also impressive.
Meanwhile the Tigers got off to the perfect start, holding their nerve against North Hobart in an 11-point victory. They led by 35 points at half-time, and whilst they still kicked the 13 scoring shots in the second half, only managed the 4.9, compared to the Demons’ 9.3. The Kingborough-based side had done enough though to win 10.18 (78) to 10.7 (67), with 19-year-old Zach Adams booting a goal and named best on ground. Max Collidge and Riley Ashlin were also impressive, whilst for the Demons, Jack Sandric was best-on with a goal, while Jye Menzie was among the young brigade who slotted a major.
In the other match of Round 1, Lauderdale also held on against a fast-finishing Clarence. Allen Christensen was the headline recruit, booting three first half goals to do all the damage as the Bombers led by 29 points at the final break. They only managed one behind in the last term as the Roos stormed home with 3.5 of their own, only to fall seven points short. Aside from Christensen, reigning league best and fairest Sam Siggins was named among the best with Nat Franklin. For the Roos, Ollie Davis continued his form from his draft year with a best on ground effort, as Ethan Jackson and Darcy Gardner were other youngsters to step up, while Josh Green slotted four goals in the loss.
The WAFL kicked off its season with some high-scoring thrillers, as every winner hit triple-digits, including a whopping 242 points combined between Claremont and Swan Districts. Every team scored at least 74 points, with the greatest margin being 32, during East Fremantle’s victory over Peel Thunder. In that match, Josh Schoenfeld brought his own football to Western Australia, with ex-Gold Coast Sun racking up 41 disposals, nine marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds in a whopping effort on debut for the Sharks. Ex-Blue Blaine Boekhorst had 26 touches, two marks and kicked a goal in the win, whilst ex-Saint and Pie Jonothan Marsh had 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and 2.1. It was the effort of Dillon O’Reilly looking to force his way back to the elite level with three goals from 14 touches, five marks and two tackles. For Peel, it was Sam Sturt who demanded a recall to the AFL with five goals from 12 disposals and four marks, while Joel Western had 13 touches, four marks and kicked a goal.
In other matches, East Perth’s Nick Robertson made a promising debut with 30 disposals, four marks and a goal returning from Brisbane, while another ex-AFL talent in Jackson Ramsay had 29 touches, five marks, seven inside 50s and a goal in a huge day out. Lachlan Delahunty racked up 23 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and three tackles for the winning side, as captain Leigh Kitchell drove the team through a massive 29 touches, 11 inside 50s and five tackles. Ben Sokol, Michael Braut and Aaron Heal all slotted three goals. Perth got past West Coast reserves in a 13-point outing despite nine goals between Isiah Winder and Nathan Vardy. Winder had five snags from 18 touches and five marks, while Vardy had a whopping 35 hitouts, 15 disposals and three marks to go with 4.1. Ex-Eagle Chris Masten racked it up against his old side with 29 touches, five marks and seven inside 50s, whilst ex-Saint Doulton Langlands (20 touches, four marks, three inside 50s and two goals), ex-Docker Brady Gray (27 disposals, eight marks and six inside 50s) and ex-Pie Josh Smith (23 disposals, seven marks, six inside 50s and a goal) all had big performances.
Meanwhile South Fremantle accounted for West Perth with Haiden Schloithe and Matt Parker having days out. Schloithe racked up his usual 30 touches, and had seven tackles, six inside 50s and two goals, while Parker had 26 touches, two marks five tackles and 11 inside 50s. Brandon Donaldson booted two goals from 25 touches and three marks in the win, whilst four West Perth players racked up 30-plus disposals. Aaron Black (36 disposals), Trent Manzone (35), Shane Nelson (34) and Blake Wilhelm (30) had leather poisoning with their ball-winning efforts, but it would not be enough to drag their sides across the line. Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott both slotted four goals, whilst Cody Ninyette and Mason Shaw combined for nine majors in the win. Finally Claremont won by 24 points over Swan Districts in a 38-goal extravaganza. Alexander Manuel and Isaac Barton booted four and three goals apiece for the Tigers in the win, but it was top-age draft talent Jacob Van Rooyen who caught the eye with 12 disposals, four marks and 2.2 at senior level. Thomas Edwards (four goals) and Jesse Palmer (three) were both lively inside 50 for the Swans, whilst Sam Fisher (33 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Jesse Turner (34 disposals, 11 marks, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) were the best in the loss. Jye Bolton suffered leather poisoning with a massive 39 touches, six marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and a goal, marginally ahead of teammates Bailey Rogers (36 disposals, one goal) and Ryan Lim (34 disposals, one goal).
Picture credit: David Mariuz / SANFL