Tag: norwood

SANFL Player Focus: Alastair Lord (Norwood)

DASHING Norwood defender Alastair Lord made his return to SANFL Under 18s action in Round 18, marking his first outing in the grade since late-April. The 17-year-old notched 21 disposals and a goal on Saturday afternoon as his Redlegs fell comfortably to Glenelg, but marked a promising comeback with his usual run-and-gun passages.

Lord, a Rostrevor College student, missed a chunk of football due to injury this year and may well have been part of South Australia’s Under 19 squad on the weekend if not for that. He was selected in the initial Under 19 talent hub, and Phase 1 state side. We put Lord’s Round 18 SANFL Under 18s performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his performance quarter-by-quarter.

POCKET PROFILE

Alastair Lord
Norwood/South Australia

DOB: 26/11/2003
Height/Weight: 180cm/76kg
Position: Small Defender/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, run-and-carry, outside game

2021 Averages:
SANFL U18s (5 games)

22.4 disposals | 13.6 kicks | 8.8 handballs | 5.4 marks | 2.2 tackles | 3.2 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s

2021 SANFL Under 18s, Round 18 | Norwood 6.8 (44) def. by Glenelg 15.12 (102)

#9 Alastair Lord

Stats: 21 disposals (8 kicks, 13 handballs), 2 marks, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal, 2 behinds

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Lord made a hot start in his return game, producing a highlight-reel moment and plenty of run. Initially stationed down back, he rolled up aggressively and was sighted all the way up at half-forward, looking for the release ball to set off and break the lines with his pace.

His first couple of touches came in quick succession; receiving inboard by hand and handballing again across the corridor, before getting the kick back and jetting inside 50 to register a scoring shot – which faded for a behind.

Lord rotated into the centre bounces after 11 minutes and made an immediate impact, collecting the ground ball and weaving into space with agility for the centre clearance to half-forward.

His highlight for the day came shortly after, as he took three running bounces from defensive wing to 45m out, showing serious speed to take on and burn opponents before finishing on his right boot.

Q2

Starting in defence once again, it didn’t take long for Lord to register a couple of quick touches. He came hard off the line at the first centre bounce to receive and hit a short kick, continuing his run to get the ball back and dish off a handball under tackling pressure.

Lord was a little quieter before his move into the middle at just over 10 minutes in, as Glenelg began to get on top. He looked to generate some momentum with a 1-2 play at the centre bounce but saw that play come unstuck. He was more successful later on with a two-bounce foray, which lead to a much-needed Norwood goal.

It was becoming evident that every time Lord was able to carry forward, the Redlegs would score. He capped off an exciting half by bringing his numbers tally up to five kicks, six handballs and a goal.

Q3

Having lit up the game with a couple of eye-catching runs in the first half, Lord found much less room to operate after the main break. He continued his quest for handball receives though, tracking the play well and mopping up at ground level.

His aggressive attacking intent continued to be evident when Norwood gained possession, as Lord would get an initial touch and continue to break forward in hopes of receiving back down the line.

He managed a couple of nice spurts of speed from defence, sweeping up and using his first few steps to manufacture a bit of time and space before disposing. He added a single kick along with five handballs and another minor score, which he notched 30m out on the run after steadying nicely.

Q4

Glenelg coasted home to a comfortable victory in term four, so there wasn’t too much fighting for the Redlegs left to do. In his usual defence-midfield rotation, Lord notched two kicks and two handballs across the final 26 minutes.

He found a bit of run on defensive wing, taking on an opponent before helping himself to a bounce and handballing off, again looking for a 1-2 passage. Lord also helped to sweep up across Norwood’s defensive 50, which saw plenty of ball throughout the day.

Overall it was a steady finish to a game where Lord was able to showcase some of his best traits and mark a positive return to SANFL Under 18s action.

Closing thoughts…

It hardly takes long upon watching Lord to see what he does best. Particularly in the first half, he looked like Norwood’s most dangerous ball carrier and helped himself to many running-bounce passages which broke the play open. Whenever he was able to receive on the outer and jet into clear space, the Redlegs found ways to score. Having been eased into some midfield minutes from his usual defensive post, it is clear that Lord can work on the contested side of his game. He is more of a release outlet at the moment, but can contribute some more ground level ball winning and tackling efforts in addition to his line breaking strengths.

Featured Image: (left to right) Alastair Lord with fellow SANFL talent hub members Matthew Dnistriansky, Hugh Jackson, and Tyson Walls | Credit: Rostrevor College

Midfield transition makes for fitter and faster Halfpenny

A MIDFIELD transition has made Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny get “fitter” and work “faster” in 2021. The versatile prospect had previously cut her teeth as a forward, but at 175cm, staked her claim as a tall on-baller in the Redlegs’ most recent SANFL Women’s campaign.

“It’s definitely a lot faster,” Halfpenny said. “I’ve had to get a lot fitter, that’s what preseason was for obviously. “But it’s been really good because I feel like I’ve been able to show a different side of myself and work a bit harder in games.

“I do like forward because I like kicking goals – who doesn’t like kicking goals? “But I like midfield as well because you do get to be involved a bit more.”

As a top-ager who was overlooked at last year’s draft, the move has allowed Halfpenny to showcase improvement and added strings to her bow. While her strengths have come to the fore in the new role, Halfpenny also outlined some fundamental areas for improvement.

“Being a bigger player, definitely my speed [is a strength],” she said. “A lot of taller players aren’t able to move as quickly. My strength as well, being a bigger body has definitely helped out a lot.

“[I’m working on] the basics like kicking, one-percenters, handballing. Just fine-tuning.”

Halfpenny was a mainstay in Norwood’s minor premiership-winning SANFLW season this year, averaging 10.6 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.1 tackles across 11 games. The Redlegs fell short of the flag, but Halfpenny said it was “really good to be winning” and “seeing some results for all the hard work” the team had put in.

Her outstanding individual form was also enough to see her represent her state at the AFLW Under 19 National Championships. Having played in the senior grade for multiple seasons now, the 19-year-old was pleased to play and train alongside a new bunch of teammates.

“It’s been really good because obviously it’s been a couple of years since I’ve solely been with a group of people who are similar in age,” she said. “It’s good to be exposed to that and also train alongside people that I generally play against, and get to know them personally.”

Halfpenny lauded the influence of of coaches along the journey, from those who “saw a lot of potential” in her as a junior, to the Norwood and state program staff who have helped accelerate her development. She has come a long way since starting out at local club, Golden Grove.

“I started playing local footy when I was 15 at Golden Grove,” she said. “From there I did the Under 17 development squads with Norwood for three years, and at the end of my last year they invited me to come out and train with the senior side and it just went (on) from there.

“My coaches from junior level saw a lot of potential in me from younger ages and helped me get to where I am now. The coaches at Norwood and even here in the state program have all been really helpful.”

Lishmund one of the Valley’s great hopes

WATCHING her brother play local football at Hope Valley spawned a thought for Alana Lishmund – “I can play that.”

She certainly can play, with the Norwood prospect utilised in a number of roles at SANFL Women’s and state Under 19s level throughout her draft-eligible season. The 17-year-old was part of the Redlegs’ side which won the 2021 minor premiership, enjoying a “smooth transition” into the senior grade over the last few years.

“Everything just flowed in from each other,” Lishmund said during the Under 19 national carnival. “I got to know my teammates and kept going with it, the fun was naturally there. “The expectations climbed, now I’m at Norwood and having a good time.”

Having spoken while Norwood sat atop the SANFLW ladder, Lishmund described the season as “anyone’s game”, and she was certainly correct as Glenelg took out the flag while her Redlegs were eliminated from a tough finals campaign.

The promising utility was made to learn on the job, employed on each line and building nicely throughout her state representative duties to show glimpses of her high potential. Having also donned South Australian colours in 2020, Lishmund says she enjoyed the experience a second time around as she got a taste of each different role.

“It’s been a good experience,” she said. “I’ve done it the last couple years and this one’s definitely a lot of fun, working with these girls as always. The contest is hard which is good.”

“Growing up I’d always be rover or in the centre, but through the years I’ve played here and there so [I’ve been] versatile. “I like the wing, you get to know and grow in the position but I’ll give it a go anywhere.”

That kind of “give it a go” attitude also translates to Lishmund’s on-field effort, as she applies terrific defensive pressure and proves strong it contested marking situations for a player of her 168cm stature. She averaged 1.2 marks and 1.9 tackles per her nine SANFLW games this season, numbers which highlight those strengths.

“I’d say I’m pretty strong in the contest and have pretty good marking ability,” she said. “[I am working on] just keeping up those one-percenters and skills, but maybe some more contested work too.”

Like most talents at her age, Lishmund’s end goal is to get drafted, though she says she will “find something else that [she] can still be involved in with footy” should that not immediately come to fruition. By “working hard for” her teammates and meeting their expectations each time she steps onto the field, Lishmund is certainly putting her best foot forward.

SANFL Under 18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley (Norwood)

NORWOOD midfielder and AFL Academy member Cooper Murley has had an interrupted start to his 2021 football season. Having played two games in the SANFL Reserves, an ankle injury kept him out of action for one and a half months, resulting in him missing the AFL Academy game against Geelong VFL in April. 

After returning through the Reserves in Rounds 8 and 9, Murley was brought in to the Norwood Under 18’s side in Round 10 for its clash against South Adelaide. The contest was close but ended with the Redlegs going down by nine points to the Panthers. Murley was prolific in his first Under 18’s game for the season, with a team-high 34 disposals and seven clearances, to draw attention for this week’s SANFL U18’s Player Focus.

Cooper Murley
Norwood/ South Australia

DOB: 20/06/2003
Height/Weight: 178cm/70kg
Position: Midfielder/Small Forward

2021 Averages:

SANFL Reserves: 4 games | 12 disposals | 7.8 kicks | 4.3 handballs | 3 marks | 2.8 tackles | 0.8 clearances | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 0.8 goals (3 total)

2021 SANFL U18s, Round 10 | Norwood 10.10 (70) def by. South Adelaide 11.13 (79)
#1 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

Stats: 34 disposals (22 kicks, 12 handballs), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 7 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals, 1 behind

Q1: 

To start off his 2021 Under 18s campaign, Murley wasn’t overly involved early. He was put into the forward line initially, unable to impact much outside of drawing a player at an early inside 50 stoppage. It wouldn’t be until the 10-minute mark of the first quarter that Murley would come alive. Once moved into the midfield, he looked lively around stoppages, positioning himself well to be a handball receiver from whoever gathered first possession. His first clearance would come not long after his move into the guts, having it palmed down straight to him around the defensive 50 mark, handballing back and then getting it again closer to the boundary line, unable to hit his intended target by foot in the middle of the ground. 

He worked hard to assist in defence when it was down there, earning himself a free kick at one stage and initiating a promising bit of play with his switch kick. From there, Murley’s work was done exclusively at ground level, able to pick the ball up cleanly, even when under direct pressure, and fire off precise handballs to teammates. His approach to ground balls was near perfect in the first quarter, positioning his body well to protect himself and keep his arms free from contact, then getting the handballs away quickly as he stood up, rather than standing up then handballing. 

It was a strong start to his Under 18’s return, looking a class above when he had the ball and in contests, able to beat bigger opponents at ground level almost exclusively with how he positioned his body when picking the ball up.

Q2:

Murley once again started the quarter in the forwardline but looked to push up straight away, in a high half-forward sort of role. This got him pushing up the ground deeply and more involved in transition from the defensive half for Norwood, where he was the target of a lot of kicks early on. In those situations, he utilised his speed to run onto the ball, even taking a mark running with the flight. He showcased his clean hands below his knees a few times, with the most impressive being a clean pickup off the ground as soon as the ball hit it, so much so it could’ve been paid a mark. To follow that up he handballed to a teammate, then worked hard to u-turn and get in front of the running pack of players, getting a handball over the top and having a shot on goal from 50 out, which was touched just before the line. 

Two things were really obvious in the second quarter in regards to Murley; number one was how good his repeat efforts are, having a couple of marks spoiled or just not being able to hold them, but following up superbly at ground level to win the footy and shoot off a quick handball to a teammate. Number two was how dangerous he was when given even the slightest bit of space to work with, taking the advantage from a couple of free kicks for teammates, where he’d burst away, take a bounce and deliver well forward, with a moment like this leading to his second goal of the quarter right before the siren. 

His first goal was a great showing off his work rate and danger in transition, where a teammate put the ball in front of him, he ran onto it and picked up cleanly, then delivered a pinpoint kick to a teammate inside 50, ran hard to get the handball receive and snapped it through. 

Overall it was definitely a higher production quarter from Murley as he got more involved. As he did so, it got him more attention from opposition as he was being stuck to like glue around stoppages towards the end of the quarter, and given a bit of rough treatment in tackles, which he handled well. His use by foot improved from the first quarter which made Norwood more dangerous in transition.

Q3:

A quieter quarter than the last for Murley, though he still chimed in with moments of class when he was given the space and used by teammates, with his kicking taking yet another step up to hit essentially every target, or be put to their advantage, perfectly.

Murley’s hands were extra sticky in the third, holding onto a few handball receives he got at pace, before quickly composing himself to deliver a kick forward. His first real involvement played out exactly like this, with the kick and inside 50 that should’ve been marked, but wasn’t. He took a mark a little later at the back-end of the centre square, quickly wheeling onto his right side and kicking it a good 50 meters to go out the back of a pack for Norwood’s quick smalls to run onto. Later on in the quarter, he took an impressive contested grab on the far wing, not breaking stride to play on and deliver it well to a teammate at the top of the 50. 

It was more of the same brilliance for Murley overall, with his one-grab pickups below his knees continually impressive and his vision excellent to hit targets most others wouldn’t even attempt.

Q4:

Started the quarter in the midfield for the first time all game as the Redlegs needed to find a way to put the game to rest. He was in and under from the get go, getting first hands to the ball from the ruck tap and being wrapped up straight away. Unfortunately he had to spend some time on the bench as early on he copped a corkie after being ran into on the boundary line, coming on about five minutes later. 

Murley didn’t let the injury stop him throwing himself into contests and getting involved, earning a free kick in the defensive half for a good tackle and looking to spread it out wide. He took a mark later on in the quarter and sent it deep inside 50 for a teammate to mark, but unfortunately miss the resultant shot on the goal. 

It’s no surprise that Norwood started to struggle when Murley had to go off to deal with the corkie, highlighting his importance to their play in what was the worst time to see it.

Final thoughts…

There’s no doubting Murley’s quality as a player and it’s clear to see why he’s part of the AFL Academy for 2021. Despite being smaller in stature he wasn’t phased when in contests with bigger bodies, using his smarts to gain the advantages he could and win most contests reliably. At ground level there was no one better, Murley never fumbled and his hands were too quick for opponents to react to in close. Balancing himself as a midfielder is a real strength of Murley’s as well, working hard on the inside and outside to fill the roles well, and that versatility is an asset to any team he ends up a part of in future. Whilst his kicking and marking were more often good than not, they’re two areas from this game he could look to sharpen up on.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

2021 SANFLW team review: Norwood

IN summarising the 2021 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Norwood.

Position: 1st (lost in Preliminary Final)
Wins: 9
Losses: 2
Draws: 0
Points For: 377 (3rd)
Points Against: 237 (1st)

Season in a Sentence: “It was an unfortunate sense of Déjà vu for Norwood, as the minor premiers once again did enough to make finals – and even finished on top of the table – but suffered back-to-back finals losses to ultimately go unrewarded despite a fantastic season.”

TOP PERFORMERS:

Leah Cutting

The experienced ruck was the standout performer all season, not only dominating through the hitouts, but also providing an option around the ground in her 12 games. Earning an AFLW Draft Combine invite – the oldest player in the country to do so – Cutting also earned SANFL Women’s Team of the Year honours. In season 2021, she averaged 12.7 disposals, 2.6 marks, 2.5 clearances, 2.2 inside 50s, a whopping 8.2 tackles and of course, 30.1 hitouts in what was a remarkable show of consistency all year. She only dropped into single-digit disposals twice, and less than 25 hitouts twice.

Jade Halfpenny

Able to show her wares at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Halfpenny spent more time in the midfield this year after predominantly being a half-forward and outside midfielder in previous season. Averaging 10.6 disposals, 2.5 marks, 3.1 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s, Halfpenny still kicked the four goals, but also had the 1.7 clearances per game. With plenty of growth for development, Halfpenny was able to transition into a new role and look comfortable in 2021. The teenager also earned a place in the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year.

Morgan Johnston

Coming to the club this year, the experienced defender put together a memorable season, earning SANFL Women’s Team of the Year honours. In 13 games, Johnston averaged 11.2 disposals, 3.7 marks, 2.6 tackles and 2.6 rebound 50s, using her reliable foot skills out of defence to mop up time and time again. Not needing a lot of the ball to have an impact, Johnston was almost always amongst the best, only dipping into single digit disposals four times, and her season-best game game against Sturt in Round 3, when she inspired her side to a two-point win with 16 touches, seven marks and six rebound 50s.

Sophie Armitstead

As reliable as they come, Armitstead had another superb year, making the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year, and just playing her role each and every week. In all 13 games, Armitstead had at least 10 touches, playing midfield and then dropping back to assist the defence, or pushing forward to set up scoring chances for her teammates. Getting in and under, Armitstead was a renowned clearance player with 3.7 clearances and 5.8 tackles to go with 13.4 disposals and 2.2 inside 50s per game in a season where she was rock solid and symbolic of her side.

OTHERS:

Norwood’s Rosette Zerella was the fifth player to make the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year, booting 13 goals in 10 games this season. Jess Macolino, Lana Schwerdt and Alison Ferrall were impressive all year, as Tesharna Maher‘s switch from the Eagles proved fruitful, and the likes of Elisha Gallagher, Najwa Allen and Elizabeth Drake played some consistent footy when they were in, showing off the depth of the Redlegs. State Academy members Alana Lishmund and Sarah Branford, and future talent Sachi Syme also had their eye-catching moments.

Picture credit: SANFL / John Emery

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s Preliminary Final

IN the second week of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s finals series, West Adelaide secured its place in the 2021 Grand Final, bundling out Norwood in straight sets. We took a look at the State Academy players running out for the four sides, with all notes the opinion of the individual writer.

West Adelaide:

#3 Abbie Ballard

Great performance from a hard-working midfielder, using her great left foot to hit up her teammate Lauren Young, laying some hard tackles to create stoppages to give her team time. As someone who always will create something forward of centre, the small midfielder was able to set the tone to finish with eight tackles to go alongside her nine disposals. Ballard just finds space and works it so well to give her teammates scoring chances, such as putting it on her non-preferred side to put it to the danger spot where Biddell marked and goaled to put the team 18 points up late in the second term. Her footy smarts with ball-in-hand and without it – such as diving on the ball seven minutes into the final term to stop a last-touch – are very evident for all to see.

#7 Scarlett Griffiths

Tracked a ball seven minutes into the second term, could not quite get it over-running it, but laid a good tackle to drag down her opponent. Provided a target inside 50 at the 14-minute mark but the kick from Zoe Venning drifted to the right. Showed terrific attack at the ball contest by winning it midair and getting tackled, disposing of it quickly under pressure as she landed. Played up on the wing to start the fourth term and immediately got a touch running at half-back to cleanly pick up and handball to a teammate, then worked well a moment later.

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Starting early with good pressure on the ball carrier and getting involved in the first term with quick hands. Held her position around the ball very well in space to get the back hand release pass. Used her strong hands to mark at the highest point to then deliver accurate kicks to her teammates with having nine kicks for the game, and took a strong mark in defensive 50 one-on-one to intercept six minutes into the third quarter. Not afforded the same space as she would love, but did not take a backwards step around the contest. A really strong performance out of defence pushing up the ground.

#9 Zoe Venning

An outstanding performance from the teenager who was clearly a standout across the board. She racked up the ball with ease and was a dominant ball-winner across the ground. While still ironing out some parts of her game, there were some really noticeable traits that set her aside in this game and it was clearly one of her best efforts all year. Venning a great marking style whilst using her strong hands. Venning uses her athleticism to keep powering through stoppages and never gave up. Her footy smarts come into play when the mark was taken and exploded to play on and run and carry, then deliver a nice kick inside 50. With 23 disposals, 17 of them being kicks, her endurance was always there throughout the four quarters of the game. Keep an eye out this week for our SANFLW Player Focus for a detailed account of Venning’s performance.

#30 Lauren Young

Early throughout the game, Young was pinged holding the ball, but as the game progressed, the young 15-year-old showed her talent through her football smarts. Using to her advantage with her great hands, marking it inside 50m, then almost kicked a goal from 45m out only eight minutes into the game. Young fiercely chased the ball and stuck the tackle inside their 50 and created a ball up, hardworking through the use of her endurance and athleticism made herself a standout. A highlight was a hit-up kick to Chelsea Biddell at the top of 50 midway through the second term.

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

Quiet game playing forward after spending games off half-back this season which did not help, but tried to track it at half-forward in the second term, kicking along the ground but could not quite grab it and was knocked off it, then almost took a mark but just slipped between her hands. Her sole kick came three minutes into the third term on the wing rushed quickly going forward. Lishmund did show good pressure close to the line to force a rushed behind early in the fourth term.

#22 Jade Halfpenny

With a tough game on their hands, it made it very hard for Norwood to win the ball themselves, luckily Halfpenny used her legs to keep attempting at the second efforts after fumbling the ground ball, but continued to track the ball, this showing the willingness to never give up and to keep going even if it may not be going your way, and that was shown. She kicked long inside 50, almost gave off a goal assist with a deep long kick 14 minutes into the third term, but Erika Sporn could not quite cleanly kick it off the boot. Halfpenny took an intercept mark at half-back and delivered short to Leah Cutting in the final minute of the match.

#30 Sarah Branford

Laid a great tackle on Lauren Young at half-back early in the game but her kick was intercepted on the wing. Clean pickup in the opening 15 seconds of the second term and had a quick kick off half-back going into the middle under pressure. She spent time on the wing as well, showing off her versatility. Her intent at the ball, even when she could not win it, was really admirable. Branford took a mark at half-back early in the third term and kicked to the wing well, then took the game on a moment later running off half-back.

SANFL Women’s Preliminary Final wrap: West Adelaide books Grand Final spot

WEST Adelaide has booked its spot in the 2021 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Grand Final following a 24-point victory over Norwood on Saturday at Coopers Stadium. The Bloods lead at every break, and secured their first grand final spot to ensure that a first-time premier will be crowned next week. In defeat, Norwood was bundled out in straight sets, which meant a sixth straight finals loss for the Redlegs.

It was the home team that looked good to atone for its semi-final loss last week, with Rosette Zerella getting a goal on the board through a clever snap, and then having a second chance to give her side a seven-point advantage in the opening six minutes. However over the next two quarters it was all West Adelaide as talls Melanie Elsegood and Chelsea Biddell slotted two majors apiece heading into half-time to give the visitors a 19-point lead.

The third term was more of an arm-wrestle but Ashlea James made it five consecutive majors for the Westies, with Erika Sporn missing Norwood’s sole scoring chance later in the term. Holding a 26-point lead and restricting Norwood to just one behind since the sixth minute of the first term, West Adelaide was in firm control. It was not until Sporn finally saluted in the last five minutes of the game that Norwood cut it back to 18 points, but it was a case of too little, too late as Louella McCarthy kicked the sealer a minute later and the Bloods booked their spot into the SANFL Women’s decider, 6.4 (40) to 2.4 (16).

West Adelaide controlled the ball with 28 more disposals (166-138) and had three more marks (22-19). Despite Norwood dominating the hitouts (40-24), the Westies midfield took control with seven more clearances (30-23). The inside 50s were fairly even with West Adelaide marginally ahead (24-22), but the Bloods also had three additional rebound 50s (20-17) in an impressive effort. Norwood’s tackling pressure remained strong with nine more than its opponents (75-66).

Zoe Venning produced an outstanding performance of 24 disposals, three marks, three tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in the win, with fellow State Academy member Lauren Young (15 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, three clearances and two rebound 50s) also lively. Sarah Dargan (19 disposals, four tackles, five clearances and two inside 50s) impressed, whilst the likes of Sharnie Whiting (13 disposals, two marks, five tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and four rebound 50s) and Biddell (13 disposals, three marks, seven hitouts, two tackles, two clearances and two goals) stepped up in the absence of captain Bec Owen who went down early through injury.

For the Redlegs, Tesharna Maher continued her great form of late to rack up 18 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s. Fellow midfielders, Jess Macolino (13 disposals, eight tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s), Sophie Armitstead (10 disposals, four tackles and five clearances) and Sachi Syme (10 disposals, three tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s) were also lively. Morgan Johnston (nine disposals, two marks and three rebound 50s) and Alison Ferrall (seven disposals, three rebound 50s) tried hard in defence, while Leah Cutting dominated the hitouts on her way to five disposals, 14 tackles, 39 hitouts and two clearances.

The loss marks the end of the season for Norwood, while West Adelaide sets its sights on Glenelg next weekend to determine the 2021 SANFL Women’s premier.

NORWOOD 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 (16)
WEST ADELAIDE 2.1 | 4.2 | 5.4 | 6.4 (40)

GOALS:

Norwood: E. Sporn, R. Zerella.
West: C. Biddell 2, M. Elsegood 2, A. James, L. McCarthy.

DC BEST:

Norwood: T. Maher, J. Macolino, S. Armitstead, S. Syme, L. Cutting
West: Z. Venning, S. Dargan, C. Biddell, L. Young, S. Whiting

Picture credit: Cory Sutton / SANFL

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 3

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s has continued into Round 3, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

By: Liam Badkin

NORWOOD:

#25 Matt Dnistriansky 

It was another great performance from the Norwood defender in the win. His work deep in the backline was crucial in thwarting countless Rooster attacks. He got many of his disposals deep in defence and was constantly composed and his decision making was key. Often playing off his opponent to attack, the athletic defender took 12 marks, with quite a few intercepts.

Once again tasked with frequently taking kick ins, he seemed not to miss a target as he calmly found teammates when he was under pressure. His form has continued to grow as he has worked his way into the season with each game. Ending the game with 29 disposals (22 kicks and seven handballs) and five rebound 50’s, he was crucially important in his team’s 11-point win.

Others:

Ruckman Damon Pitt played his best game of the season, displaying his ability to essentially act as an extra midfielder. He proved more than capable of winning his own hitouts, finishing with a season high 18, but it was his follow up work that caught the eye. He ended the game with 22 disposals and a game high 10 clearances, often outplaying both on ball brigades. Jack Ianniello excited forward of centre as he kicked 2.2 from 21 disposals. Had he converted the two missed shots, it would’ve capped off an excellent day.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#12 Hugh Jackson

Continued his fine start to the year, popping up everywhere to find the ball all over the ground. As a midfielder, Jackson basically did it all. He found tough possessions on the deck, maintained his composure to hit targets by foot and was a clear standout on his team. While he may have amassed more disposals in the first two rounds (37 and 33 respectively), in a game where their midfield was often beaten, he can more than hold his head high.

Moving across the ground smoothly, he was a crucial cog in strong play. Finishing with an impressive seven rebound 50’s, his work in the defensive half caught the eye as he worked tirelessly to remove the ball from the backline. His skills on both feet also resulted in four inside 50’s as he connected with leading forwards. His kicks drew his teammates into space as he picked holes in the well organised defence.

The teenager from Crystal Brooke has had a blistering start to the year and this match was no exception. Arguably his side’s best for the day, Jackson finished with 31 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Blayne O’Loughlin topped the disposal list for the second game in a row, backing up his 44 touch effort with 32 this week. He also added seven rebound 50’s and was the catalyst for plenty of excellent ball movement forward from the backline.

Tough midfielder Zyton Santillo ended the match with 26 disposals, nine tackles and nine marks in a typically strong performance as he stuffed the stat sheet. Fellow midfielder Harvey Harrison also impressed with 27 disposals and seven clearances. He also missed two shots on goal (one in the second quarter and one in the third quarter) that would’ve added to his day.

 

GLENELG vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT

By: Liam Badkin

GLENELG:

#32 Oscar Adams

The team win had plenty of contributors, but none were as influential as the big ruckman. His hit out work is something to be admired as he continuously gave his midfielders first use, allowing them to win the clearances 38-28. Even more impressive was his ball after the ruck contest, finding the ball 24 times.

He bounced back from each contest to either lay a tackle or find the ball himself. His combination with his on ballers was a joy to watch as he stamped his influence on the game with his dominant play. A missed shot on goal in the third quarter would have disappointed, but essentially did everything else to get his team rolling out of the middle.

The ruckman role has developed past just hit-outs, now expected to find their own footy around the ground. Adams fits this bill perfectly, and can also shift to defence, a role he filled in his U16 Glenelg side.

Others:

Dashing defender Lewis Rayson continued his consistent start to the season, finishing with 24 disposals and five tackles. Once again creative with the ball, Rayson’s skills by foot hurt the opposition as he picked holes through defenders with his bullet-like passes.

Ball-winner Harry Tunkin led his team in disposals with 27 for the day. Spending time in the midfield and up forward, his inside work saw him end with a handball happy game, setting up teammates on the outside. Kicked a nice goal late in the second quarter to add to an already impressive game.

Hugh Stagg led the side in clearances finishing with eight to go with 19 disposals and a goal. The big bodied midfielder has plenty of upside and this game should give him confidence going forward.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#16 Shay Linke

In a disappointing day for his side, the midfielder never stopped trying, working tirelessly around the ball. The SANFL Academy player has been a standout in his side’s underwhelming start to the year and yesterday continued this trend. In a day where his team was convincingly beaten, Linke fought in the midfield to try and keep his side in the game, finishing with 26 disposals. His ability to find space around the field was great, as his hard running saw him end with eight marks.

Linke also did the defensive work, laying seven solid tackles around stoppages. He was certainly a standout in a side with very little positives for the day.

Others:

Darcy Mcdonald had 14 touches and nine tackles as the Central midfield fought to slow down a dominant midfield performance from the Tigers. Key forward Cody Gilchrist‘s wayward kicking prevented him from a big haul, kicking 1.3 for the day. His marking still impressed, pulling down three contested marks for the day. Had he converted his shots on goal, it may have been a different story for Central.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

By: Tom Wyman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts has already proven to be a step above the SANFL Under-18 competition, and he was at it again at Noarlunga Oval in Round 3. Despite the Eagles coming away with a 16-point win following a dominant second-half, Roberts was clearly the most dominant midfielder on the park. Starting at the opening centre bounce and alternating up forward with fellow draft hopeful Arlo Draper, Roberts had the ball on a string. Roberts’ work rate from start to finish enabled him to dictate terms for large portions of the contest. He was strong in the coal-face but his running patterns ensured he also won plenty of uncontested possessions. Roberts used the ball neatly with his clean left foot and was also effective with his hands in-tight. His team-lifting goal in the third term was clearly the highlight of the match. Positioned in the forward pocket, he gathered the loose ball, turned sharply onto his trusty left foot, sized up the target and snapped a sensational goal. The classy goal and consistent run and carry efforts were memorable, but Roberts also made an impact defensively, laying eight tackles and dropping back to take a couple of intercept marks. He finished with 37 touches, nine marks, five clearances, eight inside-50s and six rebounds.

#33 Arlo Draper

Although Draper did not find as much of the ball as teammate Roberts, the tall midfielder/forward made a genuine impact whenever he was near it. The Panthers deployed him as the deepest forward at times and he looked threatening when the ball was kicked in his direction. He used his strength and football smarts well one-on-one, nudging his opponent under the ball and taking an uncontested mark to boot South’s first goal of the contest. His clearance-work and ability to read the taps was terrific when moved onto the ball, and his cleanness and sharpness at ground level instigated a number of positive plays for the home side. A clear example of his distribution by hand came when he fired off a quick handball to set-up a Hugo Hoeck goal. Draper collected 22 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four clearances and five inside-50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Bottom-aged ruckman Verrall went head-to-head with Woodville-West Torrens ruckman Zac Phillips in a hard-fought battle between two of the most talented big-men in the competition. Verrall won the first hit-out of the match, tapping it straight to star on-baller Roberts who won the clearance. He was heavily involved around the ground early on and it was encouraging to see him continue to back himself to spot up teammates with precise inside-50 kicks. Verrall’s contested marking was also a real feature of his game. Although Phillips gained the upper hand in-terms of pure hit-out numbers (winning 27 to Verrall’s eight), the Panther tall showed some very promising signs, both in the ruck contest and around the ground. He finished with 12 disposals, four marks, three clearances and a goal.

Others: Consistent wingman Isaac Birt was once again among his sides best performers, running hard up and down the ground to provide an outlet option. He used the ball well and was an important connector between defence and attack, finishing with 19 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and three rebounds. Midfielder Cooper Rogers also found plenty of the ball, complementing the likes of Draper and Roberts in the engine room. He gathered 23 disposals, a game-high 12 marks and nine inside-50s in another impressive display.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#17 Lukas Cooke

Cooke dominated proceedings in attack, proving far too good for the Panthers defenders. It was just one of those days for Cooke, who marked everything within his reach. And on the rare occasion in which he didn’t clunk the mark, he brought the ball to ground for the Eagles crumbers to pounce upon. What made Cooke’s performance so good was his ability to convert, oftentimes from long range. His set-shot routine is smooth and it proved ultra effective as he nailed five first half goals. His snap on goal in the dying moments of the first half further demonstrated his exciting mobility and athletic prowess. Cooke handled the ruck duties when the ball was in the Eagles forward 50 and more than held his own against some of the Panthers more physically developed juniors, winning five hit-outs, including a couple directly to advantage. After booting two goals in the opening round and one goal last weekend in the loss to Glenelg, Cooke finished the day down south with seven goals to his name, along with 19 disposals and seven marks (including five contested) in a dominant display which will surely have caught the attention of AFL recruiters.

#24 Zac Phillips

Ruckman Phillips could consider himself a touch unlucky to miss out on being drafted in his first year of eligibility in 2020. However, having re-joined the Eagles under-18 set-up as an over-ager, the towering Yorke Peninsula teenager did his draft chances no harm with a terrific display at Noarlunga. Competing against the Panthers duel-rucks Will Verrall and Heath Treloar, Phillips was influential around the ground, with his hit-out ascendancy, cleanliness below his knees, efficient handball skills and neat kicking the standout features of his game. He moved well around the ground and finished the game with 13 disposals, 27 hit-outs, four marks, three tackles and five inside-50s.

Others: Mattaes Phillipou was everywhere for the Eagles. Although he was slightly inconsistent with his ball use, Phillipou’s stoppage nous and ability to accumulate the ball at-will went a long way towards the Eagles picking up their first win of the season. He finished with a team-high 34 disposals, three marks, three tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s. Dustin Launer was another Eagle who stood up and performed well against a South Adelaide side with a handful of exciting talents. He gathered 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, seven clearances and four rebounds in a well-rounded performance. SANFL State Talent Hub member Jay Watson gathered 16 disposals, seven marks, six inside-50s and a goal, with bottom-ager Adam D’Aloia (22 disposals and a goal) also winning his fair share of the ball through the midfield and in attack.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. STURT 

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#9 Kobe Ryan

Ryan was the clear best-on-ground for West Adelaide as they took control of their clash with Sturt. Despite being a year younger and considerably slimmer than many of his opponents, Ryan’s natural ball-winning abilities, poise with ball in-hand and smart running patterns ensured he found the ball with the ease of a seasoned veteran. Effortlessly classy in his movement and typically clean at ground level, Ryan used the ball to excellent effect for the most part, making smart decisions and then executing well by hand and foot. Although a number of his possessions were uncontested touches with limited pressure, the Bloods clearly have confidence in Ryan’s skillset and decision making capabilities – and for good reason. Deceptively strong above his shoulders, Ryan showed why he is considered among the most talented junior footballers in South Australia with an impressive showing, featuring 31 disposals, four marks, four tackles and seven clearances.

#10 Cade Kennedy

The skipper lead from the front for West Adelaide, setting the tone with his aggressive attack on the ball and line-breaking speed proving too difficult to handle for the Sturt midfielders. Although his ball use was questionable at-times, with a couple of his kicks falling short of their intended targets, Kennedy’s production, constant pressure and zip around the ball provided an important point-of-difference and complemented his fellow on-ballers. The sole top-aged West Adelaide player in the SANFL State Talent Hub, Kennedy concluded the match with 27 disposals, five marks, eight tackles and six inside-50s.

#16 Dylan White

Dylan White was another of the Bloods midfield brigade to run riot at Hisense Stadium. A Renmark product from within the West Adelaide country zone, White had a big impact on the contest in the coal-face, winning his fair share of contested ball but, importantly, spread hard and pushed forward to hit the scoreboard. His long range goal at the five minute mark of the second term extended his sides lead and evidently provided a real moral boost. White accumulated 31 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four clearances and two goals in what was his best game of the season to-date.

#36 Tyson Coe

Powerful bottom-ager Coe played an instrumental role in the Bloods triumph. Regarded for his contested ball winning and tough in-and-under style, it was Coe’s penetrating foot skills which stood out against the Double Blues. Despite boasting an unconventional kicking action, his left foot found plenty of targets on Saturday afternoon, over both long and shorter distances. Skipper of the Bloods Under-16s side last season and current member of the Under-18 leadership group, Coe booted two first half goals, including a long range attempt from near the 50m line and a set-shot from similar range. Coe seemed to be involved in every scoring play for West Adelaide and has made the step-up to under-18s level with ease over the first few weeks. The damaging midfielder/forward finished the game with 22 disposals, five marks and five inside-50s.

#40 Luke Young

Often the focal point in attack for West Adelaide, key forward Luke Young again played an important role in his sides win. Working well in-tandem with fellow tall Harry Lemmey, Young pushed up the ground as he usually does, allowing Lemmey to play as the deepest forward. Young was typically good in the air, taking a couple of nice grabs but importantly bringing the ball to ground too. The Plympton junior’s field kicking was clean and his goal came via a regulation set-shot in the first term, however Young will have no-doubt liked to have added a couple more majors. Nevertheless, he concluded another solid outing with 18 disposals, six marks and four inside-50s.

Others: Bottom-aged key forward Harry Lemmey showed some glimpses of genuine excitement in attack. A highly athletic prospect with excellent mobility and cleanliness for a big man, Lemmey has a smooth set-shot routine and is a capable overhead mark. However he also showed off his natural talent by booting a fantastic running goal on the stroke of half-time. He finished with nine touches and three goals for the match. Dylan McCormick was effective on the wing and through the midfield, particularly in the games early stages. A neat user of the footy, McCormick finished with 18 disposals, six marks and six inside-50s. Patrick Singleton was another ‘Westies’ junior who found an abundance of the ball, accumulating 28 touches and six marks. His repeat-efforts at ground level to stop a regulation Sturt goal in the second term would have thoroughly impressed the Bloods coaching staff. Jed Obst (21 disposals and ten marks), Charlie Pridham (21 disposals, five tackles and six rebounds) and Jesse Thackeray (21 disposals and nine clearances) were also among the Bloods top performers.

STURT:

#7 Nick Sadler

The bottom-aged utility was used up forward and in attack and had some nice moments which suggests he could be one to watch over the next couple of seasons. His penetrating foot skills stood out again today, hitting most of his targets by foot and also using the ball well by hand. He is a strong tackler and appears to have a few handy attributes. Sadler finished with 15 disposals, three marks and four clearances.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Strongly-built midfielder Brad Jefferies was industrious in his return to under-18s level. Jefferies possesses a booming long kick and used the ball effectively by foot for the most part, working against a talented West Adelaide engine room. Jefferies worked hard for the entirety of the match and, in the absence of regular on-baller Will Spain who gained a call-up to reserves level, was Sturt’s go-to man at stoppages. The Double Blues relied heavily upon his combative style in the coal face and will be relived to have the Onkaparinga product back in the under-18 set-up. He finished the game with a team-high 27 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s.

#37 Zac Becker

Stationed deep in defence, Zac Becker was arguably Sturt’s best performer. Forced to weather a storm of West Adelaide inside-50s at-times, Becker stood up well under the pressure. He spent some time opposed to West Adelaide centre-half-forward Luke Young in what proved to be an enticing battle between two of the premier key position players in the SANFL under-18 competition. As has been the case all season, Becker was trusted with the kick-in duties – a testament to his excellent foot skills. He often cleared the defensive-50 from a kick-in, using his long and accurate leg. Importantly, Becker made good decisions and was also competitive in the air. Clearly the league’s most prolific rebounder after three rounds of action (averaging over 11 rebounds per game), the SANFL Talent Hub member finished with 20 disposals (all of which were kicks), four marks and 14 rebounds.

Others: With Morgan Ferres lining up in the reserves for the second-straight week, it was up to key forward Felix Packer to fill the void. And he did just that, booting four goals from ten disposals and five marks. An accurate set-shot for goal, Packer’s presence in the air was important for a Double Blues side which managed just 37 inside-50s for the match. Although he didn’t hit the scoreboard, medium forward Jacob Lochowiak played with aggression and intent, collecting 18 disposals, three marks, five tackles and seven inside-50s. On-ballers Jamie Taylor (16 disposals, one goal, four tackles and four clearances) and Jake Aish (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s) again fought hard for the visitors.

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

Lishmund looks to the one-percenters

NORWOOD youngster Alana Lishmund hardly looked out of place last year in her debut SANFL Women’s season. In 2021, the exciting midfielder-forward is turning towards the one-percenters and focusing on her strengths as she strives to become one of South Australia’s next AFL Women’s products.

“Personally, (my goal is) to just keep up the one-percenters,” Lishmund said. “Then looking towards the end of the year, it’s just getting drafted.”

The Hope Valley junior has juggled multiple sporting commitments in the past but has now “cut it back”, focusing on the native code through Norwood’s development program.

“I’ve been playing (football) for about five years,” she said. “I started off locally at Hope Valley and then I’ve been at Norwood for a couple of years coming up through their development program.

“Before this year I played two sports and I was juggling that, but this year I kind of cut it back because I used to play soccer.”

Lauded for her ability to play both deep forward and further afield, Lishmund brings plenty of X-factor to the table with punishing tackling pressure and an eye for goal. Her performance rotating through the forwardline in last year’s South Australia Under 18 Girls All-Star fixture was a particular highlight, putting her on the draft radar in 2021.

While Lishmund has found success in those areas of the ground, says she is happy to play “anywhere”, with a couple of key strengths aiding that kind of versatility.

“I usually like to be rover, so in the centre,” she said. “But (I can play) really anywhere, up forward or on the wing too.

“As a left footer, I know not many people have that so that’s kind of a strength of mine. “I’ve got some pace as well, (I’m) pretty fast.”

Off the field, Lishmund describes herself as a “pretty outgoing, friendly, bubbly” character and it shows in her vigour once the white line is crossed. Honest could be another descriptor, especially after her assessment of how preseason fitness testing panned out.

“Going through everything we had to do, I was very happy with it,” she said. “I was a bit ripped off in a couple of runs when it came to the yo-yo, but all good other than that.”

Lishmund and her Redlegs are set to kick off their 2021 SANFL Women’s season against West Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Friday, February 26. The first bounce is at 7:45pm.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Grand Finals

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

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE/RESERVES

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

WWT Eagles:

#9 Rhyan Mansell (League)

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

#16 James Rowe (League)

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

#28 Jacob Wehr (League)

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

#34 Lachlan Jones (League)

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

#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

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

#38 Dyson Hilder (Reserves)

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

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Norwood vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

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

#4 Henry Nelligan

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

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

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

#11 Xavier Tranfa

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

#15 Harlee Chandler

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

#27 Nathan Hearing

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

Others:

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

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

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

#17 Mani Liddy

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

#18 Tom Powell

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

#25 James Borlase

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

#32 Morgan Ferres

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

Others:

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

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