Tag: sam duke

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Grand Final wraps

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS (WWT) took out both senior South Australian National Football League (SANFL) premierships on Sunday, defeating North Adelaide in the League and Reserves Grand Finals at Adelaide Oval. Meanwhile, Norwood’s even team spread helped the Redlegs take home the Under 18s flag.

With young guns impressing at state league level, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our final edition for the year, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade. Amid make-or-break situations in dramatic season finales, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

LEAGUE:

WWT EAGLES | 1.1 | 10.3 | 12.8 | 13.9 (87)
NTH ADELAIDE | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 (48)

Woodville-West Torrens converted its minor premiership into a League flag after defeating North Adelaide by 39 points at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. Just a fortnight removed from their semi final defeat to the Roosters, the Eagles soared to victory on the back of a nine-goal to one second term. The match-defining period saw WWT inflict a 50-point turnaround, inspired by three goals to Jack Oatley medal winner, Jordan Foote en route to seven unanswered majors. North was unable to truly recover from there, with a pair of late consolation goals only slightly trimming the final margin.

As has been the case all season, a bunch of promising young types excelled for the Eagles. Competition leading goalkicker, James Rowe has attracted a heap of elite level interest after a fantastic season, which he capped off with two goals from 15 disposals. Jacob Wehr is another in the same boat, and he was strong once again with 19 disposals, six marks, and five tackles. Defender Rhyan Mansell proved his worth with eight marks from 19 touches, joined down back by Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones (18 disposals, five marks). Up the other end, VFL import Sam Lowson snared 1.2, while Ben Jungfer‘s mid-finals senior promotion yielded seven disposals and plenty of promise.

Former Adelaide and Gold Coast player Harrison Wigg was among North Adelaide’s best, notching a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight tackles and seven breaches of either arc. His rating for effort was arguably matched by 2020 Magarey Medallist Campbell Combe, who got his hands dirty with 15 disposals, seven clearances, and a game-high 10 tackles. Will Combe managed a goal from his 10 touches, while 19-year-old defender Karl Finlay justified his senior selection once again with 13 disposals, three marks, and five tackles.

RESERVES:

WWT EAGLES | 2.1 | 3.5 | 5.8 | 8.11 (59)
NTH ADELAIDE | 2.2 | 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.8 (44)

The Eagles’ Reserves provided the perfect base for their League teammates to build off, trumping North Adelaide by 15 points in a tense decider at Adelaide Oval. 20-year-old Mitch Mead earned the Bob Lee Medal as best afield, as he snared a goal from 15 disposals and laid a whopping 15 tackles. While the Roosters snuck ahead during the first and second terms, they could not catch the Eagles back up after half time as fresher legs perhaps prevailed for the premiers.

An injury to key midfielder Harrison Magor in the first term meant North was always going to be up against it, though Lee Minervini showed just why he has played at League level this season with 20 disposals, nine tackles, six clearances, and a goal. He formed a strong partnership with 2020 Reserves Magarey Medallist Dakota Nixon, who also managed 20 touches. Patrick Davies was another to impress up forward with two majors from 19 disposals, while Dyson Hilder had it 16 times and clunked seven marks.

For the triumphant Eagles, Ethan Haylock clearly led all comers with 27 disposals, topped by five clearances and a goal. Jackson Lee also contributed a handful of clearances among his 21 touches, while former Port Adelaide rookie Kai Pudney showed his class at the level with 17 disposals and a goal. But it was Mead, the son of Port champion Darren who stole the show and best afield honours.

UNDER 18s:

NORWOOD | 4.4 | 5.7 | 11.10 | 15.13 (103)
STURT | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.5 | 8.5 (53)

The best two SANFL Under 18s sides went head-to-head in this year’s decider at Thebarton Oval, but it was Norwood who claimed a second victory in three weeks over minor premier, Sturt to claim the premiership flag. Kicking towards the wind-favoured end, the Redlegs put together four goals in the opening term to set up a two-goal buffer, and proceeded to strangle any form of Sturt attack in the following period. The Double Blues seemed to grow increasingly frustrated as the contest wore on, with Norwood’s astute defensive structure and quick transitional play allowing them to stay on top. Undisciplined acts followed as the umpires kept their whistles up, with Norwood cruising home to an emphatic 50-point win.

Redlegs ruckman Nathan Hearing was named best afield after bombing forward 11 clearances from his 21 disposals. Teammates Henry Nelligan (28 disposals, 1.3), Xavier Tranfa (19 disposals, two goals), and Harlee Chandler (19 disposals, six tackles) were not far behind either. Nelligan worked hard to accumulate around the ground, while Tranfa’s majors came in quick succession to break the game open, and Chandler proved a very handy finals addition. Ethan Schwerdt also booted two goals from midfield, while pacy 17-year-old Cooper Murley managed 1.3, and bigman Finn Heard provided a terrific target en route to bagging three majors. Up the other end, co-captain Sam Duke was solid as ever, leading a phenomenal team effort from his side.

Mani Liddy was arguably Sturt’s best in a losing effort, particularly early as he finished with 18 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. If not, Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase (22 disposals, eight marks) was a worthy candidate having brought some serious fire and physicality to the contest, albeit a touch overzealous. Malachy Carruthers‘ ball use off half-back was quality as he booted forward nine rebound 50s from 21 touches, while usual suspect Tom Powell found the most ball with 25 disposals and a goal. Skipper Ned Walter tried hard with five rebound 50s in a tough gig from defence, with Morgan Ferres (15 disposals, six marks, one goal) a lively target leading up the field. Will Spain also had an impact, digging in at ground level and laying a game-high seven tackles.

Featured Image: Eagles coach Jade Sheedy holds aloft the 2020 SANFL League premiership trophy | Credit: SANFL

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

FINALS time in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18s and League competitions, with a focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line.

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg

By: Eli Duxson

South Adelaide:

#33 Jason Horne

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

#35 Tom Highmore

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Glenelg:

#23 Callum Park

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

#27 Luke Parks

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

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

Eagles:

#16 James Rowe

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

#28 Jacob Wehr

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

#34 Lachlan Jones

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

#51 Lachlan McNeil

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay

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

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

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

#7 Caleb Poulter

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

#17 Liam Ueding

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

#25 Henry Smith

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

#28 Nick Mitzithras

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

#31 Jase Burgoyne

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

Others:

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#4 Max Clifton

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

#10 Brayden Cook

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

#20 Zac Dumesny

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

#21 Matthew Roberts

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

#33 Arlo Draper

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

#35 Nicholas Kraemer

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

Others:

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Sturt vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

Sturt:

#11 Will Spain

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

#13 Bradley Jefferies

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

#17 Mani Liddy

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

#18 Tom Powell

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

Others:

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

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

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

#4 Henry Nelligan

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

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

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

#21 Jack Saunders 

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

#30 Finn Heard

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

Others:

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

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

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

Out to impress: SANFL Semi Finals

TEENAGE sensation Lachlan Jones will return to the Eagles senior side for their semi-final clash with North Adelaide. The Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect rolled his ankle in Woodville-West Torrens’ round 13 victory over West Adelaide, preventing him from taking part in the final match of the minor round. Jones did not test in the South Australian draft combine during the week out of precaution, but is expected to make his return after being named on the half-back flank.

Fellow teenager Ben Jungfer is also a possibility of taking part in his first SANFL finals series, having performed well in the senior side since debuting in Round 13. He has been named on the extended interchange, along with Tasmanian defender Rhyan Mansell. 

Roosters defender Karl Finlay is also set to get a taste of finals action when he lines up at full-back for Jacob Surjan‘s men. Fellow tall Dyson Hilder has been named on the extended bench.

Canberra import Tom Highmore has been named at centre-half-back for South Adelaide when they take on the reigning premiers, Glenelg, in the second game of an Adelaide Oval double-header. Exciting small forward Beau McCreery has been named in the forward pocket after he wasn’t risked for the clubs final minor round match. 17-year-old future star Jason Horne has been included on the extended bench.

Meanwhile, Glenelg defender Luke Parks (back pocket) and utility Callum Park (wing) have both been named on the field for the Tigers as they look to defend their crown.

Sturt defender and Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been included in Sturt’s reserves side for their clash with North Adelaide at X Convenience Oval on Saturday morning, alongside wingman Josh Shute and key forward Tom Emmett.

Ball-magnet Tom Powell will return to Sturt’s under-18s side for their semi-final clash with Norwood, after he missed last weekend’s encounter with Glenelg and the draft combine testing with calf tightness. He will re-join the consistent Mani Liddy and Will Spain in the engine room for the minor premiers. Malachy Carruthers has been named on the half-back flank and exciting bottom-ager Morgan Ferres at centre-half-forward.

The Redlegs have also named a strong side for the all-important clash with their eastern suburbs rivals. Prolific pocket-rocket Henry Nelligan and dynamic goal-kicker Jack Saunders will lead the Norwood midfield unit into battle, supported by bottom-ager Cooper Murley and classy utility Michael Cavallaro. Gun forward Finn Heard will provide a dangerous target in attack, having booted 20 goals in just six games during the minor rounds. At the opposite end of the ground, the club will be hoping defensive duo Daniel Fairbrother and Sam Duke can intercept and set-up the play for the Redlegs off half-back using their clean foot skills.

The Eagles under-18s have named a settled line-up for their semi-final with South Adelaide. Power father-son prospect Taj Schofield performed strongly at the combine during the week and has been named in the forward pocket, alongside tall Henry Smith (centre-half-forward) and club leading goalkicker Jack Wheare (half-forward flank). Caleb Poulter has been named in the centre, with ruckman Zac Phillips, bottom-aged ball-magnet Jase Burgoyne and the consistent Max Lister also named in the starting midfield rotation.

South Adelaide draft bolter Brayden Cook will be looking to replicate his match-winning performance the last time the clubs met, back in Round 8. Cook, who booted a competition-high 26 goals in 12 minor-round games, has been named on the wing, with versatile AFL Academy member Nick Kraemer selected at half-forward. The Panthers will also be hoping dynamic bottom-ager Arlo Draper (forward pocket) and the talented Liam Hamilton (half-forward flank) can help the club kick a winning score. After winning 33 disposals in his first under-18s game of the year last weekend, Zac Dumesny will provide the side with flexibility and skill. Will Verrall is set to lead the ruck division, with 17-year-old Matthew Roberts and the big-bodied Harry Spacie to do the roving.

FIXTURES

League:

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg | Sunday October 4, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval
Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 4, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Sturt vs. North Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ X Convenience Oval
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ X Convenience Oval

Under-18s:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ Thebarton Oval
Sturt vs. Norwood | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ Thebarton Oval

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL Round 13 wrap

WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior competitions, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade in Round 13. Some returning school football guns also made for handy inclusions, putting in eye-catching cameos.

West Adelaide vs. WWT Eagles

League: West Adelaide 5.4 (34) def. by WWT Eagles 16.14 (110)
Reserves:
West Adelaide 3.6 (24) def. by WWT Eagles 11.8 (74)
Under 18s:
WWT Eagles 15.17 (107) def. West Adelaide 2.5 (17)

Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) did the triple over West Adelaide on Friday and Saturday, taking home its hat-trick of wins by a combined margin of 216 points. At League level, the Eagles have all-but officially clinched the minor premiership, while Westies look destined to finish in the wooden spoon position.

Mature-age draft prospects James Rowe (five goals) and Sam Lowson (four) were electric up forward, combining for nearly half of the winners’ score. NT Thunder product Ben Jungfer collected 19 touches on his League debut, while Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones had just seven disposals. Jacob Wehr, who is garnering some attention, managed 13 disposals and laid six tackles down back. Former Port Rookie Kai Pudney is set to compound the selection squeeze come finals, having notched 26 touches in his fourth game for the season.

The Bloods had some good young talent take the field as well, headlined by National Combine invitee Mitchell Duval, who reeled in seven marks on a tough day for the Westies defence. GWS Academy graduate, Lachlan Squire continued his run in the top flight with 19 disposals and nine rebound 50s in a slightly different role, while Sydney Academy product Hamish Ellem booted a goal up forward.

Bailey Chamberlain again narrowly missed the cut at League level, but continues to thrive in the Reserves despite his side’s shortcomings. Westies went down to another strong Eagles side in the second grade, but had Chamberlain and Jye Sinderberry named among the best players. Fellow Under 18s prospect Nicholas Couroupis has also proven an asset in the side across the last few weeks alongside Cooper Gilbert, while Hugo Kelly returned to the fold, and another Swans Academy product in Kyle Martin continued his streak in the Reserves. Taj Schofield and Harrison Dawkins were present for the Eagles in their big win having recently earned promotion, joining goalkicker and first round bolter Caleb Poulter at the level.

WWT booted 13 goals to West Adelaide’s one after quarter time to seal a massive Under 18s win on Saturday, despite both sides missing some key personnel – listed above. Another Port Adelaide-aligned prospect, Jase Burgoyne again topped the disposal charts for the Eagles with 35, leading from fellow bottom-agers Brayden Clavett (27) and Cormack O’Reilly (25), who also kicked a goal each. Jay Watson could have had a massive day out having managed 2.4 from 21 touches, while Zac Phillips (20 disposals, nine marks, 22 hitouts) was prominent aerially.

Eduard van den Berg was again kept busy down back for West Adelaide, racking up a team-high 31 disposals and nine rebound 50s. Cade Kennedy (30 disposals, seven tackles) and Ben Burbridge (23 disposals) were the main forms of resistance from midfield, while Luke Young again worked hard up the field from his forward post, but couldn’t find the goals.

South Adelaide vs. Norwood

League: South Adelaide 17.14 (116) def. Norwood 6.6 (42)
Reserves:
South Adelaide 8.7 (55) def. by Norwood 9.5 (59)
Under 18s:
Norwood 14.10 (94) def. South Adelaide 10.9 (69)

South Adelaide crushed Norwood’s League finals dream on Saturday, running out 74-point victors to consolidate its own top four position. The Panthers were terrific across the board against a wounded Redlegs outfit, but in terms of young talent, saw Jason Horne and Beau McCreery each boot a goal. Victorian recruit Daly Andrews had his quietest outing yet, but still managed 12 disposals. Another VFL pick-up, Nikolaus Rokahr was one of Norwood’s best, while 21-year-old Cole Gerloff snared a goal, Brodie Carroll kept his spot after a Round 12 return, managing nine touches alongside Under 18s gun, Daniel Fairbrother.

The Redlegs’ Reserves pipped South Adelaide at the post, claiming a four-point victory despite remaining planted to bottom spot with two wins. Jack Saunders continued his terrific run of form, this time in a slightly different aspect with two majors among a relatively young squad. National Combine invitee Phoenix Spicer again hit the scoreboard for the Panthers with one goal, while Damon Freitag matched his feat as he looks to gain an extended run.

Norwood’s defeat of South Adelaide at Under 18s level also sets up an intriguing final round of action, with the Panthers only just holding on to their top four spot. The Redlegs had plenty of strong contributors, with Finn Heard booting five goals, while Sam Duke had 21 kicks from his 23 touches, and Henry Nelligan was industrious as always with fellow AFL Academy member, Cooper Murley. School football returnees Ethan Schwerdt (23 disposals) and Xavier Tranfa (16) also showed good signs.

Speaking of, Matthew Roberts picked up where he left off, racking up a game-high 31 disposals and booting two goals for South. He was supported well by fellow bottom-ager Arlo Draper in midfield, while Brayden Cook slammed home five majors, and the defensive pair of Jack Flett and Harry Spacie was again strong.

Sturt vs. North Adelaide

League: Sturt 8.6 (54) def. by North Adelaide 12.13 (85)
Reserves:
Sturt 7.8 (50) def. by North Adelaide 8.12 (60)
Under 18s:
North Adelaide 14.7 (91) def. Sturt 8.7 (55)

North Adelaide secured second spot at the very least at League level on Saturday, defeating Sturt by 31 points to complete what ended up being a clean sweep of the Double Blues. The defensive duo of Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder was reunited at League level having interchanged through the Reserves, and both had an impact in the Roosters’ win.

Sturt bigman Daniel Fahey-Sparks was prominent as he bagged two goals and won 29 hitouts, while midfielders Tom Lewis and Casey Voss were again serviceable with 21 touches apiece. Crows NGA hopeful James Borlase returned from College football duties, managing 10 disposals in a more advanced role.

It was a much tighter affair in the Reserves as the Roosters crowed to the tune of 10 points, but Sturt still boasted a couple of strong young performers. Tom Emmett was again among the most notable, booting three goals to take his fortnightly tally to eight. The strongly-built forward has suited the level well since earning a berth last month.

Another dominant performance at Under 18s level sees North Adelaide in with a big chance of snaring a top four spot, having knocked off the ladder leaders in true style. Bottom-age Crows NGA prospect Blayne O’Loughlin again accumulated plenty of ball with 31 disposals, while Jayden Davison and James Willis both hit the scoreboard from midfield among a raft of impressive performers. Unsurprisingly, Sturt’s Tom Powell led all comers with 35 disposals, while the likes of Bradley Jefferies, Malachy Carruthers, and Morgan Ferres (four goals) all made an impact upon their returns to the competition.

Glenelg vs. Central District

League: Glenelg 11.11 (77) def. Central District 10.16 (76)
Reserves:
Glenelg 11.9 (75) def. by Central District 15.14 (104)
Under 18s:
Central District 13.7 (85) def. Glenelg 12.6 (78)

Reigning League premier, Glenelg secured its spot in finals, but not before being pushed all the way by a gallant Central District outfit on Saturday evening. Callum Park (27 disposals, 11 rebound 50s, one goal), Luke Parks (18 disposals, eight marks), and Jonty Scharenberg were among the defence which helped stave off Centrals in the dying stages. Dandenong Stingrays graduate Jack Toner also played arguably his best game yet for the Bulldogs, notching 27 disposals and laying seven tackles in the defeat.

Plenty of talented prospects also impressed in the Reserves grade, particularly for the Bays despite a 29-point loss. Ty Murphy was in everything early, finishing with three goals alongside Victorian Mitch Martin, while Kye Dean also found the big sticks upon his return to the twos. Hagan Wright was named among the Tigers’ best, while potential Adelaide father-son Luke Edwards played alongside his brother, Jackson, and Under 18s Cooper Horsnell and Connor Drum added to the young talent afield. Fresh off a five-goal haul, Lachlan Grubb managed to find the goals again with one major, while mature-age prospect Nicholas Lange booted four.

Centrals also picked up a win in the Under 18s, their fourth for the year, to close the gap to Glenelg among the bottom four. 16-year-old Austin McDonald was back to his prolific best with a game-high 34 disposals, while bigman Wyatt Ryan (31 disposals, 10 marks, 28 hitouts) had another monster game, Finn Read snared three goals from midfield, and Brodie Lake (21 disposals, eight clearances, one goal) fit right back in after a run in the Reserves.

School football standout and National Combine invitee Xavier Robins showed his wares with 30 disposals and 10 rebound 50s for the Bays, while Riley Holder and Harry Tunkin combined for an evenly-shared 46 disposals and four goals. Harry McInnes was another Tiger, among others, to show promise with three majors.

Featured Image: North Adelaide’s Karl Finlay flies for a mark | Credit: Phil Radoslovich/SANFL

Young gun focus: SANFL Round 10 wrap

WITH young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) wrap to the performances of youth throughout all three grades. There is plenty to unpack in our second altered edition, with an Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful making his League debut, while three teams are now tied for top spot in the Under 18s.

>> SCROLL for full results 

West Adelaide vs. Sturt

League: West Adelaide 8.6 (54) def. by Sturt 10.1 (61)
Reserves: West Adelaide 7.6 (48) def. by Sturt 12.8 (80)
Under 18s: Sturt 10.14 (74) def. West Adelaide 5.9 (39)

A late rally ensured Sturt got over the line against West Adelaide in their League clash under Friday night lights, with just seven points separating either side come the final siren. The game would have attracted the eyes of many an Adelaide Crows fan, as NGA prospect James Borlase made his top flight debut for the Double Blues. The strongly-built swingman was solid down back, working a handy intercept game and using the ball well across his 14 disposals and five rebound 50s.

Tom Lewis and Casey Voss racked up 21 disposals each, aided by 53 hitouts from Daniel Fahey-Sparks, though coach Nathan Grima may face a selection dilemma as Tom Powell continues to bang the door down at Under 18s level. The prolific midfielder added another 47 disposals and 10 clearances to his formidable season tallies, while also contributing two goals. His partner in crime, Mani Liddy was also terrific with 33 touches and a goal of his own as Sturt sealed a hat-trick of wins over the Bloods.

Leading SA draft prospect Riley Thilthorpe was rested from his League duties with Westies this week, seeing former Sydney Swans Academy member Hamish Ellem slot in to bag two majors. Reed Stevens, the brother of leading ball winner, Kaine had 17 touches and six clearances on his League debut, while Lachlan Squire was unable to match his own debut numbers, kept to nine disposals.

In the Reserves grade, 19-year-old Josh Shute was named among Sturt’s best, while Under 18 midfielders Bailey Chamberlain and Nicholas Couroupis were among the best half-dozen for Westies in a losing effort. Jye Sinderberry (12 disposals, five marks) was again outstanding in the junior grade upon his second game back from injury.

Norwood vs. WWT Eagles

League: Norwood 12.12 (84) def. WWT Eagles 6.8 (44)
Reserves: Norwood 9.6 (60) def. by WWT Eagles 13.8 (86)
Under 18s: WWT Eagles 11.14 (80) def. Norwood 7.8 (50)

18-year-old Daniel Fairbrother had a League debut to remember, as Norwood trumped ladder leader, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) by 40 points to remain in the finals hunt. The 182cm prospect gathered 12 disposals in his maiden outing, while Victorian recruit Nik Rokahr had a game-high 34 disposals. Isaac Saywell was another solid young performer for the Redlegs, registering 10 marks among his 19 touches overall.

Lachlan McNeil (21 disposals) continued his consistent run of form for the Eagles despite a rare loss, while the likes of Lachlan Jones and Rhyan Mansell had few answers for Norwood in defence. Up the other end, livewire small forward James Rowe was kept to just one goal as WWT struggled for firepower. It was just the second time all season Rowe managed less than three goals in a game.

Finn Heard narrowly missed League selection this week for Norwood, but managed to instead run out for the Reserves alongside fellow Under 18s Michael Cavallaro, Jack Saunders, Jackson Murphy, and Ben Ianniello. Caleb Poulter and star VFL recruit Sam Lowson both lined up for WWT in the same game, as the Eagles soared home 26-point winners.

Poulter’s absence at Under 18s level was made up for by the likes of Jase Burgoyne, Max Litster, and Harrison Dawkins, who all contributed over 25 touches. AFL Academy members Taj Schofield and Henry Smith both hit the scoreboard in the Eagles’ 30-point win. The result saw Norwood pipped for top spot, though the performances of Henry Nelligan and Cooper Murley (both 24 disposals and one goal) were promising. Mobile bigman Sam Duke was arguably the Redlegs’ best, notching 26 disposals and eight marks.

South Adelaide vs. Central District

League: South Adelaide 14.19 (103) def. Central District 10.6 (66)
Reserves: South Adelaide 9.4 (58) def. by Central District 13.16 (94)
Under 18s: Central District 7.7 (49) def. by South Adelaide 11.14 (80)

Daly Andrews built strongly on his opening SANFL League outing, adding two goals to another tally of 18 disposals as South Adelaide comfortably accounted for Central District. The Victorian’s kicking game and ability to penetrate in transition came to the fore as the Panthers kept their top four spot safe.

Bottom-age gun Jason Horne showcased his eye-catching hops and a good deal of confidence in another League appearance, finishing with 15 disposals as he continues to lead the class of 2021. Exciting 19-year-old forward Beau McCreery popped up in glimpses, contributing a single goal to his team’s win. For the Bulldogs, Dandenong Stingrays graduate Jack Toner was a touch quieter than his last few games, gathering 10 disposals. Meanwhile, Jackson Kelly, the son of Sydney champion, Paul booted two goals in a promising display.

There was some notable talent running around in the Reserves grade, headlined by the return of South star Daniel Sladojevic. The 19-year-old booted a goal, but his Panthers were ultimately outclassed by the Bulldogs to the tune of 36 points. Under 18 prospects Phoenix Spicer and Lachlan Grubb also took the field for either side.

The Panthers managed to get one back at Under 18s level, with an even team performance leading them to a 31-point win. Draft bolter Brayden Cook was again productive aerially with eight marks, though struggled with his radar in front of goal to register three behinds. Max Clifton, Liam Hamilton, Jayden Little, and Jack Flett were among the best top-agers afield, while Hugo Hoeck booted four goals and Arlo Draper notched six clearances. The midfield combination of Austin McDonald and Brodie Lake again worked well for the Bulldogs, as the pair combined for 51 disposals and 13 clearances. Bigman Wyatt Ryan was also influential.

North Adelaide vs. Glenelg

League: North Adelaide 10.9 (69) def. by Glenelg 10.11 (71)
Reserves: North Adelaide 14.11 (95) def. Glenelg 4.10 (34)
Under 18s: Glenelg 8.10 (58) def. by North Adelaide 21.10 (136)

Glenelg may have snuck home by two points in a crucial League clash against North Adelaide, but the Roosters were well on song across the other two grades in Round 10. Potential mature-age AFL recruit Luke Partington again impressed for the Bays with 27 disposals, bested only by Harrison Wigg of the Roosters (29 disposals). A pair of 19-year-old Tigers in Callum Park (18 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Luke Parks (15 disposals, six marks) were instrumental in the back half for Glenelg, combining slick rebounding skills and aerial marking prowess collectively.

A bunch of Roosters stole the show at Under 18s level, with the likes of Jayden Davison, Blayne O’Loughlin, Matthew Borg, and Kyle Brazell all finding both plenty of the ball and the big sticks. Harvey Harrison booted a game-high four majors, followed closely by Adelaide NGA hopeful Tariek Newchurch with three. Kye Dean played his part as usual for the Tigers, finishing with 24 disposals and two goals, while midfield partner Hagan Wright managed 21 touches.

Featured Image: Deb Curtis/SANFL

Squad predictions: 2020 South Australia Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro and Vic Country predictions, and today we take a look at South Australia’s (SA) potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are limited to a total of three spots
  • 19-year-old inclusions are also limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that players with known long-term injuries will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

Players named as depth outside of the initial squad below are inevitably options who will rotate through the side, and it is impossible to fit all the options within a list of 22. But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the third squad prediction, with SA’s talent broken down line-by-line.

* – denotes bottom-aged

DEFENCE

FB – Lachlan Jones, James Borlase, Isaiah Dudley*
HB – Will Schreiber, Jye Sinderberry, Zac Dumesny

Height looms as somewhat of an issue in our proposed defence, with versatile utility James Borlase the tallest of the lot at 189cm, joined in a key position post by the 188cm Jye Sinderberry. But that is not to say the chosen six lack in marking power or strength, with South Adelaide’s Zac Dumesny a capable interceptor, while Lachlan Jones adds a good amount of grunt with his 184cm/88kg frame.

Glenelg’s Will Schreiber adds to the back six’s solidity, while diminutive bottom-ager Isaiah Dudley can fill a pocket at either end on account of his ground level pressure. Should the SA coaches look toward a more conventional key position structure, Riley Thilthorpe is a tall option who can play just about anywhere, but will more likely be used as a ruck/forward. Luke Edwards is another half-back option having played there during last year’s Under 18s carnival.

MIDFIELD

C – Bailey Chamberlain, Luke Edwards, Tom Powell
FOL – Riley Thilthorpe, Jamison Murphy, Taj Schofield

The Croweaters lay claim to one of the stronger and more diverse midfield groups, and we are excited about how this one stacks up. It was tough to whittle down the options, but the balance of this six looks about right.

On the outside, Bailey Chamberlain and Tom Powell provide some real dash and athleticism, and will also be able to rotate through the centre bounces with their speed/agility combination. There may be a slight query on Powell’s endurance coming off spates of long-term injuries, but he was impressive during preseason testing.

Forming the centre bounce core is arguably a group of four midfielders, with Thilthorpe a dynamic ruck option who fares just as well at ground level. While he may feature as a key forward or utility at times as he improves his ruck craft, the range of other options in that department means he can be utilised around the ground.

A couple of potential father-sons make their move into the middle, with Edwards a big-bodied inside type who compliments the smooth moving Taj Schofield very well. Edwards, who is also a very capable defender is a must in the midfield given Jamison Murphy and the remaining candidates stand no taller than 180cm. Murphy’s hard-at-it style means he should have no troubles on the inside though, and provides a great story as a former Australian Under-17 cricket captain.

FORWARD

HF – Tariek Newchurch, Kaine Baldwin, Jason Horne*
FF – Corey Durdin, Henry Smith, Lachlan Grubb

There are a couple of players who are simply essential choices in the final team; with Under 16 Division 1 MVP Corey Durdin slotting into a pocket, and returning key forward Kaine Baldwin a lock across half-forward. It was tempting to slot Thilthorpe in at centre-half forward, but Baldwin is just as capable there at 193cm and 91kg.

172cm pocket-rocket, Durdin is a terrific midfielder at Under 18s level, but is sure to find a home as a small forward at the next level – as justified by his form in said position for Central Districts’ League side. Baldwin has not played any footy for over a year due to an ACL tear, but is a contested marking phenom who can also roam further afield.

He will likely be joined up the spine by Henry Smith, a raw tall option who marks the ball at its highest point at over 200cm. At his feet and alongside Durdin in our side is Lachlan Grubb, another who has entered the senior realm for Centrals’ Reserves side. He is an impressive athlete, much like silky Adelaide NGA prospect Tariek Newchurch. Last year’s State Under 16s captain and MVP Jason Horne rounds out the six, a player already accustomed to playing above his age group and one who may also feature through midfield.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Caleb Poulter, Mani Liddy, Nicholas Kraemer, Ned Carey

This was a very difficult bench to select with a bunch of line-calls, as will become obvious with the depth listed below. Ned Carey features as the lone key position option, able to fulfil a ruck-oriented role alongside the likes of Thilthorpe and Smith while resting forward.

Caleb Poulter is a dynamic option who could well have made it onto the half-forward flank, much like how Nicholas Kraemer could enter the midfield fray and Mani Liddy could be utilised on either of the said lines. Kraemer is one who can add some strength through the engine room, while Liddy could feature there too having previously been pushed out to the flanks.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

A pair of smalls who will likely rotate through the squad include Henry Nelligan and Cooper Horsnell. Nelligan is a midfielder who is never far away from the action, able to find the ball with ease at 170cm. Horsnell is the more forward-inclined of the two, able to find the goals while adding the string of wing play to his bow.

Another 200cm key position option, Zac Phillips is from the Woodville-West Torrens program and could get a look-in as ruck or key forward depth. An impressive utility who may also come into consideration is Riley Holder, who posted very impressive numbers for Glenelg in a range of roles at 190cm.

Aside from the Academy-listed top-agers mentioned above, Glenelg quartet Kye DeanLuke Pedlar, Jordan Moore, and Reid Kuller are names who have floated around the system, while Bulldogs pair Samuel Falland and Lewis Cowham may also be thereabouts, along with Norwood tall Sam Duke and West Adelaide’s Harvey Bock. There are of course, many others who will come under consideration, but the Academy group is quite strong and difficult to look past.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

The top-agers for 2020 set the benchmark with a national carnival win in their Under 16s year, and while last year’s 16s crop could not achieve the same feat, there are certainly some bright talents who will feature in the future.

Cooper Murley and Matthew Roberts were equally difficult omissions from the starting squad given our stipulation of three bottom-agers, maximum, and a decent midfield core. An Under-16 All-Australian last year alongside Horne and Dudley, Murley is a highly talented small midfielder who can also move forward, while Roberts has similar versatility as a 182cm midfielder.

Arlo Draper and Lewis Rayson are another two bottom-aged prospects among the Academy ranks, and could both make a case for breaking into the side. Athletic tall forward Morgan Ferres could come into consideration among the key position ranks, though the stocks are already quite full in that department.

Harry Tunkin is a Prince Alfred College and Glenelg product who impressed at Under 16 level, while Port Adelaide father-son hopeful Jase Burgoyne is also coming through the ranks and could feature at some point before his top-age year.

>> SANFL U18 CLUB PAGES:

Central District // Preseason interviews
Glenelg // Preseason interviews
North Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Norwood // Preseason interviews
South Adelaide // Preseason interviews
Sturt // Preseason interviews
West Adelaide // Preseason interviews
WWT Eagles // Preseason interviews

>> SANFL U18 PLAYER FEATURES:

AFL Draft Watch:

Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:

Durdin vs. Campbell