Tag: sanfl player focus

SANFL U18s Player Focus: Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens Under 18 skipper Jordan Lukac was recently added to the extended AFL Draft Combine list, proving reward for the promising rate of improvement he has shown in 2021. The 196cm prospect turns 19 in September and represented his state at the level this season, with his athleticism and physical intent serving well.

On Saturday, he helped lead the Eagles to a fourth Under 18s decider in five years with a handful of goals as one of the dominant bigmen afield. We put Lukac’s preliminary final performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

>> Scouting Notes: SANFL U18s Preliminary Final

POCKET PROFILE

Jordan Lukac
Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

DOB: 18/09/2002
Height/Weight: 196cm/89kg
Position: Key Forward/Ruck

Strengths: Vertical leap, physicality, leadership

2021 Averages:

Under 18s: 14 games | 8.6 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.9 tackles | 0.9 inside 50s | 2.4 goals (33 total)
Reserves: 3 games | 7.3 disposals | 2.0 marks | 5.7 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1 total)

2021 SANFL U18s Preliminary Final | Woodville-West Torrens 13.15 (93) def. West Adelaide 9.8 (62)

#26 Jordan Lukac (Woodville-West Torrens)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1

Starting up forward with fellow tall Zac Phillips taking up the primary ruck duties, Lukac was presented with very limited opportunities to showcase his craft in the opening term. West Adelaide was well on top, restricting the Eagles to just one forward 50 entry across the first 15 minutes.

Lukac was eventually rotated into the ruck after 19 minutes but could not quite get his hands on the ball as Westies continued to surge ahead, ending up with a statless quarter – but not for a lack of effort from the skipper.

Q2

After the Bloods’ period of superiority, it was time for Woodville-West Torrens to hit back in term two. Lukac played a solid part in the scoring swing, notching a goal and two behinds from his sole three kicks for the quarter.

The bigman’s size and physicality drew extra attention from direct opponent, David Midwinter, who had the tough job of marking him one-out inside defensive 50. Lukac and the Eagles took toll.

He drew a holding free kick while leading to the top of the arc, which lead to Jase Burgoyne’s first goal as the Port Adelaide father-son prospect took the advantage into an open goal.

Protecting the drop zone well on long kicks in transition, Lukac snared his own score (a behind) from a 30m set shot, and later kicked his opening major after 17 minutes of play. He had the opportunity to add another from a similar spot but put the 45m set shot wide.

Q3

Contributing an identical scoring output of 1.2 in term three, Lukac continued to help the Eagles soar to a defining lead on the back of a greater wealth of opportunities. While he missed two gettable free kick conversions, Lukac produced one of the day’s highlights with his second goal.

Stationed behind the play outside attacking 50, Lukac marked and sensing a big moment, moved straight on with the ball. He carried it just past the arc and let fly with a booming shot on goal which carried through, with only about 90 seconds left in the term.

The captain’s goal cliché is, well, exactly that, but Lukac’s goal helped lift his side heading into the final term. Three of his four touches resulted in scores, with the remainder an errant bomb kick which ended up out of bounds on the wing.

Q4

Lukac’s finish to the game was indicative of his side’s efforts, as he added another three goals with surer conversion. The first came from a terrific juggled mark in deep a one-on-two contest, before Lukac turned and slammed the ball home with ease.

He found a bit more space for his next mark and goal, before again being infringed in a marking contest en route to snaring his fifth and final major score. Lukac also showcased some deft ruck craft in the second half, hitting nicely to his accelerating rovers for a few clean clearances breaks which caught the eye.

Closing thoughts…

While he started slowly with limited opportunities, Lukac ended up having a big say on the result with nine of his 10 kicks resulting in scores. He eventually straightened up but could have claimed an even bigger haul if not for inaccuracy, as he constantly drew free kicks with defenders struggling to combat his size and strength. The Eagles played to his strengths by stationing him one-out inside 50, where he only needs a few looks to do some damage. He got better and more effective with his ruck craft as the game wore on too, making for a well-rounded and impactful overall effort from the rising tall.

Image Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

SANFL Player Focus: Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)

AFTER a solid season at Reserves level and a call up to the recent Under 19s championship match between Western Australia and South Australia, where he was one of SA’s best, Max Litster earned himself a late season League debut for the second placed Woodville-West Torrens. 

The 2002-born defender ended his maiden senior outing as one of the top handful of ball winners for his side in the resounding 104-point victory as Woodville-West Torrens built confidence heading into their finals campaign, which begins next week against Norwood. Litster impressed most with his defensive focus through the game, and impressive speed with ball in hand.

POCKET PROFILE

Max Litster
Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia

DOB: 6/07/2002 (19)
Height: 184cm
Weight:
83kg

Position: General Defender

2021 Averages:
SANFL Reserves (15 games)

 18.9 disposals | 13.3 kicks | 5.5 handballs | 4.7 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.0 inside 50s | 4.8 rebound 50s

Source: SANFL

2021 SANFL League, Round 19 | Woodville-West Torrens 19.8 (122) def. Central Districts 2.6 (18)

#51 Max Litster (Woodville-West Torrens)

Stats: 23 disposals (14 kicks, 9 handballs), 7 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Q1

Like most senior debutants, Litster started the game on the bench, having to wait until the six-minute mark to get on field. His first involvement in play saw him used in the corridor of the defensive 50 as he led into a smart spot for his teammate who was stuck up against the boundary line. Litster’s follow-up kick was penetrating to a teammate on the wing, who was able to continue the ball movement quickly given Litster put it in front of him so he didn’t lose momentum. As the quarter drew on, Litster got more involved with play from the defensive 50 and pushed up the ground, and whilst at times his ball use was below par, he never dropped his head and continued to present and try to get involved.

What was impressive about Litster was his defensive focus in open play, and ability to quickly transition and find his opponent, sticking with them and spoiling the ball before they could hold it. Litster also showed an ability to gut run defensively, at one point sprinting into the goal square to take a mark just before the goal line and move the ball on well by foot.

Q2

Coming out in the second term looking to have gained confidence, Litster’s ball use improved dramatically as he looked to use his run and carry more aggressively out of defensive 50, starting handball chains that led to inside 50s with some creative ball use. Litster showed off his leap a couple of times in the second quarter, taking an intercept mark in the middle of a pack by jumping above everyone else then using the ball well with his switch kick, and another time getting caught behind his opponent but making up the distance with his closing speed and again leaping to spoil his opponent. 

Litster looked a lot more confident approaching contested situations or winning the ball under pressure in the second quarter, not being easily knocked around by opposition to get in good positions to win the ball. This was best demonstrated when there was a stoppage inside the Eagles defensive 50, Litster got the ball as it went over the top of the rovers, using his hips to block an opponent and quickly flicked it up to a teammate that was running past.

Q3

In a quieter quarter than his first two, Litster took some time to get involved in the game and have a meaningful impact, but came in strongly with a contested intercept mark just outside of forward 50, bombing long to create a contest for his forwards. Litster took a few marks around the ground with some smart positioning and his speed to beat opponents to the footy and hold it well. Unfortunately Litsters ball use dropped from where it was in the second quarter, missing teammates by foot when he was running straight at them, but looking good with his quick hands in close.

Litsters push up the ground was encouraging to see as he started to win more footy in the forward half and generally caused headaches for Central District as they tried to get the ball out of their defensive 50.

Q4

In a somewhat lacklustre end to the game, Litster didn’t get much of the ball, with the Eagles keeping the it in their forward half for the most of the quarter. When the opportunity was there for Litster to impact he took it with both hands, once again showing off his speed. One of his kicks was a nice highlight, chipping it over the top of a teammate so they could run onto the ball and then kick it long inside 50

Closing thoughts…

Overall it was a promising senior debut from Litster following on from his impressive championship game against Western Australia, slotting into the Eagles’ backline seamlessly and looking like on of their more accountable defenders, focusing more on his opponent and cutting off opposition plays than being around the contest in hopes of getting an extra touch. His leap and speed allowed him to impact contests that he looked like he wouldn’t get to. The one thing Litster can improve on from this performance is to find more consistency with his ball use.

Featured Image: Max Litster (far left) celebrates with his Eagles teammates | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

SANFL Player Focus: Jason Horne (South Adelaide)

SOUTH Adelaide teenage star Jason Horne has long been pegged as one of the top draft prospects for 2021, constantly impressing regardless of the grade of football he’s playing in, Horne has shown he can step up to the level when required, earning a SANFL League debut as a 17-year-old and holding his spot ever since. The AFL Academy member has found himself being a big part of the Panthers 2021 campaign, playing mostly on the half forward flank and rotating through the midfield at times.

As South Adelaide continued their push for a top three spot to secure a double chance come finals time in Round 16, Horne had arguably his best performance at SANFL League level against Central District, recording a season-high 22 disposals and an equal team-high three goals, Horne lit up the second quarter in particular to help secure the 52-point victory and drawn attention for a Player Focus.

POCKET PROFILE

Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 21/06/2003
Height/Weight: 184cm/78kg
Position: Balanced Midfielder

Strengths: Contested ball, consistency, defensive pressure, scoreboard impact

2021 Averages:
SANFL League
(14 games)

15.7 disposals | 4.1 marks | 4.0 tackles | 2.6 clearances | 3.1 inside 50s | 0.8 goals (11 total)

Picture credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

2021 SANFL League, Round 16 | Central Districts 7.4 (46) def. By South Adelaide 14.14 (98)

#33 Jason Horne (South Adelaide)

Stats: 22 Disposals (14 kicks, 8 handballs), 7 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 goals

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Horne started the game in his usual half-forward spot, not taking long to get himself near the play as he pushed up to play as an extra midfielder, taking a spot in close at the first stoppage in the middle of the ground and pushing back defensively when Central District won the clearance. Not through lack of effort, Horne did not get his first disposal for a while, being around contests as an outlet handball option but not being used, or having a teammate give away a free kick as he was about to burst clear with the ball. 

His first disposal came from a stoppage near the defensive 50, where he got separation from his opponent, won the ball mid air, shoved off an opponent but was then rushed into a handball as more pressure came, so his handball went straight up. This positional nous around stoppages was an obvious strength, with the next stoppage he attended seeing him position himself in a way that his opponent was forced into the congestion and he was able to win the loose ball and handball back to a teammate for his second clearance. His two running saw him impact the same bit of play as Centrals got the ball in the midfield, but Horne laid a tackle to get a stoppage.

Moved on ball after a brief stint on the bench where he was accountable for his opponent, following closely so he couldn’t be used as a handball option. Closer to the end of the quarter, Horne took an overhead mark on the wing as a teammate shepherded an opponent off, making it uncontested, and hit the ground running in an effort to keep South going quickly, running inboard with pace, but after being presented with no option he quickly shifted his balance to hit an impressive chip kick to a teammate on the forward flank. Finished the quarter with what looked like a promising play, winning the ball cleanly from the rucks hands in the centre and gaining good separation on his opponent, but was robbed of the clearance stat as the siren went.

 

Q2:

After a solid first quarter where gut running was the highlight of Horne’s game, he was given the opportunity to play a bit more traditional as a forward, not running as far up the ground and getting involved in scoring chains in the forward half. His first touch of the quarter was crucial, as he swept up the contested ground ball from a hack kick forward and handballed to a teammate running past almost in the same motion, leading to the first goal of the quarter. He did a similar play only a minute after, sweeping up the ground ball as it went through four players, but was not quick enough this time as he gave away a free kick for holding the ball. Still attend a few stoppages around the ground despite playing a bit more in the attacking half, with one stoppage in particular impressing as he worked in tandem with Bryce Gibbs to get around two opponents, get possession straight from the ruck tap and handball to a teammate in close. 

Horne still brought a lot of defensive efforts to the forward half, taking three intercept marks in the second quarter, all from opposition kicks coming out of the 50, and working hard to impact opposition disposals when he was close, smothering one kick on the boot and applying pressure where he could.

Horne also kicked all three of his goals in the second term as Centrals found it difficult to keep him from impacting play without giving away free kicks to him. The first goal came from a set shot which he earned after an opponent came and shoved him away from a marking contest inside 50, with Horne going back and converting with ease. His second goal was arguably his most impressive, as he swept the ball up off the ground from a poor Centrals handball, taking contact as he did but holding his balance then kicking it straight through from about 40 metres out. His third goal came from one of his intercept marks, a one handed hold above his head where he handballed to a teammate, got it back and won a free kick as he was held after disposing of it, then kicking the goal from outside 50.

Despite the scoreboard impact, Horne played just as much time through the midfield as he had the previous quarter, being a part of some handball chains from the centre stoppages where he spotted runners a couple of times and fed the ball out to them.

 

Q3:

After such a big second quarter it is no surprise that Horne did not quite replicate that form in the third, although he still found ways to be impactful without racking up the same amount of stats. Often seen around the contests tight on an opponent to stop  them from being used as a handball outlet option, or closing down on opponents to force a rushed disposal, his defensive work was at its usual high standard. He did things in the contest as well to make it difficult for Centrals to get easy ball, even diving to knock a ground ball away from an opponent and give his teammates time to come and lay a tackle. 

Horne was used a couple of times as he made leads in the forward half, managing to get separation from his opponent to take the ball on the chest uncontested. The first of these marks was inside 50 on the boundary line, where he initially looked like he was going to have a shot on goal, but at the last second chipped it inboard for a teammate to take with ease and the second being marked outside the 50, with a similar chip to a teammate to take easily.

 

Q4:

With the game itself dying down a bit Horne’s performance mirrored that, starting the quarter on fire but forgivably fading out towards the end, whilst still bringing the defensive work that sets him apart from many other 18-year-old footballers. 

Started the quarter in the midfield, almost winning the first clearance but having his arms held as he went for it, smartly toe poking it lightly for his teammate to run onto. Followed this up at the next stoppage where a teammate tapped it back from the ruck contest, with Horne grabbing it and firing a backwards outlet handball quickly for his teammate to run and kick long. At the next centre stoppage, he moved through the open space to grab the ball from the rucks hands, continuing towards his defensive 50, then U-turning and kicking to his own 50-metre mark well.

 

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Jason Horne has been lauded for his ability as a match winner at the Under 18’s level even as a 16-year-old, and the performance against Central Districts, particularly his second quarter, showed he can do it against bigger and more experienced bodies when things click the way they did. What sets Horne apart from not just other draft-age talents, but most other footballers out there is his defensive work and two way running which didn’t stop even as the game ran on and started looking like a sure thing for South Adelaide, which is a trait that is very difficult to teach players coming through. 

The way Horne consistently impacts the contest as a half forward flanker, arguably the hardest position to fill in modern football, is a highlight of his game as a whole, playing essentially as an onballer for most of the game, running down to the other end of the ground to lay tackles or bump opponents around. Another particularly impressive part of Horne’s game was his stoppage nous, seemingly involved in any clearance he was around, whether it was winning it himself or getting a releasing handball, positioning well to quickly change what his role around the stoppages would be. 

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

SANFL League Player Focus: Shay Linke (Central District)

CENTRAL District midfielder Shay Linke has enjoyed a successful 2021 season to date, proving a class above Under 18s level and earning a call-up to the club’s reserves side. A product of the Tanunda Football Club in the heartland of South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Linke performed well against seasoned bodies at Reserves level and, last weekend, was selected to make his League debut with the Bulldogs.

A member of South Australia’s preliminary squad ahead of the Under 19 National Championships, Linke is regarded as one of the state’s top prospects. Standing at 190cm, the teenager boasts a tall frame which will likely make him an enticing prospect for scouts and recruiters. Throughout the season, Linke has used his height advantage to good effect in the air. Although he will need to add some muscle, Linke has displayed effective skills through the midfield and thoroughly deserved his call-up to league level.

In this week’s SANFL Player Focus, Draft Central analyses how he performed on debut.

Player Profile:

Club: Central District
State:
South Australia

DOB: 8/05/2003
Height/Weight: 190cm/79kg
Position: Inside Midfielder/Forward

2021 Averages:

SANFL Reserves: 6 games | 13.5 disposals | 9.2 kicks | 4.3 handballs | 3.7 marks | 5 tackles | 2 clearances | 1.5 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (2 total)

SANFL Under 18s: 3 games | 27.7 disposals | 20 kicks | 7.7 handballs | 9.7 marks | 3.3 tackles | 4.3 clearances | 6 inside 50s | 2.7 rebound 50s | 0.7 goals (2 total)

2021 SANFL League, Round 11 | Central District 10.10 (70) def. West Adelaide 7.10 (52)
#2 Shay Linke (Central District)

Stats: 12 disposals (7 kicks, 5 handballs), 4 marks, 6 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Q1: 

Linke started the game at half-forward and didn’t have to wait long to encounter his first contest at League level, as the opening clearance of the game headed his way. Linke, being closely checked by West Adelaide’s Elliot Dunkin, contested the mark but the Bloods defender spoiled the ball to ground. Moments later, Linke roved well but was immediately brought to ground and the ball spilled loose. Despite being involved in a couple of early contests, the rangy utility won his first effective possession by receiving the handball from teammate Aiden Grace. He side-stepped a would-be Bloods tackler with some class and his long right-foot kick inside 50 fell perfectly for medium-forward Ethan East who marked but could not convert the set shot.

After a brief stint on the bench, Linke returned to the field to play a midfield role. He took possession of a loose ball in West Adelaide’s forward 50, however was instantly pounced upon. But at the subsequent stoppage he was able to fire out a quick and effective handball after a clean ground ball pick-up. He looks a great size and was just about the tallest midfielder on the field. After moving back to half-forward, Linke gathered on the 50-metre arc but again found himself with little time or space and was tackled and forced to shoot an errant handball off to avoid being caught holding the ball.

In the latter stages of the first term, Linke attended his first centre bounce and made a impact, laying a strong tackle on Lachlan Squire who was forced to leave the field with a bloodied nose. The debutant finished his busy start to the game by taking an uncontested mark in defence and dishing off a quick handball to a running teammate just before the quarter time siren sounded.

Q2:

Linke began the second term from the bench at X Convenience Oval but moved into the centre bounce at the six-minute mark. Deep in the Bloods’ forward 50, he found himself in the right spot to collect the handball and quickly hack it out of the danger zone. The kick, although not graceful by any means, managed to calm things down momentarily for the Bulldogs. At the opposite end of the ground he laid another very strong tackle to ground Bloods captain Tom Keough.

As half-time approached, Linke found himself in a patch of space in the middle of the ground and was spotted by a teammate. He took the simple uncontested mark and followed up with a clean, short kick as the Bulldogs looked to generate some forward movement. He didn’t get his hands on the ball as often in the second term but fought hard at ground level and tackled with real intent and ferocity.

Q3:

After the half-time break, Linke spent the early stages of the third term on the bench or across the half-forward line. Senior coach Paul Thomas rotated Linke through the centre bounce in order to get his hands on the ball, but it was his hustle and defensive pressure which was on show again. Seasoned West Adelaide on-baller Kaine Stevens managed to evade Linke at a forwardline stoppage and kick a classy goal, but the Bulldogs teenager will learn plenty from lining up on the Bloods premiere midfielder.

Linke’s tackling again featured in consecutive stoppages as the teenager appeared eager to physically immerse himself in the contest on debut. Minutes before the final change, the Tanunda teenager picked up another simple mark and kick after spreading wide from the centre bounce.

Q4:

It took Linke a while to get onto the field in the final quarter, but when he did he rushed straight into a stoppage on the wing. The utility again found himself under a heap of pressure when he gathered the ball deep in defence and was forced to cough up the handball. At the 12-minute mark Linke copped a big hip-and-shoulder but fortunately for the Bulldogs, the ball fell into safe hands after being comprehensively knocked from the teenagers grasp. To his credit, Linke bounced straight back up after the heavy collision. Later, he couldn’t quite pick up a loose ball near the boundary line but recovered well to lay another solid tackle. As the game entered its closing stages, Linke won a holding free kick and opted for the safe kick down the line.

Final thoughts…

Shay Linke performed well on debut for Central District in their 18-point win over West Adelaide. He split his time between an inside midfield role and the half-forward flank and didn’t look overawed by the occasion. Linke was particularly involved in the first quarter as both sides struggled to hit the scoreboard early on. Although slim, Linke threw himself at the contest and tackled strongly. He managed to spread from the contest and found some space at-times to accumulate uncontested possessions, however most of his work was done at the coalface. Due to the nature of the role, Linke often found himself under immediate pressure after gaining possession which impacted his ball use. Overall, Linke produced a solid showing and will certainly have benefitted from the opportunity to rub shoulders with seasoned SANFL campaigners.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

2021 SANFL Under 18 Player Focus: Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)

NORTH Adelaide midfielder Hugh Jackson is one garnering attention with his eye-catching stat lines and prolific ball winning ability. He has enjoyed a sensational start to the SANFL Under 18s season, averaging 35 disposals and six clearances per his nine games with great consistency in his output. The Rostrevor College graduate is fully focussed on his football in 2021, working hard on his contested game and becoming a more complete midfield package.

His Roosters came up against Sturt for a second week running in the junior grade, trumping the Double Blues to the tune of 38 points at Unley Oval. Jackson was again instrumental in the victory, gathering 41 disposals and 12 clearances to become the prospect placed under our SANFL Under 18s Player Focus microscope this week. We run you through his game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of his Round 9 showing.

Hugh Jackson
North Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 3/05/2003
Height/Weight: 181cm/70kg
Position: Midfielder

2021 Averages:

Under 18s: 9 games | 34.7 disposals | 19.1 kicks | 15.6 handballs | 7.4 marks | 3.6 tackles | 5.6 clearances | 6.0 inside 50s | 3.3 rebound 50s | 0.2 goals (2 total)

2021 SANFL Under 18s, Round 9 | North Adelaide 14.12 (96) def. Sturt 8.10 (58)

#12 Hugh Jackson (North Adelaide)

Stats: 41 disposals (30 kicks, 11 handballs), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 12 clearances, 11 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Jackson made a red-hot start for the Roosters, taking up his usual spot at the centre bounces and proving the go-to rover. He won the first centre clearance of the game and was able to win a couple more in the opening minutes by staying on the move and pushing off his opponent smartly.

He tended to wheel quickly onto his left side once in possession, pumping his legs to get into space before delivering a long kick forward. Once a couple of his initial inside 50 forays failed to hit targets, Jackson fed a lateral handball out of the next centre bounce in a handy adjustment.

The prolific ball winner was rotated off at around the nine-minute mark, earning a short rest before again being sighted about three minutes later. He showed clean hands to pick up off the deck at speed and flick out handballs, but his repeated attempts to burst through tackles saw some of his disposals scuppered under pressure.

Overall, it was a productive period in terms of ball winning, where Jackson was able to break into double digits for disposals and drive North forward with ball in hand.

Q2:

The second term was a touch quieter by Jackson’s standards, despite again winning a good amount of ball. He saw repeat possessions in a few early passages but did much of his work under pressure, sending kicks straight up in the air, along the ground or with an awkward spin around the body.

Jackson still managed to latch onto the ball at stoppages and work into space on occasion, but even then his decision making and execution by foot let him down. His go-to was often a long kick down the line, but they would often be thrust to contests or outnumbers on the wing with no direct target in mind.

He found himself being tackled a lot more and attracted a couple of free kicks, using one to deliver inside 50 but seeing the pass dropped by his leading teammate. While able to register eight kicks for the quarter, Jackson’s impact came mostly at the contest with little damage coming away from it.

Q3:

Jackson lifted once again in the third term, working his way around the outside of stoppages and finding a touch more room to operate. Instead of being caught as he did in the previous period, the North midfielder looked to dispose of the ball quickly and that led to some rushed execution under pressure.

He had a nice moment where he prized the ball out of a pack on the wing, got moving quickly into space and delivered a neat ball inside 50, only for it to again be fumbled by a teammate. That lowering of the eyes is something Jackson can do to further hurt the opposition, with his contested game another clear area for improvement.

Having again cracked into double digits for disposals throughout the term, Jackson was in the thick of things but continued to turn the ball over under Sturt’s pressure around the ball. His output was there, but the end product was not.

Q4:

Jackson looked to finish strong with some added defensive acts, though his light frame made for tough work when looking to stick tackles. He also continued to accumulate a touch more away from the stoppages, dropping back to help transition out of defence and trying to drive forward on the outer.

His disposal by foot remained a touch off from those positions, but Jackson proved much neater when going inside forward 50 and provided some handy score assists. He hit Isaac Keeler and Adam Heath with short passes going inside 50, just putting enough on them for the key forwards to mark low before hitting the scoreboard.

It was a solid finish to the game for Jackson, as he again racked up possessions and did so with different methods. He was eventually able to sure up his disposal and ensure his work going forward resulted in North boosting their score.

Final thoughts…

There is no doubting Jackson’s ability to find the ball. He is prolific in that area and it isn’t a bad key strength to have, especially when the numbers look so good after nine rounds of Under 18 football. As a small midfielder, Jackson does not quite have the agility or strength to consistently burst through traffic, though it seems he is actively trying to boost his contested game. He works well on the outside of stoppages and gets his legs pumping to find space before sending long kicks forward. His neat-looking disposal could do with some sharpening, and being able to inflict more damage with his wealth of possessions will prove a big step in his development.

Image Credit: Naomi Jellicoe/The Advertiser

SANFL League Player Focus: Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide midfielder Matthew Roberts broke through for his maiden SANFL League outing on Saturday, joining fellow top 10 AFL Draft candidate Jason Horne in the Panthers’ seven-point win over Woodville-West Torrens (WWT). The hard-working youngster earned his call-up though sheer domination in the Under 18s, where he averaged 32 disposals, 6.3 clearances, and almost two goals a game across his three outings this season. Roberts also turned out for the AFL Academy last month, playing exclusively up forward in the side’s heavy loss to Geelong VFL.

The 18-year-old has long been one of South Australia’s most promising prospects, having represented his state twice at Under 16s level and dominated the SANFL Under 18s competition as a bottom-ager. He also captains the St Peter’s College First XVIII and looms as a key figure in SA’s Under 19 carnival side this year. Roberts’ running capacity, decision making, and ability to hit the scoreboard while resting forward are just some of the desirable traits which have him pegged towards the pointy end of this year’s draft crop.

He is the prospect under our SANFL Player Focus microscope this week; we run you through his game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of his Round 6 showing.

Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: July 31, 2003
Height/Weight: 183cm/81kg
Position: Midfielder/Forward

2021 averages*: 32.0 disposals | 23.0 kicks | 9.0 handballs | 8.3 marks | 7.7 tackles | 6.3 clearances | 7.7 inside 50s | 4.0 rebound 50s | 1.7 goals (5)

* – from three Under 18 games.

Matthew Roberts gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook Photography

2021 SANFL League, Round 6

Woodville West Torrens 13.13 (91) def. by South Adelaide 15.9 (99)

Stats: 14 disposals | 5 kicks | 9 handballs | 2 tackles | 3 inside 50s | 1 goal

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Roberts started and stayed at half-forward in the greasy conditions, but set the tone for himself early as the wet ball did not affect his cleanliness. An early gather around a pack with a slick handball under pressure was a sign of things to come as all his work was done below his knees for the day. Although he was a little passive at some stoppages around forward 50, he was still trying to work into his first League game and understand where to position best. Despite this, he did manage to get first hands off a ruck tap but was unable to find a teammate before the ball was knocked from him. Roberts pushed in at centre bounces when starting high and managed to wrangle in a hacked kick to space and find a teammate with a beautifully weighted kick inside 50. Pushing up the ground when the ball was stuck in his defensive 50, he did a good job of positioning himself to be able to hit the contest from a clearing kick at pace, and when presented the chance to crumb, he did so very well on one occasion, opting to find a teammate with a sweeping handball which opened up the attacking fore.

Q2:

The second quarter was one of Roberts’ quieter ones although it did highlight his good acceleration to apply defensive pressure, which he did all day. Two tackles are not earth-shattering but in his first League game, he adjusted to the pace well and would have registered plenty more pressure acts without a tackle. Once he settles in, you can expect that tackle count to rise. A hack kick off the ground also assisted with the surge forward as he applied a defensive effort to follow up after an Eagles defender swept up at ground level.

Q3:

His output picked up again this quarter as he continued his good timing to rove around packs and do it with one grab, brilliantly composed. He showed good strength to bump off a tackler on one occasion, showing he is physically up to the League level, accentuated by his stability over the ball in congestion having rarely hit the deck. Pushing down from his high positioning after a deep forward entry from the centre bounce saw him gather cleanly after the ball spilled out, before snapping around on his trusty left boot to put through his first League goal – a tidy and clean finish in-tight. Although a pair of fumbles came later in the quarter off some hot, tumbling balls, he showed he was getting to good positions to win his own ball. Roberts then made up for them with a perfect pass to Jake Tarca inside 50 for a goal. He had a couple of missed handballs on the far wing, but also showed solid positioning after contests and packs to either fill gaps, get dangerous, or prevent exits for the opposition.

Q4:

Although it was not a busy quarter like the previous for Roberts, he did some important things as the tight contest intensified. More clean pickups and quick hands from below the knees allowed the Panthers to maintain possession on several occasions. He also started to find his feet with his positioning in forward half stoppages, often leaving the contest to ready his run into forward 50 should his side clear it forward.

Final thoughts…

Coming off a dominant Under 18 performance, Roberts repaid the faith from head coach Jarrad Wright for bypassing a typical Reserves induction game. A serviceable outing playing a role should warrant another selection as he seemed comfortable in the contest to gather cleanly so often. 14 disposals with no marks indicates his ground ball nous and barring a few missed handballs, his disposal was reliable all game. The half-forward role is a difficult one to make a massive impact on the game, but Roberts did well to maintain his space and get to the front of contests to keep driving the ball forward. He was able to do this by not always flying for contests and positioning himself well, while working hard to get dangerous when the opportunity presented itself. Overall, a solid first League game with a goal for Roberts.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography