Tag: Scouting Notes

WAFL Colts Round 4 MOTR: East Fremantle vs. Perth

THIS week’s WAFL Colts match of the round was played between East Fremantle and Perth on Saturday, with the Demons overcoming the Sharks at Choice Homes Park. West Australian correspondent Lenny Fogliani was on hand to deliver a match report, and scouting notes on the most outstanding players.

MATCH REPORT:

In Round 4 of the 2020 Simply Energy WAFL Colts competition, Perth overcame East Fremantle by 11 points at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday morning.

The Demons now find themselves in fourth position, while East Fremantle are just one game outside of the top four.

Perth’s Conor McPartland was best afield against his former Club with 33 possessions, six marks, six tackles, five inside 50s and a goal in a powerful performance.

He was well supported by captain Zak Meloncelli (30 possessions, 12 marks, six tackles, three inside 50s), top draft hopeful Nathan O’Driscoll (22 possessions, three tackles, two inside 50s) and ruckman Jaiden Hunter (20 possessions, 44 hit-outs, seven marks, four inside 50s).

Mullewa product Edward Curley was the Sharks’ best player with 19 possessions, 10 tackles, three inside 50s and three goals.

Jack Carroll (20 possessions, five tackles, four marks, four inside 50s), Brandon Walker (19 possessions, two goals), Finn Gorringe (18 possessions, nine tackles) and Keanu Haddow (17 possessions, four marks) all contributed strongly for the Sharks.

It was a stalemate for the majority of the first quarter, taking until the 21st minute before a goal was kicked. It was Perth’s Daniel Hill who snapped the ball out of a pack to register the first goal of the game. Moments later, McPartland danced his way around an opponent, before he kicked a goal to give the Demons a 14-point lead at quarter-time.

Within the first minute of the second quarter, McPartland won a crucial clearance to kick the ball long inside attacking 50. Harry Quartermaine was able to take a strong contested mark, before he drilled through his first goal of the morning. At half-time the Demons held East Fremantle goalless and went into the main break with an 18-point lead.

The Demons started the third quarter with a bang, after Jack Evans and Quartermaine kicked goals. Curley scored the Sharks’ first goal after he sidestepped an opponent before popping through his first major for the day. Jayden Narrier then took an uncontested mark inside 50, before converting his set shot. In the 24th minute, Walker burst clear from a contest, before he checksided the ball through for a great goal, and reduced the margin to 23 points.

Curley got the Sharks off to a good start in the last quarter when he snapped through his second goal of the morning. However, soon after, Hill took an uncontested mark in the goalsquare before scoring his second goal. Blake Hughes converted a set shot from a tight angle to keep the Sharks in it.

Despite this, Harrison Hyde dribbled through another goal for the Demons. After winning a holding-the-ball free kick, Curley popped through his third goal from an extremely difficult angle. In the latter stages of the quarter, Walker smothered an attempted rebounding 50 by the Demons, before he snapped through his second goal, which was unfortunately a consolation.

Next week, the Demons host ladder-leaders West Perth at Mineral Resources Park, while East Fremantle has the bye.

SCOUTING NOTES:

East Fremantle:

#5 Edward Curley

The Mullewa product was extremely dynamic in the forward half for the Sharks. He accumulated 19 possessions, laid a game-high 10 tackles, recorded three inside 50s and kicked a game-high three goals. The highlight of his game came in the third quarter when he danced his way around an opponent before kicking his first goal of the morning.

#8 Finn Gorringe

The former Aquinas student was busy in the midfield for East Fremantle. Playing as the centreman, Gorringe finished with 18 possessions, nine tackles and two inside 50s in a workman-like performance.

#9 Brandon Walker

The Fremantle Dockers’ Next Generation Academy player was dynamic on the half-back line, often using his creative kicking skills to help propel plenty of the Sharks’ attacking opportunities. He finished with 19 possessions, five marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and two goals. His two goals were real highlights of the game – late in the third quarter, he burst from a stoppage before he checksided the ball through for his first goal. In the final stages of the last quarter, he smothered a Perth player’s kick, before he snapped through his second goal.

#13 Keanu Haddow

Another Fremantle Dockers’ Next Generation Academy member, Haddow was excellent in defence for the Sharks. The East Fremantle captain led from the front beautifully with 17 possessions, four marks and two tackles. In the final quarter, he was crunched in a Harry Quartermaine tackle and was forced to go off with what seemed to be a shoulder injury. However, he came back on the ground to try and inspire his team to victory – highlighting his toughness and leadership credentials.

#16 Jack Carroll

The Chapman Valley product was his busy self through midfield for the Sharks. Playing as the ruck-rover, Carroll collected 20 possessions, laid five tackles, took four marks, and recorded four inside 50s in a polished display. His decision-making combined with his beautiful kicking skills make him an attractive midfield prospect.

Perth:

#3 Daniel Hill

The 16-year-old was livewire for the Demons in the forward half. Originally from the Thornlie Junior Football Club, Hill finished with eight possessions, three tackles, two inside 50s and two goals in his WAFL Colts debut. The highlight of his game came late in the first quarter when he snapped the ball out of a pack for the opening goal of the game, and his first career goal.

#4 Zak Meloncelli

The Perth captain was inspirational for the Demons, often intercepting East Fremantle’s attacking entries, before setting his team into attack. He accumulated 30 possessions, took a game-high 12 marks, laid an equal team-high six tackles and recorded three inside 50s in a true captain’s performance.

#7 Conor McPartland

Playing against his former club, McPartland continued his blistering start to the season with another sublime performance. He finished with a game-high 33 possessions, an equal team-high six tackles, six marks, a game-high five inside 50s and a goal. The highlight of his game came in the first quarter, when he sidestepped an opponent before kicking a goal.

#10 Nathan O’Driscoll

The Northam product showed why he is one of WA’s leading AFL draft prospects this year with a brilliant performance. He gathered 22 possessions, laid three tackles and recorded two inside 50s in a strong display. His aggressive attack on the ball and man was inspiring. His decision-making and skill execution were also real features of his game.

#11 Harry Quartermaine

The Bullcreek-Leeming junior showed why he is the in-form key forward of the competition with another strong performance. He finished with nine possessions, three marks, three tackles, two hit-outs, one inside 50 and two goals. A highlight of his game came in the second quarter, when he took a strong contested mark, before kicking his first goal.

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 7

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia rolled on into Round 7 of the SANFL Under 18s competition, with a number of standouts continuing to emerge. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we have again compiled a list of the best and most promising performers from across the weekend, with one representative from all eight SANFL clubs. For extended profiles on each AFL Academy member listed, click on their names highlighted in red. For our full weekend scouting notes, click here.

West Adelaide vs. WWT Eagles

Zac Venning
West Adelaide | Defender
6/02/2002

Stats: 22 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 7 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:“The West Adelaide defence was under siege after quarter time, and Venning was part of the commendable resistance. He took on some of the kick-in duties and was quite sound in his disposal by foot, while also chiming in with some much-needed intercept possessions both in the air and at ground level.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: It has been a tough, winless start to the year for West Adelaide, but the silver lining has been the emergence of some promising talent. A number of players have had to stand up with their numbers repeatedly called, particularly in defence, and Venning has been the latest to do so after a solid fortnight. The top-ager showed he was able to compete in a variety of ways, and played a tough role well. It should give him the confidence boost needed to play out a more consistent second half of the season.

Jack Litster
WWT Eagles | Midfielder
6/07/2002 | 183cm | 78kg

Stats: 26 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 7 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Litster was a key cog in the Eagles’ midfield throughout the game… He dug in hard to win a bunch of ball at the centre bounces early on, which seemed to inject him with a deal of confidence as he continued to pop up with eye-catching efforts.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: You would not blame Litster for not being able to properly prove his worth with the likes of Caleb Poulter and Jase Burgoyne also running through the centre bounces, but he managed to hold his own. There’s a good number of solid contributors in the Eagles squad capable of rotating into the midfield, and Litster belongs on that list. He seems to have a good mix of power and agility at the contest, both of which are handy tools for stoppage extraction.

North Adelaide vs. Sturt

Kallis Freer
North Adelaide | Midfielder
8/12/2002 | 176cm | 77kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 5 marks, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “(Freer) formed a terrific combination with Matthew Borg at the stoppages, often receiving the first handball out of traffic and bursting forward with speed and strength. That was before he went on to win a mountain of his own ball, providing great drive and accumulating well around the ground.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The top-age midfielder was one of a few Roosters to return to the lineup after a couple of weeks away, and he slotted seamlessly back into the SANFL Under 18s groove. Freer showed a good balance of traits through midfield, able to use his speed and nous to receive on the outside of stoppages, while also leaning on his power to break free of would-be tacklers. It is always tough for sub-180cm midfielders to make a mark at the next level, so finding those points of difference is important.

Will Spain
Sturt | Midfielder
10/07/2003 | 174cm | 66kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 5 marks, 6 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “While his touches may not always be as noticeable as those of his midfield peers, Spain is such an important part of the Double Blues’ midfield setup… the diminutive ball winner was able to dig in and get first hands on the pill in heavy congestion. His feeding handballs made it easier for others to pump the ball forward, and helped set the tone for Sturt’s midfield edge.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Another small midfielder who can hold his own amid a mix of highly-touted prospects is Spain, who enjoyed some primary ball winning responsibility on the weekend. He is quite light-on but seems to stand up well in the contested side of the game, and he combined well with Mani Liddy to set the tone for Sturt. As a bottom-ager, he still has time to grow and fill out, and should thrive if the likes of Tom Powell spend more minutes outside of the centre bounces going forward.

Glenelg vs. Central District

Harry McInnes
Glenelg | Forward
31/03/2003 | 187cm | 82kg

Stats: 13 disposals (12 kicks), 7 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 goals, 4 behinds

Our scouts said: “Tall forward McInnes had a day he will never forget. He produced a brilliant first half, kicking three goals and impacting the contest whenever the ball went forward, whether it be through score involvements or forward pressure. He always led well at the ball carrier and showed great agility for his size when the ball hit the deck.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Glenelg have a few likely types of a similar mould to McInnes; forwards who are just below the traditional key position height, but can compete as focal points in attack. At 187cm, the bottom-ager proved just that and used his 82kg frame to advantage in a game-saving display. His after-the-siren behind secured a draw for Glenelg, while his nine scoring shots told the story of his impact on the contest. If he finish even a little more consistently, McInnes could kick many more bags of goals in future.

Saxon Evans
Central District | Key Forward/Ruck
24/06/2003 | 196cm | 94kg

Stats: 18 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 3 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 32 hitouts, 4 goals

Our scouts said: “Evans was one of Central’s standout performers in this outing… He played in front at most forward 50 contests which allowed him to use his size and mark quick entries out of the middle. Evans also has a nice set shot for goal, highlighted when he slotted a difficult kick from the 50-metre arc on a tight angle in the first term.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Another big man to use his size well up forward, Evans was involved in each role he played. While it is a touch easier for players of a 196cm/94kg stature to dominate at Under 18s level, you still have to go out and collect those 18 disposals, take seven marks, win 32 hitouts, and boot four goals. The Centrals bottom-ager is clearly capable of playing to his strengths, but still has plenty of room to improve.

South Adelaide vs. Norwood

Brayden Cook
South Adelaide | Wing/Forward
18/07/2002 | 188cm | 74kg

Stats: 16 disposals (15 kicks), 8 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 4 goals

Our scouts said: “Cook has shown some glimpses of his talent already this season, but his four goal effort against the Redlegs will have really turned some heads… Cook’s cleanness by foot, aerial prowess, and speed at ground level were exciting to watch.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Cook thrust his name into the draft bolter hat after another impactful performance for Souths, as he continues to catch the eye at Under 18s level. As our scouts entailed this week, the top-ager has a bunch of desirable traits; able to compete both overhead and at ground level, break forward with speed, and punish the opposition with sharp use by foot. His damage is doubled by scoreboard impact, and Cook is a good height at 188cm. He could well continue on a wing while rotating forward, but seems to also have the traits to slot into the midfield mix with his x-factor.

Henry Nelligan
Norwood | Midfielder/Small Forward
7/03/2002 | 170cm | 69kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 2 marks, 10 tackles, 8 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “(Nelligan) was typically industrial around the ball. He spent time up forward but was most effective as an inside midfielder. Regularly the last player to stand up after a contest, Nelligan won plenty of contested ball and was the leading clearance player on the ground with eight. He tackled strongly and with intensity and booted two goals from set-shots inside 50.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: After a couple of League outings and plenty of time in the Reserves, Nelligan returned to his age group and showcased just why he had earned a senior berth. While he has no trouble finding the ball through midfield at Under 18s level, it is clear to see why the 170cm prospect has been pitched as a small forward, with his tackling pressure and smarts around goal very evident. He should regain a good bout of confidence after this performance, with more senior opportunities sure to come down the line.

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> 2020 Power Rankings: July | August

SANFL League Player Focus:
Rd 1 – Corey Durdin
Rd 2 – Riley Thilthorpe
Rd 3 – Lachlan Jones

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 7

ROUND 7 of 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 again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in. Some sides remained slightly depleted over the weekend with school football making its return.

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.

WWT Eagles vs. West Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

WWT:

#7 Caleb Poulter

Despite spending the majority of his time running through midfield, Poulter accumulated most of his possessions on the outside. It beggars belief that he was able to find so much space around the ground, racking up 27 disposals and eight marks – largely uncontested in open play. He still showed glimpses of his contested work and the ability to flick out long, releasing handballs, while also looking to get on the move at stoppages as the Eagles’ anchor. One of the main restrictions on Poulter’s impact was his tendency to bomb the ball long looking for distance, rather than a specific target. While his penetration is usually effective, it worked against him at times as his kicks played right into West Adelaide’s defensive setup.

#9 Max Litster

Litster was a key cog in the Eagles’ midfield throughout the game, getting his hands dirty with 26 disposals and seven clearances. He dug in hard to win a bunch of ball at the centre bounces early on, which seemed to inject him with a deal of confidence as he continued to pop up with eye-catching efforts. He blazed away with a few kicks in the first half, but began to adjust in the second half with bursts away from congestion before delivering the ball forward. Litster’s strength and subtle turn of speed came to the fore, and he was a solid contributor for his side.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

The 2021 Port Adelaide father-son candidate returned monster numbers as he rotated through the defence and midfield, collecting a game-high 37 disposals, five clearances, nine rebound 50s, and a goal. While his stats were padded slightly by taking on the kick-in duties, Burgoyne had no trouble in finding his own ball in all areas of the ground. He looked dangerous in his forward movement, hitting the ball at speed and getting creative with his disposal on the up-take. His ability to chain possessions and provide a clean touch at the contest was noticeable, as was his knack of knowing exactly where the play was moving. Burgoyne looks a likely type for next year’s draft.

Others:

If not for inaccuracy in front of goal, big Henry Smith would have enjoyed a very good outing up forward, but instead booted 1.3 from his nine disposals, while Zac Phillips won 24 hitouts in the ruck. Harrison Dawkins was his usual self through the midfield and forwardline, collecting 23 disposals and booting a goal, while Jay Watson (two goals) and Jacob Godden (one) looked dangerous at ground level. Will Neumann was another to impress in patches, showing good physicality in his 11-disposal performance, which included four clearances and eight tackles.

>> WWT EAGLES CONTENT

West Adelaide:

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

While the pure numbers of 34 disposals, six clearances, and four inside 50s read incredibly well by anyone’s standards, Chamberlain still endured a tough night against solid opposition. He quite obviously has no trouble finding the ball and was constantly around the action, but it was more a case of struggling to generate any serious drive for the Bloods with his disposal – particularly in the first half. He would often find himself stuck with no support around him, by no fault of his own, or having to bomb long to a contest. He seemed to use his speed more effectively after half time to break away from congestion and deliver forward, though. There is always room for improvement, but Chamberlain is very much still West Adelaide’s primary ball winner.

#7 Cooper Gilbert

Gilbert was a positive mover through the Westies midfield, providing a physical edge at the contest while also remaining accountable. He may not have won mountains of the ball with 15 disposals and three clearances, but made his presence felt with solid defensive pressure and six strong tackles. He was one of the West Adelaide players to have run out the game strongly, and supply much-needed support to the likes of Chamberlain at the fall of the ball.

#12 Zac Venning

The West Adelaide defence was under siege after quarter time, and Venning was part of the commendable resistance. He took on some of the kick-in duties and was quite sound in his disposal by foot, while also chiming in with some much-needed intercept possessions both in the air and at ground level. While his sweeping role across the back half was largely an accumulative one, his 22 disposals and seven rebound 50s were all important to the Bloods’ cause.

Others:

Eduard van den Berg continued his solid form down back with another 27 disposals and nine rebound 50s, supported well by Kane Sherlock (18 disposals, seven tackles). Luke Young impressed up the other end with three goals from 17 touches, seemingly enjoying his own handiwork.

>> WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

North Adelaide vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

North Adelaide

#9 Jamison Murphy

It was a successful return to SANFL Under 18s action for Murphy, who slotted straight back into his role rotating through the midfield from half-back. He is not particularly quick, but just seems a level above in terms of his awareness, able to assess his options and run a full measure before delivering the ball cleanly by foot. Murphy was clean and composed on the last line, adding some sweeping defensive duties to his safe use of the ball going forward. He would later move into the midfield to good effect, even bombing home a 50-metre set shot in the second term. There are hardly any frills in Murphy’s game, but you know what you’re going to get with his hard work, strength, and efficient style.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

Newchurch was North Adelaide’s other AFL Academy hub member to return to SANFL Under 18s duties, and again showed glimpses of his raw talent. The Adelaide Crows NGA hopeful has terrific agility and evasiveness, and constantly utilised that aspect of his game on Saturday. He was often sighted running hard up the ground to find the ball and create a spark for the Roosters with inboard kicks, while also getting busy close to goal. Newchurch’s ability to collect the ball from forward 50 stoppages at speed was outstanding, and almost earned him a goal on multiple occasions. While the pop in his set shots came under question early on, Newchurch eventually found the big sticks with a nice snap in the second term.

#24 Kallis Freer

The Roosters’ most prolific ball winner on the day (28 disposals, five clearances), Freer was terrific after steadily building into the contest. He formed a terrific combination with Matthew Borg at the stoppages, often receiving the first handball out of traffic and bursting forward with speed and strength. That was before he went on to win a mountain of his own ball, providing great drive and accumulating well around the ground. His second term goal on the fly was his highlight of the day, and he even set one up for Zyton Santillo in the third.

Others:

Borg was again terrific from midfield with 26 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. His ability to get first hands on the ball worked to release his outside runners well. The tall and small defensive duo of Lam Simon (21 disposals, 10 marks) and Blayne O’Loughlin (25 disposals, eight rebound 50s) again worked wonders, with Simon intercepting well in the air, while O’Loughlin buzzed away at ground level. Santillo was also an effective link heading forward, with his defensive pressure and handy aerial work helping him to 17 disposals and a goal.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Sturt:

#11 Will Spain

While his touches may not always be as noticeable as those of his midfield peers, Spain is such an important part of the Double Blues’ midfield setup. With Tom Powell spending a touch more time away from the centre bounces and stoppages, the diminutive ball winner was able to dig in and get first hands on the pill in heavy congestion. His feeding handballs made it easier for others to pump the ball forward, and set the tone for Sturt’s midfield edge. He is still a bottom-ager, so has plenty of time to continue to develop, and the work rate seems to be there already.

#17 Mani Liddy

Liddy arguably took over as Sturt’s prime mover through midfield on this occasion, and ended up as his side’s top ball winner with 30 disposals and seven clearances. His strength at the contest was outstanding, and there were countless times where he was able to either shrug off would-be tacklers with strength, or use his core to stand up and flick the ball out. Liddy’s releasing handballs were effective early, and he began to kick more as the game wore on – particularly long. While his tendency to try to fend off tacklers got him in trouble in the third term and may have the same effect at the elite level, Liddy still provides great ball winning quality and smarts through midfield.

#18 Tom Powell

If 27 disposals and 10 clearances makes up your quietest outing in weeks, then you know you’re going alright. Powell may have spent a good amount of time up forward for Sturt across this outing, but made his midfield minutes count when thrown back into the engine room. He worked into the game well after quarter time, again showcasing his composure on the ball with some terrific decision making by hand in traffic. Powell was as clean as ever and worked around the ground well to rack up some uncontested possessions, utilising sharp short-range kicks to help the Double Blues move into attack. He clearly looked more comfortable in midfield, and made a good impact as Sturt ran over the top of North Adelaide in the final term.

Others:

William Staples made his mark early with a couple of opportunistic goals, while Blake Higgins was another to start brightly, finding a good amount of space on the wing to finish with 23 disposals and 10 marks. William Taylor saw plenty of the ball down back (17 disposals, nine rebound 50s), while Tom Emmett‘s late goals up the other end proved crucial to the Double Blues’ win.

>> STURT CONTENT

Glenelg vs. Central District

By: Tom Cheesman (U18s) & Peter Williams (League)

Glenelg:

#10 Ty Murphy

Murphy worked hard up and down the outer wing for Glenelg, collecting 16 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and a goal in the draw. He has outstanding speed and used this asset to break away from opponents and get the ball moving quickly. A highlight was in the third term when he produced a clean pick-up to intercept the ball and goal from about 40 metres out on the run.

#11 Harry McInnes

Tall forward McInnes had a day he will never forget. He produced a brilliant first half, kicking three goals and impacting the contest whenever the ball went forward, whether it be through score involvements or forward pressure. He always led well at the ball carrier and showed great agility for his size when the ball hit the deck. In the second half, he kicked two more goals and had a chance to win the Bays the game with a set shot for goal after the siren (who trailed by one point at the time). Although he missed to the left, there is no way Glenelg would have scraped through with a draw without McInnes’ fantastic performance. He finished with 13 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and 5.4.

#16 Maxwell Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald played at centre-half back and showed that this position suits him to a T. The youngster read the ball brilliantly from one or two kicks behind the play and took multiple intercept marks with strong hands. Fitzgerald’s work rate was exceptional for a big man and his kick was also very reliable, hitting the majority of his targets when moving the ball forward. He finished with 15 disposals, seven marks, five rebound 50s and three tackles.

#20 Bailey Durant

Durant was positioned at half-back alongside Fitzgerald and put together arguably his best performance for the season. He came off the back of the square with pace at numerous centre bounces and impacted the contests. He was composed with ball in hand and was willing to push up the ground to launch the ball into the Bays’ attack. Durant finished with 18 disposals, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#27 Luke Parks (League)

A player I rated last season playing for Sydney Swans Academy, it was great to see him continuing the form he has already set himself this season. He looks comfortable at senior level, able to control the airways, not panic with ball-in-hand on the last line, and use the ball effectively going long down the line, or in switching the play. He took a whopping 10 marks – four contested – and was a real thorn in the Bulldogs’ side with his ability to get into the right position and outmark his direct opponent. He did not have as many touches as he has had in previous weeks, but he earned them all, finishing with 14 disposals, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds. As an over-ager he looks to have ticked the box to compete against quality senior players in one of the top state leagues in the country, so certainly deserves a look-in this year.

#30 Luke Edwards (League)

Making his debut in the League side, Edwards did not look out of place having the chance to run out alongside his brother, Jackson. He was busy early with a goal assist midway through the term thanks to a clever kick across his body. It almost looked like it was going to bounce through, but sat up and Matthew Snook had the nice cherry pick on the goal line to make it a certainty. He provided an option at half-back and played the safe option with his ball use, but it was his defensive pressure and willingness to crack in that caught the eye. Having second and third efforts at the contest, and refusing to give in, Edwards finished with a really solid, 10 disposals, three marks and five tackles, whilst also recording a behind.

Others:

Riley Davis (20 disposals, two goals) worked tirelessly for the Bays and kicked an important clutch goal from a set shot. Connor Drum (16 disposals, two goals) was accurate in front of goal while Jarman Sigal (17 disposals, 14 hitouts, seven tackles) used his athleticism to impact contests in the ruck and around the ground.

>> GLENELG CONTENT

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald

McDonald had another strong game for the Bulldogs. In what turned out to be a scrappy affair, the youngster was a quite simply a class above. He worked hard at stoppages, ran back to help his defence whenever required and kicked to his teammates’ advantage when moving the ball forward. McDonald clearly tried to make his team go more central with their ball movement by frequently presenting for the switch in the centre square to open up both sides of the ground. He filled the stats sheet with 24 disposals, eight clearances, seven tackles, six marks, six inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#15 Lewis Cowham

Cowham returned to the Under 18 side for this clash against Glenelg and was arguably the best performer on the ground. He hunted the ball relentlessly at stoppages, was smart by hand and took multiple intercept marks because of how well he positioned himself around the ground. Cowham demonstrated the ability to use both sides of his body by foot and linked up well with other midfielders in transition. He finished with 24 disposals, seven tackles, six marks and five clearances.

#32 Saxon Evans

Evans was one of Central’s standout performers in this outing. He played in the ruck and up forward, switching with fellow big man Wyatt Ryan. While he was fantastic in the ruck with 32 hitouts, Evans was incredibly potent up forward, kicking four majors for the day. He played in front at most forward 50 contests which allowed him to use his size and mark quick entries out of the middle. Evans also has a nice set shot for goal, highlighted when he slotted a difficult kick from the 50-metre arc on a tight angle in the first term.

#39 Wyatt Ryan

As mentioned above, Ryan shared the ruck duties with Evans and was also very impressive in this contest. He provided a great option for the Bulldogs coming out of defence, taking numerous strong marks on the wings above his head in contested situations. He then gave quick handballs to runners that were coming in waves to break through the Tigers’ defensive setup and launch deep into attack. Ryan finished with 17 disposals, 11 hitouts, eight marks (four contested) and a goal.

#31 Corey Durdin (League)

A really clean prospect whose work at ground level is superb. He does not fumble too many ground balls, and he just knows how to rove a marking contest with ease. He had an early chance in the match by doing just that and kicking towards goal but went across the face and stayed in. Throughout the first half he looked really busy and was winning a fair chunk of the ball in the opening term, even pushing up to half-back at one stage. He hit up Troy Menzel inside 50 midway through the term, and almost had a mark close to goal at the 17-minute stage but it slipped through his hands. He did a lot of running up the ground to win the ball through midfield and even at half-back in the second term. He had a chance on goal again in that quarter, showing clean hands out of the stoppage and receiving the ball back, but rushed a little and his kick went across to the right. He finally got on the end of one in the third term kicking a major on the run from 35m. While his second half was not as huge numbers wise as his first, he continued to look dangerous whenever the ball was in his area. Durdin ended with 11 disposals – 10 kicks – two marks, two tackles, an impressive five inside 50s and a goal.

#32 Jack Toner (League)

The ex-Dandenong Stingrays ball magnet continued his work at Under 18s level last year to have no issues whatsoever getting to the right spots in his third League game for the year. Handed the responsibility of kickouts more often than not, Toner would look to run-and-gun out of defence. At times the pace caught up with him and he would have to rush or was run down, but when he was able to execute cleanly, the Bulldogs looked a lot more damaging. He showed off a raking long boot and even pushed up to half-forward at one stage, showing quick hands and an ability ti move the ball in transition. He started a scoring chain for Central midway through the second term, and beat his season-high from last week with an extra disposal to have 21 touches, three marks, five rebounds, two clearances and two inside 50s in a promising display.

#52 Lachlan Grubb (League)

Didn’t win a heap of it, but was not afraid of the contest and used the ball well when he did get it. In just his second League match, he showed clean hands when he had it, and spread to the flanks and up to the wing when required to be lively. He often looked for the short pass, but he also had the athleticism to worry opponents into rushing at times, and finished with nine disposals, four marks and a tackle in the loss.

Others:

Christopher Tidswell (12 kicks) worked hard once again in defence, displaying some nice run and link-up with teammates. Kobe Wilson (18 disposals, five marks) used his pace to impress down the wing and kicked an outstanding running goal (after a fantastic crumb from Lowan Welch) to put his side in front at the 25-minute mark of the final term. Finn Reed (nine disposals, four inside 50s, one goal) was lively up forward.

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

South Adelaide vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

South Adelaide:

#4 Max Clifton

Max Clifton fought hard in the midfield all day against a talented Norwood on-ball unit. His long left-boot stood out, launching several bombs down the line and also nailing a goal on the run from beyond the arc early in the second term. Clifton’s disposal by foot would continue to be a feature of his game from that point on, with his ability to execute a difficult kick and find Brayden Cook on his own deep inside-50 another excellent example. He finished the match with 16 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three clearances and five inside-50s.

#10 Brayden Cook

Medium forward Brayden Cook has shown some glimpses of his talent already this season, but his four goal effort against the Redlegs will have really turned some heads. He slotted his first goal from a regulation set-shot after floating across the pack to take a nice mark. Later, Cook swooped at the back of a marking contest and gathered the loose ball cleanly before accelerating away and kicking long for a teammate to run onto and goal from the square. Later in the final term he showed excellent hustle to force a turnover, gather the loose ball and complete a clean pass to Clifton, who then returned the favour by finding him all alone inside-50, where he booted his fourth. Cook’s cleanness by foot, aerial prowess and speed at ground level was exciting to watch and he finished the day with 16 disposals (15 kicks), eight marks (three contested) and four inside-50s.

#23 Phoenix Spicer

Spicer added some real excitement to the game with his speed and ability to break the lines. He embarked on several long runs on both wings and would have accumulated plenty of metres gained. Although his disposal whilst travelling at speed wasn’t always effective, there’s no denying his outside talent and ability to break open a game with his electric leg speed. He concluded the match with 17 disposals, four tackles and a game-high nine inside-50s.

#27 Will Verrall

South’s 16-year-old tall shared the ruck duties with Heath Treloar and also spent some time up forward. Despite his age, Verrall looked at home at under-18s level, with his athleticism a real positive. He moves extremely well for a big man and took a big contested mark early in the game to get the Panthers rolling. Verrall finished with eight disposals, three marks and 18 hitouts and looks to be one to watch evolve at under-18s level across the next couple of years.

#33 Jason Horne (League)

At just 17 years of age, Jason Horne made his league debut on Sunday afternoon at Coopers Stadium. He spent the entire match in the forward line, often opposed to Emmanuel Irra, and didn’t look out of place from the moment he entered the field, winning himself a holding the ball free kick in the opening minutes. He provided some run and carry on a couple of occasions and was strong in the air when he needed to be. Aside from a poor forward-50 entry in the second term, Horne’s foot skills were solid. He spotted a teammate inside-50 who kicked a much needed goal for the Panthers later in the game. He wasn’t provided with lots of opportunities, but certainly showed some encouraging early signs. He finished with nine disposals, three marks, two tackles and three inside-50s.

Others: 

Ruckman Heath Treloar performed well and provided the South Adelaide midfielders with a plethora of taps to advantage. He played a vital role in South’s second quarter revival and finished the match with eight disposals and seven tackles to go with a game-high 24 hitouts. Jayden Little had a couple of nice moments across half-back and through the midfield. He collected 15 disposals, five marks, three clearances and five rebound-50s. Left-footer Jack Flett was another to impress across half-back. He found plenty of the footy and set-up much of the Panthers rebound from the back-half. Flett finished with a team-high 20 disposals and eight marks (two contested). Although slight in his build, midfielder Luke Mitton had his moments in attack and on the ball, headlined by a breakaway clearance in the first term. He finished with 12 disposals, five tackles and six clearances and was one of the Panthers best. Key defender Harry Spacie was trusted with the kick-ins and was one of South’s better players in a high-scoring opening term. He took a couple of strong contested marks and accumulated 20 disposals and seven rebound-50s.

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

Bottom-ager Cooper Murley continues to shine at under-18 level after another excellent showing in the red and blue at Flinders University Stadium. The silky smooth midfielder/forward was never flat-footed at stoppages and looked to get on his bike early in the hope of receiving the ball in a dangerous position, which he was successful in doing on multiple occasions. His running patterns and ability to accelerate away from his opponents allowed him to accumulate plenty of the ball. Murley’s ability to remain composed and hit his targets by foot whilst running at high speed is a trait which not many can master, particularly at his age. He kicked a classy goal on the run from a tricky angle late in the first term to extend the Redlegs sizeable lead, but it was his involvement at one particular centre bounce which would have really excited AFL scouts. His direct opponent didn’t go body-on-body at the centre bounce and allowed him some space, which Murley took full advantage of. He accelerated away from the pack, gathered the ball at speed then turned and hit ruckman Nathan Hearing all alone across the other side of the stoppage with his left foot. He is simply too quick and skilful to be allowed any space to operate in. Although the flashy stuff was eye-catching, Murley also tackled hard and took three terrific marks whilst facing the opposite direction by simply reading it better than his Panthers opponent. The exciting talent finished with a game-high 31 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four clearances and six inside-50s.

#5 Henry Nelligan

Nelligan returned to under-18s level after stints with the league and reserves sides and was typically industrial around the ball. He spent time up forward but was most effective as an inside midfielder. Regularly the last player to stand up after a contest, Nelligan won plenty of contested ball and was the leading clearance player on the ground with eight. He tackled strongly and with intensity and booted two goals from set-shots inside-50. A significant proportion of his kicks were hurried snaps out of congestion but in general play his skills were relatively clean. He finished with 24 disposals, two marks and ten tackles.

#6 Michael Cavallaro

Cavallaro’s skills with ball in hand, football smarts and composure were all prominent in the win over the Panthers. He was instrumental in Norwood’s third goal, kicking long to the goal square where teammate James Warton marked and converted the subsequent set-shot. It was encouraging to see Cavallaro back his foot skills and look to hit several in-board targets. Although he spends most of his time on the wing and across half-back, ‘Cav’ showed he is capable of winning his own ball by cracking in hard when it was his turn to go. Wherever possible, he lowered his eyes and surveyed his options instead of taking the simple option and kicking long down the line. Cavallaro’s vision to spot a teammate in space at the other side of a stoppage helped get the ball moving Norwood’s way and quick handballing was superb once again. He capped off another strong outing with a goal from right on the 50 metre arc in the third term. Cavallaro finished with 19 disposals, five marks and four inside-50s.

#17 Daniel Fairbrother

The intercept-marking machine was at it again across half-back for the ‘legs. Fairbrother’s ability to read the play downfield and position himself to cut off opposition forward entries has been vital to Norwood’s terrific start to the season. He was strong in the air, but at ground level he provided some meaningful rebound from the back-50 and didn’t shy away from any contest. Although many of his kicks were short and relatively low percentage, his foot skills were sound for the majority of the clash and helped construct several attacking passages. Fairbrother finished with 23 disposals, nine marks (three contested) and seven rebound-50s.

#21 Jack Saunders

It was another strong showing from consistent midfielder Jack Saunders. He spent some time on the inside but earned most of his possessions on the outside of the contest and in open space, where he was able to use his excellent acceleration to provide run and carry between the arcs. Although his ability to accumulate the football week-in, week-out is impressive, question marks loom over Saunders’ disposal by foot, which has been up and down so far in 2020. However he was largely sound by foot against the Panthers and delivered a couple of beautiful kicks inside-50 to leading teammates. His goal off only a couple of steps from right-on the 50 metre line in the third term was a real highlight and his ability to impact the scoreboard has proven invaluable for Norwood. The blonde-haired on-baller finished with 24 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and six inside-50s.

Others:

Taj Rahul performed well in his half-back role. He used his speed and long foot skills to generate rebound from the Redlegs defensive-50. His attack on the ball was also encouraging to see. He collected 12 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four rebound-50s. Key forward Finn Heard was once again the focal point of the Norwood forward line. He consistently gained separation from his direct opponent on the lead and converted all-bar-one of his chances to finish with three goals. Ruckman Nathan Hearing had a couple of Panthers opponents to contest against at Noarlunga. He won a couple of nice taps to advantage but it was his excellent work at ground level which really stood out, particularly for a player of his size. One of the best big men in the SANFL under-18 competition, Hearing picked up 19 disposals, six clearances and four inside-50s to go with his 16 hitouts.

>> NORWOOD CONTENT

Scouting notes: Northern Academy Series – Round 1

THE 2020 Northern Academy Series got underway over the weekend, with prospects from the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, GWS Giants, and Sydney Swans talent programs all looking to impress. State derbies kicked off proceedings, and made for a couple of hard-fought battles.

In a willing contest under sunny conditions, the Gold Coast Suns Academy won by 53 points over their Sunshine State rivals. The Suns booted the first six goals of the game – five came with the breeze in the opening term – to run out comfortable winners.

The Sydney Swans Academy also ran out winners in their clash with the GWS Giants prospects, setting up the victory with a string of five unanswered goals which extended from the second term, onwards. Soggy conditions ensured hard work would be made for the 15-point triumph, with a good bit of niggle to go with the contested slog.

We took a look at some of the Academy members and how they performed, as well as a bunch of other names who impressed on the day.

Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast Suns

Brisbane:

By: Peter Williams

#12 Saxon Crozier

Played a mixture between the wing and getting back to help the defence, Crozier was neat with his ball use and always looking to create run for the Lions. After a quieter first term – though he had a good handball out of defence – he had an number of impressive plays in the second term. He sidestepped an opponent and got it quickly onto the right, and presented to his teammates around the field. His handballing release to teammates streaming down the ground opened up the play for Brisbane to begin to cut the deficit back.

#13 Blake Coleman

Not a high possession player, Coleman has high level footy smarts and clean hands that make him so difficult to stop. He is one of those players who might not get a touch for a half, then can win the game for his side with a couple of impactful plays. After a few silky moves in the first term, he combined well with Tahj Abberley down the ground to win it on the wing and keep paddling the ball in front of him. Somehow he managed to gain distance, shake off his pursuers and launch a goal from 50m having beaten three opponents in the clear goal of the day. His second major in the third term was more straightforward, floating in from the side to then hold his ground and clunk the grab 35m out. He nailed the set shot six and a half minutes into the term, and almost had another good mark in the final quarter but could not quite hold it. As he booted two of the Lions’ four goals, he did well to play his role in the forward half with great pressure.

#14 Carter Michael

Michael showed a great balance of offensive and defensive traits throughout the contest, playing off half-back and then pushing up the ground when required. His first foray in the match was a good early spoil, getting the body contact out of the way. Throughout the match, Michael ran hard to be an option through the middle, and often ran up to the kicker at a stop in play to receive the get and go, to add an extra number to the play and try and use his speed to drive the ball down the ground. He pumped the ball inside 50 on occasions, and was working hard to look for one-two opportunities for his teammates. He copped a knock in the defensive 50 back pocket, but bounced straight back up and was solid throughout the entire game. Showing nice hands out of congestion, Michael ran down the ground and teamed up with Abberley well in keeping the ball moving. He had a snap on goal of his own late in the final term, but the wind did not help him out and it went out on the full. His reaction in one passage of play saw him bolt down the middle and leave his opponents in his wake. He was a treat to watch on the day and a real highlight for the Lions.

#15 Tahj Abberley

One of the Lions’ best throughout the day, he just kept trying to create off half-back and push up the ground. He set up a goal to Coleman in the second term with his pace off half-back, and then teamed up well with Michael in the final term with the one-two handballs down the ground. He stayed involved in all four quarters, and even drifted forward at times to kick it deeper inside 50, having a clever snap from long range, but it drifted for a behind. He won plenty of the ball in all thirds of the ground, and when the heat was on early in the game, Abberley was one of the few who stood up and continued to try hard against the flow. He used the ball well and showed good hands in traffic throughout the contest, and definitely showed plenty of potential in the defeat.

Others:

In terms of others who caught the eye, Shatna Cashen-Harris was lively up forward, with clean hands and a silky side-step, always looking dangerous. In midfield, the combination of Sam Winterbottom and Daniel Lanthois tried hard with the latter kicking a clever goal in the second term, whilst Ben Thomas kicked the other major for the Lions. Over-ager Max McDonald was dominant in the ruck, whilst Noah McFadyen provided a contest up forward, and Kuot Thok was not afraid to crash and bash the packs in defence.

>> Lions Academy Content

Gold Coast:

By: Ed Pascoe

#13 Rhys Nicholls 

Nicholls did not have the most productive game but he was still able to show his skill and talent with some nice spin moves and classy movement from the back half. The clever left-footer looked very smooth whenever he got possession and like many of his teammates, always took the opportunity to move the ball forward as quickly and cleanly as possible. 

#14 Max Pescud 

Maybe the most unlucky Suns player not to be included in the AFL based academy, he has been a regular goal scorer in the QAFL and backed that up again. He kicked multiple goals while also unselfishly passing off more opportunities as he could have easily ended up with about five goals himself. A quick player who takes the game on, tackles, and marks with intent despite his light frame, he came undone a few times with his run but when he was up-and-running and taking bounces, he looked very sharp and even got some time through the midfield late in the game, winning a few clearances. 

#19 Josh Fahey 

Fahey played for NSW/ACT in last year’s Under 16 championships and now finds himself with the Gold Coast Suns, although he wont be tied to any academies for next year’s draft. That’ll come as a sigh of relief for all AFL clubs, as he put on a best on ground performance down back. Fahey wasn’t hard to miss with his blonde locks but he also wasn’t hard to miss for the Lions going inside 50 as they kicked it down his throat multiple times. Fahey cut off plenty of attacks, attacking the contest hard and cleanly. His left-foot kicking from defence was a real feature, both long and damaging, and he had a major influence on the result. Fahey looks to be a very promising prospect for the 2021 draft.  

#20 Aiden Fyfe 

Fyfe had the ball on a string on his favoured wing position, and would had to have been the leading possession winner on the ground as he was involved in every quarter as one of the most consistent players afield. Fyfe found the ball all over the ground, working hard defensively and offensively. He was one of many to kick a goal in the first quarter with a nice snap and he would set up countless others with his clean hands and composure when in possession. Fyfe rarely wasted his touches and often hit teammates in a better position than himself. Despite not being the quickest player out there, he was certainly one of the sharpest in both skill and mind with ball in hand. 

#22 Jack Johnston 

The captain of the side, Johnston was a rock in defence at centre half-back. He took some nice strong marks and was cool and composed across the back half. Johnston is a strong player already standing at 195cm and 95kg, using his frame well both overhead anover the ball, and his disposals were often very clean for a big man. 

Others:

A couple of over-agers who impressed were forwards, Josh Gore and Nathan Colenso. Both were able to hit the scoreboard multiple times and look damaging, with Colenso on the lead, and Gore mixing between the lead and in play. Both have been prominent goalkickers at QAFL level, and brought that same form into the game, with Gore’s clean hands and Colenso’s strength and tackling ability amongst the attributes that stood out for the respective forwards.

>> Suns Academy Content

GWS Giants vs. Sydney Swans

By: Michael Alvaro

GWS:

#1 Harry Grant

The diminutive over-ager was thrown right into the cut and thrust of midfield and hardly looked out of place. Grant hunted the ball from the first bounce, with his pace and tenacity at ground level making for a solid two-way contribution. If he wasn’t digging in to win his own ball at the stoppages, Grant was applying smothering defensive pressure to make life hard for opposition midfielders. It seemed the conditions suited his game well, and he would later move forward where he very nearly added a goal to his game with a sharp snap.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another 19-year-old prospect to show promising glimpses of form, Delahunty was primed to make is mark on the NAB League and VFL in 2020. Instead, he took the opportunity this weekend to show his worth back with the Giants Academy, and had his moments throughout the game. Starting in defence, Delahunty took a nice contested mark to intercept a deep Sydney entry, while also looking to rebound aggressively by running his full measure and delivering by foot. He is somewhat of an in-between size at 192cm and 87kg, allowing him to compete both aerially and at ground level. He continued to take the game on from defensive 50, but was caught holding the ball as he looked to fend off an opponent in the third term. A move forward followed, and Delahunty capped off his performance with a tidy, quick finish for the final goal of the game.

#27 Josh Green

Green cuts a similar figure to his brother, Tom – albeit a touch taller and leaner – and was tried in an inside midfield role for the Giants early on. His 192cm frame allowed him to compete at the stoppages, while his ability to get up either end of the ground made him an influential player throughout the game. While he was a touch slow to truly build into the contest, Green began to show his best form after half time with some terrific overhead marking in tricky conditions. His clearance work built as well with the added confidence, and a later move behind the ball allowed Green to showcase his strong hands and intercept quality.

#42 Maximus Monaghan

One of a number of Giants to have rotated through midfield, Monaghan also showed some good signs while stationed both in defence and attack. The top-ager is strongly built and applied himself at the contest, showing good aggression and strength to break free and dispose of the ball via foot. He accumulated well through the engine room and was later sighted up either end of the ground where he was able to find his way to the ball.

Others:

On a day where the conditions made it tough to take a lot out of the game, there were a number of players to have provided little flashes of form. Bottom-age forward Sam Stening presented well up the ground early and was later rewarded with a goal for his run-down tackle on Max Geddes. The likes of Coopa Steele and Joel Dunstall dug in to find plenty of the ball, while Harrison Grintell looked lively up forward, and Sam Frost was among a few solid defenders. Under 16 NSW/ACT MVP Kai Watts booted a goal from his permenent forward position, while Jack Driscoll rotated back through the ruck.

>> Giants Academy Content

Sydney:

#2 Sam Gaden

Gaden proved a strong a flexible key position option for the Swans, starting forward and eventually plying his trade down back. The over-ager worked up the ground well in the early stages, presenting as a link into Sydney’s forward 50. He provided a goal assist to Jackson Barling in the second term with a hacked kick into the arc, and doubled his impact with some forward 50 ruck work. Having been moved down back in the second half, Gaden showcased his ability to intercept, sweeping well both in the air and at ground level.

#3 Kye Pfrengle

A player who needs only a few touches or moments to catch the eye is Pfrengle, who looked particularly lively in the first term with some incredible marking attempts. The top-age AFL Academy hub member certainly has a spring in his step, leaping high for the ball to intercept GWS’ long defensive rebounds. While he failed to hold onto most of his speckie attempts, Pfrengle was positioned well behind the ball to begin with, allowing him enact that intercept game. He would later be seen a touch deeper in defence, locking the ball in and taking the kick-outs, making handy contributions just when it seemed he was drifting out of the contest.

#7 Braeden Campbell

The leading Swans Academy prospect looked like tearing the game apart as he dominated the opening stages, showing terrific signs through midfield. While his speed and damaging kicking on the outside often garner the most praise, it was Campbell’s toughness and ability to adapt to the conditions which stood out most on this occasion. His clearance work was sound throughout the match, and despite coughing up a rare turnover by foot in the second term, he was able to find his range consistently. With some opposition attention incoming, Campbell was moved to half-back and also rotated off the wing, while pushing forward to slot a goal in the third term. He looked most dangerous with his burst away from the stoppages though, and hunted the ball well when on the inside.

>> Academy Series Player Focus

#15 Sam Thorne

Another over-ager to have made his mark on the game was Thorne, a small midfielder who thrived in the soggy conditions. He was a regular at the centre bounces and stoppages, accumulating the ball with ease at ground level and releasing well to his teammates on the move. Thorne’s ability to shark the ball off hands and get his legs pumping to burst away was noticeable, and it helped set the tone for Sydney from where it mattered most. He finished as one of the most prolific ball winners on the day, and kept his name in the hat as far as the Swans are concerned.

#22 Errol Gulden

Campbell’s partner-in-crime, Gulden was a consistent threat for Sydney and managed to find the ball at will while rotating from the wing, through the middle, and up forward. The 176cm mover relies more on agility and smarts rather than pure pace, so initially found it hard in the wet conditions to have his usual impact on the game despite constantly getting his hands on the ball.

Still, Gulden snared the opening goal after being tackled high inside 50, and used it as a catalyst to work more effectively at ground level. His work-rate forward of centre was outstanding, and he could be seen pushing inside 50 from the wing to snare his second major, hardly breaking stride as he gobbled up the loose ball and slotted it home on the fly. Gulden was arguably best afield in the second half, and is just so difficult to stop at full flight. It was good to see him get busy up forward too, as that high half-forward role looks most like being his starting position at the elite level.

#25 Jackson Barling

Barling is another Academy talent to have missed out last year, but seems to have taken it in his stride after an impressive performance. He was first sighted using the ball cleanly in the back half, staying composed to provide a refreshing point of difference in the largely-contested game. His biggest impact came upon his move to the forwardline though, where Barling would kick three goals. His first came on the back of a juggled mark inside 50, which was quickly followed by another strong grab and set shot conversion in the second term. Yet another big clunk helped deliver a third major in the final quarter, though he selfishly burned Thorne as he looked for a fourth. Still, Barling’s scoreboard impact helped turn the game significantly in Sydney’s favour, and his hardness at 183cm and 85kg was impressive as it should be for an over-ager.

Others:

The talent in the Swans Academy runs deep, and there were plenty of others to have pitched in across the day. Marc Sheather was hard at the ball through midfield, while fellow AFL Academy member Marco Rossmann showed some promising signs early in his role up forward. Oscar Bird was another solid contributor who got involved in Sydney’s forward surges.

>> Swans Academy Content

Academy Series Player Focus: Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans Academy)

IN continuing our extended Player Focus series, we take a look at a prospect who stood out in the recently commenced Academy Series. A Sydney Derby kicked off the carnival, as the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans academies locked horns over the weekend. Leading Swans prospect Braeden Campbell is the player we put under the microscope, with his trying performance across a range of positions helping Sydney get up by 15 points in a low-scoring slog.

PLAYER PAGE

Braeden Campbell
Swans Academy/Allies

DOB: February 4, 2002
Height: 181cm
Weight: 72kg

Position: Balanced Midfielder/Forward

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

PLAYER FOCUS

After a scintillating performance in last year’s Under 17 Futures All Star showcase, Campbell is well known to all keen AFL Draft watchers. The Swans Academy jet is lightning quick, boasts a damaging left-foot kick, and provides great balance through midfield while also doubling as a flanker up either end. He can do it all, and Saturday’s game against the GIANTS was a true test of his skillset.

The soggy conditions were hardly conducive to Campbell’s typical run-and-carry, and forced many similar types to revert to different methods of driving the ball forward. Luckily for Campbell and the Swans, he can win his own ball, and his kicking is among the best in the 2020 draft pool. These factors allowed him to have a consistent impact on the attack.

Starting at the centre bounces, Campbell looked lively early, adjusting well to the step-up from representing Pennant Hills in the AFL Sydney Premier Division. He booted a couple of clearances into Sydney’s attacking 50, and looked dangerous on the break as he gained separation from his direct opponents. While the long bombs didn’t quite come off, Campbell would soon enough find a target with his lovely lateral ball to find an unmanned Pierce Roseby inside forward 50.

After a bright start through the middle, the 181cm prospect began to rotate through the lines and primarily off a wing. A rare turnover via foot came in the second quarter, perhaps for a lack of options forward of centre, and it seemed Campbell was receiving a good bit of opposition attention. A more reserved term and some biff on the half time siren would attest to that.

He returned to his usual self after the main break, and showed he doesn’t need to win a mountain of possessions to have an impact. His five-step burst of speed came in handy when wheeling away from the back of congestion, allowing enough room for Campbell to prop and deliver the ball via foot – both laterally and directly forward. Campbell’s lone goal of the game came in the third term, as his direct opponent failed to follow him to the fall of the ball inside 50, allowing for a relatively straightforward finish on the move. He’s deadly accurate within 50 metres.

Moving on into the final period, and Campbell would return to the centre bounces after some time across half-back and on the outer. He seemed a touch frustrated as he lost out in a couple of hard-fought one-on-ones in general play, but was still finding his way to the ball. His desire for the contest remained, hunting the ball amid heavy congestion and proving clean below his knees on the move.

He missed the chance to cap off his day with another major, spurning a hand-off from just outside the 50-metre arc with the result beyond any doubt. Overall, it was a well-rounded display from Campbell in conditions unsuited to good football. While his outside traits (speed, kick penetration) often catch the eye, this time it was his inside game, and the ability to adapt to that style which helped win the day for Sydney. It was by no means his best performance, but Campbell always seems a class above when on the ball and produced some clean plays amid the messy contest.

Power Rankings: July 2020 | August 2020

>> 2020 Allies Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> Positional Analysis: Key Defenders

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 6

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia rolled on into Round 6 of the SANFL Under 18s competition, with a number of standouts continuing to emerge. In this edition of Caught the Eye, we have compiled a list of the best and most promising performers from across the weekend, with one representative from all eight SANFL clubs. For extended profiles on each AFL Academy member listed, click on their names highlighted in red. For our full weekend scouting notes, click here.

South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

Jack Flett
South Adelaide | Defender
15/11/2002 | 183cm | 73kg

Stats: 23 disposals (16 kicks), 8 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Flett was arguably the most damaging member of South’s steady back six, providing a cool head on the last line while also attempting to break the lines on the rebound. His left foot would become a weapon, used to attack as he took on some nice cross-field passes and gained serious distance. The short-range game was there too, able to hit up easy outlet kicks to help his side maintain possession.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The South Adelaide defence was terrific on Saturday, with Harry Spacie named best afield. Most of the back six benefitted from the Panthers’ high possession, kick friendly style of play coming out of defence, but Flett took the game on whenever he could. The ability to both attack and defend from the back half is important in setting prospect apart, and Flett did just that on the weekend to provide a key point of difference.

Harvey Harrison
North Adelaide | Midfielder
10/10/2003 | 180cm | 71kg

Stats: 25 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 5 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Harrison’s dash and dare from midfield was again a feature for North Adelaide, as he popped up in exciting spurts… The bottom-ager clicked into gear as he began to accumulate the ball on the outer of stoppage situations, using his five-step burst to accelerate forward and take the game on.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: North Adelaide has an exciting batch of bottom-agers and 16-year-olds who look like very handy players already. Harrison is one of them, and he continues to thrive upon gaining some added responsibility with the likes of Jamison Murphy out of the side. His speed coming away from the contest is great to watch, and he really helped to generate some forward momentum for the Roosters after a horrific start to the game. Any player able to penetrate both arcs and win clearances is likely to have an impact, which is exactly what Harrison was able to do.

Central District vs. WWT Eagles 

Shay Linke
Central District | Midfielder/Forward
8/05/2003 | 189cm | 76kg

Stats: 29 disposals (26 kicks), 10 marks, 2 tackles, 5 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Linke is in red-hot form for the Bulldogs and impressed on Saturday with another strong performance… Remarkably, 26 of Linke’s disposals were kicks, showing how much confidence he has in himself to make the right decisions going forward with the ball.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Our scouts said it, Linke is in red-hot form. The tall midfielder is really benefitting from being able to attend more centre bounces for the Bulldogs upon some changes to the side, and continues to show his ability to find the ball in all areas. His 189cm frame helps him to impact aerially, while a solid endurance base means he can also get forward and still find the goals. Still has room for improvement as a bottom-ager, but is showing nice signs.

Jase Burgoyne
WWT Eagles | Midfielder/Defender
15/07/2003 | 184cm | 62kg

Stats: 33 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 clearances, 7 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Bottom-ager Burgoyne produced one of his best performances at Under 18 level on Saturday. He spent more time than usual in the midfield, which led to him being the leading disposal winner on the ground. His acceleration and elite ability to change direction wreaked havoc on the opposition, as they quite simply could not stop him from linking up with teammates through the middle and transitioning the ball forward.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Speaking of bottom-agers in hot form, Burgoyne has really taken his game to the next level in 2020. The potential Port Adelaide father-son (2021 eligible) has mixed his time well between midfield and defence, while also showing an aptitude up forward in recent weeks. He has no trouble finding the ball and uses it cleanly, proving especially effective with his relieving short kicks in open play. Port fans should be watching with interest, as they could have a couple of very handy freebies over the next two years in Taj Schofield and Burgoyne.

West Adelaide vs Norwood

Bailey Chamberlain
West Adelaide | Midfielder
26/06/2002 | 179cm | 70kg

Stats: 36 disposals, 7 marks, 8 tackles, 8 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Chamberlain’s trend of getting back to help the defence again came to the fore, as did his bursts from congestion. A few quick steps, and he would gain separation from his Norwood opponents. A real positive in his game was the ability to mix clearing kicks with calm use by hand and shorter-range execution via foot, which adds another dimension to his midfield craft.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: In a struggling side, Chamberlain continues to try his heart out. He is the soul of West Adelaide’s midfield and is working on his own game quite soundly, too. The small, but explosive midfielder had the obvious weapons of his speed and ball winning capacity to start 2020, but has shown a terrific appetite to work around the ground and mix up his disposal with more handballs and short-range kicks. His use by foot is beginning to look cleaner, making for more polished performances. Under such constant heat from the opposition, it’s great to see.

Cooper Murley
Norwood | Midfielder/Forward
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 66kg

Stats: 34 disposals, 1 mark, 8 tackles, 14 clearances, 6 inside 50s

Our scouts said: “We’re beginning to run out of superlatives to describe Murley, who continues to impress as Norwood’s prime midfield mover – in his bottom-age year, no less. He looked busy from the outset and showed his smarts early with some deft inboard kicks, while also getting to all the right spots at the drop of the ball.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: The Under 18s MVP for Round 6 rightly earned that honour with a blistering performance from midfield. His ability to swing forward and find the goals has been a real asset over recent weeks, but on this occasion, Murley fared even better as a pure midfield outlet. He is another who has no trouble finding the ball at the contest, and his speed coming out of congestion is breathtaking. That kind of attribute lends to an outside game too, and Murley’s repeat forward running also helps in that department. He looks a real first round candidate for next year, regardless of his size and slender frame.

Glenelg vs. Sturt

Jayden Davis
Glenelg | Medium Utility
26/06/2003 | 180cm | 77kg

Stats: 22 disposals (16 kicks), 11 marks, 4 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “It was a difficult day for the Tigers, but the performance of Davis will have impressed the Glenelg coaching staff. He was involved in almost every positive passage of play for the Bays and booted the clubs’ first two goals of the contest in the second quarter, thanks to some handy roving.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: Davis has been a real asset for Glenelg’s weakened side over the past fortnight, able to impact all around the ground and incite some positive forward momentum. He looks to have a good deal of football smarts, using it to not only get in the right positions around the ball, but also impact the scoreboard when roaming forward. The Bays’ depth has been tested, but Davis is standing up to it as a bottom-ager.

Tom Powell
Sturt | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 39 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 9 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “Powell was always on the move at stoppages, either going in hard and winning the contested ball or looking to use his burst of speed to accelerate away from congestion and send it forward. He was regularly at the bottom of packs, wrestling for possession and looking to force out a handball.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: How much more can we say about Powell’s remarkable start to the season? His consistent form is nearing ridiculous at this point, and he has been nothing short of dominant as a permanent midfielder. While onlookers may not always catch every one of his touches on the inside, he simply finds a way to get first hands on the ball and use it cleanly. Having again booted multiple goals, Powell seems to be sending the message that he has added weapons to his arsenal, and is more than your Tom Mitchell type of accumulator. He is beginning to have that impact to match his statline, which is promising.

>> 2020 South Australia Under 18s Squad Prediction
>> July 2020 Power Rankings

SANFL League Player Focus:
Rd 1 – Corey Durdin
Rd 2 – Riley Thilthorpe
Rd 3 – Lachlan Jones

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

Scouting notes: QAFL MOTR – Surfers Paradise vs. Morningside

IT was a thrilling contest that went right down to the final siren, with Morningside Panthers remaining undefeated in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) thanks to a two-point victory over reigning premiers, Surfers Paradise. While Matthew Payne ultimately kicked the match-winning goal in the last minute, we take a look at a few of the young talents on show for both sides who caught the eye in Surfers Paradise’s Max Pescud, Jasper Graham and Myles Jewell, and Morningside’s Blake Coleman, Saxon Crozier, Nathan Colenso and Tom Griffiths.

SURFERS PARADISE

#3 Max Pescud

Playing as a lead-up forward, Pescud was really busy in the first half, kicking a goal in each of the first two terms. His first came off reading the ball well from the bounce inside 50, cleverly sidestepping an opponent and kicked off a few steps straight through the middle. His second was more straightforward with a hard lead and strong mark 25m out which he duly nailed. It came after a late chance in the first term went begging to the right following a strong contested mark out in front one-on-one. Pescud has a nice little burst of speed off the contest and has the goal sense to get forward into dangerous positions.

In the third term he was a little quieter as Tom Griffiths went onto him at times. He pushed further up the ground and laid a strong tackle to lock the ball up in a stoppage, but by far his highlight was a massive hanger from five deep just inside 50. Unfortunately wheeling around on the right his shot stayed to the right. He did not get much opportunity in the fourth term with the ball predominantly in the Panthers’ half of the ground, but he scored his third goal after being on an early end-to-end play, marking 20m out with good position and slotting it home.

All in all, Pescud was impressive for the Demons, always looking dangerous, and if he had been able to convert those other two set shots, could have headed home with five, but three snags was terrific in a low-scoring contest.

#4 Jasper Graham

The overager is a midfielder-forward type who might not be big in stature, but he loves the contest. Straight from the get-go it was obvious he was willing to throw his body on the line and run hard. In the opening quarter, he took a good mark under fierce pressure inside 50 after copping contact but unfortunately his shot drifted far right. Not long after, he played the role of facilitator to get it to Pescud who sidestepped an opponent and kicked a great goal. He continued to push hard working up to the wing and roaming back inside 50 in the first half, setting up another goal, this time to Jack Brauman in the second term with a quick-fire handball out of traffic. He used great vision to spot the free Brauman who duly delivered from long-range.

In the third term he bullocked away with a great close-down tackle midway through the quarter to lock the ball inside 50. Whilst it was not his possession that provided another teammate – Tyson Brazel – with a goal, Graham’s ability to lock the ball up and force a stoppage gave Surfers a chance and they capitalised with a major. In another team-orientated play, Graham managed to gain some good distance with the kick along the wing and gained serious territory later in the third quarter. He did not see much action in the final term with the ball up the other end.

#31 Myles Jewell

A tall defender with some very nice traits that caught the eye. Still lean compared to others, Jewell is really strong in the air, clean with his marking and solid by foot. He can read the ball well in flight and was one of the Demons’ best in the tight loss. In the opening term, Jewell took a number of intercept marks by positioning himself well in the hole or a kick and a half behind play, knowing when the quick kick forward would come. He also showed he was willing to push up the ground and be an extra number if required, playing on the dangerous Reuben William at times. The second term he was quiet, but come the third, and in particular fourth terms, Jewell came alive with some big players in crunch moments.

The third did not start the way he would have liked, winning the ball in the contest and trying to handball to a teammate but misfiring to see it intercepted by Nathan Colenso who set up a goal for the Panthers. He made up for it with a big intercept mark in front of the dangerous Matt Hammelmann which showed he had some toe on the lead and was also not afraid to match it with stronger opponents. He timed a spoil to perfection in a pack early in the final stanza when William went up to mark, and then when William pushed up to the wing, he followed and got front position in a marking contest, reading the ball well and marking. One of the most impressive moments for Jewell was his terrific pack grab at half-back late in the term, calling for it off the kickout, then sliding across the pack to pull it in. He laid a desperate tackle in the last couple of minutes and closed down an opponent inside 50 who had to rush his kick.

Overall Jewell is a nice intercept defender with good hands, smarts in the air and athletic enough to play on smalls or talls. Aside from his one mistake with the errant handball, Jewell played a really strong game for the Demons.

 

MORNINGSIDE:

#23 Blake Coleman

The lively forward had a quiet game by his standards with the ball, but it did not stop him providing a high level of pressure to the opposition. He was predominantly inside 50 for most of the game, but would push up to have stints through the middle, laying a big tackle late in the first term. The second term was his most productive. He started with his work at ground level early in the term able to see him keep the ball in front of himself, tried to spin out of trouble but was dispossessed. But he had a nice clean pick-up at half-forward off the half volley where he tapped it to his advantage then was able to use clean hands to handball. He had won the ball inside 50 about 35m out from goal and tried to snap after a quick burst out of a the stoppage, but his kick was smothered.

The second half he did not have many touches, but he is one of those players that still looks dangerous. He laid a crunching tackle five minutes into the third term at half-forward to lock the ball in the Panthers’ half, a theme of his game with his high-level defensive pressure. Coleman is good at keeping the ball in front of himself without taking possession because opposition players are aware of how quick he is, he can sometimes rely on a jumper pull to win a free, so he will tap the ball in front of himself without taking possession completely. He was also able to corral an opponent late in the match, forcing him to kick close to the boundary and along the line rather than open the game up through the middle.

#27 Saxon Crozier

Had a consistent four quarter game, and of the Panthers youngsters just kept getting involved. He had an early touch in the opening minute with a quick handball to a teammate who was able to deliver inside 50 for an early goal. Playing off a wing, Crozier was running hard and finding space with ease, and always getting to ball-winning positions. You can tell he is a natural ball-winner with the way he finds himself in positions around the field, and he earns the touches too with good hard running. He pushed hard into the back pocket at one stage in the opening term and won the ball, then cleared with composure. His vision and ability to open up angles with the handball is a strength, and despite being strong offensively, he still did the defensive things well, such as a spoil at half-back to knock the ball out of bounds away from Graham.

When having time and space, Crozier was able to hit up teammates well with nice kicks, and it was only when corralled he could sometimes chuck it on the boot for distance. He has the ability to give himself an extra metre or two and get his kick away, but has a safe option to kick long down the ground. His fourth term was memorable particularly early when he tricked opponents into thinking he was going to execute the handball back inside his defensive 50, only to sidestep, completely turn direction and then run out of the pack and kick long to the wing. He won the ball deep in defence again midway through the term, and then had a couple of impressive moments in the forward half late in the game. With seven minutes remaining, Crozier had a run through the middle, taking a bounce and having a long-range shot on goal from 50m but it drifted to the right. He continued to work hard and earned a free kick at half-forward to kick inside 50 a minute later.

Overall, Crozier was impressive, and most dangerous when he had time, space and options.

#32 Nathan Colenso

The over-ager can play as either a forward or a midfielder, but in this game was nearly exclusively inside 50. He has a big frame that he throws at the contest time and time again, and whilst he was lively in Round 3, had a quieter game in Round 4 this round. There is no question he puts his body on the line, laying some strong tackles, and after a quiet first half, he worked his way in with some moments. The third term he was tackled but managed to get his hands free and handball before being brought down – a feature of his game – and then moments later, set up a goal to Henry Joyce by intercepting an errant Jewell handball and timing his kick perfectly to hit-up his teammate inside 50.

Colenso looked a little ginger in the fourth term stretching out his quad later in the game, but he popped up in a crucial moment in the final minute, as Surfers Paradise attacked for one last roll of the dice. After kicking the go-ahead goal with 45 seconds remaining in the match, the Demons surged forward and Colenso’s opponent tried to win the ball off the half-volley, but the Gold Coast Suns Academy member crunched him enough to force the ball to bounce into the behind post on the opposite side of the forward 50.

#42 Tom Griffiths

It was a memorable game from Griffiths who was named among his side’s best in the narrow win. In the first half he was quiet, with only a kick on the boot through the middle and then a strong tackle at half-back to lock the ball up among the noticeable moments. He was playing his role without anything outstanding offensively, coming off half-back and dropping deeper to assist. Then came the second half, where he was massive in big moments, in particular, one-on-ones going to the dangerous Pescud at times who had two first-half goals.

His first appearance was actually at half-forward with a nice lead and mark just outside 50, delivering silver service to Hammelmann on the lead for a goal assist. While it might have looked like his role had changed, not long after, he was back in his usual post in defence, picking up a loose ball off the next opposition inside 50 and with clean hands helped Morningside get it out of danger. One-on-one against Pescud, Griffiths did well with his positioning to get in front and not allow his opponent much time to fly, taking a strong mark and hitting a target.

The final term was the most frantic, but also Griffiths’ best. He won a free kick at half-forward for being held in a tackle, and then pushed back into defence with nice pressure in the air to force the ball across the line. Composure personified, Griffiths was able to win a huge one-on-one at half-back when the Demons had numbers forward of the ball, then not only nullified the contest, but fended off his opponent and chipped well to a teammate, weighing his kick perfectly.

After a quieter start in terms of ball-winning but not defensive work, Griffiths got his offensive ability firing on all cylinders with accurate passes and big one-on-one moments that helped his side get over the line.

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL Under 18s – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talent and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in. Some sides remained slightly depleted over the weekend with school football making its return.

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.

South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

South Adelaide:

#9 Jason Horne

It was another superb performance from Horne, who is currently South Adelaide’s prime mover through midfield. The bottom-ager constantly got first hands on the ball at stoppages, especially early, and used his bursting speed to break forward quickly. Horne’s play of the game came in that exact manner, as he streamed away from a centre bounce and launched home his sole major for the day from 60-metres out. Credit to his enormous work rate, Horne was able to constantly find space around the ground and really hunted the opposition with smothering tackling pressure. 26 disposals and six clearances led another formidable statline for the Under 16 State MVP.

#10 Brayden Cook

One of three Panthers to notch 26 touches, Cook made the wing his own across another consistent outing. He took a bit of time to get going, but kickstarted his day with a strong pack mark and goal late in the first term. That kind of forward running and hardness at the contest made him a constant threat, with some nice accumulative work between the arcs boosting his stats throughout. Cook capped off his day with a second goal, put through from the goalsquare in term four.

#19 Jamison Snelling

One of a couple outstanding 16-year-old prospects in the South Adelaide side, Snelling showed terrific glimpses of his top form to finish with three goals from 21 disposals and seven marks. His first major seemed to come from nowhere, as he benefitted from a turnover just outside the forward arc and slammed the ball home from range. It would set him going, with Snelling rotated through the midfield and forwardline to good effect all day. His form from distance carried on too; finding the big sticks from outside 50 a second time after receiving a hand-off, and finishing smartly on the run from a touch closer in the fourth term to put the cherry on top of a strong performance.

#22 Jack Flett

Flett was arguably the most damaging member of South’s steady back six, providing a cool head on the last line while also attempting to break the lines on the rebound. His left foot would become a weapon, used to attack as he took on some nice cross-field passes and gained serious distance. The short-range game was there too, able to hit up easy outlet kicks to help his side maintain possession. But Fleet’s best moments came on the offensive, with one particular driving run through the corridor sending the Panthers inside 50. His 23 disposals and eight marks were somewhat reflective of South’s high possession defence, but there was enough going the other way to have a big impact.

#27 Will Verrall

The 16-year-old key position prospect has transitioned well into the Under 18 side, and continues to mix it well both up forward and in the ruck. An athletic type, Verrall’s leap was evident early as he rose to take a nice overhead mark inside 50, converting the resultant set shot. A big pack mark later in the opening term gave him a second goal after the siren, and Verrall never looked back. While he could not quite find the goals again, his clean hands at ground level and ability to get involved in chained forward moves made for good viewing.

Others:

A bunch of solid contributors headlined South Adelaide’s win, with electric small forward Phoenix Spicer again looking lively. He added two goals and plenty of speed to the Panthers’ effort from out on the wing, much like Isaac Burt (22 disposals, nine marks). South’s defence was also strong, led by Samuel Hindes‘ 20 disposals, 12 marks, and seven rebound 50s, and consolidated by the safe ball use of Harry Spacie (26 disposals, nine marks).  

>> SOUTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

North Adelaide:

#15 Harvey Harrison

Harrison’s dash and dare from midfield was again a feature for North Adelaide, as he popped up in exciting spurts. After somewhat of a slow start (much like the rest of his side), the bottom-ager clicked into gear as he began to accumulate the ball on the outer of stoppage situations, using his five-step burst to accelerate forward and take the game on. A nice forward run in the third term was a highlight of Harrison’s day, as he finished with 25 disposals, five marks, and five clearances.

#18 James Willis

Another bottom-ager who is thriving for the Roosters upon being granted a touch more midfield responsibility is Willis, who returned 22 disposals, six tackles, and four clearances on a trying day. He too started a little shakily with a shanked kick under little pressure, but soon made up for it with an eye-catching run out of the defensive half. While his outside game would be sound given his speed, Willis looks just as good on the inside where he uses his strength to fend off opponents and bring them down in desperate tackles. That kind of play made him a driving force through midfield, and there is a good base to work off.

#25 Blayne O’Loughlin

O’Loughlin is just so consistent with his work out of defence, and hardly lost a contest when the ball entered his area. Whether it came in aerially or via the carpet, O’Loughlin was constantly able to intercept and mop up across half-back to foil many of South Adelaide’s attacks. There might not be much of him, but the bottom-ager has plenty of impact with clean rebounding kicks on his left side – both short and long in range. He was again the Roosters’ most prolific ball winner with 26 touches, along with seven rebound 50s.

Others:

Midfielder Matthew Borg also managed to rack up 26 disposals, providing a constant stoppage presence as he lined up against Horne more often than not. Kyle Brazell (23 disposals, seven marks) was another to find plenty of the ball, able to drive forward from the wing. Zyton Santillo looks to be filling the role of Tariek Newchurch for North, with his lead-up duties as a small working well to link his side into attacking 50. Shaun Bennier contributed the most in terms of goals, booting 4.4 from 16 disposals and six marks with most of his work done deep.

>> NORTH ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

By: Tom Cheesman

WWT Eagles:

#7 Caleb Poulter

Poulter had another nice game for the Eagles in their victory at X Convenience Oval. He collected 25 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s, three clearances, and a goal while spending time in the midfield and across half-forward. The big-bodied AFL Academy Hub member was clean at stoppages, releasing many teammates into open space with some nice handballs on the up. He played with great physicality at clearances and in marking contests, and his terrific ability overhead was on show. Poulter also found plenty of the ball around the ground, made some nice decisions with ball in hand, and his kicking efficiency was exceptional. One of Poulter’s best traits is that he always follows up his possessions and contests, which is exactly what he did en route to kicking a clever goal in the last quarter.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

Bottom-ager Burgoyne produced one of his best performances at Under 18 level on Saturday. He spent more time than usual in the midfield, which led to him being the leading disposal winner on the ground. His acceleration and elite ability to change direction wreaked havoc on the opposition, as they quite simply could not stop him from linking up with teammates through the middle and transitioning the ball forward. Burgoyne is never afraid to take the game on and use the corridor, a trait that is incredibly impressive for such a young player. His teammates try to get the ball in his hands at any cost, demonstrating how much faith they have in his abilities. Increased midfield minutes also allowed Burgoyne to show more of his physicality and tacking pressure, which are elements of his game that have been much more hidden when playing his usual half-back role. He finished with 33 disposals, seven rebound 50s, five clearances, four tackles and a nice set shot goal.

#34 Lachlan Jones (League)

Jones is one of the best South Australian prospects in this year’s draft class, and he showed why he’s rated so highly once again on Saturday. The 185cm youngster has a strong build and is very suited to his role in the ladder-leading Eagles’ backline. Jones matched up on ex-Carlton and Adelaide forward Troy Menzel during the game (when Menzel went forward) and did an excellent job. He pushed Menzel wide on the lead, held his own in one-on-one contests, and read the flight of the ball well when positioned behind the play.

Jones’ marking ability is definitely one of his major strengths, and he took multiple intercept marks in pack situations throughout the game. He has fantastic reach and athletic jumping ability, skills which were both on show in this match as he used this athleticism to spoil his opponents whenever he found himself out of position. It is evident that Jones will be an important member of the Eagles defence at League level all season. The Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy member finished with eight kicks, four marks and three rebound 50s.

#51 Lachlan McNeil (League)

McNeil was outstanding once again for the Eagles. He worked hard around the ground to find plenty of the ball and linked up well with teammates down the wings to transition it forward quickly. The over-ager was also strong defensively, laying three solid tackles –  including a nice run-down effort at the start of the third term. He used the ball effectively, was particularly clean with his hands, and kicked a nice set shot goal from just inside 50 in the first quarter. McNeil finished with 21 disposals, four clearances and four inside 50s.

Others:

Brayden Calvett (four goals) was very lively for the Eagles up forward, while Zeke Scott (20 disposals, eight tackles) was hard at it in the midfield, and Max Litster (25 disposals, eight marks, two goals) had a strong impact.

Jacob Godden (22 disposals, nine inside 50s) was busy at half forward, using his pace to provide an option up the ground and get the ball over the back and into the Eagles’ key forwards.

Port Adelaide father-son prospect Taj Schofield unfortunately suffered a lower leg injury in the opening minute of the game whilst attempting to change direction and did not return.

>> WWT EAGLES TEAM PAGE

Central District:

#5 Kobe Wilson

Wilson was fantastic on Saturday, running hard up and down the wings to give Centrals supporters some exciting passages of play to watch. He started the game phenomenally, laying two strong tackles over the boundary and setting up the first goal of the game. Wilson has a spearing right-foot kick that is very effective, particularly when kicking short on the 45. He used his electric speed to provide a lot of run-and-carry for his side, and he kicked a well-deserved goal in the final term. Wilson had 13 disposals (all of which were kicks), five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles.

#13 Austin McDonald

McDonald was Central’s best clearance player on the day, collecting 18 disposals, eight clearances, and four inside 50s for his side. He is a very steady player, always composed and willing to wait for the right option to present itself. McDonald regularly provided an effective option for teammates in the corridor and applied relentless pressure on opposition players at stoppages around the ground.

#26 Shay Linke

Linke is in red-hot form for the Bulldogs and impressed on Saturday with another strong performance. He kicked two goals to go with a team-high 29 disposals, ten marks and eight inside 50s. Remarkably, 26 of Linke’s disposals were kicks, showing how much confidence he has in himself to make the right decisions going forward with the ball. He also worked hard at stoppages, earning five clearances for his side.

#27 Leek Alleer

Alleer was one of Central’s best when on the field, regularly providing an option for teammates to switch the play, and using his fantastic athleticism to impact the contest in all areas of the ground. He has a great reach to go with his impressive size, so he was never out-marked and used that reach and some serious closing speed to impact multiple marking contests.

His defensive tackling pressure was also outstanding, highlighted by a strong tackle on the speedy Jay Watson in the first term and then another great tackle in the second term on Zeke Scott. Alleer was involved in an unfortunate incident six minutes into the third term when an Eagles player dived for the ball and accidentally caught Alleer’s leg underneath them in the process. Despite trying to play on with the injury, Alleer soon left the field and did not return to the game. He finished with 15 disposals, five marks, three tackles and three clearances.

#31 Corey Durdin (League)

Although it was another tough day for Central’s forwards, Durdin showed once again many think of him so highly. The 172cm forward has an incredible work ethic and electric pace, applying plenty of pressure on opposition defenders throughout the contest and laying four important tackles. He kicked a clever soccer goal in the second term to get his side back in the contest, but unfortunately that was one of very few chances he got to hit the scoreboard. Durdin also provided a much-needed option for Centrals coming out defence and was always willing to get the ball moving quickly whenever he got the opportunity. He collected 12 disposals and three marks to go with his goal and four tackles.

#52 Lachlan Grubb (League)

Grubb made his SANFL League debut on Saturday and did not look out of place at all. Similarly to Durdin, he spent most of his time at half-forward and always presented well for his teammates. Early in the contest, Grubb settled himself in nicely by finding plenty of the ball and helping his side transition it into their forward 50. He got himself into strong positions, including multiple front and centres where he collected the ball on the run. Grubb also initiated some switches of play and pushed up the ground to apply some strong pressure. He finished with 11 disposals (ten kicks), three marks, two tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s.

Others:

Christopher Tidswell (19 disposals, seven marks, five rebound 50s) was solid through the middle and at half-back for the Bulldogs, using his nice left-foot to launch the Bulldogs into attack on many occasions. He always knew the right time to spread from the contest and did it very well. Finn Reed (16 disposals, six inside 50s, six marks, one goal) was also good, particularly in the second half. Some of his half-volleys were crisp and he attacked the footy with ferocity whenever it came his way.

>> CENTRAL DISTRICT TEAM PAGE

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#6 Bailey Chamberlain

While the Bloods’ woes at Under 18s level continued, Chamberlain remains the shining light and put in another committed display. The lone AFL Academy hub member afield for West Adelaide worked incredibly hard for his side, finishing with a formidable statline which read: 36 disposals, seven marks, eight tackles, eight clearances, five inside 50s, and six rebound 50s. Chamberlain’s trend of getting back to help the defence again came to the fore, as did his bursts from congestion. A few quick steps, and he would gain separation from his Norwood opponents. A real positive in his game was the ability to mix clearing kicks with calm use by hand and shorter-range execution via foot, which adds another dimension to his midfield craft.

#10 Eduard van den Berg

The West Adelaide defender continues to carry a decent workload across the back half, forming his side’s most prevalent form of resistance and rebound. Most of his 26 disposals were kicks, with one of his first coming in the opening term and earning him a terrific goal with little time to think about it. After slotting that major from around 40-metres, van den Berg reverted back to his usual game in mopping up down back, able to rebound effectively even if the ball would repeatedly come straight back his way. He’s a clean and calm user, making him vital to the Bloods’ defensive setup.

Others:

A few of the taller Bloods fared well on Saturday, with ruckman Luke Heitmann often proving too big and strong for his opponents in notching 37 hitouts to go with 11 disposals, six tackles, and two goals. He shared those duties with Thomas Faulkner, who had 25 hitouts, while Thomas Rundle worked hard up the field from half-forward to provide a focal point with eight marks. Nicholas Couroupis and Cade Kennedy combined for 24 disposals, 24 tackles, and two goals from midfield, while Zac Venning ticked over 20 disposals.

>> WEST ADELAIDE TEAM PAGE

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

We’re beginning to run out of superlatives to describe Murley, who continues to impress as Norwood’s prime midfield mover – in his  bottom-age year, no less. He looked busy from the outset and showed his smarts early with some deft inboard kicks, while also getting to all the right spots at the drop of the ball. Not only did Murley use his speed to break away from congestion with ball in hand, but he also followed up his clearance work by chasing his own disposals and getting involved at the next contest. His forward running makes him a constant headache for opposition defenders, though Murley still has a slight tendency to shank one in every few kicks at full flight. He is still so damaging in that area though, and took full toll with 34 disposals, 14 clearances, eight tackles, and six inside 50s.

#6 Michael Cavallaro

The Redlegs wingman again showed his smarts in an assured outing, chaining together some nice forward momentum for his side and constantly crafting a way forward. Cavallaro didn’t let a crunching hit in the opening term deter him, going on to collect 21 disposals and four marks in a solid and well-rounded display. While his ability to create going forward is noticeable, Cavallaro was able to show he is more than just a forward runner by winning his fair share at the contest and at both ends of the field.

#21 Jack Saunders

Saunders has been a mainstay in the Norwood midfield of late and it is little wonder why, as he consistently gets the job done. Second to only Murley in the ball winning stakes once again (24 disposals), Saunders is the no frills type of midfielder that every engine room needs. Most of his touches were simple gather and gives, but they were largely effective. He repeatedly showed a nice burst to get into space after hitting the ball straight-on, and was able to find the ball in all parts of the ground – shown by his clearance numbers and penetration of either arc.

Others:

West Adelaide’s bigmen may have stood tall, but so did Nathan Hearing for Norwood. The ruckman competed well in the air and got involved at ground level with 23 disposals, seven clearances, and seven inside 50s to go with 27 hitouts. There was plenty of scoreboard damage done, mainly via the boot of Samuel Duke (four goals), followed by three from Jackson Murphy and a couple from Marcus Roberts, who also had 19 touches and five clearances.

>> NORWOOD TEAM PAGE

Glenelg vs. Sturt

By: Tom Wyman

Glenelg:

#2 Nasiah Wanganeen

Wanganeen showed flashes of his terrific skillset in Glenelg’s loss. A super smooth-mover, he is also a nice size, which allowed him to spend time on the ball, down back, and up forward. He was composed with ball in hand and looked to use his side-step to get around the man on the mark on a couple of instances. Wanganeen booted a goal in the final quarter and certainly possesses some likeable qualities. He finished with 19 disposals, six marks, six tackles, three clearances and three rebound-50s.

#10 Ty Murphy

Murphy was one of the few Tigers to show some real dare with ball in hand. He took the game on by using his speed to break the lines and generate some positive play moving forward. He was assured by foot for the most part and provided plenty of rebound from his role at half-back and on the wing. He laid a strong tackle on Tom Powell, something few have been able to manage in season 2020, and was rewarded with a holding-the-ball free kick. Murphy finished with 19 disposals, six marks, three tackles and six inside-50s.

#19 Jayden Davis 

It was a difficult day for the Tigers, but the performance of Davis will have impressed the Glenelg coaching staff. He was involved in almost every positive passage of play for the Bays and booted the clubs’ first two goals of the contest in the second quarter, thanks to some handy roving. He worked hard around the ground and took a game-high 11 marks, two of which were contested. He also racked up three clearances to go with a team-high 22 touches and four tackles.

Others:

On-baller Hagan Wright was one of Glenelg’s best in a midfield which was comprehensively beaten by a talented Sturt on-ball unit. He could have been more efficient by foot, but tried his guts out between the arcs and finished with 21 disposals, a goal, six marks, eight tackles, four clearances and four rebound-50s. Ruckman Max Fitzgerald produced a handful of effective taps to advantage, while Riley Davis and Joel Virtanen were solid down back, recording five rebound-50s apiece.

>> GLENELG TEAM PAGE

Sturt:

#8 Lachlan Thomas

The speedy wingman ran up and down the ground all day, finding plenty of space and providing a link-up option. He was able to set-up several Double Blues attacks with his breakaway speed and run-and-carry, and looked to move it on quickly whenever possible. His ball use was often damaging and predominately effective, particularly when going forward. Thomas brought plenty of energy to the contest and finished a strong outing with 24 disposals, nine marks, five inside-50s and three rebound-50s.

#11 Will Spain

It was yet another solid outing from Sturt on-baller, Spain. While fellow midfielders Tom Powell and Mani Liddy have received much of the credit for the Double Blues’ excellent start to the season, Spain has been an essential component in the engine room. He was active whenever the ball was in his area, cracking in hard when the ball was there to be won but also applying plenty of defensive pressure whenever Glenelg got their hands on it.

During a dominant first term for the Double Blues, Spain was on the receiving end of a hurried inside-50 and made the most of the opportunity by nailing the subsequent set-shot from straight in front. He was excellent at the stoppages, winning seven clearances for the evening. Although he lacked a bit of polish by foot at-times, Spain attacked every contest with ferocity and showed plenty of strength in-and-under. He finished with 23 disposals, two marks, eight tackles and five inside-50s.

#16 Blake Higgins

On an ‘all played well’ type of evening for Sturt, Higgins was up there with the best. His foot skills were excellent, picking out his teammates with high degree of difficulty kicks on a number of occasions. Higgins was busy all game and, much like teammate Lachlan Thomas, was particularly effective with ball in hand when heading inside-50. Sturt looked to give him the ball to utilise his foot skills as often as possible and he rarely let them down. He also proved effective at the stoppages, winning four clearances to go with his 22 disposals, four marks and five inside-50s.

#17 Mani Liddy

The ever-consistent Liddy was again prominent for the in-form Double Blues. Liddy used his solid frame and obvious strength to fire off a quick handball despite being tackled by a pack of Tigers on several occasions. Liddy again won most of this possessions at the coalface so it was encouraging to see him stream through the middle early and kick long inside-50 in the first term. As he has demonstrated all season, Liddy showed great vision and skill by hand to spot a teammate in some space on the outside of a congested stoppage and get the ball moving Sturt’s way.

Although he missed a couple of targets by foot, Liddy showed off the power in his leg by setting sail on a couple of bombs from around the 50-metre arc. His clever tap on to Tom Powell in the third term didn’t register a stat but it allowed Powell to convert from close range and extend Sturt’s lead. He also set up the opening goal of the game with a neat kick to key forward Tom Emmett. Like most of the Sturt midfielders, Liddy also hit the scoreboard with two goals but also registered three behinds. He concluded the outing with 29 disposals, three marks, four tackles, seven clearances and seven inside-50s.

#18 Tom Powell

If the son-of-a-gun wasn’t already in the first round conversation, he almost certainly will be after another best-on-ground performance against Glenelg. Powell was always on the move at stoppages, either going in hard and winning the contested ball or looking to use his burst of speed to accelerate away from congestion and send it forward. He was regularly at the bottom of packs, wrestling for possession and looking to force out a handball. On the rare occasion when Powell didn’t win the contested ball, he applied plenty of pressure and executed a number of terrific tackles to stop his opponents in their tracks. A holding-the-ball free kick in the centre of ACH Group Stadium was a prime example of his ability to pin opponents arms.

Powell was clean by foot and effective by hand in-tight. He was seemingly involved in every Sturt forward 50 entry and knows exactly where to run to receive the ball, both around the ground and at the stoppages. However, it was his impact on the scoreboard which really elevated his performance. He booted three goals – two from roughly 40-metres out on the run and a third with a snap from close range. He did blaze away a couple of times in front of goal when he could have lowered his eyes, but it was encouraging to see Powell have a big impact on the match in attack. He certainly appears to be the best pure midfield prospect in South Australia and has started the season like a house on fire. Powell gathered another 39 disposals, three marks, six tackles, ten clearances and five inside-50s.

#19 Zabien Parker-Boers

The damaging forward booted four goals in the 100-point win. His ability to keep his feet allowed him to simply out-maneuverer his direct opponent and stream into goal in the first term. Parker-Boers was clean in the air as well, hauling in two contested marks. One of few Double Blues with accuracy in-front of goal, the forward finished with 17 disposals and three marks.

#22 Ned Walter

In his trademark helmet, Walter was rock-solid down back. He took a number of intercept marks by simply reading the flight of the ball better than his Glenelg opponents. At ground level, Walter attacked the contest well and won a couple of contested possessions by going in lower and harder. He was clean and composed by foot and showed intent to bring the ball back into the centre of the ground when appropriate. He found plenty of the ball by involving himself up the ground as well and was rewarded with a goal in the final term. Walter gathered 22 disposals, seven marks, four inside-50s and four rebound-50s.

#29 Tom Emmett

The strong-bodied Emmett was the most dominant forward on the ground for the second-consecutive week. The Double Blues looked for him more often than not when going forward and his ability to win the front-position and create separation on the lead ensured he was rewarded with a plethora of shots on goal. He also took a couple of strong contested marks around the ground to prove he isn’t a one-trick pony. He booted three goals for the match but could have ended with a bag, having recorded four behinds. A highlight was his clinical finish from close to the boundary-line in the second term. Emmett’s field kicking was excellent and his methodical set-shot routine should hold him in good stead going forward. He concluded the evening with 15 disposals and seven marks, two of which were contested.

Others: 

Jordan Opperman took a screamer in the first quarter and, importantly, converted his set-shot from the top of the goal-square. He was another who could have finished with a bag, having booted two goals and five behinds. The forward collected 14 disposals and seven marks (including three contested). Big-man Ethan Cass competed well in the ruck but it was his work around the ground which really stood-out. He was involved in plenty of attacking handball chains and collected a handy four clearances, to go with 19 disposals, seven hit-outs and five inside-50s.

>> STURT TEAM PAGE

SANFL League Player Focus:
Rd 1 – Corey Durdin
Rd 2 – Riley Thilthorpe
Rd 3 – Lachlan Jones

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

>> July Power Rankings | August Power Rankings

>> 2020 South Australian Under 18s Predicted Squad

WAFL Player Focus: Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts)

IN continuing our extended weekly Player Focus series, we take a look at a West Australian Football League (WAFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 3 of the competition, our eyes were on Swan Districts key defender Denver Grainger-Barras, who was one of his side’s best players in a tough 39-point loss to reigning premier, Subiaco.

PLAYER PAGE

Denver Grainger-Barras
Swan Districts/Western Australia

DOB: April 17, 2002
Height: 195cm
Weight: 78kg

Position: Key Position Defender

WAFL LEAGUE STATISTICS
Round 3 vs. Subiaco

8 kicks
2 handballs
10 disposals
4 marks
4 tackles
1 inside 50

PLAYER FOCUS:

With fellow draft hopeful Logan McDonald having the bye this week, it was time for Grainger-Barras to put his name in lights. He certainly did that, being named best on ground in Swan Districts’ loss to powerhouse club, Subiaco. It was an impressive aerial display, showing why he is so highly credentialed already.

On top of his League debut coming last year, Grainger-Barras was also awarded the AFL Life Members Scholarship which has been won by some of the greats of the game including Luke Hodge, Joel Selwood, and last years Rising Star winner Sam Walsh. It’s an award that’s been given to eight number one picks and numerous top 10 picks on top of that, including highly rated Docker Hayden Young. With Fremantle holding a top five pick currently, he might be right in the mix there.

Grainger-Barras started each quarter on the bench but whenever he came on he made an impact, and his first few touches of the game weren’t wasteful. He first received a switch kick and next darted a nice low pass down the line, later receiving a handball and quickly switching the kick long to show good, quick thinking.

His next few highlights though may have been his best of the day; with the first deep in the goalsquare where he attacked the loose ball at speed. showing incredible confidence, speed, and agility to also get separation from the opposition and then kick long out of the defensive 50. The next highlight just showed off his pure talent and leap, where he came over the top of two players to take a screamer. Arms outstretched, the footy stuck in is hands, but he would also quickly play on as if the mark was all in a day’s work.

There weren’t as many pure highlights in the second quarter but Grainger-Barras showed despite his light frame, that he could compete well at ground level with plenty of efforts and tackles deep in defence. He did some nice work up the ground as well, winning a free kick in the middle of the ground and naturally playing on as quickly as possible to kick long inside 50, albeit with a fraction too much on the kick for his leading teammate.

One of the better bits of play came when the ball hit ground level on the wing, where he attacked the line of the ball while also kicking over an oncoming opponent and still keeping his feet to gather the loose ball cleanly. He then gave off the quick little handball and in the same motion, laid a nice bump to protect the ball carrier. It was perhaps the best showcase of what coaches will love about him at AFL level as despite his light frame, he was able to compete with senior bodies while making it look effortless and just doing everything you could ask for – from his ability to keep possession and also block for his teammate, to embracing body contact which many young players try to avoid.

The third quarter was where Grainger-Barras really got to show off his elite intercepting ability and it was highlighted in two bits of play very close to each other. He was able to intercept a handball with a one-handed pluck easy as you like, and then banged the ball long out of defence. The kick came back in just as quickly but again, easy as you like, Grainger-Barras was able to take a nice intercept mark in the exact same spot where he intercepted the handball.

His smarts to intercept both times was certainly eye-catching, but instead of again getting sucked into kicking down the line again – which obviously didn’t work the first time – he made a point to think firstly on hitting that switch kick. It showed his smarts and ability to adapt to a situation and learn.

As the game wore on it would seem he had developed a knack of being in the right spot at the right time to foil Subiaco’s attempts at goal, and he would again get in the way with a fantastic intercept mark sitting in front of the only one-on-one contest inside 50. With eyes only on the ball, he was able to take the outstretched mark in the hole. As he had done all day long, Grainger-Barras quickly played on with a kick inboard, understanding the stakes of the game. It would lead to Swan Districts moving the ball end-to-end for a goal.

Unfortunately, he gave away a free kick just on the three quarter time siren which luckily only resulted in a behind, but there was a bit of a scuffle with himself and the opposition and he certainly wasn’t afraid to get involved and get lippy with his older and stronger opponents. Already he has shown he isn’t afraid of a bit of physicality despite his size, and with his ability to intercept at crucial stages, it only adds to his ability to get under the skin of the opposition.

His last quarter was his quietest as he failed to register a disposal. He had a bad moment at around the 16-minute mark where he gave away a push in the back free kick which lead to a goal, which was perhaps his only blemish in the game.

However, he wouldn’t let that get him down as later in the quarter he would spoil a marking contest, showing his impressive leap. Once the ball hit the ground he was quick to compete with multiple tackles and efforts and after that bit of play, it wasn’t hard to see why the coaches named him best on ground as he drove defensive standards all game which is impressive from such a young player.

A lot of attention out of Western Australia has gone to fellow young gun, McDonald but Grainger-Barras reminded everyone that he is very much a top five caliber talent, showing all of the traits that make him such a sought after prospect. The elite intercepting, competitiveness, clean hands and skills, athleticism, and especially the footy smarts were all on show. A game like this can only help him grow in confidence and although his disposal numbers are low, his impact is just so high and we may be looking at a future All-Australian centre half-back in the AFL.

Caught the Eye: 2020 SANFL Under 18s Round 5/WAFL Colts Round 2

THE TOP junior prospects from South Australia and Western Australia continue to shine, with a number of standouts emerging in Round 5 of the SANFL Under 18s, and Round 2 of the WAFL Colts. In continuing with our expanded Caught the Eye series, we have compiled a list of the best and most promising performers from across the weekend, with a representative from all eight SANFL clubs, and one each from the two sides involved in our featured WAFL fixture. For extended profiles on each AFL Academy member listed, click on their names highlighted in red.

>> FULL SANFL U18s Scouting Notes (Round 5)
>> FULL WAFL Colts Scouting Notes (Round 2)

SANFL UNDER 18s

Sturt vs. Norwood

Tom Powell
Sturt | Midfielder
2/03/2002 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 40 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 8 clearances, 10 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Powell was again excellent in the engine room for Sturt. In the first half, when the game was largely fought in close quarters, Powell won plenty of contested ball and used his lightning-fast hands to get things moving for the Double Blues. However, when the game opened up after the main break, Powell was able to accumulate the ball on the outside at will.”– Tom Wyman

Verdict: The Double Blues standout is becoming hard to ignore in terms of top 25 calculations, making him a real benefactor of simply being able to get out on the park in 2020. Another 40 touches has him well clear atop the SANFL Under 18s disposal charts, with his knack for extracting big numbers now more than just a good habit. Powell is as consistent as anyone in the draft pool at the moment, though he can work on making a more profound and regular impact via foot to round off his game and ensure each disposal hurts the opposition. His handballing is elite, nonetheless.

>> AFL Draft Watch

Cooper Murley
Norwood | Midfielder/Forward
20/06/2003 | 177cm | 66kg

Stats: 28 disposals, 7 marks, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: It was yet another terrific outing for (the) talented bottom-ager… His speed, ability to hit the scoreboard, efficiency by hand and foot, and line-breaking carry make for a nice array of strengths, and all were on-show throughout the clash.” – Tom Wyman

Verdict: He may not have been Norwood’s highest ball winner this time, but the lightly-built midfielder/forward is the Redlegs’ most damaging prospect. It’s easy to forget that he is a bottom-ager too, with at least another year in the Under 18s system to come. Like a couple of others on this list, Murley’s ability to find both the ball and the goals makes him a dual threat, and he is a player who can carve up the opposition with real pace and dare. His kicking on the end of it sharp too, and becoming more consistent with experience.

North Adelaide vs. Central District

James Willis
North Adelaide | Midfielder
7/10/2003 | 180cm | 73kg

Stats: 19 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 6 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: There were periods in the third term where Willis looked like tearing the game apart. The dynamic midfielder showed he can do it all in his on-ball role; accumulating around the ground early, winning his own ball, bursting away with strength, and adding deft agile movement in congestion.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Willis was one of a few North Adelaide bottom-agers to thrive in the absence of State Under 18 Academy members Jamison Murphy and Tariek Newchurch. Given some added responsibility through midfield, Willis was able to use his speed to wheel and go at every opportunity, while also exploding from congestion with an interchangeable combination of strength and agility. He worked hard for his disposals and even showed willingness going the other way with a desperate lunging tackle to catch his opponent cold. Could be one to keep an eye on for next year.

Leek Alleer
Central District | Utility
196cm | 84kg

Stats: 18 disposals, 7 marks (2 contested), 3 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s

Our scouts said: “Alleer has been tried in a few different roles this season, and found his spot on a wing in this particular outing… His strong verticals allowed him to get a hand in and intercept balls he had no right to, while a couple of highlight reel overhead marks also caught the eye.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Alleer has been terrific in patches thus far, with little glimpses of rare athleticism coming to the fore across his four Under 18s outings. He looms as a modern day kind of prospect as a 196cm wingman. but while his size screams readymade, his game is still quite raw. The 18-year-old has the potential to dominate down the line and has also shown good signs as a key forward. It’s his vertical leap and ability to take the ball at its highest point which catches the eye most significantly, as proven by a couple of screamer overhead marks on the weekend.

WWT Eagles vs. Glenelg

William Neumann
WWT Eagles | Forward/Midfielder
3/07/2003 | 184cm | 79kg

Stats: 21 disposals, 6 marks (1 contested), 1 clearance, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said: “Another bottom-age Eagles prospect to have stood out is Neumann… His second efforts were a feature early as he hunted the ball, able to smother and aggressively bump his opponents off the ball to cause chaos inside 50.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Neumann was deemed by the Eagles to have been their best player on the weekend, and it is easy to see why given the endeavour he showed. In just his second game of Under 18s football, the forward showed terrific strength and courage at the contest; able to win his own ball, take strong marks, and perhaps most crucially, hit the scoreboard. His impact was profound among a highly talented Eagles side, making for a solid platform to build upon.

Nasiah Wanganeen
Glenelg | Wing/Forward
22/02/2003 | 187cm | 69kg

Stats: 15 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Wanganeen is a player who makes things happen, having an impact with every possession. He contributed a few nice touches early as he kicked into gear with his smooth movement, and his use by foot going forward proved damaging.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: While it was a tough day for the Tigers with a heap of star names out of the side, it only allowed players like Wanganeen to shine even brighter. Having played most of his footy out on a wing thus far, the smooth moving bottom-ager got around the ground well and proved a key threat going forward. While he may scupper a kick here or there and not be the most consistent of players out there, Wanganeen has the ability to pop up with flashes of brilliance. He really looks the part with his speed and agility, and has time now to refine his game heading into his all-important draft year.

South Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

Jason Horne
South Adelaide | Midfielder/Forward
21/06/2003 | 182cm | 75kg

Stats: 31 disposals, 11 marks (4 contested), 2 tackles, 7 clearances, 6 inside 50s, 3 goals

Our scouts said: “Horne continued his outstanding start to the season with another best on ground performance against the Bloods. It was his first game without partner-in-crime Matty Roberts for the season, and Horne put on an absolute show in his absence. He kicked three goals, including a goal of the year contender in the third quarter when he picked up the ball cleanly outside 50, took three bounces, sold candy to three different opponents, and then finished with a goal from 40 metres out.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: Horne put in one of the performances of the season for South Adelaide, only further pushing his case to be the number one prospect for next year’s draft. Last year’s State Under 16 MVP has very few weaknesses, but his strengths present in bucketloads. He is a natural leader who kicks well, can mark overhead, win his own ball, and find the goals. Get used to seeing his third term goal in highlight reels going forward, and expect Horne to take the reigns as the Panthers’ prime mover with some of his fellow midfield stars shifting in and out of the side.

Nicholas Couroupis
West Adelaide | Midfielder

Stats: 25 disposals, 6 marks (4 contested), 3 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said: “Couroupis was outstanding for the Bloods, arguably their best performer on the day. The midfielder was aggressive at the ball and at his opponents throughout the game, and his marking ability was definitely a highlight.” – Tom Cheesman

Verdict: It was somewhat of a breakout performance for Couroupis, and his lift in output could be a timely one for the struggling Bloods midfield. Having also turned out for the Henley Sports Academy during the week, the Year 12 student should have his hands full with plenty more opportunities to impress. Midfielders with points of difference are always important, and Couroupis’ ability to mark overhead was good to see. It should put him in good stead for a more consistent output.

WAFL COLTS

Claremont vs. Swan Districts

Kalin Lane
Claremont | Ruck
5/12/2001 | 202cm | 90kg

Stats: 16 disposals, 4 marks, 3 inside 50s, 29 hitouts

Our scouts said: “The Denmark-Walpole product showed why he is considered to be one of the leading ruck prospects from Western Australia this season with a strong performance against Swan Districts. He finished with 16 possessions, 29 hit-outs, four marks and three inside 50s. For a ruckman, he covered the ground well, often positioning himself just behind the play to halt any attacking momentum the Swans had.” – Lenny Fogliani

Verdict: In a draft pool which boast a few promising key position prospects at the top end, Lane looms as a real chance to break into contention amid just his second season of Colts football. He is far from a mere beanpole ruck at 202cm, with the over-ager’s solid frame allowing him to make a seamless transition to the next level of competition in Western Australia. Lane’s athletic base also allows him to move around the ground well and have a real presence at each level of the contest, so he could be one to watch with a few more eye-catching outings like this.

Zane Trew
Swan Districts | Inside Midfielder
26/04/2002 | 187cm | 78kg

Stats: 31 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s

Our scouts said: “The Hills Rangers junior showed why he is one of the leading inside midfield prospects in this year’s AFL draft pool. He accumulated 31 possessions, laid five tackles, grabbed three marks and recorded three inside 50s in a powerful display. His composure, and decision-making around the stoppages was impressive for someone his age. When he got the ball on the outside, he constantly hit his intended target.” – Lenny Fogliani

Verdict: Trew showed his class once again on the weekend with another outstanding performance for the struggling Swans side. He had no trouble finding the ball with an equal team-high in disposals, and continues to prove he is one of the finest exponents of the handball in this year’s draft crop. While he is a touch handball happy, Trew also kicks well and could benefit from using that weapon a touch more, though who are we to tell him to do any different. His form has been terrific, and he is a real difference maker, right in the first round mix as it stands.