Tag: South Australia

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

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

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

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

Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia

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

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

* – from three Under 18 games.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

2021 SANFL League, Round 6

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

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

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

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

Q2:

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

Q3:

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

Q4:

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

Final thoughts…

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

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 6

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 6, with the latest weekend of action producing plenty more excellent performances from budding 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

STURT 5.7 (37) def. by GLENELG 16.20 (116)

By: Tom Wyman

STURT:

#10 Jake Aish

The Sturt midfielders were soundly beaten by the high-flying Tigers, but Aish was clearly Sturt’s best through the engine room. The number one clearance player on the ground, Aish spent the game cracking in hard at ground level, where he won his fair share of contested ball. When the heavens opened and the game turned into a stoppage-fest, Aish adapted well, with his strong inside game suited to the slippery conditions. His clearance ability was particularly important when the game became one of yardage. Although he lacked some polish when in space on the outside, Aish can hold his head high despite the lop-sided result, finishing with 24 disposals, six tackles, eleven clearances, nine inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#17 Mitch Felton

With the ball seemingly living in the Glenelg forward half of the ground for much of the clash, Felton was never far from the action in defence. Charged with the kick-in duties in the first half, Felton was one of few Double Blues who regularly looked to take the game on, attacking each contest at speed and looking to utilise his clean, long foot skills out of defence. He took a couple of important intercept marks by positioning himself well down back. In the second half, Felton appeared to take on a more close-checking role, spending some time on Glenelg spearhead Corey Brougham. Clearly among Sturt’s best, Felton accumulated a team-high 29 touches (including 26 kicks), five marks, five tackles and 13 rebounds.

#25 Kade Harvey

Playing a similar role to the aforementioned Felton, Sturt’s Harvey was also in-and-around the action from start to finish. Harvey’s aerial ability was a real feature of his game, with the defender’s intercept marking particularly impressive. Although some poor kicking let him down at various stages, Harvey was often under the pump, especially when the rain set in. Sharing the kick-ins with Felton, Harvey generated some meaningful drive from the half-back line and finished with a game-high 14 rebounds from defence.

Others: 

Midfielder George Pope fought hard in the loss, winning nine clearances for the Double Blues along with 15 disposals. Edward Davies and Blake Fidge both applied plenty of pressure, laying seven and six tackles respectively. In attack, Chad Baulderstone and Nathan Houston were Sturt’s only multiple goalkickers, while Dylan Thredgold was strong in the ruck, winning 25 hitouts.

GLENELG:

#5 Hugh Stagg

Stagg produced another impressive performance in the yellow and black. With his explosiveness and ability to break tackles up there with the best in the state, the talented forward/midfielder wasted no time getting involved. Possessing one-touch cleanliness at ground level and the ability to brush off opponents with relative ease, Stagg appeared unstoppable at times. His kicking was inconsistent, with some hitting their desired target and others being chopped off or falling short, however Stagg produced another very strong showing. He concluded the contest with 24 disposals, two marks, nine inside 50s and a goal.

#12 Brodie Edwards

Edwards, the youngest son of Adelaide Crows legend Tyson, was typically classy for the Bays. The bottom-ager lined up in defence but was soon moved into the midfield. In both positions, he displayed calmness under pressure and made the most of his possessions. One of a long list of Tigers with the capacity to play a variety of roles across the field, Edwards finished the game with 19 touches, three marks, six tackles and three inside 50s in a solid showing.

#20 Lewis Rayson

The ever-consistent Rayson once again had a significant say over proceedings at Unley Oval. Spending time through the midfield and down back, Rayson was able to break lines with his dash and cut through the Sturt defence with his precise foot skills. Although his football smarts, skills and speed will stand out to recruiters, Rayson certainly cracks in hard when unleashed in the middle and showed he is a capable contested ball winner. When allowed to drift back a kick behind the play, Rayson took intercept after intercept, positioning himself to perfection and using it well for the most part. Certainly one of the most exciting South Australian draft prospects, Rayson continued his sensational start to the year by gathering 35 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and five clearances in the 79-point triumph.

#31 William Watts

Strongly-built utility, Watts put on a clinic for Glenelg, dominating proceedings in the midfield and up forward. Watts used his strength to damaging effect through the guts, where his contested ball winning and cleanliness by hand proved the catalyst for several Bays forward movements. Given the Tigers’ excellent depth through the midfield, Watts was often rotated through the forwardline and proved hard to contain. His vice-like hands on the lead ensured Watts became a genuine focal point in attack. Watts’ bigger frame was ideally suited to the slippery conditions of the clash, with his contested ball winning capacity and stoppage nous proving important. In a best-on-ground showing, Watts finished with 36 disposals, 10 marks, three tackles, eight clearances and a goal.

Others: 

Glenelg’s outstanding depth was on full display at Unley Oval, with 14 players accumulating 15 or more disposals. Darcy Gluyas was important in the middle and up forward, looking particularly threatening in attack as the rain fell. His classy snap goal was a highlight, however he probably should have finished with a couple more to his name. He finished with 30 disposals, four marks, three tackles and five inside-50s. Darcy Porter was excellent up forward, booting two goals (and three behinds) to go with 29 touches and four clearances. Hunter Window was busy and his effectiveness by hand stood out. He finished with 30 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six clearances and 12 inside 50s. Harrison Kaesler won 23 touches of his own, while forward Corey Brougham made the most of his limited opportunities, nailing three goals from six disposals.

NORTH ADELAIDE 8.12 (60) drew w/ WWT EAGLES 8.12 (60)

By: Tom Wyman

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

After an impressive showing in the ruck last weekend against the Tigers, Keeler was moved back into the forwardline for the Roosters’ encounter with Woodville-West Torrens. Although he still did much of the ruckwork in the forward half of the ground, the talented bottom-ager struggled to get his hands on the football early on, with North bigman Adam Heath being the primary target in attack. He showed glimpses of elite athleticism and cleanliness below his knees, however it was a largely frustrating day for the South Augusta product. But, as all good players do, Keeler stood up when it mattered most, flying high for a mark-of-the-year contender with a couple of minutes left on the clock before calmly slotting the subsequent set shot to level the scores. Recruiters will certainly have enjoyed his clutch grab when the game was on the line. Keeler finished the game with 14 disposals, four marks, six hitouts and a goal.

#12 Hugh Jackson

It was quite simply the Hugh Jackson show on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval, with the balanced midfielder having it on a string. He spent much of the first term stationed down back, where he was able to set up the play with his deadly left foot. His skillset is well suited to a role as a ‘kicker’ down back, however, with the Roosters needing a lift around the ball, Jackson was soon thrown into the middle and dictated terms from then on. As has been on display all throughout the season, Jackson’s quick-give handballing was elite, as was his vision, ability to win the ball at ground level, and burst of acceleration. Jackson always seems to free his hands, even while being tackled, allowing him to pass it off despite the mounting pressure. His extraction work and stoppage smarts were excellent, but when allowed time and space, Jackson really made the Eagles pay, hitting targets by foot with ease over a variety of distances. Even when he was rested up forward, Jackson still couldn’t get away from the action, getting on the end of a spearing inside-50 ball from Isaac Keeler. His couple of misses in front of goal were just about the only blemish in what was a complete performance from the ball magnet, who finished with 41 disposals, nine marks and eight clearances.

#15 Harvey Harrison

After struggling slightly against the Tigers, Harrison was back to his prolific best in the Roosters’ draw with the Eagles. Once again, his eye-catching run-and-carry really opened up the ground and provided a point-of-difference through the middle. His foot skills on the run were excellent and, albeit for a rare miscued bounce, Harrison rarely wasted a possession. His ability to win the footy at the coalface and apply pressure around the ball is well complimented by his speed and composure. Harrison concluded the game with 24 disposals, five marks, six tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Defender Shaun Bennier stood tall for the Roosters, putting a stop to several inside 50s. Tough and courageous in the air, Bennier was strong overhead, hauling in four contested marks, but also provided plenty of rebound. Crafty midfielder Zyton Santillo had some excellent moments, with the speedster providing some energy through the middle. Using the ball well, he finished with 22 touches, five marks, four tackles and four clearances.

Providing serviceable support for Jackson and Harrison through the midfield, Kelsey Rypstra won 23 possessions and booted a goal while James White gathered 18 disposals and sent the ball inside 50 four times. Up forward, Adam Heath booted the first goal of the match and also snagged an important major late in the contest, finishing with three maximums. His presence up forward proved important for the red and whites. Ruckman Oliver Moors competed well against Eagle big-man Zac Phillipswinning 18 hitouts to go with eight touches and four marks.

EAGLES:

#4 Jack Murphy

Murphy was one of the Eagles’ best performers at Prospect Oval. A natural ball-winner with a clean kicking action, Murphy used the ball well on the outside and also showed an ability to win his own ball in-and-under. He finished the game with an impressive 30 disposals, three marks and three inside 50s.

#5 Brayden Calvett

Calvett provided the Eagles with some run-and-carry from defence. Pushing into the midfield as the game wore on, Calvett used the ball well by foot and booted a nice goal late in the final term, but will likely rue his three behinds. The hard-working Calvett finished with 26 disposals, two marks, two tackles and four inside 50s.

#24 Zac Phillips

Ruckman, Phillips was the dominant bigman on the park for much of the contest. He regularly provided the Eagles on-ballers with first-use (Eagles won the hit-outs 30-20), but it was his work away from the stoppages which impressed. Phillips clunked several big pack marks, despite flying from three-deep at times. Showing handy athleticism and mobility for a player of his size, Phillips looked to play on wherever possible and generally used the ball well.

Others:

With Port Adelaide father/son prospect Jase Burgoyne playing League football for the Magpies, William Neumann and Dustin Launer stood up for Woodville-West Torrens. Neumann, the Eagles leading possession winner, showed excellent work rate up around the ground. He finished with 31 disposals and 11 marks, while Launer gathered 29 possessions, four marks, six clearances and four rebounds. Up forward, Will Pearce booted three majors and also gathered 19 disposals. At the other end of the ground, Jonte Hunter-Price was solid in defence, taking a couple of important overhead grabs.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 8.5 (53) def. by WEST ADELAIDE 8.6 (54)

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#10 Isaac Birt

Birt was one of South Adelaide’s best players on Saturday with 27 disposals, six inside 50s, four clearances, four marks and a goal. His second half was particularly outstanding, as he provided some important run-and-carry down the wing and used his pace to break the game open. Despite the slippery conditions, Birt always picked up the ball cleanly and found targets by hand and foot with ease. He also used the corridor well and followed up his possessions to ensure that the ball kept moving forward. Midway through the final term, Birt kicked a brilliant goal from 40 metres out off a couple of steps to give his side the lead. Unfortunately for Panthers fans, their side could not hold on and went down by one point.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper continued his impressive start to 2021 with another good performance for South. He was very active at clearances, as he worked hard to win the contested ball and applied some strong pressure on the opposition. Draper had 24 kicks and just three handballs, showing that he played to the slippery conditions well. Gaining ground (especially from clearances) is an important part of wet weather footy, so Draper got the ball on the boot as often as possible to move it into his side’s forward half. With that said, Draper also showed more composure with ball in hand than most other players on the field. Most players were just bombing the ball down the line, whereas Draper took that extra second to look inside and find a target in the corridor on several occasions. Draper finished with 27 touches, nine clearances, five tackles, three inside 50s and an important goal that levelled the scores going into the final break.

#37 Kyle Marshall

Marshall was impressive for the Panthers on Saturday, providing a strong marking target for them when they exited their defensive 50. He continually led up hard at the footy, made a contest and (at least) brought the ball to ground for his teammates. He tried to be too cute with his possessions at times in the slippery conditions, but his decision making with ball in hand improved as the game wore on. Marshall finished with 12 disposals, four hitouts, three tackles, two marks, two clearances and two inside 50s for the day.

#39 Will Verrall

Verrall was South’s best performer on Saturday. He toiled away in the ruck all day, winning the majority of the hitouts and giving his midfielders first use at the stoppages. Verrall has good chemistry with Draper and Luke Mitton, and these three combined for 24 clearances between them. This was a major reason why their side won the clearance battle 41 to 29. Verrall used his huge frame to position himself well in ruck contests, and he often provided a good marking target for his teammates kicking down the line. A strong intercept mark in the last quarter when scores were tied was another individual highlight. He finished with 21 disposals, 37 hitouts, six marks (two contested), five tackles and five clearances.

Others:

Nathan Hicks (15 disposals, six tackles, one goal) was good for the Panthers up forward, as he applied consistent frontal pressure and used the ball well going inside 50. Luke Mitton (23 disposals, 10 clearances, six tackles) was crafty at the stoppages, while Dylan Brown (20 disposals, seven inside 50s, six tackles) initiated some important passages of play in the forward half.

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Pridham did some good things in the defensive half for the Bloods. He was a ball magnet, earning 35 disposals to go with seven rebound 50s, five tackles and four marks for the day. His ball use was great most of the time, he never fumbled and he linked up well with teammates when bringing the ball out of defence. Pridham’s ability to choose the right option was important too, as he helped his side control possession with some short passes in defence whenever the Panthers appeared to be gaining the momentum. He also attacked the ball hard throughout the match, particularly loose balls that he sprinted to in defensive 50. One negative was that he gave away some unnecessary free kicks in the defensive half, which he can work on going forward.

#7 Ben Burbridge

Burbridge was West’s most prominent midfielder in this clash. He was tough at the contest, always in and under, found plenty of the ball around the ground and used it well whenever he got it. His quick hands to release his teammates into open space were outstanding, and this is undoubtedly a feature of his game. Burbridge took some important marks too, both when receiving from teammates and when intercepting the opposition’s kicks. His pressure was relentless, highlighted when he applied a great tackle on Draper in second term to cause a turnover. He finished with 25 disposals, six tackles, five marks and four inside 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy is a bull for the Bloods and he thrived in the slippery conditions on Saturday. He works harder around the ground than most at Under 18s level, and as much was evident in this match through the amount of contests he was able to get to despite spending much of his time in a half-forward role. Kennedy does the little things well, such as blocks and smothers to help his teammates out around the ball. Although he missed a shot on goal that he should have nailed in the opening term, he made up for it in second quarter with a crisp snap to put his side 20 points up. Kennedy finished with 16 disposals, seven tackles and five inside 50s.

#13 Hugh Desira

Desira was fantastic for the Bloods in the first half of this match. He kicked West’s first goal of the game early, using the wet conditions well to skid the ball through with a nice kick around his body. After that, Desira frequently used his electric pace and ability to kick on both feet to break the game open and get the ball moving forward with speed. The wingman always competes in the air despite lacking in size, and he has quick hands that he uses to release teammates into space on the outside of contests. Although he drifted out of the game a bit in the second half, Desira still finished with 17 disposals (15 kicks), five marks, five tackles, five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal.

#53 David Midwinter

Key defender, Midwinter was a brick wall in defence, frequently using his size and strength to spoil his opponents and repel South’s persistent attacks going forward. He has clean hands, is agile for his size and uses the ball quite well by foot. With five minutes remaining and scores level, Midwinter won a huge one-on-one contest deep inside West’s defensive 50 by out-bodying his opponent, taking the ball cleanly off the ground and finding a teammate with a quick handball. Many defenders would panic in this situation, but Midwinter stayed composed under the high ball, did not give away a free kick and was able to release the pressure by winning the contest and without conceding a behind. This was one of many instances where Midwinter’s composure was important for the Bloods.

Others:

Jesse Thackeray (20 disposals, six marks, five clearances) worked hard in the midfield, Kade Harkins (16 disposals, six rebound 50s) was reliable down back and Jaeden Watts (two goals, five tackles) was dynamic up forward. Dylan McCormick (nine disposals, three marks) applied some outstanding pressure throughout the day and finished with a whopping 16 tackles.

NORWOOD 7.2 (44) def. by CENTRAL DISTRICT 11.16 (82)

By: Tom Cheesman

NORWOOD:

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

While it has been a tough few weeks for Norwood in the Under 18s, Dnistriansky has maintained consistency and been a shining light in defence. His defensive work is reliable, his composure under pressure is outstanding and his kicks rarely miss a target. Some of his kicking in this contest was exceptional, including one bullet pass from full back (in the wet) that found Corey Jones-Bobridge inside the centre square in the third term. As usual, he facilitated many switches of play and created plenty of run and link up out of defence. Dnistriansky had a nice moment in the second quarter when, after biding his time, he ran past a teammate that was lining up for a set shot, received the handball and booted an important goal from outside 50. As poor as the defending was from the Bulldogs in this instance, it was great awareness from Dnistriansky to see the opening and take full advantage with his booming right foot kick. Although Dnistriansky made a couple of uncharacteristic errors by hand, overall it was another strong performance from the defender.

Others:

Given Centrals won the inside 50 count 58 to 25, it was a very tough day to be a Redlegs defender. Despite this, Oliver Stenchlik (21 disposals, four rebound 50s, two tackles), Riley Verrall (21 disposals, seven rebound 50s, five tackles) and Taj Rahui (12 disposals, six tackles, two clearances, one goal) fought hard and did well to help keep the margin to under 40 points. Connor Kent (29 disposals, nine tackles, seven marks) worked hard as well.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

Rotating between midfield and forward, Dudley was one of the Bulldogs’ best contributors. The Adelaide Crows NGA prospect was brilliant whenever he went near the ball, providing a major spark and using his skills to open up the play for his side. He is so clean below his knees, very creative and a fantastic decision maker. His high football IQ was on display in several instances, including a moment in the first quarter when he twist and turned around multiple Redlegs players before executing a beautiful long handball inside to find Finn Reed. Dudley used his pace to his advantage in this match by applying constant pressure all over the ground and using his low centre of gravity to gather the ball without fumbling. Although he is probably going to be a small forward in the long-term as he moves up the grades, he was more prolific in the midfield throughout this contest. His tackling pressure in the centre square was relentless, as demonstrated when he caught two Norwood players holding the ball at seperate contests within a one-minute period in the second term. Dudley kicked a well-deserved goal in the closing minutes from a set shot after crumbing a marking contest at pace and earning a free kick for a high tackle. He finished with 27 disposals, nine tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s to go with his goal.

#15 Finn Reed

Read was another fantastic midfielder for the Bulldogs in their first Under 18 victory of the season. He showed good pace, tackled strongly and provided plenty of link up play through the middle of the ground. A powerful intercept mark he took in defensive 50 at the 12-minute mark of the opening term helped set the tone for his side. Although he missed a couple of shots at goal, he launched the ball inside 50 on eight occasions and had multiple other score involvements. He finished with 24 touches, eight tackles, eight inside 50s, five marks and two clearances.

#34 Darcy McDonald

McDonald was a standout for Centrals. Playing predominantly as an inside midfielder, he collected 20 disposals to go with a tremendous 12 tackles, four inside 50s and three clearances. As his statline suggests, his tackling pressure and willingness to hunt down opposition players was outstanding, but this was not the only feature of his game. McDonald is a good size, silky mover and won plenty of contested ball. He had arguably the moment of the match in the third term when, in the wet, he scooped the ball up one-handed, sold some candy to get past an oncoming tackler and then delivered the ball inside 50. There were many times in this match where McDonald won his own ball and used his agility to escape a stoppage with ease before releasing a teammate on the outside. The challenge for McDonald now is to produce this level of play on a consistent basis.

Others:

Saxon Evans (37 hitouts, 12 disposals, one goal) and Brodie Tuck (13 hitouts, 15 disposals, two goals) dominated in the ruck and gave their inside midfielders first use. Tomas Hahn (22 disposals, 11 tackles, eight clearances) was another prominent Bulldog midfielder and kicked a glorious goal on the outside of his boot in the third term.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 5

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 5, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

GLENELG 15.10 (100) def. NORTH ADELAIDE 8.14 (62)

By: Tom Wyman

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

Tunkin provided good intensity, speed and pressure up forward as he has all season. Pushing up into the midfield at times, the diminutive Tunkin won a number of clearances through excellent stoppage nous, positioning himself well to get on the end of the taps. He booted two goals, including a terrific rove and snap, but could have had a couple more if not for two half-chance misses. A consistent performer throughout the contest, Tunkin finished with 23 disposals, two goals, four marks and four clearances.

#5 Hugh Stagg

Powerful utility, Stagg was terrific for the Bays in their 38-point victory. Starting at the centre bounce, Stagg split his time between the midfield and the forwardline and made a real impact whenever he was around the ball. A strongly-built teenager, Stagg used his physical advantage to damaging effect, brushing off a number of would-be tacklers in-tight throughout the game. Importantly, Stagg made sure his tackles stuck and also showed his strength overhead to take a strong contested mark early in the match. His snap goal in the third term put the icing on a really strong game from the midfielder/forward, who finished with 22 disposals, six tackles, three clearances and seven inside 50s.

#20 Lewis Rayson

Rayson was everywhere for the Tigers in what was a clear best on ground performance. The speedster started the game in the middle, where scouts will have been impressed by his contested ball winning and fight at ground level. Rayson moved to the backlines at various stages throughout the contest, to damaging effect. His ability to read the play and position himself to take intercept marks put a stop to several Roosters forward thrusts. Although he did turn the ball over a couple of times by foot, Rayson was predominantly clean and effective, particularly when going inside 50. A very dangerous player when allowed to float a kick behind the play, Rayson concluded another strong outing with 31 disposals, 11 marks, four inside 50s and five rebound 50s.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Medium-defender, Beecken played a crucial role down back for Glenelg, particularly when the Roosters were threatening early on. He was strong one-on-one, composed with ball in hand and found himself in the right place at the right time on several occasions to mop up in the defensive 50. Especially busy early in the contest, Beecken finished with 25 disposals and five rebound 50s.

Others:

Forward Corey Brougham was Glenelg’s most damaging player forward of centre. Brougham bagged a game-high four majors, with his contested marking ability proving a real handful for his Roosters opponents. He finished the game with nine disposals and six marks (four of which were contested). Darcy Gluyas was heavily involved for the Tigers. Patrolling the wing, he looked poised and composed with ball in hand and used it to great effect. His snap goal late in the piece was a highlight of his game. Gluyas finished with 23 disposals and six marks. Crows father-son prospect Brodie Edwards (22 disposals, four marks and three clearances) and ruckman Oscar Adams (six disposals, 16 hit-outs and a goal) were also among the Tigers’ best performers.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

The athletic bottom-ager was terrific for the Roosters. After spending time as a permanent forward earlier in the season, Keeler had a greater impact on the game when given the lead ruck role. A classy mover, Keeler fought hard against Glenelg ruck duo Oscar Adams and Sam Thomson, but it was his follow-up work and efforts at ground level which elevated his performance. Keeler was involved in several handball chains, with his natural football smarts and cleanliness holding him in good stead. He was also very clean by foot, with an inside 50 kick to teammate Adam Heath a prime example of his skillset. Certainly one of the Roosters’ best players on the day, Keeler finished with 21 disposals, six marks (two contested), 15 hit-outs and two clearances.

#12 Hugh Jackson

Prolific midfielder, Jackson spent some more time on the defensive side of the ball this week, with star teammate Blayne O’Loughlin elevated to the Reserves. Always assured with ball in hand, the classy left-footer may not have been as dominant on the inside as previous weeks, but his skills helped set up several Roosters attacks. His work rate between the arcs was high, and his distribution by hand was clean. North’s Mr. Consistent finished the game with 26 touches, seven marks, five inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#29 Zyton Santillo

Zippy on-baller, Santillo was typically productive for the red and whites. He looked the most threatening Rooster around the contest, winning a game-high nine clearances – four more than any other player on the ground. Santillo was clever with ball in hand, using his quick turn of pace to weave around opponents with ease. He booted an important goal at the 10-minute mark of the third term which triggered a run of four-straight Roosters goals, and finished the game with 24 disposals, three tackles and five inside 50s.

Others: 

Midfielder James Willis found plenty of the ball, gathering 26 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and seven inside 50s. However, his kicking did let him down at times, particularly in front of goal where he booted four behinds. His fellow on-baller Harvey Harrison won 18 disposals, three tackles and two clearances. Although he didn’t accumulate his regular numbers, Harrison’s run-and-carry through the middle of the ground was still evident. Key forward Adam Heath provided a strong target, taking a couple of nice contested grabs to go with 22 disposals and a couple of majors.

WEST ADELAIDE 13.9 (87) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 13.8 (86)

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Small defender, Pridham was once again productive in West Adelaide’s narrow victory under Saturday night lights. Tasked with setting up the play from the half-back line, Pridham had the ball on a string from the get-go. He has a knack of getting into the right spots in defence, and his teammates clearly recognise his talent with ball in hand, looking to give it to him whenever possible. What he lacks in size, Pridham makes up for in polish and smarts, whilst also applying plenty of pressure on the ball carrier. One of the SANFL Under 18 competition’s most consistent performers across the opening five rounds of action, Pridham finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and nine rebound 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

With gun bottom-aged midfielders Kobe Ryan and Tyson Coe missing the clash due to college football commitments, Kennedy stood up through the middle for the Bloods. The skipper did struggle by foot at times, with a couple of his kicks resulting in turnovers, however he was typically combative in-tight, winning plenty of contested ball at the coalface. Kennedy pushed forward at stages to good effect, with his hands overhead a feature. He worked hard between the arcs, sending the ball inside 50 on eight occasions, and finished with a game-high 30 disposals, six marks (two contested), five tackles and three clearances.

Others:

The smooth-moving Dylan McCormick showed off his speed, run and booming long kick. He kicked the Bloods’ first goal of the game and finished the contest with 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles and three rebounds. In the ruck, Tom Scully and Oscar Steene battled hard against competition hit-out leader Saxon Evans. Scully, whose mobility and cleanliness were again impressive, finished with 12 disposals, 15 hit-outs and two clearances, while Steene managed 15 disposals, five marks (four contested), four tackles, 19 hit-outs and five inside-50s in a strong aerial display. Luke Young stood up in attack, booting three majors and taking a couple of strong grabs, while Hugh Desira (21 disposals, three marks, two tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and three rebounds) produced his best performance of the season, with his speed, foot skills and relentless work rate impressive.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect provided genuine spark whenever he was around the ball for Central District. In a side which came within a point of claiming its first win of the season, Dudley did just about all he could to get his side over the line. As he has done throughout the opening month of action, Dudley divided his time between the small forward role and midfield, and it was in the middle where he looked most damaging, able to use his terrific blend of fancy footwork, power and contested ball winning to best effect. Dudley’s skills appeared a class above those of his teammates for parts of the night, with his kicking boasting accuracy and penetration. But whilst his fancy side-steps, elite agility and eye-catching skills will fill the highlight reels, Dudley’s relentless pressure and tackling intensity will also have recruiters excited. Against the Bloods he tackled with real intent, never backing down despite being smaller than the majority of his opponents. In another encouraging display, Dudley gathered 23 disposals, nine tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Gilchrist provided the Bulldogs with a genuine target in attack. He often appeared simply too big for the West Adelaide defenders, positioning himself well to take grab after grab up forward. Gilchrist’s ability to not only use his size to advantage, but read the flight of the ball proved too difficult to contain. He finished the game with five goals, the most of anyone for the round, to compliment his 19 disposals and eight marks (four of which were contested).

Others:

Half-backman Ruben Carreno was excellent for the Bulldogs, winning a team-high 25 disposals and nine rebounds. Bigman Saxon Evans has clearly been the best performed ruckman in the competition’s early stages, however the Bloods talls were able to curb his influence on the game at Hisense Stadium. However, the Willaston product was still able to play a role, finishing with 11 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and 13 hit-outs. When he wasn’t stationed up forward, fellow tall Brodie Tuck provided Evans with a chop-out in the ruck, winning nine hit-outs of his own. He didn’t hit the scoreboard, but managed five disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.

WWT EAGLES 14.13 (97) def. STURT 8.12 (60)

By: Tom Cheesman

EAGLES:

#9 Jase Burgoyne

Port Adelaide fans should get excited (if they aren’t already), as father-son prospect Burgoyne returned to the Eagles’ Under 18 line up this week and delivered a best on ground performance. After an interrupted pre-season due to knee surgery, Burgoyne showed that he has lost none of his agility and deserves to be considered among South Australia’s best AFL Draft prospects in 2021. He was on fire from the opening bounce against Sturt, spreading from a stoppage just minutes into the game and kicking a beautiful goal on the run from 45 metres out. He played predominantly in the midfield but also spent some time at half-back, exhibiting his silky skills in both positions. Burgoyne won plenty of ground balls, rarely fumbled and made great decisions when disposing of the footy. No Double Blues player could go with him when he spread from stoppages, as his turn of speed was too much for them to handle. His skills by foot were magnificent, finding targets all over the ground with ease. Going inside 50, he always kicked it to his forwards’ advantage to enable them to capitalise on one-on-one situations. At half-back, he read the play well and used his height and leaping ability to take some nice intercept marks. He finished with 28 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and two clearances for the day.

#15 Adam D’Aloia

D’Aloia backed up his best on ground performance last weekend with another strong showing on Saturday. Playing mainly has an inside midfielder, the State Talent Hub member read the ball well off the hands of the ruckmen, released his side’s outside midfielders with quick hands, and always followed up to the next contest. His composure with ball in hand was outstanding, as he made smart decisions and consistently chose the right option. The highlight of his match occurred in the second term when he received a short pass from Burgoyne on the 50-metre arc, immediately turned, took three steps and booted a magnificent goal on a tight angle. D’Aloia is already one of the best handballers in traffic in the competition. This was demonstrated on many occasions including when he gave quick hands to set up Mattaes Phillipou’s important goal midway through the third term. His defensive pressure was relentless as well, both at stoppages and around the ground. The bottom-ager finished with 26 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, four tackles, four clearances and a goal.

Others:

Brock Thomson (33 disposals, ten marks) found plenty of the ball in defence once again, showing class with both feet coming out of the defensive 50. Will Pearce (19 disposals, five marks, four clearances) was prominent in the midfield and up forward, while Nick Mitzithras (23 disposals, seven marks, two goals) and Liam Ueding (16 disposals, nine marks, four tackles) were important contributors. Ben Schwartz (ten disposals, two contested marks, four goals) closed out the game well, booting three of his four goals in the second half.

STURT:

#5 Jordan Hein

Hein was one of Sturt’s best, finishing with an impressive stat-line of 29 disposals, eight tackles, seven marks, six inside 50s, five clearances and a goal. His hands were good inside, and he used his pace to apply solid pressure on the opposition throughout the match. Hein used his endurance to work to each contest and provide teammate Brad Jefferies with some much-needed assistance in the midfield. His goal came at an important stage late in the third term with a left-foot snap from a forward 50 stoppage, and this brought his side to within 12 points at three-quarter time. While he is a nice kick on most occasions, he did make a couple of costly turnovers by foot, including a misguided short pass late in the second term that should have led to an Eagles goal. Despite this, it was a strong performance from Hein and he will be an important player for the Double Blues this season.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Jefferies was Sturt’s best player again, finding the ball with ease and using it to the best of his ability. He collected a game-high 37 disposals (28 kicks) to go with 12 marks, nine inside 50s, eight clearances, four tackles and two rebound 50s. While his contested ball-winning ability and dominance at stoppages was profound once again, it was his work rate and desire to earn uncontested possessions that took his game to a new level on Saturday. Jefferies pushed into the right spots to gain uncontested marks and help side bring the ball out of defence on numerous occasions. Some of his kicking completely opened up the play, including when he went down the middle to Jake Aish in the final term. He attempted to use the corridor as much as possible, and he found Felix Packer up forward on the lead several times. Jefferies earned free kicks at stoppages because he got to the ball first, held his ground and proved difficult for opposition players to tackle. It will be interesting to see whether Jefferies moves up the grades at Sturt in 2021.

#39 Felix Packer

Packer was Sturt’s most imposing forward in this contest. He provided a powerful presence, pushed hard on the lead and used his reach to take the ball at its highest point. He booted three majors for the match, and they all came in different ways. The first was from a set shot after taking a mark on the lead, the second came from a nice kick on the run (following some good work from teammate Lachie Thomas), and the third came from a set shot after a free kick for a push in the back. Given Packer’s size, reach and ability to hold front position, it is difficult for defenders to spoil his marking attempts without giving away free kicks. Packer had 16 disposals and five marks in a solid outing.

Others:

Charlie Fryer (14 disposals, eight marks, four tackles) and Will Torode (12 disposals, five marks, eight rebound 50s) were great in defence, as they consistently read the ball well and took some nice intercept marks. Patrick Tidemann (16 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s) worked hard throughout the contest, and Jake Aish (24 disposals, three goals) was lively.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 16.10 (106) def. NORWOOD 7.8 (50)

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#13 Lachlan Hayes

Hayes was Mr. Reliable for South in defence on Saturday. He was very active from the beginning of the match, using his agility to impact contests and provide an option for teammates on the outside. His brilliant quick hands helped set up an Isaac Birt goal in the second term, one of several occasions where he made good instinctive decisions with ball in hand. He also has a nice sidestep, which is valuable when used in the right situation, and he spread well off half-back to help his side switch the play. He finished with 22 disposals, five marks and three tackles.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts was easily the best player on the ground in this contest. He set the tone at opening bounce, where he laid a strong run-down tackle on Redlegs ruckman Aidan Lake to earn a free kick for holding the ball, and then delivered his kick beautifully inside 50 to a leading Jack Delean to set up the first goalscoring opportunity of the match. Roberts dominated at the stoppages, winning eight clearances to go with 34 disposals, 10 inside 50s, nine tackles and eight marks for the day. Most of his marks were uncontested, as he used his incredible work rate to burn away from opponents and help his side bring the ball out of defence. Roberts delivered several classy forward entries from his 10 inside 50s, including when he kicked a huge goal from inside the centre square (with the wind) off a couple of steps to give his side the lead in the second term. He also spent some time resting at full forward, and he kicked two more goals in the second term while playing this position. He showed great composure to steady when drilling his second on the run at the 16-minute mark, and his third came from the next centre clearance when Luke Mitton hit him beautifully on the lead. Roberts was never in doubt from the set shot, as he has a wonderful kicking technique and is reliable under pressure. He took two contested marks in this game as well, proving that he truly has no weaknesses. Akin to fellow Panther Jason Horne, Roberts is a class above the Under 18 level, so don’t be surprised if he moves up the grades this season.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper is another of South Adelaide’s promising draft prospects and he churned out another solid performance on Saturday. He was particularly impressive early, finding plenty of the ball and winning clearances with ease. His balance between getting contested and uncontested ball is fantastic, and his versatility enables him to play almost any position. Draper spent some time forward to rest in this contest, and although he provided a strong marking target, he did not get any opportunities to hit the scoreboard. His best moments in this match came at the midfield stoppages, where he and Roberts tore the game apart in the second term. Draper is a reliable kick, good size and very athletic. His composure under pressure is elite, as he regularly gets his arms free when tackled to give handballs that release teammates on the outside. Draper could be another to earn an opportunity to play at higher levels later in the season as well.

#35 Koby Cockshell

Cockshell was South’s most powerful presence up forward in this match, finishing with 15 disposals, six tackles, four marks and three majors. He was a reliable marking target, showed impressive agility and, as evidenced by his tackle numbers, applied relentless pressure on the opposition. Some highlights of his performance included a clever intercept mark and beautiful set shot goal in the second term, and a fantastic contested mark against Norwood’s Matthew Dnistriansky early in the third term. Another exciting moment also came in the third quarter when Cockshell swooped on a loose ball, took a bounce down the wing and found fellow key forward Tom Schirmer with a long kick inside 50 to set up a score. Cockshell’s second and third goals came from the goalsquare in the final term.

Others:

Will Verrall (31 hitouts, six clearances) was a major reason why the Panthers had the ascendancy at the stoppages, and Tom Schirmer (five marks, three tackles, three goals) was good in tandem with Cockshell up forward. Isaac Birt (20 disposals, six inside 50s), Luke Mitton (20 disposals, eight clearances, seven tackles) and Jack Delean (11 disposals, two goals) were also standouts.

NORWOOD:

#10 Taj Rahui

Rahui was fantastic for the Redlegs in defeat. Playing off half-back, the State Talent Hub member provided some exciting run-and-carry, used his body well and produced many significant defensive efforts. His spoiling was solid, his attack on the ball was ferocious and his willingness to commit to the contest was outstanding. A prime example of his commitment occurred when he took a brave contested mark at half-back after standing under the flight of the ball for a lengthy period. Rahui knew the contact was coming from all directions, but he was not afraid to take the hit and did not back out of the contest. This was a great sign from a young player. Rahui was also composed in traffic, reliable by foot and agile in evading oncoming tacklers. He finished with 21 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s, two rebound 50s, two tackles, two clearances and a goal, which came from a nice set shot in the opening term.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Dnistriansky was solid in defence for the visitors, particularly in the first half. He used his booming right foot kick to switch the play, open up the centre of the ground and clear the defensive 50. He was not afraid to take the game on by foot, as demonstrated when he hit teammate Joseph Cristancig with a beautiful pass down the corridor in the opening term. Dnistriansky intercepted South’s forward thrusts on many occasions and provided some nice run and link up with teammates coming out of defence. He is a good size for his position and can hold his own in one-on-one contests. Besides one uncharacteristic turnover in the second term that handed Cockshell a goal, Dnistriansky’s ball use was very effective. He finished with 25 disposals, 10 rebound 50s, six tackles and five marks.

Others:

Oliver Stenchlik (13 disposals, two marks) and Riley Verrall (19 disposals, six marks, five tackles) were solid in defence, while Corey Jones-Bobridge (16 disposals, four tackles, three clearances) did some good things in the midfield.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

SANFL Under 18s Player Focus: Arlo Draper (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide’s Arlo Draper is a prospect who has garnered a fair bit of intrigue this year. The dynamic midfielder-forward is rated highly by most keen draft watchers, but proved a glaring omission from the AFL Academy squad which was recently dismantled by Geelong VFL. While 24 of the nation’s best and brightest talents looked to prove their worth in that game, Draper continued with his SANFL Under 18s commitments, helping the Panthers edge home against Central District by three points on Saturday morning.

In four games this season, the 18-year-old picked up where he left off in 2020 with some impactful performances for South. Draper has notched over 20 disposals and booted two goals in three of his outings thus far, showcasing the damage he can do when rotating forward from midfield. His versatility, and turn of speed to create space in tight areas are key pillars of his game, as well as a handy knack for taking overhead marks and hitting the scoreboard.

Draper is the prospect under our SANFL Player Focus microscope this week; we run you through his game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of his Round 4 showing.

PLAYER PAGE

Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: January 20, 2003
Height: 185cm
Position: Midfielder/Forward

2021 averages*: 21.8 disposals | 12.8 kicks | 9.0 handballs | 4.3 marks | 4.3 tackles | 6.0 clearances | 3.5 inside 50s | 0.3 rebound 50s | 2.0 goals (8)

* – from first four games.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

PLAYER FOCUS

2021 SANFL U18s, Round 4
South Adelaide 10.11 (71) def. Central District 10.8 (68)

Stats: 24 disposals | 14 kicks | 10 handballs | 4 marks | 3 tackles | 6 clearances | 5 inside 50s | 1 rebound 50 | 3 goals

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Stationed at the opening centre bounce, Draper started brightly as one of South’s midfield staples. He showcased his usual poise in traffic to flick out clean handballs and work his way into better positions with good agility. He also set up a kick behind the play when the Panthers were inside attacking 50, where he would be able to read the play and act as his side’s wall. At the centre bounces and stoppages, he set up unmanned in the anchor role and tracked the ball well, even when those movements went unrewarded in the way of possessions. Defensively, he seemed to conserve energy a touch and could be seen walking or jogging between contests, not spreading as hard as others. Given he mostly remained between the arcs when the ball was in either 50-metre zone, that may have been a product of instruction or positioning. Draper rotated into attack at around the 14-minute mark, where he popped up to clunk a terrific overhead mark and convert South’s second goal of the day. It proved a rare kick among his many effective handballs and clean gathers in term one.

Q2:

Starting once again as the unmanned anchor, Draper made another eye-catching start to the quarter – this time by running straight through the opening centre bounce to mop up the spillage and boot a clearance inside 50 to give Bailey Pilmore an immediate chance on goal. He again lacked a touch of intent going the other way at stoppages when Centrals prized first possession, while also allowing his direct opponent to take front position at the contest. But as he did during the opening period of play, Draper impacted once he swung forward with a nice grab deep inside 50. The kick was weighted to his advantage, he read it well to stretch and clunk the mark before converting once again. It proved an important goal, restoring South’s buffer to seven points. Having moved back into midfield, Draper showed his burst in patches and was able to get into positions to receive and deliver forward by foot.

Q3:

The third term was arguably Draper’s quietest on face value, despite taking up many of the same positions and roles. He was given the usual centre bounce and stoppage orders while in midfield, before rotating forward at the 14-minute mark but not adding a goal to his tally. Draper tended to sag off and wait to receive on the outer at stoppages, rather than being sucked in or extracting the ball himself, which worked out well for him in the second term. He did not see as much of the ball this time around, but followed the flow of the play and was able to deliver some more clean disposals around the ground.

Q4:

Having faded a touch, Draper ensured he would make an impact when it mattered with an improved final term. He now found himself manned at the stoppages in that position behind the ruck, still giving up front position but staying with the play to earn an early centre clearance. With a spark needed for South as Centrals closed, Draper looked to better utilise his turn of speed and burn opponents on the outer, while also providing a couple of tackling efforts. As he had done in the first half, Draper made his move into attack count with yet another overhead mark close to goal, using his athleticism and smarts to pluck the ball from the back and then put through his third goal. While he was uncharacteristically fumbly over the ball in the latter stages, that goal provided the Panthers with some breathing space at a clutch moment. He really proved a difference maker with those efforts up forward, ensuring the move was less of a rest and more of a weapon for South.

Final thoughts…

Having missed out on representative honours many had pegged him for, Draper served a reminder of his class and unique talent. His ability to rotate forward and consistently hit the scoreboard is a threat any team would love to have in its back pocket, and three goals in those four short forward stints proved crucial in Saturday’s result. While he exceeded his goal to notch a yo-yo test score of 21 during preseason testing, Draper could arguably utilise that running capacity better on the spread and in defensive aspects, ensuring his speed-endurance mix really comes to the fore. At stoppages, wrestling to front position could see him win more contested ball, though Draper’s tendency to sag off and receive second possession in this game allowed for his class and cleanliness to shine through. Going forward, Draper is also looking to sharpen his opposite foot kicking and put on size to play more permanently through midfield. He certainly has the tools to star in that position, with an innate ability to manufacture time and space, and the all-important versatility to also impact up forward.

>> WATCH: Arlo Draper’s Round 4 highlights

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 4

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s rolled on into Round 4, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members and other standout performers. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 10.11 (71) def. CENTRAL DISTRICT 10.8 (68)

By: Tom Wyman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#3 Luke Mitton

The speedy inside midfielder was among South Adelaide’s best performers as they squeezed past Central Districts at Noarlunga. With star on-baller Matthew Roberts missing the round four clash due to AFL Academy commitments, Mitton benefitted from the additional midfield minutes. Although he is on the smaller side, Mitton was strong in the coalface and applied genuine pressure around the contest, laying 10 tackles. Mitton displayed intelligence at the stoppages, winning a game-high eight clearances, including a quick snap goal following an expert piece of roving. Although his kicking was up and down, Mitton’s tackling intensity, contested ball winning and speed with ball in hand proved important. He finished with 20 disposals (14 kicks and six handballs), four marks, ten tackles, eight clearances and five inside 50s.

#8 Cooper Rogers

McLaren Vale junior, Rogers produced another consistent performance in the blue and white. Splitting his time between an inside midfield role and the forwardline, Rogers was typically prolific. A smooth mover who looks in control with ball in hand, Rogers used the ball cleanly despite pushing a couple of shots at goal across the face. He nailed a terrific goal from 40 metres out on his dominant foot in the third term to extend the Panthers’ lead. One of South Adelaide’s best ball users going inside 50, Rogers finished the game with 21 touches (11 kicks and 10 handballs), six marks and four inside 50s.

#33 Arlo Draper

With a handful of South Australia’s top junior footballers in Melbourne on AFL Academy duties, Draper gave onlookers a gentle reminder of his elite talent. Starting in the centre bounce, the Willunga product showed some excellent evasiveness in-tight, stepping his way through traffic with relative ease. Draper was clean by foot, however it was his distribution by hand which particularly stood out. Not only was he exceptionally clean, his handballs often found their intended targets in time and space and set up another Panthers’ attack. As the game wore on, Draper drifted deep forward where he simply proved too good, outmuscling his direct opponent with ease. His three goals all came via set-shots deep in attack, after taking one-on-one marks. A natural forward, Draper read the flight of the ball to perfection, then nudged his opponent under the drop zone to take the grab. Whilst Draper was clearly the best midfielder on the ground when on the ball, his one-on-one marking ability in attack is what elevated his game to the next level. The smooth-moving teenager collected 24 disposals (14 kicks and 10 handballs), four marks (two contested), three tackles, six clearances and five inside 50s.

Others: 

Wingman Isaac Birt confirmed his reputation as one of the competition’s best pure wingmen. Typically hard-working between the arcs, Birt was clean and found plenty of the ball, concluding the game with 20 disposals (16 kicks and four handballs), eight marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds. The hard-working Angus Bradley was prolific, gathering 23 disposals (18 kicks and five handballs) and four marks, while Lachlan Hayes finished with 20 touches (13 kicks and seven handballs) and eleven rebounds to solidify his standing amongst the state’s best rebounding defenders.

Talented bottom-aged midfielder/forward Jaiden Magor had his moments and showed some promising glimpses, finishing with 11 disposals (eight kicks and three handballs), three marks, four tackles and three clearances. South Adelaide’s ruck duo of Heath Treloar and Will Verrall fought hard against Central Districts big-man Saxon Evans, both winning 13 disposals. Medium-forward Hugo Hoeck missed a couple of shots earlier in the game but nailed a major with the final kick of the match to secure the points for South.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

Talented pocket-rocket and Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect, Dudley produced arguably his best performance of the season to date. Dudley may be on the smaller side, but he packs a punch and hits every contest with speed and ferocity. He started in the midfield and impressed with his one-touch cleanliness at ground level, agility and fancy footwork in traffic. Able to evade would-be tacklers with his nimble side-step, Dudley was clean by hand but deadly by foot, seemingly nailing all of his targets. In a Central District side which sorely missed star on-baller Shay Linke (who earned a call-up to the Reserves), Dudley provided some important run-and-carry through the middle. But even at top speed, his kicking was exceptional, consistently lacing out his teammates. His spearing ball to find teammate Thomas Clements led directly to a Bulldogs goal late in the contest. Then moments later, Dudley gave Central Districts its first lead of the season so far, nailing a major with a booming right-foot kick on the run from just inside 50. Although the lead was short-lived, it was fitting Dudley was the man to provide the spark for the Bulldogs. Other highlights of his game included a powerful fend-off, a flashy selling of candy and several repeat run-and-carry efforts. Dudley showed some really encouraging signs to suggest he may well have a bright future at AFL level. He finished the game with 19 disposals (10 kicks and nine handballs), two marks, six tackles, three clearances and a goal.

#29 Saxon Evans

Evans was clearly the most dominant ruckman on the ground. Competing against South Adelaide’s Heath Treloar and Will Verrall, Evans started brilliantly, winning the hit-outs comfortably and, importantly, following up well at ground level. With tall forward Brodie Tuck taking control of the ruck contests in attack, Evans was able to drift a kick behind the play and take a number of intercept marks. His dominance in the contest provided the Bulldogs midfielders with first look while his strength in the air saved a number of South Adelaide forward 50 entries. Evans concluded the game with 14 disposals (seven kicks and seven handballs), five marks (two contested), three tackles, 28 hit-outs and two clearances.

Others: 

Key forward Cody Gilchrist appeared to land awkwardly on his left leg early on but soldiered on seemingly unimpeded for the rest of the game. He used his height and reach to advantage and at times looked simply too tall for the South Adelaide defence. However, he would have been frustrated with a couple of missed opportunities in front of goal. He finished the game with six disposals (four kicks and two handballs), two contested marks and a goal.

Brodie Tuck provided a marking presence and looked the most threatening of the Central Districts forwards, while also providing Evans with a chop-out in the ruck. He concluded the game with 15 disposals (10 kicks and five handballs), three goals, five marks, four tackles, nine hit-outs and four inside 50s. Half-backman Ruben Carreno was his side’s most prolific ball-winner, accumulating 24 disposals (15 kicks and nine handballs), seven marks and 11 rebounds, while Austin Poulton won 22 disposals (11 kicks and 11 handballs), three clearances and five inside 50s.

WEST ADELAIDE 16.6 (102) def. NORWOOD 13.10 (88)

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#9 Kobe Ryan

Prolific midfielder, Ryan might not have had the same impact on the contest as in the previous three rounds, however he was still West Adelaide’s most productive midfielder in their 14-point triumph. Ryan took a few minutes to get going, but worked his way into the contest well by getting busy at stoppages and running into smart positions. His kicking, usually pin-point, was slightly off at Hisense Stadium but he still hit most of his targets. The classy balanced midfielder, who is capable of winning plenty of the ball on the inside or the outside, was strong overhead and looked the Bloods’ most threatening option at stoppages and around the ball. Possessing a high work rate, he finished the game with 28 disposals (18 kicks and 10 handballs), six marks, nine tackles, six clearances and six inside 50s.

#10 Cade Kennedy

West Adelaide skipper, Kennedy led from the front on Saturday. The prolific on-baller provided a spark around the contest with his quickness and fierce attack on the ball. An early highlight came when he perfectly roved ruckman Tom Scully’s tap and booted it long, resulting in a goal for his side. Kennedy’s kicking improved as the game wore on. Although he missed a couple of targets early on, he found his touch after the main break and nailed some excellent kicks, a couple of which led directly to West Adelaide majors. An agile prospect, Kennedy concluded the game with 22 disposals (18 kicks and four handballs), six marks and six inside 50s.

#54 Harry Lemmey

The developing tall forward again showed glimpses of his exciting talent. Another West Adelaide key position player who looks just as capable at ground level as he does in the air, Lemmey provided a great target in attack. Agile with a quick turn of pace, Lemmey presented well all day on the lead. He possesses a booming right-foot kick, with a perfect example being his 55-metre bomb on the run which bounced through for a goal to restore the Bloods’ lead in the final term. One of several talented bottom-ager Bloods, Lemmey finished the game with six disposals (all kicks), four marks, three inside 50s and a goal.

Others:

West Adelaide’s ruck combination of Tom Scully and Harry Barnett worked a treat, with the duo helping their club win the hit-outs 40-10. Scully was dominant in the second term in particular, taking mark after mark and moving around the ground well. Barnett was sensational at stoppages, winning a game-high 23 hit-outs and four clearances. Both were able to impact the game up forward too, with Scully booting two and Barnett contributing a third-quarter major.

Blonde-haired backman Charlie Pridham was terrific for the home side, providing plenty of meaningful drive from defence. Crucially, Pridham stood up in the final term when the Bloods were under siege, remaining calm and composed with ball in-hand to finish with 20 disposals (19 kicks and one handball), four tackles and eight rebounds.

Luke Young once again worked well in attack with the aforementioned Lemmey, taking a couple of nice grabs and booting two goals from his 12 disposals. Speedster Hugh Desira (10 disposals and four inside 50s) and Riverland midfielder Dylan White (18 disposals, five marks and five clearances) played their roles well, with the latter nailing his sides first goal of the match after the Redlegs compiled four unanswered.

Powerfully-built bottom-ager Tyson Coe fought hard through the midfield and up forward but struggled to find the ball in time and space. He still finished with 11 disposals and a goal but wasn’t able to have his usual impact on the contest. Opportunist forward Mitch Hahn finished with four goals and Jesse Thackeray collected 16 disposals (13 kicks and three handballs), six marks and six inside 50s.

NORWOOD:

#6 Corey Jones-Bobridge

Powerful midfielder/forward, Jones-Bobridge was a standout performer for Norwood. A high x-factor type of player, Jones-Bobridge started the contest in the centre bounce, where he was clearly the Redlegs’ number one on-baller. His ability to win the contested ball was a big reason behind his side’s fast start. He pushed forward and slotted his first goal after a shrewd piece of roving, then nailed his second 10 minutes later from close range. Jones-Bobridge’s third major came from a 40-metre set-shot and his fourth from a little closer to goal. Although he proved sharp in front of goal, his ball use in general play was inconsistent, misplacing a couple of kicks and missing with some sharp handballs. However, Jones-Bobridge showed plenty of power and a handy ability up forward in spite of his side going down on the scoreboard. He finished with 25 disposals (16 kicks and nine handballs), six marks, eight clearances, five inside 50s and four goals.

#9 Alastair Lord

Lord was undoubtedly one of Norwood’s best players, despite the loss. From the get-go, the half-backman provided real drive from the backline by looking to take the game on wherever possible. His eye-catching dash through the middle of Hisense Stadium was well complimented by his neat skills, which often hit their target but lacked some penetration at times. Lord’s willingness to get and go and take the game on at will was vital for the Redlegs. On countless occasions he received the ball at centre half-back and took several bounces as he ran through the middle of the ground before looking for a target inside 50. A member of the SANFL State Academy program, Lord finished the contest with 18 disposals (14 kicks and four handballs), six marks, four tackles and six inside 50s.

#25 Matthew Dnistriansky

Prolific medium-sized defender Dnistriansky held his own throughout the contest down back. Charged with the kick-in duties, Dnistriansky was typically measured and accurate by foot, rarely wasting a possession. Although he never tried to bite off more than he could chew, Dnistriansky’s impressive skillset ensured he hit a number of long range targets by foot. He finished the game with 20 disposals (16 kicks and four handballs), five marks and five rebounds.

Others:

Connor Kent (21 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s) and Will Charlton (20 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s) produced strong showings for the ‘Legs. Tall forward Damon Pitt bagged two goals from his 12 disposals and Charles Kemp applied plenty of pressure through the midfield, laying eight tackles to go with his 13 touches and a goal.  

NORTH ADELAIDE 5.8 (38) def. by WWT EAGLES 18.13 (121)

By: Tom Cheesman

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#12 Hugh Jackson

Midfielder Jackson was easily North Adelaide’s best performer on Saturday afternoon at Prospect Oval. He gathered a massive 37 possessions to go with six marks, three clearances, two tackles, three rebound 50s and two inside 50s. Jackson provided an option for teammates coming out of defence and earned many uncontested possessions because of his enormous work rate. He facilitated numerous switches of play using his left foot kick, his strongest attribute. You would be hard-pressed to find a more consistent kick at Under 18 level than Jackson in 2021, as he keeps his kicks flat and seems to always find his target with ease. His kicking masterclass was highlighted by a spearing pass inside 50 to Kelsey Rypstra in the opening term that led to a goal. Jackson was not afraid to use his right foot on occasion as well. His teammates tried to get the ball in his hands at any opportunity because of his skillset, but they almost tried too hard and sometimes passed it to Jackson when he was under pressure or out of position. His toughness and class was further demonstrated early in the third when he picked up the ball, burst through two defenders and delivered a clever handball while being tackled over the top to Isaac Keeler, who kicked the first goal of the term. Jackson is a member of the SA Under 18 Talent Hub and will aspire to earn State selection at the Under 19 National Championships in September and October.

Others:

Harvey Harrison (31 disposals, eight marks, six clearances) and Zyton Santillo (31 disposals, seven tackles) found plenty of the ball in defeat, while Shaun Bennier (14 disposals, five marks, five rebound 50s) took some impressive intercept marks in defence.

 

WWT EAGLES:

#8 Brock Thomson

Thomson was impressive for the Eagles in defence. He was clean with ball in hand, read the play well and used his pace to create some exciting ball movement for the Eagles coming out of the defensive half. Thomson always kicked to his teammates advantage and never wasted a possession whether exiting the defensive 50 or going inside 50, and this was highlighted by a long kick in down the corridor that led to an end-to-end goal for his side. His willingness to follow up his possessions and get handball receives was fantastic, and his defensive work in defence was solid too. He finished with 34 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, seven rebound 50s and two inside 50s.

#15 Adam D’Aloia

D’Aloia, a bottom-ager, was the best player afield on Saturday. Rotating between midfield and forward, he had 33 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s, four rebound 50s, four tackles and three marks in an outstanding all-round performance. His positioning and body-work in the midfield was exceptional, he attacked the ball with ferocity and never took a backwards step. He used quick hands well under pressure, and his ability to stay standing and keep his arms up while being tackled is impressive. D’Aloia showed early in the contest that he never gives up on a possession as, after he missed a target with a kick into the corridor, he followed it up and laid an aggressive tackle on North’s Thomas Cusack to earn a free kick for holding the ball. This also showed D’Aloia’s desperation and willingness to rectify a mistake that he made, all for the benefit of the team. Other highlights were a brilliant chase-down tackle on North’s Lewis Saint in the second term, and his hands while being tackled in the second term to set up Jordan Lukac for a goal. D’Aloia could be a star of the future.

#16 Will Pearce

Pearce was the Eagles’ most productive forward in this contest. He applied relentless pressure, led well up the ground, used the ball well and hit the scoreboard with four goals. He continually got to ideal positions for a small forward, including many clean crumbs front and centre of the marking contests. Pearce took a strong contested mark in the second quarter that was arguably the mark of the day, and he had the composure to go back and kick truly from the set shot after the half time siren. His aggression at the contest helped inspire his teammates, as he was willing to put his body on the line for the betterment of the team on many occasions.

#17 Lukas Cooke

Cooke was the most imposing key forward on the ground. He pushed up the field to provide a target and get involved whenever necessary, and he mostly brought the ball to ground for the smaller players to run onto. A highlight was a strong contested mark he took at half-forward in the second term, and he quickly gave the handball to a teammate to allow the ball to get inside 50 before the Roosters got more numbers back. Cooke attacked the ball hard, used the ball well by hand and took multiple intercept marks from kick ins. Three of Cooke’s four majors came in the last quarter, and if not for a bizarre miss from a set shot, he would have had five. He finished with 20 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s to go with his four goals.

Others:

Jordan Lukac was imposing up forward with three goals, but he could have easily had five or six if he converted his chances. Mattaes Phillipou was a consistent contributor in the midfield with 36 disposals.

GLENELG 15.17 (107) def. STURT 5.7 (37)

By: Tom Cheesman

GLENELG:

#1 Kane Viska

Viska was an important contributor for the Tigers in their 70-point victory over Sturt at ACH Group Stadium on Saturday. He collected 16 disposals, kicked four majors and had multiple other score involvements throughout the contest. He has quite a reliable set shot (despite one miss in the final term), was agile on the lead and took two strong contested marks. Remarkably, all four of his goals came in the third term, and this enabled Glenelg to run away to a healthy lead at the final break before putting the result beyond doubt.

#5 Hugh Stagg

Stagg was Glenelg’s best in their comfortable victory. His statline of 28 disposals (19 kicks), 13 inside 50s, four marks, three clearances and three goals is impressive, but even that does not tell the full story of his dominance. Stagg has the size and explosiveness that AFL recruiters love, and an electrifying run down the wing in the second term showed that he is not afraid to use these traits. He proved incredibly difficult for opposition players to tackle in this match, as shrugged Sturt players off with ease before making good decisions by hand and linking-up with teammates to move the ball forward. Stagg always followed up his possessions and worked hard to get to the next contest, whether playing as a midfielder or a forward. He attacked the ball with ferocity and showed composure once he got it, as demonstrated in the first term when he collected a beautiful half-volley and hit up a fat side lead to create his side’s third major of the day. His clearance work was solid, and he showed glimpses of his potential as a full-time midfielder when he exploded from the contest to initiate forward thrusts for his side. One example was when he and William Watts combined to run the ball out of Sturt’s forward 50 in the third term. All three of his goals came in the final term when Glenelg had the match won, but each of them were kicked under pressure from long distances on the run. His second was the most impressive, as he used his power and strength to rip the ball out of his opponent’s hands and kicked truly from 35 metres off two steps. Stagg is an exciting prospect to watch in 2021.

#21 Cooper Beecken

Beecken was outstanding for Glenelg in defence with 16 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four rebound 50s. He run and link-up was exciting, but it was his composure that had the greatest effect in this match. While other players for both sides were rushing their disposals in defence and turning the ball over, Beecken was the opposite. He never panicked when he got the ball, collected it cleanly and made great decisions coming out of the defensive half. He used his reliable left-food kicking to great effect, going short on the 45 to find teammates and control the game. He always keeps his kicks flat, thus not giving opposition players the opportunity to intercept it or force a turnover. As mentioned, Beecken also followed up his work with second, third and fourth efforts to link up with teammates and run the ball out of defence. His defensive work throughout the contest was almost faultless, highlighted by an intercept mark in front of Sturt’s Felix Packer in the third term and a smother early in the final quarter.

#23 William Wiseman

Wiseman provided a strong marking target for the Tigers up forward. He is a good size and has a strong presence about him, so he is an important part of Glenelg’s spine. He kicked the first goal of the game with a nice snap, and he demonstrated that he has reasonable agility when laying an excellent tackle on Sturt’s Jake Aish to win a holding the ball decision. Wiseman provided a strong target down the wings and applied some important defensive pressure throughout the match. He showed potential when he went into the ruck, as he won many hitouts and followed up his work at the stoppages. He finished with 14 disposals, ten hitouts, six tackles, four inside 50s, two marks and a goal.

Others:

William Watts (23 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, five clearances) was fantastic for the Tigers, and Jakob Ryan (21 disposals, seven marks, three tackles, one goal) showed athleticism up forward. Harry Tunkin (18 disposals, five clearances, two goals) and Hunter Window (19 disposals, eight inside 50s, six marks) were also consistent contributors.

STURT:

#13 Brad Jefferies

Jefferies was Sturt’s best performer on Saturday. He rotated between midfield and forward, using his size and power to win contested possessions and apply pressure on the opposition. A brilliant kick that hit up Packer on the lead in the first term showed his classy his ball use can be when he gets time and space to compose himself. He is the ideal size to be a hybrid athletic forward, but he did not get to show many of his skills in this position on Saturday. Jefferies has great game awareness, as demonstrated when Durant attempted to take the advantage but Jefferies noticed and allowed him to make a move before catching him holding the ball. This made it clear that Glenelg had taken the advantage before Jefferies pounced to stop them in their tracks. He finished the match with 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s.

#40 Hugo Kittel

Kittel, a member of the South Australian State Talent Hub, impressed for the Double Blues in their defeat. The ruckman was dominant in the hitouts (24 for the match) and followed up his ruck contests to lay tackles and give blocks to create space for his teammates at stoppages. He also provided a key target coming out of defence, as teammates continued to look for him whenever they had to go long. Kittel is tough to spoil because he takes the front spot and uses his body well. One area he needs to improve is his kicking, as he made a couple of costly clangers in the middle of the ground. At the same time, Sturt players should be running past to get the handball off their big ruckman. He went forward for rests when Declan Hortle went into the ruck, but the delivery going inside 50 to him was subpar. Kittel finished with 10 disposals, two marks, 24 hitouts and one clearance.

Others:

Jamie Taylor (20 disposals, six clearances, four marks) worked hard once again for the visitors, while Felix Packer was Sturt’s sole shining light up forward with four majors. Zac Becker (15 rebound 50s) and Will Torode (eight disposals) were solid in defence.

Image Credit: Mel Faull/Get Snapt

2021 SANFL Under 16s Round 5 wrap: Bays snatch win as South and Sturt continue to soar

THE 2021 SANFL Under 16s season rolled on into Round 5, with four fixtures split evenly across Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. League frontrunners South Adelaide and Sturt both dined out with 55-plus point triumphs, while North Adelaide made it three wins on the trot and Glenelg snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a thriller. All that, and more in our Round 5 wrap.

West Adelaide 9.6 (60) def. by Glenelg 8.13 (61)

Glenelg broke the hearts of West Adelaide on Thursday evening, snatching a one-point win against the Bloods at Hisense Stadium to snap its two-game losing streak. The Bays trailed at every break and only briefly snuck ahead during the second term, but two goals at the death saw them escape with the full set of points, winning 8.13 (61) to 9.6 (60) to make their wealth of opportunities finally count.

Ben Ridgway was exceptional for Glenelg, booting two goals alongside Charlie Hillier while also collecting a game-high 28 disposals and five clearances. The pair also ended up putting their side ahead at the clutch. Ashton Moir and Lucas Camporeale were also among the Bays’ big ball winners, as the former also dominated aerially with 11 marks (five contested).

Will Patton and Marcus Pavlic were Westies’ sole multiple goal kickers with two apiece. Pavlic also worked hard to win 14 hitouts, three clearances, and three marks. Lukas Zvaigzne was terrific with 21 touches and a goal, but it was Jordan Gadeleta who ended atop the Bloods’ disposal charts with 24.

Norwood 5.7 (37) def. by South Adelaide 14.12 (96)

South Adelaide remains the SANFL Under 16s team to beat after defeating Norwood by 59 points at Coopers Stadium on Thursday evening. South led from the first goal and applied consistent scoreboard pressure to comfortably pull away from the Redlegs throughout; managing seven goals in each half, with nine of their total 14 majors coming at one end in the 14.12 (96) to 5.7 (37) drubbing.

Panthers standout Tom Wheaton claimed game-high tallies in disposals (24), marks (11), tackles (seven) and inside 50s (seven) in a terrific performance which also yielded a goal. Sid Draper was Souths’ next best ball winner, as the likes of Phoenix Hargrave (three goals) and Sebastian Oliver (two) both made their touches count. Hargrave was among a trio of Panthers to boot three majors.

Harvey George and Rohan Bailey were kept busy in Norwood’s defence as they both ticked over 20 touches while combining for 11 marks and 15 rebound 50s. Kade Madigan was also amongst it with 17 disposals (15 kicks), seven marks and a goal, as Eamonn Cronin clunked five contested grabs in a solid aerial display.

North Adelaide 10.16 (76) def. Central District 9.4 (58)

North Adelaide claimed its third win on the trot, straightening up in front of goal to down Central District by 18 points at Prospect Oval on Friday afternoon. The Roosters trailed by nearly three goals during the third term despite boasting a wealth of scoring shots, but more than made up for it in the final term with five goals to Centrals’ one, running out 10.16 (76) to 9.4 (58) victors.

Roosters gun Kane McAuliffe racked up a team-high 35 disposals to go with game highs in marks (14), tackles (six), and inside 50s (seven), continuing his incredible run of form in 2021. Jed Dignan led a trio of North players to boot two goals, while Angus Tully and Luke Harvey were others who saw plenty of the ball.

Bulldogs skipper Trent Tattoli led all comers with 37 touches and a goal from midfield, trailed closely by Sebastian Wauer on 36 and 13 marks. William McCabe also won his fair share of possessions, as William O’Brien booted a game-high three goals and Angus Vandenberg notched two from his 20 disposals in Centrals’ losing effort.

Sturt 13.15 (93) def. WWT Eagles 5.8 (38)

Sturt flexed its muscles after half time to thump Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) by 55 points at Unley Oval on Friday afternoon. The Double Blues shot out of the blocks but were pegged back well in term two by a plucky Eagles outfit, before streaming away once again after the main break with eight goals to one. The power-packed flurry contributed massively to their 13.15 (91) to 5.8 (38) victory.

Spearhead Chad Reschke snagged three goals for Sturt, but was one of two players to also notch four behinds. George Pope finished as the Blues’ major ball winner with 26 touches and six clearances, as Kobe McEntee (21 disposals) and Ned Atkinson also got busy in the win.

Defender Jedd Thomson was the only Eagle to tick over 20 disposals, with 22 of his 25 touches coming via foot. Jett Hasting was among a trio of WWT players to finish on 16, while Colby Ackland and bigman Izaac Niemann managed to add two goals apiece despite their side’s loss.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 1

STATE league football returned in South Australia on the weekend, with AFL Draft prospects scattered throughout all three grades as they begin their quest for elite level recognition. In the first SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we narrow our focus to the Under 18s competition, where a bunch of promising talents had big games across the four fixtures. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#3 Charlie Pridham

Pridham spent most of the day in the defensive half of the ground as the dedicated kicker down back. He was tasked with kick-in duties early on and his teammates clearly looked for him when exiting defence. Although some of his ball use, particularly early in the game, was not super effective, Pridham exhibited some nice awareness of time and space and appears to understand the game well. The Bloods’ most prolific player, the diminutive Pridham accumulated 32 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a game-high 12 rebound 50s in what was a strong opening effort.

#9 Kobe Ryan

The bottom-aged midfielder showed why he has a big future with a stunning performance in his Under 18 debut. Having spent most of last season playing college football with Sacred Heart, Ryan was in everything early on, winning the opening clearance before following up his kick with a strong tackle. Impossible to miss with his long blonde hair, Ryan consistently showed an ability to be in the right areas at the right time. He looks to be a very natural footballer who can find the ball at will, but also use it creatively. Ryan showed he has several different types of kicks at his disposal too, possessing the capacity to spear one long into the forward 50, chip it into space for a teammate to run onto, or size up a leading teammate with a clever snap. Despite his slim build, Ryan was fantastic in the air and tackled brilliantly at ground level. A textbook tackle on the broadcast wing was another highlight of his game. If his 28 disposals, six tackles and four clearances is anything to go by, the midfielder appears set for a terrific year.

#10 Cade Kennedy

Kennedy was one of the Bloods’ best despite his side going down by 26 points. He tried hard all day, cracking in whenever necessary but also having an impact on the outside of the contest. He exhibited quick evasiveness on a couple of occasions and looked threatening at stoppages inside-50.

#36 Tyson Coe

Coe, in-tandem with teammate and schoolmate Kobe Ryan, provided something to look forward to for Bloods fans after a difficult 2020 season for the clubs’ Under 18s. A strong physical specimen despite being a year younger than most others, Coe used his size and strength to advantage in his inside midfield role, winning a game-high seven clearances. He has a well-developed inside game, with his strong tackling, contested ball winning and overhead marking all very sound. His pack mark in the first quarter was indicative of his strength. However, it was his turn of speed from the stoppages which really impressed. Coe possesses a nice burst of power and, although his kicking technique could use some minor refinement, his skills over a variety of distances were predominately effective. One of several talented bottom-agers on show at Hisense Stadium, Coe finished with 24 touches, six marks and five tackles.

#40 Luke Young

The key forward presented up at the footy all day and was also clean when the ball hit the ground. Clearly the number one target in attack for the Bloods, Young brought the ball to ground well whenever he didn’t manage to mark it. He showed great strength to stand up on numerous occasions, both in the air and in general play. His tacking was strong for the entirety of the contest and his leading patterns ensured he was often available as a target down the line. Young kicked two goals, both from close range, and finished the night with 20 touches, 10 marks and four tackles in what was a very strong start to the new season. Expect him to be the focal point in attack for the Bloods throughout the season.

#54 Harry Lemmey

Lemmey kicked the first goal of the game after marking Kobe Ryan’s inside 50 kick. He looks to have a beautiful set shot goalkicking technique. Spending most of the game as a key forward, Lemmey didn’t get a heap of opportunity, with the Bloods’ ball-use going inside 50 not always benefitting his aerial skillset. Regardless, Lemmey appears to have some nice traits and will no doubt take some positives from the Round 1 clash. The bottom-ager finished with nine disposals and five marks to go with his two majors.

Others:

Dylan McCormick did some nice things throughout the game for West Adelaide. He accumulated 16 touches and took seven marks. Adam Bunworth was effective down back, providing six rebounds from his 17 disposals and Harry Barnett fought well in the ruck, finishing with 19 hit-outs.

GLENELG:

#2 Harry Tunkin

After piecing together a strong 2020 season, Tunkin was again impressive in the Tigers’ Round 1 victory. Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Tunkin regularly won first possession at the stoppages he attended. His awareness in-tight, football smarts, vision and ball-use by hand were the primary features of his game. A natural ball-winner, Tunkin regularly found teammates on the outside with clever over-the-back handballs and applied plenty of pressure around the ball carrier. He collected 31 disposals and booted one goal, along with three marks, five tackles and five clearances in what was a strong first-up effort from the Prince Alfred College junior.

#5 Hugh Stagg

Stagg was one of several strong performers for the Tigers. A strong physical presence, Stagg was utilised as a forward but also spent considerable time as a big-bodied on-baller. He displayed great strength above his head in the first quarter, taking the mark and finding key forward Harry McInnes with a well-placed kick which lead to the Bays’ second goal of the match. At times he could have been sharper with his ball use, however the forward-midfielder was a threat for the duration of the contest and applied a heap of intense tackling pressure. Stagg could consider himself unlucky not to have walked away with a couple more goals to his name. He finished with 26 disposals, one goal, five marks, eight tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.

#13 Hayden Brokensha

Bottom-ager, Brokensha pieced together a reasonably strong game for the Bays Under 18s. The SANFL State Talent Hub member spent a large portion of the game on the wing with stints through the inside of the contest. He worked hard both ways and provided some important run-and-carry between the arcs. His kicking was clean for the most part and he showed an ability to win his own ball when thrown into an inside role. Brokensha accumulated 14 disposals and took six marks in a performance which the midfielder will look to build upon as the season gets rolling.

#16 Harry McInnes

Key forward, McInnes threatened to tear apart the game in the first quarter, bagging two goals within the first seven minutes of the contest. Clearly the most dominant forward on the ground, McInnes’ lead-up work was fantastic as he used his power, size and strength to advantage. However, it was a frustrating night for the PAC product, who converted just two of his eight shots on goal, with a couple of snaps rattling the post. He was super busy around the ground, gathering 19 disposals and five marks in what proved to be a ‘what-if’ game for the big man. Still, his dominance on the lead will cause plenty of headaches for opposition sides this season.

#20 Lewis Rayson

One of the standout South Australian prospects heading into season 2021, Rayson wasted no time in showing recruiters what he can do. Stationed in his customary half-back position, the speedster never backed down from the contest and refused to be beaten, both in the air and once the ball hit the deck. His positioning allowed him to cut off several West Adelaide attacks and from there he used his speed and precise ball-use to damaging effect. In general play, he backed himself to hit targets which few players would dare to attempt. Although his speed, skills and intercept marking down back are the main strengths of his game, it was Rayson’s contested ball work which was particularly impressive against the Bloods. Rayson fought harder than his West Adelaide opponents, willing himself into the contest and refusing to give up the ball. He concluded the game with 31 possessions at a brilliant 94 per cent disposal efficiency, six marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s.

Others:

Jacob Owens was prolific all day, winning 29 disposals, sending the ball inside-50 five times and taking an equal game-high 11 marks. His run-and-carry through the middle of the ground was a highlight. Bottom-ager Archie Lovelock showed a touch of class with ball in hand. He kicked a beautiful snap goal in the second term and looked very much at home at Under 18s level, filling a variety of roles around the ground. He finished with 23 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency and took eight marks. Darcy Gluyas was vital for Glenelg, mopping up plenty of West Adelaide forward entries and marshalling the troops from his half-back role. He gathered 27 disposals and took seven marks. Adelaide father-son prospect Brodie Edwards was typically clean with ball in hand across half-back, operating at 84 per cent efficiency by foot. Harrison Kaesler finished with 26 disposals, ten marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-aged talent Lachlan Scannell also performed well, collecting 20 disposals, six marks and four tackles.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT

By: Tom Wyman

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#4 Isaac Keeler

It was the Isaac Keeler show for much of the day at Prospect Oval, with the athletic big man bagging five majors as his side easily accounted for Central District. After featuring in the ruck a few times last season, Keeler spent the whole day in attack and really showcased his elite athleticism. He was able to get separation from his various direct opponents with relative ease, using his natural speed to put distance between the Bulldogs defenders. One of the most exciting young talents in South Australian football, Keeler slotted the opening goal of the day with a beautiful kick from 50 metres out and followed that up 10 minutes later with another long-range effort, this time on the run. He finished with five goals but could have easily added another couple as the forward missed a couple of gettable opportunities. Keeler benefitted from the Roosters’ midfield domination and the Bulldogs simply had no answers for him on the lead. Also extremely threatening once the ball hit the deck, Keeler will have plenty of recruiters and Crows fans excited about his prospects, finishing the game with 12 disposals and six grabs.

#5 Shaun Bennier

One of three Roosters included in the Under 17 SANFL State Talent Hub, Bennier showed flashes of his talents at Prospect Oval. He did his best work coming out of defence, where he managed five rebounds and showed some excellent evasiveness. A good size at 190cm and 80kg, the Ingle Farm product tackled hard and accumulated 19 touches in North’s 49-point triumph.

#12 Hugh Jackson

Isaac Keeler booted five and Harvey Harrison was terrific, but it was the work of Crystal Brook midfielder, Jackson which took centre-stage for the Roosters. Spending all game in the midfield, Jackson was everywhere from start to finish, accumulating the ball at will and combining with the likes of Harrison, James White, Zyton Santillo and Max Blacker to completely dominate the midfield battle. Not only did he find the ball at will, Jackson used it to perfection by hand and foot. Exceptionally clean below his knees, his kicking was a real treat to watch at times. For a tough inside-leaning midfielder, his ability to spot up targets over short and long range and execute both in-tight and in space made it easy for the Roosters forwards to capitalise upon. He switched the play efficiently, hit multiple targets inside 50 and, crucially, looked to spot up teammates out of stoppages where others would have blasted away. He was equally as creative by hand too, consistently hitting targets with crafty handballs, especially at stoppages. Instead of completing simple one-metre handballs in congestion to a teammate under pressure, Jackson evidently looked to pass it to players with some space, a skill which has been mastered by some the best inside midfielders in the game. Jackson was sensational for the Roosters, finishing with 37 disposals, six marks, three tackles, seven clearances and a goal.

#15 Harvey Harrison

Harrison was one of a handful of North Adelaide on-ballers who had a field day in the opening round of the season. Like Hugh Jackson, Harrison was not afraid to back his skills and hit tricky targets, particularly when looking to go inboard. A beautiful kick to the leading Isaac Keeler early-on in the contest was a real highlight of his game. Harrison provided some fantastic run and carry through the midfield and showed some tricks around the ball, including a well-executed pirouette. The midfielder’s work rate was evident, as he tirelessly ran from contest to contest, even as the game was in its dying stages. Some of his clearance work also proved vital. Harrison finished the game with 33 disposals, a game-high 13 marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#22 Blayne O’Loughlin

The North Adelaide captain picked up from where he left off in 2020, after impressing as a bottom-ager for the Roosters last season. O’Loughlin spent the day in the half-back role which he has well-and-truly made his own over the past year or two. The Gepps Cross junior and Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy prospect, who describes himself as a ‘crafty backman’, was typically cool and calm with ball in-hand. He rarely wasted a possession and plays with such poise and calmness. O’Loughlin has a tremendous ability to sense how much time he has and isn’t afraid to wait until the right option presents itself, rather than kick long in hope. Against the Bulldogs, he also made a couple of strong defensive efforts one-on-one, to compliment his ball-use. Easily one of SA’s most talented prospects, O’Loughlin finished with 29 disposals (including 23 kicks) and seven rebound 50s for the red and whites.

#28 Max Blacker

Bottom-aged midfielder, Blacker was one of the standout performers for the Roosters. The midfielder is one of those players who seems to always be involved and around the footy. He was particularly busy early on as North Adelaide asserted its dominance over the contest in the opening quarter of action. Blacker used the ball well for the majority of the game and was one of several Roosters who consistently delivered the ball on a silver platter to their leading forwards. However, he will likely be peeved with having finished with three behinds. Blacker concluded the game with 21 disposals, three tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.

#29 Zyton Santillo

Santillo was at his creative best for the Roosters. Part of North’s superb midfield rotation, the zippy Payneham product certainly has some tricks up his sleeve, but wasn’t afraid to crack in and do the hard stuff. He worked tirelessly all game and managed to take an impressive 10 marks. He won three clearances and showed off his neat foot skills to hit-up Charlie Froling on the lead with a perfect pass in the first half. Santillo racked up 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s for the game.

Others:

Exciting forward Kelsey Rypstra produced a very good performance for the victorious Roosters, making the most of his shots on goal to finish with three-straight majors. He also managed 19 disposals and eight marks. Key forward Charlie Froling worked well in tandem with Isaac Keeler and was another beneficiary of the Roosters’ slick ball movement and efficiency going forward. A mobile tall with great hands overhead, Froling nailed three goals and took five marks for the game. Midfielder James White finished the clash with 24 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#3 Isaiah Dudley

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect entered the game with high expectations, having been earmarked as a potential draftee for a number of years now. The talented pocket-rocket started the game at the centre bounce and was shifted forward at various stages. Despite being smaller than many of his opponents, Dudley attacked the ball with ferocity and bounced off several would-be tacklers. It was clearly difficult for Dudley to have much impact on the game up forward, given the Bulldogs lacked the polish of the Roosters. He was perhaps unlucky to be caught holding the ball a couple of times, however Dudley applied plenty of pressure of his own through the midfield and in attack, laying seven tackles for the game. He booted a classy goal from the pocket to start the second term to highlight his skills around goal. Dudley finished the game with 18 disposals, seven tackles, two clearances and six inside 50s.

#16 Shay Linke

The Central Districts leader and SANFL Academy member was clearly his side’s best in what proved to be a tricky day for the red, white and blue. Spending most of the game in the midfield, the versatile Linke accumulated a team-high 27 disposals and was particularly effective around the contest, winning four clearances. The top-ager from Tanunda looks a good size at 188cm and, at 75kg, has some growth left in him which will excite recruiters.

#37 Cody Gilchrist 

The big full forward was one of the Bulldogs’ bright spots, booting three goals in attack. Although he missed a number of chances to finish with a bag, Gilchrist provided a presence in the air, hauling in three contested marks for the day and helping set up a couple of Bulldogs majors. Gilchrist looked mobile when the ball hit the deck and did just about all he could, all things considered. He finished with 11 disposals and seven marks.

Others:

Midfielder Luigi Mondello was one of the Bulldogs’ best. He showed some real burst from the contest and wasn’t afraid to take the game on, using his speed to good effect. He kicked two goals from nine disposals. Ruckman Saxon Evans narrowly got the better of North Adelaide big-man Durant Tindale in the ruck contest, finishing with 23 hit-outs to Tindale’s 20. Ruben Carreno managed 23 disposals and six rebounds while Tahjin Krieg competed well, collecting 20 disposals, a team-high eight clearances and seven inside-50s. Finn Read also had some nice moments, booting a goal to go with six marks and 17 touches.

STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

By: Tom Cheesman

STURT:

#11 Will Spain

A member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, Spain was fantastic for the Double Blues and will be one of their most reliable performers this season. The midfielder has good aerobic fitness, which enables him to get to plenty of contests and work into defence to help his side’s offensive transition. In Friday’s match, he was also clean below his knees, positioned himself well at stoppages and spread well once his side won the ball. With eight clearances and strong bodywork to make space for other Sturt midfielders, it is evident that Spain has a high football IQ. These attributes, along with his willingness to repeatedly apply tackling pressure, will hold him in good stead this season. The only negative was that he missed a shot at goal in the third term that he should have nailed. Nonetheless, he finished with 29 disposals, eight clearances, four marks and five tackles.

#12 Jamie Taylor

Taylor, a powerful midfielder with a booming left foot kick, was one of Sturt’s most consistent contributors throughout the match. With 30 disposals (the most on the ground), six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s, it was an impressive all-round performance by Taylor. He has the strength to fend off oncoming tackles, crumbs marking contests well, and uses his kicking ability to open up the play. He will be dangerous in combination with Will Spain and Brad Jefferies in the midfield for Sturt this season.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Jefferies is a potential bolter this year and he had a good start to the season against the Eagles. The midfielder stayed composed when tackled, worked hard around the ground and found plenty of the ball. A highlight was a clever forward handball out of a stoppage to teammate Will Spain in the third term that initiated some fast attacking play. He worked forward to kick two majors in the second half, including an important one just before three-quarter time to give Sturt the lead. He finished with 21 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three inside 50s.

#32 Morgan Ferres

A hybrid forward with elite marking capabilities, Ferres was easily the best player on the ground. He kicked six majors to go with 17 disposals, 10 marks (two contested) and two inside 50s. Ferres was the centrepiece of our first Player Focus piece for the year, which took a deep-dive into his Round 1 performance.

Others:

Charlie Fryer (four marks, six tackles, two rebound 50s) was reliable in defence for the hosts, and he produced a couple of incredible highlights for the local crowd. The main ones were a run-down tackle in the first quarter and an unbelievable mark of the year contender at the start of the second term. Mitcham Hawk Kai Tucker (17 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s) was brilliant all day on a wing, while Felix Packer (three goals) and Nick Sadler (21 disposals, seven clearances) were also strong contributors in the victory.

EAGLES:

#12 Brayden Calvett

Calvett showed how important he is to the Eagles’ Under 18 side in Round 1 with an impressive performance. He rotated between midfield and forward, often playing the sweeper role at centre clearances. This allowed teammates to find Calvett out the back of stoppages and enabled him to utilise his lethal left foot to send the Eagles inside 50. The Eagles love Calvett having the ball around the 50-metre arc, as his ball movement going forward is near elite. This ability was on display frequently throughout the contest, including when he hit Lucas Cooke in the second term to set up a goal, and when he booted a major himself at the start of the third term to give his side the lead. When Calvett took marks in the defensive half, he often looked to switch and open up the play, and his explosiveness when breaking away from stoppages caused plenty of trouble for the opposition. Calvett finished with 22 disposals, five inside 50s, five rebound 50s, four clearances, four tackles, three marks and a goal.

#17 Lukas Cooke

Cooke provided a strong presence for the Eagles up forward. After not getting many opportunities in the first term, Cooke earned a free kick inside 50 but missed the shot on goal. The important thing to come from this was that Cooke did not let the miss sour his confidence. He made a major impact in the second term, kicking back-to-back goals and becoming a key reason why the Eagles got back into the contest. His contested marking was fantastic and he was their most reliable target going forward. He also pushed back to take some intercept marks behind the play, thus showing that he can play a defensive role if need be. The delivery to him wasn’t always great in the second half and, as a forward, he was understandably a bit quieter once Sturt took full control of the game in the final term. He finished with 17 disposals, two goals, 11 marks (two contested), four inside 50s and a tackle.

Others:

Adam D’Aloia (24 disposals, eight tackles, nine clearances) was great in the midfield for the visitors, while Will Pearce (two goals, six marks) and Brock Thomson (20 kicks, eleven rebound 50s) also had good starts to the season.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD

By: Tom Cheesman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#21 Matty Roberts

Roberts is the among the highest rated South Australian midfielders in this year’s draft class, and on Friday at Flinders University Stadium, he showed exactly why that is. He played predominantly as an inside midfielder and eased himself into the contest, collecting several marks around the ground and displaying his quick hands. While he found plenty of ball on the outside, he wasn’t his usual dominant self at the stoppages early in the match. With that said, the last quarter was when he really stepped it up. Norwood were within a goal for most of the final term, and Roberts responded to their efforts by frequently pushing back to help the defence, taking intercept marks and hunting the football at stoppages to get it moving in his team’s direction. Once South earned a seven-point lead with a couple of minutes to go, Roberts pushed forward and kicked the sealing goal with a volley out of mid-air. He finished his well-rounded performance with 25 disposals, eight marks, six clearances, six tackles, six rebound 50s, five inside 50s and a goal.

#33 Arlo Draper

Draper is a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub and was dominant for the Panthers on Friday, collecting 25 disposals to go with seven marks, six tackles, seven clearances and two inside 50s. While he is extremely versatile and can play any position on the ground, he was predominantly played as a midfielder in this contest. In this role, he proved that he is a class above Under 18 level and certainly can impose his will on a contest at the centre clearances. Draper has great closing speed and spreads well from stoppages, and he provided plenty of exciting link-up play through the middle of the ground. He is also a strong tackler, as demonstrated when he caught Redlegs speedster Archie Richardson holding the ball in the first term. Draper went forward at times, looked dangerous in one-on-one situations and booted two goals in the second half. His second goal was a clever soccered effort off the ground from a forward 50 stoppage, a moment that should feature on his highlight reel come the end of the season.

Others:

Cooper Rogers (15 disposals, four marks, seven tackles) found plenty of the ball early, while Lachlan Hayes (16 disposals, six marks, five rebound 50s) showed great agility in defence by weaving through trouble and using quick hands on multiple occasions. Hugo Hoeck (17 disposals, two goals) and Dylan Brown (13 disposals, one goal) were also lively throughout the match.

NORWOOD:

#1 Tyson Walls

Under-ager, Walls was very impressive for Norwood, their most prominent contributor on the day. He has an electric first couple of steps once he receives the ball, clean hands and a clever sidestep that he used to get past opponents on numerous occasions. This included when he used it on the 50-metre arc to shake off an oncoming tackler and boot Norwood’s first major of the day. Walls is also fantastic at working into space, has a fluent set shot routine and solid foot skills. His delivery inside 50 was effective in most instances, and he booted a nice 40-metre goal in the third term. He finished with 25 disposals, eight inside 50s, four marks, four tackles, three clearances and two goals.

#9 Alastair Lord

Lord, a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, was reliable in defence for the Redlegs. He is a crafty half-back flanker that reads the ball well, uses it brilliantly by foot and has an innate ability to get free for uncontested marks. Lord was great at helping his side control possession whenever necessary, an important trait in half-back flankers at all levels of the game. He also made an impact at times coming off the back of the square at centre clearances, and this is something he should look to do more in future contests. He collected a game-high 26 disposals to go with eight marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s.

Others:

The skills of Noah Hyde (14 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Bailey Gal (14 disposals, five marks) were impressive for Norwood, as was the run provided by under-ager Taj Rahui (17 disposals, three tackles). Matthew Dnistriansky (20 disposals, seven marks) was good in defence.

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

SANFL Player Focus: No first round blues for Sturt’s Morgan Ferres

ATHLETIC Sturt youngster Morgan Ferres is a member of the 2021 State Talent Hub, and one of the most highly-rated South Australian forwards in this year’s draft class. His season commenced on Friday at Unley Oval when Sturt came up against Woodville-West Torrens, and he started the year in blistering form. With six goals, ten marks (two contested), 17 disposals and two inside 50s, it was a day out against reasonable opposition. With four behinds and multiple unselfish goal assists during the contest, it is fair to say that he could have kicked nine or ten. Regardless, he leads the SANFL Under 18 goalkicking tally after Round 1 and has set himself up for a strong season.

Ferres started the match by taking a nice mark on the lead, but sprayed his first shot on goal. He quickly redeemed his miss by juggling a mark, playing on and snapping the Double Blues’ second major in the opening six minutes. This was the first of many instances where Ferres read the flight of the ball far better than the Eagles defenders and got himself into ideal positions. Later in the first term, Ferres pushed up to half-forward to create a higher option for teammates streaming off half-back. He showed that he has quick hands when his handball released a teammate into space and led to a goal from Kai Tucker. Ferres should have kicked his second from the next centre bounce, but he missed an open shot from 35 metres out. Soon after, he worked hard to get open, marked and quickly delivered to Henry Read inside 50, who kicked Sturt’s fourth goal of the day. Ferres’ score involvement numbers were very high on Friday, and he regularly attempted to give the ball to teammates who were in better positions to kick at goal. Another example of this occurred late in the first term when, after earning a free for a hold on the 50-metre arc, Ferres looked like he was going to have a shot but instead passed it off. This unselfish play led to a goal by Cormac Dwyer.

Ferres linked up well with wingman Tucker throughout the match, who used his accurate foot skills to find the leading Ferres on numerous occasions. In the second term, after Ferres got on the end of a pass from Tucker, he was tight on the boundary and attempted to pass it off, but the kick fell short of his target. Ferres is naturally unselfish and passing was the right option on this occasion, it was just the execution that missed the mark. Four minutes in, Ferres completed a beautiful fat-side lead to earn an uncontested mark and he drilled his set shot from 35 metres out. His marking appears to have gone to another level this year, as demonstrated when he took a tough contested grab after a long kick down the line from Brad Jefferies. Ferres immediately looked inside and found Jordan Hein in the corridor, thus opening up the other side of the 50 for Sturt forwards to lead into. At the 22-minute mark, as the deepest forward, Ferres outbodied his opponent, marked and strolled into an open goal for his third. Sturt went into half time with a two-point lead, thanks in large part to Ferres’ three majors and numerous score involvements to that point.

The Eagles got well on top at the start of the third, so the ball did not enter the Blues’ forwardline much during that period. With Sturt ten points down, Ferres claimed a mark but was penalised for a push in the back. It was not until the 23-minute mark that Ferres got another opportunity to make an impact, and he did not waste it as he took a chest mark on the lead and booted through his fourth. He had another chance to goal from the next centre bounce after picking up the ball cleanly and turning sharply around his opponent, but his snap went through for a behind. Sturt reclaimed the lead just before three-quarter time and looked to have the momentum at the break.

Early in the last quarter, Ferres led into the pocket to took a strong overhead mark. With his impressive vertical leaping ability and long reach, it is difficult for his opponents to get a spoil in without chopping his arms. These traits will assist him as he rises up the grades, and this is why coaches will encourage him to take more marks overhead or out in front as he continues his development. After his grab, Ferres went back and kicked a beautiful snap around the body for his fifth. Ferres said in his preseason interview that he has been working on his goalkicking during the offseason, and this hard work clearly paid off in this instance. Ferres is very good at letting his man play in front and calling for the kick over the top into space, thus allowing him to take comfortable uncontested marks. He did this again at the 12-minute mark, which led to his sixth and final goal of the day from approximately 35 metres out. Soon after, Ferres crumbed a contest in the forward pocket, sidestepped an Eagles defender and attempted to dribble through a goal, but he just missed to the near side. As the siren sounded, Sturt ran out winners by 40 points. Ferres would have been happy with the result and his performance, as he proved that he is already a class above Under 18 level.

The scoreboard flattered Sturt in the end, as it kicked the final nine goals of the match to come away with the points. Ferres was certainly their most prominent contributor throughout, and the side required his contributions to be able to score consistently. Although Ferres will also be playing school football at St Peter’s College for much of 2021, he could earn an opportunity to play at SANFL League level depending on how Sturt’s senior side fares. Playing against bigger bodies would be a fascinating challenge for Ferres, and he will seek to compete and shine at the Under 19 National Championships in September and October. It will be interesting to see how Ferres’ game develops throughout the year as he attempts to impress AFL scouts en route to the 2021 AFL Draft.

Image Credit: Mel Faull/Get Snapt

2021 AFLW U19 Championships match preview: South Australia vs. Western Australia

AFTER more than 18 months without an AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the adjusted Under 19 Championships kick-off tomorrow with South Australia up against Western Australia. It will be the first match of the Round 1 fixtures that also feature Vic Country locking horns with Vic Metro, before the four sides – along with host state Queensland and the Allies – battle it out at Metricon Stadium on April 12 and 15.

South Australia come into the match with plenty of experienced inside talents and outside runners with great speed. Their defensive pressure and abundance of running defenders are other highlights of the squad that will hold them in good stead. For Western Australia, they have a dynamic and versatile line-up, with plenty of goal-scoring options, and contested marking talents who are strong one-on-one.

SA DEFENCE vs. WA ATTACK

B: Jamie Parish – Hannah Prenzler – Madison Lane
F: Ashleigh Reidy – Ella Roberts – Bella Edgley
HB: Tamsyn Morriss – Alex Ballard – Brooke Tonon
HF: Aisha Wright – Chloe Reilly – Mylee Leitch

There is plenty of X-factor in the front six for the Sandgropers, with Ella Roberts a bottom-age marking target with great athleticism and quick speed off the mark. She can pull down contested marks and snap remarkable goals, leaving the opposition in awe of ways to contain her. Hannah Prenzler has been named to potentially take her on first, with the Sturt talent able to read the ball well in flight, and will want to stay in front of her opponent given Roberts’ speed on the lead. Bella Edgley and Chloe Reilly are the other marking targets inside 50, with Madison Lane smaller than Edgley, but smart at ground level, whilst Alex Ballard will be an even match with Reilly in the air. Glenelg duo Tamsyn Morriss and Brooke Tonon will look to provide the run off half-back against a couple of youngsters in Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wight, while Jamie Parish will look to use her strength against Ash Reidy in the other pocket.

SA ATTACK vs. WA DEFENCE

HF: Laitiah Huynh – Georgia Swan – Tahlita Buethke
HB: Bella Mann – Beth Schilling – Emily Bennett
F: Lauren Breguet – Lauren Clifton – Jade Halfpenny
B: Emma Nanut – Matilda Dyke – Melisha Hardy

Up the other end, a small South Australian forward line will look to get the ball to ground and use their speed, with the forward entries crucial to the success of the Croweaters. Western Australia have the advantage in the air, with many of their defenders more than capable one-on-one, and taller than their respective opponents. Jade Halfpenny is the key tall inside 50 for the home team, and she has been named in a forward pocket against Melisha Hardy. The Swan Districts defender is good one-on-one, and whilst she has some toe, Halfpenny might have her in that regard, so will be better to utilise her speed on the lead. One-on-one Hardy will be difficult to beat, whilst Emily Bennett and Matilda Dyke are others in the same boat. Tahlita Buethke will have the speed in her matchup, with Lauren Clifton also having that advantage despite predominantly playing up the other end at SANFL Women’s level. Lauren Breguet returns after a couple of weeks off due to concussion, and she will have a great battle one-on-one with Emma Nanut, whilst Laitiah Huynh and Bella Mann are both tackling, fierce players who will not take a backwards step. Beth Schilling will have too much height in the air for Georgia Swan, but the Sturt forward will look to compete and bring the ball to ground and create scoring opportunities.

SA MIDFIELD vs. WA MIDFIELD

R: Zoe Prowse – Lauren Young – Zoe Venning
R: Sarah Lakay – Courtney Rowley – Makaela Tuhakaraina
C: Kate Case – Keeley Kustermann – Gypsy Schirmer
C: Naomi Baker – Dana East – Jaide Britton

The midfield battle has a massive number of not-to-be-missed one-on-ones. Regardless of who lines up on who, it will be a classic contest. Lauren Young is the youngest player on the field at 15-years-old but will have the height advantage over her rivals, and ironically is two centimetres taller than her ruck, Zoe Prowse. The Sturt tall has a great leap and will look to take advantage, but has an equal in that regard with Sarah Lakay incredibly athletic and nine centimetres taller than the South Australian. Both have similar attributes but Prowse has more experience and will cause headaches with second efforts around the ground. Lakay will look to get clean taps to the advantage of her teammates to stop Prowse applying pressure as that “fourth midfielder”. The battle between Zoe Venning and Makaela Tuhakaraina will be one that provides plenty of punch. Both have an incredible appetite for contested ball, and will not take a backwards step. Tuhakaraina has the upper hand in athleticism with elite speed and agility, but Venning is no slouch either, consistent across the board. She has more runs on the board as well, with her opponent coming from a rugby union background. Venning will have the footy smarts to go forward and impact the scoreboard there.

Courtney Rowley and Dana East will take on the West Adelaide youngsters in Young and Keeley Kustermann. Rowley and Kustermann both have terrific kicking skills and great balance, whilst East is terrific inside the contest with clean hands, able to distribute the ball to teammates on the outside. Young is developing her game with great ability in the air and around the ground, and will be too tall for her respective opponents around the ground and is the tallest South Australian in the match. Prowse will have to use all of her energy to battle against multiple opponents, with Lakay likely to receive support from Schilling and South Fremantle’s Lauren Wakfer, whilst Prowse will rely on Halfpenny and Jorja Eldridge as potential back up options. On the wings, AFL Women’s Academy member Gypsy Schirmer provides that elite speed, and Sandgropers co-captain Jaide Britton will look to contain her whilst getting the ball forward in transition herself. On the other wing, Kate Case and Naomi Baker both share similar traits with the ability to move the ball in transition and play off flanks as well.

SA INTERCHANGE vs WA INTERCHANGE

SA INT: Alana Lishmund – Jorja Eldridge – Julia Clark – Charlotte Dolan – Amelie Borg – Sarah Branford
WA INT: Lauren Wakfer – Emily Gunton – Tara Stribley – Emily Boothman – Amy Franklin – Nyra Anderson

The depth of both sides is impressive, though the bench talent goes in the favour of Western Australia, with AFL Women’s Academy member with Amy Franklin keeping the opposition guessing able to play up either end. Tara Stribley is easily a starting wing on any given day and will provide terrific run on the outside. Nyra Anderson is a goal-scoring machine and has come in due to injuries and is a 2001-born talent who is making her mark at WAFL Women’s level year after year. Developing ruck Wakfer, as well as fellow bottom-agers Emily Gunton and Emily Boothman round out the interchange. For South Australia, they have a host of fierce tackling talents there, led by Norwood’s Alana Lishmund, North Adelaide’s Julia Clark and Woodville-West Torrens’ Charlotte Dolan. Eldridge has the versatility to play in multiple positions, as does Amelie Borg who gets her chance as a bottom-age tall. At the opposite end of the height scale, the tenacious Sarah Branford will provide skill and decision making in the forward half.

OVERALL:

The game is set to be a thriller, with the teams really strong in different areas. It is predicted to be mild temperatures, but no rain at this stage, so the talls of Western Australia should be strong if the inside 50s are to their advantage. South Australia have the strength on the inside to win the ball forward, but cannot afford to hack it inside with the Sandgropers’ ability to intercept so well, and be in front position on their opponent. Once the ball hits the deck, the South Australians will be favoured, but a lot of the match will be determined by the midfields. The midfield that can take full advantage and get the ball forward in terms of quality rather than quantity will automatically be well placed to take out the match.

Q&A: Jason Horne (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH Adelaide prospect Jason Horne is the current consensus for top pick out of the 2021 draft crop, credit to an outstanding season last year which saw him crack the Panther’s League lineup. Now part of the AFL and South Australia Under 19 academies, Horne is looking to cement such status with another big season. The combative midfielder has very few weaknesses and can also hit the scoreboard, making him a threatening option in the engine room. Fittingly, he is a Fremantle supporter who moulds his game on Nat Fyfe.

Draft Central correspondent Tom Cheesman chatted to Horne at the recent South Australia preseason testing event for a question and answer (Q&A) special.

Q&A:

Q: How did you go at testing?

A: “Not too bad. The yo-yo was a bit disappointing, I think I got pulled out a bit early but I’m alright with that, I thought the day went pretty well.”

 

Can you tell us a bit about your footballing journey?

“I started playing footy in Under 7s for Salisbury North, I played there for a season then moved down here and played for (Christies Beach) since Under 8s I think. Then I played my whole junior career through there and came to South to play 13s, 14s, 15s and now 16s, 18s and seniors. So a pretty easy journey straight through all the development squads, it’s been good.”

 

How’d you find the experience of being promoted to League level in 2020?

“I thought it was a challenging step up but I really enjoyed it, took it onboard and thought it was a really good experience coming into this year.”

 

Did you enjoy competing against the bigger bodies?

“It was a bit difficult but I enjoyed the challenge and found ways to work around it I guess.”

 

What would you say your biggest strengths on the field are?

“I think my competitiveness and my contested footy, that’s the one big one that I think stands out a lot. My kicking and marking are two of my big (strengths) as well.”

 

What are you looking to improve on?

“I think I really need to improve on my leadership. Also, me and Boofa (Jarrad Wright) the League coach talked about my field kicking going inside 50, I just think that could improve a bit from last year. Then also my goalkicking, from my point of view I think it needs a bit of improvement.”

 

Do you anticipate some more midfield minutes this year having spent plenty of time up forward in 2020?

“Yeah, me and Boofa had a talk not long ago and we said we’ll have a bit more flexibility this year with our League team, getting ‘Gibba’ (Bryce Gibbs) and a couple of young fellas from the AFL clubs, so we think hopefully this year I’ll have a bit more midfield time as well as a bit up forward.”

 

Have any senior players in particular taken you under their wing at South Adelaide?

“I think Gibba’s the main one. He’s working with us young fellas and the 18s just to work on our development so he’s been a good mentor for us young boys and especially me, I’ve been spending a bit of time with him.”

 

How would you describe yourself off-field?

“I just think I’m a nice, respectful bloke. Good to have a laugh with and chat with.”

 

How do you go with balancing footy with other commitments?

“I’m working now five days a week so it’s a challenge but it’s helped me improve my time management.”

 

Is there anyone you mould you game on?

“Nat Fyfe. I like Nat Fyfe and I’ve been watching him for a long time so he’s the big one I model myself on.”

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL