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
#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.
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.
#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.
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
#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.
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.
#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).
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
#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.
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.
#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.
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
#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.
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.
#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.
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