Tag: Tom Highmore

From the clouds: This year’s biggest AFL Draft bolters

EACH year a great deal of AFL Draft intrigue surrounds the prospects who seemingly come from the clouds to land on clubs’ radars. Labelled the bolters, these players are the ones who enjoy steep rises as top-agers to trade obscurity for potential stardom. Last year we saw Will Day, Mitch Georgiades, and Sam Philp taken in round one, Sam Sturt was famously snapped up with Pick 17 the year before, Gold Coast pulled a surprise with Wil Powell in 2017 and well, you get the gist.

In taking a look at the potential bolters in this year’s crop, we are not just talking about players like Logan McDonald or Archie Perkins, who have risen from first round projection to possible top five status. Instead, we will take you through the names from around the nation who have come from greater obscurity to enter the draft frame at differing points. Some will feature at the top end, others might just scrape in at the back, but they all share the common story of coming from a long way back to gain recognition from AFL club recruiters.

Full profiles for all the players mentioned below can be found in our AFL Draft Guide, which is free to download.

THE BOLTERS

STATE BY STATE

South Australia:

South Australia not only lays claim to arguably the biggest bolter of the lot this year, but potentially the biggest overall list of players who suit the category. Headlining the crop is of course South Adelaide wingman/forward Brayden Cook, who went from battling for gametime as a bottom-ager to earning a Reserves call-up early in 2020 and averaging two goals per game in the Under 18s. His nous close to goal and overhead marking ability proved to be game-winning traits for the Panthers this year, propelling Cook into first round contention.

Likely joining him in the top 25 are gun midfielders Tom Powell and Caleb Poulter, who were two of the most consistent ball winners in this year’s SANFL Under 18s. Powell is one of the finest exponents of the handball to come through the junior ranks and proved impossible to ignore on pure numbers in 2020. He was highly rated internally but hardly got the opportunity to show his wares in 2019, suffering multiple injury setbacks and having hip surgery in his bottom-age campaign. Poulter is somewhat of a late bloomer who has enormous upside and great presence on the field as a tall midfielder. His range of weapons include a raking left peg, clean hands, and the ability to play inside, out, and up forward.

Other top-agers in the extended conversation include Luke Pedlar, Malachy Carruthers, Phoenix Spicer, and Xavier Robins. All four earned national draft combine invites after promising seasons, with Pedlar one who has also recently garnered first round interest. The tough and explosive midfielder was a leader among the Glenelg and Prince Alfred College squads this year, before injury cut his campaign short. Defenders Carruthers and Robins both impressed during the school football season before returning to SANFL competitions, while Spicer caught the eye with his dash and x-factor playing on a wing for South Adelaide.

Last but not least are the mature-agers. Mitch Duval and Tom Highmore both earned draft combine invites and were the only prospects over 19 years of age to do so this year. Both read the play beautifully across half-back, mark well, and provide value on the rebound. Premiership Eagles James Rowe and Jacob Wehr will also attract interest. Rowe is a small forward with excellent smarts and natural ability, while Wehr is a rebounding defender with class who was struggling for Reserves games not too long ago.

Victoria:

Despite not getting the chance to put in a full top-age season, there are a bunch of Victorians that have put their hands up for draft bolter status with impressive preseason showings and testing performances. Hulking Sandringham Dragons ruck Max Heath is near the top of the pile after returning dominant trial games. He took on some stern advice after his bottom-age year and came back a different player, throwing his weight around as an aggressive tall who can impose himself on the contest.

Northern Knights product Liam Kolar is in a similar boat after his preseason efforts, making for a steep rise having come from a soccer and athletics background. The raw tall debuted late last year for the Knights but seemed to have hit new heights in 2020 with his speed-endurance mix and rate of development impressing onlookers all the way back in March. Matt Allison and Fraser Rosman are other dynamic talls with great athleticism and upside who have entered the conversation.

Sandringham not only lays claim to Heath in the bolter category, but has also seen the likes of Luke Cleary, Max Holmes, and Lachlan Carrigan burst onto the scene. All three come in at over 189cm and can play in multiple roles. Holmes is the son of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Lee Naylor, while Carrigan’s genetics have seen him benefit from a massive growth spurt which has coincided with his overall footballing development as a wingman.

One who has come from arguably the furthest back is Corey Preston, who earned a draft combine invite this year despite not having yet made his NAB League debut. The 180cm Eastern Ranges graduate is a midfielder/forward with nice athletic traits. Speaking of, Oakleigh’s Conor Stone has really cemented himself among the top-end group of late. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut last year and was part of the Chargers’ premiership side.

Among the ranks in country regions, Geelong’s stacked top-age cohort includes the likes of Blake Reid and Charlie Ham. Reid did some impressive things last year as the Falcons struggled to string results together, while Ham is a late bloomer much like elder brother, Brayden of Essendon. Both players earned combine invites and performed well, just like new 2km time trial record holder Harry Sharp. The former steeplechaser was primed for a big year after showing nice glimpses as a hard working wingman/small forward for Greater Western Victoria.

Western Australia:

Much like the South Australian crop, those from the West have benefitted greatly from being able to prove their worth on-field in a compromised year. Even before then, 204cm Claremont ruck Kalin Lane loomed as a massive bolter in 2020 after being included in the West Australian academy hub. It came after just one bottom-age appearance and he repaid the faith with an outstanding top-age campaign at Colts level.

Isiah Winder also hit great heights this year and was a standout combine tester come season’s end. He earned plenty of plaudits for his breakout performance in last year’s WAFL Colts Grand Final and has since transitioned from a small forward role to impact through midfield and even earn a League debut with Peel Thunder. Along with Lane, he is a developmental option with plenty of desirable traits for his role.

Among the smokies to have come on strongly are Tyler Brockman and Jaiden Hunter. Brockman is an exciting small forward/midfielder with great speed and goal sense, while Hunter is a tall usually accustomed to key defensive duties, but made to take on Perth’s primary ruck role at 194cm. His athleticism and mobility are outstanding. Claremont pair Jack Avery and Logan Young also enjoyed stellar campaigns in 2020, with Avery a promising intercept defender, and Young a reliable midfield ball winner.

Featured Image: South Adelaide bolter Brayden Cook gets a kick away | Credit: Nick Hook/SANFL

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Carlton Blues

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Carlton, a side on the up after finishing 11th in 2020 and bringing in some high-end talent during trade period. Having featured at the pointy end of many a draft over the last 20 years, the Blues are only set to enter this year’s event towards the end of round two. It is a signal of their finals intent after elongated rebuilds and a new lease on life under coach, David Teague. As has often been the case for Carlton, academy and father-son options are scarce, despite four prospects being eligible under the latter rule this year. With the Blues only set to use two or three picks, it is difficult to see them making much of an impression on this year’s proceedings, though some late gems may be in the offing with their current hand.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 38, 48, 78
* – denotes as of November 21

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Charlie McKay, Mackenzie Hogg, Tom Silvagni, Tom Gleeson (all father-son)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Ruck depth
Midfield points of difference
Long-term key defensive depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 38)

There are a few areas Carlton could look to consolidate with this year’s intake having already covered the need for speed during trade period. The retirement of Matthew Kreuzer leaves the Blues with only two genuine ruck options, while recent delistings sees their long-term key defensive stocks looking quite thin. In the former category, ruckman Henry Walsh, the 203cm brother of Sam already has links to the club having also trained there during preseason, potentially making for a good story and easy transition. He’s a competitive tap ruckman who is working on his running capacity and impact around the ground. Other ruckmen likely to feature in that range include Shannon Neale, Kalin Lane, and Max Heath.

There is not too much in the way of key defenders who would be viable to Carlton in the second round, and perhaps the Blues could further relay their intentions by targeting a mature-age prospect. Tom Highmore fits the bill as a tall defender who seems ready to make the next step after an outstanding maiden SANFL campaign. The 22-year-old former GWS Academy member made the move to South Adelaide this year and was a rare mature-age invitee to the national draft combine. Along similar lines, 21-year-old Woodville-West Torrens goalsneak James Rowe is a name which has been hot on the lips of Carlton fans, who are yearning for a genuine small forward to take over from Eddie Betts in 2022.

If the Blues look towards midfield depth, Zavier Maher could be the explosive type they are after on the inside, and Sam Berry is a hard-working accumulator who remains active going both ways. Should they take the two birds, one stone approach, the likes of Corey Durdin and Charlie Lazzaro may slide far enough to be snapped up as zippy smalls who are likely to begin their careers up forward. However, Carlton has spent first round picks on Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien, Liam Stocker, Sam Philp, and Brodie Kemp in recent years, not to mention Sam Walsh and traded-in players like Matthew Kennedy and Will Setterfield, so should back their current stocks to develop over another preseason.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

With the third-lowest total draft points value of all clubs as it stands, the Blues may not have much leverage to work with in terms of live trade options. Should a player they are really keen on slide within the second round, they could package a couple of their picks to move up the order and come away with just two selections. Alternatively, their 2021 picks may be put on the table to extract maximum value out of a deal, though next year’s crop is said to be much stronger than this year’s.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Carlton take on any mature-age players?

Will Carlton work to move up the order?

Will Carlton back its current midfield crop, or look to add depth?

Will Carlton take a punt on their father-son choices?

Featured Image: Carlton Media

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best readymade prospects

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to compare and contrast the best readymade prospects available in this year’s AFL Draft pool.

These are the players which clubs will hope can make an immediate impact at AFL level upon being drafted, possessing just the right balance of athletic traits and natural footballing nous to hit the ground running in Round 1. Clubs in the premiership window could be among those to look for talents in that mould, whether it be mature-bodied players, or those who are mature-age. This year’s intake will be of particular interest in this department given about half of the crop has not gained any top-age exposure. It begs the question, will clubs then prioritise state league talents who are proven quantities?

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Below are some of the players which headed discussions, split into their positions:
Click on their names highlighted in red for full draft profiles.

Key Forwards:
Logan McDonald – Was a standout key forward throughout the full WAFL League season, showcasing terrific forward craft and providing constant scoreboard impact. Has the endurance and one-on-one game to play Round 1.
Jackson Callow – A big-bodied key forward who thrived at senior TSL level, Callow is one of the best pure contested marks in this year’s crop. Has some aspects to work on, but is ready to go in terms of his frame.

Key Defenders:
Denver Grainger-Barras – Another top five prospect who played a full season of senior football, Grainger-Barras is a lean type but has the kind of athleticism and competitiveness to make an impact at the elite level. An intercept marking machine.
Heath Chapman – Chapman earned a League berth for West Perth late in the season, but proved a class above Colts level. He is also aerially gifted but has a high-level endurance base and the scope to adapt to a number of roles across the backline.
James Borlase – The Adelaide NGA prospect has developed at a steep rate to become a genuine draft candidate in 2020, partly due to the presence he has on-field with such a mature frame and sound reading of the play. Also broke the senior ranks for Sturt.

Small-Medium Forwards:
James Rowe – Has arguably come back stronger after earning a state combine invite last year, topping the SANFL goalkicking charts with elite-level smarts and natural ability inside 50. He is a mature-age candidate at 21-years-old and could immediately assume a small forward role.
Errol Gulden – There is not much of him at 175cm/75kg, but Gulden has prospered to prove a game winner at each level he has played. One of two Swans Academy members pressing for first round honours come draft time.

General Defenders:
Lachlan Jones – Jones cuts a mean figure in defence and plays in a similar manner, providing great physicality and versatility across the back half. The Port NGA member can play tall and small, faring well aerially while also carving up the opposition on the rebound.
Tom Highmore – Another mature-age prospect, Highmore is a high marking intercept defender who transitioned seamlessly from the NEAFL, to SANFL football this year. He has the body and senior experience to be a serious impact player early on.
Mitch Duval – Duval has come from a long way back to come into draft contention this year. The 23-year-old West Adelaide defender is another interceptor and earned a National Combine invite for his form in 2020.

Midfielders:
Will Phillips – Arguably the best pure midfielder available in this year’s draft, Phillips looks a nailed-on 200-gamer from the outset. He cut his teeth at the centre bounces alongside Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson last year, playing part in Oakleigh’s NAB League premiership.
Alex Davies – Tied to the SUNS Academy, Davies will be pre-listed by Gold Coast and effectively cost nothing. He’s a tall, big-bodied type who wins plenty of contested ball and is quite poised in congestion.
Oliver Davis – One of the best Tasmanians available, Davis won the TSL Rising Star award in 2020 and made its Team of the Year as one of the competition’s premier inside midfielders. You know what to expect from Davis and he has no trouble finding the ball.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Best players under 175cm
Best midfielders over 190cm
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Best academy and father-son hauls
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals

PRELIMINARY finals week in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we widen our scope to cover the prospects running around across all three grades, with a particular focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line.

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Tom Wyman

Eagles:

#5 Sam Lowson

The Victorian forward kicked Woodville-West Torrens’ first goal of the game at the tenth minute mark of the opening term. Although he didn’t see a lot of the ball (seven disposals), in-part due to James Rowe‘s dominance, Lowson made the most of his opportunities as all good forwards do. He booted his second of the game in the dying moments of the third quarter and certainly complimented the likes of Rowe, the Hayes brothers, and Jake von Bertouch well inside the Eagles’ forward 50.

#9 Rhyan Mansell

Another interstate import, Mansell consistently breached the arcs at both ends of the ground and provided plenty of run-and-carry, as he has done all season. The Tasmanian used the ball beautifully and his teammates evidently trust his delivery whenever he’s in possession of the footy. The damaging half-backman finished his side’s impressive preliminary final victory with 11 disposals, six tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#16 James Rowe

The sheer brilliance and craftiness of Rowe turned the game on its head in the second half and proved vital in the Eagles’ win. He booted goals late in first and second terms, then nailed the first three shortly after half-time to heap the pressure on South Adelaide. One of the hottest mature-aged prospects in the country, if Rowe’s Ken Farmer Medal hadn’t already gotten recruiters talking, his forward smarts, terrific vision, innate goal sense and ability to win the game off his own boot will have almost certainly impressed AFL onlookers. Rowe produced a classic small forward’s game by sparking an abundance of excitement inside 50; drawing free-kicks at ground level, nailing most of his opportunities in front of goal, and annoying the Panthers defenders with his constant niggle and banter. He finished with 22 disposals, five goals, three marks, three tackles and three inside 50s and looms as key to the Eagles’ chances in next weekend’s Grand Final.

#28 Jacob Wehr

Wehr continues to go from strength-to-strength for the Eagles. His neat disposal was a real feature of his game, along with his drive from defence and run up and down the wings. Another Eagle who looked to utilise his damaging foot skills whenever he had possession, Wehr has been one of several youngsters to perform well for the club in season 2020. He finished with 14 disposals (including 12 kicks), three marks, three inside 50s and six rebound 50s.

#34 Lachlan Jones

As he has been all season, the Port Adelaide Academy prospect was a rock in defence. Calm and composed with ball in hand, Jones rarely went to ground, kept the ball in front of him at ground level, and was typically strong in the air, taking a couple of nice contested marks. He read the play well in what was another strong defensive game down back from the potential top 10 draftee, concluding the match with 13 disposals, five marks and three rebound 50s.

#51 Lachlan McNeil

McNeil produced another strong showing in the gold, green and blue as Woodville-West Torrens booked its ticket to Sunday’s SANFL decider. His ability to win the ball on the inside, then run-and-carry the ball when in space was an important factor in the win. His clean, quick hands in-tight were also a highlight of his game. One who will need to perform strongly against the Roosters next week if the Eagles are to claim their eighth premiership, McNeil finished with 14 disposals, a goal, three marks and three inside 50s in a neat display.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#32 Beau McCreery

The teenage small forward has enjoyed a terrific season at SANFL League level, but unfortunately, like many of his teammates, McCreery struggled to have much of an impact on the contest. However, he kicked a true small forward’s goal in the second term when the game still hung in the balance and did just about all he could from minimal effective forward entries. McCreery finished with nine disposals and three tackles.

#33 Jason Horne

The 17-year-old battled hard all day but ultimately struggled against the fast-finishing Eagles, who proved far too good in the second half. After starting up forward, Horne was moved into the midfield in an attempt to stop the Eagles’ momentum as James Rowe ran amok. Horne showcased his overhead marking capabilities by taking a contested grab and nailing a goal in the fourth term, and will certainly have benefitted from the SANFL finals experience. He finished with eight disposals, a goal and a couple of inside 50s.

#35 Tom Highmore

The Canberra native fulfilled a key position role down back and did just about all he could against an onslaught of Eagles inside 50s. He wasn’t as effective in the air as we have become accustomed to seeing, but generally used the ball well when exiting the backline. He backed his foot skills in and provided some nice rebound, finishing with nine touches and five rebound 50s. It was a disappointing end for South Adelaide, but Highmore has proven to be one of the recruits of the season and may find his way onto an AFL list later in the year.

#45 Daly Andrews

Andrews was the most prolific of the young Panthers. South’s best clearance winner for the game, the former-Williamstown and Western Jets product ran tirelessly between the arcs, helping to rebound from defence and also sending the ball inside 50 on three occasions. Andrews pieced together an excellent season after joining the club in July and will likely have caught the eyes of a couple of AFL recruiters.

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

RESERVES

Central District vs. North Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Central District:

#49 Thomas Graham

He may come from good pedigree as the son of former Hawthorn and Richmond defender, Mark Graham, but Thomas is quite raw in a footballing sense having only committed to the code over the last couple of years. Much like his champion father, the basketball convert is sound aerially and kicks on his left side, with both assets coming to the fore in this outing. Taking up a key defensive post, Graham was seen following his direct opponent up the ground and getting a hand in for countless spoils. He also chimed in with some nice intercept marks inside defensive 50, with one clunked after shrewdly deciding to run off his man.

Graham was quite sound with ball in hand and despite a somewhat unconventional kicking action, he showed good composure to spread the ball out of defence. He also bolted up the corridor in the third term to get on the end of a handball receive and boot a booming goal on the run from 50 metres. Versatility and scope are ticks for Graham, as he also showed off his vertical leap in the ruck late on. The next step in his defensive development will be to clunk contested marks where he would usually opt to spoil.

#52 Lachlan Grubb

The flying wingman has returned some of his most notable performances in the forward half this season, but played almost exclusively on the wing throughout this outing. His first contribution came through a strong mark at half-forward, keeping his hands up to hold on as opposition heat arrived from behind. He was often stationed on the outside of stoppages, hunting the loose ball when not afforded the space or opportunity to handball receive. In general play, Grubb worked hard to find space on the outer and link into forward 50, but could not always use his pace to close down direct opponent, Mason Neagle in the opposite situations. The defensive side is something Grubb is working on, and the 17-year-old is still quite light-on at senior level.

The highlight of Grubb’s day came in the attacking realm; as he latched onto a loose ball over the back, burnt his opponent with three running bounces inside 50, steadied, and kicked arguably the goal of the day on his right foot. It takes a good deal of confidence to pull off such a play on the big stage, and it provided a window into what the youngster can do in full flight. He was a touch scrappy by foot, particularly on the move, but backed himself to dispose on either side of his body and gained some decent meterage down the line. As a December birth, the top-ager could be one to come on quickly with a touch more time to develop, but has plenty of eye-catching qualities.

Others:

Small midfielder Steve Burton worked hard through the engine room to be Centrals’ most prolific ball winner, while Joseph Brown was relentless in his pursuit to take the game on from defence. 21-year-old Cooper Dahms snared a couple of nice goals up forward, including the Bulldogs’ first of the day. Fellow forward Ben Kelly was another to contribute in the front half, and is the son of Sydney Swans champion, Paul.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#27 Harrison Magor

The 19-year-old was one of North Adelaide’s best, doing all the tough work and one-percenters through midfield. He extracted plenty of ball at the coalface, able to stay strong through the hips, gather cleanly at ground level, and flick out handballs to release teammates. Magor also managed nine clearances among his team-high 23 disposals, but saw many of them bombed forward with no real direction. Nonetheless, his ball winning prowess allowed North to gain meterage and control the territory.

Not one for frills, Magor’s most significant efforts came on the defensive end, as he laid some tone-setting tackles to earn possession back for his side. His run-down effort to win a holding the ball free kick in the second term was crucial, thwarting a Centrals fast break. He continued with the same vigour, digging in hard and punishing his opponents who proved idle in possession. Magor could not quite cap off his day with a goal in the final term as a quick snap fell short of the big sticks, but it was a solid outing in any case.

#32 Mason Neagle

Neagle was in everything early, putting in a monster first term to help his side gain the major ascendancy. Stationed out on the wing, his work-rate to push back into defence and spark North Adelaide’s transitional play was impactful. He gained plenty of ground, and even added a goal to his monster first term. While a little quieter in the latter proceedings, Neagle popped up with some nice moments on the outer, carrying the ball forward with purpose and putting it into dangerous areas. He even got under the opposition’s skin, frustrating Nicholas Gillard into giving away a free kick in the second term. His line-breaking ability could prove key in the Grand Final for the Roosters.

#42 Dakota Nixon

The 2020 Reserves Margery Medal winner showed just why he was so deserving of the award this year, returning another powerful display from midfield. The strongly built engine room operator kicked off his game with a courageous two-grab overhead mark, before playing on quickly and hitting up Mason Neagle for a goal assist. His ability to wrench the ball free from congestion and bomb it forward proved a tick to his contested game, but Nixon was also able to improvise some nice kicks on the outer as he moved forward. His lone goal of the day came in the second term while resting forward, as he found space to mark and converted the set shot opportunity. In essence, Nixon is hard at the ball and uses his physicality to put the Roosters on the front foot. As much was evident on this occasion.

Others:

Mackenzie Slee was outstanding in defence, providing a cool head with his intercept marking and sound use of the ball. He also shut down dangerous Bulldogs forward, Nicholas Lange, which went a long way to earning credit as North’s best player afield. James Langley was a busy figure up forward, and Charlie Dowling put the cherry on top of North’s even team performance with a goal after the final siren.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

Sturt vs. WWT Eagles

By: Eli Duxson

Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

One of the better performers in a strong team performance for Sturt, the dashing half-back ended with 21 disposals, one goal, six marks, and six inside 50s. A massive first half after missing last week’s game saw him reach 16 disposals as he was prepared to defend stoutly and intercept mark, but then run off his opponent and break lines. His strong work in tackling and nice kicking were both aspects which allowed him perform defensive and offensive duties. He quietened up in the second half as the Double Blues began to get on top, so he was seen pushing higher and higher up the ground to impact. He eventually intercepted an errant kick and after gathering the bouncing ball, he accelerated and goaled from 50 metres.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Another good game for Jefferies saw him playing in every third as he reached 24 disposals, while managing a goal, nine marks, and six inside 50s. He kicked a goal in the forwardline early from a nice set shot, having moved to a dangerous spot after trusting his teammates to work it out of congestion. Not just a glory-hunter, he pushed back defensively when playing in the midfield to help clear or work it out of the back half. Jefferies hunts the ball and does the bulk of his work on the inside, staying strong over the ball and often extracting a kick or a handball from nowhere. He provided some run off half-back in the final quarter and showed off his composure and tidiness with ball in hand. He even managed to sneakily work his way just inside 50 to mark, but just missed the set shot.

#17 Mani Liddy

The equal-leading ball winner, Liddy put up strong numbers as he usually does; finishing with 29 disposals, one goal, five tackles, eight clearances, and seven inside 50s. His innate ability to always manage a handball out of obscurity highlighted his inside work in the first half, utilising the strength that we have come to expect from him. A three-versus-one on the wing saw him apply relentless pressure and then force a stoppage, a team-lifting sort of play. A big second half saw him do some damage on the outside as Sturt dominated possession. He was everywhere on their slow play and though he lacks blistering pace, he found space on the outside to construct forward sequences. A beautiful set shot from the boundary saw Sturt’s lead get out to two goals and capped off a good game for him.

#18 Tom Powell

The Torrens University Cup MVP winner was again a big contributor the Double Blues, but that is hardly a surprise at this point as he further pushes his case for draft night. Powell finished with 29 disposals, one goal, 10 marks, seven clearances, and seven inside 50s to help his side reach a Grand Final. His strong handballing and spread from stoppages were his main modes of contribution, sensing the opportunity to go on several occasions and provide supporting runs. A quiet second quarter all but reserved energy for a 17-disposal second half where he started on fire, intercepting Eagles forward entries and running endlessly to be involved in transition. He runs all day so even if he is closely checked at a stoppage, he will just run off and seek another opportunity to get ball in hand. The closing stages of the game highlighted the highs and lows of football for Powell, copping a whopping falcon, but then scoring the final goal with a snap out of a stoppage.

#25 James Borlase

Returning to the Under 18s to bolster the Double Blues’ defence saw Borlase start the game on fire, taking intercept mark after intercept mark. After quietening down after the first term, he finished with 11 disposals and five marks. He spent all game in the defensive half and was mopping everything up early as it looked like he was going to have the massive game he has been waiting for. The Eagles eventually worked it out to avoid him, although sometimes if you do not notice a defender, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Besides an undisciplined 25-metre penalty, there were no real blemishes to his game either defensively or offensively. He pushed up the ground with the Sturt squeeze later in the game to try and impact so it will be interesting to see if he stays in his defensive post in the Grand Final, or if he is tried up forward.

#27 Ned Grieve

A bit of a quiet game for Grieve but much like Borlase, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He finished with 13 disposals, five marks, and six rebound 50s as he just did his job. The height of the Eagles’ forwardline did not seem to bother the key defender as he hardly lost a contest. He also pushed up the ground at times to get involved and in combination with Borlase, proved difficult to get through. A brilliant one-handed mark was the highlight of his game in the final quarter, having read the flight of the ball better than his opponents. Sturt’s midfield and forward line will play a big role in Grieve’s and Borlase’s effectiveness next week as they managed to slow down the Eagles’ transitions and force long, high, and poorly placed entries. If Norwood can use its fast and attacking style of ball movement well, it may stretch the tall stalwarts of Sturt.

Others:

A good spread of input is exactly what Sturt was after, needing to bounce back from the Norwood game to earn another crack at the Redlegs. Morgan Ferres enjoyed a good game but was not far off a best afield performance. He kicked 2.4 from his 17 disposals and nine marks, providing a solid leading target for much of the game. He found space on leads and held his marks, with only wayward kicking letting him down. Jordan Opperman also provided a good target up forward, kicking 2.3 and taking eight marks, while Lachlan Thomas worked hard for his 20 disposals.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

Under an injury cloud coming into the game, Schofield’s heavily strapped right hamstring was aggravated after receiving a crunching tackle in the first quarter. He hobbled off and did not return, ending the game with just the three disposals.

#7 Caleb Poulter

One of the best for the Eagles as he continues to push his name up the draft board with 22 disposals, seven marks, and four clearances. He started on the wing but eventually pushed forward and into the midfield, showing his versatility with his height. A very reliable distributor, he made good decisions with his trusty left boot while also working hard both ways. He was forward for much of the third quarter and proved to be a viable option, but the delivery was not great. A nifty one-hand intercept mark and inside 50 gave the Eagles a bit of hope early in the final quarter, but the Sturt dominance left little room for rectification. A solid game capped off a very handy season for Poulter as he bolstered his draft stocks in a big way.

#19 Zac Phillips

One of the twin-towers for the Eagles lost the ruck battle and even though he worked hard around the ground, it was a quiet return. Finishing with just 10 disposals and 11 hit outs, Phillips did do a decent job of at least not letting Sturt ruckman Declan Hortle get clear taps to advantage. Although he did not get a lot of it, he looked to be trusted by teammates with ball in hand to clear defensively and handball in-tight. A tall with a lot of potential, but still quite raw it seems.

#25 Henry Smith

Played a similar game to Phillips but at 204cm, he was able to make more of an impact up forward. His five marks from 13 disposals were mostly taken on the lead as he managed to get separation from his opponent, but his finishing let him down. Although he was not able to get great looks on goal, his kicking still needs some work, but his movement and agility is a positive for someone of his height. Also a player who is raw with potential, it will be interesting to see how and where he develops.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

Starting in the midfield, Burgoyne again managed to find plenty of it, finishing with 21 disposals and a goal. His speed allowed him to accumulate the ball, although it must be said that he still does move it forward as he opts to kick more than handball. He spent some time down back but when he moves into the middle, he tends to float and drift unnoticed by defenders. This allowed him to sneak forward and boot a goal. His second half saw him get more uncontested ball which is where he is most damaging. He has shown glimpses of inside prowess but with his slight frame, he is not someone who breaks packs open but rather extracts it. In saying that, he has proven to be a great outside option with his tidy ball use. The final quarter saw him give away a silly free kick when playing in defence. Whether it was the warm weather or his otherwise, he seemed to lack intensity and his checking was loose in the closing stages.

Others:

The Eagles stayed in it for the three quarters, but it was perhaps Sturt’s depth that had them undone in the end. The leading ball winner was Brock Thomson who had 31 disposals, but as the designated kickout taker, 22 Sturt behinds contributed to that a decent amount. Liam Ueding showed effort to the very end as he still provided contests late. His defending was valiant and with some work on his kicking technique, he could become a very handy player. Jay Watson managed 22 disposals and a goal, while Max Litster had 17 disposals and two goals, one of them being the very first of the game.

Featured Image: Sturt’s Tom Powell gets a kick away | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL preliminary finals wrap

TWO of three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) minor premiers booked Grand Final tickets in their respective grades, while Central District’s Reserves bowed out in straight sets. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the second week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

WWT EAGLES | 3.8 | 7.12 | 14.14 | 16.15 (111)
STH ADELAIDE | 5.2 | 8.5 | 9.6 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:

Eagles: J. Rowe 5, S. Lowson 2, J. Foote 2, M. Goldsworthy 2, A. Poole, L. McNeil, N. Hayes, J. Lonergan, J. Firns
Panthers: E. Wilkinson 3, S. Overall 2, B. McCreery, N. Schwarz, J. Horne, L. Bogle, A. Cailotto

BEST:

Eagles: J. Rowe, J. Tsitas, J. Sinor, J. Wehr, J. Redden, M. Goldsworthy
Panthers: M. Broadbent, E. Wilkinson, M. Karpany, J. Summerton

Minor premier, Woodville-West Torrens (WWT) earned passage to the 2020 League decider after bolting home 43-point winners over South Adelaide. Electric small forward James Rowe turned it on when it mattered, booting five goals for the Eagles to only enhance his stocks as a mature-age AFL Draft candidate this year. Rowe’s scoreboard impact helped the Eagles overcome a half-time deficit, as they piled on nine goals to South’s two in a romping second half display.

Fresh off four majors in the Reserves, Sam Lowson made the most of his senior return with two goals in this outing, while 19-year-old midfielder Lachlan McNeil also found the big sticks. Defender Jacob Wehr, who is also attracting some elite level interest, managed 14 disposals (12 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while Port Adelaide NGA prospect Lachlan Jones contributed 13 touches and five marks. Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell proved his fitness in making a return, while Ben Jungfer was another to earn a call-up via the Reserves.

There were a few Panthers who stood tall as their season came to an end, with Eamon Wilkinson among them. The 20-year-old forward snared three goals to take his season tally to 25. 17-year-old gun Jason Horne capped off a fine maiden run of senior football by hitting the scoreboard, with boom Victorian recruit Daly Andrews managing 16 touches and six clearances in a balanced effort. National Combine invitee, Tom Highmore (nine disposals, five rebound 50s) did not quite have his usual impact, but has enjoyed a stellar debut SANFL season.

The Eagles will go on to face North Adelaide in the SANFL League Grand Final, just a fortnight after going down by 15 points to the Roosters in an entertaining semi final bout.

Reserves:

CENTRAL DISTRICT | 0.3 | 1.4 | 4.4 | 6.9 (45)
NORTH ADELAIDE | 3.2 | 7.6 | 8.11 | 10.14 (74)

GOALS:

Bulldogs: B. Kennedy 2, C. Dahms 2, T. Graham, L. Grubb
Roosters: S. Davis 2, T. Rigney, C. Dowling, D. Nixon, C. Barns, J. Neade, J. Langley, J. Byrne, M. Neagle

BEST:

Bulldogs: J. Brown, N. Madden, S. Burton, T. Graham, D. Haydon, E. East
Roosters: M. Slee, S. Parsons, D. Nixon, P. Davies, H. Magor, M. Neagle

Reserves minor premier, Central District has been knocked out of the finals in straight sets after falling short for a second-straight week, this time at the hands of North Adelaide. A seven-goal to one first half saw the Roosters crow to a 38-point lead at the main break, which they comfortably managed to hold onto despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts. 29 points was the final margin of victory, seeing Centrals bow out after losing just once during the home-and-away rounds. North goes on to meet Woodville-West Torrens in the decider, with the ledger sitting at one win apiece between the two sides in 2020.

20-year-old Mackenzie Slee was recognised as best afield for the victors, returning eight marks and six rebound 50s from his 15 disposals in the back half. Meanwhile, Harrison Magor notched a team-high 23 touches to go with nine clearances, seven inside 50s, and five tackles, forming a formidable midfield partnership alongside Dakota Nixon, who managed 20 disposals, seven clearances, and a goal. Charlie Dowling was another to find the big sticks for North.

In a losing effort, Joey Brown was named the Bulldogs’ best for his 23 disposals and nine marks, while Steve Burton led all comers with 28 touches to go with nine tackles and six clearances. Nicholas Madden racked up nine rebound 50s from defence, with Thomas Graham providing solid cover on the same line. Among those to kick goals were Cooper Dahms and Brett Kennedy (both two), while Lachlan Grubb also got in on the act with one major.

Under 18s:

STURT | 2.6 | 4.11 | 8.14 | 12.22 (94)
WWT EAGLES | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.4 | 10.4 (64)

GOALS:

Blues: J. Opperman 2, O. Britten-Jones 2, M. Ferres 2, M. Liddy, M. Carruthers, T. Powell, J. Ferrari, Z. Parker-Boers, B. Jefferies
Eagles: B. Calvett 2, M. Litster 2, J. Burgoyne, Z. Scott, J. Godden, J. Hunter-Price, J. Kasianowicz, J. Watson

BEST:

Blues: M. Carruthers, M. Liddy, J. Opperman, W. Spain, B. Higgins, M. Ferres
Eagles: R. Williams, Z. Buck, J. Burgoyne, L. Ueding, C. Poulter, D. Branford

Sturt leant on its finals double chance, bringing an end to the Eagles’ premiership defence while punching its own Under 18s Grand Final ticket in one fell swoop. The Double Blues found themselves trailing at the second and third breaks, but found an extra gear when it mattered. In a remarkable turnaround, Sturt slammed home a total of 4.8 (32) while keeping the Eagles scoreless in a one-sided final term, which saw the ball locked in the victors’ front half. A 30-point final margin was the result, with Norwood awaiting the Blues for what will be a semi final rematch.

AFL Draft bolter and National Combine invitee Malachy Carruthers was again outstanding for Sturt, showcasing all of his class with 21 disposals, six marks, and a goal. Mani Liddy accumulated a team-high 29 touches, which included eight clearances and a booming final term goal, while Tom Powell also managed 29 disposals, 10 marks, seven clearances, and a classy major of his own. Bottom-age forward Morgan Ferres snared two goals from 17 disposals and nine marks, while Will Spain laid 10 tackles, and Crows NGA hopeful James Borlase returned to the level with five marks.

Caleb Poulter was arguably the Eagles’ best in a losing cause, doing his draft chances no harm with 22 disposals and seven marks. Ryan Williams was also recognised for his efforts, while 2021 Port father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne capped off a brilliant year with 21 touches and a goal, with Brock Thomson (31 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) leading all comers from defence.

Featured Image: Eagles forward Sam Lowson celebrates a goal | Credit: SANFL

Out to impress: SANFL Preliminary Finals

BOTTOM-AGED superstar Jason Horne will take to Adelaide Oval when his Panthers clash with Woodville-West Torrens for a place in the SANFL Grand Final. The 17-year-old, who kicked the sealer for South Adelaide in their semi-final win last weekend, has been named on the bench for the Sunday afternoon match.

Canberra-born key defender Tom Highmore will once again be expected to handle one of the oppositions key forwards – a task he has excelled in throughout his first season at SANFL level. Victorian import Daly Andrews has been named on the half-back flank, after he gathered 17 disposals and three marks in the victory over Glenelg.

Meanwhile, Eagles teenager Ben Jungfer is in line to return to the senior side after being included on the extended interchange bench. If dashing defender Rhyan Mansell is unable to recover from his concussion sustained in the semi-final loss to North Adelaide, Jungfer looms as a likely inclusion. The aggressive tackler made his League debut earlier in the season and immediately looked at home at the level. Eagle forward Sam Lowson has also been named on the extended bench and is a chance to rejoin Ken Farmer Medalist James Rowe in attack.

Central Districts draft hopeful Corey Durdin has been named in the reserves for the Bulldogs’ semi-final clash with the Roosters. Durdin will be a valuable inclusion, after having missed several games this season with hamstring issues, which also prevented the forward from testing at the recent draft combine. He will be joined by Lachlan Grubb, who has been a regular in the reserves throughout the year.

At under-18s level, Sturt has named a strong side for their encounter with Woodville-West Torrens. Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been named on the half-forward flank for the Double Blues and looms as a potential match-winner. Malachy Carruthers will look to generate plenty of drive from half-back and midfield trio Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will need to perform strongly if Sturt is to keep their season alive, following a disappointing loss to Norwood last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have named a settled side for the clash, after recording a narrow and controversial victory over South Adelaide last weekend. Tall forward Henry Smith will look to be a focal point at centre-half-forward, with the likes of Taj Schofield and Jack Wheare also out to impress in the must-win clash. In the middle, Zac Phillips will lead the ruck division, with Jase Burgoyne, Max Lister and Caleb Poulter looking to gain the upper hand in the contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Central Districts vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Under-18s:

Sturt vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 10, 11:30am @ Thebarton Oval

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

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

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

>> Power Rankings: October Edition

LEAGUE

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg

By: Eli Duxson

South Adelaide:

#33 Jason Horne

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

#35 Tom Highmore

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Glenelg:

#23 Callum Park

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

#27 Luke Parks

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

>> MORE GLENELG CONTENT

WWT Eagles vs. North Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

Eagles:

#16 James Rowe

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

#28 Jacob Wehr

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

#34 Lachlan Jones

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

#51 Lachlan McNeil

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

North Adelaide:

#37 Karl Finlay

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

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

UNDER 18s

WWT Eagles vs. South Adelaide

By: Michael Alvaro

Eagles:

#3 Taj Schofield

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

#7 Caleb Poulter

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

#17 Liam Ueding

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

#25 Henry Smith

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

#28 Nick Mitzithras

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

#31 Jase Burgoyne

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

Others:

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

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#4 Max Clifton

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

#10 Brayden Cook

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

#20 Zac Dumesny

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

#21 Matthew Roberts

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

#33 Arlo Draper

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

#35 Nicholas Kraemer

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

Others:

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

>> MORE SOUTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

Sturt vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

Sturt:

#11 Will Spain

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

#13 Bradley Jefferies

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

#17 Mani Liddy

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

#18 Tom Powell

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

Others:

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

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

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

#4 Henry Nelligan

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

#5 Ethan Schwerdt

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

#21 Jack Saunders 

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

#30 Finn Heard

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

Others:

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

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

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

Young gun focus: 2020 SANFL semi finals wrap

MINOR premiers fell across all three South Australian National Football League (SANFL) grades in 2020’s first finals week, as strong upset wins reigned supreme. With young guns impressing at state league level around the nation, we again narrow our focus for this week’s SANFL wrap to the performances of youth throughout the competitions. There is plenty to unpack in our next altered edition, with Under 18 prospects scattered across the two senior levels, and a bunch of youngsters impressing in the junior grade during the first week of finals. In make-or-break situations, the cream of South Australia’s finest crop rose to the top.

League:

South Adelaide 14.12 (96) def. Glenelg 10.11 (71)
WWT Eagles 9.8 (62) def. by North Adelaide 11.11 (77)

South Adelaide trumped Glenelg by 25 points on Sunday, bringing an abrupt end to the Bays’ 2019 premiership defence. After getting on top early, the Panthers remained in control throughout the contest, earning passage to a preliminary final meeting with Woodville-West Torrens (WWT).

A strong 20-year-old representation helped propel South to the second week of finals, with the likes of Luke Bogle (21 disposals, eight rebound 50s, one goal), Hayden Sampson (18 disposals, one goal), Daly Andrews (17 disposals), and Reece Milsom (16 disposals, six rebound 50s) all contributing well. Bogle is one who has timed his run back at senior level perfectly, while Victorian coup Andrews has added some balance to the lineup through midfield.

Potential 2021 number one pick Jason Horne was up to the challenge of his maiden League finals appearance, collecting 15 touches and booting a classy goal. National combine invitee Tom Highmore was again steady down back with six marks from 11 disposals, while crafty forwards Beau McCreery and Eamon Wilkinson made the most of their opportunities to snare two goals apiece.

For Glenelg, former AFL-listed midfielders Jackson Edwards (23 disposals) and Luke Partington (22) topped the statsheet, even adding defensive work to their respective games with six tackles each. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Callum Park capped off his consistent season at senior level with 16 disposals (14 kicks) and seven rebound 50s.

The Panthers will meet minor premier, WWT in the preliminary finals after the Eagles went down to second-ranked side, North Adelaide by 15 points at Adelaide Oval. Having fallen slightly behind in the second term, the Roosters edged back ahead at the main break and managed to hold off each of the Eagles’ surges to book a spot in this year’s Grand Final.

First year player Will Combe booted 3.2 for the victors, a feat matched by former Carlton small forward Kym Lebois. Combe’s older brother, Campbell laid an astonishing 19 tackles in a true finals performance, while fellow 25-year old Mitch Harvey contributed 18 disposals and 23 hitouts in the ruck. Another former AFL-listed player, Harrison Wigg was again productive through midfield with 17 disposals and four clearances.

For the Eagles, Jacob Wehr returned a team-high 23 disposals to go with 10 rebound 50s, as AFL clubs keep an eye on the 22-year-old defender’s progress. Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) gun Lachlan Jones managed 11 rebounds from his 19 touches, while Lachlan McNeil had it 18 times and booted 1.2. Electric small James Rowe managed two majors as he enjoyed some added midfield minutes, also notching five clearances from his 19 disposals.

Reserves:

Sturt 7.12 (54) def. by North Adelaide 8.12 (60)
Central District 9.7 (61) def. by WWT Eagles 12.11 (83)

Central Districts suffered just its second Reserves loss for the season, bettered by WWT to the tune of 22 points. The Eagles remain the only team to beat the Bulldogs in 2020, with the result just a week removed from Centrals’ minor premiership-clinching win over their weekend opponents. A five-goal third term from the second-ranked Eagles ensured they would break away comfortably, opening up a 40-point lead heading into the final term. They would cruise home to victory, booking a Grand Final spot despite Centrals’ consolation efforts to somewhat even up the scoreboard.

Mature-age VFL recruit Sam Lowson responded perfectly to being relegated to the twos after a three-goal League outing, booting four majors in the win. 19-year-old Ben Jungfer was in the same boat, but held his head high to feature among the Eagles’ best half-dozen players. For Centrals, Ben Kelly and Lachlan Grubb each bagged a single goal, but will look forward to redemption across the upcoming fortnight.

North Adelaide will be the Bulldogs’ next test, after the Roosters stayed alive with a thrilling six-point victory over Sturt on Saturday. Having led at every break, the fourth-ranked side looked like cruising home to an easy win when they held a 27-point buffer at the final break, boasting double Sturt’s goal tally with eight. But the Double Blues were not done with yet, as they put through three goals to North’s nil to draw back within a goal. It proved too little, too late though as the Roosters held on.

Harrison Magor and Dyson Hilder were among the best Roosters afield, with Hilder’s strong run of form constantly making him hard to deny in terms of League selection. Adelaide NGA hopeful James Borlase returned for Sturt, while Anzac and Mihail Lochowiak both found the goals, and Tom Emmett and Tyson Hone (two goals) were named among the best in a losing effort.

Under 18s:

WWT Eagles 16.7 (103) def. South Adelaide 14.8 (92)
Sturt 8.10 (58) def. by Norwood 16.14 (110)

Two out of three ain’t bad, and that is exactly what the WWT Eagles produced in week one of finals as their Under 18s trumped South Adelaide to keep their premiership defence alive. Despite a valiant effort from South’s stacked side, who even snuck ahead in the third term, the Eagles’ pressure at the contest and true conversion saw them get up in a high-scoring contest.

2021 Port Adelaide father-son prospect Jase Burgoyne was again prolific for the Eagles; notching 22 disposals, six clearances, seven inside 50s, and a clutch final term goal. Nick Mitzithras and Brock Thomson also managed 22 touches apiece, while Caleb Poulter was lively with 20 alongside Taj Schofield (19 disposals, five clearances, one goal). Harrison Dawkins was another midfielder to find the big sticks with two majors, a feat matched by bigman Henry Smith, who also clunked four contested marks.

There were plenty of strong performers for the Panthers too, with bottom-agers Matthew Roberts (24 disposals, two goals) and Arlo Draper (four goals) among those to lead the charge. Max Clifton managed nine inside 50s from his game-high 26 disposals, while highly-rated top-agers Zac Dumesny and Nick Kraemer both contributed 20 touches. Jack Flett was a surprise goalkicking packet as he snuck forward for three majors, while 16-year-old Jaiden Magor booted two classy goals of his own.

Minor premier, Sturt will have to lean on its second chance, after being thumped by Norwood to the tune of 52 points. The Redlegs trailed by a point at the first break, but came out firing with five goals in the second term, and another handful in the third to set up an unassailable lead. They will meet either Sturt, or WWT in the Grand Final.

As has been the case all season, Norwood progressed on the back of an even team performance. Though, among the standouts were Ethan Schwerdt (27 disposals), along with industrious small pair Henry Nelligan and Jack Saunders, who both collected 25 touches. Xavier Tranfa snared a couple of goals from 20 disposals, while Finn Heard made the most of his nine touches as five of his seven scoring shots sailed through the big sticks. For Sturt, Mani Liddy booted forward 10 clearances, joined in midfield by Brad Jefferies (20 disposals, one goal) and a restricted Tom Powell (18 disposals).

Featured Image: South Adelaide’s Jason Horne celebrates | Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

Out to impress: SANFL Semi Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIXTURES

League:

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

Reserves:

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

Under-18s:

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

Scouting Notes: 2020 SANFL – Round 14

ROUND 14 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) brings along with it another edition of our scouting notes, focusing on the top draft-relevant performers from around the competition this weekend. In this instalment, we again turn our attention to the prospects running around in the Under 18 competition, with a focus on State Academy based talentNational Combine invitees, and others who may push for selection along the line. A bunch of top-end juniors plied their trade in senior grades over the weekend, so they also get a look-in.

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

>> Power Rankings: September Edition

WWT Eagles vs. Central District

By: Tom Cheesman

WWT:

#3 Taj Schofield

Schofield put together a strong performance at Prospect Oval on Saturday. He is a silky midfielder that never fumbles and is willing to do the little things such as smothering and blocking to help his team. His work rate was fantastic in this game, as he ran into space on numerous occasions to take uncontested marks. Schofield’s skills were consistently good, highlighted by a beautiful spearing kick to half-forward in the second quarter. He also displayed some nice forward craft when he produced a clean front-and-centre crumb and set up a Henry Smith goal in the third term. Schofield finished with 25 disposals, six marks, eight inside 50s and two clearances.

#7 Caleb Poulter

Poulter proved once again that he is a class above Under 18s level with 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and four tackles. He has great size and rotates between midfield and forwardline. In this game, he always followed up his possessions and attacked the ball with ferocity. He frequently pushed back to help the defence to help out and provided a strong marking target when required. Although he made a couple of skill errors early, he cleaned this up as the game wore on. Poulter kicked two majors for the day, including a goal of the year contender in second term where gave a forward handball, pushed hard to get the hands back and then casually drilled the drop punt from 50 metres out on the boundary.

#31 Jase Burgoyne

With 31 disposals for the day, under-ager Burgoyne was the leading ball winner for his side. He rotated between half-back and midfield, where he was able to break away from opponents with speed. His first couple of steps are incredibly quick, and from there he becomes very difficult for opposition players to tackle. Burgoyne has great hands overhead and a nice leap, as shown when he took a beautiful mark at half-back in a one-on-one in the second term. He also looks to switch or kick the ball into the corridor whenever possible to open up the game for his side offensively. Burgoyne capped off the strong performance with a clever snap goal from a stoppage in the final term.

>> MORE WWT EAGLES CONTENT

Central District:

#13 Austin McDonald

McDonald was the Bulldogs’ best player on the day. He is a hard-working midfielder who reads stoppages well and finds plenty of the ball around the ground. His tackling was fantastic, as he never let players run past him and won free kicks for holding the ball. McDonald won many loose balls because he simply attacked it harder than his opposition, and he also has great vision and composure under pressure. McDonald finished with 32 disposals, 12 clearances, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.

#37 Cody Gilchrist

Gilchrist was a standout for the Bulldogs, particularly early in the contest. He provided a great presence up forward with some fantastic leads at the ball carrier. It is always important for a key forward to be reliable when kicking for goal, and Gilchrist was very dependable on Saturday. He nailed three majors including a beautiful set shot from the boundary in the third term. Gilchrist finished with 11 disposals and three marks to go with his three goals.

#39 Wyatt Ryan

Ryan has had a good season in 2020, and this continued at Prospect Oval. He had a great battle with Eagles ruckman Zac Phillips, as both men displayed fantastic body-work and tap craft when they were in the middle. Ryan was a dominant force around the ground, as he often provided an option coming out of defence and gave quick hands to teammates running past to start some attacking play. He also got involved in link-up chains out of stoppages, applied strong tackling pressure, and demonstrated that he has a good field kick for a man his size. Ryan kicked a goal from a set shot in second term after some poor Eagles defending allowed the ball to bounce through. He finished with a very impressive statline of 25 disposals, 25 hitouts, nine marks, five clearances and five inside 50s.

>> MORE CENTRAL DISTRICT CONTENT

West Adelaide vs. Norwood

By: Tom Wyman

West Adelaide:

#1 Charlie Pridham

Despite his smaller stature, Pridham was one of West Adelaide’s best performers at ACH Group Stadium. Primarily deployed on the wing and through the midfield, he made an immediate impact on the game at the first couple of stoppages, where he was able to read the tap and break free from his opponent to dish off an effective handball. He cracked in when it was his turn to go, laying six tackles. Although he was out-bodied at times in one-on-one contests, Pridham will look to add some size in the off-season and build on this encouraging performance ahead of the 2021 season. He finished the contest with 19 disposals, six tackles and three rebound 50s.

#4 Cade Kennedy

Another talented bottom-ager to impress for the Bloods was midfielder, Kennedy, who once again showed why he is one of South Australia’s leading small midfield prospects for next season. Kennedy gave it his all at each contest, cracking in hard against some of Norwood’s strong-bodied on-ballers. Although his work in-tight was the highlight, Kennedy was also able to impact the play away from the stoppages, finishing with six inside 50s. He tackled hard as always and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick early in the first term. One of his side’s shining lights in what has been a challenging season, Kennedy concluded the final minor round game with 21 disposals, four tackles and five clearances.

#10 Eduard Van den berg

The strongly-build defender gave it his all despite facing an onslaught of Norwood inside 50s. Van den berg was strong in the one-on-one contests and asserted himself on the game with a couple of strong tackles. He was once again handed the kick-in duties and used his raking left foot to deposit the ball beyond the defensive 50 arc. Van den berg’s short kicking was also precise for the most part. He finished the final game of the season with 27 disposals, three tackles, four clearances and a game-high 12 rebound 50s.

Others:

Small forward Connor Blackwell booted three of West’s five goals for the game, making the most of limited opportunities inside 50. He applied plenty of pressure on the ball handler inside 50, finishing the game with seven disposals and five tackles. Centre half-forward Luke Young provided a lead-up target down the line, finishing with 11 disposals, four marks and a couple of tackles. Luke Heitmann and Thomas Faulkner shared the ruck responsibilities and combined for 23 hit-outs. After spending much of the season playing school football, Hamish Dunkin returned for the Bloods’ final game and had some nice moments running between the arcs, finishing with ten disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

>> MORE WEST ADELAIDE CONTENT

Norwood:

#1 Cooper Murley

The talented midfielder has pieced together a wonderful bottom-aged season, however he didn’t quite have the impact he would have liked agains the Bloods on Saturday; finishing with 15 disposals, one goal and three inside 50s. He made a couple of uncharacteristic errors, including an errant kick out-on-the-full and fumble at ground level. However, he attacked the contest at speed and was still able to have some eye-catching moments through the middle, showing off his elite speed and high endurance. With the likes of Michael Cavallaro, Ethan Schwerdt, Daniel Fairbrother and Jack Saunders joining he and Henry Nelligan in the Redlegs’ midfield rotation, Murley didn’t get the on-ball minutes he has become accustomed to across the season. However, expect him to be prominent in Norwood’s finals campaign.

#4 Henry Nelligan

One of the competition’s most relentless and consistent ball winners, Nelligan was at it again at The Bay. He was everywhere early on, winning clearances and also contributing in attack. He was very clean at ground level and used it efficiently by hand and foot on most occasions. He, like several other Norwood midfielders, was able to get forward and impact the scoreboard to compliment his ball-winning capabilities through the middle. Nelligan has been fantastic since returning to Under 18s level and finished the game with 33 disposals, one goal, four marks, six clearances and ten inside 50s.

#6 Michael Cavallaro

The Redlegs have certainly welcomed the return of Cavallaro to the Under 18s lineup. He added some much needed composure and clean disposal to the side, complimenting the speed of Cooper Murley and Jack Saunders and in-and-under ball-winning of Henry Nelligan. He had numerous intercept possessions, where he was able to use his elite football smarts to cut-off the West Adelaide attack. Crucially, the wingman/half-back also made the most of his opportunities in front of goal, nailing three majors for the game to go with 21 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s. Expect his poise and decision making to have a impact as the Redlegs enter finals.

#13 Marcus Roberts

Roberts made another strong contribution through the midfield and up forward for the victors. He dribbled home an easy goal out the back of the stoppage late in the first quarter to extend his sides lengthy lead. He also worked well with the other talented Norwood midfielders and provided some strong clearance winning when on the ball. Roberts finished with 28 disposals, five marks and five clearances in the Redlegs’ 83-point hammering.

#21 Jack Saunders

Saunders was the clear best-on-ground in Norwood’s comprehensive triumph. He started in the middle and impressed with his breakaway pace. Although his foot skills have been questioned by some throughout the course of the season, his kicking was precise for much of the contest against West Adelaide. After booting a couple of behinds, he slotted his first major via a set shot from 30 metres out directly in front. Later on, his terrific run down tackle was rewarded with a free kick, which he converted after originally looking to pass it off. His tackling pressure remained high for the entirety of the contest and Saunders was able to break the game open with his burst running and intensity around the ball. He used his strength well one-on-one while up forward and harassed the ball carrier relentlessly, but his impact on the scoreboard was what separated his game from the rest. Saunders finished with 29 disposals, five goals, eight marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

Others: 

It was an ‘all played well’ type of game for the Redlegs, who finished off the minor round in the best way possible. Ethan Schwerdt made a strong contribution through the midfield, winning 25 disposals, one goal, seven clearances and six inside 50s. Xavier Tranfa booted two goals within a minute up forward and looms as a potential wildcard in attack over the next couple of weeks. The booming leg of Sam Duke was on display down back, launching a couple of kick-ins close to the centre circle. The athletic Benjamin Ianniello provided some run-and-carry from half-back and used the ball well across a variety of distances. He managed 15 disposals, a goal and four marks. Regular ruckman Nathan Hearing spent more time in attack this week and was able to clunk a couple of trademark contested marks. Daniel Fairbrother made a positive return to the Under 18s after his stint with the Norwood League side. He took a little while to get involved but worked his way into the game nicely, taking several intercept marks and using the ball typically well. Fairbrother concluded the outing with 12 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

>> MORE NORWOOD CONTENT

North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

By: Eli Duxson

North Adelaide:

#5 Leo Coates

It was a relatively quiet game for the key forward who had to push up the ground more than usual to make an impact. He finished with just the nine disposals, but six marks and six tackles are indicative of his effort. He worked into defensive 50 to assist with rebounds on a few occasions but could not find the same space he found around the ground inside forward 50. He would have liked to have more of an impact on the scoreboard, but his efforts around the ground are commendable.

#12 Hugh Jackson

The crafty wingman put together a very handy game for the Roosters as he ended up with 20 disposals, one goal, and seven marks. He showed early a delicate poise on his trusty left boot, poise that he would continue all game with 90 per cent of his disposals being kicks. His work rate was impressive as he often filled holes in defensive 50 from the wing, while working forward to threaten goals. Some silky agility and evasion to get around a couple of defenders was a highlight in his first half of play. He looked to impact the scoreboard more in the second half and managed to do so after drilling a set shot. Jackson looked clean below his knees and with his disposal all game.

#21 Tariek Newchurch

The Crows NGA product was electrifying in the first quarter, having four shots on goal in the early stages of the game and kicking two of them. He finished with four goals from his 17 disposals and was finding space on the lead and around the contest. His pressure and efforts without the ball stood out all game, with a big chase down tackle in the middle of the ground exemplifying that. He looked dangerous moving up the ground and in the middle with his pace and core strength, managing five clearances during his time in the midfield. He could have been a little wiser at times to not blaze away around goals kicking a couple out on the full, but his efforts are nonetheless exciting.

#28 Matthew Borg

Borg was a little quieter than his usual output, but he toiled away in the midfield all game to finish with 15 disposals, four tackles, and five clearances. He was not far off enjoying a big game as he was often there or thereabouts, fumbling at times or being overlooked for handball receives. Borg scraps on the inside but looks the most dangerous when following up, with his repeat efforts a key feature of his game. He made good decisions with ball in hand and should be pleased with a fine season.

#29 Zyton Santillo

The nuggety Santillo capped off a solid season with 20 disposals and a goal playing out of the forward half. His agility was on show early as he lost his defender who was hot on his tail quite easily, but was also very impressive with his disposal. He was deliberate and accurate through either handballs or kicks as he recorded 10 of each. Despite his height, he found plenty of space and proved to be a good option as a link player going forward, his disposal efficiency being a key in that. He also showed a wise ability to hold space at stoppages to be an outlet player, doing so on multiple occasions.

#37 Karl Finlay (League)

Another serviceable game for the 19-year-old in one of North Adelaide’s key defensive slots, as he ended the game with 12 disposals and five marks. As he continues to grow in confidence, he looks to become more attacking and involved in forward moving plays, while also continuing the sturdy defensive side of his game. His reading of the flight of the ball was again reliable with a few thumping spoils killing the play. Finlay was an option on kick-ins for the Roosters, marking twice outside 50 to continue the ball forward. An ambitious yet perfect kick into the corridor is also indicative of his confidence levels growing and with finals to play, it will be exciting to see what he can do.

Others:

The Under 18 season is over for the Roosters, but Jayden Davison finished a consistent year with 28 disposals and six clearances while James Willis (18 disposals, six clearances) and Kallis Freer (16 disposals, one goal) were also solid. Other Adelaide NGA products in Lam Simon (nine disposals) and Blayne O’Loughlin (eight disposals) did not enjoy the attacking liberties they usually do, with the South Adelaide forwards keeping them accountable and the South midfielders looking for better options than the long bomb in hope. Dyson Hilder played in the seniors again and was challenged defensively, but still managed to play a role.

>> MORE NORTH ADELAIDE CONTENT

South Adelaide:

#10 Brayden Cook

The medium forward was South Adelaide’s primary option going forward and could have very well kicked a bag. He finished with 2.5 from his 12 disposals and looked threatening whenever he was near it all game. Competing aerially is no issue for his height as he makes the most of a strong vertical leap to throw himself at the contest. Though he had just the three marks, he was able to get separation from his direct opponent on several occasions, with misguided entries or another defender preventing more shots on goal. His five behinds did not come from poor shots either, missing a couple of set shots narrowly, but he proved he was able to dob them with a 35-metre set shot from the boundary giving him his first major for the game. Naturally playing a bit more between the arcs, he showed a strong ability to push up the ground to provide an option, as well as be efficient once the ball hits the deck. A serviceable game in the end, but not far off a huge one.

#20 Zac Dumesny

In his first game this season in the Under 18s to help the Panthers qualify for finals, Dumesny accumulated in the back half amassing; 33 disposals (26 kicks), and 11 marks. It was a forgettable start to the game for him though with two turnovers from poor kicks in South’s defensive 50 directly resulting in goals, and another leading to a behind. Although he found a lot of the ball, a lot of his disposals were relatively easy being from taking the kick-outs, last touch out of bounds kicks, or getting it back from sideways chips. He was often loose defensively and was able to provide run out of the backline and rebound to effect, as his kicking became very clean and effective. He was useful with his attacking setups out of the back half but being given a tougher task defensively would appear to stretch him. It would be interesting to see how he plays in the midfield going forward, as with no tackles and clearances, he appeared most comfortable on the outside and was quite useful there.

#21 Matthew Roberts

Undoubtedly a best on ground performance for the hard-working midfielder as he ended up with 28 disposals, four goals, 13 marks, and eight inside 50s. Roberts was active at stoppages but spread well to find space often, finding a lot of ball between the arcs during slow play from the Panthers. His preferred left boot looked as clean as it gets, although he did look reluctant to go on his right side on one occasion. He normally had enough time and space to steady on his left though. Roberts’ poise going inside 50 was classy, but he was also very effective being on the receiving end from forward entries. His first goal came in the first term from a lead up mark and set shot goal, while his second came from a 25-metre penalty, advancing him to the goal square after putting his head over it. His final two goals came at a crucial time in the final quarter as it pushed the lead slightly out of reach for North Adelaide. His third goal would have travelled the best part of 60 metres, as he kicked the next one soon after from a quick snap out of pack on his opposite boot, proving he is capable when needed on his non-preferred. A great game for him as he will look to carry that play into finals.

#33 Arlo Draper

The fleet-footed Draper worked himself into the game nicely finishing with 17 disposals, two goals, eight marks, and five tackles. He played mostly half-forward and pushed up the ground to be an option around the centre of the ground and with his pace and aerial ability, he showed good versatility as he was able to gather cleanly off the ground as well. He kicked a very nice set shot from 40 metres on the wrong side for a right footer after finding space. Draper found space all game with ease and had a stint on the ball in the final quarter to show off his dash. Draper showed he is a bit of a utility and his team will be hoping he can continue to put up performances like this one, a solid game all round.

#35 Nick Kraemer

Kraemer started the game on Tariek Newchurch who was on fire early, but built himself into the game to finish with 19 disposals and seven marks out of South’s defensive end. The pace of Newchurch proved to be a little too much, but Kraemer was able to use his strength in static contests to halve them. His ball use was generally sound and he looked to provide some run off half-back at times as well. With a decent balance between kicks and handballs (12 kicks, seven handballs), he showed a level head under pressure and often made good decisions.

#35 Tom Highmore (League)

The 22-year-old from Canberra continued to show his class out of the defensive half for the Panthers, putting up another respectable game with 19 disposals, seven marks (four contested), and three rebound 50s. In his return game from a thigh injury, his intercept marking ability was on display in the first term, taking a nice contested one-handed mark, and reading the Roosters’ rebound the best to chop off a Harrison Wigg bullet. That particular play highlighted his ability to read the play and the flight of the ball, popping up at important times on several occasions. He courageously backed into oncoming traffic in the second quarter to take another impressive mark. Highmore’s kicking was tidy as usual, hardly putting a foot wrong as he was entrusted with kick-out duties a couple of times. He took aggressive positions in marking contests and was strong defensively, having to do battle with Keenan Ramsey (seven disposals, no goals) for most of the game. Highmore’s positioning when playing as a loose allowed him to set up rebounds, but more importantly fly and impact contests when necessary. This performance certainly would not have done any harm to his draft stocks.

Others:

A win cemented South Adelaide’s place in the finals for the Under 18s and while the inclusion of Dumesny was handy, players like Harry Spacie (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Max Clifton (20 disposals, one goal, seven inside 50s) stepped up as they enter finals footy. Luke Mitton was quieter than usual with just the six disposals, while William Verrall dominated the ruck battle with 30 hitouts. Williamstown Seagull Daly Andrews continues to play a role in the seniors since crossing the border, finishing with 13 disposals, six tackles, and a goal late in the game. He enjoyed good midfield minutes and worked hard on the inside all game having usually been cited as an outside threat.

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Glenelg vs. Sturt

By: Michael Alvaro

Glenelg:

#1 Harry Tunkin

The diminutive and tough Glenelg midfielder/forward led his side for disposals, earning 24 to go with six marks, seven tackles, and three clearances. Coming off a solid school football season, the bottom-ager has slotted straight into the Bays’ side and performed well. He works hard for each possession and that was no different on this occasion, as he burrowed in time after time to try and generate some forward momentum for his side. He also found a good amount of ball while up forward too, but up at half-forward rather than close to goal. The only real knock on Tunkin’s effort was his kicking at times; often bombing out of congestion or scrubbing the ball forward in a rush. With another year to sharpen that tool, Tunkin should be a reliable outlet for Glenelg.

#2 Nasiah Wanganeen

While the lively wingman looked a little proppy on a couple of occasions, he still managed to have an impact and put his leg speed to good use. Wanganeen’s ability to close while chasing and apply manic defensive pressure is undoubtedly one of his key strengths, though he could not quite utilise that same factor going the other way. The bottom-ager tracked back well in the early stages, but found more ball forward of centre in the second half with much of the sting sapped from the contest. 13 disposals and three tackles far from do justice to his true form on Saturday in what was a tough game for the Tigers.

#19 Jayden Davis

Another reliable Glenelg bottom-ager, Davis was below his best of the weekend but popped up with some nice contributions. The midfielder again showcased his clean hands, able to hold onto overhead marks while also collecting the ball well at ground level. He booted a superb set shot goal from around 50 metres out in the third term and generally used the ball neatly around the ground. Having returned a solid overall campaign, Davis has plenty to build on in 2021 – his draft year.

#25 William Wiseman

Shock, another bottom-ager who stood up for the Bays on Saturday. Wiseman was terrific in all areas of the field, not afraid to inflict the force of his 192cm/102kg frame on opponents in his vicinity. His first signs of form were made while rotating through the ruck, following up well at centre bounces to win strong holding the ball free kicks. The bigman went on to lay four tackles overall, with much of his impact in the second half coming through a raft of contested marks. Utilised at either end of the ground, Wiseman was able to control the airways and in particular, pump the ball out of an under-siege defence during the final term. He has some nice traits to build off, especially if he grows a few more cm’s.

#32 Jarrad Parish

Parish was a mainstay down back for the first three terms, working well to intercept and provide a cool head on the last line for Glenelg. The 188cm prospect even attended the centre bounces in the final term as Glenelg looked to shuffle the magnets and extract more ball through midfield. He struggled a touch in that department, but was sound when stationed behind the ball, even adding kick-in duties to his aerial work. Parish finished with 15 disposals (13 kicks) and eight marks.

Others:

There were plenty who rotated through the Bays’ engine room, with the likes of Oscar Clark (23 disposals) and Henry McAuliffe (23 disposals, five clearances) both working hard throughout the game. Bailey Durant saw plenty of ball down back alongside Brodie Edwards, while the likes of Hugh Stagg, Jesse Boag, and Jaden Grosser all showed good signs. Jarman Sigal had a terrific final term down back too, covering well as Parish moved further afield.

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Sturt:

#9 Malachy Carruthers

It is not hard to see why Carruthers earned a national combine invite, as the sharp-kicking defender proved a class above with his use by foot in what was otherwise a turnover-heavy contest. The top-ager broke the game open with his ability to hit targets in the corridor, putting Sturt in the best possible position to attack. His pin-point delivery to runners also allowed them to continue in their stride, opening up the stale, short-kicking trend of the game. As somewhat of a loose outlet, Carruthers was also able to generate some run through the corridor himself via handball receives, while dropping back into defensive 50 as a relieving option. Another string to his bow is intercept marking, with some nice floating grabs making for a complete highlight package. The half-back finished with 34 disposals and 15 marks on a dominant day.

#11 Will Spain

As he has done all season, Spain put in another solid shift for the Double Blues, rotating well through midfield as a well-balanced small option. The bottom-ager not only put his head over the ball, but was able to find more possessions on the outer with his hard running and clean hands at ground level. Add speed to the equation, and Spain was able to produce some nice breakaway plays from congestion. A well-struck set shot goal in the final term capped off a decent day, as Spain finished with 20 disposals, eight marks, and five tackles.

#13 Bradley Jefferies

Jefferies has been another terrific inclusion back into the Sturt lineup after school football commitments, and thrived once again from the engine room. The bottom-age talent was a mainstay through midfield and won his fair share of clearances (10), though lacked some depth on his kicks out of congestion at times. Jefferies also snuck forward on many an occasion and was unlucky not to hit the scoreboard. That lack of strength in his kicks perhaps cost him, as his range of snapped attempts did not have the required bend or whip around the corner to squeeze through the big sticks. Still, 34 disposals, 10 clearances and three behinds makes for a great midfield outing by anyone’s standards. He should be another to watch for next year’s South Australian draft crop.

#17 Mani Liddy

Arguably Sturt’s premier established top-age player in the absence of Tom Powell, Liddy was again able to find the ball at will; racking up 34 disposals, 10 marks, and five clearances. While some of those touches were had in the latter stages as Sturt looked to control the pace of the game, Liddy still worked hard to get to the right positions and won a mountain of his own ball earlier on. The nuggety midfielder showed good strength to stand up in tackles and distribute from the clinches, but could perhaps have sent clearances forward more often instead of handballing to space, or a teammate under pressure. His short kicking was usually sound, though he saw a few fall short while on the move as he looked to stab them into the wind. Liddy’s attempts to fend and burst from stoppages was also noticeable, and bodes well for his scope of improvement. A second term set shot conversion proved the cherry on top of his performance.

#27 Ned Grieve

Grieve was again a key fixture in defence for the Double Blues, able to impact aerially with sound intercept marking, while also moving the ball into transition via foot. Whether he was cutting across the contest or standing up in one-on-one situations, Grieve managed to clunk 13 marks in his 25-disposal outing, while also contributing to Sturt’s short chains in the back half. With another strong performance, the top-ager is well primed for a big finals series with the minor premiers.

Others:

Ned Walter was another strong defensive outlet alongside Grieve, taking 10 marks while penetrating either arc five times each. Jacob Lochowiak showed some eye-catching athleticism, with his vertical leap helping him present forward of centre. Ethan Field rotated through the middle to find plenty of ball, while Morgan Ferres made the most of his chances to boot three majors up forward.

>> MORE STURT CONTENT

Featured Image: Sturt’s Will Spain in action against Glenelg | Credit: Phil Radoslovich/SANFL