WHILE 46 of the best AFL Draft prospects out of West and South Australia took the field in Saturday’s Under 19 National Championships bout, there were a bunch of extended squad members who were forced out either through injury or the inevitable selection squeeze. We take a look at how they fared this week in their respective WAFL and SANFL grades in a special edition of In the Mix.
Two of Western Australia’s three squad emergencies were in action for East Perth on Saturday, as the Royals beat Subiaco quite comfortably while Jahmal Stretch‘s Claremont had the bye. Up forward, speedy small Kaden Harbour was dangerous around goal with 1.3 from 12 disposals and four marks, while bottom-ager Jedd Busslinger clunked four marks from 13 touches at the other end.
In the same game, extended squad member Oscar Armstrong (21 disposals, seven marks, one goal) also extended his consistent run of form for the Royals, as the electric Richard Farmer (26 disposals, six marks, seven inside 50s, 1.3) was arguably Subiaco’s best player in the 51-point loss.
Elsewhere, late squad addition Joshua Cripps, the brother of Carlton co-captain Patrick, was a key cog in East Fremantle’s 21-point win over West Perth. The ruck-forward contributed 20 disposals, five marks, 16 hit-outs and three goals in the victory, including two in the final term to help his Sharks kick away. He also formed a nice partnership with Ed Curley, who notched 16 touches and laid eight tackles with a bit of speed and class in the front half.
Perhaps one of the picks of the lot in Round 21 of the WAFL Colts competition was Luke Polson, who dominated up forward as Peel Thunder downed Perth by 38 points. The mobile big man clunked seven marks and registered 3.6 from his 15 disposals, marking a promising return to the level. He had previously been trialled down back with the state side, but was squeezed out given WA’s wealth of tall options.
There were a bunch of injury casualties which also impacted selection, none more so than the late out of state vice-captain Neil Erasmus. The Subiaco midfielder couldn’t quite get up from a corked thigh which flared up during the week, and was replaced by Max Chipper in the side. The losses of Jaiden Hunter (elbow) and Kellen Johnson (ankle), and Jarrad McIlvinney also made for some improvisation to the defence. Speaking of, West Perth rebounder Zac Fleiner was touch-and-go for a return, but again just missed out.
Like Western Australia, one of South Australia’s three state Under 19 emergencies (Shay Linke) had the bye this week, while the other two got some run in their legs. Harvey Harrison was one, and he was in fine form for North Adelaide’s Under 18s with 34 disposals, seven marks, and 10 clearances as the Roosters beat Sturt. Luca Whitelum was the other, claiming 25 touches and seven marks in Central District’s Under 18s loss to Woodville-West Torrens.
In the same game as Whitelum, big man Saxon Evans fared well aerially with four marks and 32 hitouts. A couple of Norwood prospects who are working their way back to form off recent injuries also turned out at SANFL Under 18s level. Top-age tall Ned Carey managed 10 disposals, 23 hitouts and a goal, while Alastair Lord (21 disposals, 1.2) showed plenty of his trademark dash rotating through midfield and defence, as Norwood was defeated by Glenelg.
Fellow Redleg Henry Nelligan was one who played up, turning out in the League grade. He contributed 18 disposals, five tackles and a goal as Norwood claimed an important win over North Adelaide. Another to taste senior action was Woodville-West Torrens’ Brayden Calvett, who managed 14 touches, six marks and two goals in the Eagles’ Reserves win over Sturt.
Among those unavailable for selection, Cooper Murley (collarbone) was arguably South Australia’s most glaring injury omission. Explosive North Adelaide midfielder James Willis (ankle) has also spent time on the sidelines, while the likes of Will Spain, Zac Phillips, and Dayne McGary were others who did not hit the field this past weekend.
Featured Image: Brayden Calvett gets a kick away for Woodville-West Torrens | Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL