SANFL Player Focus: Tom Scully (West Adelaide)
YOU would be hard pressed to find a more in-form key forward around the country than West Adelaide’s Tom Scully. The 201cm bigman has been on fire over the last three weekends of SANFL Under 18s footy, booting 20 goals to consolidate a season average of 5.5 per his four games.
In his latest outing, the 17-year-old snared another seven majors and helped his Bloods run over the top of Woodville-West Torrens on Thursday night. His strengths lie aerially and in shrewd leading patterns, which were on full show in the Round 4 performance we put under our Player Focus microscope.
2022 Averages: 4 games | 12.0 disposals, 7.5 marks (4.5 contested), 0.8 inside 50s, 5.5 goals (22 total)
SANFL UNDER 18s ROUND 4
West Adelaide 13.14 (92) def. Woodville-West Torrens 13.3 (81)
Stats: 16 disposals (15 kicks, 1 handball), 11 marks (8 contested), 2 hitouts, 2 inside 50s, 7 goals, 2 behinds
While opportunities were few and far between for the Westies tall forward in term one, he started off with a bang. As the Bloods exited the very first centre break, Scully came charging out to crash a pack at the top of his side’s forward 50 in a signal of intent.
With no real marking opportunity there, he got a small but valuable confidence boost shortly after, nominating for a couple of forward 50 ruck contests and sending consecutive hitouts down the throat of Kobe Ryan.
West Adelaide only put one goal on the board in the first 25 minutes, and it unsurprisingly came off the boot of Scully. The 17-year-old was leading well but saw a couple of teammates cut in front of him or take up his space. Nonetheless, he eventually found room inside 50 to mark and convert a 40-metre set shot after 21 minutes.
Though his side still trailed at the end of term two, Scully and the Bloods began to turn the scoring screws. The Westies bigman managed five shots on goal for the quarter; with one registering a behind, two going out on the full, and two sailing through the big sticks.
The forward 50 was Scully’s to patrol, with teammates clearing out his space and gaining deeper entries for the full forward to snaffle up on the lead. Scully was the final piece in most scoring chains, taking a couple of nice marks presenting at the ball carrier, but also being smart enough to peel off over the back whenever possible.
Some of his marks were reeled in with two bites, but counted nonetheless and allowed West Adelaide multiple opportunities to capitalise on its fluent transitional play. It helped Scully’s direct opponent was considerably shorter on the eye, but you can only beat who’s in front of you and the bigman did exactly that to notch 3.2 to half-time.
The third term saw Scully present a touch further afield, hitting up to centre half-forward having already proven his value as the final link in the chain at full forward. His reach really began to come to the fore, with a couple of overhead marks at full stretch on fast entries catching the eye.
He lacked a touch of composure in possession outside the arc as he bombed long to the hot spot, but those kinds of kicks tended to work in Westies’ favour anyway. Scully got on the board with three more goals, all from close range with his height proving near-impossible to combat.
Again, it was a case of taking advantage of opportunity and Scully had 6.2 next to his name heading into the final break, having played a big part in helping West Adelaide squeeze ahead on the scoreboard.
There was only one goal left for Scully to kick in term four, and he did it via a familiar method. Reaching higher than anyone afield could, he plucked a two-grab mark from front position and slotted the 35-metre set shot for his seventh major.
He was thereabouts after that as West Adelaide continued to venture forward, but the hot footy meant Scully was not always afforded the right delivery he needed. His assets are his range and leading patterns, so being forced to dig up ground balls or engage in wrestles did not suit him.
You have to wonder how much Scully’s form has had to do with his pure size at Under 18s level, and such goalkicking form could see him tip the senior grades shortly. He could have hit double digits for goals with even better conversion, and there are still some areas for growth.
Going forward, to build on his already sound skillset, Scully can look to add some muscle to his frame and game to better cope with defenders who will engage him, and clunk his marks a touch more cleanly. Other than that, he plays to his strengths and can massively exploit them against players his own age. The potential is there.