Up the Grades: Ryan dazzles on debut

WEST Adelaide unveiled another youngster at League level this past weekend, with promising midfielder Kobe Ryan dazzling in his senior debut. The top-age AFL Draft prospect had been in sparkling touch across five Under 18 games, and needed just one outing in the Reserves grade to earn his place among the SANFL’s top flight.

Testing his mettle against AFL-listed opposition in Adelaide’s reserves, Ryan looked up to the task as he collected 22 disposals and booted two classy goals in the Bloods’ 54-point defeat. Topping off an exciting few days, he was also one of seven Westies young guns named in the 2022 South Australia Under 18 squad yesterday.

Ryan was not the only West Adelaide talent to find his way up the grades, though his League selection was juxtaposed by Harry Lemmey‘s fall to the Reserves. The strong-marking forward has endured an interrupted start to his season, and after two League appearances he dropped down a grade to clunk three grabs from nine disposals in a Westies win.

Staying in South Australia, Adelaide Crows father-son candidate Max Michalanney also continued his run up the grades, turning out for a third match in Norwood’s Reserves. The 192cm defender is yet to experience a win, but showed his wares with seven marks (three contested) from 14 touches as the Redlegs went down by seven points to South Adelaide.

Over in Western Australia, a couple of frontrunning talents continue to impress in the WAFL’s top grade. Swan Districts midfielder Elijah Hewett helped his side notch its second win of the season, contributing 13 disposals in the Black Ducks’ nine-point win over Claremont.

Bolting prospect Steely Green also got back to action after a week off, but could not quite help South Fremantle overcome the ladder-leading West Perth. Green played through midfield and picked up right where he left off, compiling 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles with incredible ease. He was our WAFL Player Focus this week.

The latest VFL action saw some more club-tied talent turn out in familiar colours, but the pool of NAB League over-agers was slightly shallow given the Young Guns showcase was played on the same weekend. Unsurprisingly, Brisbane Lions father-son gun Will Ashcroft stole the show, further strengthening his chances of claiming pick one status.

Hitting new heights, the Sandringham Dragons skipper notched up 32 disposals, seven tackles and a goal as his Lions downed Coburg by 65 points. A couple of 19th-year players donned Coburg colours, with Calder’s Harrison Andronaco (eight disposals, five tackles) and Oakleigh’s Alex Lukic (seven disposals, one goal) showing their wares.

Along similar lines, Luca Macnab (Gold Coast) and Hugh Hamilton (Carlton) earned further chances at state league level, falling just shy of 10 touches apiece in tight losses. Jye Lockett was another who kept his spot in the Suns’ side, while Calder ruck Matthew Gook debuted for Williamstown in the same game, and Swans Academy product Felix Rogers snared a goal in Sydney’s win over Werribee.

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