Caught the Eye: June 2022 – Championships in full swing

REPRESENTATIVE season is in full swing, with the Under 16 and 18 National Championships taking over the headlines this past weekend. There is more to look forward to soon, but not without one final recap of what went down in the latest edition of Caught the Eye.

A double-header at Thebarton Oval saw two very different games, with South Australia winning comfortably in the 16s against Western Australia, but just falling short in the 18s against Vic Country. There were plenty of father-son prospects in the opening game with names such as Camporeale, Welsh and Montgomery, and some younger brothers in the second game including Archer Reid (brother of Essendon’s Zach) and Zane Duursma (brother of Port Adelaide’s Xavier).

A very impressive SA team came out victors against WA in the 16s, with young stars in every area of the ground. Defenders William McCabe and Dyson Sharp offered plenty of drive from defence and both are already a good size. In the midfield, the likes of Sid Draper, Jacob Newton and ruckman Tom Luck all showed some great signs, especially Luck who was smart around the ground.

There was also plenty of excitement up forward with, athletic small Louie Montgomery providing some highlights, and talls Charlie Nicholls and Tyler Welsh looking very impressive – especially Welsh, with the son of a gun a real force kicking 4.3 and imposing himself both up the ground and close to goal.

There weren’t many WA players able to have a big influence, but midfielders Harrison Creighton, Deian Roberts and Tyler Lindberg all showed plenty of tricks with some impressive bits of play, while handy bookends Trent Hiscock and Xavier Walsh also showed their know-how in playing key positions.

Afterwards, a see-sawing Under 18 clash saw Vic Country prevail by only by two points against a gallant South Australian outfit. Country had most of the play throughout the game but were let down with their efficiency going inside 50, doing no favours to the likes of Aaron Cadman who still managed two goals in a good battle with Shaun Bennier.

SA looked unstoppable late in the game with constant inside 50s that were well thwarted by a Harley Reid-led Country defence, and speaking of Reid, his heroics while playing a different role down back only furthered his high-end draft credentials for 2023.

The Vic Country midfield was well led by Mitch Szybkowski and Jhye Clark, with Clark again showing why he is one of the premier midfield talents in the draft pool. Despite his size, he projects as a Touk Miller style of player.

Country had plenty of even contributors after those two, with the likes of Coby Burgiel, Jaxon Binns and Jonti Schuback offering plenty of run and carry, and tall defenders Henry Hustwaite and James Van Es proving their credentials as solid key defensive options for this year’s draft. Another surprise for Country was the ruck work of Max Knobel, who gave his midfielders the ball on a platter.

SA, like Country, had an even spread of contributors. Midfielders Billy Dowling, Kobe Ryan, Archie Lovelock and Adam D’Aloia created a tough contest, especially D’Aloia who used his stronger body to his advantage, and clean hands to win clearances.

The likes of Jakob Ryan and Alex Holt offered good rebound down back and athletic key forward Isaac Keeler worked into the game. It was a quieter outing for Mattaes Phillipou, but he continues to project as one of SA’s best draft chances, joined by athletic ruck Harry Barnett. The latter was a welcome addition to the team, with his follow-up work in the ruck and strong marking behind the ball proving real assets for his team.

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