Scouting Notes: 2022 AFL U18s – Allies vs. Vic Country
VIC COUNTRY made it two wins from as many games at this year’s Under 18 National Championships, after kicking away from the Allies for a 33-point victory on Sunday afternoon. There were AFL Draft prospects of note on either side, which we highlighted in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
>> MATCH REPORT: Allies 5.12 (42) def. by Vic Country 10.15 (75)
By: Peter Williams
#1 Brandon Leary (Tasmania Devils)
The over-age Tasmanian forward was a lively inclusion for the Allies, with the Devils goalsneak snagging three goals and being the most damaging forward for the losing side. He kicked the first goal of the game from a mark and set shot from 40m, then kicked another couple in the second half, both from clever plays in the pocket. He worked hard both inside 50 and up the ground, and though he was not always pinpoint with his field disposal, he cracked in and provided some run for his side, then hit the scoreboard with those three goals.
#15 Harry Rowston (GWS GIANTS Academy)
One of the most consistent Allies players all day, Rowston just had a real crack. He covered the ground with a high work rate and a great intensity around the contest. He won it in close, and on the outside, with his running capacity a standout in the match. He moved it quickly in transition, and though sometimes under pressure Rowston was forced to bomb the ball forward, he provided good second efforts and never backed down. He had a set shot from a tight angle in the third term but just did not connect cleanly.
#18 Jaspa Fletcher (Brisbane Lions Academy)
An impressively polished player on the day who was able to kick a great goal off a couple of steps in the second term, and almost had another in the third term. Fletcher was clean at ground level and looked creative whenever he won the ball, moving it forward in transition. He set up a goal to Walter, and when in defence, he was a one-touch player with his ground level work and vision to nail the quick handball to open up the game for his teammates. One of the better users on the day, and the top Allies ball-winner to-boot.
#20 Joshua Cooper (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Cooper’s work up the ground moving it between the arcs was something that stood out, with the rebounder unlucky to cop a high free kick at half-forward early in the game. He was more often winning it in the back half, particularly running off half-back, providing one-twos down the ground. At one point on the wing he tried to bomb the ball forward under pressure, was smothered, but then laid a good tackle to win a free kick. He took a good intercept mark on the wing a bit later on, and also kicked out at one stage, then covered the ground well to receive the ball back and kick long.
#21 Marlin Corbett (Gold Coast Suns Academy)
One of the more consistent players throughout the match, Corbett showed strong hands at half-back, and also pushed up to the wing at times. His kicking was on-point most of the time, and he was a key target to use when moving it from one end of the ground to the other. He had a flying shot on goal but missed to the right. Though his decision making at times could improve, his run and carry, and his kicking certainly influenced the game.
#22 Lachlan Cowan (Tasmania Devils)
Though one of the top AFL Draft prospects from the Allies and in particular Tasmania this year, Cowan was not at his best during this game. He found the ball and still had some nice moments such as a couple of spins and the ability to spot up a target forward, but his execution and decision making at times was lower than his usual high standards. Cowan was still able to use his super boot to advantage when coming out of defence.
#26 Lloyd Johnston (Northern Territory Thunder)
The sole Northern Territory prospect in the match, Johnston had some exciting moments throughout four quarters. Though not totally consistent, Johnston was able to compete well aerially and read the ball well in transition to even intercept the ball coming in from the side in the middle, then playing on and kicking down the ground. He managed to win one-on-ones on a number of occasions and even went for a fly in the goalsquare in the fourth term but was spoiled. Earlier in the game he saved a certain goal by rushing it through on the goalline.
#28 Tom McCallum (Tasmania Devils)
It was a really composed game from McCallum, who was able to be one of the better Allies across the four quarters and compete strongly in the back half. His closing speed to spoil or even intercept mark was very good, and he read it well in the air. He used the ball impressively by hand or foot, and made life difficult for his direct opponent. McCallum was a player who teammates could rely upon with ball-in-hand or in his positioning.
#38 Jed Walter (Gold Coast Suns Academy)
Started like a house on fire with a massive first term, taking a number of big marks and nailing a brilliant set shot from a tight angle 40m out. He had another couple of chances throughout the game, but his presence inside 50 was quite impressive. He did cop a whack to the face in the third term, and life was more difficult as Vic Country took control, but Walter certainly came to play early in the game.
#40 Nicholas Madden (GWS GIANTS Academy)
The strong ruck was a dominant performer when able to use his body, and worked hard up and down the ground. Though not the most agile player, Madden just works into space and finds his fair share of the ball, before often giving off quick handballs to running teammates. His long handball to a teammate at centre half-forward in the second term opened up the game. A marking target around the ground, Madden is a player who is hard to move when he can plant himself.
By: Ed Pascoe
#2 Mitch Szybkowski (Dandenong Stingrays)
Szybkowski was once again busy for Country, backing up his 25-disposal effort last week with 29 in this outing, linking well with fellow midfielders Jhye Clark and Henry Hustwaite. His clean hands at stoppages were impressive, flicking out nice handballs quick as a flash, but his ability to win the ball on the outside was equally impressive. Making some great decisions by hand and foot, that factor was highlighted by a lovely kick inside 50 to Jacob Konstanty in the last quarter, which came about from previous hard work at half back to prove Szybkowski’s class and spread from contest to contest.
#4 Jaxon Binns (Dandenong Stingrays)
Binns was everywhere for Country, racking up the ball with ease on the wing finishing with an enormous 39 disposals, which was made even more impressive by the flat 25 minute quarters. Binns’ superior work rate and positioning played a huge part, especially in the last quarter where he used that strong endurance base to run over the top of the Allies team. Although Binns won plenty of the ball and had numerous inside 50s, his kicking often let him down and is an area he will need to clean up to be more damaging overall. Although, his kicking did improve in the second half with a nice pass inside 50 to Konstanty one of his highlights.
#5 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
The ever reliable Clark set the tone early, winning the opening clearance of the game, and would continue to be a strong contributor over four quarters – finishing with 29 disposals to further push his top 10 credentials. Clark once again showed a great balance to his game, winning the hard ball and laying some strong tackles in close, while also working around the ground to take multiple marks in the middle and distribute well by hand and foot. His kicking inside 50 was a real highlight, giving key forward Aaron Cadman multiple pearlers on the lead. Clark would also hit the scoreboard in the third quarter and if he can keep playing his usual game while adding goals to his weaponry, he will be hard to ignore at the pointy end of the draft.
#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
Highly rated coming into the season, Long showed traits not unlike fellow and former Geelong Grammar star Caleb Serong, with his midfield and forward craft. An unfortunate injury in Round 1 of the NAB League has seen him miss a lot of action, but Long was finally able to get on the park in recent weeks and his game against Allies was a nice reminder of his talent, playing the high half-forward role to perfection. Long was everywhere between the arcs, giving a good outlet with hard running, and his football smarts were on show via his disposal by hand and foot. Long was rewarded for his hard work with a nice goal in the last quarter.
#7 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
The ever dangerous Konstanty missed last week due to illness and certainly played like someone who was keen to finally go out there and strut their stuff on the big stage. He certainly delivered, finishing as Country’s leading goal scorer with three goals. His first was the most impressive, coming from a nice trap at ground level and spinning around to snap a classy goal. His other two majors came from set shots after impressive marks on the lead, and this is a feature which completes his forward game. Looking equally damaging overhead as he is at ground level, Konstanty is arguably the best pure small forward in this year’s draft crop and he certainly showed it against the Allies, not only in his impact with the ball, but also without it through pressure acts inside 50.
#14 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
Although he didn’t produce the heroics of last week, the bottom-age star was again impressive down back, offering plenty of rebound and taking multiple strong intercept marks. His willingness to take the game on was again a feature, whether with run of his own or by foot, he always looked the most likely rebounder for Country. In the third quarter Reid showcased traits that will be huge in his midfield game going into his draft year, gathering loose balls with skill and showing great strength in the contest while being tackled, not unlike rising bomber Archie Perkins. It will be fascinating to see how he is used next year, but he looks set for an All-Australian spot in the backline in this year’s Under 18 championships.
#25 Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)
Cadman’s inconsistency in front of goal has been a thorn in his side this year despite his obvious talent, and again it stopped him from having a bigger day than he ended up with, kicking two goals from set shots. Some of Cadman’s marks on the lead were sublime, taking the ball strongly out in front at speed with a player on his hammer, not unlike gun Blue Charlie Curnow. He also got to show his nimbleness at ground level with some nice gathers and ball use in general play. Cadman doesn’t seem far away from a big bag at this year’s championships to further prove his potential top 10 draft credentials.
#33 Henry Hustwaite (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hustwaite has often played a mix of defence and midfield this year, but he relished a full-time midfield role against the Allies, ending the game with 29 disposals in his best game for the year. What really stood out with Hustwaite were his clean hands and class at stoppages, often able to get his hands free and pick the right option to deliver cleanly by hand. If he wasn’t wearing a tackle, he was evading opponents and kicking lovely passes on his preferred left foot, not unlike Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury. Despite a lack of speed and power, Hustwaite had more than enough time to make all his touches count to end up arguably the best player on the ground, and more games like this will push him higher in the draft pecking order.