Scouting Notes: 2022 SANFL U18s – Semi-finals
GLENELG edged Sturt by two points in a tightly contested SANFL Under 18s elimination final, setting up a prelim bout with minor premier, Norwood. The Redlegs went down to North Adelaide, but will lean on their second chance in hopes of securing a spot in the competition’s decider. We noted some of the top performers from both games in the latest edition of Scouting Notes.
All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
By: Tom Wyman
Fresh off a season of college football with Sacred Heart, and SA Under 18 commitments, Lovelock had the ball on a string in the first quarter, accumulating 15 touches in quick succession. Playing in a familiar role which saw him rotate from a high half-forward into the midfield, Lovelock was in everything for the Bays. Although he lacked the same disposal class and efficiency he’s displayed throughout the year, Lovelock’s link up play was outstanding all game. Having thrust his name in-front of recruiters after a strong year across all levels, Lovelock’s 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and six inside 50s helped the Tigers progress.
#5 Ben Ridgway
Inside bull, Ridgway set the tone early with his physicality in the trenches. As the game wore on, Ridgway spent more time in attack. His snap goal early in the second term not only put his team ahead on the scoreboard, but ignited a dominant quarter from the Bays. Ridgway’s evasiveness in traffic complimented his contested ball winning and tackling in the contest. Although he could have lowered his eyes going inside 50 a couple of times, Ridgway’s strength in the coalface and five clearances went a long way on Saturday afternoon.
#7 Jake Walker
Prince Alfred College midfielder, Walker played a combative game for the Bays. The product from the south-east of the state, Walker registered 20 handballs – highlighting the in-and-under role he played in Glenelg’s elimination final triumph. Walker was clean at ground level, produced some handy clearance work and tackled hard defensively to deny the Sturt on-ballers of time and space. Walker’s late behind gave Glenelg the lead and proved vital. He finished with 25 touches, three marks, seven tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s.
#8 Harvey Lambert
Half-forward, Lambert booted three goals for Glenelg as the Bays advanced to the second week of SANFL finals. His aerial work was strong, taking five grabs including a contested mark. Lambert looked dangerous with his ability to work up the ground the double-back towards goal and become a deep threat. Along with his three majors, Lambert gathered 15 disposals and four inside 50s.
#12 Jakob Ryan
Glenelg dearly missed Ryan this season, with the dashing half-back spending much of the year playing school football. He could have been given the job on Sturt leading goalkicker Chad Reschke, but Glenelg’s coaching staff opted to free him up where his strong overhead marking and dare with ball in-hand helped set up the Bays’ rebound game. Marshalling the troops in defence, Jakob combined well with cousin Bodie Ryan, with the pair both playing important roles down back. Jakob’s strength in the air was matched by his follow-up work at ground level, where his composure and skillset shone through. Another who racked up plenty of the ball, particularly early on, Ryan finished with 30 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and four rebound 50s.
#27 Bowen Payne
Glenelg’s impressive inside midfield unit featuring the likes of Jake Walker, Ben Ridgway and Will Trevena was well balanced by the performances of wingmen, Payne and Jake Pavia-Amato. Both wingers played their roles well, keeping their width when required but also possessing the strength to win their own ball on the inside. Payne’s evasiveness and ability to shrug the tacklers was noticeable, however it was his ball use which stood out in particular. He tallied 21 touches, six marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and a goal.
#24 Luca Slade
The bottom-aged utility was arguably Sturt’s best player on the night. Having played a number of different roles across various levels in 2022, Slade was thrust into the middle to compete with Glenelg’s strong on-ball unit. He booted a goal late in the third term to give the Double Blues a big lift. His clearance work was important, and Slade clearly looked to use his neat foot skills first, rather than dish it off by hand. It’s been a busy year for Slade, who played college football with Prince Alfred, but his year isn’t over yet, having been selected for the Under 17 futures match on Grand Final Day. Slade finished the day with a team-high 21 disposals, three marks, six tackles and six clearances.
#27 Alex Holt
Holt’s cool head down back was vital for Sturt. With Jakob Ryan marshalling the Bays’ troops down back, Holt did similarly for the Double Blues. Scouts will have loved his ability to read the play, but also provide the visitors with an abundance of rebound from defence. Although he made a couple of errors by foot, with one leading to a Tigers goal inside 50, his skills were sound. Another of Sturt’s impressive bottom-agers, Holt finished with 20 touches (16 kicks), five marks and 10 rebounds.
#37 Chad Reschke
The big forward has had a terrific season as the leading goalkicker in the Under 18 competition, and he delivered for Sturt in the Elimination Final. With the Double Blues down at half-time, a lot rested on the shoulders of Reschke. And he delivered, nailing three second-half majors to get Sturt ever so close to progressing. He proved too strong on the lead for the Glenelg defence and made the most of his opportunities in-front of goal. The full-forward gathered just nine disposals, but took seven marks (three contested) and made every possession count.
#60 Nick Sadler
Sadler’s addition to the Sturt Under 18 side was noted, given he has played some solid football this season across three SANFL competitions. Although Sadler didn’t have a big influence on the game at stoppages, with the likes of Slade, Holt, Rawlinson, George Pope and Kobe McEntee being the main clearance getters, he played an important role as the receiver of the periphery of the contest. In this role, he was able to use his sound foot skills to good effect and also push forward. He booted 1.2 for the game, to go with 18 possessions, four tackles, four marks and five inside 50s.
By: Micah Hann
#2 Grant Catalano
Catalano was fantastic in the first half as he used his speed to work into space and accumulate the football. He hit the scoreboard early, kicking Norwood’s first for the day from a set-shot, after teammate Noah Hyde found him by himself inside 50. Not necessarily a known goalkicker, Catalano had doubled his season output by half time, earning two free kicks inside 50 and finishing truly to give him three first half goals.
#4 Tyson Walls
It was an uncharacteristically quiet game for Walls, who wasn’t able to find as much of the football as we’ve seen him do throughout the year. His pressure around the contest was still fantastic and his ball use, particularly going inside 50, was high class.
#6 Josh Bradford
Bradford’s ability to read the ball at stoppage has proven to be a strength of his throughout this season and he showed this once again. He was prolific early, winning a handful of clearances and linking up through the midfield. His pressure around the contest was consistent throughout the first half, but like many Redlegs, he wasn’t able to have the same influence in the second half.
#20 Riley Verrall
Verrall had a few opportunities to flex his muscle and didn’t hesitate, laying a couple of big tackles and standing up strong inside the contest. He was a solid contributor for the home side across half back, finding his fair share of the football and linking up with teammates to rebound from defence.
#27 Logan Evans
Evans was one of his sides best in defence. He demonstrated his well-balanced defensive skill-set, pulling in a number of intercept marks and courageously flying to spoil contests. He consistently made good decisions coming out of defence and executed well by foot.
#33 Phoenix Foster
Foster was competitive in the air all day. He managed a handful of strong contested marks and was able to bring the ball to ground on countless occasions, creating plenty of opportunities for Norwood’s smaller brigade. He had an exceptional four minute spell during the last quarter where he provided a direct goal assist and kicked three goals himself, as the Redlegs made a late comeback. Playing as the second ruck to number one, Alex Van Wyk, Foster was able to dominate the hit-outs and found plenty of the ball around the ground, finishing with a team-high 21 disposals.
#35 Alex Van Wyk
Van Wyk has been one of Norwood’s most consistent performers throughout this season and the ruckman put in another strong showing in this Semi Final. He dominated the hit-outs and was a constant clearance threat, finishing with a game-high of eight in that category. His work at centre bounce was pivotal as Norwood made a late push in the final term. Van Wyk was competitive around the ground and dangerous in the air, plucking a number of big contested marks.
#5 Isaac Keeler
Keeler was up against it early, facing off against one of the better ruck duos in the SANFL U18 competition. With his side down at half time, Keeler played inspired football from the first bounce of the second half. Despite the Norwood ruckman dominating the hit-outs, Keeler roved the ball at stoppage and was able to win a number of clearances to get the ball moving forward. He also applied himself defensively, laying a couple of big tackles. It was Keeler’s impact early in the third quarter that turned the game in North Adelaide’s favour, helping them earn a place in the SANFL U18 Grand Final.
Bennier started the game in defence, where his composure and confidence stood out in pressure situations. With North looking to shake things up in the second half, Bennier was swung forward with immediate success. He kicked a goal within the first few minutes of the third quarter and provided plenty of aerial pressure on Norwood’s defence.
#12 Oliver Dignan
It was a big day for Oliver Dignan with the key forward claiming a bag of six goals in a match-winning display. After finishing the minor round a little wayward, Dignan well and truly had his kicking boots on, converting his set shots and even getting some luck on a long-range bomb from outside 50. It wasn’t just the goalkicking that was impressive though. Dignan presented strongly all the day and was a constant threat in the air, pulling in a number of contested marks.
#13 Jed Dignan
Jed Dignan put in another big performance on the wing and across half forward for the Roosters. He offered some support to forward 50 focal point and brother Oliver, showing off his aerial exploits, and pulling in a number of contested marks. Jed also managed to hit the scoreboard, finishing with two majors.
#14 Billy Dowling
Dowling was uncharacteristically quiet in the first half, with the South Australian State U18 representative unable to accumulate the football at his usual rate. That changed in the second half, as Dowling and a number of other key players for North lifted. Dowling snagged the goal of the day, converting a snap-shot back over his head, to cap a seven goal to none third quarter for the Roosters.
#16 Harper Montgomery
Montgomery was sensational in defence. He denied Norwood a number of chances across half back, taking a number of strong, contested intercept marks. He used the ball smartly and carefully to be one of North’s better players.
#25 Max Blacker
Blacker took some time to work his way into the game, but found plenty of the football in the second half. He was clean inside the contest and was able to draw a number of free kicks as a result of consistently being first to the football.