THE SEASON is now over for most of the draft eligible talent, with this week seeing the conclusion of the Under 18 National Championships as Vic Metro defeated Vic Country in a close one under the roof at Marvel Stadium. In the AFL Grand Final curtain raiser, it was Claremont key defender Daniel Curtin who helped Team Houli defeat Team Murphy in the Under 17 Futures game.
A big crowd was drawn to the Vic Metro-Vic Country decider, with a large contingent of scouts laser focused on some of the best talent in this year’s and next year’s drafts. Country pushed Metro until the very end, and it was their co-captains who lead the way in the deciding quarter with midfield hard nut Jhye Clark and key forward Aaron Cadman doing everything they could. Both players look likely top 10 picks, with Cadman making his case to push for the very top selection, kicking three goals.
Others to impress for Country were Jaxon Binns who has had a stellar last month. Oliver Hollands was superb in the midfield, showing plenty of class and two-way running, while Harley Reid threatened to win the game of his own boot when swung forward, as he looks to be the leading pick one contender going into 2023.
For Metro, it was midfield stars Will Ashcroft and Elijah Tsatas who had the ball on a string, winning plenty of clearances as Ashcroft added another medal to the collection. He is set to join the last Larke Medal winner Deven Robertson at the Brisbane Lions at the end of the year.
Key forward Matthew Jefferson kicked two goals, including a pivotal one late. Running half-backs Rye Penny and Bailey Macdonald showed plenty despite being lesser names going into the game. Another player to enhance his stocks was Josh Weddle, who manned Cadman for most of the game. His ability to lock down while also rebounding with his high endurance base showed he has a role at the next level.
The Under 17 Futures game was played at a high pace with many recruiters preferring this crop to the 2022 draft, Team Murphy was inaccurate which would be their undoing. For the losing side, Ryley Sanders and Caiden Cleary who won a stack of the ball in shortened quarters, even doing so when moved out of the middle. Others to impress included Glenelg premiership captain Ben Ridgway and Oakleigh smooth mover Will Lorenz, who looks a special player with his agility and class by foot.
For the winning side, it was Curtin who set the tone early with his intercept work and sure head in defence. Some of his plays resembled Scott Pendlebury, able to mesmerise his opponents with little effort and deliver well on his preferred left boot.
Other left-footers to impress included Tasmanian midfielder Colby McKercher, who has Zach Merrett-like qualities, and speedy defender Nathan Philactides who did well to break the game open from half-back. The most dangerous forward was South Adelaide prospect Jack Delean, who made kicking goals look easy as he has done all year, booting a game-high three against Team Murphy.
This will be the last edition of Caught The Eye article, but there are still a few more events for players to help catch the eye, with the WAFL Colts Grand Final and the upcoming National and State Combines.