Scouting Notes: WA U18s vs. East Perth Reserves
WESTERN Australia’s Under 18 squad came together for its first practice match ahead of this year’s National Championship, defeating an East Perth reserves outfit at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday afternoon.
In a free-flowing game, the West Australian side led at every change to run out comfortable victors. We highlight some of the players who caught the eye in black and gold, after a promising first-up performance.
The Black Ducks will turn out once more next week with a second trial against Swans District’s reserves at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday. Their first champs game is against the Allies on June 11, in Adelaide.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA U18s:
#5 Koen Sanchez (East Fremantle)
Playing largely in the midfield, Sanchez found plenty of the ball in close, utilising his clean hands and poise in traffic to be one of WA’s most effective on-ballers. The East Fremantle product showed toughness to win his own ball and didn’t looked rushed in possession despite the pressure around him. Sanchez’s disposal wasn’t particularly damaging but was generally sound, as he often dished off via hand or looked to kick up the line or to a short option. Having played much of his football as a crafty small forward, Sanchez’s volume of midfield minutes was a touch surprising, but he took the opportunity with both hands and showed he can have an impact in the engine room.
#9 Lance Collard (Subiaco)
On a day where the state’s best youngsters played together as a side for the first time, it was Collard’s raw talent that shone brightest. The Subiaco forward was an excitement machine throughout the four quarters, using his electric speed and athleticism to be an incredibly dangerous player in the front half. Whenever Collard was able to get goal-side of his opponent, his pace made him impossible to catch as he was able to create several goal-scoring opportunities for himself. He also produced the game’s major highlight, launching on the shoulders of an opponent to almost haul down an audacious mark, before landing on both feet, gathering the ground ball, and snapping a goal over his shoulder from 35m.
#25 Joe Matthews (Claremont)
One of the more unheralded players in the squad, Matthews found plenty of space playing in a high half forward role and he looked a classy operator, hitting the scoreboard with three majors. The 190cm prospect is a nice size and showed some nice signs as a hybrid forward who can impact aerially and at ground level, looking at his best when he could lead up the ball carrier. He also managed to drift into space on a couple of occasions to take uncontested marks inside 50 and showcased his very sound set shot routine to finish off his work.
#30 Daniel Curtin (Claremont)
Having played predominantly as a key forward before moving into the midfield at Colts level, Curtin played behind the ball for WA and looked immediately at ease. The Claremont tall didn’t necessarily dominate the stats sheet but he looked confident and assured in defence, positioning himself nicely to take a few intercept marks. He also provided the side with some good rebound at times, using his penetrating kick to good effect on a few occasions while he moved beautifully for a player of 195cm, gliding across the turf in an effortless manner. While it wasn’t a dominant performance, it was a display that supports the argument that Curtin’s best position is behind the ball.
#35 Clay Hall (Peel Thunder)
Having featured for WA as a bottom ager in 2022, it was not surprise that Hall found plenty of ball at stages through this game, as his work rate saw him take several uncontested marks. The Peel skipper was often tasked with the ‘money kick’ inside 50 and while he laced out a teammate on a few times, his ball-use was not as incisive as it sometimes is. Nonetheless, Hall was still an effective player for the Black Ducks and he shapes as one of the side’s most important players heading into the carnival.