PREVIEW | 2023 AFL U18s: South Australia vs. Allies
THE 2023 AFL Under 18 National Championships get underway on Sunday, as South Australia hosts the Allies in Adelaide. It is the first of 10 matches scheduled across the tournament, played between Sunday’s combatants, Vic Country, Vic Metro, and Western Australia.
We take you through all you need to know about this year’s carnival opener; from the players to watch, to the strengths of either side and potential lineups. Final 25-man squads have also been named, scroll to see who made the cut.
NEED TO KNOW
Who: South Australia vs. Allies
When: Sunday June 4, 11:00am ACST
Where: Thebarton Oval, Adelaide
How to watch: via AFL website & app
ONES TO WATCH
There will be 14 National Academy members afield on Sunday, and the large majority sit with the Allies at a 10-4 split. A similarly one-sided split can be seen in the amount of players named who feature in the Rookie Me Central Power Rankings, 6-2 in favour of the travelling side. Of course, being made up of five states and territories may account for such a difference.
Some serious top-end talent headlines the Allies side though, which features top 10 prospects like Colby McKercher, Jed Walter and Ethan Read. The latter two are Suns Academy teammates, along with diminutive midfielder Jake Rogers who is fresh off being named best afield in the National Academy’s second showcase game.
In terms of emerging talent, few are more promising than versatile tall Connor O’Sullivan, who looks set to reprise a role in the Allies defence. Among four over-agers named, midfielder Indhi Kirk will be one of particular interest to Sydney fans as a father-son candidate. Needless to say, there are plenty other Northern Academy products set to shine.
South Australia’s talent is fronted by star forward Ashton Moir. He will undoubtedly be hungry for a big carnival, vice-captaining the side while fellow National Academy member Will Patton takes on the captaincy from defence. Kane McAuliffe will be the Croweaters’ centrepiece in midfield, and Jack Delean is capable of producing magical moments.
Elsewhere, Hawthorn father-son gun Will McCabe will be out to solidify his status as a top 20 player, likely slotting in at centre half-back for SA. Watch for Norwood’s Logan Evans to show his class across half-back too, while rising South Adelaide ruck Taylor Goad has potential to rocket up the rankings with strong representative showings.
WHERE IT’S WON
South Australia has a couple of distinct, intangible advantages coming into this game. The Croweaters will enjoy kicking off their campaign at home, and a secondary edge when it comes to familiarity given they have already played multiple trial games together. That is not a luxury the Allies ensemble has.
Should they be able to overcome the travel and team-jelling obstacles, the Allies boast a clear edge in top-end talent. They bat much deeper than SA through midfield, though a few of their speedy and diminutive types may be squeezed to the outside. Sanders and Caiden Cleary will likely be tasked with competing against a big-bodied, robust South Australian centre bounce group.
With 113kg over-age ruck Alex van Wyk in tow, and big-bodied midfielders like McAuliffe and Tom Wheaton likely to attend most restarts, the home side will look to gain an advantage at the source. Though, the Allies have serious class and speed to exploit in likely clear conditions, through guns like McKercher, Rogers, and Harvey Thomas.
For all their depth and strength elsewhere, the Allies may struggle to cover all bases in defence, potentially requiring a makeshift flanker. The away side is otherwise well balanced on paper and has a bunch of medium-small forwards who can offer dynamism up the field if need be. The latter can also be said for SA, who may shake up their wings and add speed to midfield on the fly.
Prediction: Allies by 10.
B: #9 B. Ryan – #17 W. Patton (c) – #14 A. Holt (vc)
HB: #11 L. Evans – #22 W. McCabe – #3 C. Fairall
C: #1 T. Tattoli – #26 K. McAuliffe (dvc) – #15 D. Gladigau
HF: #8 A. Moir (vc) – #41 P. Weckert (dvc) – #27 D. Dignan
F: #16 L. Rawlinson – #37 L. Fawcett – #12 J. Delean
FOL: #38 T. Goad – #19 A. McShane – #28 T. Wheaton
INT: #2 S. Draper, #5 K. Herbert, #13 L. Slade, #40 O. Talbot, #43 A. van Wyk
EMG: #4 P. Toole, #6 S. Wauer, #36 T. Luck
B: #28 N. Williams – #41 C. O’Sullivan – #7 L. Cabor
HB: #15 J. Leake – #38 P. Snell – #6 H. Thomas
C: #9 J. Rogers – #3 C. Cleary – #14 I. Kirk
HF: #16 O. Turner – #25 J. Walter – #12 W. Rowlands
F: #13 J. Callinan – #30 C. McCormack – #18 M. Rider
FOL: #39 E. Read – #4 R. Sanders – #5 C. McKercher
INT: #10 L. Lombard, #11 P. Gothard, #26 W. Graham, #31 T. Beaumont, #44 C. May
EMG: #17 C. Shadforth, #29 T. Gander, #42 D. Posthuma
2023 AFL U18s FIXTURE
|Sun, Jun 4||South Australia vs. Allies||Thebarton Oval, SA, 11:00am|
|Sun, Jun 11||South Australia vs. Victoria Metro||Thebarton Oval, SA, 9:45am|
|Sun, Jun 11||Allies vs. Western Australia||Thebarton Oval, SA, 12:05pm|
|Sun, Jun 18||Victoria Country vs. South Australia||IKON Park, VIC, 10:35am|
|Sat, Jun 24||Western Australia vs. South Australia||Optus Stadium, WA, 2:15pm|
|Fri, Jun 30||Western Australia vs. Victoria Country||WACA, WA, 6:00pm|
|Sun, Jul 2||Allies vs. Victoria Metro||Brighton Homes Arena, QLD, 2:00pm|
|Sun, Jul 9||Victoria Metro vs. Western Australia||RSEA Park, VIC, 10:35am|
|Sun, Jul 9||Victoria Country vs. Allies||RSEA Park, VIC, 1:35pm|
|Sat, Jul 15||Victoria Country vs. Victoria Metro||IKON Park, VIC, 10:35am|