Up the Grades: Swans blood Academy guns

AFL DRAFT prospects continue to climb the grades in 2023, headlined over the weekend by a trio of Swans Academy products in the VFL. Midfielder Caiden Cleary was the pick of the bunch, compiling 18 disposals, seven tackles and a goal as Sydney comfortably beat Essendon.

Fellow Allies squad members Max Rider (13 disposals, one goal) and Indhi Kirk (12 disposals, four marks) also fared well upon returning to the level, while Essendon Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Mahmoud Taha managed 10 touches and five tackles on debut for the Bombers.

Melbourne also had a club-tied talent turn out for his maiden state league outing. Father-son candidate Kynan Brown featured for Casey with six disposals, four tackles and a goal, as the Demons fell by a single point to Williamstown.

Western Jets midfielder Jake Smith also debuted in the same game, notching four touches for the Towners. Meanwhile, fellow Talent Leaguer Harvey Johnston booted his first VFL goal in Sandringham’s loss to Box Hill having earned a breakthrough game last week.

Rounding out the VFL proceedings, a pair of Suns Academy prospects contributed to Gold Coast’s Q-Clash victory. Midfielders Will Graham and Jake Rogers were both afield, but Brisbane over-ager Jack Manly had a day to remember despite the result with three goals.

One for the future among the Northern Academy lot is Brisbane’s Daniel Annable. The Under 16 MVP and Pool B title-winning captain made his senior QAFL debut with Redland Victoria Point, beating out a Wilston Grange side littered with fellow Lions. Top-ager Patrick Snell was best on for the Gorillas.

Over in South Australia, livewire forward Jack Delean soared high in his League debut. The South Adelaide prospect bagged two goals from 10 touches and five inside 50s, having replaced bottom-age jet Sid Draper in the senior side. The Panthers bagged a win, too, by 22 points over West Adelaide.

Fellow state squad member Kade Herbert also turned out at senior level in Round 15, contributing nine disposals and five tackles to the Eagles’ loss to Sturt. The bottom-age midfielder was playing in just his second game having earned a berth last week.

There was also some state Under 18 talent scattered through the reserves. Territorian William Rowlands booted two majors in his first outing at the level, while over-age ruck Alex van Wyk (19 disposals, 26 hitouts, seven clearances) was prominent in Norwood’s win over Central District.

Glenelg’s Ashton Moir showed promising signs in his second stint in the twos. He clunked seven marks and bagged 1.2 as the Bays beat North Adelaide, who fielded strong ball winner Kane McAuliffe (eight disposals, four tackles).

Luker Kentfield in Subiaco colours | Image Credit: Subiaco FC

Subiaco ruck-forward Luker Kentfield was the sole state Under 18 squad member get a senior gig this week, in what was a condensed round. The hulking prospect got his hands dirty with seven tackles, five hitouts and one goal in a win over East Perth.

Meanwhile in the reserves, East Fremantle’s Koen Sanchez snuck over the line by a single point against Ashton Ferreira‘s South Fremantle. The former had it 12 times, while the latter hit the scoreboard from 13 touches.

A few Tasmanians were also blooded in the TSL with the Devils enjoying a Talent League bye. Jack Dolliver claimed two goals and Jack Callinan one as Clarence lost to North Launceston, who named Heath Ollington as their best afield.

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