Weekend Preview: State trials rage on ahead of championships

STATE trial games in South and Western Australia headline the pathway football action this weekend, while the Coates Talent League season rolls on into Round 8. The Under 18 Croweaters take on a state Under 20 outfit, while the Sandgropers will lock horns with an Under 21 counterpart.

South Australia’s second trial comes after last week’s 10-point win over a combined Giants and Swans Academy side. Players will don the tri-coloured jersey once again at Thebarton Oval on Saturday before kicking off the Under 18 National Championships on May 26 against the Allies.

Carlton father-son prospect Lucas Camporeale was named best afield last time out and will again have the opportunity to run through midfield alongside state captain Sid Draper. The South Adelaide star is being eased back into action on limited minutes having recovered from a shin injury.

As was the case in the second half last week, leading bottom-age talent Dyson Sharp will ply his trade across half-back, while Adelaide father-son Tyler Welsh spearheads the attack. Among the inclusions on an extended interchange bench in the 31-man squad are Charlie West and Benny Barrett.

The Under 20 team boasts the MVPs from last year’s SA Talent Clash in former state skippers Adam D’Aloia and Will Patton. West Adelaide midfielder Kobe Ryan is set to turn out after being cut from the senior SANFL State Squad, while Sturt’s Nick Sadler has been selected as captain.

>> SQUADS: SA U18s | SA U20s

Tyler Welsh (left) and Luca Slade are former state teammates turned adversaries | Image Credit: AFL Photos

Over in Western Australia, the Under 18s will feature in a newly formatted trial against the WAFL Under 21s. The match takes place at Fremantle Oval on Saturday morning in preparation for the Sandgropers’ National Championships campaign, which kicks off on June 2 against the Allies in Sydney.

State Under 18 coach Marc Webb has flagged Bo Allan’s continued development in midfield. The Peel Thunder product leads WA’s pool of prospects this year, which has somewhat gloomly been labelled as shallow. Nonetheless, plenty of recruiters’ eyes will be on this trial and the upcoming carnival.

>> SQUAD: 2024 WA U18s

The Under 21s will be coached by Female Talent Programs Manager Trent Cooper, who is looking to enhance the exposure of WA’s mid-season draft hopefuls. The squad was put together via nominations from WAFL clubs and input from recruiters of all 18 AFL clubs.

Among the players to watch are East Fremantle midfielder Jack Cleaver, Peel’s Scott Tuia, and South Fremantle wingman Ashton Ferreira, all of whom have been playing at League level this year. Much of the side is made up of over-age talents (2005-born) which were overlooked at the 2023 draft.

While the Under 18 auditions rage on, Victorian Under 16 hopefuls will go head-to-head in one last Country-Metro encounter before the National Championships. The final trial takes place on Sunday at La Trobe University before the real thing gets underway on June 8.

Elsewhere across Victoria, the latest round of Coates Talent League action bounces down with a standalone fixture on Saturday. Reigning premier and undefeated ladder leader Sandringham hosts the Sydney Swans Academy at RSEA, as this year’s Academy Series draws to a close.

After coming together with the Swans last week, the GWS Giants Academy will not feature again this year. Meanwhile, the Gold Coast Suns Academy is set to take on Calder Cannons in Craigieburn, as the Brisbane Lions Academy faces Dandenong Stingrays at Shepley Oval.

The latter two fixtures are part of a selection of four games slated for Sunday. Round 7 victors Tasmania and Eastern lock horns at Kingston Twin Ovals, and GWV Rebels will look to built on their breakthrough win last week as they host Western Jets at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium.

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