One sided contest in drizzly and gloomy conditions – WA U18s always looked a class above their opponents in all facets and played an attractive, fast, clean skilled and consistent brand of football throughout most of the game.
WA U18s BEST (IMO): Morabito, Colyer, Matera, Swallow, Cripps, Foster
Anthony Morabito –played off a wing and WA were frequently looking to run the ball through him as 33 possessions and 11 I50s would suggest, he did a massive amount of work and was only rested briefly. Wrras consistent th He showed his typical traits: clean hands, pace, evasiveness, core strength, sound dual sided skills and a good overall work-rate. Will go into the U18 championships with a big reputation and as one of the most in form I’d expect he’ll have a big U18 championships and be one of the leading contenders for the Larke medal.
Stats: 21K 12H 6M 2T 11I50 1FF 1FA 0.1
Travis Colyer – played through the midfield (primarily) and up forward. Was very prolific – played with plenty of energy around the ball, electric pace and evasiveness, VERY clean hands (some vacuum-like pick-ups at pace), nous around the goal mouth and accurate, dart like, low trajectory delivery. Has been in good form in the colts too and is certainly one that could have a big impact in the U18 championships.
Stats: 19K 8H 5M 2T 4I50 1FF 1.1
Mitch Duncan – looked to be playing off a wing/flank(?). Worked hard and read the play well as per usual - accumulated possessions/linked up well, but didn’t stand out with much else. I'm not his biggest fan, but he's a solid player, has quite a big reputation and he should have a good U18 championships.
Stats: 19K 5H 5M 2T 3I50
Brandon Matera – played FP/HFF and through the midfield. Showed creativity, clean hands, evasiveness and a terrific goal sense. Not eligible this year (except for the Gold Coast), but I expect him to have a good championships and is a good chance of ending up WA’s leading goal kicker at the end of the championships.
Stats: 20K 3H 3M 4T 3I50 3FF 2FA 4.1
David Swallow – played off half back and through the midfield (where he was at his best). He has a full skill set – massive work-rate, genuine footy smarts, clean hands, skills by both hand and feet, pace etc. If he can enough time in the midfield he’ll be a definite standout - but WA may look to use him off the flanks more to better showcase the eligible players this year(?).
Stats: 10K 12H 3M 4T 1.0
Mark Hutchings (C) – played through the midfield but seemed to be spending quite a bit of time on the bench. As usual showed good vision and handballing in traffic and tackling in close – was generally sound by foot. He has senior form behind him since mid 2008 and I’d expect it to hold him in good stead to have a prolific U18 championships series.
Stats: 10K 8H 4M 4T 2I50 1FF 2FA 1.0
Jamie Cripps – played off half back and through the midfield. Showed very good vision, creativity and handball skills in traffic, clean hands, sound skills by foot and fluency in movement. Not eligible this year (expcept for GC17) – unsure if he’ll be given a significant role in the championships (he looks capable of it though), but I expect him to impress and perform well nevertheless.
Stats: 13K 7H 5M 2T 4I50 1FF 1.2
Kane Lucas – played HFF/FP. Showed good vision in and out of traffic making good, often creative decisions with the ball in his hands, well weighted short passing I50 assisting a number of scores and good evasiveness. He probably hasn’t impressed to the degree expected early this season, but his late form has been good and there’s no reason to suggest he won’t be amongst the better players overall in this year’s U18 championships and another Larke medal contender.
Stats: 11K 7H 3M 7I50 1FF 1FA 0.1
Anthony Collica – played through the midfield and off HFF. Showed ability to link up well and gain big territory with his genuinely line-breaking pace, clean hands and ball use. Like Cripps probably won’t be given a significant role, but will likely impress in glimpses, particularly with his pace.
Stats: 7K 10H 2M 1T 3I50 1FF 1FA 0.2
Chris Luff – played in a key defensive role primarily at FB. TBH there wasn’t a lot of work for him nor was his opponent much cop, but his overall game was good. He started to find a bit of the ball late and was the leading possession winner in the last and generally used it OK. I’m unsure how he’ll go at this year U18 championships – he should be able to compete well with most the tall marking forwards that don’t have much athleticism, but the quicker leading players would give him trouble I think, as he’s good body on body and competes aerially, but isn’t a standout athlete.
Stats: 11K 6H 5M 2T 1I50 1FF 1FA
Nat Fyfe – looked to be playing of a flank (HFF and HBF?) and on the wing. Particularly stood out playing on the left HFF, with his left foot delivery I50 in the last – creating and setting up a number of scoring opportunities – and also showing good evasion. Looks like the type that is capable of producing some impressive bursts and catch the eye a few times during the championships.
Stats: 7K 9H 2M 1T 4I50 1FF 1FA
Nicholas Winmar – played mainly off a wing – seemed like he spent a lot of time on the bench. Did a few very impressive things - breaking from stoppage at pace and piercing through the corridor in Q2 and hitting up the CHF target and kicking a long running goal from the wing to 50 out in Q4. Certainly one to watch – will probably play more in bursts - but if he can put it altogether during the championships, he could be one of the most eye-catching players.
Stats: 9K 4H 3M 2T 4I50 1.0
Haydn Busher – played at CHB. Solid figure that works harrd both in defence and offense, but seems to be lacking in the pace, agility and height (for KPP) department. I think he may struggle on playing on CHF that are quick on the lead.
Stats: 7K 6H 3M 1T 2FF
Joel Houghton – played primarily at FF. Tall and has aerial presence – provided a good marking target I50 and kicked 3 goals 2. It’ll be between him and Daly for the FF spot – Daly kicked a bagful in the combined youth squad vs WA U16s, but Houghton did the job in this game - so he should be ahead.
Stats: 8K 5H 4M 1I50 1FF 3.2
Clint Garlett – played in the midfield (primarily) and off HFF. Didn’t find a lot of the footy, but chased and provided good defensive pressure with 8 tackles. Good evasive skills, but has an unrefined figure and looks to lack some genuine zip. Has been in very good form in the colts, but unsure where he is in the midfield pecking order - I see more value using him off HFF, with less midfield rotations.
Stats: 5K 7H 3M 8T
Blayne Wilson – played in defence (BP?). Was solid without standing out – his defensive efforts were good and he used the ball soundly. Seems capable of filling a versatile role in defence in the U18 championships on the opposition small, medium or 3rd tall forwards.
Stats: 5K 7H 4M 5T 1I50
Luke Foster – played as a medium forward I50. He worked hard - presented well as a leading target, provided good physical presence and his defensive pressure was very good. Someone mentioned he went of with an injury late in the game – if he’s fit he should provided a very handy secondary option as a forward who can chip in with a couple of goals per game and provided physical and defensive pressure on the oppositions defenders.
Stats: 4K 7H 3M 4T 2HO 1FA 3.0
Aaron Elari – played in the midfield without much TOG afforded. Attacks the ball hard and is useful in traffic, but very small. Would think he’d be on the edge of selection, with a lot of the WA U18 smalls showing a lot more and having another medium-tall for balance.
Stats: 6K 5H 1M 1FF
Dean Beswick – played off HBF. Toiled hard in defence laying 8 tackles. Not a big ball winner, but looks like he could be a solid medium unfashionable, ‘no-nonsense’ HBF/BP/tagging type during the championships.
Stats: 3K 7H 4M 7T 1FF
Josh Donaldson – rotated in the ruck with Hayward. Although he’s too short too ruck at AFL, he has a big vertical leap and good reach, and provided good 2nd good efforts around the contest. Unsure if he can be competitive against other U18 rucks - needs to show proficiency in key position and/or flank roles IMO.
Stats: 5K 4H 3M 3T 10HO 2I50 1FF
Jack Darling – played at CHB and looked like he spent some time on ball in the last, but didn’t get significant opportunity. As usual a produced a blue collared effort. Clearly a natural key forward (CHF especially) when I’ve seen him there, but it looks seems he’s trying to develop more versatility into his game this year (was also playing CHB in the AIS/Peel game) – if that’s the case may not have the championships to match his reputation.
Stats: 4K 2H 5T 3HO 1I50 1FF
Dylan Hayward – rotated in the ruck with Donaldson. Opposition rucks were weak, but fed the midfielders on a plate with his taps. Good ruck height and strong bodied, Unfortunately unmobile, unathletic and offers close to nothing around the ground. I think the more mobile rucks have the potential to really expose him in that regard.
Stats: 2K 1H 3T 17HO 1FF 1FA
KPD – Luff (FB), Busher (CHB), Darling (CHB), Houghton (FB/CHB), Kickett (CHB), Morabito (CHB), Adams (CHB)
Not as much quality as 2007, but definitely better than last year. Luff and Busher look to be the most likely starting options with the others able to rotate through to give them rests or different roles.
Small/medium defenders – Sheppard (medium HBF/BP), Wilson (medium HBF/BP), Beswick (medium HBF/BP), Duncan (medium HBF), Cripps (medium HBF), Lucas (medium HBF), Winmar (medium HBF), Morabito (tall HBF), Monaco (tall HBF)
More than enough options to rotate through the roles – Beswick and Wilson the main stoppers, the others in rebounding roles.
Midfielders – Morabito (tall utility), Duncan (medium utility), Lucas (tall out), Sheppard (medium out), Fyfe (medium out), Matera (small out), Winmar (tall out), Kickett (tall out), Colyer (small inside/out), Swallow (medium inside/out), Cripps (medium inside/out), Collica (small inside/out), Hutchings (medium inside), Garlett (small inside), Elari (small inside), Mason (tall inside), Monaco (tall utility)
Huge stock of midfielders in the rotation including a good mix of small/medium/tall and plenty of pace, quality disposers and goal kickers - will be very hard to stop.
Small/medium forwards – Lucas (medium HFF), Fyfe (medium HFF), Garlett (small HFF/FP), Colyer (small HFF/FP), Matera (small HFF/FP), Foster (medium FP), Collica (small HFF), Duncan (medium HFF), Winmar (tall HFF), Elari (small HFF), Morabito (tall HFF), Mason (tall HFF)
Similarly a huge amount of options and players of all heights and enough versatility amongst them to fill all roles.
Ruck – Hayward, Donaldson, Pocklington, Kickett
Only standout weakness - lack of quality options here – have been spoilt in previous years 1st round prospects have shouldered the ruck with Naitanui (2007 and 2008), Leuenberger (2006) and Ryder/Clark? (2005). Hayward and Pocklington both have good height and well developed bodies, while Donaldson, Kickett are shorter (low 190’s), more mobile types – particularly Kickett.
KPF –Darling (CHF/FF), Houghton (FF/CHF), Daly (FF), Busher (CHF), Brown (CHF/FF)
Very good stock of tall forwards for WA standards, certainly much better than in previous years. Darling and Houghton will probably be the starting 2, with Busher able to rotate through if needed. Daly and Brown on the edge of selection.
My Best XXII:
B: Beswick, Luff, Wilson
HB: Cripps, Busher, Shepheard
C: Duncan, Colyer, Morabito
HF: Garlett, Darling, Lucas
F: Matera, Houghton, Foster
R: Pocklington, Swallow, Hutchings
I/C: Hayward, Winmar, Collica, Kickett
EMG from: Fyfe, Daly, Brown, Pocklington, Adams, Monaco, Elari, Mason, Fasolo...
No genuine stars in the class of Naitanui, Yarran or Rich class of last year (although Lucas, Morabito and Sheppard are all very good players), but certainly a far deeper squad than last year with the second and third tier much improved and IMO a better structured and far superior team overall.