South Australian captain Jack Graham has steered his team to a strong 44-point win over the Allies in the opening game of the division one NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
Graham helped control the midfield battle for South Australia as it overcame a slow start to post the 15.11 (101) to 8.9 (57) victory at AAMI Stadium on Saturday in round one of the national carnival.
The powerful 183cm prospect gathered 29 disposals and eight clearances in a solid display as he continues to build into the season following an interrupted summer with a quad injury.
Half-forward Darcy Fogarty kicked four goals in an impressive effort for South Australia, while Jackson Lee gathered 23 touches and a goal.
Midfielder Jonty Scharenberg collected 20 disposals, Jake Pitman had 27 touches and ruckman Peter Ladhams showed his improvement with 32 hit-outs and 12 touches as he dominated the midfield battle.
The Allies struggled after starting well, with key midfielders Jack Bowes (nine touches and two goals) and Brad Scheer (11 disposals) quiet.
Kobe Mutch continued his strong season with 22 disposals and 11 tackles in a hard-working effort, while Greater Western Sydney academy prospect Harry Perryman played in the forward half and had 18 touches and a goal.
Perryman can play in a number of positions, and displayed his ability to kick on both feet around goal. Brisbane Lions academy prospect Jack Rolls was also solid off half-back with 17 disposals.
The Allies wasted their chances to skip ahead early in the contest, hitting the post three times in the opening term. Perryman started his day in busy fashion, but was wasteful in attack, kicking three behinds in the opening quarter.
Todd Marshall’s opening mark, snap and goal was impressive, but was countered by a sharp on-the-run shot from exciting South Australian small Kym Lebois helped his team draw within two points at the first change.
They took the lead after that, with a run of goals to Fogarty and Will Hayward pushing South Australia to a 17-point advantage at the main break.
The Allies’ run and drive was contained in the second term, but in exciting signs, bottom-ager Connor Ballenden chipped in with a clever goal and strong contested mark to show why recruiters already have him pegged as a player to watch next year.
The 200cm key forward isn’t eligible for the draft until 2017 but is tied to the Brisbane Lions’ academy.
South Australian small forward Tyson Stengle provided the highlight of the third term when he cleverly snapped a goal from the 50-metre arc in the pocket, which was his second major in a lively showing around goal.
When Stengle snapped truly again early in the last term he all but sealed the win for South Australia, which will host Western Australia next Sunday at AAMI Stadium.
The Allies have the bye in round two, but will be hoping for a better performance in round three after coming together as a team just days before their round-one meeting.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.3 7.7 10.11 15.11 (101)
ALLIES 2.5 4.8 5.9 8.9 (57)
South Australia: Fogarty 4, Stengle 3, Bedford 2, Hayward 2, Pitman, Lee, Lebois, Coleman-Jones
Allies: Bowes 2, Perryman, Fisher, Ballenden, Davis, Sproule, Marshall
South Australia: Graham, Fogarty, Stengle, Pitman, Lee, Ladhams
Allies: Perryman, Mutch, Rolls, Fisher, Williams