Young guns set to light up MCG


Photo courtesy of AFL Media.

In what has recently become an annual tradition, the Australian Under 17s, comprised of bottom-age AFL AIS Academy players, are taking on the Allies – players from Division 2 states eligible for this year’s draft.

In this year’s AFL Grand Final curtain raiser between the Australian Under 17s and the Allies, it looks to be a great match. The amount of talent found in in these lineups are amazing considering that most of the players in this game are from non-traditional AFL states. The game will be built around the matchups in the midfield. Here for the Allies we see the names of Jacob Hopper, Callum Mills, Kieran Lovell, Matthew Kennedy and Ben Keays, players who are all in that top bracket of talent in this years draft. Although this strength of the Allies midfield is great,do not discount the likes of Western Australia’s Sam Petrevski-Seton and Sam Powell-Pepper, Vic Country’s Will Brodie, South Australia’s Jonty Scharenberg and Vic Metro’s Jordan Gallucci, who all lineup for the Under 17s. In the ruck we see arguably the second best ruckman this year, Matthew Flynn, go to battle with the supremely athletic Jeremy Goddard who has at time been playing lone ruck for Western Australia.

In the forward line for the Allies we see some significant fire power with Eastlake’s Harrison Himmelberg at CHF, Lauderdale’s Nick Dodge and Northern Territory small forward duo Daniel Rioli and Davin Ferreira playing as deep small forwards. Add athletic key position forwards Mabior Chol and Wylie Buzza and then NSW/ACT Half forwards Brydon Hodgson and Jock Cornell to that list and we could see a complete domination of this forward line if not shut down. Luckily for the Under 17s, they are blessed with defenders like Harrison Macreadie, Jarrod Berry and Josh Rotham who all have the ability to provide great rebound from defense and also lock down on their direct opponents. Combine that with small defenders Alex Witherden, Jack Rolls, Jack Graham and taller defenders like Tasmania’s Ben McGuiness and Vic Metro’s Jack Scrimshaw, we see a sturdy defense who can hold up the Allies forward line.

Up forward for the Under 17s we see plenty of key position players. East Fremantle’s Luke Strnadica will arguably play at full forward and create matchup problems for the Allies with his height and athleticism. Then a combination of Zach Sproule, Joshua Battle and Jarrod Korewha all play as that hard working center half forward who leads hard up at the footy and sets up the play for the deeper targets. Ben Ainsworth from the Gippsland Power also cannot be underestimated as a target up forward and young half forward Jy Simpkin who has done spectacular things for the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup. In the back half for the Allies, we see star prospect Eric Hipwood play back at strut his stuff on the big stage. Join him in the key posts are Murray’s Nick Coughlan, athletic halfback Lachlan Tiziani and Kenyan-born Reuben William. If the Under 17s forwards forget to defend, we could see their defense run a muck on the whole Under 17s team.

Star Power

For the Allies we see the names of Jacob Hopper, Callum Mills and Ben Keays come to mind when the word ‘star’ is mentioned. Jacob Hopper has been playing at the North Ballarat Rebels and plays as a tough contested midfielder who if needed, can play as a one out full forward like Dustin Martin and change the course of a game. Mills who has been injured for most of the year will play his fourth game for the year. Last year he was named in the Under 18 All Australian team and if he played this year there is no doubt he would have done the same this year. Brisbane academy prospect Ben Keays is a midfielder who is extremely smooth moving and has that touch of class that the Allies will need. He won the Queensland MVP award and also the Harrison Medal as the best player in Division 2.

In the Under 17s team it is hard to go past Sam Petrevski-Seton. This boy has teared up every championship he has played in and it is no surprise that he is tipped to be the number one pick next year. He is a class above everyone and should star on the big stage. Jacob Allison is another big name who should be in the discussion for the best player in the draft. He plays as a wingman/half forward and has close to the longest kick in the draft. He also marks well above his head and is the prototype for the modern midfielder. North Ballarat Rebel Jarrod Berry is another name to look out for. Berry has averaged the most disposals from a bottom ager in the under 18s and has a penetrating kick who can cut game open.

Key Matchups

Jeremy Goddard v Matthew Flynn

These two midfields are extremely talented and it is going to come down to who wins the ruck battle. Flynn has the runs on the board as a elite around the ground ruckman and would have been close to Gach Nyuon for that All Australian ruck spot. On the other hand, we see Goddard being the more dominant on the inside of the contest with his tackling pressure being up there with the best for a ruckman. The match will be decided on who gets the ball to their midfielders first and makes an impact around the ground.

Harrison Himmelberg v Harrison Macreadie

The Eastlake product Himmelberg has the runs on the board as that dominant key forward for the Allies but his party could be spoiled by a NSW/ACT teammate. Himmelberg is extremely athletic and will probably be taken in the first four round in this years draft. On the other end of the spectrum we see Macreadie who is just as athletic and matches up extremely well. If this matchup gets out of hand for either team we could see the result change dramatically.

Tough day for…

The whole Under 17s midfield, who are going to have to try their best to beat the star midfield that the Allies have put up on grand final day. Hopper being the contested beast he is, will best matchup on Sam Powell-Pepper. Mills should play against either Will Brodie or Jonty Scharenberg. These players must step up if the Under 17s are any chance of winning.

The Bottom Line

On grand final day we will see a great spectacle and we should be excited to see the very best of the best play each other. With so much talent in the lineup it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the boys playing in the AFL and have great careers.


Allies by 15 points

BOG: Jacob Hopper

Highest Goal Kicker: Luke Strnadica

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