The Allies fell to Western Australia by 25 points in the AFL Under-18 Championships on Saturday, but QBE Sydney Swans Academy head coach Jared Crouch is thrilled with the signs he saw.
The Swans Academy’s Sam Thorne, Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell, Luke Parks, Nick Brewer, Hamish Ellem and Sam Gaden all turned out for the Allies’ third match of the five-round competition, joining forces with the hottest talent from NSW, the ACT, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
And while the Allies lost 10.8 (68) to 5.13 (43) at Adelaide’s Alberton Oval, Crouch only had praise for the Swans Academy stars.
“Sam Thorne played across half-back, played on one of their really dangerous small forwards and was just outstanding with his defensive pressure and rebound,” Crouch told Swans Media.
“Hamish Ellem had three shots on goal and unfortunately kicked three behinds, but he was strong all day. Sam Gaden was outstanding in the ruck in the first half and then injured his elbow, and it actually changed the game. We didn’t really have a second ruckman, so Hamish and another kid had to go into the ruck, which affected our forward line. So Sam Gaden going down was a big out in the second half. He had played so well in the first half and it was his first game in the Championships.
“It was a tough encounter, but some of our Academy boys played some really good football.”
The Allies are now set for a clash with Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium on Friday, before steeling themselves for a test against South Australia at Marvel Stadium next Wednesday.
Crouch says the Championships present the Swans Academy youngsters an invaluable opportunity.
“It's a great opportunity for them. You get a feel of it in the NAB League, which we did earlier this year, but in the Championships you’ve got the best of the best at this age going head to head,” Crouch said.
“Our boys relish the opportunity to compete against these strong teams and prove that they are capable.”
Western Australia 1.0 3.2 7.6 10.8 (68)
Allies 3.4 3.8 3.11 5.13 (43)
Goals – Allies: Gore 2, Lucas, Peatling, Rosas