AFL Draft Wrap: Sharp rising as a leading rebounding defender

Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wraps, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month and as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.


Player Focus

Enhancing his first-round chances, Jeremy Sharp was one of the most influential in Western Australia's second game of the Under-18 Championships. While South Australia were victorious, the drive generated by Sharp was a highlight.

Containing a full bag of tricks, Sharp displayed agility and evasion to avoid would-be tacklers, provided drive with his run and carry, placed the ball out in front of his targets to lead onto, displayed the vision and precision kicking to hit meaningful long targets by foot in the corridor and slotted a booming 60m goal on the move.

Sharp's hurt factor with ball in hand is not dissimilar to Adelaide defender Brodie Smith, with a similar capacity when left unchecked to break games open with the offensive drive he generates.

The 2018 Under-18 All-Australian produced 19 disposals and five marks.

To complete Sharp's game, he would benefit from developing as a contested ball-winner as he presently finds most of his ball on the outside. He would further benefit from developing the capacity to push through the midfield and from taking more intercept marks.

Under-18 Championships

South Australia vs. Western Australia

South Australia

Tackling and pressuring opponents into mistakes, Dylan Stephens stood out with his commitment defensively without the ball. The potential first-round choice managed 23 disposals, nine contested possessions and six tackles.

Taking the majority of South Australia's kickouts, hitting targets reliably and providing a physical presence around the ground Will Gould secured 21 disposals and nine rebound 50s. The frequent encouragement shown for teammates including pushing up the ground to congratulate a teammate on a goal suggest leadership potential from the potential first-round choice.

Displaying composure with ball in hand and moving the ball on quickly, potential Adelaide father-son choice Luke Edwards was one of South Australia's standouts. The underager managed 20 disposals and five marks.

With the play of the day, Harry Schoenberg tapped the ball out of congestion to himself inside 50, picked the ball up on the move at speed and snapped the ball from the boundary 40m from goal with a miraculous finish. His ball winning and burst of speed throughout the match were highlights. The talented ball-winner collected 20 disposals, 13 contested possessions and five tackles.

Excelling in defence with the way he read the ball in flight early, taking intercept and one-on-one marks, Dyson Hilder was arguably South Australia's best defender. Hilder displayed courage going back with the flight and was a threat to mark the ball each time it was in his area. He posted 15 disposals and seven marks.

Karl Finlay was the other marking threat for South Australia, taking intercept marks and performing strongly one-on-one. He gathered 16 disposals, six marks and five tackles.

Providing heavy forward pressure, displaying time and space with ball in hand, getting the ball moving quickly and looking dangerous at ground level every time the ball was in his area, Kysaiah Pickett was one of South Australia's most dangerous forward of centre. The speed with which he reacts to ground balls was most impressive while aerially he attacked the ball aggressively when the opportunity was there.

Providing a goalkicking threat, highly touted forward Cameron Taheny was the sole multiple goalkicker with two goals.

Western Australia

With his second successive 30+ disposal game of the Under-18 Championships, Deven Robertson is solidifying his position as one of this year's premier ball-winning midfielders. His first possession winning, tackling and winning the ball off the bounce were features of his game. The hard-nosed midfielder amassed 32 disposals, 13 contested possessions, eight tackles and five inside 50s.

Sharing the midfield spotlight with Robertson, Riley Garcia may have been Western Australia's most influential. He won first possession at stoppages, won the ball at speed, provided run and was effective by foot. The prolific ball-winner managed 28 disposals, 15 contested possessions, eight clearances, six inside 50s and one goal.

Taking intercept and one-on-one marks in defence, Trent Rivers was again important in Western Australia's back half after a strong first round. Beyond his intercepting and one-on-one capabilities, Rivers has excellent evasion with ball in hand and uses the ball effectively. The promising defender secured 22 disposals and six marks.

Providing a marking threat on the lead and reading the ball in flight earlier than opposition defenders, Liam Henry was one of Western Australia's best forwards. Placing his kicks nicely for teammates to lead onto, executing while under pressure, moving the ball on quickly, picking the ball up cleanly off the bounce and showing evasion and composure with ball in hand, Henry continued his strong vein of form. The talented forward produced 19 disposals, eight marks and three score assists.

Getting on top through the ruck, Luke Jackson gave his midfielders first use with his tap work directed to their advantage. He was too strong body-on-body and won his own ball. A further positive sign was his flying intercept mark on wing where he jumped and fully extended his arms up to the highest point, attacking the ball aggressively in flight. The highly touted ruckman managed 14 disposals, 35 hitouts and five clearances.

Putting on a clinic finding targets in the corridor by foot, it was the kicking and vision of Trey Ruscoe that on numerous occasions opened up the game. He appears to have a good all-around game with his intercepting capabilities, work at ground level and one-on-one in defence was sound.

NAB League

A bye round for NAB League and with Vic Metro and Vic Country having already played their round two match a fortnight ago.

NEAFL

Playing a pivotal role in Gold Coast's surprise win against Southport, goalkicking forward Joshua Gore produced four goals.