THERE was the power, the jump, the physicality and the athleticism. And that was just in the first quarter.
Jed Walter took only 25 minutes to stamp himself as a potential top-three pick at this year's national draft with a brilliant performance for the Allies in their 16-point win over South Australia on Sunday.
In the first game of this year's Under-18 Championships, it was Gold Coast's Academy forward who stole the show with a commanding effort in the Allies' strong 12.12 (84) to 11.2 (68) win at Thebarton Oval.
Walter, who is tied to the Suns at this year's draft, finished with 3.5 in attack as well as 17 disposals and nine marks. But that only told some of the story of the impressive 197cm talent's game, with his big mark in the opening quarter, brutish strength, run and bounce goal in the last term and several goal assists showing his all-round impact after being an All-Australian last season as a bottom-aged prospect.
The 17-year-old's first term set up the win for the Allies, with a group of talented likely first-round picks powering the victory.
Midfielder and potential top-10 selection Ryley Sanders was equally impactful, picking up 36 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles and two goals (both in the opening quarter) and showing his consistency translates to a higher level.
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Sanders has enjoyed a prolific season but saved his best game so far for the start of the carnival, while Tasmanian talent Colby McKercher (27 disposals, six clearances) was terrific throughout with his ball use and poise and is another player who is set to feature in the first handful of picks this year.
Suns Academy pair Ethan Read (18) showed some of his exciting movement for a ruckman and Jake Rogers was his usual busy self, while Caiden Cleary had 10 tackles with his 24 disposals. Versatile tall Connor O'Sullivan was effective in defence, while Greater Western Sydney Academy tall forward Charlie McCormack kicked three goals.
His third goal, at the start of the third term, put the Allies up by 49 points but South Australia responded with the next five goals to start their improved second half. Livewire forward Jack Delean was central to it, booting three goals in the third term and a fourth in the last quarter to show his craft around goal for his state. Key forward Liam Fawcett also hit the scoreboard with two late goals.
Kane McAuliffe had 17 disposals and Logan Evans had 16 in defence, while bottom-ager Sid Draper collected 23 disposals, six tackles and eight inside-50 entries from South Australia's midfield. Draper is the younger brother of Collingwood's Arlo, with the pair not related to Essendon ruckman Sam Draper.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.0 3.0 7.1 11.2 (68)
ALLIES 6.2 9.7 10.9 12.12 (84)
South Australia: Delean 4, Fawcett 2, Gladigau, Herbert, Holt, McShane, Moir
Allies: McCormack 3, Walter 3, Rider 2, Sanders 2, Gothard, Kirk