A host of this year's top AFL draft stars put their best foot forward in Saturday's clash against VFL outfit Coburg, with a key defender taking out best-afield honours in a side littered with midfield talent.

Sandringham Dragons defender Luke Trainor was among the best performers in the 27-point loss, showing off his intercepting and lockdown capabilities on the last line of the U18s Australian side.

The 194cm defender took four marks and was a clean ball move out of the backline for Tarryn Lockyer's team, recording 20 disposals.

The Academy's strong contingent of midfield talent was led by Brisbane father-son prospect Levi Ashcroft, who recorded a game-high 33 disposals to go with five clearances, five inside 50s and a goal.

Ashcroft flexed his intelligence and clean hands around the contest against senior opposition to further strengthen his prospects.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Luke Trainor of the AFL Academy in action during the 2024 AFL Academy match between the Marsh AFL National Academy Boys and Coburg Lions at Ikon Park on April 13, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Big-bodied onballer Josh Smillie looked to have no issue with matching up on VFL talent, with the Eastern Ranges star collecting 30 disposals, six tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s to have an impact across all three lines of the field.

Gold Coast academy talent Leonardo Lombard (), Oakleigh's Tom Gross (21 disposals, five marks, three clearances) and Jagga Smith (22 disposals, three marks, three clearances) were also notable in the loss.

Carlton father-son pairing Ben and Lucas Camporeale were also among the Academy's leading ball winners, with the former shifting between midfield and defence to manage 24 disposals, six tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds 50s for the afternoon.

His brother played mostly down back to offer some run and clean ball movement, ending the match with 25 disposals, seven marks and seven rebound 50s.

Sandringham's Taj Hotton, who was a late inclusion for the AFL Academy this week given the extent of setbacks to several draft stars, took his chance after some good form in the Talent League to boot two goals from his 16 disposals.

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Shepparton's Jack Whitlock was the Academy's only other multiple goalkicker, while Adelaide father-son Tyler Welsh and Northern Territory talent Ricky Mentha also contributed with a major each.

Welsh claimed an equal game-high seven marks as the spearhead in attack as he too threw his weight around against strong senior defenders. Welsh has started the 2024 SANFL season as part of the Crows' senior side amid his journey to joining Adelaide's AFL list later this year.

The AFL Academy will reunite later this month for a clash with VFL club Footscray in Melbourne.

Australia U18: 10.14.74

Australia U18: Hotton, Whitlock 2, Ashcroft, Langford, Lombard, Mentha, Welsh, Shanahan
Bella 4, D'Intinosante, Ernst, Serong 2, Brown, Dammersmith, Grant, Thomson, Weightman