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The new team in town

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American-style razzle-dazzle, top-flight athleticism and a crowd that wouldn’t disgrace a lower-rung SANFL side marked the dramatic debut of Adelaide’s newest sporting franchise.

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Adelaide Phoenix romped to a convincing win over the Brisbane Blaze last Saturday night at City Mazda Stadium, as the newly-restructured Ladies Gridiron League (LGL) kicked off with a bang in SA, more than three years and a multitude of teething issues since the competition was initially envisioned in March 2012.

The league rose from the ashes of the Legends Football League, known colloquially as ‘lingerie football’, whose organisers pulled the pin on the eve of its inaugural season last year.

The LGL severed all formal ties and, at the request of players, ditched the contentious uniforms in favour of bike pants and crop tops, to highlight sporting prowess over voyeurism.

The league began with the avowed intention of bringing American Football to the forefront of Women’s Sport in Australia.

The six-team league sells itself is an exclusively-run, invite only competition with a focus on “professionalism, athleticism and fun” but, after the typical American style razzmatazz pre-game, what was quickly noted was the commitment of the sides at battle.

The second incarnation of the Adelaide side still boasts nine members of the original LFL squad and three of the coaching staff.

Resplendent in their black and red uniform, the Phoenix dominated their inaugural match in front of a solid crowd of more than 1000, comfortably comparable with some bottom-end SANFL games this season.

Sasha Rae 2A

Sasha Rae celebrates. Photo: Peter Argent.

In control from the outset, over the 40-minute contest the Phoenix defeated Brisbane Blaze 48 to 8, and the match provided a number of big physical hits and creative plays, despite the one sided score-line.

New Phoenix star running-back Chelsea Farr showcased an impressive run from the first play by the hosts, scoring with her first touch and finishing with four tries, while quarterback Lisa Fyfe also had a telling impact with her vision and ability to use both running and throwing options at different times.

Deservingly, Farr claimed Adelaide’s first Most Valuable Player award of the LGL season, and was naturally excited with the first-up victory win after an extended lead-up.

“It’s the first game I’ve ever played, so I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

“I was very nervous coming into the game…I was a bit scared because we didn’t know what to expect as some of the Blaze players had come from a Gridiron background, but it was awesome.

“Playing in this game and scoring the four touchdowns was the best feeling ever…especially as we’ve worked so hard to get to where we are currently.

“We’ve trained and we’ve worked our butts off (but) it’s all worth it, we’ve just got to keep going now.”

calling the plays

The Phoenix call the plays. Photo: Peter Argent

Another of the many highlights on this Halloween evening was when Phoenix skipper Elisabetta Del Re caught a crisp 30-yard pass from Fyfe, a play they’ve practiced for almost two years.

Del Re admits that she felt the pressure to catch the pass.

“I actually lost the ball in the lights but managed to grab it,” Del Re said.

“That was an awesome win and the crowd were great.”

Lisa Fyfe 2

Lisa Fyfe. Photo: Peter Argent.

Having savoured their victory, the Phoenix are now focused on their next match, their first road trip against the West Coast Angels at NIB Stadium in Perth in two weeks time.

The Phoenix will play their next home match on January 9.

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