(SYDNEY, Australia – Saturday, December 28, 2013) When a champion is corned, that is when they are at their most lethal and dangerous. LFL Australia’s No.1 ranked New South Wales for most of the off-season and coming into early parts of the season, were definitely on the ropes coming into Saturday night’s must-win scenario vs. Victoria in Penrith, Australia.

Despite the on the field issues on full display vs. Western Australia in Week 2, a number of off-the-field issues were also exposed with the biggest being internal issues between Head Coach Jason Gaffey and his two veterans Chloe Butler and US import Monique Gaxiola. These internal issues fueled a fire of destruction that led to New South Wales dropping to a No.3 ranking behind No.1 Western Australia and No.2 Victoria.

A loss by NSW would drop them to 1-2 and almost surely would eliminate them from contention for a Legends Cup bid, a win placed them in 1st place at 2-1. Prior to kickoff of Week 3, there was a sense of rallying in the NSW locker-room, this group of talented athletes and committed coaches were not ready to concede their season.

From the opening kickoff you could sense this was the old NSW club, swarming to the ball on the kickoff that Victoria’s Steph Davey ill-advisedly tried returning from the back of the end zone. That fatal mistake by Davey, forced Victoria’s offense to begin play from their own 1 yard line. Victoria’s poor play-calling and a swarming NSW defense resulted in the first points of the game being scored via a Safety as Monique Gaxiola & Co. tracked down Victoria running back Julz Parker to give NSW and early 2-0 lead.

After another defensive stop by NSW, the offense went to work orchestrating 6 play 35 yard drive as Quarterback Jacinda Barclay found a streaking Corban McGregor for a 10 yard touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. Victoria’s offense managed to move the ball but would self-implode as they reached the RedZone.

Barclay added another touchdown pass prior to Halftime, this time finding Quincy Hewitt on a 20 yard touchdown pass to take a 16-0 halftime lead, NSW would never look back. Tensions were high going into Halftime, not only between the two sets of players, but the head coaches as well as Victoria coach Brett Chambers felt NSW was being aggressive trying to intimidate his squad. Chambers thought he and NSW coach Jason Gaffey had an understanding prior to the game that each team would be on its best behavior.

However that message never made it to both sets of players as Victoria and NSW were both out for blood, what made it more of a rivalry was that now the two head coaches were also combative.

As the 3rd Quarter started, NSW once again moved the ball as they wished against a Victoria defense that was absent for most of the night. Barclay capped another NSW long 5 play 26 yard drive with a 2 yard touchdown run to extend NSW’s lead to 22-0. The now blowout, forced Victoria out of their normal offensive scheme of a Julz Parker run game, now they would have to air out and hope to play catch-up football. Victoria did finally manage a scoring drive with a 6 play 35 yard drive which ended with a Parker 4 yard touchdown run to make the score 22-6.

One of the biggest surprises of the night re-surfaced, Bonnie Gillespie who had a career game in the opener going for 181 yards but was shutdown versus Western Australia, re-appeared in this game scoring on a 5 yard run to give NSW a now commanding 30-6 lead. In place of Gillespie at starting Running Back was Waiata Hewitt who had a very respectable debut against a tough Maiden defense, Hewitt ended the night with 75 yards on 15 carries.

Will be interesting to see if Gillespie returns to her starting Running Back role, as she was ineffective as a Defensive End.

Defensively, it was the re-emergence of a talented bunch for NSW as Chloe Butler, Amanda Janes, Monique Gaxiola all had great nights, but the surprise break-through came from the youngest player on the field, 18yr old Bronte Zeiher who was in the face of this Maiden offense for most of the night ended up with an incredible 8 solo tackles en route to Game MVP honors.

4th Quarter scoring was split between both teams as Victoria’s Parker scored and Gillespie added another bringing the final score to 36-12.

As the game ended, a clear message was sent. Despite being up 36-12, NSW coach Jason Gaffey went for another score instead of taking a knee. That did not sit well with Victoria, especially coach Chapman as the two neared each other for the ceremonial end of game shaking of hands, Chapman launched his shoulder into Gaffey’s chest and sent a clear message of what can be expected for the January 11 rematch at AAMI Park in Melbourne. More than likely, the winner of that match will determine a bid for NSW or VIC in Legends Cup.

final stats
score 12 36
first downs 11 14
rushes-yards (NET) 24-115 24-133
passing yds (net) 37 105
Passes Att-Comp-Int 17-4-1 11-7-1
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 1-9 1-22
Interception Returns-Yards 1-0 1-15
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-17 2-5
Possession Time 16:57 15:03
Third-Down Conversions 5/9 5/6
Fourth-Down Conversions 1/3 0/0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2/4 4/6