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What we learned: AFLW R1

AFLW R1: Team song x2 Our AFLW team belt out two versions of our team song after their great win against GWS.

What we learned from Adelaide's historic AFL Women's clash with Greater Western Sydney ...

AFLW is a winner

Some already knew, others were sceptical and the fair-minded were reserving judgment, but the response to the opening weekend of the inaugural AFL Women’s Competition was overwhelming. It started with 24,000 fans and a ‘lockout’ at Ikon Park on Friday night, and was followed up by two crowds nudging 10,000 on Saturday. Sunday's rain-soaked clash between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions pushed the attendance figure to over 50,00 for the four matches. This included in excess of 9,000 fans in drizzling rain at Thebarton Oval to witness Adelaide’s historic win over Greater Western Sydney. Then there was the TV audience – Carlton’s win over Collingwood attracted similar eyeballs in Melbourne to that of a men’s Friday night fixture. There’s always romance and excitement around a ‘first’, but the product on show in Round One coupled with the familiar atmosphere of the suburban grounds should be enough to keep people coming back.

They just love the footy

There were emotional scenes pre and post-game across the course of the weekend as the enormity of the occasion sunk in for the trailblazing players, their family, friends and everyone involved. There were hugs galore as the Crows players warmed up, and the unbridled joy on the faces of the girls as they ran out onto the ground was priceless. Several Crows fought back tears during post-game interviews while talking about the experience, and just how much it meant to them. Then there were the TWO renditions of the Adelaide Football Club song which could’ve been heard from South Road! The passion and enthusiasm of the female players over the past few days and in the lead-up to the competition has been infectious. It’s little wonder fans across the country have been inspired to join the ride.

The Crows are going to be fun to watch

After only one round of games it’s hard to know which two teams will be standing at the end, but regardless of results the Crows are going to be worth watching. Coach Bec Goddard encourages her players to use their speed, while also being “uncomfortable” to play against – and a fast and physical game is what we saw in soggy conditions at Thebby Oval. Factor in superstar Chelsea Randall, hard-at-it Erin Phillips, the explosive and long-kicking Kellie Gibson and firecracker Ebony Marinoff and the Crows women promise to provide plenty of excitement for their fans.

There’s a new sheriff in town

An old-school full forward with a booming and textbook kick, Sarah Perkins has all the markings of a fan favourite. Perkins isn’t a big possession winner, but her presence in forward 50m is significant. The Eastern Devils recruit, who was signed by Adelaide after being overlooked in the main draft, finished third in the VFL Women’s goalkicking last year and was named in the team of the year alongside AFLW marquee signings Mo Hope (Collingwood), Darcy Vescio (Carlton) and Katie Brennan (Western Bulldogs). Perkins only kicked the one goal on the weekend, but her strong marking and unexpected sidestep on the wing drew cheers from the crowd. Adelaide Brownlow Medallist and Fox Footy commentator Mark Ricciuto nicknamed the 23-year-old ‘Tex’.

“The impact Perko’s had on our list and her football IQ … I think she will become a crowd hero, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t know in which game, but it’ll happen.” – Coach Bec Goddard.

She got knocked down, but she got up again … and again

Two-time Olympian and WNBA Championship winner Erin Phillips received a rude re-introduction to football in her first official hit-out since the 2004 ‘Slowdown’. The GWS defenders made the forward earn every possession, conceding five free kicks to Phillips – two of which resulted in goals.

The 31-year-old was the victim of an old-fashion ‘clothesline’ in the third quarter, which drew an ‘Ooooooooh’ from the crowd and had everyone holding their breath. But true to form the fearless competitor regained her feet and even stepped forward to remonstrate with her opponent before going back and snapping the goal. Tough as nails. She is her father’s daughter.

“I probably ran in clumsily into a few arms myself, but I’m very thankful I just got a new mouthguard fitted this week because it came in handy!”Erin Phillips