Contributed by: Troy Thompson
A big weekend of footy in Arizona on February 25th and 26th with six teams, Chandler Outlaws, ASU Sun Devils, LA/Orange County combine, Inland Empire, Nashville and San Diego taking part in the 9 a side tournament. Seven games were played on day one at the Tempe Sports Complex, with the top four teams advancing to the semi finals and final being played on Sunday. The Chandler Outlaws team taking out the 2006 tournament.
The ASU Sun Devils kicked off the tournament by defeating Nashville by 15 points. San Diego lost narrowly to the Chandler Outlaws early on Saturday, but regrouped with some reinforcements who arrived late to beat the Inland Empire team by around four goals in their later game. The IE team seemed deflated by their earlier thrashing at the hands of the Outlaws by 83 points. The OC/LA team were the first out of state team to win on the day defeating the Sun Devils by 27 points and backing it up later in the day with a win over the Nashville side by 31 points. In warm dry conditions and a solid surface on day one the LA/OC combine and San Diego advanced to play in the first semi while the local Arizona teams played in the other. Nashville and Inland Empire left to enjoy their Saturday night on the town, with no thoughts of Sunday.
Day two saw the use of a different ground at Benedict Park that was much sandier and more forgiving than the previous day’s surface. The LA/OC combine defeated the Lions after being three goals down early on, the final margin being 23 points. The Chandler Outlaws defeated the ASU Sun Devils by 32 points to advance to the Grand Final. A women’s match was held as the curtain raiser to the Grand final with the Hawks 5.7 37 defeating the Scorpions 1.3 9.
With the title on the line, early stages of the Grand Final match saw the locals try to physically intimidate the visitors, as is often the case in Grand Finals. Two of the Outlaws and one combine member were sent from the field for their indiscretions. After this incident the Outlaws had their score wiped when the combine called for a head count and the Outlaws living up to their name were found to have more than the allowed number on the field. Despite this and having another player sent from the field the local team were able to claw their way back and were clearly more match hardened than the Californians. The benefits of having played five rounds of footy already this year saw their stamina and run continue through the match while the visitors dropped away. The Outlaws home comfortably in the end 8.8 56 to 4.4 28.
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