21 February 2015
Newham Leisure Centre
There was a lot of excitement about this game throughout the league, as it was the first time our A-team had played in a tournament. We filled up a big fun-bus to London with the team, subs, bench crew and about 15 supporters, who were bolstered on our arrival in London by ex-BRD, now LRG skater Tess Robinson.
Our game was the second in a double header, so the Bristol players were able to watch some of the Brighton/Seaside bout before disappearing for warm-ups and secret preparations (apparently involving dragons) at half time. We had been warned that the floor of the venue, a painted concrete surface, was currently particularly slippery: it was evident when watching the start of the Brighton/Seaside game that some players were having trouble adapting to the floor.
Seaside defied predictions based on rankings to take an unexpected early lead with a 30 point advantage at half time, but Brighton were able to catch up and take the lead shortly after one of Seaside’s most effective blockers and their captain, Frocky Balboa, fouled out. Seaside had a roster of only 10 players, so this loss had a significant effect on their line ups, as players were now forced to play back-to-back jams. Brighton were now able to really pull away, and Seaside had to concede a further three foul-outs before the end of the game, with the final score standing at 253:175.
After a short break, it was time for Bristol Roller Derby versus London Rockin Rollers. Although these two teams had not played each other before, their respective B-teams played a closed bout a few weeks ago which allowed BRD to glean a little insight into the London league’s playing style. We had been particularly impressed by the LRR B-team’s strong offense and ability to clear a path on the in- or outside of the track for their jammer, and had focussed our training in the previous week on dealing with attacks like this. It turned out that this ability was also a strong point of their A-team, along with some very tough jammers.
The BRD A-team had recently gone through a re-draft, but this meant little change to the roster on the day, with the exception of Delta Strike, who played her first game with Bristol since going travelling and recovering from a shoulder injury. Recent transfer from Croydon, President Garfield, was not able to play in this bout, but will be a useful addition in future fixtures.
Bristol were going into this bout as definite underdogs – the predictions varied between a 93% and 94% chance of a win for LRR, with a predicted score differential of 2:1. This may have helped to lift some of the pressure on Bristol, as it meant we could simply play as well as possible without being overly focussed on winning the game.
The first two jams went very much our way, with Delta and Ophelia getting lead and “hitting and quitting” for a 3:10 score. The third jam saw LRR’s Beat Girl make the most of a power jam, bringing LRR into the lead with a 22:10 score.
LRR was running a rotation of three jammers: Beat Girl, Jack Attack and Rammit, versus BRD’s rotation of Delta Strike, Ophelia Pain, Lil’ Miss Bloodlust and Til Thrillster. None of these jammers had an easy time with defensive walls, except in a few cases where blockers reacted a little too slowly.
Bristol found themselves down to two blockers, who still managed to block Jack Attack effectively. This was the first of a few occasions in the first half where Bristol’s pack was depleted – it seemed to be less of a problem in the second half. Vile Shadow landed one of her big hits on Rammit, who just carried on! I’ve been on the receiving end of these hits in training and they are no fun…
Ophelia got lead in the next jam, but didn’t get to score much. Meanwhile, the BRD wall was doing a good job of repeatedly recycling Beat Girl – a tactic that we have not been using as much recently but that proved very useful in this game. The score was now 36:22 – a lead for LRR, but nothing decisive, yet. Next, Blood pushed through the LRR blockers to the very front of the pack, where she got knocked out of bounds, then recycled all the way back, giving Jack Attack the chance to get lead.
The next jam saw the jammers leaving the pack almost simultaneously, with Rammit gaining lead over Tils. Jammers left the pack on each other’s heels a few times throughout the game; this seemed to give an advantage to LRR, possibly as a result of regular specific speed training and familiarity with the venue’s slippery floor. In this case, Fiery Temper landed a big hit on Rammit as she entered the pack, which forced her to call off the jam as Tils caught up.
The following jam brought penalties for Gremilyn and EZ Roller, which meant that Delta could not make as much of her lead jammer status. The score now stood at 50:25.
Tils had a very successful jam, helped by targeted offense from Blizzard and effective defense on Beat Girl, scoring lots of points and bringing the differential right down. 64:53.
After a team time out and an official review, Jack Attack got lead jammer, and pulled off a very fancy scoring pass using a toe stop twirl on the inside line. Nice! Next, LRR lead again for Beat Girl, but Bristol were still scoring too. 78:61. The next 5 jams saw a streak of lead jammers for BRD, which helped to bring the score differential down to only 5 points: 80:75 with only a few minutes left in the first half! Delta was up to jam again but got sent off, which gave Rammit a chance to widen the gap again. The half finished 111:77 with LRR in the lead.
Delta started off the second half as jammer again, but she was plagued by two consecutive penalties. The packs seemed to be moving very fast now which was making it hard to keep solid walls together. Ophelia was hit and recycled until she had enough and tried a star pass to EZ-Roller, which was ruled illegal as she was slightly out of bounds at the time. After a bit of confusion, Blood was jamming again and got lead over Jack Attack. Jack chased her down but Blood was able to call it before Jack scored. The score was now 151:86.
Tils got lead over Rammit, but after Rammit managed to free herself of the defensive wall of Blizzard and Liv Fast, she chased down Tils, hit her out, and attempted an “eat the baby” move, sucking Tils back into the pack that she had already left. It didn’t quite work as planned, but neither jammer was able to score much.
Next jam had lots of penalties, with the pack consisting of only 5 blockers. Blizzard went for a big hit on Jack, but missed.
Another great jam from Tilly, helped by dedicated offense from Black Thorn, scored Bristol 10 points.
Blood wasn’t quite able to get lead over Rammit, but she was right at the front of the pack when Von Bitch floored her with a big hit, drawing “ooh”s from the crowd. 187:104 – Bristol had broken the 100-point mark.
A very fast jam next, with lead for Tils, but the Bristol defense were having trouble stopping Beat Girl – every blocker went in for an individual hit until Thorn finally got her out. Another high-scoring jam for Tils, score now at 194:117.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Delta got lead over Jack Attack again, who was held by the Bristol defense for well over a minute! Unfortunately, Delta then got sent off, which gave Jack the opportunity to score. LRR broke the 200-point mark at this point, 201:129.
Rammit got lead over Ophelia and scored easily thanks to a sweep from the outside. With only a few minutes left, LRR put on a new jammer, Rebel Rebel, against Blood. Both jammers were stuck behind walls for a good minute, with Blood eventually getting lead. Rebel Rebel passed the star to Obnoxious Li, but Blood called the jam quickly.
In a new tactic, Jack Attack used Deadly De Vito, their tiny but sturdy blocker, as an effective battering ram off the line and got lead over Tils.
Delta was able to score another 9 in the lead, with Rammit stuck in the pack looking for help from her blockers, which she got in the end in the form of an outside sweep. Score now 224:150. with one more jam to go. The Bristol supporters jumped to their feet and got even louder than before. Ophelia was able to get lead, and Blizz, EZ and Raven held Beat Girl back. Ophelia then went for a last-minute star pass to Thorn! Unfortunately Thorn got a penalty after scoring a few points, but the game was over now, anyway. The final score stood at 235:164 – much better than had been predicted for Bristol.
This was a loss that felt so much more like a win. Every player felt good about their performance, and the result put us on fourth place within Tier 2, as well as improving our standing in the UKRDA and European rankings. Our cheering squad, complete with glitter-covered banners, is reaching unexpected new heights!
Well-deserved awards went to Black Thorn (best blocker), Blizzard (MVP) and Til Thrillster (best jammer and crowd pleaser) for Bristol, and Jack Attack, Rebel Rebel and Betty Swollox for LRR.
We all stayed behind for the roller disco at the same venue, accompanied by several unsuspecting boyfriends! Unfortunately the roller disco was also the source of the one sour note of the day, when Danger Mum (A-team skater but not rostered on the day) fell badly and broke her wrist. After a quick response from the venue’s first aid team, she decided to come back to Bristol on the bus that evening and to get her wrist seen to in Bristol. We salute your bravery Danger!
– Power Kraut