On Saturday August 16, Canberra Roller Derby League’s Round Two double-header of the home season provided fans with the action and fun they have come to love and expect AND it provided a taste of what is to come for the remainder of the season.
The first game of the evening saw the winners of the games in Round 1 meet: the Red Bellied Black Hearts and the Surly Griffins. The last time these two teams competed was in the play-off for third place in 2013’s grand final, where the Black Hearts came out on top and the Griffs were awarded the Wooden Spoon for their second consecutive season. After a strong start in June, both teams were eager to win and earn another step towards a grand final playoff, and so were pulling out all the stops for this game.
From the very beginning, gameplay was strategic and close. With several lead changes in the first 20 minutes, jammers worked hard to score against savvy and aggressive defence. For the Griffs Harlot O’Scara, Canuckles, and Rainbow Spite jammed hard and fast, and in red and black Fauna Cat, Bubbles O’Kill, Lego Lass and Bambi von Smash’er jammed their hearts out! Multiple power jams for both teams prevented either team from running away with all the points--with a tie 34 points with 12 minutes to go in the first half--but as the clock wound down the Griffs were establishing a solid, hard-fought lead. The conservative Griffin gameplay included “nickel-and-dimeing”: earning lead status for their jammer and having her call it off with a handful of points before the other jammer could score. By half-time the ladies in green were ahead 90-58.
The Black Hearts lashed out hard in the second half, continuing to utilise blockers like Bohemeth Rhapsody, Lady von Whack’n’Smack, and JaxHammer to deliver hard hits and trap jammers. The Black Hearts struggled to match the defensive efforts of Aunty Aggro, AnneThrax, and Madamage, who reset tirelessly upon jammers. The Hearts (never losing heart) had many excellent plays of their own, and the with the impending end of the bout worked hard to close that points gap. At the end of the last whistle, the Griffs had triumphed, with the final score 152 to the Griffins and 133 to the Black Hearts.
The second game was a rematch of 2013’s Grand Final, when the Black ‘n’ Blue Belles won as champions for their second year running, and (in a first for the team) the Brindabelters placed second. After the previous game against the Black Hearts ended a two-season winning streak for the Belles, they were hungry for a win but like any bout, it is a roll of the dice for both teams. After their loss to the Griffins in Round 1, there was a lot at stake for the Belters and they desperately needed to win this game to remain eligible to compete in the Grand Final in October.
Previously, the Belles’ wins have been ensured through relentless and disciplined blocker defense, and a small bench of agile and experienced jammers. Changes to the team roster this season has meant that the Belles are training up some newer jammers. Mae Q Sqwheel, Isabelligerent, Bible Basher, and 2013-draftee Icy Red all worked hard to put points on the board for the Belles. The Belters, meanwhile, were looking forward to playing with a 100% mountain girl squad--diminished numbers in the last game having demanded that they borrow three skaters from other CRDL teams.
As with the first game, the scoreline was tight from the get-go, with the lead alternating, and at one stage a tie of 35 points. The Belters' solid defense with minimal but effect offense secured lead for their jammers the majority of the time. This important strategic advantage saw jammers Berry Bad, Pink Mist, and Freudian Slit earning “grand slams” (a five point pass in which one jammer laps another, usually in the pack). Frequently trapped in the pack, Belles jammers responded cleverly by “passing the star” (giving the pivot blocker the jammer helmet cover, permitting her to score). At half-time the Belters were ahead 92-42.
The second half was marked by even more intensity from both teams--crowd favourite ShortStop even knocking herself and a referee out after missing a hit on a jammer! Kitten Kaboodle, Stace of Emergency and Prairie Scorn set up formidable walls, worked together to hit hard, and controlled packs, but their efforts were undermined by Belters blockers Shaggle Frock, Stone Jett, and Ova Bearing. Extending their lead to 135-74 with 15 minutes left, the Belters mixed up their jammer rotation as Miss D. Meaner, Sugar Plum Crazy, and Kimodo Dragon all took the star. After a final, exhausting 14-point jam by Kimodo Dragon, the Belters took the win 179-79.
(All photos courtesy of Canberra Roller Derby League photographer, Brett Sargeant, D-Eye Photography)