Canberra Roller Derby League prides itself on its consistency: of community outreach; of hosting a fun event for the whole family; and most importantly, of excellent skating. The home season’s first double-header event on June 28 was no exception! The results from both games were a change from the precedent set by the past few seasons and promise an exhilarating season of sport to come! The #gored event, in support of the Heart Foundation, also saw the Happy Heart mascot promoting cardiac health and collecting donations. This is a cause important to the league, whose members value a healthy lifestyle!
The opening game saw the Surly Griffins, holders of the Wooden Spoon two years in a row, take on the Brindabelters, who placed third in 2012 and second in 2013. While the Griffins have routinely been a team with a deep bench of talent, in the past we haven’t seen them deliver on the scoreboard. Boasting a rotation of jammers and solid hitters, the Belters have enjoyed a steady rise in placement since holding the Wooden Spoon for two consecutive seasons in 2010 and 2011. On Saturday, both teams were raring to go and show they meant business for the 2014 season.
The Griffs’ tough, defensive packs were bolstered by the addition of Aunty Aggro, who had been recovering from injury for the latter half of last year and whose hard-hitting presence had been sorely missed by the team--although not by her opponents. Additionally coming to the Griffin bench is MaDamage, a transfer skater from Perth, who has meant business since she started skating with the league in January. In comparison, the Belters were low on players due to several injuries, requiring the loan of skaters Bubble O’Kill (Red Bellied Black Hearts), and the Black ‘n’ Blue Belles’ Isabelligerent and Fanta C. Lane. Glaring in her absence was fan favourite and Team Australia squad member Shaggle Frock, a double-threat jammer and blocker who frequently racks up points for the Belters.
The Griffins were fierce from the first whistle, working hard to dominate Belter jammers Freudian Slit, Pink Mist, Berry Bad, Kimodo Dragon, and Miss D. Meaner, all the while providing clear paths out against Belter defence for their own jammers Canuckles, Harlot O’Scara, and Rainbow Spite. The Griffins established an early lead with a glut of grand slams which they didn’t relinquish, gradually expanding the margin to 80-43 by half-time. In the second half the Belters tightened up their play, scoring more points with improved defence via some savvy blocking from Ova Bearing, Stone Jett, and Boudica. Nevertheless the Griffins’ defence, comprised of blockers such as AnneThrax, Aggro, Louiville Slugga and newest recruit MaDamage, proved impenetrable. The Griffs closed the game 140-91, and Aunty Aggro and Ova Bearing were each awarded Hellenic Club in the City MVP for their impressive on track effectiveness.
The second game was another that showcased the best kind of derby. Fast, aggressive, and competitive, the strong Red Bellied Black Hearts were pitted against standing two-term champions, the Black ‘n’ Blue Belles. The Black Hearts had previously beaten the Belles in the 2012 championships by 10 points, losing the title the following year by nine points, and placing third in 2013. Coming up against their rivals again, the Black Hearts unleashed an off-season’s worth of fury, proving they’ll be ones to watch.
The Black Hearts took swift advantage of a power jam against the Belles in the first jam, as Team Australia player ShortStop accrued a cut track penalty. Despite excellent blocking by the Belles, Black Heart jammers Bubble O’Kill, Lego Lass, Flyin’ Foxy, Fauna Cat, and Bambi von Smash’er (another Team Australia alumna) were able to extend the lead thanks to the effective offence/defence plays by their blockers in the pack: Roxie dieHart, Bohemeth Rhapsody, Kat A. Wall, and JaxHammer. Despite this, Belle jammers Mae Q. Sqwheel, Fanta C. Lane, Isabelligerent, Stace of Emergency, and Icy Red were all able to demonstrate their skating prowess, often pulling out crowd-pleasing footwork. Their efforts closed the margin to 88-60 by half-time, although the Black Hearts’ lead remained untoppled.
The Belles’ fight never flagged during the second half, but a skilful 21-point power jam to Bambi von Smash’er served to cement the lead for the Black Hearts. The Belles’ defence--headed by Kitten Kaboodle, Jam Pants, Rubi Doom, and Bible Basher--was ultimately compromised by blocker penalties, as a steady stream of players in blue headed to the penalty box. At one point only one Belles blocker was on the track! The Black Hearts were able to finish the game in their favour with a score of 190-132. Hellenic Club in the City MVP was awarded to Kat A. Wall (with a special mention to Bambi) and ShortStop.
This double-header guarantees an exciting season to follow. With strength and skill on display from all teams playing, the next games on August 16 (Belles v Belters, Griffs v Black Hearts) prove they can be anyone’s. As always, the spectators are set to be the true winners in CRDL’s seventh home season!