Bout Report: Jamming at the Fringes: ARRG Cannon Belles vs GRG Maiden Grrders 6 Aug 2011

In order to let more people know about the magic that is Roller Derby, Auld Reekie Roller Girls have worked with the Edinburgh Fringe to offer two bouts under the Fringe banner this year.
The first of these was a rematch between ARRG's B Team, the Cannon Belles and Glasgow's equivalent, the Maiden Grrders. Around a year ago, when the two teams last faced each other, the Maiden Grrders were triumphant. This time, with new skaters on both teams, would ARRG manage to reclaim Edinburgh's honour?

(The second Fringe bout is on the 20th of August, and features the Auld Reekie Roller Girls Twisted Thistles vs Stuttgart Valley's finest. There's still time to book tickets, so don't miss out!)

Every bout starts with a skateout (it's in the rules!), and this was no different:

Period 1

GRG's Fightin' Torque starts the bout
in the worst possible way.
If the Maiden Grrders wanted to replay their performance last year, then a good opening jam would set them in good stead for the bout. That wasn't what happened, GRG Jammer Fightin' Torque (531) getting herself sent off in the process of leaving the pack first, handing ARRG's Kaos Moss the lead, and a Power Jam first thing in the game! Despite their best efforts, the Grrders couldn't stop the Belles picking up 15 points by the time Torque returned to the field.

Things continued in a bad way for the away team for the next 5 jams, almost one-third of the first period! Perhaps the Meadowbank's floor was slippier than they were used to (something which previously caused them problems away against Stuttgart Valley), but in the second jam, GRG's Sykes (360°) managed to hand over another Power Jam to the home team for track cutting (only to have ARRG's Skinn'er Alive (85) hand the power jam back to GRG for track cutting herself... and Sykes get herself sent back off soon after*).
In the third jam, continuing with Sykes still in the sin-bin, ARRG newbie Sharkée (273) proved herself worthy of the team by picking up another 14 points before Sykes returned to the track...
Can you believe this is Sharkée's first bout?

...all this trend leading to the Maiden Grrders taking their first Time-Out of the bout, to discuss how to stop themselves from haemorrhaging points so rapidly.
Venus Velocity (obscured) and Jackash hold the back of the pack.
Whatever they'd discussed, it was a more aggressively defensive GRG pack that returned in the 4th jam, which began with a lot of falls on both sides. While ARRG's Queenie Ville (1) managed to attain lead jammer, GRG's Mazzy Chaos (R10T) blocked her down to the track on her scoring pass, limiting the loss to a more acceptable 3 points.
Similarly, while Kaos Moss managed to get lead jammer in the 5th jam, Grrders captain Venus Velocity (666) and vice Jackash (911) proved impossible to pass for score, limiting her to a single point.

Unfortunately for the Grrders, it all went wrong again in jam 6, ARRG's Debris Harry (83) handily passing the pack, while GRG's Peggy Su-icide proved unable to escape the strong Belle's blocking team of vice Crotch Lightning (T10) and Shootin' Annie (.45). Debris picked up a grand slam before Peggy finally won through, with the points total after 6 jams finally standing:

51 ARRG : 0 GRG

Danger Mouth takes exception to Torque trying to pass her.
Only now, with nearing half of the first period gone, did the Maiden Grrders catch a break. At the very start of the 7th jam, Skinn'er Alive collected enough penalties to get herself sent to the sin-bin, handing Fightin' Torque the first full power jam for GRG. The Belles didn't make it easy for the GRG jammer, but in the end, though, Torque fought though, smiling, to 14 points.

Next jam, GRG's Jess E Ska (31) did almost as well without a power jam to help her, Venus Velocity , Mazzy Chaos and Tarcenic and Old Laces (41) proving enough to stop ARRG's Crotch Lightning from escaping the pack too quickly. Tarce even found the time to help Jess through the pack as well...

This time it was a shaken Auld Reekie who called a time-out, amid chanting from the GRG end of the audience.

Mazzy Chaos and Lola Bruises sacrifice themselves
for the greater good.
When play resumed, it was terrifying ARRG newbie Sharkée who knocked the fight back out of the Grrders again, outpacing Fightin' Torque through the pack to 4 points gain.

With their momentum slowing, the tenth jam completed the reverse for GRG, jammer Peggy Su-icide handing ARRG yet another Power Jam (possibly for her involvement in a messy block with ARRG's Danger Mouth (55) ). Kaos Moss knew what to do with the situation, and despite the best efforts of Mazzy Chaos and Lola Bruises (96), she increased the Belles' lead by another 10 points before the power jam ended.

The eleventh and twelfth jams saw a slight wrinkle in the home team's dominance, Skinn'er Alive exiting the pack first, but not lead jammer (due to track cutting), letting GRG's Jess E Ska call the jam on her exit; and then ARRG's Sharkée showing her first hint of mortality, failing to pass Venus Velocity and Mazzy Chaos' wall on her scoring pass.
With little time left in the period, the score now stood at:

69 ARRG : 27 GRG

The Maiden Grrders had already shown they were capable of great things earlier in the period; with ARRG faltering again, could they repeat the performance?
Jess E Ska shows how you pass Queenie Ville (pivot)

Apparently, yes! In the 13th jam of the bout, Peggy Su-icide effortlessly threaded through the centre of the pack, while Debris Harry found GRG's Bashin' Berserker (83) and Coco Pox (76) almost impossible to pass at the front. The ARRG jammer finally won through, only to be sent to the sin-bin for track cutting, throwing a power jam situation GRG's way. Unfortunately for the away team, Peggy had also been having a terrible time passing the ARRG blockers on her scoring pass, only managing when 2 of them ended up in the sin-bin along with their jammer... just in time for the end of the jam.

This did mean that the 14th jam started with Debris Harry still in the sin-bin, and the Grrders took the knee to maximise jammer Jess E Ska's scoring time. Winning past ARRG pivot Queenie Ville (1) for lead jammer, Jess was on track for a big score, and team mates Venus Velocity and Lola Bruises helped things along, keeping the ARRG jammer unable to score until the end of the jam.

Keeping the momentum going, and with only enough time for 2 jams left, Fightin' Torque fought her way through to lead jammer (despite being blocked into the sin-bin bench by Crotch Lightning (T10) ), in a power-jam situation thanks to Skinn'er Alive getting herself sent off. Despite aggressive blocking from Queenie Ville and Danger Mouth (the latter earning a trip to the sin-bin), Torque picked up another 9 points for the away team before the ARRG jammer returned to the track.

And now, it was time for the final jam of the period. After slow start to allow Sykes out of the sin-bin, Peggy Su-icide looked like continuing the last-minute GRG fight-back, gaining lead jammer and a comfortable lead on ARRG's Kaos Moss. Her scoring pass was another matter, ARRG's Miss Collie Check knocking her to the ground right at the start (at roughly the time Kaos Moss was completing her initial pass), setting the tone for the next 20 seconds ... which was roughly as long as it took the ARRG jammer to circle all the way around the pack and complete her scoring pass effortlessly. Getting up from the track again, Peggy called the jam to limit the damage, but too too late.
Going into half-time, the score had slipped back to

73 ARRG : 50 GRG

Half-time provided a chance for the audience to go and sample the ARRG Vendor Village, featuring (along with the traditional t-shirts and bake sale) the chance to win a cake by guessing its weight. All proceeds from the cake guessing feature went to Team Scotland's funds to send them to the Roller Derby World Cup in December.

Period 2

From the first seconds of the second period, you'd have thought that we were at the start of the first period again, ARRG jammer Kaos Moss exiting the pack quickly (although without lead jammer), whilst leaving Fightin' Torque trapped between blockers Danger Mouth and Queenie Ville. Torque also failed to get lead jammer, despite help from Jackash, so the jam ran to the full time, both jammers picking up a single pass's worth of points.

Danger Mouth and Sunny Sheeba: Blockers extraordinaré!
That was obviously just a practise for the second jam of the period, where everything went perfectly for the home team; Skinn'er Alive completing multiple grand slam passes whilst Danger Mouth and Queenie Ville kept GRG's Jess E Ska safely locked up in the pack. 10 more points to ARRG, although at the cost of several blockers sent to the sin-bin.

Keen to capitalise on a numbers advantage in the pack, the Maiden Grrders took a knee into jam 3.

Even ARRG's Sharkée couldn't pass a pack this heavily weighted against her, and her efforts got her sent to the sin-bin for track cutting. Sykes, meanwhile, jamming, had already gained lead jammer status and began to rack up the points in the power jam she'd been handed.

This is not a position Danger Mouth finds herself in often.
Once the pack returned to a more even weighting, it was Sykes' turn to get herself sent off (in a repeat of last period) for back-blocking against troublesome ARRG blocker Sunny Sheeba (33). With  Sharkée released back onto the track, ARRG picked up a couple of points before the jam ended, with Sykes still in the box.

Taking the knee into the remaining power jam time in the 4th, Queenie Ville jammed up a nice scoring pass before Sykes reentered play and she called it (from the floor, after a heavy shoulder-and-hip block from Venus Velocity).
4 Jams in, the score now stood at:

93 ARRG : 66 GRG

the away team's points disadvantage starting to widen again.

Mazzy Chaos attempts to whip Torque to victory.
The Grrders started the next bout slowly, splitting the ARRG blockers in two with a strong wall. As soon as the jammers were released, the GRG wall took to the inside track, trapping the Belles' Kaos Moss and opening up the outside line for Fightin' Torque to head along to the front of the pack. Kaos picked up what looked like a back-block major almost immediately, handing a power jam to Torque. As before, just facing a power jam didn't make it easy to score against the impressive ARRG pack, with Torque being made to fight for her scoring pass through a pretty fast pack. Nevertheless, she picked up a single grand slam before the ARRG jammer returned to the track and forced her to call it.

Obviously keen to keep the momentum up, the GRG opened the sixth jam on the knee, allowing jammer Peggy Su-icide to zip through the inside line to take lead jammer almost as soon as was possible. ARRG's Miss Collie Check wasn't far behind, however, having taken the slightly longer outside path with a similar lack of opposition, and she quickly outpaced the GRG jammer, forcing her to call it with no score for either side.

Determined to continue to press (especially with terrifying ARRG blocker Danger Mouth safely in the sin-bin), the Grrders took a knee into the seventh jam as well, Sykes eventually winning past determined positional blocking from captain Lilo & Stitches and pivot Miss Collie Check to exit the pack ahead of the Belles' Sharkée... but without lead jammer status due to her final pass being unclean. Fighting through the GRG front line, Sharkée did gain lead jammer, but didn't call the jam until Sykes had managed to pick up a single point.
Almost half-way through the second period, the scores now stood at:

93 ARRG : 72 GRG

With the scores just a good power-jam apart, the bout looked increasingly unsafe for the Cannon Belles.
Yes, it's Danger Mouth being impassible, again.
The Belles knew it, too, taking a distinctly defensive approach to the next jam, Queenie Villie and Sonny Sheeba proving an almost impassible rear wall against the Grrders' Fighting Torque, whilst their Skinn'er Alive dodged past Venus Velocity at the front to take lead jammer. By the time the GRG jammer escaped the pack, with Lola Bruises help, Skinn'er Alive was completing her scoring pass. Naturally, Torque didn't get a chance to score before the jam was called.

Sharkée fairing rather better than Peggy Su-icide, for the moment
Jam 9 saw a very slow moving pack, with more internal jostling for position than forward momentum, prove difficult for both jammers - GRG's Peggy Su-icide faced with Shootin' Annie right at the back of the pack, and ARRG's Sharkée facing Coco Pox nearer the front. Despite both being blocked to the track, it was the ARRG jammer who escaped the back first, although with less of a lead than she would have liked. On the scoring pass, the GRG blockers proved an equally obdurate defence, eventually forcing her to call the jam from the centre of the pack. Still, those 4 points proved enough for ARRG to break the triple figure barrier, the score now, with 13 minutes in the bout, standing

101 ARRG : 72 GRG

And, after a time out for the home team, things just kept getting better for them.

Venus shows off her excellent positional blocking skills.
Jam 10 saw GRG's Fightin' Torque trapped at the back of the pack behind a strong ARRG wall along with Sykes. While ARRG's Kaos Moss was similarly unable to pass Venus Velocity at the head, the Belles' control of the pace let them put her out of play, handing their jammer the lead. Meanwhile, Torque managed to get herself sent off, still having been unable to pass the pack for the first time. With a power jam situation, the Belles made use again of their pack control, splitting the pack to free their jammer from determined blocking. Despite the ARRG domination, GRG's Jackash perhaps got a tiny piece of recompense, blocking Kaos Moss down to the track just before the jam ended.
Lilo & Stitches, Crotch Lightning and Miss Collie Check goating GRG's Scara-Leigh to split the pack
and free jammer Kaos Moss from the Maiden Grrders' wall.

Torque relieves some tension on Skinn'er Alive
Starting her jam from the sin-bin in the eleventh jam, Fightin' Torque had no chance of catching an unstoppable Skinn'er Alive dodging her way through a dispersed pack to lead jammer. Scoring once again proved a little trickier for the ARRG jammer, with Coco Pox and Mazzy Chaos proving an impassible wall at the front of the pack, although with Torque yet to really enter the rear of the pack past an equally impassible Queenie Ville, she had all the time in the world to do so. Torque being stuck at the back of the back proved an unexpected advantage on Skinn'er's second scoring pass, her blocking proving more effective than anyone else's at holding her rival jammer at bay.

The Cannon Belles continued to demonstrate their skill in the next jam, captain Lilo & Stitches and Wild Zero hanging around at the back of the pack to snag GRG jammer Peggy Su-icide whilst pivot Crotch Lighting knocked GRG's Venus Velocity off balance just long enough for Sharkée to sneak past her into lead jammer position. Peggy Su-icide wasn't far behind, however, and the ARRG jammer had only enough time to snag a couple of points before she had to call it.

Sykes, leading the final 8 minutes of GRG fight back...
With only 8 minutes left in the bout, the Maiden Grrders would have to start any last minute resurgence right now if they were to have a chance of pulling a win out of the bag.

Lucky for them, Jam 13 seemed to be just what they needed, although it didn't seem that way from the start; Miss Collie Cheque, jamming, slipping past the entirety of the GRG blockers without them even noticing, took lead jammer while the Grrders' Sykes was still fighting her way into the rear.

On the ARRG jammer's scoring pass, however, she picked up a trip to the sin-bin instead of passing Lola Bruises. With a power jam fairly late in the jam, the GRG pulled out all the stops to help Sykes pick up their much needed points. ARRG's Danger Mouth and Sonny Sheeba proved their usual effective selves, however, and the GRG only picked up a single grand slam pass before the jam ended.
Still, it was perhaps the spot of hope the away team needed...

...and for a moment in jam 14 it looked like it would be the start of a glorious fight back, Fightin' Torque slipping through on the inside line (from a GRG knee) only to be unceremoniously blocked to the floor by ARRG pivot Crotch Lightning. Before Torque had even regained her feet, ARRG's Skinn'er Alive had already shot through the pack to take lead jammer, with a tiny whip from Lilo & Stitches to send her on her way. As previously, the Maiden Grrders proved more effective at obstructing the Belles jammer on her scoring pass, with Venus Velocity, Tarcenic and Old Laces and Mazzy Chaos forming a fast moving wall at the front of the pack; however, with ARRG's Queenie Ville and Crotch Lightning proving equally impossible for Torque to pass at the rear, the home team still managed to pick up a good handful of points before the jam had to be called.

After an incredibly long official time-out, jam 15 began with the Cannon Belles severely outnumbered on track - only Queenie Ville and Danger Mouth versus a full set of Maiden Grrders. That didn't make it any easier for Peggy Su-icide to pass them, the two ARRG blockers taking it in turn to hip check her to the track, whilst Miss Collie Check found herself unable to pass Jackash, Venus Velocity and Lola Bruises' wall at the pack front. Winning her way through to lead jammer after Danger Mouth was knocked over, and Queenie Ville sent to the sin-bin (thus leaving only Lilo & Stitches, fresh from the sin-bin, to stop her), Peggy Su-icide took her chance to score points with both hands, managing a grand slam (Collie Check still trapped behind Lola Bruises), and a second pass after the ARRG jammer finally won free. 9 points more for the away team, but this return to form was a little too late for more than honour.

With the 16th jam also the final jam of the bout, the Maiden Grrders would have to score 42 points in a single jam to take the lead. All that was left was to put up a good show. With only two blockers in play from each team, there was every possibility of a high score for at least one team... and that team looked like being the Maiden Grrders, with jammer Jess E Ska jinking around Shootin' Annie and a downed Crotch Lighting (side-checked by Mazzy Chaos) to take lead jammer, with Kaos Moss walled out by Sykes and Mazzy.
Not the final score...
(as you can see from the deliberating zebras)
By the time the GRG jammer began her scoring pass, however, Queenie Ville and Lilo & Stitches had returned from the sin-bin, and they proceeded to make life very difficult for her indeed. Finally winning past some exceptional positional blocking by Venus Velocity (but only from the blocker ending up out of play once more), Kaos Moss eventually forced the jam to be called, leaving the final score (after some extensive deliberation):

126 ARRG : 91 GRG

Conclusions & Awards

All in all, this was a closely-matched bout between two excellent teams. The final point difference in the scores was less than the massive lead gained by the Cannon Belles in the first third of the first period, where the Maiden Grrders seemed to have trouble with the track surface, so the rest of the bout was actually pretty closely matched. ARRG, in particular, seem to have picked up some extremely effective new talent, with  Sharkée a particularly striking performer (especially for her first bout!).

After the bout, the group photo:

and the awards:
For Best Jammer:
GRG's Jess E Ska 
ARRG's Miss Collie Check

For Best Take-Out
GRG's Venus Velocity (perhaps for taking out a ref spectacularly? :D)
ARRG's Danger Mouth (well, she did so many of them...)

For Most Feared
GRG's Lola Bruises
ARRG's Shootin' Annie

For Sin-Bin Queen
GRG's Sykes (mostly when jamming)
ARRG's Queenie Ville

and, For MVP
GRG's Fightin' Torque
ARRG's Lilo & Stitches
Belles' Captain Lilo & Stitches, happy MVP awardee.Grrders' Fightin' Torque, incredulous MVP awardee.

* A point of order here, as the second time Sykes was sent off, Skinn'er Alive was sent back on immediately, which shouldn't have happened unless she really had served her full time in the sin-bin at that point.

Notes and Acknowledgements.
Thanks to the Auld Reekie Roller Girls and Glasgow Roller Girls for an excellent game.
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, and to announcers Helliverence and Fay Bentos.
Also, thanks to ARRG's Crazylegs for keeping up the tradition of Maul Flanders in extremely rapid, detailed bout tweeting.

The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with the kit lens, and no flash. A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at:
YouTube Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC10BB8D9787F62E5
Picasa/Google Photos album: https://picasaweb.google.com/102032801144714237554/AuldReekieRollerGirlsCannonBellesVsGlasgowRollerGirlsMaidenGrrders6August2011?authuser=0&feat=directlink(Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook)

This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author. You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that.

As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.

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