Before the bout started, evidence seemed to favour the Bombers; their bout against the Leithals was a much closer loss than the lemon-and-grey Skatefasts attained. However, with both teams having learned from their losses, and the Skatefast Club playing Team Scotland jammer Blazin' Phoenix for her first bout this season, there was everything to play for.
|Double D'struction goes for another scoring pass as Blaze|
keeps Maulibu Barbie under control.
23 Cherry Bombers : 23 The Skatefast Club
The very next jam looked like giving the Bombers cause for more celebrations, with Skatefast's Blazin' Phoenix taking lead jammer ahead of Circuit Breaker (100) only to pick up penalties blocking against pivot VeloSidy (16) on her scoring pass, handing another power-jam to the women in red. The Bombers took good advantage, despite some effective teamwork from Skatefast's Skinn'er Alive (85) and Crazylegs (the only Skatefast blockers on track) with Circuit managing to pick up a solid scoring pass. With Apocalypse Cow (77) returning from the bench for Skatefast, the blocking got tougher, and a besieged Circuit eventually accumulated enough penalties for a trip to the sin-bin herself, moments after as Blaze was left it. With enough time on the clock for a couple of scoring passes for her own team, the Skatefast jammer, and Team Scotland skater, showed what she was made of, clearing the pack with an impressive leap on the inside corner, and taking 9 points as the whistle blew.
|Mo B Quick calls it, although Circuit isn't in a position to score...|
With Zillah and Sweet Sinner (99) proving equally matched on track in jam 10, things were looking very close for between the two contestants, with still 15 minutes to go.
Good control of the next 3 jams saw the Skatefast Club slowly start to pull away again, building up a 7 point lead with Mo B Quick and Blazin' Phoenix eking away at the score in tight races against the Bombers' Circuit Breaker and Zillah.
The 13th jam signalled the change of all that: Bronx Betty and Cherry Bombers' jammer Maulibu Barbie both forcing Skatefast's Sweet Sinner to cut track and pick up a trip to the penalty box during her initial pass. Repeated recycling of the Bombers jammer by Skatefast VC Crotch Lightning (T10) as she hit strong anchored walls on every pass helped to keep the scoring down a little, but the jam still ended with the entire Skatefast lead removed and the Bombers ahead at:
46 Cherry Bombers : 40 The Skatefast Club
While a pair of tight no-scores between Circuit Breaker and Blazin' Phoenix, and Maulibu Barbie and Bint Imperial (893) threatened to remove the Cherry Bombers' momentum, the following 3 jams saw more gains by the Bombers, thanks to another power-jam for Zillah against Blazin' Phoenix in jam 17. With the Skatefast jammer off right at the start of the jam, Zillah fought through more of those tough Skatefast anchored walls, with a bit of help from Bronx Betty, to pick up 12 points before calling. With another scoring pass from Maulibu Barbie in the following jam, against a delayed Skinn'er Alive, the Bombers were now starting to seriously pull away.
It wasn't to last for long, though, jam 19 seeing some superlative blocking from Double D'struction and Mallory Powers, despite a 4-2 pack disadvantage; sheparding Sweet Sinner to lead jammer, and recycling Circuit Breaker during multiple grand-slam passes. 13 points later, two-thirds of the points differential before the jam, the Skatefast Club were looking back in the fighting seat, with only 5 minutes left in the period.
While Maulibu Barbie managed to just outpace Blazin' Phoenix through the pack (despite the Skatefast jammer being blocked much further back) for long enough to pick up 2 points for the Bombers, it was very much The Skatefast Club's time. After another close jam, Bint Imperial failing to make enough space from Zillah to score, the 22nd and second-last jam of the period was to show that.
Starting with 4-3 pack advantage once more, the lemon team were still almost unable to stop Maulibu Barbie from taking lead jammer; a passing block from a fast moving Mo B Quick, jamming herself, was the final piece necessary to stop her. Once knocked down once, the Bombers' jammer found it hard to escape the pack once more, with Crotch Lighting and Mallory Powers working together to repeatedly recycle her far back along the track. Another 15 point non-power-jam resulted, and a lead change: The Skatefast Club were now ahead by 5 points!
A last second rally by the Cherry Bombers, Zillah surging through the pack to take lead jammer, and a single scoring pass, ahead of Sweet Sinner, wasn't quite enough to overturn the advantage, and with the next jam set up but out of time before the whistle, the score at half-time still (barely) favoured Skatefast.
71 Cherry Bombers : 72 The Skatefast Club
Both the winners of the children's and adults' races won by a country mile after a close start, which may have been foreshadowing...
81 Cherry Bombers : 82 The Skatefast Club
With Zillah off with a track-cut major in the next jam, however, Double D'struction was careful not to make any mistakes. Despite being recycled by Debris Harry, she picked up a safe 10 points before calling the jam before Zillah left the penalty bench.
|Adrena-Lin Rush did not have a happy time of it...|
Doubtless, the Bombers were hoping that their substitution would serve the next jam out, and then let them get back to their normal jammer rotation. That's not quite what happened...
Blazin' Phoenix was up to take full advantage of the remaining power-jam time, with the Skatefast pack starting out with a knee-start into a perfect outside-line train formation. With only Bronx Betty and Sunny Sheeba on track for the Bombers, Circuit Breaker poodling off at the start, Blaze was always going to win out in the end, although not without some significant opposition from BB. As Adrena-Lin Rush returned from the penalty box, she was obviously conscious of the need to reduce the scoring quickly, pushing hard to break through a tough Skatefast pack, only to almost immediately pick up a major and return to the bench! This was starting to look dangerous for the Cherry Bombers, with Blazin' Phoenix now having all the time in the world to pick up 24 points of grand-slam passes before time was called.
Another power-jam start for The Skatefast Club, this time saw Skinn'er Alive taking the point position, the pack advantage still 4-3 to her team. Despite this, some good blocks from Maulibu Barbie helped to slow down her initial pass somewhat,
Once again, a returning Adrena-Lin Rush heralded a potential end to the doom, but the Skatefast triad of pivot Mallory Powers, Lilo and Stitches and Double D'struction proved too much for the inexperienced jammer, forcing her to pick up penalties and another return to the sin-bin before cracking their defence.
So, with the Skatefast power-jam now extending for its fourth consecutive jam, Sweet Sinner (99) took her turn with the jammer's star. A much more aggressive pack shut down her initial pass for multiple circuits of the track, forcing the jammer to call it as the Bombers' jammer was standing in the box, but without picking up any points!
|Zillah back, finally with the star back with her too!|
It wasn't all quite over, though; Zillah picked up another penalty as soon as she had the jammer star, although Blaze may not have noticed, calling the jam soon after on her first scoring pass after a hard block from Adrena-Lin Rush (working out that frustration from the last several penalties) sent her reeling.
So, with a final chance to inflate their lead, Skinn'er Alive stepped up to take The Skatefast Club's jamming star in jam 8, with Zillah still with most of her penalty time left to serve. Picking up a back block penalty on the first scoring pass, and a trip to the sin-bin was not on the plan, however, and Zillah was freed early to finally score some Cherry Bombers points.
93 Cherry Bombers : 149 The Skatefast Club
In fact, the balance was slightly to the ladies in lemon over the next 7 minutes, with an unbroken sequence of 5 scoring jams after some initial forays from the Cherry Bombers. Slowly, the score was creeping away from the red team, reaching a 62 point differential with 10 minutes in the game.
With Demon Speeding (333) rematched against Bint Imperial for the second time this bout (the first being a no-score), she probably didn't expect her opponent to immediately pick up a major breaking through the opening wall from the Cherry Bombers, and the resultant immediate trip to the sin-bin. With the Skatefast pack soon down to only two blockers thanks to a track cut by Crazylegs, Demon Speeding had no problems picking up a quartet of grand slam passes before Bint Imperial returned to the track.
Those 20 points helped a lot with the Bombers' chances of a win in the final 7 minutes, bringing the score differential to a barely manageable 42 points:
125 Cherry Bombers : 167 The Skatefast Club
The final 6 minutes were a tense series of closely matched jams, either team giving up the fight. The Cherry Bombers' Zillah and Skatefast's Blazin' Phoenix faced off in no less than 3 of the 6 jams before the end of the bout, proving as worthy opponents as they had in the rest of the game. Circuit Breaker was the sole alternate for the Bombers' jam lineup, facing first Skatefast's Skinn'er Alive, then Sweet Sinner; the superlative blocking of Bronx Betty, with VeloSidy and Maulibu Barbie giving their jammer time to work her way past an intimidating lemon wall at the front of the pack.
|Not only does Bronx Betty block superlatively, she jams, too!|
With neither team managing to pull away, the Bombers gaining 9 points to Skatefast's 11 over the course of 5 jams, the final jam would require a 44 point score for the red team to win, in a game where a 25 point power-jam is impressive. Circuit Breaker lining up against Bint Imperial for what could be the last jam of the bout. While it looked impossible for the Cherry Bombers to win, there was still honour to play for. In fact, it was the Skatefast jammer who exited the pack first, only for a literal last-second slip to pull her back inside, leaving Circuit Breaker ahead on the track. With the Bombers' Bronx Betty tenaciously blocking Bint Imperial in the pack (despite there being only two blockers on track for the Bombers), the jammer decided to cut her losses and call the jam; unfortunately, only seconds after cutting track and picking up a major penalty. With her attempt to call the jam curtailed by a trip to the penalty bench, Bint Imperial could only watch as Circuit Breaker raced around the track picking up multiple grand-slam passes. 20 points later, while the Cherry Bombers hadn't performed the impossible win, they had at least demonstrated that they couldn't be ruled out of the running.
The final score:
155 Cherry Bombers : 186 The Skatefast Club
Awards and Conclusions
This bout was an excellent example of how one bad event can sometimes have serious consequences for a team. While the Cherry Bombers and The Skatefast Club were clearly evenly matched for the entire first period, the unfortunate injury to Zillah, and the subsequent sequence of power presented an early second period setback too large for the Bombers to return from.
Still, The Skatefast Club were worthy winners on the day, continuing to score slightly better than their opponents even after the initial setback. It will be fascinating to see how they fare on their rematch with the Leithal Weapons in the final.
(Meanwhile, the Cherry Bombers will still get a final bout, facing Glasgow Roller Derby's Maiden Grrders in the second bout of the Home Teams final.)
Acknowledgements and Disclaimers
Thanks also to the producer of the bout programme, and ARRG's Facebook page people, who responded to some technical queries about the bout in very good time.
This report, and all photographs and video linked therein, are licensed Creative Commons: Attribution (3.0) (CC:BY 3.0). Free for reuse and redistribution with attribution.
Photographs and video taken with a Sony A580 with a Minolta 34-105mm lens.