PORTLAND, OR – To start off Saturday play in Portland, OR, 5th ranked London Brawling took on 8th ranked Arch Rival Roller Derby All-Stars. The two teams had yet to meet, but Arch Rival would put on an unexpected show of strength, initially belying their respective rankings, by leading for the first 12 minutes of the game and mounting a great end of game rally. But it just wasn’t enough to keep London from taking the win, 197-94.
The match-up began with an unexpected 0-0 jam, leaving St. Louis to surprise the crowd by grabbing an early lead and controlling lead and scoring for the first three jams, ending up with the game score at 9-0. London’s Master Blaster responded at that point with a 9-4 jam, to put both Brawlin’s first lead jam and their first points up on the board. AnDracula followed her team mate with lead and a 4-0 jam to tie up the game at 13 all.
Both teams went on the defensive with bracing triangles and a full lock down for jam 9. St. Louis worked a tight three wall in the back that kept AnDracula pushing hard and getting grabbed up before she could work the lines. Up front London also used a three wall, but showed over and over that they could hold Swanson with just two as Arch’s offense kept being able to only peel off a single blocker at a time. The jam ended without either squad scoring, leaving Arch just barely ahead 21-20.
With a little over 18 minutes left on the clock, both teams started with a blocker in the box. London was able to capitalize on this pack deficit by grabbing lead and making a single apex jump to put up five before Arch Rival could get the star passed to K. Woodward and run down London. A hit to the outside forced Rogue Runner to call the jam with just one more point on the board on her second scoring pass, but the 6-0 jam was enough to move London into the lead for the first time this game, with 26-21.
The English squad capitalized on that momentum shift to grab lead in the next three jams, and begin their blast off. AnDracula jumped the apex into lead while Kid Block and Katie ‘Hellvetica’ Black and B84 worked as a pair to drive out the Arch Rival jammer at the back for long enough to let London drive the score to 53-24, going from behind to more than doubling St. Louis’s score in less than four minutes of play.
Arch Rival refused to give in, and instead capitalized on a high block by Lexi Lightspeed when she was wearing the star for London. Arch’s Bricktator put up a 13-0 jam including a huge apex jump from the start of turn one almost all the way to the apex on her second scoring pass to bring the score to 58-37 with London still leading.
The blocking pair of Die Die and Juke Boxx for London kept Bolt Action pushing all the way to the limits of the engagement zone, and still on her initial pass till almost a minute into the jam. An illegal procedure would leave her in the box till jam 17 and let Master Blaster grow Brawlin’s lead, with a 12-0 jam – bringing the score to 70-37.
Starting out with Bolt Action in the box, the four wall of Shera-Ra Powers, Jamheiser Bush, Chewblocka, and Salty did work up front to hold AnDracula and her offense for a penalty kill. While AnDracula did end up with lead, she was swallowed up by the swarm recycling of Arch Rival’s blockers and only able to score four points.
London would close out the half by grabbing five leads in a row, keeping St. Louis scoreless. Arch Rival’s Salty showed amazing track awareness when she was hit to the inside of turn one and able to shrug off the block right at the line to come back to her place as the anchor of her wall.
AnDracula would end the half wearing the star and take lead in just seconds with a hard drive right up the middle of the front straight. Then a track cut by Swanson, jamming for Arch Rival, would give AnDracula plenty of time to rack up 20 points while slicing through a St. Louis pack that looked winded and disorganized for the first time in the game.
London didn’t feel the need to use much offense as AnDracula appeared to just be skating laps as she gathered points. Shaolynn Scarlett showed foresight and track leadership, verbally calling play to move her teammate to the inside line and shut down Swanson as she returned from the box. The resulting 20-0 jam would close the half out 106-37 for London.
Photo credit: Steve Jurkovic Roller Derby Photography.
Rogue Runner came out hot for a fast lead and a clean grand slam to start off the period 5-0 for London. But Arch Rival refused to let the game go and answered back by grabbing up lead in the next two jams and their blockers working full pack swarm recycling to keep London passing each blocker three and four times before getting out to force jam calls. Arch added in only 7-0 combined for those jams.
With London starting to make easy scoring passes coming in, Arch Rival adjusted to using flat walls to catch Brawlin’s jammers before transitioning to bracing to hold them as long as possible. And just after ten minutes into the half, Arch sent offense off the line to try and get Swanson clear only to have Rogue Runner blast through the hole instead for lead and a fast two points to bring the score to 132-49 with 19 minutes left on the clock.
St. Louis began to shake off London’s game hold with Smarty McFly playing heads up on the inside line with a huge hit to counter the London offense just before turn one. They then went on to immediately grab and lock down Master Blaster, wearing the star for London, in the same motion.
AnDracula would run up a huge 20-0 jam against Bricktator despite St. Louis’s JamHeiser Bush holding her out front face to face with a series of small shoulder hits to keep the London jammer on her heels and reacting instead of driving forward. With 15:55 left in the game, London would have more than triple St. Louis’s score, 159-49.
Arch would hold on hard and keep answering back all the way to the end with evolving blocking strategies that would force Rogue Runner to need Kid Blocks assistance to get lead and a single scoring pass in jam 13. The recycling up front by the four wall of St. Louis gave enough time for K. Woodward to get out and force the call.
While the score looked uneven through the stats, the game play kept fans engaged and cheering all the way through. Fans on the platform trackside even took to starting a chant of “N-S-O” for the hardworking crew with just 11 minutes left on the clock.
K. Woodward would show her versatility on the track when she was a one woman wrecking crew when she shut down and drew the cut on London’s Trisha Smackanawa, moving straight to offense to get Swanson clear. From here to the end, St. Louis would manage to put up points in every jam till the end of the game and win the exchange in five of the seven. The run from St. Louis would close it to a 99 point game with just over four minutes left on the clock to 179-80 for London.
Despite the massive effort of Arch Rival right to the last whistle, London would prevail 197-94, moving on to face Gotham Girls Roller Derby at 6:30 pm PST.
Photo credit: Benma Photo.
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