London Bruises Rocky Mountain, 205-132

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GUILDFORD, UK–When these teams last met Rocky Mountain were WFTDA champions and their 228-49 win flattered the hosts courtesy of a huge final jam. It was unthinkable then that London might be considered favourites in their next meeting–but slight favourites they were. A first half of long, tight battles for lead jammer kept scoring low until the teams traded powerjams at the death was followed by a slightly freer second half–but London led from jam three and took an exceptionally physical win 205-132.

Casstrator got lead and put London behind for the first time in the weekend with an opening 3-0 jam over Kamikaze Kitten before a Rogue Runner powerjam courtesy of a backblock call on Toxic Taunic made it 14-3 after three minutes.

Rocky had dropped Gator Dunn from their earlier jammer rotation to focus on a very physical line-up of Toxic, Casstrator and Phantom Menace. Another powerjam looked likely to flip the lead as Rogue Runner cut–but Kristen Lee, Ylva Arnberg, Frightning Bold and Stefanie Mainey held Taunic in the pack and limited her to 2.

Gator then took the star before Lady Go-Go picked up London’s second jammer penalty in two jams with another cut–but Juke Boxx took up the defensive mantle to again limit Rocky to a single-pass jam and keep London in front.

A fifty-second fight for lead between Taunic and Rogue ended when the Rocky jammer was penalised for use of forearms as Rogue finally escaped Assaultin’ Pepa’s blocking. But as Taunic was released Rogue hit the box. Phantom Menace got Rocky’s quickest lead of the bout with Rogue still in the box–but only put up 2 points. London had the lead 26-20, with 14 minutes gone.

A run of hit-and-quit jams let London push the lead past 20 before Gaygun and Winona Fighter locked down Rogue Runner for Casstrator to put Rocky’s first natural grand slam of the bout up. London’s jammers frequently struggled with Rocky’s now-legal clockwise blocking pushing them back, but they nickle-and-dimed the lead back up.

It was 50-30 with five minuts to go when a backblock boxed Rogue Runner and let Casstrator halve the lead. Rogue got out of the box and immediately undid most of that damage–a Lady Go-Go powerjam finished the job and extended the lead to 25. A cut on Taunic with the period clock almost out gave Kami a chance to end the half on a high for London. She made the lead 40 before being boxed for misconduct as she floored a Rocky blocker with an apex jump. She was released before the jam was done, and London held a 93-56 lead at the half.

London edged the opening exchanges of the second period before penalty trouble bit briefly–but Rocky’s chances of using that to mount a comeback as they sent a succession of players to the box just as London emptied theirs. They did manage to hold the London lead under 50 and keep their comeback chances alive until Rogue Runner took advantage of a series of offensive clears from Juke Boxx as Gator Dunn struggled. That meant with ten minutes remaining, London led 151-92 as Stefanie Mainey took the star for the first time and London turned from finess to power to try and make the game safe.

A beautifully placed last-ditch take-out by Winona Fighter on Rogue two jams later stopped a significant powerjam turning into a potentially hope-ending one. A Rocky time-out froze the clock at 6:22 as they searched for a way to overcome the 69-point deficit in the remaining jams. But it wasn’t to be. With less than five minutes left that hope-ending powerjam came courtesy of Kamikaze Kitten and a star pass to Juke Boxx after a forearm call on Taunic. They combined to make it 185-102 with a couple of jams left despite points for Taunic on her return.

Rogue Runner’s mouthguard flew out on a hit next time out to see her boxed on an IP–and Phantom Menace cut 10 off the lead heading into the final two minutes. Casstrator then got lead and made inroads with multiple scoring passes, but Go-Go was putting up points for London. A final time-out for Rocky stopped the clock at 4 seconds as they tried to salvage ranking points with a strong final jam.

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Toxic Taunic got lead in the final jam, but lost her helmet cover in the process. In the ensuing confusion Kami broke through, and both skaters spent the final two minutes scoring. That meant London finished 205-132 winners, setting up a 2-0 record in the tournament with only Detroit to play.

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