MRDWC Plate: Australia Escapes Wales, 201-200

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In a definite contender for game of the tournament, Australia clawed out a one-point victory over Wales to take the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup Plate, 201-200. The game swung back and forth with the margin rarely more than ten points for either side, though a massive 45-0 power jam for Skate Pilgrim late in the second period looked set to secure the game for Australia. That wasn’t to be, though — the Wizards gave away two power jams in the last two jams of the game, letting Wales come back only to fall heartbreakingly short courtesy of a smart call-off by the Australian jammer. With this win, the Wizards of Aus earn the first-ever MRDWC Plate.

The Mechanic opened the scoring for Wales, skating backwards for 4-0 over Skate Pilgrim in the second jam — and was ably backed up by Meredith for 3-0 in the next jam. It looked set to be more of the same in the next jam as Ashton picked up a quick lead jammer status — but cut his way to the box on his scoring pass.

The Australian power jam was short-lived, though, as Skate Pilgrim picked up a cut of his own after adding 5 points. Both jammers struggled with waterfalling four walls upon return, but the Wizards of Aus had more recycling success, holding Ashton to just a single pass. At the end of that jam, Wales led 15-13 with five minutes gone.

Australia took the lead a couple of jams later as Fuzz ran for 4 over The Mechanic — but Meredith bullied his way past the Wizards’ blockers to retake the lead the very next time out. One jam later, it was tied up, 20-all with 21:30 in the half, and Wales called their first team time-out.

Skate Pilgrim had a power jam to push Australia into the lead — and when The Mechanic returned to play, he did so in style with a soaring apex jump to make his initial pass. That put ten points between the teams with the Wizards of Aus leading 34-24.

But the margin was erased in yet another power jam with 13 minutes to go, as The Mechanic picked up points over a boxed Sausarge Rolls to make it 44-42 mid-jam before Rolls returned, adding 4 with a spinning run through the pack; when the full jam’s points went up, the Wizards had barely held their lead at 49-48 … and Wales took the lead in the very next jam, making it 57-49 in their favour with 11 to play.

The sides traded low-scoring jams over the next five minutes, keeping the margin inside 10 points — but Ashton pushed Wales into the lead as RollCall and Clarke held Fuzz on an initial pass, 70-68 with six minutes in the half.

The margin stretched by one more point to equal the 13-point gap established halfway through the period — but Ya Mum brought it back within a single pass over a stifled Wales jammer, before committing a back block to hand the Welshmen a power jam with a 2-point lead, 74-72 with a minute to go.

The Mechanic took the star to finish out the power jam as an official time-out was called to remedy a penalty box error. The Wizards of Aus held a 4-3 pack advantage but couldn’t slow The Mechanic; he picked up lead jammer status before passing the pivot line and put up his first four points with an apex jump. Immediately after Ya Mum returned to play, The Mechanic picked up a penalty of his own, leaving Ya Mum to make it 77-79 with Oz trailing. Ya Mum picked up a cut as the period clock expired, though, freeing the Welsh jammer. Wales called their official review to unsuccessfully challenge a jammer penalty at halftime; they led 84-77 going into the break.

Play resumed with Jones unopposed on the jammer line, facing a 4-3 pack disadvantage. He made his initial pass on a no-pack call but picked up a back block, freeing Ya Mum who made quick work of an initial pass and picked up five points before cutting the track as he made his second pass. Jones returned to play ahead of the timer’s signal, though, landing back in the box on an illegal procedure. The jam time elapsed before another penalty could be accrued, at least, leaving the score at 85-84 in Australia’s favour. Skate Pilgrim put up 9-0 on the remainder of the power jam to make the margin 10 points, 94-84.

A botched apex jump saw The Mechanic boxed on a track cut two jams later; Skate Pilgrim had an easy run on the ensuing power jam as the Welsh side dwindled to just a single blocker to Australia’s four. That pushed the Wizards well into triple digits at 118 to Wales’ 90 with 22 to play — and more than doubled the previous largest margin of the game.

A couple of minutes later, Meredith picked up lead jammer for Wales shortly before his blockers forced a cut on Pilgrim. He brought Wales into triple digits, too, and when the jam concluded the game was back within 10 points, 122-114 with Australia leading and 19 minutes to play.

Fuzz picked up a low block penalty halfway through the period to hand Ashton a power jam and he took the opportunity to tie things up, 124-all, and then take the lead at 131-124 to freeze Fuzz in the box.

The Mechanic took the star to finish out the power jam but faced with a tough Australian four-wall, wasn’t able to break the pack before Fuzz returned to play, picking up lead jammer status and his first five points before The Mechanic made an initial pass. He finally made it out — but his jammer cover did not make it with him, coming off shortly before he got out of the pack. That jam put Australia back in the lead, 132-131 with 14 on the clock.

That one-point margin stretched to 9 before Manwaring smartly forced a cut on Skate Pilgrim to give Jones a power jam — and as the Welsh side goated Rogue n Josh, the remaining Australian blockers struggled to slow Jones’ scoring and he ran for 19-0. That made for the fourth lead change of the period as Wales established a 10-point lead, 150-140 with 10:30 to play.

Australia called an official review then, challenging the cut call on Pilgrim but it stood. He had just seconds left to serve on his penalty and found himself a half-track behind lead jammer The Mechanic, who picked up three points before calling it off in the face of heavy defence from Ya Mum.

Australia called a timeout to stop the clock with 6:11 to play after a chaotic jam in which dramatic recycling from both sides saw most of the jam’s action take place in the straightaway between corners 2 and 3. It looked for a second like Wales might have a power jam off the back of a Skate Pilgrim cut but the call was converted into a no-pass-no-penalty as he sat in the box. When the jam expired, the score stood at Wales 167-149.

Next time out, Sausarge Rolls really did get a power jam as the Welsh jammer cut on the outside — and Sausarge took the opportunity of a dwindling Welsh pack to retake the lead, 183-167 before Jones returned to play. He struggled to get by Ya Mum and Justin Credible for his initial pass as Sausarge easily lapped the pack, putting up a massive 45-0 to make it 193-167.

The Aussies hit the double century with just over two minutes to go, 200-167, but Meredith picked up a crowd-pleasing lead jammer status — and then Sausarge Rolls cut the track on the outside to give the Welshmen a power jam. Offensive play by Jenkins opened up a valuable hole for Meredith in the face of the Australians’ waterfalling defence; he made it 186-200 before Sausarge returned to play — only to slide out on corner 1, right into Meredith’s legs to pick up a low block call.

Wales called their official review then, asking for the low block call to be assessed as an expulsion and freezing the clock with a single second to go as they trailed 201-187. The low block call stood, leaving Ashton unopposed on the jammer line. He struggled with recycling Australian defence and ultimately made it out on his initial pass with a no-pass no-penalty, missing out on lead jammer status. He put up his first five points fast and made his second pass as Sausarge Rolls stood in the box, making it a four-point game at 197-201. Sausarge zipped through on his initial pass to pick up lead jammer status, though, and called off the jam barely in the nick of time — Ashton had picked up three points but fell just short of tying it up, so Australia escaped with a one-point win, 201-200.

Australia:
0 Skate Pilgrim // 11 Sausarge Rolls // 1957 Spew // 27 Ya Mum // 47 Rogue n Josh // 505 Son of Skatin’ // 57 Ass n Junk (Stephens) // 75 Justin Credible // 77 Bohemian Slapcity (Ritchie) // 80 Flamin’ Galah // 88 Monkey Nuts // 89 Kernel Panic // E11 RAMPAGE // FE3C Fuzz

Wales:
1 Mainwaring // 117 RollCall // 17 Jenkins // 218 Longworth // 254 Jones // 26 Swift // 2828 Ashton // 2×4 Creighton-Griffiths // 3 Hayes // 36 Phillips // 43 Clarke // 79 The Mechanic // FE26 Meredith // HK86 Clements

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