British Champs 2016 Round 1 - Report
Photo courtesy of Dave McAleavy
HBB 134 - 128 BRDL
Halifax Bruising Banditas start their 2016 British Roller Derby Championships campaign with a last-jam win over feisty Blackpool Roller-Coasters.
The Tier 4 North season began with a bang with the Halifax team taking a narrow 6 point win with a 134 – 128 victory over Blackpool. The result sees Halifax Bruising Banditas take second place in the Tier 4 North table behind game hosts Aberdeen who were granted an automatic 300-0 win against injury plagued Durham.
After a disappointing 2015 season Halifax Bruising Banditas wanted to hit the ground rolling after spending the off season restructuring and training new tactics. Their hard work and focus paid off in a game that never had a clear leader. In a tense back-and-forth, neither team was ever more than 30 points ahead.
The two teams, who had never played each other before, were equals coming into the match up with no-one outside of the fans willing to call who would come away victorious. Blackpool came into 2016 with a more successful season behind them, finishing 3rd in their Tier 4 table, but Halifax had the momentum after ending last year on a win.
The atmosphere was electric with the Banditas' fans in fine voice despite making the trek up to Aberdeen with the team.
Halifax drew first blood with Millie Hurtz gaining lead jammer with Blackpool's Fairy Quake hot on her heals. The jam ended with a 4-2 point lead for Halifax. Blackpool responded with a quick scoring gain of their own over a succession of fast-paced, snappy jams giving them a 12-24 lead with 10 minutes gone.
Halifax pulled back the deficit with a couple of high scoring jams thanks to a strong blocking defence which contained the opposition and Blackpool penalty trouble. Within 5 minutes Halifax were back in the lead 36-27.
Both team suffered with penalty trouble in the middle of the first half with both walls reduced to 3 or 2 blockers at times. But the points didn't rack up, each team made the jammers work hard for their points. Halifax in particular dealt out some powerful hits forcing the opposition off the track to face their blockers again and again.
Blackpool seemed to regain their composure first, clawing back the score as the first half came to the close but a smart tactic change by Halifax was enough to disrupt the Blackpool momentum for the last few jams. KayOs took full advantage of Blackpool's jammer penalties and Halifax's stellar offence, racking up the points for the Banditas.
At half-time the score was Halifax 72 – 52 Blackpool.
Blackpool came out swinging at the start of the second half earning a number of lead jammer statuses and power jams. Blackpool quickly pulled ahead, keeping Halifax scoreless for the first several jams.
Halifax found traction after their blockers forced the Blackpool jammers to commit penalties gifting first Sonic Ruth then Millie Hurtz high scoring jams, pulling Halifax back into the lead thanks to Halifax's sweeping offence. With the momentum in Halifax's corner they kept Blackpool scoreless with tight defence and quick scoring jams reasserting their lead 102-81 with 15 minutes to go.
Both teams showed fierce defensive capabilities and tough walls which stalled the point scoring midway through the half. Offence began to be a vital component in not only scoring points but breaking the jammer free on their initial pass. Offence began to be more and more vital as Lead Jammer status become ever precious. The crowd screamed for every lap, every point, every whistle.
Each team fought for every second, every track inch and every point. With 5 minutes to go the momentum swung back in Blackpool's favour bringing the score to a 123-123 draw. The next two jams saw a lead jammer status and a single point earned for each team unbelievably keeping the scores level at 124 each with only 2 minutes to go. The penultimate jam saw Millie Hurtz face Fairy Quake. Blackpool's Quake broke free from the blockers first, gaining lead jammer status, with Millie Hurtz not far behind. With only 30 feet between them Fairy Quake managed to sneak 2 points before calling off the jam and keeping Hurtz from scoring. Blackpool were now in the lead 124-126 with enough time for one more jam and it all to play for.
This final jam saw Halifax's Sonic Ruth line up against Baker's Shovin'. Bursting through the pack, Sonic took the lead jammer status and therefore took control of the jam. The Halifax defence deftly evaded the Blackpool offence and contained the opposition jammer long enough for Sonic Ruth to lap the pack maintaining her scoring lead. With 13 seconds left on the clock she called off the jam claiming the lead for Halifax 134-128.
As the seconds counted down there was some confusion as to whether there would be another jam. With the hall suddenly falling into a tense silence the referees deliberated in the centre of the track. Satisfied all was in order the rolling final whistle sounded out and after a moment of hesitation both the Halifax bench and supporters exploded into cheering and shouts and jubilation.
This marks the first British Champsionships win for the Halifax Bruising Banditas and a successful start to there 2016 campaign. Their next fixture is against Durham Roller Derby in Durham on the 12th March followed by a home fixture at Northbridge Leisure Centre, Halifax on 8th May. On the 25th March the team is holding an Easter egg scavenger hunt at Manor Heath Park, Halifax from 11am-3pm. All are welcome to take part in the activities & hunt for prizes!
Halifax Bout Awards
Best Blocker – Furious Foo
Best Jammer – KayOs
MVP – Sonic Ruth
Bandita Spirit Award - KayOs
Blackpool Bout Awards
Best Blocker – Gemolition
Best Jammer – Fairy Quake
MVP – Shameless
Halifax Bruising Banditas
6712 Sonic Ruth – Captain
7533 Kim o'Kill – Vice Captain
1701 Millie Hurtz
45 Rainbow Dash
912 Furious Foo
555 Bohemian Tragedy
71 Bob 'n' Weave
59 Laffin' Assassin
LUM Ali P – Line Up Manager
BM Scooby Zoom – Bench Manager
Blackpool Roller Derby
12 Jammy Lodger
13 Bakers Shovin
19 Sickly Sweet
300 Relisa The Beast
76 Lightening Cat
81 Fairy Quake
84 Bad Seed