The Great Southern Slam — the Southern Hemisphere’s first modern roller derby tournament and the largest derby event ever — offered a rare opportunity for the geographically dispersed leagues down under to come together to compete.
As expected, there were some surprises amongst the newer leagues in the tournament, perhaps most notably the Townsville team playing the more experienced Wollongong team to a draw and taking home the win in overtime. Team Pot Luck — “everyone’s second-favourite team” — also turned a few heads in the relatively evenly-matched Pool E; they played top-seeded Geelong/Ballarat closer than the middle team, Perth, although it was Perth who would progress to the quarterfinal round based on their overall point differential.
While there were substantial blowouts in Saturday’s round robin competition, the later stages of the tournament featured exciting games and high-level derby from the most experienced teams in the region.
ROUND ROBIN STAGES – Saturday morning
The home-town Adeladies easily scooped their pool in Saturday morning’s round-robin competition, dispatching the younger Canberra and Van Diemen leagues by margins of over 100 points, and progressing through to the evening’s quarter-finals.
Adelaide v Canberra: 165-42
Canberra v Van Diemen: 137-63
Adelaide v Van Diemen: 147-35
Point margins of over 100 points saw the Victorian Roller Derby League progress to the quarter-finals as pool winners, with the Northern Brisbane Rollers joining them as the second runner-up team, based on their overall point differential.
Victoria v Northern Brisbane 134-22
Northern Brisbane v Newcastle 155-45
Victoria v Newcastle 185-18
This pool contained one of the closest games of the Slam, with the Townsvillains triumphing over the Wollongong-Illawarra team in overtime. Sun State delivered crushing victories in their two games, moving on to the elimination portion of the tournament. Wollongong may have proven themselves the toughest team of the tournament – the entire crew suffered food poisoning on Friday night and yet arrived on Saturday morning ready to take on one of the hardest-skating teams in the region.
Sun State v Wollongong 178-16
Townsville v Wollongong 91-81
Sun State v Townsville 168-7
Many punters were anticipating that the experienced Pirate City crew would be a team to watch at the Slam and they delivered, beating Sydney and Western Australia by significant margins to progress to the quarter-finals. Sydney were the first runner-up team, based on point differentials, and joined Pirate City in the elimination stages after a strong defeat of Western Australia.
Pirate City v SRDL 145-30
SRDL v WARD 166-31
Pirate City v WARD 197-25
Compared to other groupings, Pool E contained relatively close games with no enormous blow-outs. The combined Geelong/Ballarat team emerged as the pool winner, with Perth taking out the third runner-up slot and progressing with them to the quarter-finals.
Geelong/Ballarat v Perth 148-80
Perth v Pot Luck 136-85
Geelong/Ballarat v Pot Luck 94-60
QUARTERFINALS – Saturday evening
QUARTERFINAL 1 – Adelaide v Geelong/Ballarat
The first fifteen minutes of this game were close, with Adelaide holding a slim margin over the combined Geelong/Ballarat team, but the Adeladies opened up their lead halfway through the period and the Maulrats were unable to recover. A 14-point romp by Adelaide jammer Barrelhouse Bessy over a boxed Ruby E Raze was followed up with a 9-0 run for Kissy Suzuki, leaving the score at Adelaide 50, Geelong/Ballarat 19 with 14 minutes on the clock. The score continued to open up and at half-time stood at 81 points for the Adeladies to Geelong/Ballarat’s 29. The Maulrats were able to close the gap as the game progressed, adding 42 points in the final fifteen minutes of the match but the final score stood at Adelaide 152, Geelong/Ballarat 102.
Key jammers for the Maulrats were the fast and agile Nine Lives Isis, along with Apocalypse Nerd and veteran player Ruby E Raze; Adelaide relied heavily on Barrelhouse Bessy, Kissy Suzuki, Raw Dog and new talent Kit Cat Krunch, with formidable blocker Vaderella holding down the front of the pack throughout.
QUARTERFINAL 2 – Sun State v Northen Brisbane
The Sun State Rollergirls All-Stars and the Northern Brisbane Brawl Stars share a city and first met in interleague play in November, 2009; Sun State emerged with the win, 166 points to 126. This game was considerably less even. NBR held a slight lead in the first two jams but Sun State romped all over them from then on, displaying iron control of the pack to hold their rivals to just 18 points by half-time – and only two of those scored in the final fifteen minutes of the period.
The pace only picked up in the second half, with Sun State putting up 111 points to Northern Brisbane’s 10. Sun State relied on twin sisters Rose Ruin and Cookie Cutter at the jam line, along with veteran Annabelle Lecter and crowd-pleasing new recruit Chop Chop – her supporters’ “chop-chop-chop” chant with accompanying arm gestures are rapidly becoming an Australian derby meme. Belle de Brawl was a force to be reckoned with in the Northern Brisbane pack, and Dead Meat and Sweet Enemy distinguished themselves at the jam line. The final score was Sun State 184, Northern Brisbane 28.
QUARTERFINAL 3 – Victoria v Sydney
Victoria suffered a blow early in this game, losing formidable blocker and team captain Berzerker to a knee injury early in the first half, but they nevertheless spectacular beating on the Sydney team with a final score of 234 to 19. Victoria dominated the pack from the outset, holding Sydney to a mere five points in the first half while they racked up 117 – exactly half of their total points for the game, although their opposition put up a stronger fight in the second period. A power jam for Sydney’s Captain Ratz over a sin-binned Denim Destructor let her put Sydney’s first points of the half on the board, but the team was unable to capitalise on a second power jam immediately afterwards, leaving the score at Victoria 186, Sydney 14.
Captain Ratz put up nearly half of Sydney’s total points, with the rest filled in by Trippy Longstockings and Haterade. Victoria’s Kitty Decapitate dominated the scoring in the first period but skated less in the second, as she, Mandytory Punishment and Skate Bush were rested in favour of some different jammer lineups in Denim Destructor, Punani Tsunami and Hidden Magenta. The final score was 234 points for Victoria, 19 for Sydney.
QUARTERFINAL 4 – Pirate City v Perth
The Kiwis led throughout this quarter-final, setting up a 25 point lead in the first ten minutes of the match and extending it from there. The half-time score stood at Pirate City 110, Perth 23. At the final whistle, Pirate City had 207 points to Perth’s 51, guaranteeing them a slot in Sunday’s semi-finals.
Pirate City Rollers relied heavily on former speed skater Fia Fasi Oe – her name is Samoan for “Do you want a hiding?” – and Spar Kill to bring home the win against Perth Roller Derby. The Auckland jammers demonstrated a physical style of play that seemed unfamiliar to the Perth team; Fia ping-ponged off blocker after blocker in her passes through the pack, while long-term Pirate Skate the Muss made a habit of nailing her opponent into the infield right off the jam line. The smaller Perth team relied on the agility and speed of jammers Hot Wheels, Posh Slice and Dirty KO to provide one of the closer games of the quarter-finals.
SEMIFINALS AND FINALS – Sunday
SEMIFINAL 1 – Sun State v Adelaide
The semi-finals of the Great Southern Slam were played simultaneously in two different pavilions, meaning that the audience was split across two games – however, with the home town fans and Sun State’s large and vocal Beer Squad crowding the Hills track, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everybody within a 5km radius of the Showgrounds was watching. Sun State took an early lead, which they didn’t give up throughout the game, although their scoring was slowed in the second half by a strong Adelaide defence. The score stood at SSRG 72, ADRD 27 at half-time and finished at 124 for the visitors to 60 for the home side.
Barrelhouse Bessy was Adelaide’s standout jammer in this game, routinely securing lead jammer status and putting points on the board, but overall, a strong Sun State defence stifled scoring opportunities for the Adeladies. She was joined by new recruits Radical Edward and Tricksey Belt’em, as well as Coconut Rough and Raw Dog. Following their success in the previous game against Northern Brisbane, Rose Ruin and Cookie Cutter were again in high rotation on the jam line for Sun State; they were joined by Annabelle Lecter and crowd favourite Chop Chop.
SEMIFINAL 2 – Victoria v Pirate City
The final score didn’t reflect how close this game appeared from the sidelines; the tough physical play of Pirate City seemed a near match for the finessed and technical game brought by Victoria and there were numerous moments when it seemed a shift in momentum might throw the game to the Pirates. The first quarter of the game was low-scoring – Victoria had 16 points to the Pirates’ 8 with 14 minutes on the clock – but Victoria opened up a (slightly) more comfortable lead by half-time and held it through the remainder of the game.
The second half opened with a fifteen-point gap between the teams and both teams lining up their go-to jammers: Skate the Muss for the Pirates and Kitty Decapitate for Victoria, but a false start for Muss gave Victoria a chance to score some much-needed unanswered points. The game’s momentum looked set to swing about halfway through the period when Skate the Muss racked up a big jam – the score stood at Victoria 65 to Pirates 53 with 12 minutes remaining to play. However, the Pirates were unable to further close the gap and the game finished with 94 points for Victoria to 69 for Pirate City.
Victoria’s defence suffered somewhat with the expulsion of physical blocker Punani Tsunami early in the first half, but Rocky Rogue and Hotrod Stacy remained effective throughout the game. Lucy in Disguise and Scheisse Minelli were standout blockers for the Pirates. Skate the Muss and Kitty Decapitate were frequent presences on the jam line for Pirate City and Victoria respectively. Also jamming for Victoria were Kitty von Krusher, Skate Bush and Swish Cariboom, and Spar Kill and Fia Fasi Oe for Pirate City.
THIRD-PLACE PLAYOFF – Adelaide v Pirate City
This was one of the most anticipated games in the tournament – the home-town league playing Pirate City, who were both the only team from New Zealand competing and the oldest league in the Oceania region. It was also one of the most exciting – the visitors’ Spar Kill made up 19 points in the final power jam to bring the ultimate score to Adelaide 93, Pirate City 89.
Pirate City held an early lead but Adelaide evened the score at 19-all 16 minutes into the first half; from there, they maintained their lead throughout the remainder of the game. The biggest gap between the scores came close to the end, when Barrelhouse Bessy scored 16 points to Razor Czech’s 6 with just a couple of minutes left on the clock, setting the score at 93 points for Adelaide, 70 for Pirate City. With the crowd on their feet, Melvin Star lined up for Adelaide and Spar Kill for Pirate City. A series of penalty calls against Adelaide left them with two blockers on the track and no jammer, clearing the way for Pirate City to slow the pack to a crawl and Spar Kill to rack up a big 19-0 jam. Adelaide were saved only by the jam clock expiring – another pass would have handed Pirate City the victory and third place in the tournament.
CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT – Victoria v Sun State
This was the second meeting for Victoria and Sun State, the two oldest leagues in Australia; they last played in Melbourne in July 2009. The game was close, with repeated lead changes; however Sun State held the lead through most of the first half and Victoria through most of the second, with a final score of 117 for Victoria to Sun State’s 99.
This game mirrored the earlier one; Sun State again dominated the first period and went into halftime with the score standing at 43 to 32 in their favour. They held – and even extended – their lead in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but a big jam for Skate Bush took Victoria to 66 points against Sun State’s 65. The Queensland team immediately retaliated to bring the score back to 69 SSRG, 66 VRDL with nine minutes remaining, and the lead see-sawed over the next few jams. With less than two minutes left to play, Sun State were seven points behind Victoria’s 78.
The final jam of the period saw Victoria’s Swish Cariboom line up to jam against Chop Chop and the score at 78-73 in Victoria’s favour. Chop Chop was first out of the pack but did not secure lead jammer status, however Swish did not break the pack before being sent off for tripping with the period clock expired and fifteen seconds remaining on the jam clock. Victoria’s Rock the Casper and Hotrod Stacy successfully held Chop Chop at the rear of the pack on her scoring pass, limiting her to three points and securing Victoria the win, with a final score of 78 for Victoria, 76 for Sun State.
While Victoria were down key blocker and team captain Berzerker, they deployed star jammer Kitty Decapitate more in the pack and her play at the front of the pack was crucial in stifling scoring opportunities for Sun State. Punani Tsunami’s aggressive blocking and Rocky Rogue’s work at the back of the pack was also critical to the Victorian defence. For Sun State, Annabelle Lecter — like Kitty D, more usually seen on the jam line — stood out as a pivot and front blocker, while Ruby Ribcrusher proved an adaptable and tough blocker to pass.
Key jammers for Victoria in this game were the two Kitties – Kitty Decapitate and Kittie von Krusher – along with Skate Bush and Swish Cariboom; Sun State deployed their usual lineup of Cookie Cutter, Rose Ruin, Annabelle Lecter and Chop Chop.