The first day of the Great Southern Slam tournament is the group stage, with 18 teams competing, round-robin style, in three groups of six. The winners of each group earn an automatic pass into the elimination tournament, which kicks off tomorrow. Those six teams are the start of an eight-team bracket, which will be filled out by the two teams with the highest point differential after the group stage. The round robin games have two 20 minute periods, but regular WFTDA rules otherwise apply; teams have three time-outs and skaters foul out after seven penalty minutes.
10 am games
Group A: Auckland vs Victoria
In probably the biggest game of the pool stages, Victoria took on Auckland Roller Derby and despite speculation that the New Zealand team might upset the reigning TGSS champs, Victoria emerged with a 202-66 win. Auckland came into the tournament as something of a dark horse; they’ve been handing out big wins to local competition but hadn’t taken on competition of the level they faced at TGSS.
For the first few jams it looked like Auckland might have hung with the juggernaut from Melbourne but back-to-back power jams in the middle of the first half let the team in blue accelerate, putting up 58 unanswered points over the course of four jams and closing the half with a 126-18 lead.
In the second half, Auckland shifted their tactics a little, starting more often on the pivot line and adopting a controversial no-skate strategy in one jam about halfway through the period. It allowed Victoria to burn a penalty on their pivot, but more importantly, allowed Auckland to pick up a rare 0-0 jam; with seeding for the elimination round based on point differential and a win seemingly out of sight, stopping Victoria’s scoring was as important as picking up points of their own.
Auckland seemed to pick up steam in the second half, picking up 5 of 8 lead jammer calls. It wasn’t enough to come back, though, even with a 3-1 pack advantage in the final jam. Evil K.neevil called off the jam as the period clock expired, leaving the final score 202-66 in Victoria’s favour.
Group B: Sun State vs Geelong
Brisbane’s Sun State Roller Girls picked up a solid win over Geelong, with the final score sitting at 131 to 62 in Sun State’s favour. Geelong’s hard-hitting defence, led by Rai Scar, wasn’t enough to slow the steady stream of points being racked up by the jammers in black and yellow. Ace of Hearts was the key jammer for Geelong and stands out as a skater to watch; on the Sun State side, Sweet Enemy and Polly Crackers led the scoring.
Group C: Adelaide vs Brisbane City
Host team the Adeladies put up a 50 point win over Brisbane City. Adelaide led throughout but weren’t able to establish a solid lead until late in the game, when a long scoring for The Philistine opened it up with just a few minutes left to play.
The Adeladies cemented their lead in the subsequent power jam, leaving Brisbane City with more than 50 points to make up in the very last jam. Scoring rates were pretty even throughout the game, with Adelaide holding a 64-46 lead at halftime and closing out the game with a 125-72 victory over the visitors.
Penergy stood out as a jammer for Brisbane City, busting out some Suzy-Hotrod moves, while Adelaide’s speedy Philistine led the scoring for the home-town team.
Group D: Northern Brisbane vs Pirate City
In the group stage’s biggest upset, Northern Brisbane Rollers dominated the favourite Pirate City Rollers, emerging with a 126-42 victory. Pirate City came in fourth at the 2010 Great Southern Slam but since then have lost key players to Auckland Roller Derby.
The Pirates’ physical style of play couldn’t compete with the nimble Northern Brisbane jammers and the Queensland girls leapt out to an early lead, with a 72 point gap between the two teams at half-time. There was clearly one hell of a locker-room talk at half-time, and Pirate City locked down their defence in the second period. They held Northern Brisbane to just 40 points in the last half of the game. However, the damage had been done and with Pirate City’s jammers, led by Skate the Muss and Fia Fasi Oe?, putting up only 28 points of their own, Northern Brisbane took the upset.
Group E: Canberra vs Perth
Canberra and Perth put on a nail-biting show in the first game for this group, with four lead changes just in the second half. Perth led the penalty-heavy Canberra team 61-42 at the half and the game went back and forth until a 24-point jam for Canberra’s Shaggle Frock galvanised her team with six and a half minutes left to play.
Team Australia members Bambi von Smash’er and Shortstop took most of the subsequent turns with the jam star, opening up a 118-98 lead with 37 seconds left on the clock. In the final jam, Shortstop picked up a quick lead call and — to anxious groans from the crowd — opted to add a few more points to Canberra’s differential after the period clock expired. At the final whistle, the score stood at 124-98 in Canberra’s favour.
Group F: Sydney vs Ballarat
In the last of the first-round games, Sydney defeated Ballarat 155-79. The game had a slow start, with the score standing at 13-5 in Sydney’s favour after five minutes, but the Assassins opened up the throttle after that and by halftime, led 75-24.
Ballarat came out firing on all cylinders after halftime, more than doubling their first-period scoring in the second half. They also picked up a lot more lead jammer calls — Sydney had dominated these in the first half, but the two teams earnt them at a near-equal rate after the break. Warwick SnapHer stood out as a tireless jammer for Ballarat, leading the scoring for her team.
Group A: Auckland vs Newcastle
Auckland and Newcastle served up a nail-biting game in the second Group A match. In a bout that came down to the very last jam, Auckland ultimately came away with the win, 107-89.
The Kiwi girls opened the game with a 4-0 jam but Newcastle promptly turned around and put up a 30-0 jam. For most of the rest of the first half, the teams traded blows, rarely putting up more than a few points on a jam — until late in the half, Auckland picked up a 27-0 jam that gave them a solid lead at 53-26. Newcastle trailed 71-40 at halftime.
Auckland maintained their lead in the second half but late in the game, a 24-point run for an unopposed Newcastle jammer got them back in the game, bringing them to within four points of Auckland. Just eight points separated the teams as the last jam began, with Auckland at 96, Newcastle at 88, but the Kiwi jammer was able to open up the gap while holding the Newcastle jammer to a single point as the period clock expired.
Group B: South Sea vs Geelong
South Sea came from behind at the end of this game to steal an upset victory from Geelong, 110-96. While the game was unexpectedly close throughout, South Sea finally established a steady 10 point lead towards the end of the second half. Geelong had a couple of opportunities to close that gap but couldn’t capitalise, allowing South Sea to escape with the win.
Group C: Brisbane City vs Western Australia
Despite heavy penalty trouble, often fielding just two blockers, Brisbane City didn’t have a lot of trouble with the Western Australian squad, defeating them 180 to 78.
As in their earlier game, Penergy stood out as a jammer but Sarah Gardiner also turned some heads — she’s better known as Team Australia’s Juke Nukem. On the Western Australian side, Cassowary proved herself more than able as both a blocker and jammer.
Brisbane City’s Chaser on the Rocks was ejected early in the first half after a high hit on Western Australia’s Hot Wheels, who was assisted from the track by medical personnel. She’s suffering from a sore cheekbone and expecting an impressive black eye, but should be in shape to return to play if Western Australia progress to the elimination rounds.
Group D: Northern Brisbane vs Wollongong-Illawarra
Northern Brisbane emerged as the clear winners of their group, laying down big margins over both their first-round opponents. In their second game, they dominated Wollongong-Illawarra with a final score of 229-35.
The steady flow of Northern Brisbane points was punctuated with several big hits — Oh Hell No! and Thumperella both sent Wollongong-Illawarra’s iKandy flying. The second one proved too much for iKandy’s temper: she earnt a minute in the penalty box for insubordination immediately afterwards.
Group E: Gold Coast vs Perth
In the tournament’s closest game thus far, Gold Coast came from behind — not just in the final jam, but after the period clock had expired — to defeat Perth 130-125. Jamming unopposed and with a 4-2 pack advantage, the Gold Coast jammer equalised the score as the period clock hit 0, then added a final grand slam to take out the win.
The game turned on jammer penalties and with such a close final score, it’s no surprise that this bout was described as ‘duelling power jams’. The teams seemed to take turns racking up big jams and in the end, it seemed it was simply Gold Coast’s turn.
Group F: Ballarat vs Convict City
Ballarat and Convict City traded the lead late in the game, with Ballarat taking a three-point lead with around seven minutes left to play. They weren’t able to hold onto it, though, and the final score stood at Convict City 98, Ballarat 84.
Group A: Victoria vs Newcastle
The defending champs quickly established their dominance over the Newcastle squad, putting up fast-moving packs and a stifling defence. The last jam of the first half ended with Newcastle’s Godjilla Sold Separately down injured — she was assisted off the track by medics, but returned to play in the second period. The halftime score stood at 101-12 in Victoria’s favour and at the final whistle, Victoria had taken out a 233-51 win. With this win, Victoria secured their place as the winner of Group A and will progress to tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Group B: Sun State vs South Sea
Following their upset win over Geelong in the first game of their group, many expected South Sea to put up another surprising score against the second-ranked Sun State Roller Girls. However, it became clear that the first victory had come at a price and Sun State handed South Sea a 193-13 defeat. Sun State won their group and progress to tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Group C: Adelaide vs Western Australia
Adelaide were expected to dominate this game but when the first whistle blew, they struggled to adapt to a heavy Western Australian defence. It took them the whole first half to find their pace and maintain a consistent lead — every time Adelaide’s lead crept out to about 30 points, Western Australia would come back and narrow the gap.
The biggest margin of the day was 40 points, with the score standing at 111-71 in Adelaide’s favour with five minutes remaining to play and a final score of 118-78. Adelaide progress to tomorrow’s quarter-finals as the winners of Group C.
Group D: Pirate City vs Wollongong-Illawarra
The final score in this match-up was 168-103 in Pirate City’s favour; however, the final score doesn’t reflect the game’s closeness.
At half-time, Pirate City led Wollongong 59-33 but with 8 minutes remaining to play, the score stood at 69-all. Two minutes later, Pirate City had regained a one-point lead, 93-92. The final result turned on two power jams for Pirate City in the closing minutes of the game — and in the last one, the Pirates picked up more than 20 points. This jam was critical, securing Pirate City not only the win in this game, but a place in tomorrow’s elimination rounds as the team with the second-highest point differential. Group D was won by the Northern Brisbane Rollers.
Group E: Canberra vs Gold Coast
Canberra led throughout this game, holding a 65-0 lead 10 minutes into the first half before Gold Coast got on the board with eight unanswered points in back-to-back jams. The match turned on frequent jammer penalties, assessed against both sides, and jammer musical chairs broke out in the sin bin on multiple occasions. Canberra’s defence was generally able to effectively contain the ensuing power jams, but a 20-1 power jam for Gold Coast’s Death Angel early in the second half gave her team a little breathing room.
The second period opened with an unusual penalty box situation. Gold Coast’s Nikki Nitro picked up a major penalty followed by a second for insubordination. She released Canberra’s jammer, ValHannah, already seated in the box, but when Val found herself back in the sin bin, the penalty box operators failed to release her immediately — they took a minute off Nikki’s penalty, but kept ValHannah seated. The head ref skated to the penalty box to intervene but the situation ultimately required an official time-out to resolve.
At the final whistle, Canberra skated away with a 199-75 victory, winning Group E and a spot in tomorrow’s elimination rounds.
Group F: Sydney vs Convict City
Sydney served Convict City a 177-31 defeat in this match, which featured some impressive jamming from former Adelaide Roller Derby skater Ltl Whipit, back on her home turf. Skating for Sydney, she made a succession of scoring passes around the outside of the pack, ducking under blocks from Convict City skaters. Sydney’s Bacardi Bruiser, in her travel team debut, stood out with the star, with a 100% lead jammer rate. Most striking, though, was the huge crowd support for the underdog Convict City — the cheer when the girls from Hobart got on the board was audible in the next pavilion. Sydney won Group F and progress to tomorrow’s elimination rounds.
The group winners were:
Group A: Victorian Roller Derby League
Group B: Sun State Roller Girls
Group C: Adelaide Roller Derby
Group D: Northern Brisbane Rollers
Group E: Canberra Roller Derby League
Group F: Sydney Roller Derby League
The two remaining spots in the bracket are filled by Brisbane City Rollers (highest point differential) and Pirate City Rollers (second-highest point differential).
The elimination stage of the tournament begins tomorrow at 10am with four simultaneous quarter-finals.
Victoria will challenge Canberra on track 1; Adelaide will face a rematch with Brisbane City on track 2; Pirate City will have a second encounter with North Brisbane on track 3; and Sun State will meet Sydney on track 4.
The winners of each team will progress to the semi-finals at 4pm, while defeated teams will compete in a consolation bracket at 2pm.