Apr 2014 18

As the 5×5 championship 2013 came to a climactic close at the Grand Final last year in August, it was clear that although the dolls and droids were heading into our yearly break over Christmas and New Year celebrations, this year, there was NOT going to be an offseason. 5×5 2013 proved that the vastly rising roller derby community within the Sydney metropolitan and surrounding areas was growing a network of strong, hard hitting and athletic women who were in it to win it. It was obvious from the high levels of sportsmanship and athleticism shown consistently throughout 2013 that in 2014 the 5×5 championship was going to be bigger, stronger, and faster and will bring in more crowds of new and loyal fans of the sport than any event held before.

Fast forward to the 29th March 2014, the first round of the 5×5 championship tournament. Two divisions; Armageddon (South Side, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Varsity from Canberra, and Western Sydney) and Battlegrounds (Central Coast, Hawkesbury/Hills, Inner West, Northern Beaches, and Outcast Roller Derby from Bateau Bay). This year the tournament features ten teams competing over a course of six hard-hitting months to win the championship title.

This round saw 8 teams go head to head in the Central Coast Roller Girls’ home grounds in Niagara Park in 4 bouts making a full 12 hour day of hard knocks and fast paced roller derby. First game of the day sees Blue Mountains up against 5×5 first-timers Wollongong.  Wollongong took the win as the official score read 218-59. In the Battlegrounds division, Inner West took on the new league Outcast Roller Derby and celebrate with a 300-110 win. The first two games of the day saw big strides and even bigger hits.

As the afternoon action brings more crowds into the stadium, tensions rise and the buzzing atmosphere swells as South Side (S2D2) take to the track against the Western Sydney Rollers (WSR). WSR are new to the 5×5 tournament this year but are far from strangers to regional tournaments, having won the Eastern Region Roller Derby (ERRD) tournament in October 2013.

The game is off to a breathtakingly suspenseful start, as WSR put the brakes on The Force with impenetrable walls and strong defence, forcing Southside to collect small points in each jam to amount to a 24-0 lead after the first 5 minutes of the game. A power jam to WSR closes the gap raising tensions with a score of 32-20 ten minutes in. As the first game played by The Force under the new 30 second penalty rule-set, it was clearly displayed to the audience and skaters just how hard teams must work in order to make the most out of a power jam situation. As the points slowly creep up in smaller increments due to a heavy focus on walls and strong defence to keep the jammers back and three more power jams to The Force by PorFavor, DaniHell and Agrodite and one more power jam to WSR, the first half score at 71-47 reveals little on who might take the win tonight.

The first two jams of the second half saw WSR coming back with vengeance picking up more points ending on 71-60 and working hard to close that gap. It is clear that jammers at this point are taking no precautions, grabbing points where they find them and carefully chipping away at the divide. The second half of the game saw some amazing blocks from The Force as big hits were given and taken, demonstrating the power and athleticism of these women and proving indeed that there was NO offseason last year. Minnie Moussacre single-handedly lays a big hit on one of WSR’s jammers that is felt by all those in suicide seating. Winnie Bruise, a recently new member to the force, charges to the front of the pack when it seems all hope is lost to catch jammers and bring them all the way back by impeccable full body hits to the line. Ankle Biter’s controlled and precise positional blocking bought time for The Force to effectively recycle and reset a powerful defensive line against WSR’s jammers. As WSR were also pulling out all stops in defence, South Side’s frequent jammers such as Captain PorFavor, Agrodite, Ankle Biter, DaniHell and Fairy Bled to jam more aggressively than ever and fight hard to make those gaps to speed through. A strong defence and aggressive jamming led The Force to build on their lead in the second half, securing 120-82 with ten minutes left of the second half. The official final 190-88 was a hard fought game with The Force working hard to build on their lead in a close and tense game.

The last game of the night saw the hosts of round 1, Central Coast Valkyries against Hawksbury Area CamoKazis. Donning their new uniforms, Central Coast took the win with an official final of 266-80.

It was clear that all teams brought their A-game tonight with high levels of teamwork and sportsmanship being demonstrated to send round 1 of the 5×5 roller derby championships 2014 off with a bang!

Recap by Gnarley Quinn of South Side Derby Dolls.

Gnarley Quinn - supanova