British Champs T3 North: Gameday 1

Of the six leagues that make up Tier 3 Regional North of this year’s British Roller Derby Championships – Dundee Roller Girls, Fierce Valley Roller Girls, Hallam Hellcats Roller Derby, Hull’s Angels Roller Dames, Manchester Roller Derby and Preston Roller Girls – only one competed at the same level last year: Dundee Roller Girls, who finished third in the table, with a record of three wins to two losses.  H.A.R.D. and Manchester Roller Derby both took part in Tier 2 National North, where Manchester beat H.A.R.D. in their encounter.
Each of the other leagues moved up from Tier 4, Fierce Valley Roller Girls and Preston Roller Girls from T4 Local North as winners and runners up, and Hallam Hellcats from T4 Local Central North, as runners up.  The three teams faced off in the T4 North play-offs in November, where Hallam Hellcats beat Fierce Valley and Preston overcame Wolverhampton Honour Rollers to make the play-off final.  Hallam Hellcats took the victory on the day, and both leagues were promoted by making the final.
For Fierce Valley Roller Girls, T3 North contains some very familiar foes: both Dundee Roller Girls and Preston Roller Girls have faced FVRG on three occasions.  Dundee currently hold the edge with two victories to one, while FVRG have won each of their games against Preston.
Gameday 1 took place on Saturday 21st of February, in Preston.  The first game of the day saw FVRG take on H.A.R.D. before Dundee faced the host team.  From the first whistle, the game was very competitive, with neither team giving much ground.  H.A.R.D. took an early lead with some controlled offensive play before FVRG began to gain a foothold in the game.  Despite H.A.R.D.’s rock solid walls and good offensive play from both teams, FVRG’s jammers were finding a way through, and the first half ended with FVRG in the lead.
H.A.R.D. started the second half very strongly, living up to their name with strong offensive play and big hits, to narrow the points gap.  Both teams fought hard and were fairly evenly matched through the second half, with the result that the score was tied at 171-171 heading into the final few jams.  Just when we thought the tension couldn’t get any higher, FVRG took the lead by one point and the jam ended with just 3 seconds on the clock.  With a time-out called by H.A.R.D., one final jam was played and a final lead change occurred, H.A.R.D. eventually winning the game by 182-178.
Dundee’s Silvery Tayzers travelled to Preston for their first Champs game of the season, having never met the home team before. Both teams set up in a very similar fashion using strong defensive walls and some useful offense for their jammers to take. Dundee started the game well with Preston giving away a powerjam in the first jam, allowing Dundee to move into a quick lead. Dundee were able to build on this with some good defence and recycling from their blockers allowing the jammers to score valuable points and extend the lead into halftime with the score 53 – 158 in Dundee’s favour. The second half followed in the same fashion with both teams playing some great offense and Preston picking up some more points, but Dundee were able to see out the game with a 111-262 victory.
The next date in the T3 calendar is 20th March, when Dundee will travel to Manchester to take on the hosts, and Preston will face H.A.R.D.  The all-Scottish clash is next up at the FVRG-hosted double header on 23rd April, which will also feature Manchester against Hallam Hellcats.  Dundee welcome H.A.R.D. at home on 21st May, when FVRG will also face Hallam Hellcats.
Photos courtesy of Johannes von Voges

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