THE SOUTH COAST DECIDER – Portsmouth Roller Wenches v Brighton Rockers Preview

This Saturday 25th March (ie tomorrow) sees the final instalment in what has become an almost three years long best of three series between south coast roller derby titans Brighton and Portsmouth. The action takes place at Havant Leisure Centre from 3.25pm (doors at 3) with the epic A-team decider up first, followed by a first ever open door meeting between the two leagues’ B-teams. Tickets are £7 (including booking fee) from the link at the bottom of this piece. Online sales close at midnight or you can pay £8 on the door tomorrow.

Havant is on the Brighton side of Portsmouth, so it’s a short trip of around an hour by road or rail. Car users should point their Sat Navs at PO9 2AY, whilst direct trains from Brighton are at 12 and 42 past the hour. A day return to Havant costs less than £9 with a railcard. Please note that the after party is at the Wave Maiden craft beer bar in Osborne Road, Southsea, around 20 minutes walk from Portsmouth & Southsea station. Anyone travelling by train who is thinking of hitting the after party would be well advised to spend an extra quid or so to get their ticket to Portsmouth & Southsea rather than Havant (breaking your journey is allowed).

Havant Leisure Centre (NB Google may try to trick you into going to the Horizon Leisure Centre in Waterlooville instead) is around seven minutes walk north of Havant station, set amidst various civic buildings as the name Civic Centre Road might suggest. Pubs in the area are generally a bit rough and ready – the best is probably the Parchment Makers (Wetherspoons) five minutes walk south west from the station, nine from the venue. Although it’s an away game this is actually the second closest roller derby venue to Brighton (after Haywards Heath), so we hope as many Rockers fans as possible can travel across for tomorrow’s games.

PREDICTIONS & PAST RESULTS
[Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t like reading predictions before a game.] Portsmouth’s A-team currently place 22nd in the UKRDA on 597.3 points, with the Rockers a smidgeon behind in 24th (595.0). The prediction machine at flattrackstats.com gives the Wenches 57% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 32:29 working out at something like a 192-174 home win. FTS also offers a prediction based on the Euro rankings, but given how spangled Brighton’s placing is after recent games against continental sides we don’t dare press the button for that!

We have to use Euro rankings for the B-team game though, and these suggest the Rockerbillies are in for a challenge. Portsmouth’s B-team place 157th on 516.1 points, with the Brighton Bs 362nd on 436.4. The hosts are given a 93% chance of victory here, with an expected differential of 55:23 working out at something like a 275-115 win for Pompey B. It’s worth noting that these B-team rankings are based on a small number of games – the home side’s last ranked match was around a year ago – so they’re probably not that great an indicator re tomorrow’s second string game.

We don’t just have the FTS computer for guidance when it comes to the A-team match-up. Do past results hold an indication of what to expect? The first public game between the two leagues was exactly two years and five months ago on 25th October 2014 in Havant. The final score then was Portsmouth 159 – Brighton 221. The two sides didn’t have long to wait for a rematch. This was a British Champs game in Haywards Heath on 11th July 2015 which saw the Wenches upset the odds to effectively relegate the Rockers from Tier 2 South. Final score: Brighton 150 – Portsmouth 215.

It’s notable just how similar the scores from those two games are. A lot of time has passed since the most recent match-up, but if past scores are anything to go by both leagues have reason to be confident. Brighton can point to the fact that they are the away team – both previous games saw away wins. The Wenches meanwhile have the upper hand overall, albeit by a tiny amount. The current aggregate score is Portsmouth 374 – Brighton 371. So how is tomorrow’s decider going to play out? Head on over to Havant Leisure Centre to find out. In the meantime, let’s hear what members of both leagues are expecting…

THE DUCHESS OF CRUTCHES – PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES

On the off-chance someone reading this doesn’t know of the Portsmouth Roller Wenches, can you give us a quick summary of your history and achievements to date?
We are a six year old UKRDA league and came up alongside Brighton as “south coast sisters”. We count our growing comprehensive Fresh Meat program as one of our recent achievements, alongside spreading the word of roller derby in our local area through promotion of the league. We played two seasons in Tier 2 of British Champs but left the format to travel and play more European games. We are ranked in the top 12% of the European table and we’re big in Japan.

What are you expecting from Saturday’s A-team game against the Rockers? Care to predict the result?
I don’t think past Wench/Rocker results will be any indicator of what’s to come tomorrow. Both teams have evolved and changed so much since they last met. I can predict that both teams will want it and both teams will fight for it.

Being an hour apart on the coast the two leagues presumably know each other fairly well. Any particular Brighton players or tactics you’ll be looking out for tomorrow?
We don’t have a tendency to give too much thought to individual players, just the big picture. We are familiar with the Rockers’ most recent game play as we were able to watch them play against Vienna earlier this month.

Similarly, any particular players or tactics the audience should look out for from the Wenches A-team?
Um, I obviously won’t be divulging anything specific tactically, only to say that what we have been working on is looking tight and right. I’m sure the audience will clock the marvellous new talent we have making their A-team home debuts in this game.

The day’s second game sees a first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams. How are you expecting that one to go?
I hope this will be a fun and fulfilling game for both B-teams. Our leagues have a lot of history and these skaters are the future of both the Rockers and Wenches, so I hope they carry on the tradition. Look out for some of our Bs who are also making their Wench home debuts.

Finally, for those Rockers fans travelling across to Havant on Saturday, what can we expect from your venue? And from the after party?
There will be fabulous merch stalls including Hoodlum Fang, Skate Station and more, along with great raffle prizes and baked goods. There will be a bar and food available upstairs at the sports hall, and if we’re all lucky our sponsor Nando’s Gunwarf will be sending the Nando’s Chicken along to cheer us on! The after party takes place in the best bar in Southsea, which is of course The Wave Maiden. We really hope everyone can join us after the games for some refreshing craft beer and delicious homemade food in this skater owned and operated pub. Chances are there will also be dancing and whisky slaps. Yes, this also happens to be my bar! 🙂



SKATE BUSH – BRIGHTON ROCKERS

Care to predict the result of Saturday’s A-team game against the Wenches?
We always enjoy playing Portsmouth – they are an amazing team with super strong players – but we’re gunning for the big win. We are working on getting our rankings back this year and this is a good place for us to start.

Being south coast neighbours you presumable know the Portsmouth league quite well? Any particular players or tactics of theirs that you’ll be looking out for?
We do know each other really well. We even trade players occasionally, eg Little Miss Demeanor :o) If they’re playing we’ll be looking out for people like Nina Nunchucks, Dropkick Molly and Valkyrie Pain – she’s a brutal blocker and jammer – but we’ve been practicing taking the big hits so we are ready for them all.

Any players or tactics to look out for from the Rockers in the A-team game?
We’ve been working really hard on our walls (nothing new there) but recently we’ve taken to being really flexible in the way we form them. We’ve always been an adaptive team but that’s really improved recently. Having Finn McCruel join us last year has really upped our blocking and offensive work – so watch out for some super strong walls and some killer offense.

Any thoughts on the first ever meeting of the Portsmouth and Brighton B-teams?
Our B-team is really strong at the moment. We’ve got some amazing new players coming up through the ranks and our crossovers are a force to be reckoned with. Watch out for Farmergeddon – she’s been teaching us some of Brawling’s tricks of the trade recently.

Hopefully as many Rockers fans as possible will make the short trip along the coast on Saturday. Any message for them?
We love you. It makes such a difference having our fans cheering us on and our fans are obviously the best – plus they help us smash the after party.

Finally, any other games/events (that you can tell us about) on the horizon for the Rockers in 2017?
Our next game is away to Norfolk Brawds in April and then we’ve got a few exciting games in the pipeline but nothing confirmed yet. We’ll announce the games when they’re confirmed on our website and Facebook page, so keep an eye out.

THERE’S ANOTHER PREVIEW OF TOMORROW’S GAMES (INCLUDING THE VIEWS OF OTHER BRIGHTON AND PORTSMOUTH SKATERS) ON PAGE 14 OF OUR LATEST FANZINE. CLICK HERE FOR THE ONLINE VERSION.

[Photos by John Hesse]

LINKS
TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2858244
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1228722217209474/
FB AFTER PARTY: https://www.facebook.com/events/1368304253189741/
ROCKERS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
WENCHES: http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/

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