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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Turn Left Issue 19 Now Online

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The biggest Dolphin crowd in quite a while saw the Brighton Rockers A-team and B-team both suffering defeat at the wheels of a very impressive Vienna Roller Derby. The big crowd means we only have a couple of spare physical copies of our fanzine, which are headed for the flyers shelf in the Evening Star pub. Please note: The Star is currently closed for a refurb, our magazines will be in there shortly after it reopens on Monday week (13th). If you can’t wait (or get to Brighton) then just click on the cover image above to be propelled towards the online version of the mag. Inside you’ll find our biggest interview ever (with Shambolic and Finn McCruel), Rockers Head Ref LaserHammer on the recent changes to the rules, a preview of the upcoming away games in Porstmouth, and much more. Special thanks to all our lovely interviewees, photographers and awesomes advertisers including http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/ http://www.turnleftderby.com/ and http://www.portsmouthrollerwenches.com/ Yay!

Brighton Rockers AllStars v Croydon Riot Squad Preview (inc recap of both teams’ last games)

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The mighty Brighton Rockers AllStars take on their ‘friendly rivals’ Croydon Riot Squad at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath this Sunday 22nd May. A home game for Brighton on a Sunday is something of a rarity (we can only think of one previous occasion) so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity for a post-roast festival of sport. ‘Festival’ being the operative word, since the game, despite its geographical remove, is part of Brighton Fringe Festival.
    Doors open at 4pm (first whistle is at 4.30) and tickets are available online for £10 adults, £8 concessions and free for under 12s. You can also get four adult tickets for the price of three. Tickets are available from both the Brighton Rockers and Fringe Festival websites, but we recommend the former as there’s a small fee added at the latter. We have a full preview of this epic game lower down, but first off we’ll recap two other derby events that have taken place at the Dolphin in the past couple of weeks. Given that these two events were hosted by Brighton and Croydon respectively, they provide useful clues for what to expect on Sunday…

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SATURDAY 30TH APRIL: BRIGHTON V NEWCASTLE B REPORT
Coming in off the back of a great display – albeit a small loss – away to London’s Batter C Power in March, the Rockers AllStars round off April by facing the Whippin’ Hinnies B-team of Newcastle Roller Girls. Newcastle’s A-team is the top ranked English team in UKRDA and has already won this year’s British Champs with two months left to go, so it’s no surprise that their second team are favourites here. Flattrackstats expect the Hinnies to win but by the tiniest of margins (six or seven points). Seven jams in and the margin is invisible. It’s a tied game at 20-20, Joanna Bruisin’ and Blackjack Belle doing much of the damage for the Geordies, with Gin Atomic and Shambolic scoring well for Brighton. Hairy Fairy and Obliviator doing good work to peg back Mills & Boom now as Skate Bush edges Brighton ahead.
    Our companion is disappointed that Newcastle don’t play in black and white stripes – “make the refs play in green or something” – as fantastic jams from Sham and Skate give the Rockers an unexpected 48-21 lead. Sham is back in the star a few jams later, ducking and diving through the Hinnies pack to chalk up 25 points. After an extended break for travelling a year or so ago, the nimble ninja is back to her best as she helps Brighton to a chunky 107-42 interval lead. The second half sees the Rockers continue to dominate. Khal Jojo and Pretty Skate Machine are amongst the standout blockers for Newcastle, with Hairy, Gin, Emma The Condemner and others proving super solid for the home side.
    With the scores at 134-67 there is an extended stoppage for treatment to tough Brighton blocker Chaka Carnage. She will play no further part in the game and her injury takes some wind out of the Rockers’ sails. The Hinnies take advantage of Brighton’s slight loss of momentum to start clawing back at the lead; the home side have started picking up noticeably more blocker penalties now. Another Rockers injury sees ever impressive starhead Skate Bush bowing out of the match. With further Brighton skaters such as Sham picking up knocks, the home side are glad to make it to the final whistle with a decent victory margin still intact. This 170-143 win is the Rockers’ first open door success since beating Leeds side Hot Wheel, also by 27 points, in May of last year. Without the injuries we would have likely been looking at closer to a three figure differential here. Rest assured that this win not only builds upon the performance against Batter C, but (especially coming after seven straight losses) also marks a turning point for the rapidly improving AllStars.
    Today’s proceedings began with the B-team facing the Hoodlum Gang, a mixed league side organised by the Hoodlum Fang fashion label. That match ended in a 168-223 defeat for the Rockerbillies and saw a great performance from both sides. For Hoodlum the likes of Chunder Woman, Grace Bopper, Ore Raura and the appropriately named Hench were amongst the standouts. In the Rockerbillies ranks, plaudits go to Lab Wrath, Bionic Betty (here playing her final game for Brighton), fast jamming Shakesbeer and many others. No doubt there’s a whole slew of future A-team regulars in the ‘billies ranks. Indeed, B-team MVP Hippy Hippy Skate put in a great stint for the As today too. The day ends with Gin Atomic’s 30th birthday celebrations, a surprise on track marriage proposal for Cake Or Death (many congrats to her and Phil), and a suitably messy after party back in Brighton.

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SATURDAY 14TH MAY: CROYDON V LRR REPORT
With barely time to catch our breath, the sound of clacking derby skate wheels returns to the Dolphin two weeks later. Last year three teams in the British Championships (Brighton, Eastbourne and Croydon) hosted games here. With the first two having withdrawn from the 2016 tournament, today’s Croydon hosted double header is most likely the only Champs action that Haywards Heath will see this year. First up is Bristol Roller Derby v Portsmouth Roller Wenches. Based on last year’s Tier 2 South results we’re expecting Bristol to dominate this one. Flattrackstats agrees, but it’s the Wenches who are fastest out of the gates, taking a 20-3 lead over the first few jams. Nina Nunchucks and Psyclone DestroyHer particularly effective in the Pompey star, but a power jam sees Bristol clawing their way back. Hard N Sharpe and Delta Strike are chalking up points for BRD, with RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches. Lead change! 46-45 to Bristol.
    Great blocking from the likes of Valkyrie Pain and Rosie Rocketpants for PRW; likewise from Black Thorn, President Garfield and others for Brizzle. Portsmouth’s blockers in particular are picking up a lot of penalties here. In fact, Valkyrie picks up her seventh with a quarter of the first half still to go, leaving the game. Successive power jams from Psyclone and Nunchucks sees the Wenches snatch a half time lead of 123-117. Pompey extending their lead at the start of the second, but Bristol peg them back to 169-160. Delta Strike and The Blizzard jamming in points for BRD. McMurphy and Elke Dickson sturdy in the Wenches defence. Jammer switcharoos aplenty and Rosie becomes PRW’s second foul out. That means more jams (and more penalties) for those left, and the domino effect sees two more Wenches sent to the stands, with at least one Bristolian joining them. What’s left of the Pompey squad holds firm for an unexpected 306-276 win.
    It’s hosts Croydon Riot Squad v London Rockin’ Rollers next, and the latter go into this one as firm favourites. We think this game can’t possibly be as exciting as the last one, but it turns out we’re very wrong. There are three lead changes in the opening few minutes, but that’s not unusual as teams feel each other out before one side starts to impose themselves. It seems that side could be LRR as a well used power jam sees them take a 21-11 advantage. This looks like being a fairly low scoring contest with two very solid defensive units at play. Total Bevlam, Smashasaurus Bex and Polly Filla amongst the standout defenders for Croydon here; Miss Justice, Von Bitch, Rammit and others proving equi-tough in the London packs. LRR look like they might run away with things with the scores at 50-13, but the Flying Kiwi and Dyduch are amongst those putting in great turns in the star for Riot Squad. Suddenly London’s lead is a single point (54-53). It’s not often that there’s only one point between the sides during a roller derby game, but this margin will be repeated several more times before the game is done. Starting with a lead change that puts Croydon 62-61 ahead.
    The Croydonians stretch this to a seven point gap (75-69) at the interval, but this game has plenty of drama to come. Queen Mob, Rammit and Jack Attack putting in some ferocious turns in the London star, with Jacks chalking up another lead change and single point margin. LRR leading 90-89 and starting to pull away now, but Croydon are fighting hard and keeping in touch. Riot Squad icon Apocalex, here playing her last game for the side, amongst those battling in the purple packs. Meanwhile, Agent Cooper is being let off the leash more in the Cronx star, swooping and sweeping at speed through the walls of red. CRD keeping within ten or fifteen points of the Rockin’ Rollers here. Ten to fifteen points being that sweet spot in derby differentials – the gap it can just take a 30 second power jam to close. Riot Squad battle hard but LRR keep their noses in front, taking the game by a much closer than predicted margin: 151-137.

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SUNDAY 22ND MAY: BRIGHTON V CROYDON PREVIEW
So what have we learned from those very recent Brighton and Croydon games? Firstly, both sides fared better than the rankings computer had predicted, suggesting that both leagues are currently on an upwards trajectory. Though there have been a few closed door games between Brighton and Croydon, the A-teams have only met once before in public. That was in July 2014 (at, where else, the Dolphin) and the Rockers took the win that time 163-151. Super close! So what’s expected this time?
    ***SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t like knowing Flattrackstats predictions ahead of a game then skip past this paragraph*** There are two different rankings systems on the FTS website. The UK Roller Derby Association one is, as you’d expect, based on the results of UKRDA sanctioned games only. Brighton currently place 19th in the table on 602.3 points, with Croydon just behind in 20th (599.5). FTS gives the Rockers 58% chance of taking the win here, with an expected differential of 51:46 equating to something like a 153-138 Brighton win. Switch to the Europe-wide rankings system, however, and Cronx place higher. They’re 45th on 619.2 points, with the Rockers 69th on 584.8. Run those stats through the predictometer and there’s 69% chance of a CRD win. Predicted differential of 17:13 suggests something like a 170-130 Riot Squad victory in this case. In other words, this one really could go either way!
    The venue is as ever the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, which is seven minutes walk from the train station (turn left and follow the signs stuck to lamp posts). Point your Sat Nav at RH16 1LY if driving. The pub opposite the station, the Burrell Arms, is OK for a pre-game pint, if a little football geezer-y. There’s a very large Sainsbury’s (with ATMs outside) halfway between the station and leisure centre. Be warned that this closes at 4pm on Sunday, so get any provisions prior to doors opening at the roller derby. The last two events have seen the Dolphin move their stash of booze from the lobby cafe to a table in the sports hall itself. This is awesomely convenient, but we suspect is largely aimed at not having a queue of green-haired derby types scaring off parents arriving to drop off kids at the pool. Expect to pay between three and four quid for a bottle of beer/cider/wine, and please leave the London Pride for us (there’s never enough). The after party is at Idelwild, a bistro bar on Haywards Heath Broadway, about twelve minutes walk from the Dolphin.
    Snap up your tickets for this epic rematch in advance from the link below. There will also be tickets available on the door. Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our unofficial Brighton Rockers fanzine Turn Left on your way in. Sunday’s issue is jam-packed with stuff including… Best mates Gin Atomic and Agent Cooper (playing on opposite sides for the first time in an open door sanctioned game) have a huge banter-off ahead of the contest. Mass Janeycide and Noise Tank trade tips on bench coaching the Rockers. Emma the Condemner selects the programme for a Brighton Rockers themed arts festival. We also hear from Croydon captain Dyduch and others, plus the latest news from all six Sussex roller derby teams and more. See you there!

[Photos by John Hesse, except CRD v LRR by Neil Biggs]

LINKS
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
FB EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/767370616727093/
BRIGHTON: http://www.brightonrockers.com/
CROYDON: http://croydonrollerderby.co.uk/

Turn Left Issue 12 Now Online

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Sunday saw the mighty Brighton Rockers hosted the final day of British Championship Tier 2 South action. Playoff and relegation places were decided as the Rockers took on the London Rockin’ Rollers, Royal Windsor Rollergirls did battle with Bristol Roller Derby, and Portsmouth Roller Wenches faced the Seaside Sirens. We’ll have a full report on the day’s events in the next week or so. Did you miss out on a copy of the fanzine we gave out on at the game? It features interviews with all six competing teams, loads of stats (including top jammer and blocker tables for all the sides), a report on the Brighton B-team’s Eastbourne Extreme debut and more. Click on the image above to read the online version. All the physical copies were snapped up on the day, so unfortunately there are none in the Evening Star this time. Sorry!

PS Check out our lovely advertisers:
http://hoodlumfang.bigcartel.com/
http://www.meadowyurts.co.uk/
http://www.thewick.pub/
http://www.skates.co.uk/
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http://ukderby.com/
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http://www.bournebombshellsrollerderby.co.uk/

British Champs UKRDA National South Final Day Preview (inc Day 6 Report)

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This Sunday (9th August) sees the British Champs Tier 2 South season reach its crescendo at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath. In most divisions there’s often nothing to play for on the final day. Here in T2 South there’s *everything* to play for. Three teams (Royal Windsor, Bristol and London Rockin’ Rollers) are vying for two playoff places, whilst another three (Brighton Rockers, Portsmouth and Seaside Sirens) are fighting to stay in the division – two of the latter trio will be relegated to Tier 3. We have a full preview of Sunday’s action, with predictions plus quotes from all six teams taking part, further down this piece. We begin though with a look at how things went in the previous T2 South Game Day, also in Haywards Heath, last month…

People have said we often concentrate more on a venue’s beer selection in these reports than on the actual roller derby. Whilst we don’t think that’s the case, WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE DOLPHIN CAFE TODAY? Usually it has a selection of bottled ales and lagers, and although these will run out during the day, there’s always at the very least a few ciders or Bacardi Breezers left at the end. Not today. The first game hasn’t even started as we bound up to the bar. “What fine ales do you have, o Yeoman of the Caff?” we ask. Blank look. “What beers are you selling?” A shake of the head. “Lager? Cider?” More head shakes. “What alcohol do you have?” Our server gestures to four bottles sat atop the fridges. Two miniatures of white wine, one of red wine and one Smirnoff Ice. Our faces drop at the realisation this is all they will be selling today. Then drop even further when we realise these aren’t a display of the drinks they stock, these *are* the drinks they stock. Just these four warm (no-one thought to put them in the fridge) bottles. That’s it. We buy the whites and Smirnoff Ice, leaving just one 187ml bottle of red wine for everybody else in the hall to share.

MEMO TO THE BRIGHTON ROCKERS: PLEASE SUGGEST TO THE DOLPHIN THAT THEY GET SOME BEERS AND THAT IN FOR SUNDAY. NOT ONLY IS IT GOING TO BE A VERY LONG DAY OF DERBY WATCHING, BUT THE WHOLE ‘SUNDAY’ THING MEANS THE NEARBY SAINSBURY’S SHUTS AT 4PM. AU SECOURS! THANKS XXX

First up on track is the all conquering Royal Windsor versus the London Rockin’ Rollers. LRR have big playoff aspirations this season, but such is RWRG’s dominance of the division that the main aim in this game is surely to keep the differential down. LRR are just 17 points worse off than second place Bristol differential wise, but every point that Windsor beat them by here will add to that gap. The first few jams are low scoring as the two sides test out their opponent’s defences. With things standing at 15 points apiece seven minutes in, the division’s star jammer Cle-Blam-O sets to work, effortlessly driving in 20 points with Rammit picking up none in return. It’s 35-15 to Windsor, but good work from Pand’Assassin sees LRR close back to 34-42. The likes of Mimika Mayhem and DisorderLee putting in tough blocks for the Londoners, but Windsor’s jammers – particular Cle-Blam-o and Culverhouse – are super wily, and the Royals go into the break 123-83 up. That’s damn near spot on the predicted 3:2 differential.

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The second half sees LRR rally. Some great apex jump sprinkled jammer outings from Rammit, taking advantage of a bigger than usual blocker penalty accruement from RWRG, and the ladies in red have closed the gap to 137-171. Star pass problems for Miss N Link put Windsor back in the ascendancy, but LRR are keeping the gap down to the 40 points they were behind at the break. They are also gaining lead jammer status way more often than anyone else has managed against Windsor in Champs, just 14-16 behind in leads midway through the second half. Culverhouse powering through again and again now, taking advantage of her low centre of gravity to dip straight through the middle of the London pack for a series of natural fives. “Let’s go London, let’s go…” chants from the rowdy travelling support, who are small in number as indeed is the crowd in general. (London Rollergirls are hosting an event in South London that has leeched a fair chunk of today’s potential audience.) Windsor holding the LRR jammers back through tough blocking from Laptalis, Hillsdon, Riley Cyrus and others. We can’t help noticing that half the Windsor squad are single named, with the rest rarely more than eleven characters. RWRG must have the lowest ‘letters on the back of shirts’ expenditure in UK derby. Von Bitch throwing hits at Cle-Blam-O left right and centre, but the Windsor jammer is through. Rollin Stone R calling a team timeout with the clock on fifteen seconds to force a final jam, and the 3:2 prediction turns out remarkably close with a final score of 296-197 (we make that a differential of 3:1.99662).

The day’s second game, featuring the hosting Brighton Rockers up against Portsmouth Roller Wenches, is a biggie. Should Brighton win they will guarantee their own survival whilst sending Portsmouth and the Seaside Sirens to Tier 3. Victory for the Wenches will make PRW favourites for survival due to having the easier final game (v Sirens). Rockers picking up a lot of defensive penalties in the early stages, with Mass Janeycide calling an early team timeout in response. Wenches sending out really tough packs here, with the likes of RIP McMurphy, Dropkick Molly and Halcyon Daze proving a challenge to pass. The Duchess of Crutches is a particular ‘last line of defence’ annoyance to the Sussex jammers, with Brighton forced into quite a few star passes over the course of the game. The Rockers are battling hard – Hairy Fairy and Chaka Carnage sturdy in the packs as Swann trades hits with McMurphy on a regular basis – but the Wenches defence is taking it out of the Brightonians. Sussex starheads looking knackered as PRW call a team timeout with a 74-26 lead. Skate Bush toughing it out well against Duchess as the impressive recent A-team addition claws some back for the Rockers. Final jam of the period is a masterclass of staying in bounds from Dr Whooligan, who shakes off tough hits to score eighteen without reply. It’s 91-56 to Portsmouth at the break.

As a line forms at the cafe – do they not know we drank all the booze? – we do a bit of maths. There’s two ways this could go. Brighton could produce one of their famed second half revivals to send Portsmouth down. Or the Wenches could hold on for the win. The latter would put these two sides level on points, with only differential separating them. At the interval the Rockers are 89 points better off on -113 compared to PRW’s -202. Every point more or less than the current 35 scoreline gap that Portsmouth win by here will add or subtract two from that 89. Each point is worth two since it’s +1 to one side and -1 to the other. Yikes! Things start out better defensively for Brighton as play resumes, with Hairy Fairy sending Nina Nunchucks to ground as the Rockers packs fight to keep Duchess out of their own jammers’ way. Gin Atomic takes advantage of a penalty call on RIP McMurphy to win the fourth jam 23-4. Rockers have closed it to 97-112. McMurphy off now with what looks like a recurrence of the nose injury she picked up in Pompey’s previous Champs game. Wenches 120-100 up with twenty minutes to go. Psyclone DestroyHer putting up some good points for PRW now, before Molly takes advantage of a power jam start to open up a bigger gap for the visitors. Portsmouth timeout as they lead 189-135. “Gin, Gin, Gin, Gin” chants from the Rockers bench – hopefully whoever stocks the cafe is listening, but they’re actually chanting for Atomic, who claws a few back. There’s not enough time left for a Rockers rally though, and the Wenches close out a 215-150 win.

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HOW THINGS CURRENTLY STAND: The Rockers and Wenches repair to the beer garden of Brighton’s Hobgoblin pub for an old school after party with pot luck panties, limbo dancing, gin roulette and more. We sit in the corner with a calculator working out how things stand ahead of the final divisional Game Day (this Sunday). Essentially the Tier 2 South is now split in half. The top three could all finish in any of those positions (1st, 2nd and 3rd) with the top two progressing to Playoffs against two Tier 2 North sides in LRR’s venue, Newham Leisure Centre, on September 19th. Similarly, the bottom three could all finish 4th, 5th or 6th. Only the team finishing fourth will remain in Tier 2, with the other two sides relegated to Tier 3.

It’s fairly unlikely that Windsor will miss out on Playoffs or that Sirens will stay up, so the real battle is between LRR and Bristol (both currently on nine points) for the second playoff place, and between Brighton and Portsmouth (both on three points) for fourth place survival. If these pairs match results – eg both LRR and Bristol lose on Sunday – then placings are decided on score differential. Bristol are currently 116 differential better off than LRR, with Brighton 29 (not 31 like we maths wrong in Sunday’s fanzine) better off than PRW. What happens if two sides finish up on the same points *and* same differential? We put the question to Champs Tournament Head NSO Pettichoke, who tells us, “it’s then decided by the result when those two teams met.” This gives LRR (who beat Bristol) and Portsmouth (who beat Brighton) the edge in ties. If you understand all of the above, well done. Please can you explain it to us.

GAME DAY SEVEN @ SUNDAY 9TH AUGUST:
This weekend’s event, the final Tier 2 South Game Day, is something of a first for Brighton as hosts. The first time (we think) they’ve hosted an open door on a Sunday, and the first time (we’re sure) they’ve hosted a triple header. As you’d expect, fitting in three games means a fairly early start. Doors are at 12.30pm with the first game whistling off at 1.05pm. We advise early arrival since the first game is Brighton v LRR, which is likely to be the day’s closest match-up and will also set up what the teams in the other two games need to achieve to make Playoffs or avoid relegation. Tickets are available online from the link at the bottom of this piece, priced at £12 adults, £10 students, free for under 12s. There’s also a 4-for-the-price-of-3 offer. Tickets will also be available on the door (same price, but no 4-for-3).

The Dolphin is situated seven minutes walk from Haywards Heath train station (turn left and follow the signs) and has parking out front. Somehow National Rail have forgotten to schedule any engineering work – yay! – but bear in mind that trains will be fewer and a little slower on a Sunday. There’s a Sainsbury’s (with ATMs) halfway between the station and leisure centre. The supermarket itself shuts at 4pm due to Sunday trading laws, so let’s hope the Dolphin has remembered to stock up on booze, grub and soft drinks. The after party is taking place at the Witch Inn Sergison Arms Savannah Cafe Bar, which is around fifteen minutes walk from the Dolphin; head back to the train station and hang right at the roundabout just past the station – it’s on the left five mins down the road.

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of our fanzine Turn Left on the door on Sunday (and mentally rewrite any reference to the differential gap between Brighton and PRW as 29, rather than the 30, 31 or 32 we wrongly state on different pages!). It includes interviews with players from all six teams, tables listing the top performing jammers and blockers on each side, a report on last month’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament which featured the Brighton B-team, and much more. We’ll leave you with the thoughts of participants, neutrals and prediction computers on all three of Sunday’s games…

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1.05 PM: BRIGHTON ROCKERS V LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS

WHAT TO EXPECT: Although all three of the day’s games are important ones with plenty at stake, this first game is arguably the most important as it sets up what the teams playing later will need to do. The most interesting result would be a Brighton win, as this would then set Bristol a target that they must lose by less than against Windsor (to beat LRR to a playoff place) and also set Portsmouth a target they’ll need to beat Sirens by to survive relegation at Brighton’s expense. This game looks like it could be a close one, with Flattrackstats giving LRR a 57% chance of victory and a predicted differential of 29:27. That would equate to something like a 203-189 win for the visitors, which is super close in derby terms.

DR WHOOLIGAN, BRIGHTON ROCKERS: “Shambolic is back for this one. Straight from her adventures abroad, Sham has dug out (and hopefully Febrezed) her skates and returned to the track. We also have Rose Bleed back in the pack. Skate Bush is back on jamming; she’s had an amazing Champs, jamming straight away from her first game with the Rockers. LRR are very similar to us on and off the track, and we always have a great game. We have no special tricks planned, just the aim of an empty penalty box and super strong walls to stop those slippery LRR jammers.”

MISS N LINK, LONDON ROCKIN’ ROLLERS: “We’ve lost a few skaters this year due to retirement and injury. Our captain Jack Attack is still off skates and will be leading us from the bench. We’ve played the Rockers a few times over the years. Last time was a couple of years ago, where the score was a close one. We always love meeting these ladies on track, so we’ve been really looking forward to this match-up.”

POISIN CHERRY, ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS:
“Brighton has some double threats, such as Gin Atomic and Swann, who can rack up the points as jammers or form a solid wall as blockers. However, Rammit was a strong jammer when we played LRR and their walls were tough, so it will be an interesting game to watch.”

ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES: “LRR v Brighton is too hard to call. The predicted outcome is 57% chance of an LRR win. That’s a slim difference, and Brighton will not want to be relegated any more than we do.”

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3.20PM: ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS V BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY

WHAT TO EXPECT: As these teams currently place first and second in the group, this game ought to provide the highest overall quality of derby from today’s matches. If LRR lost the opener, then there’s a good chance that these will be the division’s two entrants to Playoffs (battling two teams from Tier 2 North for promotion to the top flight). If LRR beat Brighton, but by less than 116 points, then Bristol will need to beat Windsor here to nip LRR to that second playoff spot. The only way Windsor could miss out on Playoffs is if Bristol beat them by 190+ points, which is highly unlikely. FTS give Windsor 85% chance of the win, and a predicted differential of 50:31 suggests something like a 300-186 win for RWRG.

POISIN CHERRY, ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS: “We are extremely proud of all of our skaters that have taken part in the British Champs and we wouldn’t be where we are now without every single one of them. Bristol have put in a strong performance in Champs and we know that they are going to be just as strong today. Their walls are tight and their jammers determined, so I’m sure they will keep us on our toes.”

SOMEONE, BRISTOL ROLLER DERBY: “Keep an eye out for Lil Miss Bloodlust who has been having a good tournament. We also have a few new players join our squad, so keep an eye out for Rip Tease, Bear Thrills, Hard n Sharpe and Lex Lethal, who may make their tournament debut. We aren’t worrying about individual Windsor players because they’re strong throughout their squad. They are a very well drilled team with strong jammers, solid walls and stinging offence. But so are we. This will be a good game!”

DR WHOOLIGAN, BRIGHTON ROCKERS:
“Royal Windsor have been such a dominant team in Champs. Culverhouse is the jammer to watch – she’s so strong and has very agile footwork – and Riley Cyrus is a tough backward blocker. I think Bristol will definitely give them a run for their money though; they are hot on their heels in the table. The Blizzard knows how to run rings around the opposition.”

FORCE TEN GAIL, SEASIDE SIRENS:
“Windsor have been incredibly strong in this group and really know how to take advantage with the scoreline, but Bristol have been getting stronger and stronger all year, so it really could go either way.”

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5.30PM: PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES V SEASIDE SIRENS

WHAT TO EXPECT: The opening game will have set Portsmouth a target for this one. If LRR beat Brighton then the Wenches only need to win against Southend’s Sirens to ensure their survival and Brighton’s relegation. If Brighton beat LRR things get more complicated. Add the number of points Brighton won by to 29 (the advantage the Rockers had over the Wenches in the table prior to today). That’s the minimum number PRW must beat Sirens by to finish above Brighton. Seaside, meanwhile, will only stay up if they beat Portsmouth by 430+ points. That’s probably not gonna happen, especially given that FTS have this as 85% chance of a PRW win. Expected differential of 27:16 equals a scoreline such as 243-144 to the Wenches.

ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH ROLLER WENCHES:
“We’re obviously hoping for a high scoring win today, to secure both three game points and also a good differential, but we know the final outcome will also depend on Brighton’s result v LRR. Sirens have had a tough season, but will come and play to win. We saw their game against Bristol. Despite it being high scoring for Bristol, the game also saw Sirens put 122 points on the board, which means we shouldn’t underestimate their jammers. Force Ten Gail in particular has been a strong performer for them.”

FORCE TEN GAIL, SEASIDE SIRENS:
“We played the Wenches last year and I think we just scraped a win last time we met [150-147] but things have changed a lot for us, so we really don’t know what to expect. We’ll be watching out for Duchess and RIP McMurphy. For the Sirens, Who?Rae! has been on great form since returning to us earlier in the year after a tib-fib break followed by a ‘nine month injury’. She has been jamming quite a bit recently, which is great to see. Our priority is to enjoy the game and play our hardest. That’s all we can do.”

DR WHOOLIGAN, BRIGHTON ROCKERS:
“Portsmouth v Sirens should be a great match-up. Portsmouth’s team has been working so hard to get to the level they currently play at. RIP McMurphy is always great to watch. The Sirens have been working hard on playing cleaner (they were down to six players when we played them) so it should be a close game!”

POISIN CHERRY, ROYAL WINDSOR ROLLERGIRLS: “Both Portsmouth and Sirens have a good mix of players, with Nina Nunchucks and Force Ten Gail high on the jammer performance tables. There should be a lot of skill displayed with hard hits and maybe even an apex jump or two.”

LINKS
FACEBOOK EVENT:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1611173889165316/
BUY TICKETS: http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr
BRITISH CHAMPS: http://www.britishchamps.com/
LIVE TWITTER FEED: https://twitter.com/britchampslive

[Photos by John Hesse]

Turn Left Issue 11 Now Online

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This weekend saw British Championships action in Haywards Heath as the mighty Brighton Rockers hosted a Division 2 South double header event. The day featured a game between the division’s unbeaten sides London Rockin’ Rollers and Royal Windsor Rollergirls, as well as a vital relegation battle match-up between the Rockers and Portsmouth Roller Wenches. We’ll have a full report on the day’s events in the next week or so. Did you miss out on a copy of the fanzine we gave out on Saturday? It features interviews with all four competing teams, as well as spotlights on the Rockers 2015 Fresh Meat intake and next weekend’s Eastbourne Extreme tournament. Click on the image above to read the online version, or get yourself down to the Evening Star pub near Brighton Station to pick up a free physical copy (from the shelves by the ladies loo) while stocks last.

British Champs UKRDA National South Day 6 Preview + Day 5 Report

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The Rockers have hosted a lot of exciting derby events, but perhaps none as pivotal as the ones coming up at the Dolphin this Saturday (11th July) and Sunday 9th August. British Championships is a 72-team thirteen division national derby tournament which launched this year. Brighton are in one of the two second divisions (Tier 2 South) and are hosting this division’s final two Game Days. These are the events that will confirm which two of T2 South’s six teams will progress to Playoffs (meeting T2 North sides in the hope of promotion to the top flight) and which two will be relegated to the third tier.
    Although the final day, Game Day 7 which features all six of the divisional sides in a mammoth triple header event, might seem the bigger deal, in fact an awful lot could be decided at this Saturday’s Day 6. For starters the first game sees the two unbeaten sides, London Rockin’ Rollers and Royal Windsor Rollergirls, face off. One of these will lose their unbeaten status whilst the other will all but guarantee their spot in Playoffs. The second game pitches the hosting Rockers against Portsmouth Roller Wenches. If Brighton win this game they guarantee at least safety from relegation (plus a fairly remote chance of making Playoffs) whilst simultaneously relegating Portsmouth and Southend’s Seaside Sirens. Ouch!
    A win for Portsmouth would give them a slightly better chance of final day survival than the Rockers, since the Wenches have an easier final game (v bottom place Sirens) than Brighton, who will face LRR. Sirens and Bristol Roller Derby are sitting out this day, but will no doubt be following events closely – particularly Bristol, who have an eye on pipping LRR to the second Playoff place. The action takes place at the Dolphin in Haywards Heath, with doors at 2pm. Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 students, free for under 12s. These are available online via the link at the bottom of this piece (look for the double header ones, as August’s £12 triple header is also on sale) until 4pm tomorrow Friday 10th. They can also be bought on the door for the same price, but a “4 for the price of 3” deal is only available online.
    Before we hear from players, neutrals and prediction computers about Saturday’s two epic games, we’ll give you a quick summary of the last T2 Game Day, which took place three weeks ago in Havant. Although Brighton sat that day out, the results have set the table up in the exciting way it is going into Saturday. (NB: If you’re wondering why we don’t have a write-up of the Rockers’ May friendly against T2 North’s Hot Wheel RD on this site, we felt Bash’s swansong deserved a wider local audience, so we wrote it up for our friends at Brighton Source instead. You can find a link to it at the bottom of this piece.)

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DAY 5 REPORT: HAVANT @ 20TH JUNE 2015

Attendances at this season’s Champs games have fluctuated wildly, and today’s crowd in Hampshire is much smaller than we were expecting. Of course, there’s simply so much derby happening in the UK these Champs-packed days that potential spectators are becoming increasingly thinly-spread. Indeed, the two Game Days Brighton will host both clash with high profile London Rollergirls events. We rather suspect that the Government has something to do with today’s low crowd, though. A quarter of a million people are marching through London to protest against austerity, and given the typical demographic of roller derby folk (particularly in terms of politics and professions) it’s highly likely some are missing from the crowd today due to that.
    First up on track are hosts Portsmouth and LRR. With three players (including Betty Swollox) recently retired, and iconic Jack Attack watching from the sidelines with a strapped-up leg, LRR are going through one of those ‘transitional’ phases that derby leagues have. Saying that, there’s still enough top level talent on track for them to jam in two points for every one the Wenches get in this first period, which ends 117-60 to the visitors. Rammit responsible for a fair chunk of those, with Nina Nunchucks and RIP McMurphy hitting back for the Wenches.
    It’s a very physical game with the likes of Von Bitch and Obnoxious Li putting it about for LRR, and Dropkick Molly and Wheelma Flintstone steely in defence for PRW. McMurphy picks up a broken nose from VB, acquiring a hockey mask and losing her face paint as a result, then plays a big part in a spirited second half Wenches fight back. It’s not enough and LRR take the game 207-144 to maintain their unbeaten record and stay just behind Windsor on points difference in the table.

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We find some signs pointing towards a leisure centre bar, and excitedly follow them to find a proper bar with tables and comfy chairs and… its shutters down. There is a cafe attached that’s open, but despite the server’s best efforts on our behalf, his supervisor won’t let him unlock the bar bit to sell us a beer. We’ve often moaned in these reports (perhaps misunderstanding the point of leisure centres in the process) about venues that don’t have bars. Now we’ve discovered something even worse. One that does have a bar, but won’t open it. Aaagh!
    After a brief libation at Wetherspoons (five minutes down the road and home to today’s after party) we return for the Bristol v Sirens game. The former have been responsible for the season’s key surprise result so far – a squeaky (four point) victory over Brighton on Day 3 – and they’ll pull out another surprise today. Not that they weren’t expected to win against Sirens, with the numerically disadvantaged Southend side propping up the division after a series of heavy losses. It’s the scale of Bristol’s win that comes as a surprise. Force Ten Gail and Ella Gnaw eke out what points they can for the Seasiders, but tough Black Thorn and all-over-the-track President Garfield defend hard.
    Meanwhile, Delta Strike, Lil’ Miss Bloodlust and others power Bristol to a 498-122 win. Yowsers! That’s better even (differentially) than league leaders Windsor managed against Sirens, and it’s a shame there are so few BRD fans here to see it. They normally travel in numbers and volume, so their scarcity at what must be their closest away venue (in this division) is striking. Maybe they’re all shouting at Big Ben. The loudest support in the second game comes from the LRR squad cheering on Sirens. A look at the table suggests why. Bristol’s huge margin of victory takes them above LRR and into second place. There’s still everything to play for at Game Days 6 and 7. Speaking of which…

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DAY 6 PREVIEW: LRR V ROYAL WINDSOR (2.40PM)

JACK ATTACK, LRR: “We’ve played Windsor a few times over the years and I think they are going to be the most challenging of all the Champs games. We’re totally prepared for it, though, so I think it’s going to be a really good close game. I certainly can’t predict the result as you never know what might happen on the day, but we’ve got a brand new All Stars team with some great new talent as well as veterans.”

CLE-BLAM-O, WINDSOR: “We’re looking forward to playing LRR. They are a lovely team, but we know we need to watch out as they are also a tricky team with some really good players. At Royal Windsor we’re all about the team work. You’re only as strong as your weakest player, but luckily all of RWRG are FIERCE. Bring it on!”

ELLA GNAW, SEASIDE SIRENS: “Windsor’s Riley Cyrus is relentlessly strong backwards blocking and the packs waterfalling made it very tough for our jammers when we played them. They also have a tactic of running the jam clock on to get the points on the board. LRR are just lovely to watch on the track and they look like they enjoy every second. Deadly DeVito’s offence for her jammers is difficult to ignore, and the team’s ability to switch to offence is quick and effective.”

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: The continued lack of a neutral option on the online predictor means we had to run this through twice, with each side at home, then split the difference. RWRG are ranked 7th in UKRDA on 663.6 points, with LRR in 15th (625.1). Windsor are given an 80% predicted chance of victory with an expected differential of 3:2. This would work out as something like a 270-180 win to the Berkshire side. A prediction based on the European or WFTDA rankings actually favours Windsor even more (90% win chance and 44:27 differential). The above differs from the predictions in Saturday’s fanzine, which are based on marginally older rankings.

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DAY 6 PREVIEW: BRIGHTON ROCKERS v PORTSMOUTH (4.45PM)

SWANN, BRIGHTON: “We’ve only played at the same Game Day at PRW once this year, so we’ve not seen too much of them lately. I seem to remember them having some quite aggressive offence the last time we played them, so we’ll be looking out for that. Dropkick Molly is my one to watch. She’s really consistent and clean and that’s all very valuable in a good player. Our ones to watch? Skate Bush and Irish Mist are coming on in leaps and bounds; they impress me more with every game.”

ADMIRAL, PORTSMOUTH: “We know Brighton really well and have seen them grow since their foundation. For obvious reasons we can’t say too much about strategy, beyond saying that we will be expecting the Rockers to deliver tough walls, hard hits and great jamming. Wenches will be bringing their usual mix of character, flair and spirit. We are super excited to have Peggy Peril back with us, and our newer skaters have really been doing great stuff. Tactics wise, the crowd will have to wait and see!”

BLACK THORN, BRISTOL RD: “I think there are more similarities than differences between these two teams. Their jamming styles are physical and their blocking is brutal. Both teams managed to disrupt our slow controlled defence when we played them, and they forced us into a more physical style of play, resulting in higher than average penalty counts. Both teams also came away with not too different results against Windsor. I’m expecting a physical and relatively evenly-matched game.”

FLATTRACKSTATS.COM: Using the online predictor on the second game, with Brighton given home advantage, sees the Rockers (16th in UKRDA on 620.8 points) given 84% chance of victory over Portsmouth (23rd, 588.2). Expected differential of 17:11 would equate to something like a 204-132 home win. The European rankings give a fractionally different prediction of 83% Brighton win on a 47:31 differential. Obviously, all these predictions are based on past performances, and don’t reflect which players may or may not be available on the day. Again these numbers differ slightly (by 1-2%) from the earlier version in Saturday’s fanzine.

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY (MANY THANKS TO)
Game Day 5: Graeme Willetts
Final Pic: John Hesse

FACEBOOK EVENT FOR SATURDAY
https://www.facebook.com/events/1449649895353261/

TICKETS FOR SATURDAY (PAGE 2 ‘DOUBLE HEADER’ ONES)
http://www.brightonrockers.com/#!shop/cttr

THE ROAD TO PLAYOFFS
http://www.britishchamps.com/womens-t2-the-road-to-playoffs/

BRITISH CHAMPS WEBSITE
http://www.britishchamps.com/

SATURDAY’S LIVE TWITTER FEED
https://twitter.com/britchampslive

ROCKERS V HOT WHEELS (MAY 23RD) REPORT
http://brightonsource.co.uk/reviews/brighton-rockers-roller-derby-review/