By Sian Steen
Main photo credit: Real Time Events
Wakey Wheeled Cats 112
Grimsby Roller Derby 185
This weekend saw Wakefield’s roller derby league the Wakey Wheeled Cats play their first British Championships match of the 2019 season. The Cats played The Grim Reavers of Grimsby at the Cats home venue, Dewsbury Leisure Centre, but failed to take the win.
First jammer, Coral McNulty, struggled against the tough walls of Grim, and was eventually forced to pass the star to pivot Hayley Brooke. Brooke was able to break out of the pack, but the opposing team were on the ball, calling it off before Wakey were able to grab any points and giving them a 12-point lead.
By jam 3, Wakey had yet to take lead; however, Rachel Welch chased down the Grim jammer, forcing her to call it early, ensuring neither team were able to rack up more points. Unfortunately, this meant that Wakey were still stalled at 0 to the Reavers’ 18.
Jam 5 had a promising start, with 2 of the Grim blockers in the penalty box. However, Wakey were unable to capitalise on this, with jammer Naomi Vergette getting caught up behind the remaining skaters.
The Grim Reavers kept up their strong defence throughout the first half; however, the Cats started to change up their tactics and lineups a little. This included some power lineups, featuring veteran skaters Katie Swift and Dan Millea, as well as captain Claire Johnson. Jam 15 saw a star pass from Grim, and with Johnson wearing the star for Wakey the home team were able to close the lead a little. The score was 51-95 at half time.
The second half opened with Swift jamming for the Cats; unfortunately, she picked up a penalty which gave Grim the opportunity to extend their lead by another 4 points. Luckily, the jammer was released before the next jam started, giving Welch the opportunity to act as a 5th blocker at the start. After a star pass to Johnson, Grim once again showed great game awareness by calling off the jam before Wakey could score.
Some strong walls from Wakey in jam 4 of the second half, including debuting skater Harley Jay, meant that Vergette was able to gain lead jammer status, bringing in a few more points for the team. Galvanised by this, the Cats started to step it up further, throwing in some offence in the shape of Betty Redford and Emma Blackwell.
Despite some moments of sheer brilliance, including a stellar apex jump from Brooke, Wakey just weren’t able to close the lead, with the final score 112-185 in favour of the Grim Reavers.
Captain Claire Johnson says “Oomph! What a brilliantly physical bout! We have played against Grim before and we knew they would bring the thunder! Wakey have been working hard to regroup after the loss of some key players and this was a perfect test of our training plans. I was very impressed with our fitness levels and team mind and we have plenty to think about and work on for our next Champs bout! “
Check out our digital programme for the day.