World Cup: (4) Australia Restrains (5) Sweden, 126-80
TORONTO, ON -- In the first quarterfinal game of the Roller Derby World Cup, 4 seed Australia worked a remarkably solid defensive game, only allowing 5 seed Sweden to score on two jams in the first half and then repeatedly using the clock to their advantage in the second to short-circuit an attempted comeback from the Swedes. Although Sweden made a second-half game of what was shaping up to be a total rout, they were never in striking distance of the Aussies and Australia moved on to the semifinals with a 126-80 win.
Australia wasted little time taking a small lead, as their firebrand jammer Shortstop took a very fast lead and 2-0 to start and Rose Ruin added a 4-0 to make it 6-0 Australia after two. Solid pack work from the Aussies in green kept Sweden off the board for the first 8 minutes of the game, but Sweden kept their packs relatively tight as well, keeping the overall score quite low. Sweden's Mad Maloony got her team's first points at the 21 minute mark with a 4-0 that made the score 18-4 Australia.
But Maloony's points were Sweden's only offensive production of the first 23 minutes. Australia played a slightly cleaner game, making sure that Sweden's jammers were usually facing a pack disadvantage. With the score 37-4 in favor of Australia, Sweden had a power jam chance slip away with about 15:30 left in the first half as their jammer HyperNova followed Shortstop to the box.
Australia didn't appear to be dominating Sweden on the track, with Sweden's jammers usually able to get out of the pack relatively soon after Australian jammers took lead, but by the time there were 10 minutes left in the half, the relentless series of small-ball wins had turned into definite scoreboard dominance at 54-4.
Haterade, Muzzarati and Sculley were particularly effective in the Australian pack, and the hard hitting from Australia's blockers eventually started wearing down the slightly smaller Swedes, leading to bigger point margins. Shortstop dropped a 15-0 with about 7 minutes in the half that made it 75-4.
There was a somewhat odd jam there as Sweden started with blocker Mad Malooney in the box, creating a 4-3 pack disadvantage, and was willing to trade a whole minute of action to equalize the pack situation. Australia was more than happy to stand around with them and the jammers weren't released until there were only about 40 seconds left in the jam -- and the jam would end up going 0-0 anyway.
Sweden finally got a lead jammer call and points to Ankefar with about 4 minutes left in the half, but it only went 2-0 before she was forced to call it with a new score of 75-6. Three jams later, the half ended with Australia comfortably in the driver's seat, 81-6.
The Swedes got some needed momentum with a 4-0 to open up the second half and a 5-2 in the half's third jam, but it was clear that Australia was willing to trade points for time, as Rose Ruin allowed Sweden's Ankefar to pick up a lap point on her after playing about 30 seconds of jammer defense with lead. However, Sweden got their best jam of the game on the half's fourth frame, with Mad Malooney ringing up 12 and getting the fans back in the game with a 89-27.
Although Sweden was being more successful in getting lead jammer status, they also seemed to play into Australia's hands a few times on delayed jam starts, as Australia continued to kill clock whenever the opportunity presented itself. But with about 15 minutes to go, Sweden had a very rare power jam opportunity when Bambi Von Smasher was boxed; Mad Malooney made the most of it with a crowd-igniting 23-0 jam. When it was all over, Australia's lead was still large but no longer completely dominant at 98-52 with 14:30 to play. Australia called their second timeout there.
Australia continued playing prevent defense on the other side of the timeout, again allowing Sweden to take points while Australia held lead to kill clock time. It met a close jam score at 6-4 Australia, but time was very much not on Sweden's side. The Swedes called their second timeout at 117-60 with exactly 8 minutes left in the game.
A few jams later, Sweden's Ankefar put up a 14-0 on a very light Australian pack to push the score from 121-64 to 121-78, but there was only 2:07 left on the clock and Sweden needed a major miracle to finish closing the gap. They still had one timeout remaining, but they'd also lost their pack ace, Swede Hurt, on a foulout. Sweden put out Knickerblocker Glory against Rose Ruin for Australia, but although Knickerblocker got lead, Australia smartly ran the pack to kill yet more time -- and Rose managed to win the jam 3-2 anyway when Knickerblocker waited too long to call. There was time enough for one more jam, but Australia's Bambi Von Smasher got lead and killed the remaining time on a 2-0 to give Australia the 126-80 win.
Australia advances to the semifinals, where they'll face the winner of USA / New Zealand on Sunday morning.