Team England beat rivals France in a compelling semi-final.
This tie was always going to be an intriguing game given how often the skaters meet each other with their home teams and it didn’t disappoint.
In stark contrast to both teams’ previous games, in which offence figured heavily, this affair was far more defensive and the opening jam showed just how hard both teams would have to work over the next sixty minutes.
Reaper took thirty seconds just to make it beyond the last blocker on the apex of turn one, while The Cleaner similarly struggled with the English wall.
The second jam provided drama further still when France’s X Wing was expelled for tripping the English jammer, leaving the French with only 13 skaters for the rest of the bout.
England played to their strengths with their jammers regularly running the clock down to spring blockers from the box and start the next jam with a full line-up.
The England threesome of Sutton, Spectral and Giggity were reunited and their calm, measured positional blocking neutralised the threat presented by Killian David.
The second line-up of Jerry Attric, Reanimated Gif, Bully and Stoner was equally effective; Gif played like a man possessed while Stoner’s last ditch hits were surely exasperating for the French fans.
At one point Killian had the track to himself after Ballistic Whistle was sent to the box but failed to make any headway against the English defence.
The French blockers equally offered a strong defence to the English jammer rotation, with Candal Heros, Scarenx and Charles Martele working well together, but the minimal English offence opened them up easily.
In contrast the French were slow to make the switch and often opted for passive offence on the powerjams, despite the superb blocking from Team England.
England’s jammer rotation of Reaper, Sully, Rex Tangle and Ballistic Whistle, with Giggity joining in later, had the edge over the French jammers. Rocket’Busch looked the most effective while The Cleaner visibly tired in the second period.
The second period was more promising for France who used a powerjam to close the gap to only 39 points but Team England called a timeout and rallied together to crush any French hopes of a comeback.
One concern for England was the sight of Reaper pulling out of the game five minutes from the end, after injury his ankle spinning out of a block. They will be hoping he is fit enough to play in the final.
England now face the favourites, Team USA, in the final at 5.05pm GMT.
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