Injury, greasy conditions and a relentless Brunswick Renegades onslaught in the final quarter all challenged the RMIT Reserves on Saturday but the Redbacks steeled themselves to hold on for their second consecutive win and third of the season in Round 10. In a low-scoring scrap, the Seniors fell by just seven points to the second-placed Renegades.
Starting the day with just 17 players after a night of heavy rain, Gezim Zeneli’s side prepared itself for a testing physical slog at Alec Gillon Oval. The mud reduced play to a contest of wills with the Redbacks ultimately proving the side willing to give everything for the four points.
From the outset, goals were an absolute premium. Few could have predicted that a goal on the run late in the second quarter kicked by Julz Nannetti, maintaining her white-hot form up forward after her match-winning two-goal second half against Yarra Old Grammarians in Round 9, would be the moment that separated victory from defeat for RMIT.
At the time, Nannetti’s goal was the silver lining in a gritty quarter that had cost RMIT yet another player when Kiara Pisano was taken from the field on a stretcher with severe bone bruising. Not only were the Redbacks down to 16 players in physically demanding conditions but their chances of scoring any further goals were now reduced.
A key move in the second half was Rachel Nisbett playing a run-with role on Renegades’ playmaker Eliza Cole.
It was the backline that stood tallest on the day; Kristy McClaer took seven intercept marks including three across a final quarter in which the Renegades spent 75% of the time with the ball in their forward half. Lucy Allibon and Hannah Steer played their best games yet in the backline as they pushed through the mud to win the ball and run to space to relieve their side time and time again. Lillie Jago played a tremendous final quarter deep in defence, sacrificing her own game to stand a kick behind play and prevent a scurried snap out of the pack from skidding through for a score.
The siren rang when Brooke McKaig drove the final rebound 50 for the Redbacks, with Zeneli describing the victory as his side’s best yet.
RMIT Redbacks 1.1 (7)
Brunswick Renegades 0.0 (0)
Goals – Nannetti.
Best – Steer, Allibon, McClaer, Nisbett, Deverell, Nannetti.
A late charge from the Seniors fell just short in a similarly torrid affair. The Renegades got on the board inside the first five minutes and that, despite the Redbacks finding paths forward for much of the next four quarters, was the only goal kicked for the day. RMIT rolled up its sleeves and drove forward in the final term but two chances on goal were missed and the siren sounded with the Redbacks once again on the march goalward but seven points in arrears.
Playing higher up the field in order to isolate Lily Baker one-out in the forward half, Izzy Symes’ agility and clean hands were remarkable for a player of her height.
Evangeline Clough Good’s superb running and repeated follow-up efforts to gain metres for her side were textbook wet football play while Neve O’Connor (12 marks), Kylie de Bruyn (eight) and Meg Bryant were once again fierce in defence.
However, the Redbacks’ defence was hampered from the outset by the loss of Tamara Wulf in the first quarter. Late in the third quarter, vice-captain Thomay Nicolaou, whose bullocking strength at the contests in the midfield had been a key in RMIT’s chances of victory, wore a boot to the face and was unable to play the game out. When ruck Sara Risley was crunched early in the fourth quarter, the Redbacks were forced to finish the match with no bench.
RMIT Redbacks 0.3 (3)
Brunswick Renegades 1.4 (10)
Best – de Bruyn, O’Connor, Clough-Good, Old, Gamble, Paterson.
The Reserves have a bye next week while the Seniors will take on Old Melburnians at Elsternwick Park Oval from 11.40am.