The Seniors returned to the winners’ list while the Reserves were caught just two points short against Mazenod at Bundoora Oval in Round 12.
Injury and unavailability stretched the Redbacks on selection night and Sarah Starziczny, Charlie Lee, Gwyn Lovelace Tozer and Nicole Jones all answered the call-up and made their debuts in the Reserves. Eliza Goulding, Jess Hall, Lucy Allibon, Julz Nannetti, Kristy McClaer, Tori Quilligan, Penny Bunn and Izzy Corr played in both matches, as did Sarah McKenna in her first match back since Round 2 and senior debutant Brooke McKaig.
Wind and intermittent rain greeted the Reserves from the first bounce against the ladder-leading Mazenod.
Mazenod kicked two goals in the second quarter to hold a 14-point half time buffer. RMIT responded with its best quarter of the day. The return of McKenna provided structure and rebound in the backline and when she moved forward, her athleticism and probing right foot. The wet weather footy suited the no-holds-barred attack of forwards Nannetti and Michelle Todorov. With a superb dummy turn, Eliza Goulding snapped her side’s first to bridge the gap to a single point at the final break.
After three quarters of no score registered into the wind, the Redbacks needed to break the trend to win. However, forward entry was hard to come by and although the defence worked relentlessly to hold Mazenod to a solitary behind, the siren rang with RMIT 1.7 to 2.3, two points in arrears – a nonetheless impressive result considering both their makeshift personnel and Mazenod’s 80-point win in their previous encounter in Round 5.
RMIT Redbacks 1.7 (13)
Mazenod 2.3 (15)
Best – McKenna, McClaer, Bunn, Todorov, Nannetti, McKaig.
Goals – Goulding.
The Seniors led from start to finish against Mazenod and showed some of their most advanced ball skills and teamwork in the 3.10 (28) to 2.2 (14) win.
After her side lost the toss but surprisingly ending up kicking with the wind in the opening quarter, Thomay Nicolaou’s red-hot form continued at Bundoora Oval as her immense strength in contests saw her net the Redbacks’ first goal. Izzy Symes added her side’s second as she slunk at the fall of the ball and finished the job with a textbook snap.
Although their lead was reduced from 14 points to 10, it was RMIT’s second quarter that sealed the result. After Mazenod converted the first, the Redbacks dominated play with the wind as Neve O’Connor orchestrated the intercept and rebound across the half-back line. Olivia Giaccotto’s and Tahlia Ingram’s grit and sheer power at the contest were causing turnovers across the wing while Symes was continuing to give Mazenod headaches as a marking option with the agility of a midfielder.
The rain fell heavily after half time and RMIT struggled to make the most of their chances in front of the big sticks. As the clock ticked up to the fifteen-minute mark of the quarter, the Redbacks had just two minor scores to show for a quarter of dominance and, if it weren’t for the cool-headedness of Emily Balaburov on the last line, two close attacks from Mazenod could have proved costly. Just when a wasteful quarter was bringing nerves to the RMIT camp, Nicolaou stepped up to convert from a free kick and extend the lead to 18 points at the final change.
Mazenod struck early in the final quarter to reduce the gap to two straight kicks but the Redbacks had not fought all day to lose the match at the death. For the last 17 minutes, Mazenod failed to register a major as Kylie de Bruyn and Chelsi Old combined in a tagging role that proved crucial in restricting Mazenod’s success up forward. As they sang the song loud and proud in the change rooms, the Seniors went back to back for the first time all season.
The Redbacks will play North Brunswick next week at Allard Park.
RMIT Redbacks 3.10 (28)
Mazenod 2.2 (14)
Best – Nicolaou, O’Connor, Old, Ingram, Symes, Riseley.
Goals – Nicolaou 2, Symes.