The RMIT Redbacks’ inaugural season in VAFA came to a close against Canterbury at Bundoora Oval with the Reserves falling by 10 points and the Seniors storming home to claim their fourth straight win.
From the outset, Canterbury wrongfooted the Redbacks with strong teamwork around the contests, going into the first break with a six-point lead that could have been more had it not been for the strong defensive work of Lillie Jago and Izzy Corr. Throughout the second quarter, the Cobras continued to win the ball through weight of numbers and give their forwards every chance, which they capitalised on by adding a further two goals on the still-goalless Redbacks.
With a sharp snap from the pocket, Julz Nannetti hauled RMIT back into the contest (and put herself clear for the Reserves’ goal-kicking award). A late Canterbury reply restored a 21-point three quarter time deficit, leaving the home side with a do-or-die proposition in their final term of the season.
The Redbacks responded to the challenge with their best passages of the day; having locked down a position in the midfield, Lucy Allibon led from the front as RMIT put Canterbury’s defence under the pump. Lisa Nairn was similarly tenacious up forward, setting up an early goal to Michelle Todorov. With no time to waste, the Redbacks continued to push only for Rachel Nisbett’s snap to be mark on the line and Kelly Jones’ set shot to sway left and hit the woodwork.
When she was thrown into the ruck back in Round 5, Penny Bunn seized the opportunity to perform in the most unexpected to positions and she produced another tireless effort in Round 14. In the dying stages, Jones got a second chance to kick her first ever goal and made no mistake, with teammates burying her in wild celebrations as the siren brought the curtains down on the Reserves’ 2019 season.
The RMIT Reserves end their first season in sixth position with four wins from 13 games.
RMIT Redbacks 0.1 0.1 1.2 3.3 (21)
Canterbury 1.1 3.5 4.5 4.7 (31)
Goals – Nannetti, Todorov, Jones.
Best – Bunn, Deverell, Jago, Jones, Nannetti, Todorov.
The Seniors finished full of run to defeat Canterbury with a four-goal-to-none final quarter to claim their fourth consecutive win by 41 points.
April Goldring returned to the side and the RMIT captain immediately made her presence felt with a triple-up effort in the goal square that netted a free kick for holding the ball to give her team the perfect start. For the fourth time this season, vice-captain Thomay Nicolaou got on the board in the first quarter. A perfectly read shark off the pack and neat snap brought her eighth goal for the season, giving her a two-goal gap on the leader board for the Seniors’ goal-kicking award that she did not relinquish.
Neve O’Connor was at her marking and rebounding best in the backline, working in tandem with Shayla Gamble to spurn the Cobras’ advances all day. The defensive unit, arguably the Redbacks’ strongest line all season, turned out another cool and efficient performance with Lily Marwood and Emily Balaburov also having memorable matches.
If there was any doubt as to who is the best ruck in VAFA Premier C, Sara Riseley laid it to rest with yet another dominant performance against Canterbury.
Although the Cobras stubbornly held the Redbacks across the second and third quarters, Mitch Lower’s side turned on the burners in the last to end the season underlining the skill and tactical development it has made since April. The Redbacks marked strongly, used the ball with precision and vision and dominated the play. Issy Symes snapped a superb pair of goals, Lily Baker converted with a set shot and Tahlia Ingram iced the cake in the final minutes.
The RMIT Seniors end their first season in fifth position with five wins from 14 games.
RMIT Redbacks 2.3 3.7 3.8 7.10 (52)
Canterbury 0.1 0.1 1.5 1.5 (11)
Goals – Goldring 2, Symes 2, Nicolaou, Ingram, Baker.
Best – O’Connor, Riseley, Nicolaou, Symes, Goldring, Marwood.