By Jordan Witte and Claire Macuz
The Metro Revellers Premier League Division II side has sent a strong signal to the rest of the competition, downing Banyule 25-24 on Tuesday night to move a step closer to the top 4.
In an often-physical match, Metro’s second quarter charge, spearheaded by 5 goals from goal shooter Abby Gilmore and exceptional court-wide team pressure from the midcourt, proved to be the difference.
Neither side was able to pull away from the other during the first quarter, with a court-wide press employed by Metro forcing Banyule’s goal attack to work up through the midcourt.
Metro goal attack Haylee Wilcox converted her first three attempts, but turnovers denied the Revellers the opportunity to build on an early 2 goal lead, with Banyule taking a 1 goal lead into the quarter time break.
Metro coach Ferruccio Servello implored his side to crank the pressure up at quarter time, and the response was emphatic.
Tireless centre Meg Matthews, wing attack Hayley Casboult, wing defence Courtney Czak and the defensive tandem of Claire Johnson and Casey Jess lifted several gears, at one stage forcing three consecutive Banyule forays into their goal third backwards, eventually creating a turnover.
Gilmore converted everything that came her way, pushing the lead to 4 goals. Banyule halved that lead, playing smart netball to break through Metro’s “Five” zone, before first Wilcox, then Gilmore, steadied the ship to maintain Metro’s 4-goal lead at half time.
Gilmore continued where she left off at the start of the third, extending Metro’s lead to 5 goals after a smart assist by Elle Kamay, playing in wing attack.
From there, the third quarter belonged to Banyule, with their shooters scoring 9 of the next 12 goals. They converted at 81% for the quarter, scarcely giving Metro an opportunity to rebound from the defensive third.
Their combination of one holding goal shooter and one moving goal attack proved difficult to defend, with Jess and Johnson battling hard to keep Metro in touch.
Matthews received a caution for excessive contact late in the third quarter, before Banyule’s goal shooter missed a golden opportunity to extend their lead to 2 goals at the siren.
It was left to Metro’s starting line-up to finish the job, with Wilcox and Gilmore scoring or assisting on 4 of the first 5 goals of the last quarter, earning the side a 23-20 lead.
Johnson – so often the lynchpin in the defense – rejected several Banyule attacks, intercepting passes and distributing at will.
But Banyule are not firmly entrenched in the top 4 for nothing, and some pinpoint passing over the Metro zone, combined with costly turnovers from the Revellers, saw the lead evaporate halfway through the last quarter.
Fittingly, it was Wilcox’s repeat efforts – first, a goal scored from a rebound and a clutch finish from an assist by Kamay – that effectively finished Banyule for good.
The 1-goal win keeps the Revellers in touch with the top 4. With Kali Fraser, Jaclyn Rooney & Gina Blake to return from injury, and games against Melbourne University, Plenty Valley Comets and Parkville Lightning to come, the Revellers stand every chance of returning to the finals this season.
GS: Abby Gilmore 12/16 (75%)
GA: Haylee Wilcox 13/24 (54%)
3: Abby Gilmore 2: Meg Matthews 1: Claire Johnson
Abby Gilmore, Haylee Wilcox, Elle Kamay, Meg Matthews, Courtney Czak, Casey Jess, Claire Johnson, Hayley Casboult