It was always going to be a big ask for the 5th placed Howick Hornets to beat the 1st placed North Shore Tigers but the Hornets are always up for a challenge. Fielding a squad of 32 players the Hornets went out to give everyone a go, which would normally mean teams are not as cohesive as they might have been. Having the large squad worked to the Hornets advantage, as all players new and old stepped up to the plate. Maximum numbers meant players were able to give their all for short bursts and swap out for fresh legs; this allowed the Hornets to keep in the hunt.
North Shore won the toss and chose to play against the wind which played into the Hornets tactics. The strong prevailing wind meant North Shores kicks were holding up in the wind allowing a Hornet defender to spoil the mark. North Shore were looking to play up the wings, the Hornets were able to apply pressure to these marks and force the ball over the side line, creating more stoppages much to North Shores dismay. The Hornets preferred to play hard and fast down the middle which allowed the ball to get inside the 50 quickly. The Hornets dominated the opening quarter finishing up 3.2 to North Shore's 2.1.
Now playing into the wind the Hornets looked to play more defensively, dropping back two attackers to leave experienced defender Tim Elsley and tall man Pete Jones free to pick up attacking players. The wind and the North Shore attack proved too much for the swarming Hornets defence. North Shore were able to get marks outside of the 50 and with the wind float the ball through the posts. The Hornets forwards were brought down the field to try be an option to move the ball out of the danger area. It was hard work getting the ball down to the Hornets attacking goal but they still managed it and to kick two behinds. North Shore proved too strong in the second quarter finishing 3.4 to 5.8.
Third quarter the Hornets went onto the attack. Confident in their defensive line, the Hornets could play with the traditional 6 players in the forward line. Using the wind and their pace the Hornets worked the ball straight down the middle hitting targets like the solid Kevin Crowe or roaming big forward Alan Rathbun. Ruckmen Andy Cook was also hovering around the middle of the field proving to be a handy option. From the middle, the Hornets were able to centre a kick inside the 50 to one of the many forwards, if the mark was not taken players like Jayden Trembath, Elliot Bennetts & Daniel Bushett were there to swoop in and scoop the ball up. The Hornets picked up 3 goals in the quarter and 2 behinds. The Hornets defence kept them in the game shutting down North Shore who only managed to kick one goal in the quarter. Hornets 6.6 to Tigers 6.8.
Only two points difference going into the last quarter. This was the Hornets chance at victory. As a team, they decided to play aggressively against the wind to try seal a victory rather than playing defensively to hold off North Shore. The Hornets fought valiantly to try close out the game but unfortunately the North Shore's skills and win were just too much for the Hornets. Although playing into the wind the Hornets still managed to kick a goal and two behinds to keep them in the contest, however North Shore were just too good and kicked a final 3 goals 1 to win the match.
Although they lost, the Hornets were in high spirits having nearly toppled the now minor premiers. The Hornets put in a performance worthy of playing finals footy however they unfortunately miss out due to the goals percentage. The team played well for all for quarters and never gave up which is the Hornets attitude.
The Hornets have set up a solid platform to end the 2017 season and look to build off it in the 2018 season. They have been making waves and are a team to look out for in the future.
Up the Hornets!
Final Score: Howick Hornets 7.8 (50) to North Shore Tigers 10.9 (69)
Goals: Andrew Azzopardi (4), Alan Rathbun (1), Daniel Bushett (1), Elliott Bennetts (1)