Saturday the 14th of October was a day of records for the Howick Hornets club and will go down in club history.
The Hornets had their first ever win over the Mt Roskill Saints, had a player kick a record 9 goals and the team scored their highest ever points total.
The Hornets (prepared to put the previous 77 point loss against Mt Roskill in round 2 behind them) turned up on Saturday with fire in their bellies. Keen to debut their new uniforms and perform well in front of a home crowd, they had every intention in toppling the 3rd placed Mt Roskill.
Captain Ryan White was hoping the team could put past performances behind them and start the game with the enthusiasm and drive they had previously finished games with. The Hornets were fired up and it was them who struck first, quick movement out of the middle from Andy Cook (Ruckman) to Kevin Crowe (Rover) into the half forward line, the team connected into a scoring play. While the iron was hot the Hornets managed back to back goals with Full Forward Andrew Azzopardi plucking the ball out of the air. Mt Roskill were taken aback by the Hornets skill compared to their round 2 clash and struggled to get into the match. The Hornets back line of Josh McMahon, Aidan Paterson, Brodyn Bevan, Shaneel Nyawo, Pete Jones, Jonah Tau and Kieran Bevan smothered any ball that made its way into the Mt Roskill forward 50. The backmen were on top of the Mt Roskill attack keeping them to only 2 goals 2 behinds for the quarter to the Hornets 5 goals 2 behinds.
The second quarter the Hornets took their foot off and let Mt Roskill back into the game. Maybe feeling a bit too confident from their dominant first quarter performance the Hornets were unable to replicate the sting of the opening 20 minutes. Mt Roskill were finding their form and managed to get more shots at goals but were not helped out by some inaccurate place kicking. The Hornets slipped by giving Mt Roskill a few too many free kicks, as Mt Roskill closed the gap but the Hornets were still in the lead going into half time (7.2 to 5.8).
A rousing half time speech from Coach Andrew Azzopardi about the ethos of the team and how important the third quarter is, the Hornets looked to shut out Mt Roskill from the match. With fresh legs rotating in the Hornets back line, they completely stopped the Mt Roskill attack with players like Tim Elsley and Ken Rowe reading the play and pulling off their marked opponent to spoil a mark. Mt Roskill only managed to score 2 goals in the quarter. Down the other end of the ground the Hornets were all over the Mt Roskill defense. With clearing kicks pushing the ball wide, wingers Mike Taylor, Logan Kinnear and Luke Williams were given plenty of space to run and link up with forward line or centre a kick to the likes of Matt Clark and Kevin Crowe. With extra Mt Roskill players dropping back to mark Andrew Azzopardi this allowed the other half forwards to run free and pick off the contested marks. Big James Mackinder became the primary target and anything he couldn't mark had Elliot Bennetts & Daniel Bushett swooping in picking up the loose ball run the ball into the 50 eventually slotting 3 goals between them (and Daniel graciously giving a handball to Andrew rather than kicking it himself).
The final quarter was up to the Hornets to either be complacent and hope to win or to put Mt Roskill to the sword. The Hornets chose the latter and continued to apply score board pressure by going tit for tat with Mt Roskill. With Oli Tabaillou leaping and wining ball from the contest it allowed the Hornets to play on the forward foot and had Ben Biggelaar scooping up the loose ball. New player Jayden Trembath found a lot of space early in the fourth quarter and provided a successful link between the middle and the half forward line and managed to slot his first ever goal. Our enforcer in the forward line Mat (Bear) Smith used his body well to provide selfless acts, giving our full forward space to run rampant and put on another 5 goals, one of which was his own. The Hornets finished as strong as they had started, winning the quarter and the game.
This was a complete team performance and is a great reflection on how far the team has come from the beginning of the year. The team managed a 100 point turnaround from the first time they played Mt Roskill. The club is incredibly proud of the boys and their performance and hope they continue this form into the tail end of the season.
A big thank you to all the supporters who came down to witness the first ever win against Mt Roskill. Your support doesn't go unnoticed by the players and is very encouraging to hear your support.
Make sure you check out the latest team photos at www.hornetsafl.co.nz/photos if you didn't manage to see the new uniforms on Saturday.
Up the Hornets!
Final Score: Howick Hornets 16.4 (100) to Mt Roskill 11.12 (78)
Goals: Andrew Azzopardi (9), Elliott Bennetts (2), Ben Biggelaar (2), Daniel Bushett (1), Mat Smith (1), Jayden Trembath (1)
The entire team deserves accolades for their performance. To come together and play as a team rather than individuals allowed them to beat Mt Roskill. It was hard to single out a few players from the team but here are a few players;
Andrew Azzopardi, took his constructive criticism from the last write up to turn his game around. Instead of aiming for the outer posts "Azza" narrowed his vision and therefore kicking more accurately and finishing with a record 9 goals 1 behind.
Aidan Paterson who worked his opponent hard all game. Aidan at full back was pivotal in stopping Mt Roskill scoring more points and contested every potential mark that his opposite was going for. By the end of the game the Mt Roskill full forward had not taken a clean mark.
Ken Rowe for his experience in reading the game. With Ken's experience, he managed to spoil many marks by reading the play and leaving his man to disrupt the mark.
Elliot Bennetts & Daniel Bushett both in the half forward line, worked really hard in picking up any loose ball and were elusive to the Mt Roskill defense.