The Howick Hornets have caused the upset of the year as they swarmed the North Shore Tigers to win by 8 points and keep their finals hopes alive heading into the final round of the Auckland AFL.
It was another thriller out west as the University Blues held on to beat the Waitakere Magpies to continue their unbeaten season.
In South Auckland, the Mt Roskill Saints have kicked 18 goals to secure a big win over the Manurewa Raiders at Mountfort Park.
Howick Hornets vs North Shore Tigers
4th November, Onepoto Domain, Northcote.
Strong winds battered Onepoto Domain as the North Shore Tigers hosted the Howick Hornets on Ladies Day for the home team.
This was a massive game for both teams and the intensity was high from the start. If the Tigers were victorious it would cement their spot in the top 4 while Howick needed a win to keep their finals hopes alive.
Kicking with the wind in the first quarter, the Hornets started strong kicking three goals as the Tigers backline were struggling to find their feet.
The Hornets forwards and midfielders created great defensive efforts to keep the ball within their attacking half of the footy while Wade Eatts provided some stability down back for the Hornets as he kept his cool under pressure to work the ball out from their own defence.
The wind didn’t seem to be providing much of an advantage as both sides seemed to be playing better and smarter when working into the breeze.
Manic pressure from the Hornets Half forward line of Tim Elsley and Josh Takurua and wings Mike Taylor & Logan Kinnear made a number of efforts to put the reigning premiers under pressure.
The Tigers kicked two goals in the second thanks to Rob Mostert and going into the main break, there were only two behinds separating the two sides.
The tough conditions were only made worse with a couple of strong rain squalls that sent the supporters running for cover however; the match was still on a knife’s edge with strong contact and a close scoreline.
The Tigers were constantly under pressure from the Hornets and were often forced to ‘blaze away’ just to get some breathing space. The Tigers were unable to make the final connections from the midfielders to the forward line and the Hornets were able to regain possession easily.
Heading into the final quarter, the Tigers were certain of victory as they Led by a single goal and had the wind at their back. But with their season on the line, the Hornets produced a stellar quarter.
The Hornets kept piling on the forward pressure and locked the ball in their forward half.
Big efforts by Kevin Crowe and Tyson Schmit in the middle allowed the Hornets to get their hands on the ball and Pete Jones who was floating around the middle of the ground was proving to be a ball magnet.
Consistent pressure saw the Hornets rewarded with two goals in the final term and although the Tigers did all the could, it was too little too late as the Hornets closed out a famous eight point over the reigning premiers.
Howick will host the Manurewa Raiders in the final round and a win along with a North Shore Tigers loss against Waitakere will see them progress through to the finals for the the first time.
“We knew the importance of this game and came out to show it. We started very strong and managed to lead by 2 goals. We showed composure through the 4 quarters not losing our heads and managed to grind out the win.” Hornets Coach Ryan White.
“Well done to Howick for a fantastic game. There’s a lot of respect between both teams. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalise on our chances going forward and a couple of defensive errors ultimately cost us on the scoreboard. Injuries again seem to affect the squad but we will keep fighting til the end. We don’t mind having to do it tough to get back to the Grand Final.” Tigers Coach, Fraser Stevens.
North Shore: Dan Pearce, Dane Strickland, Ty Smith, Rob Mostert.
Howick: Kevin Crowe, Tyson Scmidt, Elliott Bennetts, Pete Jones.
Waitakere Magpies vs University Blues
4th November, Parrs Park, Oratia.
It was a tough and physical affair between two old rivals as the University Blues and Waitakere Magpies went head to head at Parrs Park.
The first quarter saw the Blues with most of the ascendency and possession but unable to take full advantage of a strong wind.
An early goal for Chris Mundell did not waiver the Magpies spirits as key inclusion Josh Copeland dominated in the backline and kept University to two goals for the quarter.
Magpies forward Ben Hutton kicked a late goal for the home side as University went into the break only a goal ahead but could have easily been in front by five goals.
It was the second quarter where Waitakere looked to push hard with the wind, however it was University who used the ball superbly across the ground to kick five goals into the wind while only conceding two.
It was another huge defensive third quarter from Waitakere we were able to hold the Blues to only one goal into a big wind.
Eugene Hanna played one of his best games of the season with Nick Bailey also providing the Magpies with some stability around the ground.
With the Magpies trailing by three goals at the last change, they put University under pressure as they kept the ball inside their forward 50 for much of the quarter.
Waitakere had a number of easy opportunities in front goal late in the game but couldn’t convert them into points as University held on to extend their winning streak to nine games for the season.
“A typically tough and physical encounter as per every contest between our two clubs. We are just lucky to get through with the win and hopefully not too many injuries looking ahead” Blues Coach Chris Mundell.
“Despite the lack of concentration defensively in the second and inaccuracy in the last, we really did play a full team game. I am proud of the way we went out and kept fighting. We are really starting to hit our stride now with finals footy coming up. I am very excited to see where we can go from here.” Magpies Captain Shane Leat.
University: Patrick Landy, Nic Holdsworth, Tim Stokes, Harrison Manks.
Waitakere: Eugene Hanna, Josh Copeland, Nick Bailey, Dan McGregor.
Manurewa Raiders vs Mt Roskill Saints
4th November, Mountfort Park, Manurewa.
A windy day greeted both Mt Roskill and Manurewa at Mountfort Park as the Raiders were looking for their first win of the season.
With a near full strength side, Manurewa played well in the first quarter and showed glimpses of what they can produce when they have possession of the ball.
The Raiders continued to play some good footy in the second quarter with midfielder Vandyn Hartman showing that at his best, he is one of the top players in New Zealand.
Mt Roskill stepped up their game in the second half as Tristan Burnett and Will Dickinson took control of the midfield.
An eleven goal second half put the game to bed as Mt Roskill strolled to a 107 point win.
With one game to go next week, Manurewa will be looking to spoil the party when they face Howick and finish the season strong.
“I am really happy with how the team stuck to the game plan and was great to see some of the players who missed out on selection last week, step up and have a good game. It really shows our depth and puts us in good stead for the finals campaign.” Saints Captain Sam McKenzie.
Mt Roskill: James McKenzie, Tristan Burnett, Michael Boyce.
Manurewa: Stevie Johnson, Kikorangi (Blue) Hibbs, Vandyn (Diesel) Hartman.
Story – AAFL.co.nz