Hell of a come back from Pt Chev. Excellent game of footy too.
League: Hornets sting Leopards to win first ever shield
Howick tends to evoke images of retirement homes, careful driving, bowling clubs and shopping malls.
One doesn't normally associate the East Auckland suburb with rugby league, but it now can boast the top club in the region.
The Hornets' Fox Memorial Shield win yesterday - in their first final appearance - seems unlikely but the result was never in doubt.
After an early Otahuhu try, Howick led for the rest of the match. They were ahead 12-4 at halftime and held a 12-point advantage with 20 minutes to go.
The Leopards closed to within six points before Howick sealed the match at Mt Smart Stadium with a late try. Mark Lemalu was the Hornet's hero with a hat-trick of tries.
With this being the club's 50th jubilee, and after having spent their entire history in the lower divisions, it's a footie fairytale.
"This is massive for the club and the boys are over the moon," said Howick player-coach Lee Wetherill. "We had a three-year plan and everything has come to fruition. We dominated them physically and set the standard on defence, while our completions on attack meant they didn't really get a chance."
Wetherill, 33, returned from Australia in 2009 and decided to play out his career at his local club. He persuaded other locals to return to the Hornets and cajoled five players from Pakuranga Rugby Club to switch codes.
"It has been great to get the local boys back," says Wetherill. "We used to always lose a lot of players to other areas. The other key is that we have managed to keep the same bunch of guys each year, whereas other teams tend to chop and change."
They won the second division title (and Sharman Cup) in 2009, and in 2010 reached the Fox Memorial semifinals for the first time. They dropped just two games on their way to the minor premiership.One was a 16-10 loss to the Leopards in the final game of the regular season.
"We like to keep it simple - a St George style of game," says Wetherill. "There is nothing flash. We are just ruthless on defence and try to complete our sets and do the basics."
In the Sharman Cup, Pt Chevalier beat Bay Roskill 24-16, while New Lynn took out the Phelan Shield with a 32-30 win over Papatoetoe.
Howick Hornets 24 (M. Lemalu 3, A. Gelling, J. Tavita tries; Leroy Fa'avesi 2 goals) .
Otahuhu Leopards 14 (R. Tu, A. Nafetalai tries; S. Vuna, S. Walker goals).
That will explain why Gelling was playing for Howick and not the Vulcans then.