Reserves running red hot

Howick Hornets Premier Rugby League team were coming off a strong performance against the Point Chev Pirates last weekend when they took on the Otahuhu Leopards. Times photo Wayne Martin

Saturday at The Nest was a fantastic day for the Howick Rugby League Football Club.

With Howick finishing the grading round in fourth last Saturday, it means the Hornets remain in the Fox memorial 1st division.

Round 2 began on Saturday, with Howick’s premier sides taking on the Otahuhu Leopards at Paparoa Park.

“Our Reserve grade have been running hot this year, remaining unbeaten through grading,” says the Hornets’ Josh Garry.

“Which counts for nothing but self-belief and confidence for the side now, as they follow the Premiers into grade and start from zero again.”

The Leopards reserves have also been going well this season, and it showed on Saturday, these two teams are clearly shaping as the sides to beat.

The game was a back-and-forth affair with Howick ahead at the half 18-6.

“But Saturday was a day designed by mother nature to play with speed, and throw the ball around,” says Garry.

Otahuhu did this out of the blocks after the break, and with about five minutes to go, the Hornets found themselves trailing 24 – 22.

Incredibly, they turned down an opportunity at a guaranteed 2 points to tie the game up from a penalty in front of the posts.

“The crowd was vocal and all right behind the team with that decision to go for the win instead,” says Garry.

“It wasn’t until the very last play that Howick’s decision and unrelenting efforts through 80 minutes paid off.

“They found an overlap 20 meters out from the try line and managed to get the ball out to Rick Piper to score in the left wing on the final hooter and see Howick Reserves win in impressive fashion 26-24, remaining unbeaten so far in 2021.”

The Premiers top side structure is different, in the sense that after round 1 (where every team has now played each other once), the competition is split in two creating Fox premiership, and Fox championship grades.

Each club’s top side carries their points from round 1 into round 2, meaning Howick Prems will be needing to come home strong after a few close losses on the trot.

“They welcomed back a local junior and favorite son on Saturday, with Anthony Gelling making his comeback in the centres after a stellar few years spent in England’s Super League, becoming a star on the field, and is famously now known as the Wigans Warriors ‘man of the people’,” Garry says.

Howick and Otahuhu both came into this game on 6 wins, the winner of the match would finish the day in 4th place outright.

For the second time in the day it would take all 80 minutes to decide who that would be.

The last 20 was as exciting as you get for any sport fan.

Unfortunately time would prove the enemy after 80 minutes, and as entertaining and enjoyable as it was, the Hornets top side went down 26-28.

“With the ability this team has, I, along with the rest of their fans base, know this group can perform in a way that can’t be beaten for the rest of the season, especially with key troops coming back from injury,” says Garry.