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Hornets back after eight-year wait

Eight years after winning the Fox Memorial grand final in their only previous appearance, the Howick Hornets have a second shot at glory against the competition’s most successful club Mount Albert in tomorrow night’s title decider at Mount Smart Stadium (5.30pm kick-off).

Howick stunned the Otahuhu Leopards 24-14 in the 2011 grand final and has since gone on to perform solidly in Auckland’s club competition without scaling the lofty heights again until this year.

With a 14-4 record, the Hornets won the 2019 minor premiership to secure the coveted Rukutai Shield and advance to the finals as the top qualifiers.

However, they came unstuck against the Mount Albert Lions in week one of the play-offs, losing 4-18. That resulted in the Lions going directly to the grand final while Howick faced an elimination decider against Glenora, a contest it won 20-18 last weekend to secure a showdown with Mount Albert.

The Lions have won the Fox Memorial 16 times since the club’s first success in 1939. Five of those successes came in the 1980s followed by another run of five this century (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012).

While Mount Albert has more Fox Memorial titles than any other club, it has also lost the most grand finals, finishing runner-up eight times.

Four of those defeats have come in the last nine years including three on end in 2013, 2014 and 2015 when the Lions were beaten by the neighbouring Point Chevalier Pirates.