• HBHS rugby pivot shines in away victory over NBHS

HBHS rugby pivot shines in away victory over NBHS

Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV rugby team's first five-eighth Hoera Stephenson had every right to be smiling after his team's 16-8 Super 8 round two victory over hosts Napier Boys' High School today.

A son of former Magpies fullback Jearrard Stephenson, Stephenson (pictured above celebrating with young relatives) impressed with his tactical kicking, goal kicking (four successes from five attempts at goal) and distribution in difficult conditions. He sparked a counter attack which sent winger Alex Dickey away for the visitors only try.

"It's pretty good to beat Napier here on their turf," Stephenon said.

"This is my second and last year in the 1st XV. I want to try and help them win the Super 8 and make the National Top Four tournament. I'm pretty confident we can do it with our good mix of young and experienced players," Stephenson explained.

As HBHS strives for improvement Stephenson will be looking for more vision and trust in set piece play from his side. When Stephenson leaves school he intends to play for the Dannevirke-based Aotea club which his father coaches and help them become a force in the Bay's premier club competition.

Stephenson opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the fourth minute. NBHS pivot Afa Moleli replied with one in the seventh minute and the score remained 3-all until halftime.

This deadlock was broken with a Stephenson penalty 10 minutes into the second half. Dickey scored his try five minutes later which Stephenson converted.

Powerful NBHS captain and No 8 Gilgal Leutele Malasia kept his team in the hunt when he crashed over for a try with five minutes remaining. But when Stephenson slotted another penalty goal with a minute remaining it was time for some celebration songs from the HBHS supporters. All of the HBHS players deserve praise for their defensive work.

Captain and No 8 Cooper Flanders was classy in all aspects of play. Prop Aone Lolofie had a massive workrate.

Lock Nicholas Ennor, prop Gus Brown and flanker Max Ratcliffe were all prominent when the Sky Blues pack enjoyed long periods of dominance. 

Hastings Boy's High School team manager Jason Bird was "immensely proud" of the visitors display.

"These weren't the weather conditions either team wanted but we controlled play very well. We adapted better and put them under pressure. Considering the conditions it was a great game."

Unlike Stephenson, former Magpies halfback Bird, refused to look too far ahead.

"It's important we just focus on one game at a time. But you're right we have some good pieces of the puzzle and a great bunch of young men to work with."

NBHS head coach Brendon Ratcliffe agreed Hastings deserved the victory.

"Respect to them. At the same time we competed for long periods and there is a lot more in us. It's exciting for both teams and we will meet again."

During the four seasons he has coached NBHS each team has recorded two wins and all victories have been as the away team.

Ratcliffe was quick to heap kudos on referee Nick Hogan's outstanding game management.

"We're very lucky to have referees of Nick's class in Hawke's Bay. You don't always get that when we play out of the province and he deserves the recognition he is getting at national level."

Hastings Boys' High School 16 (Alex Dickey try; Hoera Stephenson 3 pens, con), Napier Boys' High School 8 (Gilgal Leutele Malasia try; Afa Moleli pen). HT: 3-all.