SHARE
Quick as …Waikaka centre Hayden Stephen takes off down the wing, outpaces the Waikiwi player looming to tackle him to run half the length of the field to score one of his five tries in the Southland-wide division one rugby match. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Hayden Stephen celebrated his 50th game for Waikaka with a spectacular try-scoring spree.

The centre scored five tries in the team’s 48-3 hiding of Waikiwi.

Coach Steve Hastie said Stephen had a ”remarkable” game.

”He had one out of the box,” Hastie said.

”He’s deceptively quick and strong.”

It was a good team effort with all 22 players on the same page regarding the style of rugby needed.

”We just got everyone to buy into the philosophy of playing fast and with width.

”I want everyone to be able to handle the ball.

”There is no perceived runners.”

Another highlight of the game was keeping Waikiwi from crossing the tryline.

He was pleased with the make-up of the squad which included hooker Lachie MCall who has returned to the club after playing for the Eastern Northern Combined Barbarians.

He placed a great deal of emphasis on fitness.

”When we’ve got a fit team we obviously can do things better.

“I just believe in width and a bit of pace.”

Hastie also coached the team last year but decided he needed specialist help so former Barbarians coach Bretton Taylor and former Southland Stags player Greg Saunders are part of the coaching team.

”These guys have come in and really helped.”

There was a good atmosphere in the team at present.

”The guys know if we continue to work hard we’re going to get results.”

The competition was very even and the team’s goal was to finish in the top six, he said.

”From there we can steamboat on but that top six is really important to us.”

The club also celebrated its belated 120th anniversary at the weekend.

It was unable to mark the occasion last year because of Covid-19.

”It was a great weekend for the club.”