Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV rugby team manager and former Magpies halfback Jason Bird smiled when the defensive workrate of his side's halfback Folau Fakatava was mentioned.
"You're right. Folau is like a fourth loosie for us. Our coaches [Mark Ozich and Tafai Ioasa] have to keep reminding him he doesn't have to make every tackle in the game," Bird said after defending champions HBHS beat Napier Boys' High School 38-3 in a Super 8 round two fixture in Napier on Saturday.
This was the country's No 1 ranked team's 11th consecutive win this season and the third time in the past four years they had beaten NBHS in the Ebbett Challenge Trophy fixture.
"I just wanted to do my bit for the boys in what was a tough game. It's always a tough game against Napier at this ground and our boys should be proud of that win," Fakatava said.
Although the visitors kept their hosts tryless and scored six tries of their own, Fakatava said there was still plenty for the HBHS team to work on.
"We're still trying silly offloads and making silly mistakes. We've got to shut those out."
A New Zealand Barbarians Schools representative last year, Fakatava is hoping to make the step up to the New Zealand Secondary Schools team this season. It will be a surprise if he doesn't.
"I know I've still got improvements to make like running the right lines and getting my passing both ways consistent."
Although the Hastings forwards weren't as tall or as heavy as the Napier pack they still set an ideal platform for their talented backs. They were able to move the big Napier players around and, with their tremendous line speed on defence, Hastings were able to shut the Napier attacks down and force turnovers.
Openside flanker Jeriah Mua had a huge workrate and No 8 Devan Flanders displayed maturity beyond his years with his lines and defensive reads. Captain Kianu Kereru-Symes, fellow prop Josiah Metcalfe-Tavita and hooker Miracle Lolofie did their core roles well and also passed and caught like backs when the visitors increased the tempo.
Winger Kini Naholo, a brother of All Black winger Waisake Naholo, scored two tries to take his tally to 30 for the season.
Considering HBHS thrashed Palmerston North Boys' High School 100-0 in round one, the NBHS side can be proud of their competitive patches yesterday. Big No 8 Lolani Faleiva, a converted prop, and prop Cam Huata impressed with their carries.
But they often lost possession in the contact area because they didn't have enough support players blowing out past the ball or close enough to provide the necessary protection.
They also need to improve their discipline as winger Dan Sharplin and substitute hooker Patrick Teddy both had stints in the sin bin.
Opponents of HBHS will tell you it's hard enough playing them with 15 these days let alone 14 at different times in the game.
Lock Jake Lochore, a grandson of All Blacks legend Brian Lochore, was the hosts' best player until he was forced from the field with an injury. Second five-eighth Leo Thompson was the best of the Napier backs with plenty of penetration on attack and some busy defensive work.
Hastings Boys' High School 38 (Kini Naholo 2, Trent Hape, Dennon Robinson, Tane Hohipa, Jeriah Mua tries; Jordan Thompson-Dunn 2, Danny Toala 2 cons), Napier Boys' High School 3 (Nikau McGregor pen). HT: 17-3.