Former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby lock Matt Bird compared Hastings Boys' High School First XV rugby hooker Miracle Lolofie with "a little rhinoceros on the loose" on Saturday.
It was an accurate comparison. Lolofie, 18, produced his best game of the season as HBHS thrashed Wellington College 78-0 in their Hastings-hosted Hurricanes Region semifinal to secure a berth in this Saturday's final against St Pat's Silverstream of Wellington in Palmerston North.
Lolofie made some powerful carries, produced some outstanding support play and was full of authority at set piece time. So what sparked his man-of-the-match performance?
"This was the last game at home for nine of our brothers who won't be returning to school next year. We were all pretty determined to make it a good one for them," Lolofie replied.
A former Hawke's Bay under-18, 16 and 14s rep and former Hastings East Ross Shield player, Lolofie will return to school next year.
"I'll be too old for the Hurricanes under-18 team but I will try and make the New Zealand Secondary Schools side," Lolofie said.
Should he keep playing like he did on Saturday during the business end of the season Lolofie, who is eyeing a career as a diesel mechanic and a berth in the Magpies squad in future, will certainly stake an early claim for a national trial next year.
He pointed out having the previous week off also contributed to the hosts' polished display against Wellington College.
"The break definitely worked. We were able to take our minds off rugby and we came back fresh."
Winger Kini Naholo was again classy and scored five of Hastings' 12 tries. A younger brother of All Black Waisake Naholo, Naholo has scored 39 tries in 18 games for Hastings this season.
Hastings remain unbeaten this year and have scored 934 points in 18 games while conceding 78. They have scored 148 tries.
Lock Tane Hohipa and blindside flanker Liam Udy-Johns, who both scored two tries, and outstanding No 8 Devan Flanders were also inspirational in the dominant and cohesive Hastings pack. Before the match Flanders was apprehensive about his clash with Wellington's No 8 Naitoa Ah Kuoi.
He shouldn't have been because he had the upperhand. Ah Kuoi collected an early knock and couldn't fire to full potential and by halftime had left the field with a shoulder injury.
Second five-eighth Danny Toala again enhanced his chances of New Zealand Secondary Schools selection later this season. His defensive reads, like his option selections on attack, were spot on, and he did well to slot nine of his 12 attempts at goal.
The fact Hastings started their back-up halfback first five-eighth combination of Shamara Brooks and Jordan Thompson-Dunn added to the significance of their feat. Both performed admirably while regular starting halfback Folau Fakatava added quality impact in the second half.
"We're pretty happy with that win today. We knew we needed some improvements after our draw against Hamilton Boys' High School in our last outing and those small things we did good. We got that attention to detail ticked off against a good Wellington team," Hastings manager and former Magpies halfback Jason Bird said after Saturday's match.
Lock Taine Plumtree was the pick of the Wellington College players. A son of former Magpies forward and current Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree, Plumtree did his core roles well and excelled in the loose, and on one occasion did well to run the ball out of the red zone before producing a huge clearance kick.
Tighthead prop Filemoni Sului had some memorable patches for the visitors during the first quarter.
Wellington College coach Lincoln Rawles predicted Hastings would retain their Hurricanes title.
"If they can produce similar skills to today next week they will get it. All teams will struggle against them once they get the ball out wide. We were there for the first 15 to 20 minutes but then they capitalised on our errors and came at us wave after wave," Rawles said.
Hastings Boys' High School 78 (Kini Naholo 5, Tane Hohipa 2, Liam Udy-Johns 2, Dennon Robinson, Folau Fakatava, Jacob Stephenson tries; Danny Toala 9 cons), Wellington College 0. HT: 33-0.