Kiniviliame Naholo might even be quicker than his All Black brother Waisake Naholo.
The 19-year-old wing shined in Taranaki’s 78-0 Ranfurly Shield romp over Poverty Bay in Tikorangi on Saturday afternoon, scoring two first-half tries on debut.
Given Naholo scored 40 tries in 20 games for Hastings Boys’ High School’s 1st XV last year, his nose for the line had already made headlines.
However, lighting up a Heartland Championship team at Tikorangi Domain was proof he’s more than simply a schoolboy bully.
He beat four defenders with multiple steps for his first five-pointer, before he gassed the opposition from 45m for his second, a burst which included an eye-opening step and fend.
Naholo, who was substituted at halftime, also played provider, breaking out from his own 22m, drawing the last defender and feeding centre Latu Vaeno for his second of the match.
Taranaki ran in 12 tries to zip on the day, showing it’s going to take something beyond remarkable for a Heartland team to hoist the Shield for the first time since South Canterbury in 1974.
To think the amber and blacks fielded nine debutants, were playing their first match under new coach Willie Rickards, who replaced now Chiefs coach Colin Cooper, and had none of their Super Rugby players available.
There was no Seta Tamanivalu or Manasa Mataele, no Ricky Riccitelli or Stephen Perofeta, players who helped snatch the Log o’ Wood from Canterbury last October, when they stormed back from a 31-7 deficit to win 55-43 in Christchurch.
It meant diddly-poo, as the hosts ran amok from the second minute, when Vaeno started the rout, and cracked the half century within half an hour.
Quite simply it was carnage. Poverty Bay, who finished last year’s Heartland Championship with a 4-5 record, were no match.
In addition to Naholo’s brace, and Vaeno’s hat-trick, fullback Jayson Potroz and second-five Brayton Northcott-Hill scored doubles.
Naholo wasn’t the only player with a brother playing Super Rugby to score. Substitute Kaylum Boshier, brother of Chiefs loose forward Lachlan, dotted down early in the second half.
Taranaki first-five Daniel Waite, who scored via a 50m dash midway through the first half, added eight conversions for a 21-point haul.
Poverty Bay had lengthy raids on Taranaki’s line late in the first half, and in the middle of the second half, but couldn’t breach their fast-rushing defensive line.
The 78-point whitewash was Taranaki’s second successful defence of their sixth tenure, meaning they will put the Log o’ Wood on the line again next Saturday, when they host Heartland champions Wanganui in Hawera.
Their first slated defence of the national provincial competition is against Manawatu in New Plymouth on August 24.
AT A GLANCE
Taranaki 78 (Latu Vaeno 3, Jayson Potroz 2, Kiniviliame Naholo 2, Daniel Waite, Donald Maka, Brayton Northcott-Hill 2, Kaylum Boshier tries; Waite 8 con, Ciarahn Matoe con)
Poverty Bay 00
POVERTY BAY TEAM FOR RANFURLY SHIELD CHALLENGE (1-15): Campbell Chrisp (Ngatapa), Tamanui Hill (HSOB, captain) Siaosi Lelenoa (Waikato, loan player), Jacob Cook (OBM) Micaiah Torrance-Read (Taranaki, player of origin) Willis Tamatea (YMP, vice-capt), Callum McDonald (OBM), Ken Houkamau (Waikohu), Hamerua Baker (Waikohu), Kelvin Smith (Waik), Andrew Tauatevalu (HSOB), Anthony Karauria (Nga), Jesse Fleming (Waik), Te Peehi Fairlie (YMP), Ethine Reeves (Waik, vice-capt).
Reserves: Shayde Skudder (YMP), Semisi Akana (Nga), Andrew Petelo (Wellington, loan player), Jesse Kapene (Wairoa Athletic), Mario Counsell (Waik), Tawhao Stewart (Waik), Cameron Rowden (Nga).