The Highlanders have comprehensively outplayed the Chiefs, scoring four tries to nil, including a superb effort from winger Waisake Naholo, on the way to a 36-9 Super Rugby victory in Invercargill.
Naholo, who has had a stand-out season, struck three minutes into the second spell at Rugby Park on Saturday night, showing his explosive speed with a solo effort that began inside his own half.
The Fijian-born flyer steamed through a hole and then simply accelerated around the cover defence to dot down for his ninth try of the campaign.
Five-eighth Lima Sopoaga’s conversion pushed the Highlanders out to an 18-3 lead.
The Chiefs gave themselves hope when they closed the gap with two penalties from fullback Damien McKenzie, but Sopoaga replied with two of his own to open the margin back out again.
Centre Richard Buckman and skipper Ben Smith at fullback added the icing for the home side with tries over the final 10 minutes to secure the bonus point.
The win took the Highlanders above the Chiefs and into second spot in the New Zealand conference and fourth on the overall table with two rounds to go.
Competition leaders the Hurricanes still have a healthy nine-point buffer over the Highlanders despite their loss to the Crusaders on Friday night.
The Highlanders’ other winger, Patrick Osborne, grabbed the game’s opening try on the half hour.
The home side, up 6-3, went for the line-out after the Chiefs copped a scrum penalty and the decision paid dividends as Osborne went past three defenders to dot down on the other side of the field.
The Chiefs bounced back to dominate the latter stages of the first spell.
They got three quick penalties, going for the line-out each time.
From the last one, five-eighth Marty McKenzie and younger brother Damien combined in a slick move that had the Chiefs believing they had scored a try.
Marty put a kick into the in-goal for Damien, who beat the defence to the ball but was ruled to have lost control of it.