The Western Force remain winless against all Super Rugby teams bar the defending champions in 2015 with the Highlanders winning 23-3 in Perth on Saturday night.
The Force played well in their first game of the season to beat the Waratahs in Sydney and, prior to last weekend’s bye, they also scored a home win over the defending champions.
However, back home on Saturday night the Force didn’t make the most of chances to score in the first half and were made to pay with the Highlanders working their way on top.
The visitors scored the only two tries, both in the second half, to John Hardie and Aaron Smith while Lima Sopoaga converted one, kicked two penalties and a drop goal before replacement Marty Banks nailed the other conversion.
The Highlanders are locked in a tantalising battle with the Chiefs for second position in the New Zealand conference and, following their win over the Force, they join the Chiefs on a 9-4 record.
As if perfectly planned, the Highlanders and Chiefs meet next Saturday at Rugby Park in Invercargill.
Meanwhile, the Force remain bottom of the Australian conference behind the Queensland Reds and with games to finish at home to the Reds and Brumbies, and away to the Rebels.
The Force had some chances deep in attack in the opening stages and the best of those went to Marcel Brache who knocked on while under pressure when all he had to do was get down.
The Highlanders got on top midway through the first half and it stayed that way.
They led 6-3 at half-time before the first try early in the second half courtesy of Hardie after a rolling maul.
A Sopoaga drop goal with eight minutes left put the Highlanders up 16-3 and then it became 23-3 following a converted try from scrumhalf Smith.