The Western Force secured their first back to back victories in Super Rugby since April 2011 when they beat the Highlanders 29-31 in Dunedin.
The Force who finished the match with 13 players also scored four tries in the contest and took the full five points from the match.
The result is the Western Force's sixth consecutive victory over the Highlanders in Super Rugby.
Dogged defence by the Western Force and reduced to 13 men over the closing stages, but the visitors held on for a desperate win.
Ben McCalman and Adam Coleman both copped yellow cards as the Force confronted a late rally from the Highlanders who trailed 31-16 with 20 minutes remaining.
With the Highlanders dominating possession and territory they steadily reduced the gap forcing the Force into desperate defensive measures, including a spear tackle which forced referee Glen Jackson to produce the yellow cards.
But even with a two-man advantage the Highlanders were unable to bridge the gap.
After eight minutes of unsuccessfully battering away at the line, they were rewarded on fulltime when replacement fly-half Hayden Parker scored out wide.
But his conversion attempt which would have seen the match end in a draw, fell short.
Although the Force were on the losing end of the second half, they built enough of a buffer in the first 40 minutes, when they led 21-16 to secure their second win as they backed up from beating the Melbourne Rebels 32-7 a week ago.
"We're playing some good football now, starting the game strong and finishing it off well with 13 men," a relieved Force captain Matt Hodgson said.
The Force, looking to emulate last week's effort when they raced to a 32-0 lead by halftime against the Rebels, had their first points on the board within three minutes.
Hooker Nathan Charles, loitering on the left wing, scored in the corner with Sias Ebersohn adding the conversion.
But they were made to pay for repeated infringements with Highlanders' fly-half Lima Sopoaga landing three penalties in quick succession including a 50-metre (yard) effort to give the Highlanders a 9-7 lead inside 20 minutes.
However, the lead was to change twice more before half-time with Ebersohn putting the Force back in front from a 40-metre intercept try which he also converted.
The Highlanders, who had one win from two outings going into the match, responded with a try to Shaun Treeby who snapped up an Aaron Smith chip kick from a scrum close to the line.
Sopoaga's conversion had the Highlanders in front 16-14 before McCalman crashed over for a try, converted by Ebersohn, for the Force to lead at half-time.
A penalty early in the second half to Ebersohn, who also converted the bonus-point try by Junior Rasolea pushed the Force out to a 31-16 lead.
Malakai Fekitoa and Parker scored two late tries for the Highlanders with Sopoaga adding a fourth penalty.
The Force return to Perth to play the defending champion Chiefs next week while the Highlanders remain at home to face the Hurricanes.
Final Score Highlanders 29 (16) Force 31 (21)
Tries - S.Treeby, M.Fekitoa, H.Parker
Pen - L.Sopoaga 4
Con - L.Sopoaga
Tries - N.Charles, S.Ebersohn, B.McCalman, J.Rasolea
Pen - S.Ebersohn
Con - S.Ebersohn 4
Cards -B.McCalman (72nd min yellow) A.Coleman (72nd min Yellow)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Garratt Williamson
Assistant Ref 2:Ben O'Keefe
TMO : Vinny Munro
1 Kane Hames , 2 Liam Coltman , 3 Chris King , 4 Jarrad Hoeata , 5 Joe Wheeler , 6 John Hardie , 7 Shane Christie , 8 Nasi Manu (co captain) , 9 Aaron Smith , 10 Lima Sopoaga , 11 Kurt Baker , 12 Shaun Treeby , 13 Malakai Fekitoa , 14 Richard Buckman , 15 Ben Smith (co captain)
Replacements : 16 Ged Robinson , 17 Matias Diaz , 18 Craig Millar , 19 Josh Bekhuis , 20 Elliot Dixon , 21 Fumiaki Tanaka , 22 Hayden Parker , 23 Phil Burleigh
1. Pek Cowan,2. Nathan Charles,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Sam Wykes ,5. Wilhelm Steenkamp ,6. Angus Cottrell,7. Matt Hodgson (c),8. Ben McCalman,9. Alby Mathewson,10. Sias Ebersohn,11. Nick Cummins ,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Junior Rasolea,14. Luke Morahan ,15. Jayden Hayward
Replacements : 16. Heath Tessmann,17. Tetera Faulkner ,18. Ollie Hoskins,19. Adam Coleman,20. Brynard Stander,21. Ian Prior,22. Zack Holmes ,23. Marcel Brache