Highlanders captain Nasi Manu has praised his team mates after they went to the top of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference by beating the Chiefs 29-25 in Dunedin.
The result keeps the Highlanders on track for their first play off place in 12 years and has left the Chiefs hopes of winning a third title hanging by a thread.
Manu said that they had expected the Chiefs to arrive in Dunedin and give them a real test but they are happy to have won "ugly" as "a win's a win".
"It means a lot to us," said Manu.
"We've really worked hard in the break and the result was awesome."
"We knew the Chiefs were going to come down as defending champions - they've got a quality side - and put us under pressure. It was an ugly win but a win's a win so we're happy."
"Richard Buckman had an awesome game and our backs were inspirational."
The lead changed side several times in the first half as each side responded to the other scoring.
Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne scored the opening try but the Chiefs hit back with a try of their own to winger Dwayne Sweeney. The Chiefs went in for half time with a 3 point lead after a long-range penalty to fullback Gareth Anscombe.
Ben Smith put the Highlanders into the lead and then a conversion and two penalties from Lima Sopoaga gave the home side a comfortable lead.
The Chiefs however fought their way back into the match with tries from Tim Nanai-Williams and Josh Hohneck to get themselves in to a position to win the match but the Highlanders managed to hold on for the victory.
"We thought we'd put ourselves in a fairly good position at half-time and started the second half well," Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden said.
"We were putting phases together and putting them under pressure, then just one lapse and a team like the Highlanders will punish you on counterattack ball."