Super Rugby champions the Highlanders delivered a clinical performance in beating the Rebels 3-27 at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
The Highlanders outscored the Rebels by three tries to one so they earn a bonus point from the match and they move up to second place in the New Zealand Conference.
The Highlanders’ defence was superb throughout as they kept their tryline intact, making 119 tackles, missing only nine and forcing a host of turnovers from the Rebels.
They kicked brilliantly, with their first two tries coming courtesy of well-placed kicks behind the Rebels’ line.
The Highlanders dominated right from the start and opened the scoring thanks to a Lima Sopoaga penalty.
They crossed for the first try midway through the first half when Rebels fullback Jonah Placid spilled an Aaron Smith box kick and inside centre Rob Thompson towed ahead to touch down.
Sopoaga converted to bring up his 500th point in Super Rugby, then brought up three more with a second penalty to send the Highlanders into the break up 13-0.
Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni kicked a penalty early in the second half but the Highlanders extended their lead when Jack Wilson crossed following a Thompson kick ahead.
The Rebels threw everything at the Highlanders but could not break the defence and they were left shattered when winger Pat Osborne took an intercept 10 metres from his own line and raced the length of the field to touch down in the corner.
Next week the Rebels face the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday while the Highlanders host the Western Force in Dunedin.
Final Score Rebels 3 (0) Highlanders 27 (13)
Pen – J. Debreczeni
Tries – R.Thompson, J.Wilson, P.Osborne
Pen – L.Sopoaga 2
Con – L.Sopoaga 3
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 1:Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2:Jordan Way
TMO :Peter Marshall
1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Luke Jones , 5. Lopeti Timani , 6. Jordy Reid , 7. Sean McMahon (captain) , 8. Adam Thomson , 9. Ben Meehan , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Tom English , 12. Mitch Inman , 13. Tamati Ellison , 14. Dom Shipperley , 15. Jonah Placid
Replacements : 16. Pat Leafa , 17. Cruze Ah Nau , 18. Jamie Hagan , 19. Sam Jeffries , 20. Scott Fuglistaller , 21. Nic Stirzaker , 22. Dan Hawkins , 23. Reece Hodge
1. Brendon Edmonds , 2. Ash Dixon , 3. Siosiua Halanukonuka , 4. Mark Reddish , 5. Joe Wheeler , 6. Luke Whitelock , 7. Shane Christie (cc) , 8. Liam Squire , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Pat Osborne , 12. Rob Thompson , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Jack Wilson , 15. Ben Smith (cc)
Replacements : 16. Liam Coltman , 17. Craig Millar , 18. Josh Hohneck , 19. Dan Pryor , 20. Elliot Dixon , 21. Josh Renton , 22. Hayden Parker , 23. Jason Emery