The Highlanders extended their unbeaten run to nine matches by beating the Waratahs 44-28 at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The victory moves the Highlanders into second place in the New Zealand Conference on points difference ahead of the Chiefs who also have 45 points.
The Waratahs led 13-14 at half time but the Highlanders surged in the second half and outscored the Sydney franchise by four tries to two in the second half.
It was Marty Banks who put the first points on the board in the 14th minute through a successful penalty attempt. A try to the home side came shortly after to put them in front 10-0.
The Tahs were quick to respond through Israel Folau, who shrugged off backrower Elliot Dixon to run in for his 8th try of the season. Bernard Foley was solid with the boot and added the extras without issue.
Banks knocked over another penalty conversion with less than ten minutes remaining in the half, while Bernard Foley’s attempt from 50m out was no good.
The Highlanders then knocked on the recovery attempt which paved the way for a bulldozing Taqele Naiyaravoro to make his way to the line.
With Foley’s additional two points, the NSW Waratahs entered the second half leading 13-14.
A yellow card to Dean Mumm early in the second half sparked a Highlanders rolling maul try as well as another five pointer a few minutes later.
With ten minutes to go, Jake Gordon snuck over the line for his first try of the night.
A try to the home side two minutes later following a TMO decision put victory just out of reach for the Sydney and put the Highlanders in line for a bonus point.
However, Gordon second try from a quick tap around 40m out snuffled out the bonus point opportunity.
Next week the Highlanders face the daunting task of visiting Christchurch to play the Crusaders on Saturday while the Waratahs play the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Final Score Highlanders 44 (13) Waratahs 28 (14)
Tries – R.Buckman, L.Coltman, T.Li, R.Thompson, D.Lienert-Brown, L.Sopoaga
Pen – M.Banks 2
Con – M.Banks, L.Sopoaga 3
Tries – I.Folau, T.Naiyaravoro, J.Gordon 2
Con -B.Foley 4
Cards – D.Mumm (45th min yellow)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2:Cam Stone
TMO : Shane McDermott
1. Aki Seiuli, 2. Liam Coltman, 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Alex Ainley, 5. Tom Franklin, 6. Elliot Dixon, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Luke Whitelock, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Marty Banks, 11. Tevita Li, 12. Richard Buckman, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 14. Waisake Naholo, 15. Ben Smith ( cc )
Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon (cc), 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18. Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19. Joe Wheeler, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Lima Sopoaga, 23. Rob Thompson
1. Tom Robertson, 2 .Tolu Latu ,3 .Sekope Kepu,4 .Dean Mumm,5 .Will Skelton,6 .Ned Hanigan,7. Michael Hooper ©,8. Michael Wells,9. Nick Phipps,10. Bernard Foley,11. .Cam Clark,12. .David Horwitz,13. Rob Horne,14 . Taqele Naiyaravoro,15. Israel Folau
Replacements : 16. Damien Fitzpatrick,17. Paddy Ryan,18.Angus Taavao 19.David McDuling, 20.Jed Holloway,21. Jake Gordon,22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Irae Simone