Patrick Osborne and Waisake Naholo scored two tries apiece as the Highlanders crushed the Stormers 57-14 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The Cape side had no answer to the New Zealanders attacking quality and crumbled for their third straight loss and a record defeat, in Otago.
The Kiwis ran in nine tries to two – five of which came in a pulsating first half display – putting on a fine display of the fundamentals of rugby, blowing the Stormers away as they took a 31-7 lead into the shed.
Before their defeat to the Lions, the Stormers were South Africa’s standout side, but two consecutive thrashings in New Zealand, where they have conceded half centuries in both, has put paid to that.
This was another humiliation, heaped on by a team that outclassed, out-thought and outplayed their opponents in every department – even in the hairstyles and moustache match-ups, the visitors, save for Robert du Preez, had no answers.
The statistics are damning for the visitors, not only in attack but in defence. The Stormers shipped 23 of 88 tackles. In contrast, the hosts made 147, missing 22: damning.
Six of the Highlanders’ forwards made double-figure tackles; the only players with less than 10 were props Daniel Lienert-Brown and Siosuia Halanukonuka, who both made seven.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was the only forward who reached double figures for the Stormers, making 11 tackles.
When Nizaam Carr rounded off a wonderful Stormers move, starting from broken play, deep inside their half, to give his team a 7-0 lead, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the Cape side had come to play
Instead, within half an hour, the visitors had conceded five tries and were 24 points down at halftime.
Osborne, the moustached maestro, collected his double after some fancy footwork and stunning handling from the forwards, while Rob Thompson, outstanding in midfield and Liam Squire, after a simple driving maul, piled on the pain under the roof in Dunedin.
Marty Banks was on fire, kicking multiple conversions from the touchline, for a 10-point match haul.
His halfback partner Aaron Smith, was instrumental in starting attacks from the fringes of the ruck and superb distribution and quick thinking for Naholo’s first try and Dillon Hunt’s score after the break.
The home team won the game at the breakdown, secured possession, and spread the ball around the paddock, pushing and pulling Robbie Fleck’s team with ease.
The Stormers managed to keep their hosts scoreless in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, but once Naholo scored his second try of the game to stretch the Highlanders’ lead to 38-7, the floodgates opened.
Not even Aki Seiuli’s yellow card could stop the bleeding as Hunt crossed the whitewash.
Moments later, Greg Pleasants-Tate dotted down after another multi-phase move – one where Thompson handled the ball three times before the try – to bring up the home team’s half century.
There was time for Dewaldt Duvenage to cross for a try, late in the half, but Matt Faddes added insult to ineptness when he scored after the hooter to complete the record rout.
Final score: Highlanders 57 (31) Stormers 14 (7)
Tries – Osborne (2), Naholo (2), Coltman, Thompson, Hunt, Pleasants-Tate, Faddes
Con – Banks (5), Smith
Cards – Seiuli (Yellow, 57th minute)
Tries – Carr, Duvenage
Con – Du Preez (2)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Aaron Paterson
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.
15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vice-captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Shaun Treeby (Stormers debut), 23 Bjorn Basson.