The Highlanders romped to a 49-12 bonus-point win against the Waratahs in Invercargill on Friday to keep their slim playoff qualifications hopes alive.
The big bonus-point win sees the Highlanders moving up to sixth in the overall standings. They will now wait on the results of other matches to see whether they progress to the playoffs or not.
The Highlanders took less than 19 minutes to score three tries and move into bonus-point territory. They led 42-7 at the break against a limited Waratahs side that was, to be fair, without a host of Wallabies stars.
The hosts took their foot off the pedal in the second stanza. They did keep the Waratahs honest, though, and went on to win by a 37-point margin to boost their overall points-difference.
It remains to be seen, however, whether this effort will be enough to earn them a playoff place.
Highlanders – Tries: Josh McKay, Tevita Li, Tom Franklin, Waisake Naholo, Penalty try, Liam Squire, Rob Thompson. Conversions: Josh Ioane (5), Elliot Dixon.
Waratahs – Tries: Alex Newsome, Mack Mason. Conversion: Mason.
Highlanders – 15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joshua Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Elliot Dixon.
Waratahs – 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Mack Mason, 9 Nick Phipps (captain), 8 Hugh Sinclair, 7 Will Miller, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Subs: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Tautalatasi Tasi.
Photo: Dianne Manson/Getty Images