Cape Town - The Chiefs sent a timely reminder not to discount them from the Super Rugby reckoning with a dominant first half performance in the their clash against the Highlanders in Suva in Saturday.
The Chiefs won 45-22 after leading 42-0 at half-time.
The Chiefs, champions in 2012 and 2013, scored six tries in an extraordinary first 40-minute spell through wings Toni Pulu (2) and Sean Wainui, fullback Solomon Alaimalo, prop Karl Tu’inukuafe and flank Luke Jacobson. Flyhalf Damian McKenzie was on target with all six conversions and a lone second spell penalty.
A shell-shocked Highlanders side to their credit replied with four second half tries of their own by centre Teihorangi Walden (2) and replacements - prop Aki Seiuli and loose forward Shannon Frizell. Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga added a conversion.
The Highlanders, in what was a 'home' match for the Dunedin-based side, albeit played some 3 170km away in Fiji, left empty-handed which saw them slip to fourth and sixth in the New Zealand Conference and Overall log, respectively.
In next weekend's Round 18 action, the Chiefs host the Brumbies in Hamilton (Saturday, July 7 at 07:15 SA time), while the Highlanders face a daunting trip to Christchurch to tackle the table-topping Crusaders (Friday, July 6 at 09:35 SA time).
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Richard Buckman
15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Mitch Karpik, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Shaun Stevenson