Waisake Naholo scored a brace of tries as the Highlanders booked their spot in the Super Rugby semi-finals with a 24-14 victory over the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
Wing Naholo touched down in each half and team-mate Lima Sopoaga added 14 points with his boot, while Brodie Retallick scored a 59th-minute try for the Chiefs following Andrew Horrell's three first-half penalties in the all-New Zealand conference clash.
The hosts were denied an early try as the television match official ruled Patrick Osborne's effort void after Naholo was deemed to be in touch during the build-up.
Sopoaga and Chiefs fly-half Horrell exchanged penalties inside the opening 10 minutes before Naholo made a break from a blindside scrum play from Aaron Smith and touched down in the corner midway through the first half.
Horrell was successful with two further three-pointers as the half wore on to hand the visitors a narrow 9-8 interval lead.
But the Highlanders struck back in the opening exchanges after the break as 24-year-old former Blues wing Naholo crossed over for his second score of the match after linking up with Smith again following a scrum. Sopoaga added the extras.
Sopoaga scored another penalty before Retallick reduced the deficit and handed the Chiefs a lifeline as he barged his way over in the left corner for a try just before the hour mark.
The home side pressed on, though, and Sopoaga kicked his third penalty of the match with 15 minutes remaining.
Naholo sent an attempted drop goal wide with two minutes left and Sopoaga completed the scoring at the death to seal his side's progression into the last four.