WELLINGTON The red-hot Otago Highlanders ran in nine tries in a record 57-14 thumping of South Africa's Stormers in Dunedin on Friday to secure their fifth straight Super Rugby victory.
Fijian winger Patrick Osborne scored two tries and created another for centre Rob Thompson as the home side crossed five times in a first half blitz to set up a win which bettered the 52-25 hammering they handed the Stormers in 1996.
Waisake Naholo and number eight Liam Squire also crossed before the break with winger Naholo adding his second and flanker Dillon Hunt, Greg Pleasants-Tate and his fellow replacement Matt Faddes also scoring in the second half.
Highlanders flyhalf Marty Banks, who had converted 24 of 25 kicks this season going into the match, missed two conversions but still contributed 10 points from the tee.
The Stormers, who were thumped 57-24 by the Canterbury Crusaders last week, scored the first and penultimate tries of the match through loose forward Nizaam Carr and replacement scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage.
It never looked like being enough, though, for the Cape Town outfit to avoid a third successive defeat after starting the season with six straight wins.
Carr opened the scoring when he took down a neat offload from rampaging captain Siya Kolisi to finish a sweeping move in the seventh minute but it was all downhill from then on.
Osborne scored his first on the overlap after 12 minutes and a six minutes later Naholo burst through the defensive line to put the home side ahead.
Banks missed the conversion under pressure from a charging defender but four minutes later Osborne went over again off a turnover.
Squire touched down from a catch-and-drive to secure the bonus point on the half hour mark and Osborne held off two tacklers for an offload which set Thompson cantering away for the fifth try and a 31-7 halftime lead.
The Stormers had the upper hand at the start of the second half but the home side broke 80 metres out of defence with a fortunate bounce of the ball leaving Naholo free to run in his second try.
Flanker Hunt added the seventh try 15 minutes from the final whistle but there was still time for hooker Pleasants-Tate and back Faddes to add a gloss to the score.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)