The Highlanders put the visiting l Swire Shipping Fijian Drua to the sword with a 57-24 win in their Super Rugby Pacific clash at Forsyth Batt Stadium this afternoon.
The home-side ran in eight tries over a Drua side that struggled fo find its rhythm all throughout the match.
The Drua started strong when it crossed over first with a strong set-piece scrum move just inside the Highlanders half which found centre Apisalome Vota breaking the defence to race off and offload for halfback Frank Lomani to score.
Flyhalf Kemu Valetini converted from outwide for the slender 7-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game.
However the lead was shortlived when a lapse in concentration allowed the home side to break through finishing off with hooker Jermaine Ainsley crashing over for their first try.
Fullback Sam Gilbert converted the try successfully from the far corner with 17 minutes gone.
All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot got the Highlanders in-front after multiple patient phases near the Drua goal line with Gilbert converting now 23 minutes in.
Highlanders openside winger and Argentinian Martin Bogado scored the sides third try after quick ball from the back of a maul with 27 minutes gone and Gilbert adding another two points with the boot.
Gilbert scored the sides bonus point try after a mix-up in the Drua defence who converted his own try with ease with 10 minutes to go until halftime.
The Drua lineout has been a weakness for the side, with hooker Tevita Ikanivere unable to link up with his jumpers throughout the first forty.
Taniela Rakuro got the Drua back in the fight after a break up the midfield from Kalaveti Ravouvou.
Quick ball work and good foot work had Rakuro over but the conversion from Lomani unsuccessful.
Fly-half Mitch Hunt would crossover for the side’s fifth try with the conversion missed from Gilbert to send them to the break in front 33-12.
Aaron Smith kept the scoreboard ticking with another try on 43 minutes after nipping from the side of the ruck finishing a move that started near the halfway line.
Gilbert converted to give them a 28 point lead.
The Drua failed to find their rhythm and at times struggled to utilise the ball.
Blindside winger Jona Lowe would get his name on the scorer’s list on 53 minutes as the Drua now began to fall apart.
The Drua would finally stick phases and it paid off with a hard earned try to Tevita Ikanivere with Teti Tela adding the two points with 60 minutes to go.
Bogado would get his double on 73 minutes with the game already a one-way affair.
Hardworking Lomani would finish off another break from Ravouvou to get his double also adding the conversion with 75 minutes gone.
The Highlanders would finish the game in style with their eighth try from substitute Cam Millar finishing a well worked team try converting his own try.
The final act of the game would be a yellow card to substitute looseman Elia Canakaivata for a reckless challenge at the kick-off.
Highlanders:Ethan de Groot, Leni Apisai, Jermaine Ainsley, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (c), Hugh Renton, Aaron Smith, Mitch Hunt, Jonah Lowe, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Josh Timu, Martin Bogado, Sam Gilbert Reserves: Jack Taylor, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma’u, Will Tucker, James Lentjes, Folau Fakatava, Cam Millar, Jake Te Hiwi
Fijian Drua: Emosi Tuqiei, Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Leone Rotuisolia, Joseva Tamani, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi (c), Frank Lomani, Kemi Valetini, Taleni Rakuro, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada Reserves: Zuriel Togiatama, Meli Tuni, Jone Koroiduadua, Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Vilive Miramira, Elia Canakaivata, Peni Matawalu, Teti Tela