The Highlanders have thrashed an inept Stormers outfit by a record 57-14 scoreline to breathe life into their Super Rugby finals tilt.
The Dunedin-based side rarely looked troubled by the South African team and laid on nine tries to two, including a double for wingers Patrick Osborne and Waisake Naholo.
They’ll now head off to South Africa for matches against the Cheetahs and Bulls, while the Stormers – who were also smashed by the Crusaders last week – will travel to the Kiwi capital to take on the Hurricanes.
The 43-point triumph, a fifth win in succession for the club, trumps their previous 42-point record margin of victory, set in 2000 against the Bulls.
“We had a really good training week and that sort of added to tonight,” Highlanders skipper Ben Smith said.
“On the back of some of our defensive efforts, we managed to score some good tries, but it was a tough game.”
After a messy start the tourists who took the lead in the seventh minute, with Stormers No.8 Nizaam Carr capitalising on a barnstorming run from loose forward Siya Kolisi to put his side in front.
The Highlanders rallied quickly on home soil, blowing their opponents away with five unanswered tries before the break.
Osborne levelled the scores with a try on the left edge, before opposite Test winger Naholo collected an arched Aaron Smith pass to crash over and put his side in front.
Further tries to Osborne, Liam Squire and midfielder Rob Thompson then put the Highlanders in the driving seat with a 31-7 halftime advantage.
The Stormers returned from the break with renewed vigour and had a lunging Pieter-Steph du Toit try disallowed in the 44th minute for a knock-on.
Fullback SP Marais then broke down the right edge but was pushed into touch, before the Highlanders killed off hope of a comeback in the 55th minute, with another Naholo try.
The away side fell further behind when Dillon Hunt and Greg Pleasants-Tate barged over in the space of five minutes to send their side past 50 points.
A Dewaldt Duvenage try off the back of a Stormers scrum followed as a consolation, before Matt Faddes closed out the match for the Highlanders on the siren.