Super Rugby defending champions the Chiefs condemned the winless Highlanders to a fourth defeat with a straightforward 19-7 win on Friday in Hamilton.
Both teams scored one try but fullback Gareth Anscombe kicked 14 points to reflect the Chiefs’ control of the match and lifted them to a fourth win from five matches.
They have cemented second place in the standings behind the Brumbies while the Highlanders remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
The result comes exactly one month after the competition-opener between the teams in Dunedin, which the Chiefs won 41-27.
They were just as convincing at Waikato Stadium, opening up a 10-0 lead inside 10 minutes after centre Tim Nanai-Williams pounced on turnover possession and raced 60m to score untouched.
However, the hosts failed to cross again, having scored a competition-leading 18 tries in their first four games.
Instead, Anscombe slotted four from seven shots at goal, punishing the ill-discipline of a Highlanders side who were outplayed at the breakdown and lacked the same fluency in attack.
The visitors scored their try in the 20th minute when All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith finished off a neat scrum blindside move.
The try was converted by five-eighth Colin Slade but he had a night to forget with the boot, landing just one from four shots.
Up 13-7 at halftime, two more Anscombe penalties stretched the scoreline before a scoreless final quarter.
Chiefs inside centre Andrew Horrell went closest to scoring another try but replays showed he grounded the ball centimetres short of the line.
Chiefs flanker Sam Cane and Nanai-Williams continued excellent seasons to date while Highlanders veteran lock Brad Thorn – captaining in place of the injured Andrew Hore – was tireless around the park.