The Clermont bound winger Waisake Naholo scored two tries in six minutes to help the Highlanders come from behind and beat the Crusaders 25-20 in their Super rugby local derby in Christchurch.
The Highlanders scored 22 unanswered points in a 13-minute blitz either side of halftime to overturn a 14-3 deficit and lead 25-3 in the New Zealand conference clash.
First-five Colin Slade kicked two late penalties to get the Crusaders within striking distance but the Highlanders held on for their fifth win of the season, to sit in fifth place on the competition ladder.
The Crusaders suffered their fourth loss in eight matches and will slip out of the final wildcard spot they held going into the round.
The Crusaders made a strong start with flanker Matt Todd scoring the opening try in the eighth minute after Nemani Nadolo made a break.
Fellow Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua touched down after another break from Nadolo, who had a strong match on the wing.
The Highlanders got their first try against the run of play in the last minute of the first half when Lima Sopoaga sliced through the Crusaders defence and gave fullback Ben Smith a free run to the line.
Just five minutes after the re-start, Naholo intercepted the ball and ran 60 metres to score.
Six minutes later, Naholo crossed again to give his team an 11-point lead which proved enough.
It was the Fijian-born winger's sixth try of the season, the most by any player in the competition.
Also last night the Stormers upset the Waratahs 32-18 in Sydney, while the Cheetahs beat the Force 24-15 in Perth.
This morning the Lions edged South African rivals the Sharks 23-21 in Johannesburg, before the Bulls beat the Reds 43-22 in Pretoria to stay top of the South African Conference.
The Lions came back after conceding two first-half tries to keep up their winning run.
The Bulls are third overall in the standings with five wins from eight matches.