Wellington - The Stormers are threatening to run away with the Super Rugby championship after they humbled the Highlanders 21-6 at the weekend in a top-of-the-table clash.
There was a clear gulf in class between the top two sides and the Stormers' big win sends out a real warning to the teams hoping to bridge the gap before the playoffs.
If there is a chink in the Stormers' armoury, it is an inability to score tries: they sit on 28 points from six wins and a bye, but have failed to pick up any four-try winning bonus points.
The Highlanders slipped from second to fifth position after their home loss.
The Stormers not only dented the Highlanders' aspirations but they did so backing up from a hard-fought win over the Bulls and showing little evidence of fatigue after the long trip from South Africa to start their Australasian tour.
The victory was built on a well-rehearsed strategy of a watertight defence, which restricted the Highlanders scoring to just two penalties and underscored why the Stormers have leaked fewer tries than any other side.
"We pride ourselves on our defence. We work terribly hard at it and we show our commitment to the team through our defence," said captain Jean de Villiers.