Palmerston North - The Highlanders produced the biggest upset of this year's Super 14 on Saturday with a 36-12 victory over the previously unbeaten Bulls in their first home match away from their traditional South Island venues.
Several of the Highlanders squad also play their provincial rugby in Manawatu and the neighbouring Hawke's Bay but were drafted in by the South Island franchise after not being picked by the Hurricanes.
Jason Shoemark, Matt Berquist and Israel Dagg (all of whom play for Hawke's Bay), Jimmy Cowan and Daniel Bowden scored tries for the Highlanders.
Berquist slotted four conversions and a penalty for the Highlanders, who refused to back down against a massive Bulls pack and played at a high tempo throughout.
'Got stuck in'
Highlanders captain Jimmy Cowan said: “These boys are known to be big bullies who boss you around the field and I think we faced up to them.
"We competed at the breakdown ... and the boys really got stuck in.”
Bulls centre Gerhard van den Heever and flyhalf Morne Steyn scored tries for the Bulls, who blew several try-scoring opportunities. Steyn converted his own try.
Bulls captain Fourie du Preez said afterwards: “It was very tough - they really put us under pressure particularly at the breakdown.
"They're quite a physical team and there was a lot of pressure on us at scrum time and lineouts and we made lots of mistakes."