It was the perfect start to the second round of Super Rugby as the Highlanders overcame a resilient young Reds team 36-31 in Dunedin on Friday.
The Reds took the lead early through the boot of Bryce Hegarty, but it was short lived as Rob Thompson dived over the line three minutes later thanks to a good run and offload from co-captain Ben Smith with Josh Ioane adding the two.
Ioane would then add three more points from the tee in the 16th minute.
A bit of individual brilliance then saw Chris Feauai-Sautia bag the first try of the Reds season with Hegarty converting to make it 10-10 after the first 20 minutes.
The Highlanders then blitzed the Reds as Shannon Frizell and Ben Smith ran over the try line within five minutes of each other to stamp their authority on the game and establish a 14-point lead.
The Red struck back before half time to get back in the game, but the Highlanders quickly restored order after the break as Frizell went over for his second of the evening.
But the Reds continued with their never say die attitude and Izack Rodda, whose father passed away in the week and opted to play in his honour, finished off a sublime counter attack in the 49th minute.
It was then the turn of club prop turned professional Feao Fotuaika, who lost 16 kilos in the pre-season, to get a try of his own on debut to put the Reds in the lead for the first time.
The Reds defense worked tirelessly to repell the Highlanders but it was all in vain as Dillon Hunt dove over to secure another hard fought win for the Highlanders who recorded their second win of the season.
While the Reds left with a bonus point, they would have been disappointed given their performance which bodes well for the rest of their season.