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The team overcame going down to 14 men to snatch a come-from-behind 30-27 victory, after trailing 19-10 at the break.
The Highlanders looked to be down and out early in the second half, trailing 24-13 and appearing ponderous on attack.
But the visiting side managed to get some combinations going, hang on to the ball and get over the advantage line.
Halfback Aaron Smith came on and showed his class, organising those around him and sniping around the edges. He then scored the match-winning try with five minutes to go.
The Highlanders won a scrum 5m out, the ball went to the left and, from the resulting ruck, Smith feigned to pass and burrowed over.
Josh Ioane added the conversion in a polished performance from the Otago man.
It was not a fantastic effort from the Highlanders. The side's first 10 minutes was good and so was the last 10 minutes but the bit in between could have been better.
But it was a win and away from home which cannot be argued against.
The men from the South got back to 24-20 when they lost replacement back Sio Tomkinson to a red card. Tomkinson was judged to have used no arms in a tackle when hitting the head of Chiefs captain Brodie Retallick.
But Retallick left the field and the Highlanders grew an arm and a leg to come home hard.
Best for the Highlanders were Smith, who played a great 25 minutes off the bench, while Jackson Hemopo and Tyrel Lomax were busy in the forwards.
The Highlanders dominated the opening 10 minutes and Liam Coltman looked to have scored a try after 120 seconds but it was ruled he was held up.
The visiting side kept up the pressure and, after a nice quick tap from halfback Kayne Hammington, big lock Pari Pari Parkinson drove over to bag his first try at this level.
The Highlanders were getting into their work and making metres but the Chiefs are known for their tenacity.
Hammington then had two kicks on a row charged down and the Chiefs forced a 5m scrum. It held solid and screwed around and No8 Tyler Adron went over untouched.
Brad Weber, who was taking the goal kicks, such is the lack of depth at the moment in the Chiefs' kicking department, hit the post with the conversion.
Just before halfway through the first half, the Chiefs took the lead.
Anton Lienert-Brown squeezed through a gap and freed winger Bailyn Sullivan. A nice chip from the youngster, ended up back in his hands and, from the resulting ruck, prop Angus Ta'avao was on hand to score.
The Highlanders were struggling to get any sort of ball or territory as the half went on and combinations were as expected looking rusty.
Chiefs winger Etene Nanai-Seturo scored a nice try in the dying minutes of the first half after some clever work by those inside him. Ioane knocked over a penalty on the hooter to get his side into double figures.