The Crusaders made it three wins on the trot in Super Rugby after defeating the Highlanders 44-13 in Dunedin on Saturday.
After leading just 13-6 at half-time, the Crusaders ran in five second-half tries to record a massive win over their South Island rivals and take top spot in the New Zealand conference.
After starting the 2011 with a bang, the Highlanders have now suffered two defeats in a row with this being their biggest loss of the season as they failed to match the intensity of the seven-time champions.
After a first half marked by poor goal-kicking, centre Robbie Freuan went over for the opening try in the corner after a quick-tap from scrum-half Andy Ellis caught the Highlanders napping.
Pivots Dan Carter and Tony Brown traded penalties between them but both struggled to find their target on a several occasions - the latter missing a chance to close the gap just before the break.
A brilliant try to captain Kieran Read in the second minute of the second half unleashed an avalanche of tries by Crusaders, who dominated possession and fed the dangerous back-line. Leading 18-6 after Read's try, the Crusaders then crossed three times in five minutes to blow out the margin.
The Highlanders' goal-kicking woes continued, replacement fly-half Robbie Robinson missing a straight-forward attempt which made the success ratio three from seven.
The Crusaders were ruthless in the turnovers, which led to last week's four-try hero Sean Maitland being brought down inches short before former Highlanders Israel Dagg went over for the score. Carter converted from wide out and the Crusaders led 25-6 with 21 minutes remaining.
The Crusaders notched their fourth try bonus-point 12 minutes from the end when they took apart the Highlanders' scrum and replacement number nine Kahn Fotuali'i set up an easy conversion for Carter under the posts (35-6).
Dagg scored his second try to extend the lead to 40-6, and then Sonny Bill Williams helped put replacement prop Wyatt Crockett in for try number six and Matt Berquist's conversion was the last killer blow.
Highlanders flank Adam Thomson went over for a consolation try on full-time, but by that stage of the game, the damage had already been done.
Pens: Brown 2
Tries: Freuan, Read, Dagg 2, Fotuali'i, Crockett.
Cons: Carter 3, Berquist.
Pens: Carter 2
Highlanders:15 Ben Smith, 14 James Paterson, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 David Te Moana, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Chris King.
Replacements:16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray/Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Alando Soakai, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Telusa Veainu.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Adam Whitelock, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Zac Guildford.
Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin
Kick-off: 17.30 (04.30 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker