The Chiefs started the defence of their Super Rugby crown with an impressive bonus-point win (41-27) over the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
Outscoring the home team by four tries to three, the Chiefs looked every bit as impressive as they did in winning their maiden title last year.
While the home team had the better of the early exchanges, the defending champions showed they are every bit as good as last year.
The first two tries of the New Zealand season were both gems, showing exactly why Super Rugby is such an entertaining product.
Amazing hands from Highlanders fullback Ben Smith, to take a pass around his ankles, saw the Highlanders take a 7-3 lead after an earlier Gareth Anscombe penalty.
However, what followed a few minutes later was even more sublime. Tim Nanai-Williams, at centre for the Chiefs, produced a piece of individual brilliance to score - slipping through a gaping hole in the Highlanders midfield and Nanai-Williams then rounded Ma'a Nonu to canter over.
Two more Anscombe penalties saw the Chiefs go up 16-7, before Hosea Gear showed his finishing ability with a step and hand-off to score a second for the Highlanders - leaving the visitors just two points 16-14) at the half-time break.
Sopoaga opened the second-half scoring with a penalty, before the try-scoring feast continued.
The Chiefs hit back straight away with great hands putting Patrick Osborne over in the right-hand corner.
Two minutes later the Highlanders attacked from deep through the back three as Kade Poki gets it with not much on and he creates something as he palms off Nanai-Williams and then shows too much pace.
Sopoaga kicked a penalty to put the Highlanders up 27-21, before the Chiefs took a quick tap from half-way and with a phenomenal build Asaeli Tikoirotuma went over.
The ding-dong nature of the game continued through a series of phenomenal passages from both sides as the game went end-to-end without a stoppage in play for about four minutes.
It ended with the Highlanders losing the ball with the line beckoning and Nanai-Williams snapping it up to run 70-odd metres for the score that broke the home team's hearts.
Two more Anscombe penalties put the game beyond the Highlanders at 41-27 and just over five minutes to go.
For the Highlanders:
Tries: B Smith, Gear, Poki
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pens: Sopoaga 2
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Nanai-Williams 2, Osborne, Tikoirotuma
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 5
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Phil Burleigh, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear (captain), 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Joe Wheeler, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Elliot Dixon, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Buxton Popoali'i.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Toby Smith, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Lelia Masaga.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)