NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson and his defensive guru Nathan Grey will spend plenty of time poring over the tape of their team's 50-47 loss in a frenetic pre-season rugby trial at Sydney's Brookvale Oval.
The teams combined for 13 tries, seven of them to the visitors, who came from 47-40 down to win with a late converted try and a penalty on the siren to Fletcher Smith.
The Highlanders led 33-11 shortly before halftime but their coach Tony Brown made multiple changes at the break on Thursday, withdrawing most of his All Blacks stars.
Fullback Andrew Kellaweay was the main injury concern for Gibson with a shoulder problem, though flanker Jack Dempsey (achilles) and five-eighth Bernard Foley (head knock) were also in the wars
In the first half, the Highlanders scored five tries to two to lead by 15 at the break.
They played with pace and precision,and the Tahs struggled to compete.
'Our spacing was pretty tight, the Kiws are so good at getting the ball wide and picked us off, as simple as that,' Waratahs captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper said.
'It looked like we were a man down there sometmes, they were that sharp, so credit to them.'
In the first half, the Tahs missed too many tackles to be exposed out wide and were also caught out by kicks, which led to a couple of first half tries.
'When we review the tape we'll look at our defensive system,' Gibson said.
'Again the Highlanders got us on kicks, we still haven't quite solved that problem.'
It was torrid initiation against top flight company for young Waratahs backline starters Jake Gordon, Harry Jones and Irae Simone.
A plus for the Tahs was the goalkicking of former NRL winger Reece Robinson, who landed seven of his nine attempts and hit a post with another shot
For the Highlanders, All Blacks outside backs Waisale Naholo and Ben Smith were dangerous out wide, while five-eighth Lima Sopoaga mixed his game up well.