Sekope Kepu of the Waratahs takes on the Highlanders' defence at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Matt King

Sydney – New South Wales Waratahs secured top spot in the Super Rugby regular season standings with a match to spare after a six-try 44-16 victory over the Otago Highlanders at Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.

Tries from winger Rob Horne, Israel Folau, prop Sekope Kepu, scrumhalf Nick Phipps, lock Jacques Potgieter and replacement back Taqele Naiyaravoro gave the Waratahs a sixth straight victory and ensured they would have home advantage throughout the playoffs.

After letting the Highlanders back into the contest in the first half, fullback Folau's 12th try of the season two minutes after the break signalled the start of an absolutely dominant second 40 minutes for the home side.

The Highlanders, who had a consolation try from replacement back Phil Burleigh seven minutes from time, can still secure a playoff spot for the first time in 12 years after their final match of the season against the Canterbury Crusaders next week. – Reuters