The Hurricanes defeated the Western Force 12-34 at nib Stadium in Perth to keep up their playoff hopes alive.
Ngani Laumape scored a brace and received a yellow card in an ill-tempered Trans-Tasman derby as the Kiwis ran in six tries to two.
This was billed as a massacre waiting to happen, but for 55 minutes, the Force put in one of the best performances against one of the tournament favourites, until four late tries broke their spirit and resolve.
The Hurricanes raced to a 12-point lead after first-half scores from Laumape and Loni Uhila. But, their hosts had the better of the first 40 minutes, spending over six minutes inside the Canes’ 22 to 2 and a quarter.
They could not, however, make the possession and territory count and were kept scoreless for 44 minutes.
Dane Haylett-Petty’s second-half try made it 7-12, but the visitors ran riot after the fullback’s 68th-minute yellow card.
Four tries in the final 18 minutes by Leni Apisai, Vince Aso and TJ Perenara, who ran the show, ensuring that the game ended in a blow-out win for the New Zealanders.
Richard Hardwick scored at the death, but that was no consolation in a 28-point defeat.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring in the second minute after Jordie Barrett broke through the Force defence and sent Luamape away.
This was an ominous start to the game and the Australian team’s fans must have feared the worse.
But, the game was stop-start, which helped the home team get into their groove. They spent most of the half camped inside the Hurricanes’ half and spent over four minutes inside their 22, yet they could not find the final pass.
They wasted many opportunities to score and, like clockwork, the Kiwis got one chance, and they put it away. On 38 minutes, after some sustained pressure, Uhila crossed over from close range.
Beauden Barrett added the extras and the visitors led by 12 at the break.
The Force struck early after the restart when Dane Haylett-Petty gathered a bouncing ball to score. Peter Grant’s conversion reduced the deficit to five.
The game was close until Apisai barged over from close range to make it a 10-point ball game.
Moments later came the turning point when Perenara’s vision saw Aso extend the lead 7-22. Dane Haylett-Petty was yellow carded afterwards for foul play on the scrumhalf.
This started a catastrophic implosion here in Perth. The scrumhalf chased his own kick and because there is no fullback – as Haylett-Petty was off – James Verity-Amm covered the open ground, collected the ball and passed inside, to no-one. Perenara gathered and scored.
Barrett missed another conversion, but the game was over. There was, however, time for the tourists to go up a gear.
Luamape scored his second to stretch the lead to 7-34 before he was sent to the sin-bin. Hardwick scored at the death, but it was no consolation.
Final score: Force 12 (0) Hurricanes 34 (12)
Tries – D. Haylett-Petty, Hardwick
Con – Grant
Cards – D. Haylett-Petty (Yellow, 68th minute)
Tries – Laumape (2), Uhila, Apisai, Aso, Perenara,
Con – B. Barrett (2)
Cards – Luamape (Yellow, 77th minute)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Marcel Brache.
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder.