The Hurricanes kept their season alive when they scored a try in extra time to beat the Chiefs 28-25 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday.
The result means that the Hurricanes provisionally move above the Crusaders and into fourth place in the Super Rugby standings and the Chiefs secure a bonus point but could be overtaken by the Stormers.
While the result has a knock on effect over the top eight teams the two most affected are the Reds who drop down to eighth and the Stormers who remain in second place.
The Reds need a victory over the Waratahs to overtake the Hurricanes but a bonus point victory could be the difference over where they finish in comparison to the Bulls and Sharks.
The Stormers who face the 12th placed Rebels tomorrow now have the opportunity to finish the regular season in first place which would earn them the right to host the Super Rugby final in Cape Town should they finish in first place.
The Hurricanes will still be at the mercy of other team's results going their way as the four teams directly below them all have matches to play and they need one of them to lose.
Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles scored the match winning try in the fourth minute of extra time but the try was not instantly awarded.
The television match official took several minutes and reviewed a succession of replays before deciding Coles grounded the ball over the tryline in the 84th minute, giving the Hurricanes a thrilling come-from-behind win.
After a frenetic first half, which included two tries to winger Julian Savea, the Hurricanes looked to have faded against their New Zealand rivals before launching a last-ditch attack after being awarded a penalty.
Desperately keeping possession after the siren sounded, they laid siege to the Chiefs' line, Coles forcing his way across a jumble of bodies for a try that the television referee ruled legitimate after an agonising delay.
While the win sparked wild celebrations among the Hurricanes players, there are six teams vying for four play-off spots in this weekend's round and they still need results elsewhere to go their way to make the cut.
Captain Conrad Smith said the Hurricanes, written off at the start of the season after a clear-out of high-profile players such as Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu, had proved a point regardless.
"We threw everything at each other and we somehow crawled over the line to take it" he said.
"I'm proud of the way we played whether we make the play-offs or not, it's been a heck of a year considering where we've come from."
The Chiefs made a perfect start with a try after three minutes, Tawera Kerr-Barlow slipping through the defence to score between the posts, with the Hurricanes complaining the referee accidentally obstructed a tackler.
Whistleblower Jonathan Kaplan waved away the protest and Aaron Cruden made an easy conversion to make it 7-0.
The Hurricanes almost hit back two minutes later after a line break from Jack Lam but had to settle for a Beauden Barrett penalty as the Chiefs' defence held firm.
Smith soon found a way through for the home side, leaving the Chiefs standing with a dummy pass in the centre of the park then offloading for the Hurricanes to work the ball over to Savea for the winger's first try.
They maintained the pressure and were rewarded with Savea's second in the 23rd minute, the big winger bulldozing his way over the line and Barrett converting to make it 15-7.
With momentum going their way, the Hurricanes then suffered a setback when prop Ben May was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Sonny Bill Williams 14 minutes from half time.
The Chiefs took full advantage, as Cruden narrowed the gap with a penalty before Ben Tameifuna levelled the scores at 15-15, driving the ball over after a lineout from five metres out.
Barrett gave the Hurricanes a slight edge going into the break, kicking a penalty after the siren to make it 18-15.
The scored remained unchanged until the 57th minute, when Cruden intercepted a pass from Barrett and ran away uncontested to put the Chiefs ahead with a try that he duly converted.
The teams exchanged penalties and appeared to have run each other to a standstill, until Coles' heroics produced a result that could have a significant impact on how the finals shape up.
Final Score Hurricanes 28 (18) Chiefs 25 (15)
Tries - J. Savea 2, D Coles
Pen - B Barrett 3
Con - B Barrett 2
Cards - B May 26th min yellow
Tries - T. Kerr-Barlow, B.Tameifuna, A Cruden
Pen - A Cruden 2
Con - A Cruden 2
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Ref 1:Garratt Williamson
Assistant Ref 2: Keith Brown
TMO : Mike Fraser
1. Reg Goodes ,2. Dane Coles ,3. Ben May ,4. Jeremy Thrush ,5. Jason Eaton ,6. Faifili Levave,7. Jack Lam ,8. Victor Vito ,9. Chris Eaton / Frae Wilson,10. Beauden Barrett,11. Julian Savea ,12. Tim Bateman ,13. Conrad Smith (c) ,14. Cory Jane / Alapati Leiua ,15. Andre Taylor
Reserves :16. Motu Matu’u ,17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen ,18. James Broadhurst,19. Brad Shields ,20. Frae Wilson / Jamie Nutbrown,21. Tusi Pisi ,22. Jayden Hayward
1.Toby Smith , 2.Hika Elliot , 3.Ben Tameifuna , 4.Craig Clarke (c) , 5.Brodie Retallick , 6.Liam Messam , 7.Tanerau Latimer , 8.Kane Thompson , 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow , 10. Aaron Cruden , 11.Robbie Robinson , 12.Sonny Bill Williams , 13.Jackson Willison , 14.Lelia Masaga , 15.Andrew Horrell
Replacements :16.Mahonri Schwalger , 17.Sona Taumalolo (50th Chiefs match) , 18.Michael Fitzgerald , 19.Sam Cane , 20.Brendon Leonard , 21.Asaeli Tikoirotuma , 22.Tim Nanai-Williams