The Highlanders turned on the style, upsetting the Hurricanes 30-14 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.
Tevita Li, Aaron Smith, Tyrel Lomax and Waisake Naholo all crossed the whitewash as the home pulled within five points of the visitors in the New Zealand Conference.
This is the Highlanders’ tenth victory in 11 games at home against the country’s other sides.
The Hurricanes twice stayed within a point of their fellow Kiwis before being overrun, late in the second-half.
These games are generally close-fought contests, which have been decided by a margin of seven points or fewer.
This was not the case in this, at times scrappy, at times thrilling, New Zealand derby.
Scuffles broke out and the intensity at the breakdown was ferocious.
The game was dour until the final minutes of the first-half, then it lit up after the Highlanders went through a series of phases and turnovers before Li dotted down in the corner.
Lima Sopoaga kicked an early goal to get the Highlanders going.
The visitors had opportunities to kick for goal themselves, but they decided on set pieces instead.
Nothing came of an attacking lineout and scrum inside their host’s 22.
The lineout was lost and the ball knocked on at the breakdown after the scrum.
Handling was a big problem for the Wellington club, and they were uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball in hand.
A try did eventually arrive at the beginning of the second quarter.
Kalolo Tuiloma was pinged for not rolling away at a ruck, and so the Hurricanes wanted another scrum.
TJ Perenara broke to the left, shifted the ball to Beauden Barrett, who took the ball to the line and drew the defenders, before sending his brother Jordie, away for an easy score.
The visitors were starting to ramp up the intensity.
Julian Savea was lucky not to be red carded for what appeared to be a punch on a Highlander.
Instead, it was Liam Squire who was sent to the bin, two minutes before the break.
This was the turning point.
A series of plays went back and forth as both sides coughed up possession.
Aaron Mauger’s men started a counter-attack from deep in their 22 after they turned the ball over.
The Highlanders, deep into stoppage time, went through 13 phases, putting the Canes under the pump
Aaron Smith’s quick-tap, after another penalty infringement, led to the score.
Jackson Hemopo on the touchline, played Li, on his inside before he was tackled and the winger finished.
The home team took an 8-7 lead into the shed, and with a man on the naughty step.
The Smith show.
Four minutes after the interval, the Smiths combined to give their side a 13-7 lead.
It was Ben to Aaron after the fullback found a hole.
Jordie Barrett was taken out by his own man, allowing Ben Smith to break away and set up his scrumhalf’s try.
Jeff Toomaga-Allen, on 50 minutes, crashed over after Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea’s quick thinking.
They combined with a quick throw, Milner-Skudder attracted three defenders before offloading to Savea and the big man finished off the move.
The Hurricanes’ one-point lead was short-lived because they were outplayed in the next half-hour.
Tyrel Lomax scored his side’s third try.
He took Aaron Smith’s pass, and Canes prop Toby Smith with him, before crashing over the whitewash.
The home team’s scrum started to dismantle their opponents, winning a crucial penalty.
Naholo won a penalty at the breakdown, soon after, and was away for the game-clinching score.
The clock was ticking down, and two minutes after taking a 27-14 advantage, Ben Smith opted for posts and three points, to seal the deal.
Highlanders versus Hurricanes video highlights.
Final score: Highlanders 30 (8) Hurricanes 14 (7)
Tries – Li, A. Smith, Lomax, Naholo
Pen – Sopoaga (2)
Con – Sopoaga (2)
Cards – Squire (Yellow, 38′)
Tries – J. Barrett, Toomaga-Allen
Con – B. Barrett (2)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Lash
TMO: Aaron Paterson
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Kalolo Tuiloma, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Richard Buckman
15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita/Murray Douglas, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen