Former Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes sent a warning to their opponents by thumping current champions the Crusaders 29-19 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The four tries to three victory was built on a scintillating first half performance by the Hurricanes who scored three early tries against the eight time champions.
At one point the Hurricanes led the Crusaders 26-5.
The result puts the Hurricanes on top of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference as they have a preferential points difference.
After trailing 26-12 at half time the Crusaders took control early in the second half and closed the gap to 7 points at 26-19 but the Hurricanes held on to win.
The match started at pace with a try from Chris Eves and before long the Crusaders had lost Ryan Crotty and captain Sam Whitelock with failed head assessment tests.
The visitors were however able to bring on All Blacks Luke Romano and Seta Tamanivalu as replacements so they didn’t lose too much on the field.
However by the time the replacements had come on the Crusaders were two tries behind when TJ Perenara’s crossed for the Hurricanes second try.
In the 21st minute Ben Lam left the Crusaders backs standing as he raced to the line for the Hurricanes fourth try. At that stage the Crusaders had yet to cross the line and a heavy beating looked to be on the cards for the champions.
However the Crusaders never give up and replacement Manasa Mataele scored the Christchurch side’s first try on the half hour mark as he powered through four tackles.
Jordan Taufua was the next tryscorer for the Crusaders but at the break they were still trailing by two converted tries at 26-12.
The Hurricanes lost their mojo for most of the second half as the Crusaders outscored them by seven points to three with the help of a try by Michael Alaalatoa which was converted by Mitch Hunt.
The Hurricanes could only add a penalty from fullback Jordie Barrett in the 67th minute but the early rout had done the damage for the Canes who held on to their ten point lead to the end.
Next week in Round 5 the Hurricanes have a bye and the Crusaders travel to Dunedin where they will play the Highlanders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The Hurricanes next match is at home again in Round 6 against the Highlanders.
More to follow.
Final Score Hurricanes 29 (26) Crusaders 19 (12)
Tries – C.Eves, TJ Perenara, B.Lam, B.Proctor
Pen – J.Barrett
Con – B.Barrett 3
Tries – M. Mataele, J.Taufua, M.Alaalatoa
Con – M.Hunt 2
Referee: Brendan Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1:Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2:Cam Stone
TMO : Glenn Newman
15 Jordie Barrett , 14 Julian Savea , 13 Matt Proctor , 12 Ngani Laumape , 11 Ben Lam , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara , 8 Gareth Evans , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields (c) , 5 Sam Lousi , 4 Vaea Fifita , 3 Ben May , 2 Ricky Riccitelli , 1 Chris Eves
Replacements : 16 Asafo Aumua , 17 Fraser Armstrong , 18 Marcel Renata , 19 Michael Fatialofa , 20 Blade Thomson , 21 Richard Judd , 22 Ihaia West , 23.Vince Aso
1. Wyatt Crockett , 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Michael Alaalatoa , 4. Scott Barrett , 5. Sam Whitelock (C), 6. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis , 7. Matt Todd (VC) , 8. Jordan Taufua, 9. Bryn Hall , 10. Mitchell Hunt , 11. George Bridge , 12. Ryan Crotty (VC) , 13. Jack Goodhue , 14. Seta Tamanivalu , 15. David Havili,
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell ,17. Chris King ,18. Oliver Jager , 19. Luke Romano ,20. Billy Harmon ,21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. Mike Delany, 23. Manasa Mataele