The Hurricanes moved to the top of the overall standings by beating the Crusaders 10-35 with a bonus point at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
The Hurricanes outscored the Crusaders by five tries to one and managed to keep their hosts scoreless in the second half.
The result means that the Crusaders have lost to all of the New Zealand teams with the exception of the Blues.
The Hurricanes led the scoreboard for all but a brief period in the second quarter of the match.
The result provisionally makes the Hurricanes New Zealand Conference and overall leaders and leaves the Crusaders third in the NZ conference.
The Hurricanes move ahead of the Lions in the overall standings and the Crusaders drop to sixth place overall.
Both positions could change after the Highlanders play the Chiefs in Dunedin.
In the high-stakes encounter, with extreme risk-taking in search of reward, the Hurricanes turned a perceived midfield weakness into a strength with Jason Woodward and Willis Halaholo scoring two of their of five tries.
Replacement flanker Callum Gibbins then put them into bonus point territory with ten minutes remaining.
But while the victory elevated the Hurricanes to the top, they could still be overtaken by the Chiefs and Highlanders, as well as South Africa’s Lions, who still have to play the Jaguares.
The top four New Zealand teams went into the final round with a chance to head the conference and secure the one guaranteed home quarter-final spot, while they other three are destined to travel overseas.
Before the match, both sides were forced into late replacements.
The Crusaders lost Sam Whitelock and Andy Ellis during the warm-up, while the Hurricanes had to rush Woodward onto the field at outside centre.
He replaced Ngani Laumape who was already an injury replacement for Matt Proctor.
It was Woodward who scored the opening try, running off a Beauden Barrett pass to finish off a sustained attack on the Crusaders line.
A Richie Mo’unga penalty eventually put the home side on the board and he also converted a Ryan Crotty try for the Crusaders to lead 10-7.
But on the stroke of half-time, scrum-half TJ Perenara charged down a clearing kick by his opposite Mitchell Drummond to regain the lead for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes held a slender 14-10 at half-time and Halaholo, who has struggled for game time, proved the game-breaker 15 minutes into the second half.
In a rare opportunity as a starting player to replace the injured Vince Aso, Halaholo bumped off an ineffectual tackle attempt by Crotty to score under the posts.
Barrett landed the conversion to give the Hurricanes a 10-point buffer and they followed with tries to Gibbins.
That gave them the bonus-point three-try advantage before Barrett put the icing on the cake with a try at the end.
As it stands next week Hurricanes will host a Quarter final most likely against the Sharks and the Crusaders will most likely have to travel to South Africa to play the Lions.
Final Score Crusaders 10 (10) Hurricanes 35 (14)
Tries – R.Crotty
Pen – R.Mo’unga
Con – R.Mo’unga
Tries – J.Woodward, TJ Perenara, W.Halaholo,C.Gibbins, B.Barrett
Con – B.Barrett 5
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2:Brendon Pickerill
TMO : Glenn Newman
1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Scott Barrett, 6. Jimmy Tupou, 7. Matt Todd, 8. Kieran Read (C), 9. Mitchell Drummond 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. David Havili, 13. Ryan Crotty, 14. Johnny McNicholl, 15. Israel Dagg
Replacements :16. Ben Funnell ,17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Mike Alaalatoa ,19. Jordan Taufua ,20. Pete Samu ,21. Leon Fukofuka,22. Mitch Hunt , 23. Kieron Fonotia
15 James Marshall , 14 Cory Jane , 13 Jason Woodward , 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Julian Savea , 10 Beauden Barrett , 9 TJ Perenara (vc) , 8 Victor Vito , 7 Ardie Savea , 6 Brad Shields , 5 Michael Fatialofa , 4 Vaea Fifita , 3 Chris Eves , 2 Dane Coles (c) , 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements : Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Wes Goosen, Otere Black.