The Hurricanes have kept alive their hopes of hosting a Super Rugby quarter-final with a dominant 35-10 bonus-point win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
They have to wait to see if they remain top of the New Zealand conference until Saturday night when the Chiefs and the Highlanders battle it out in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes, led by some charging runs from replacement prop Loni Uhila, dominated the second spell at AAMI Stadium.
After leading 14-10, they extended their margin when inside centre Willis Halaholo, who produced an excellent all-round display, broke through the defence to score.
They continued to control territory as they searched for the bonus point and they achieved it with 10 minutes to go as substitute flanker Cullum Gibbins scored.
Five-eighth Beauden Barrett added the icing after the hooter, snaring an intercept to grab his team’s fifth try.
Illness and injury forced both sides into late changes, with Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock and halfback Andy Ellis and Hurricanes midfielder Ngani Laumape all being withdrawn.
The Hurricanes had begun the day as the lowest placed of the four New Zealand sides who had qualified for the playoffs.
They regularly turned down penalty shots at goal to chase tries and their first kick for the corner proved profitable.
The Crusaders held up the original drive for the line, but Jason Woodward, in at centre for Laumape, raced through a gap to touch down under the crossbar.
Woodward’s opposite number Ryan Crotty levelled the try count after the Hurricanes turned over the ball in their own 22.
Down 10-7, the visitors were twice repelled when the home side produced two big defensive scrums on their own line.
But the Hurricanes snatched the lead just out from halftime, TJ Perenara charging down rival halfback Mitchell Drummond’s clearing kick and scoring.