The Hurricanes’ all-star backline has propelled them to a 25-13 win over the Chiefs and the outright Super Rugby lead.
A table-topping Kiwi derby featured no shortage of highlights as the hosts ran out three tries-to-one winners on Friday in Wellington, led by more scintillating attack from Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape and Beauden Barrett.
The trio shared the tries, although Chiefs five-eighth Damian McKenzie and winger Solomon Alaimalo also continued their brilliant campaigns.
Both teams were out to add to five-match winning streaks after losing their respective opening matches.
The 2015 champion Hurricanes had too much class, allowing them to leapfrog the Lions and Crusaders, who had byes this week.
They can’t be overtaken during the remainder of round nine.
The Hurricanes continued to mix brutal defence with ambitious attack, which was on show in all three tries.
Powerhouse winger Lam snapped up a Laumape offload and left three defenders in his wake on a 40m charge to the line.
The clamour for Lam to be considered by All Blacks selectors only grew louder as the 26-year-old beat nine defenders for the match and ran for 120m.
Those figures were bettered by opposite No.11 Alaimalo, who made five breaks and tallied 190m running metres.
Up 10-6 at halftime, the Hurricanes snatched control with tries to inside backs Barrett and Laumape within five minutes of the restart.
Barrett’s try was a trademark effort, scooping up a loose ball and using his pace to cover 50m faster than the cover defence.
The All Blacks’ five-eighth followed up with a cross-kick which Laumape leapt over Anton Lienert-Brown to collect and score.
The Chiefs threatened a comeback when flanker Lachlan Boshier scored but the final quarter was scoreless aside from a penalty after the siren from Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett.
Both teams were stung by early injuries.
Hurricanes flanker Sam Henwood departed after a head knock, while Chiefs prop Aidan Ross followed him soon after with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Impressive No.8 Taleni Seu was also forced off as the Chiefs’ injury-ravaged campaign rolled on.