The Chiefs notched up a 34-22 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton to secure the New Zealand Conference honours.
The Chiefs notched up a 34-22 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Friday to retake top spot in the overall standings and secure the New Zealand Conference honours.
The defending champions have felt that they haven't received the credit they deserve in recent rounds, but a strong second half showing sent out another firm warning to their opponents.
It wasn't a completely polished performance from Dave Rennie's men, with the Hurricanes finding gaps in their host's defence, but the attacking guile possessed by the Chiefs was enough to ensure they notched victory number 11.
Playing for the first time this month, neither side showed signs of rust as they returned to action after the international break, with running rugby the order of the day from the outset.
Aaron Cruden opened the scoring with an eighth minute penalty, but it was the Hurricanes who got over the whitewash first courtesy of TJ Perenara.
It was Perenara's half-back partner Beauden Barrett who was the architect of the try, with a pinpoint kick out wide from the fly-half collected by Jeremy Thursh. The ball was recycled for Perenara to force his way over from the base.
The Chiefs were on the attack from the restart with Asaeli Tikoirotuma doing brilliantly to snap up posession for the hosts. Matt Vant Leven was then on hand to pounce on an errand line-out through inside the 'Canes 22, with the number eight barging over to put his side back in front.
Cruden looked to show that anything Barrett can do he can do better as the number ten produced an impressive kick of his own, grubbering behind the defence from a scrum in the midfield. Bundee Aki was on hand to dive onto the loose ball as the home side increased their lead to 17-7.
Barrett fired back though, first breaking into the 22 before being on hand to go over out wide as the Hurricanes attacked with purpose. A penalty five minutes from the break saw the Chiefs head into the shed with just a two-point lead, with the Hurricanes very much in the encounter.
Indeed it was the visitors who came out firing in the second period but they were made to pay for their inability to turn early pressure into points.
Again it was Cruden who was in the thick of things as he put the Chiefs back on the front foot with an intercept from a Barrett pass. The fly-half hammered the ball down field and the 'Canes inability to clear resulted in three points to the hosts.
It had taken 17 second-half minutes for the scoreboard to start ticking over once more but the Chiefs began to assert their authority and Tawera Kerr-Barlow burrowed over for the Chiefs' third try.
Despite having their moments, it was beginning to look bleak for the Hurricanes and Ben Tameifuna killed the match off as he collected the bonus point try after barging through a host of bodies after a period of sustained pressure.
Alapati Leiua grabbed a consolation score for the Hurricanes but it was too little too late as the 'Canes' play-off hopes went down in flames.
The Hurricanes can't be accused of lacking in dedication as they threw the kitchen sink at their opposition, but it was the little things that let them down and with the Chiefs backs and forwards working well in unison, effort just wasn't enough.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Vant Leven, Aki, Kerr-Barlow, Tameifuna
Conversions: Cruden 4
Penalties: Cruden 2
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Perenara, Barrett