The Hurricanes continued their remarkable start to the Super Rugby season as they beat the Blues 30-23 in a ding-dong battle in Palmerston North on Friday.
Julian Savea scored his second try of the night in the dying minutes to secure victory and a bonus point for the hosts, but the game hung in the balance until the very end.
Winless after the opening four rounds, the Blues were desperate to get a result against the high-flying, unbeaten 'Canes, who were playing their first home game of the season.
The visitors produced what will be rated as their best performance this year so far but were nevertheless outscored four tries to two by a Hurricanes side that must now be considered contenders for the title.
The Hurricanes led 18-17 at the end of a high-paced and exciting first half but were never able to move clear in the second period.
The result provisionally moves the Hurricanes back to the summit of the overall standings ahead of Saturday's games while a losing bonus point for the Blues moves them level with the Crusaders (who must still face the Lions this weekend) at the bottom of the table.
The Hurricanes got off to a flying start with Beauden Barrett opening the scoring off the kicking tee before TJ Perenara crossed for the first try following excellent work from Ma'a Nonu, the impressive Nehe Milner-Skudder and an offload from winger Savea.
The Blues bounced right back though.
Lolagi Visinia intercepted a pass from Perenara and bolted 70m to score under the sticks before Frank Halai grabbed their second try following a break from Jimmy Cowan and a powerful run from Brendon O'Connor.
Ihaia West added both conversions and a penalty to give the Blues an unexpected 17-11 lead with half time looming large.
The hosts had the last laugh of the half though, as Matt Proctor collected Barrett's chip over the top to score in the corner. Barrett added the conversion to give the 'Canes the narrowest of leads at the interval.
An amazing offload from Nonu and more great work from Milner-Skudder set Savea clear down the touchline for try number three early in the second half.
The Blues stayed in touch via West's boot but the young fly-half missed two opportunities to put his team back into the lead in the final quarter.
That man Savea landed the knock-out blow in the 76th minute after trading passes with Blade Thomson to secure another deserved win.
Tries: Perenara, Proctor, J. Savea 2
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2
Tries: Visinia, Halai
Cons: West 2
Pens: West 3
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Brendon O'Connor, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sam Prattley, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 George Moala.
Venue: Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)