The Hurricanes laboured to a 33-18 bonus-point win over the Lions in the Super 14 on Saturday, rarely breaking out of second gear.
First-half penalties from Willie Ripia and tries from Michael Paterson and Piri Weepu - two of very few first-half moves the Hurricanes strung together - gave the home side a 21-7 advantage at the break, with a catch-and-drive try from Derick Minnie the only reply from the visitors.
Todd Clever's early try in the second half made things uncomfortable for the Hurricanes though and they struggled to accelerate and kill the game off efficiently until Andrew Hore's breakaway try gave them daylight once more.
But this was a pretty poor advert for the Hurricanes' title credentials. They may simply have been trying to seal the deal with minimum fuss and injury - so the sight of Jason Eaton limping off in the first half will not have been welcome - or they may have been simply examining other game-plan options. But whatever it was they were doing seemed to remove their most effective front-line runners from the game and bring in the least effective ones.
Ma'a Nonu was anonymous - he frequently appeared to have been instructed to kick, not exactly his strong point - and there was little sign of the danger men out wide, in stark contrast to last week's impressive win.
For their part, the Lions certainly lacked no spirit but their limitations were horribly exposed. They had enough ball but still struggle to find the fluency in the dangerous positions as well as the general play ones. They make gaps, but somehow don't quite get through them.
All of which made for a pretty ordinary game. The only noteworthy actions in the first ten minutes were the two penalties from Ripia, which rewarded a period where the Lions barely touched the ball other than to either clear or return a kick.
That dominance was rewarded properly on 13 minutes, when Cory Jane and Nonu combined to send the latter away down the right before the ball came back left to Michael Paterson for the opening score.
The Lions, sensing that their opposition wee not quite on their game, struck back with a well-worked try by Derick Minnie after a textbook catch-and-drive from a line-out, and continued to better the Hurricanes at the breakdown but could not work the spaces wide.
The home side landed a killer blow just before half-time when Piri Weepu sneaked over from a ruck under the posts and Ripia's conversion made it 21-7.
But immediately after the break, Todd Clever exploited a rare moment of fluency out wide from the Lions to spin out of a tackle and make it 21-12, and when Rose landed a penalty to make it 21-15, you wondered if the Hurricanes had gone off the boil too much.
Hore's bustling break - including a sensational dummy and sprint home - restored a two-score advantage though and a clinical finish from David Smith notched the bonus point with ten to go.
Man of the match: The hardest-working Hurricane was captain Andrew Hore, who put in a fine captain's display including a super try.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Paterson, Weepu, Hore, Smith
Cons: Ripia, CrudenPens: Ripia 2
For the Lions:
Tries: Minnie, Clever
Pens: Rose 2
Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Tamati Ellison, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Scott Waldrom, 20 Tyson Keats, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Andre Taylor.
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies La Grange, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Todd Clever, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 George Earl, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Charles Emslie, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Jacques Lombaard, 19 Robert Kruger , 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Michael Killian.
Referee: Nathan Pearce (Australia)