Hurricanes hold on against Rebels, Chiefs rally to draw
A 26-point blitz in the opening 22 minutes ensured the Hurricanes claimed a 29-19 victory over the Rebels in Super Rugby, but the Highlanders squandered a 16-point second-half lead in a 31-31 draw with the Chiefs.
The Rebels, who lead the Australia Conference, were stunned by the Hurricanes' rapid start as Beauden Barrett helped them run in four early tries.
New Zealand international Barrett crossed himself and was involved in the moves that saw Ngani Laumape and Wes Goosen go over, with Vaea Fifita dotting down for the Highlanders' fourth score to raise hopes of another thrashing two years on from their 71-6 victory over the same opponent.
Yet Melbourne fought back, scoring 19 points in the space of 17 second-half minutes as Matt Philip, Bill Meakes and Reece Hodge went in, before Jordie Barrett's long-range penalty with five minutes to go eased the home side's nerves.
Quade Cooper missed a straightforward three-pointer late on that would have given the Rebels the consolation of a losing bonus point.
There was high drama in Dunedin as the Highlanders and Chiefs played out a thrilling draw.
The Chiefs, bottom of the New Zealand Conference, were only two points behind at the interval, but Matt Faddes and James Lentjes crossed for converted tries that put the Highlanders in charge.
However, two Angus Taavao-Matau scores - either side of Tyler Ardron's try - levelled the scores just before the hooter, with both teams then failing to make the most of possessions after the 80 minutes were up.
Folau Fainga'a scored a hat-trick to ensure the Brumbies beat the Blues 26-21 to move up to second in the Australia Conference.