The Waikato Chiefs clung to their Super 15 championship lead when they notched their eighth consecutive win with a 33-14 victory over the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday.
But instead it was the Chiefs who finished strongest with three second-half tries to lodge their first win since 2009 over the Wellington-based franchise who were restricted to one try and three penalties.
Fitness and discipline have been crucial to the Chiefs' form and they are the only team in the competition not to have received a yellow card.
With fly-half Aaron Cruden again stamping his mark, the Chiefs enjoyed an abundance of possession. Amid a string of penalties as they pressured the Hurricanes' line, they led 12-8 at the break.
Captain Craig Clarke said the game went according to plan.
"We just wanted to hold the ball, which we did a bit, and kick a few penalties," he said.
Cruden, who finished with a match tally of 18 points and was instrumental in setting up two tries, landed four from four penalties in the first half while the Hurricanes points came from a Beauden Barrett penalty and an Andre Taylor try.
Taylor's solo effort and seventh try of the year saw him step outside Cruden and inside Lelia Masaga as the Hurricanes took control of the closing stages of the first half, which was their brightest part of the match.
However, normal business resumed immediately after the break when Masaga joined the backline in a set move from a scrum and broke through a half-hearted tackle attempt by TJ Perenara to score the Chiefs first try.
Further penalties by Barrett kept the Hurricanes in touch at 19-14 before a Cruden break took the Chiefs deep into Hurricanes territory where try-scoring prop Sona Taumalolo drove over for his seventh touch-down of the year.
Replacement prop Toby Smith rounded off the scoring, again after a Cruden run, to score in the dying minutes.
Source: AFP Global Edition