Waratahs deny the Hurricanes in Sydney
The NSW Waratahs' first win over the Hurricanes in Sydney since 2010 safeguarded their unbeaten Super Rugby home record in 2014 - and also volatile coach Michael Cheika as the threat of a six-month ban tested his temperament for the first time.
Sanzar imposed the punishment on Tuesday after Cheika admitted abusing a cameraman during the Waratahs' loss to the Sharks in Durban in March, it remains in place until August 31, 2015 meaning he must keep his emotions in check, publicly at least, or face suspension.
The prospect of a third straight loss - and dropping out of the top six for the first time this season - ramped up the pressure on Cheika this week but a resolute 39-30 victory tonight eased the tension as the Waratahs provisionally improved to sixth place.
Ultimately it was Cheika's counterpart Mark Hammett who was frustrated at the end of an enthralling contest that was settled when TJ Perenara was penalised by arguing with referee Steve Walsh with five minutes remaining.
The Hurricanes halfback disputed a knock-on call and his reaction enabled Bernard Foley to slot a 25-metre penalty goal that also denied the visitors a bonus point and leaves them in sixth place and second in the New Zealand conference.
A match-up between two of the most enterprising teams in the competition was promised to deliver an entertaining and although the spectacle and although the Waratahs had only scored five tries in their previous five matches - that strike rate was soon revised upwards after 90 seconds when Rob Horne ensured Julian Savea's 50-game milestone started poorly.
The Waratahs policy of using Israel Folau's AFL-skills from short kicks offs paid off immediately when the fullback set in motion an Adam Ashley-Cooper surge that embarrassed Jack Lam before Horne stepped past the All Black wing.
Undeterred, the Hurricanes regained parity when Nick Phipps proved no match for Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen at close range in the 13th minute.
Both sides were stymied by handling errors - the Waratahs also had lineout problems - and it was the Hurricanes that appeared to seize the initiative with a bizarre try and then trademark counter attacking score.
A superb break by Andre Taylor down the right flank in the 25 minute seemed to have been thwarted when TJ Perenara was dragged down on the goal line, but from the ensuing turnover the Waratahs tried to run the ball from behind their goal line - a risk Wycliff Palu wasn't expecting when a pass from Israel Folau deflected to Beauden Barrett to touch down.
Beauden added the extras and was lining up another conversion inside a minute when the Waratahs' short restart backfired when Dane Coles swooped on the ball and hared upfield before the attack headed left where Savea cruised out wide.
Conceding 24 unanswered points - the most they had in a game in 2014 - might have demoralised the Waratahs but instead they regrouped to level the scores at halftime through tries to Dave Dennis and Bernard Foley.
Winger Matt Carraro broke the deadlock in his first Super Rugby start since 2008 with his maiden try for the Waratahs in the 54th minute and seal the team's first four-try bonus point against New Zealand opposition since 2011
Foley maintained his perfect kicking record to produce a seven-point buffer before back-to-back Barrett penalties trimmed the margin to one early in the final quarter.
Replacement loose forward Stephen Holies gave the Waratahs valuable breathing space when he exposed the Hurricanes defence with an inside ball with 16 minutes to play - they could then exhale when Perenara snapped.
NSW Waratahs 39 (Rob Horne, Dave Dennis, Bernard Foley, Matt Carraro, Stephen Hoiles tries; Bernard Foley 2 pen 4 con) Hurricanes 30 (Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea tries; Beauden Barrett 2 pen 3 con). HT: 24-24