Reds 19
Hurricanes 35

The Hurricanes continue to stay a step ahead of the Chiefs ahead of next month's New Zealand Conference showdown.

Two nights after their Kiwi rivals went to the top of the Super Rugby standings, the Hurricanes reclaimed their lofty perch with a battling but eventually impressive triumph over the Reds.

Victory in Brisbane meant the Hurricanes have now grabbed five straight road wins for the first time in their history. Shaking off their solitary loss at home to the Waratahs last week, they moved a point ahead of the Chiefs and etched another line under the May 16 encounter that could have larger ramifications come playoff time.

Advertisement

Because the Hurricanes' breakout season is surely headed for that destination. They're far from flawless but, when they get it right, all blemishes are instantly erased.

That was exemplified at Suncorp Stadium in a game that saw the positives outweigh the negatives. The Hurricanes had initially struggled to break down the Reds and, even when they found their groove, it was far from one-way traffic.

But, in a pair of three-minute blitzes on either side of the break, the Hurricanes won the game and showed why they could eventually claim the competition.

There's a lot of work to complete between now and then, though. The Hurricanes' defence hardly covered itself in glory against a side who were last in the competition with 14 tries coming into the encounter. And the scrum suffered mightily, unable to gain parity even when the Reds lost flanker Liam Gill to the sin bin.

But their attack was once again electrifying. Even if it did take half an hour to warm to its work, with the Hurricanes squandering plenty of possession in the opening stages and appearing in need of a more basic approach.

After all, the Reds had illustrated the effectiveness of that route, staking themselves to an early lead after laying a platform through the forwards. The hosts' plan was pure and twice produced success - take advantage of penalties to gain ideal field position, constantly snipe around the edges to commit numbers to the breakdown, then fling it to Samu Kerevi and watch him go to work.

But if basics were desired, the Hurricanes, naturally, eschewed the easy option. First Conrad Smith more than made amends for slipping off Kerevi on the first try, combining with a spectacular Ma'a Nonu offload to unleash TJ Perenara, then Nonu's bust down the left eventually saw Callum Gibbins cross.

The halftime break arrived at exactly the wrong time for the visitors, given the tempo they had attained. The Reds wisely took the sting out of the contest, remembering to again work with territory and reaping the rewards through Liam Gill's try.

But such a strategy will last only so long against a team who can score from anywhere. And, equally rapid as the first-half double-strike, Julian Savea's strength and Matt Proctor's speed soon secured the bonus point that took the Hurricanes back to the top of the table.

Reds 19 (Kerevi 2, Gill tries; O'Connor 2 cons)
Hurricanes 35 (Perenara 2, Gibbins, Savea tries; Barrett 3 pens, 3 cons)
HT: 12-20