The Hurricanes have a week to sort themselves out if they want to remain in the hunt for the Super Rugby title.
Sure, they only needed not to lose by 23 points against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday night to secure a home quarter-final, but for more than a while their hosting rights looked in serious doubt.
Going into the half time break 21-0 down can't have been how the Hurricanes saw things playing out when they arrived in Hamilton. There might have been some foxing with the teams meeting again next weekend in a do-or-die playoff match-up, but a little chicanery shouldn't have led to a 21-point deficit.
The first 40 minutes were not great for the Hurricanes. They looked lethargic, out of sorts and were simply outclassed. It was confusing football from the visitors, with hard-running No12 Ngani Laumape — fresh off scoring four tries against the Blues — getting just one touch of the football in the first half. While the Hurricanes found some life in the second stanza, the Chiefs were deserved 28-24 winners when the final horn sounded.
Disappointing as they were, the Hurricanes left Hamilton with their primary task checked off: holding on to their quarter-final hosting rights.
With the job done, albeit less than convincingly, there's now work to be done if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
"We've got to seriously focus on what we can do in the game," Hurricanes captain Brad Shields said of what his side needed to do before their quarter-final.
"It's almost like starting again. We've got no choice but to turn up, otherwise … I don't want to think about that, but if we don't turn up we might go home."
Coach Chris Boyd said his side could take positives out of the way they fought back, but hinted they would be running some different plays next weekend after laying some ground work this time out.
"There was some stuff that we tried to do today that set up for some stuff for next week, and they would have been doing the same. I think you'll find next week there'll be a different set of plays go into the game."
The Hurricanes will more than likely tackle their match in Wellington against the Chiefs next weekend without Wes Goosen. The centre was dropped by a Johnny Fa'auli shoulder charge in the 63rd minute that made solid contact with his head.
Fa'auli was shown a red card, while Goosen left the pitch and failed two head injury assessments.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said Goosen was less than a 50/50 chance to be fit for the playoffs.