With Super Rugby Transtasman only being a five-round competition, bonus points and points differential could be huge factors in deciding the final standings.
But while many expected that factor to result in teams going out, playing free-flowing rugby and looking to pile on the points, few would have predicted the wild, high scoring and defence-optional clash between the Hurricanes and Waratahs in Sydney on Friday night.
The Hurricanes ran in 10 tries to the Waratahs' seven in front of a sparse crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground, kicking their campaign off with a 64-48 win and a bonus point. The 112-point combined total was the most scored in a match between the two teams, surpassing the 80 points in a 2004 fixture. Both teams missed more than 15 per cent of their attempted tackles, with the Waratahs missing 30 of 160 (19 per cent) and the Hurricanes missing 27 of 174 (16 per cent).
"A cricket score at the SCG," Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett said after the game.
"We're just happy to get five points in the end. On attack we found plenty of space, but I think a bit of fool's gold dripped into our defence at some stages there, so there's plenty to work on."
The result wasn't without a dark cloud though, with rookie first five-eighth Ruben Love taken from the ground inside the opening three minutes. Love ducked down to make a tackle and took a knee to the back of the head in the collision. There was a delay in play of a few minutes as he was being attended to, and was later transported to hospital for further examination.
The 77 minutes that followed Love's departure were, in a word, wild. The bottom two teams of their local competitions, both were looking to get this new campaign off on the right foot, and it looked ominous for the Waratahs when Julian Savea crossed for the Hurricanes in the fourth minute of the game with relative ease.
However, that ominous feeling was replaced with intrigue when the Waratahs hit back just three minutes later through Alex Newsome, who crossed with comparable ease.
That opening 10 minutes set the tone for much of the game, with the teams trading tries throughout the contest. A first-half double to Billy Proctor saw the Hurricanes hold a 33-24 lead at the break, and looked set to kick on when Savea scored his second of the game two minutes into the half.
However, lifted by a double to prop – yes, prop - Harry Johnson-Holmes, the Waratahs were up for the fight.
Trailing 54-36 inside the final 20 minutes, Waratahs fullback Jack Maddocks looked to have closed the gap by finishing off a lovely sweeping move that saw him pierce through the defensive line. Instead, he added to the spectacle in the worst way, failing to ground the ball initially and then losing control in trying to put it down a second time.
He eventually got on the scoreboard with the final play of the game, but it was too late to have any more of an impact than slightly improving their points differential after the hosts were put to the sword in the final 10 minutes, with the Hurricanes taking a 16-point win and earning a bonus point with three more tries than the Waratahs.
Hurricanes 64 (Billy Proctor 2, Julian Savea 2, Jordie Barrett, Dane Coles, Brayden Iose, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Pepesana Patafilo, Asafo Aumua tries; Barrett 7 cons)
Waratahs 48 (Harry Johnson-Holmes 2, Alex Newsome, Angus Bell, Jake Gordon, Lachlan Swinton, Jack Maddocks tries; Ben Donaldson 5 cons, pen)