Traditionally the Hurricanes have always been a team that relies on backline brilliance. That again got them out of jail against the Highlanders in Wellington tonight.
It will, however, only carry them so far in this competition.
In the end an 82nd minute breakdown penalty, slotted by Beauden Barrett, ensured the Hurricanes secured their 12th straight home win. But if they are to be considered genuine contenders this season, they have some major issues up front to address.
The Highlanders have pulled off some great escapes already this season – notably against the Chiefs in Hamilton despite copping a controversial red card. This time, though, they were on the receiving end.
After being pushed around for much of the contest, the Hurricanes needed a Ben Lam try nine minutes from time to draw level, and they then showed character and patience to work their way downfield and gain the match-winning penalty.
Two Ardie Savea turnovers sure helped, too.
The Hurricanes' forward stocks, second-row especially, are severely depleted but under John Plumtree one would expect more than this. In many ways this victory defied rugby's fundamentals – that the team with go-forward will prevail.
In theory at least, rugby is supposed to be a game where forward packs lay platforms that allow backs to flourish.
On that basis, this match should have been all about the Highlanders.
Throughout their scrum enjoyed complete dominance; their lineout caused problems and their physicality and defensive linespeed gave little change, particularly around the ruck where the Hurricanes battled to get over the gainline.
Aaron Smith's opening strike emphasised the pressure the Highlanders consistently applied at scrum time when they pushed the Hurricanes off the ball on their own line. As always, the astute All Blacks halfback was on hand to grab a gift opportunity and dot down.
Locks Josh Dickson and Pari Pari Parkinson, prior to departing after a head clash, Jackson Hemopo and prop Tyrel Lomax led the impressive Highlanders pack.
Despite enjoying the better of territory, the Hurricanes needed most of the first spell to identify space. They blew several chances – Lam, Jordie Barrett and Matt Proctor guilty – through a lack of clinical finishing.
Once TJ Perenara set up Ngani Laumape's first try, with a beautifully delayed ball to put Liam Mitchell through a huge gap, the Hurricanes began to settle.
Barrett, with a rather hesitant and underwhelming performance otherwise due to the lack of go forward, started to see the space out wide past the now customary rush midfield defence. Through perfectly placed crossfield kicks, Barrett handed Laumape his second to boost his tally to five tries in two weeks.
As far as early statements go in World Cup year, Laumape is certainly making his clear for the All Blacks' No 12 jersey.
Having established a six point halftime buffer, the Hurricanes grabbed the momentum and from that position should have kicked on.
Instead it was the Highlanders who came again and put the pressure on after Patelesio Tomkinson nabbed a gift intercept from Barrett to regain the lead.
When Liam Coltman crashed over from a lineout drive not long after to establish an eight point lead, and justify the decision to turn down a shot in front of the sticks, the smart money was on the southerners.
This time, though, it was the Hurricanes who did a Highlanders on the Highlanders.
Plumtree's side escaped with the points this time but unless the tough taskmaster can evoke major improvements from his big men, the Hurricanes will battle to challenge Super Rugby's best packs.
(Ngani Laumape 2, Ben Lam tries; Beauden Barrett 2 cons, 2 pens)
(Aaron Smith, Patelesio Tomkinson, Liam Coltman tries; Josh Ioane pen, Marty Banks 2 cons)