A superb individual try by wing Julian Savea clinched a crucial 26-20 Super 15 win for the Hurricanes over the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes were trailing by a point with eight minutes left when Savea changed the course of the game with his barnstorming run.
Both teams scored two tries but the Hurricanes were the better in the second spell, scoring 17 points to three. Beauden Barrett made a vital contribution for the Hurricanes, kicking 16 points and controlling play well.
Melbourne Rebels, meanwhile, produced a superb performance to beat last year's runners-up Crusaders 28-19 at AAMI Park.
It was an amazing fightback by the Melbourne side after they had trailed 19-10 at half-time.
The Sharks boosted their play-off bid with a seven-try 53-11 mauling of the Western Force in Durban.
Winger Lwazi Mvovo scored a second-half double, after the hosts had led 20-6 at half-time, to send them on their way to a crucial bonus-point win.
At one point they rattled up 43 unanswered points as the Force's woeful campaign hit a new low, and left them bottom of the Australia conference.
Peter Grant's boot did the damage as Stormers edged a tight match 16-14 against Super Rugby opponents Cheetahs despite being outscored by two tries to one.
Meanwhile, Queensland kept their Super Rugby championship defence alive by beating the Chiefs 42-27 at Suncorp Stadium. The win takes Queensland to ninth overall on the Super Rugby ladder, while the Chiefs stay top of the New Zealand Conference.