New Zealand's Wellington Hurricanes maintained their late push for a Super 15 playoff spot with a 33-12 bonus-point win over the fading New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
The Hurricanes surged home with three tries in the final 17 minutes to claim an extra point and stay six points adrift of the second-placed Canterbury Crusaders in the New Zealand Conference with two matches left for the Wellington team.
It was Wellington's fourth win in their last five games and came on the back of their 66-24 battering of the Melbourne Rebels at home the previous weekend.
The Hurricanes played without much of the ball for most of the second half while the Waratahs, well down on confidence, could not come up with a try and all their points came from four Berrick Barnes penalties.
It was a gloomy night for the Sydney team, their sixth straight loss and their 10th of the season -- their worst return in a Super Rugby season -- as they count down the games to the end of a dreadful campaign.
But the Hurricanes, who are the highest scorers in the southern hemisphere provincial championship with 438 points at an average of 31 points a game, march on with two crucial New Zealand derbies ahead against the Crusaders and Waikato Chiefs to decide their playoff fate.
Wellington's tries came from Julian Savea, Motu Matu'u, Conrad Smith and Chris Eaton with fly-half Beauden Barrett kicking two conversions and three penalties.
It was only the Hurricanes' third win in nine matches against the Waratahs in Sydney.
"We managed to cross the line a few times this season and it's keeping us in the hunt," Hurricanes' All Black centre Smith said.
"It was tough wet conditions tonight and we adjusted to the conditions really well in the second half."
The Waratahs' dismal performance heaped further pressure on first-season coach Michael Foley, with the under-achieving side fielding eight Wallabies in their starting lineup.
"We are very disappointed with the way we played tonight," Waratahs' skipper Benn Robinson said.
"To be leaking 33 points is very disappointing. In years gone past we've been a strong defensive side, but 33 points, no matter how good our attack is, we can't be winning those games."
The Waratahs will finish the season with matches against Australian rivals, the ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds, after this month's international season window.