While hometown hero Ngani Laumape stole the show with his hat-trick of tries, captain Dane Coles was arguably the best player on the park during the Hurricanes' 43-13 win over the Brumbies in Palmerston North.
The hooker scored two tries and was constantly at the forefront of the action. Industrious in the tight and prominent in the loose, the skipper's knock exemplified the unique skillset that injury has curtailed in recent years.
The All Black's stand-out effort was highlighted by the sequence that lead to his second try - he popped up in the back-line to put Laumape into space, bulldozed the ensuing ruck with a solo clean-out, then worked his way blindside to reel in a stunning Perenara offload and finish with a swan-dive one-handed put-down in the corner.
- Laumape hat-trick sinks Brumbies
- As it happened - Hurricanes vs Brumbies
- Rebels hand Highlanders first loss
"I thought I was playing for the Warriors for a minute there," Coles laughed. "I thought I was going to get taken out, tried my luck and pulled it off.
"I was just happy to dot it down.
Plagued by injury over the past two seasons - including concussion issues that saw him miss the 2017 Lions series - Coles is beginning to rediscover the form that earned him a nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year in 2016.
"I'm not there yet, I don't think, but I'm just getting more comfortable with training every week and the workload… just getting used to being a rugby player again enjoying my time.
"It's precious time at the moment – I'm happy to put the jersey on and work hard for the team."
As far as his side's six-try-to-two victory over the dangerous Brumbies, who were fresh off a huge win over the Chiefs, Coles pointed towards the resilience shown by his troops in bouncing back from a heavy defeat to the Crusaders.
"The pleasing thing for me was that the attitude was there from the start. That's easy to do after a loss, so the biggest challenge for us now is to get even better.
And it doesn't get any easier for the Hurricanes, who will look to make it back-to-back wins, when they take on the Highlanders in Wellington next week.
"It's going to be bloody tough. We've just got to keep it simple, like we did tonight.
"I thought our line-speed on defence was really good, and we carried hard and cleaned hard on attack.
"It wasn't perfect, but it was big turnaround from last week. They're like test matches, these NZ derbies, so we've got to go hard and do it again."
Join us at 7:30pm Friday for live updates of the Hurricanes vs Highlanders Super Rugby clash.