Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes keep title hopes alive with bonus-point win over Chiefs

The Hurricanes are still alive in Super Rugby Aotearoa following a 31-18 win over the hapless Chiefs in Wellington.

Vitally, the Hurricanes victory came with a bonus point that gives the side a sniff of claiming the inaugural title, but they will need the Highlanders to do them a huge favour against the Crusaders on Sunday. 

Two tries for the impressive Peter Umaga-Jensen put the Hurricanes on the front foot early, as they dominated possession and territory to take a 12-3 lead into the sheds.

The Chiefs struck early in the second half against 14-men after Hurricanes winger Kobus Van Wyk was given 10 minutes in the bin for an illegal tackle on halfback Brad Weber.

Winger Sean Wainui dived over in the corner and when Damian McKenzie slotted the conversion from the sideline, the gap was just two points.

But Dane Coles replied five minutes later, topping off a sweeping movement to score in the corner. Vince Aso was put through a gap by TJ Perenara, who got the ball back and seemed certain to score before McKenzie's desperate tackle saved the day for the Chiefs.

But the respite was short-lived with Coles crashing over a phase later. 

A Mckenzie penalty goal cut the gap to four, but Jordie Barrett's brilliance swung the game permanently in the Hurricanes direction. 

A perfectly weighted cross-field kick found Van Wyk in acres of space and the bid South African winger duly obliged, collecting the ball to run around and score. 

That try gave the Hurricanes the bonus point they needed, but with 15 minutes to go, Mitch Karpick's try momentarily had the Hurricanes staring down the barrel of playing for bragging rights next week against the Highlanders. 

But a smart piece of play from bench halfback Jamie Booth set Billy proctor away to seal the match and the bonus point with seven minutes to play. 

The loss left the Chiefs winless in their eight Super Rugby Aotearoa fixtures, leaving them firmly planted at the bottom of the ladder.

Should the Highlanders topple the Crusaders on Saturday, the Hurricanes would need a bonus-point win next week in Dunedin and hope the Blues and Crusaders draw, or the winner doesn't earn a bonus point. 

All Blacks skipper Sam Cane had a nasty moment midway through the first half after being knocked out attempting to tackle Barrett. Cane made contact with Barrett's head and was prone on the ground for several minutes before walking off the park unassisted.