Update: 11:39PM THE Chiefs snapped a three-match losing streak to keep their Super Rugby hopes alive with a hard-fought 24-16 win over the Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Friday.
The ninth-placed Chiefs desperately needed a win to have any chance of snaring their third successive title, while the fifth-ranked Hurricanes now look vulnerable as they sit out a final-round bye next week.
History was against the Hurricanes, who haven't won in Hamilton since 2007, and they struggled for timing and cohesion without key players Conrad Smith, Victor Vito and Alapati Leiua.
Early errors peppered play, but although both teams were guilty of poor handling and sloppy kicking, the Chiefs settled quickest and looked more threatening.
Their defence was compact and well organised, shutting down the Hurricanes around the edges of the breakdown and not allowing them any space out wide.
All Blacks No.10 Aaron Cruden made up for an early miss with a 20th-minute penalty, Beauden Barrett replying in kind two minutes later with a 48m monster to level the scores.
The Chiefs flagged another easy three points soon after, opting instead to kick for the corner. Although they couldn't drive over from the line-out, they showed patience to re-set and prop Jamie Mackintosh burrowed over from close range to extend the lead.
Two quick Cruden penalties extended the Chiefs' winning margin to 16-6 at halftime, the home team's lead reflecting their domination in possession and territory.
The Hurricanes started the second spell strongly, Barrett nailing his third penalty five minutes after the restart.
But Cruden responded with one of his own as the hour-mark approached, then featured with a scything run soon after to set up All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick for the try and a 24-9 lead.
Hurricanes second five-eighth Hadleigh Parkes briefly revived Hurricanes hopes with a 65th-minute try, but the Chiefs controlled the closing stages to shut out the win.