Kings make 'Canes sweat
The Hurricanes were made to work over time for their 46-30 win over a determined Kings outfit at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The hosts outscored the tournament underdogs six tries to three, but it was never one-way traffic as the visitors were surprisingly competitive throughout.
The Hurricanes had their four-try bonus point wrapped up before half-time and led 29-16, before the Kings closed the gap to seven points after the break.
But Brad Shields and Alapati Leiua then crossed for the 'Hurricanes fifth and sixth five-pointers to seal their third Super Rugby win which leaves second in the New Zealand conference and fifth overall.
The Hurricanes struck first through Ben May after the prop powered his way over with barely three minutes gone on the clock. Julian Savea did the initial damage, before the ball was shifted to the front-rower who still had some work to do from 10 metres out.
Barrett landed the conversion and a penalty to take the 'Canes into an early 10-0 lead.
However, the Kings hit back from an attacking line-out. Lock Steven Sykes couldn't believe his luck after touching down under the posts following some dire defensive work from the hosts at the breakdown. Demetri Catrakillis added the extras from bang in front, and the visitors trailed by three points (10-7).
The Hurricanes managed to stretch their lead again almost immediately when skipper Conrad Smith took a floating pass out wide to score a converted try.
Catrakilis nailed two consecutive penalties to keeping his team in touching distance of the Hurricanes (17-13), but tries to scrum-half TJ Perenara and then lock Jeremy Thrush on the stroke of half-time gave the home side some breathing space.
The Kings refused to give up though, and punished the Hurricanes' sluggish start to the second half when Ronnie Cooke raced in after taking full-back George Whitehead's excellent offload for a superb try.
But the visitors' hopes of an upset were crushed when Shields turned on the gas and brushed off some weak tackles to score his first Super Rugby try in the 65th minute.
The result was then really put beyond doubt when Leiua intercepted a Kings pass and ran in untouched, before replacement hooker Hannes Franklin burrowed over for a well-earned consolation try for the visitors.
Tries: May, Smith, Perenara, Thrush, Shields, Leiua.
Cons: Barrett 5
Pens: Barrett 2
Tries: Sykes, Cooke, Franklin
Cons: Catrakilis 2, Whitehead.
Pens: Catrakilis 3
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara/Chris Smylie, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (c), 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakillis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Daniel Adongo, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)