Wellington - Cheetahs loosehead prop Coenie Oosthuizen scored two tries including the match-winner as the South Africans came from 21 points down to beat the Hurricanes 47-38 in their Super Rugby clash on Saturday.
Oosthuizen's second try in the 68th minute was one of the most unspectacular of the match but decided a game in which 10 tries were scored and in which flyhalves exchanged 35 points from goalkicks.
The Hurricanes forged a 32-11 lead after 30 minutes, though they spent most of that time buried within their own half and making play from turnovers and goalline-to-goalline counter-attacks.
The Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs stirred into action with three tries in the last six minutes of the half, including Oosthuizen's first which played them into a 32-32 half-time deadlock.
They claimed the lead for the first time in the 45th minute with a penalty to flyhalf Johan Goosen then, after the Hurricanes had drawn level again at 35-35, finally surged away with late tries to props WP Nel and Oosthuizen.
"It was definitely a great victory," Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said. "It was against a very good Hurricanes side and it's a nice way to end the tour (of Australia and New Zealand).
"My guys have got that never say die attitude and so it's a great honour for me to lead them and it's a great place to start building from when we get back home.
"It's very important to us to win on the road. We've got a lot of loyal supporters and this one goes out to them."
The Hurricanes played some outstanding counter-attacking rugby in the first 30 minutes of the match, with almost no territory and only fragments of possession. Hooker Dane Coles scored the opening try after only three minutes and, in a sign of how the match would be played, the Cheetahs struck back quickly with their first try through center Adries Strauss.
Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor and scrumhalf TJ Perenara then scored tries to give the hosts a 32-11 lead.
But when the Cheetahs' ball retention improved and they began to cut out the handling errors that fed the Hurricanes' counter-attacking style, they progressively took control.
Outstanding fullback Hennie Daniller strode through weak defence for a 34th minute try, winger Ryno Benjamin scored wide out three minutes later and Oosthuizen added a try on half-time that brought the teams level.
The Cheetahs pressed the Hurricanes into their own half through the second spell and held on to possession. From long series of phases and careful buildups, they created tries to Nel in the 55th minute and Oosthuizen in the 68th to clinch their win and deny the Hurricanes more than a single, four-try bonus point.
"We were up on points (after 30 minutes) but we hadn't done a lot with the ball," Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith said. "They were all counter-attack tries but we still had a lot of work to do and they were making all the play.
"That told and to their credit they stuck at it. We didn't get the turnovers that we were getting early in the game and we were sort of chasing the game after that and it wasn't to be."
The result followed the trend of recent high-scoring matches between the Cheetahs and Hurricanes, including last season's clash in Bloemfontein which the 'Canes won 50-47.
Cheetahs: 47 (Coenie Oosthuizen 2, Andries Strauss, Hennie Daniller, Ryno Benjamin, WP Nel tries: Johan Goosen 4 conversions, 3 penalties),
Hurricanes: 38 (Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett, Andre Taylor, T.J. Perenara tries; Beauden Barrett 3 conversions, 4 penalties). HT: 32-32.
15. André Taylor, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith (captain), 12. Charlie Ngatai, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Brad Shields, 7. Karl Lowe, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. Jason Eaton, 4. James Broadhurst, 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Tristan Moran
Substitutes: 16. Motu Matu'u, 17. Michael Bent, 18. Mark Reddish, 19. Jack Lam, 20. Chris Eaton, 21. Dan Kirkpatrick, 22. Jayden Hayward
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman