The status quo remains in the Australian conference, with the Waratahs unable to take a point from a 28-17 loss to the Hurricanes.
NSW needed just a losing bonus point to leapfrog current leaders the Brumbies, who went down to the Blues on Friday night, but couldn’t best the Kiwis, leaving them on the same points as the ACT, but one win short of a guaranteed home final.
In stark contrast to some of the try-fests of Friday night and earlier on Saturday, the early scores all came off the boot of Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett.
Barrett took his tally to 11 points finishing off a clever Cory Jane kick that went over the head of Israel Folau, with the winger collecting the chip and passing an inside ball to Barrett to score.
Wycliff Palu made an early impact, with a critical tap on Cory Jane, stopping the winger from breaking away down the right edge.
Mammoth winger Taqele Naiyaravoro barged over two minutes later to narrow the margin to six points, after speedy play from Nick Phipps out of a ruck.
The Waratahs had a major let off just with TJ Perenara knocking on in-goal after Phipps opted against grounding the ball under immense pressure.
A Willis Halaholo high tackle on Bernard Foley gave the Waratahs flyhalf a three-point shot well after half-time.
Israel Folau proved the spark in the second half with a 43rd minute try giving the Waratahs the lead for the first time in the match.
That lasted just six minutes, though, before Hurricanes winger Cory Jane completed his collection of tries against Australian opposition going over in the corner.
A Taqele Naiyaravoro yellow card, after a midair challenge on Beauden Barrett, gave Hurricanes winger Julian Savea the chance to extend the Kiwis’ lead with a try.
The Waratahs will play the Blues in Auckland next Friday evening, while the Hurricanes take on the Crusaders.
(Tries: Naiyaravoro, Folau Cons: Foley Pens: Foley )
(Tries: Barrett, Jane, Savea Cons:Barrett 2 Pens: Barrett 3 )