The Waratahs have fallen just short of the Chiefs in Hamilton, going down 39-27 in a helter-skelter encounter.
In a frantic display, that was one of the most enthralling contests of 2018, both sides had their opportunities to take control, but neither was able to really wrestle the dominance for long.
In-form winger Cam Clark was over in the fifth minute, after the Waratahs strung together four swift passes from a scrum to put the winger over.
NSW held out the Chiefs under pressure and then Curtis Rona slipped through a gap and sprinted away for the Waratahs’ second in the 13th minute.
Brodie Retallick hit back in the 17th minute, finishing off a multi-phase attack from the Chiefs to narrow the margin to a converted try.
The sides entered somewhat of a kicking duel, with NSW putting the ball straight down the throats of the Chiefs back three, putting the pressure on their own defence.
The frenetic pace of the game looked to be taking its toll on the Waratahs, with their renewed fitness standards facing one of the toughest tests of the year.
A basic mistake at the ruck cost the Waratahs dearly, with no scrumhalf at the ready deep in Chiefs’ territory, allowing Liam Messam to snap up the ball and put hooker Nathan Harris over in the 28th minute.
Four minutes later, Damian McKenzie had the Chiefs’ third and the Waratahs’ lead had been snuffed out.
Errors crept into the Waratahs game, with Taqele Naiyaravoro losing the ball in a tackle just short of the try line and then a misjudged pass was knocked on by Michael Wells.
A dubious call cost the Waratahs a third try just after half-time, with a Kurtley Beale pass to Will Miller adjudged forward but Bernard Foley was able to add three, with the Waratahs playing advantage.
That miss was compounded by another Chiefs try, with Toni Pulu scoring after some poor Waratahs’ defensive reads.
Kurtley Beale created some magic to score for the Waratahs, with a long range pass going along the ground, cleaned up by Israel Folau, who handed off a no-look pass to Beale to score.
A Brad Weber kick sat up perfectly for Pulu to put the Chiefs back in the lead, before a Foley penalty made the equation just two points.
The Chiefs’ kicking proved the difference in much of the game, with the Waratahs struggling to find touch at critical stages.
NSW’s defence showed desperation, keeping the Chiefs out in a 20-phase run, earning a penalty to get out of danger, but conceded one in the next passage to give McKenzie a shot at the posts.
Israel Folau put the Waratahs in danger again, but a Brodie Retallick ruck masterclass snuffed out their chances of scoring.
Some dogged work from the Waratahs gave them half-chances, but ultimately mistakes cost them, and when McKenzie found himself with the ball in the 82nd minute, he wasn't satisfied to end the game, opting to snatch a bonus point for the Chiefs and take it away from the Waratahs.
The Waratahs head back to Australia next week, taking on the Reds in Brisbane.
Tries: D McKenzie 2, Pulu 2, Retallick, Harris,
Cons: D McKenzie 3
Pens: D McKenzie
Tries: Clark, Rona, Beale
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2