Substitute Lukas Ripley has scored a hat-trick of tries but it wasn't enough to keep the Melbourne Rebels' finals hopes alive in a 45-22 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Rebels needed to win Saturday night's Super Rugby Pacific match to have any hope of leapfrogging the Highlanders into eighth spot.
Ripley's unexpected triple - after he had replaced Reece Hodge in the sixth minute - gave the visitors some hope.
But the Hurricanes showed their class when it mattered most, running in seven tries to three to secure the bonus-point victory.
The result means the Rebels (3-10) can only finish ninth at best, with next week's match against the Highlanders now a dead rubber.
The fifth-placed Hurricanes (8-5) are still a chance of snaring fourth spot and the home quarter-final that comes with it.
Hodge limped off with a right knee injury in the early stages and a blowout loomed after the Hurricanes ran in three tries in the opening 19 minutes - all from lineouts.
Winger Julian Savea opened the scoring in the third minute when he put on his turbo after the Hurricanes had swung it to the right from the lineout.
Seven minutes later, the Hurricanes pulled off an even smoother lineout move to allow outside centre Billy Proctor to touch down under the posts.
Alarm bells were ringing for the Rebels in the 19th minute when they were unable to stop a rolling maul that led to flanker Blake Gibson touching down.
The Rebels scored their first try in the 23rd minute when Ripley burst over.
Ripley's second try in the 50th minute kept the margin at a manageable 11 points.
But the Hurricanes held firm when the pressure was at its hottest, running in the next three tries to secure victory.
Aidan Morgan's 74th-minute try sent the crowd wild, with the flyhalf scooping up the ball at full speed before sprinting 45m to the line.
Ripley secured his hat-trick three minutes later when he ran onto a pin-point grubber kick from Matt To'omua.
TRIES: J Savea, Proctor, Gibson, Blackwell, Maile, J Barrett, Morgan
CONS: J Barrett 5/7
TRIES: Ripley 3
CONS: To'omua 2/3
PENS: To'omua 1/1
HURRICANES V MELBOURNE REBELS TEAMS
Hurricanes:15 Ruben Love, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Josh Moorby, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 TK Howden, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James O'Reilly, 1 Tevita Mafileo
Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Caleb Delany, 21 Cameron Roigard, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Peter Umaga-Jensen
Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Tamati Ioane, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Rob Leota, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Lukas Ripley, 23 Nick Jooste
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser & Mike Winter