The Hurricanes resisted a late onslaught from the Crusaders to record a 41-31 win in their pre-season match in Eketahuna on Saturday.
At 24-0 down, the makeshift Crusaders looked out of the contest, until the introduction of mercurial flyhalf Dan Carter midway through the second half sparked the visitors to life.
Up to that point, the Hurricanes had delivered a polished performance both on attack and defensively, with new recruit Jason Woodward shining in his first appearance for the Canes.
Tries from Brad Shields, Woodward and Ben Franks in the first quarter gave the Canes a 17-0 lead, before lock Geoff Cridge barged over for a commanding 24-0 advantage.
The Crusaders eventually got on the board with tries from skipper Matt Todd and an intercept effort by Johnny McNicholl, but further scores by South African-born prop Reggie Goodes and centre Matt Proctor on either side of the break, capped a dominating Canes display as the lead increased to 38-12.
Once Carter came on, the Saders looked a different side. He set up two tries in quick succession, with Robbie Fruean on the receiving end of the final pass on both occasions. That was followed by an opportunistic try from replacement Jamie Booth, as the Saders moved to within seven of the Canes.
The Hurricanes defended desperately in the closing minutes and when a turnover penalty came their way, Otere Black's long-range attempt put the result beyond doubt.
Hurricanes – Tries: Brad Shields, Jason Woodward, Ben Franks, Geoff Cridge, Reggie Goodes, Matt Proctor. Conversions: Woodward (4). Penalty: Otere Black.
Crusaders – Tries: Matt Todd, Johnny McNicholl, Robbie Fruean (2), Jamie Booth. Conversions: Tom Taylor, Dan Carter (2).
Hurricanes – 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Vince Aso, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 James Marshall, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Geoff Cridge, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Ben Franks.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Tolu Fahamokioa, 20 Mike Kainga, 21 Vaea Fifita, 22 Iopu Iopu-Aso, 23 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 24 Jamie Booth, 25 Otere Black, 26 Willis Halaholo, 27 Ope Peleseuma.
Crusaders – 15 Richie Mo'unga, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romana, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Codie Taylor, 18 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 19 Blair Prinsep, 20 Luke Whilelock, 21 Jack Stratton, 22 Tom Sanders, 23 Dan Carter, 24 Jed Brown, 25 Scott Barrett, 26 Alex Hodgman, 27 Nathaniel Apa, 28 David Havilli, 29 Rob Thompson, 30 George Bridge.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images