Peter Betham scored two tries as the Waratahs claimed a 29-24 bonus-point win against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
The Canes, though, still picked up two bonus points that keep them at the top of the overall standings, and a point ahead of the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
The Hurricanes dominated possession and territory in the first half, but both teams scored three tries to go into the break locked at 19-19.
Ardie Savea butchered what should have been the game's first try inside the first 10 minutes, when he dropped the ball over the line while attempting to dot it down.
The Tahs then opened the scoring when Betham finished strongly after an 11-phase buildup, before the Canes responded with tries through Conrad Smith, after a solid scrum, and Beauden Barrett, who collected Ma'a Nonu's chip kick.
Will Skelton then barged over for the Waratahs to make it 14-12, before Brad Shields scored in the corner after some good work by the Canes backs.
But the Tahs drew level on the stroke of half-time when Betham intercepted Barrett's pass to score his second try under the posts.
The visitors then upped the intensity in the second half, with their bench making a big impact.
A strong run from Michael Hooper ultimately resulted in a try for Israel Folau, who used his pace to score in the corner. Bernard Foley kicked the conversion and then added a penalty to give his side a 10-point lead.
The Canes hit back with a 70th-minute try from TJ Perenara, but Barrett crucially missed the conversion, which meant his team had to cross the line again to draw level.
But they were unable to maintain their composure in the closing stages and suffered their first defeat of the season.
Hurricanes – Tries: Conrad Smith, Brad Shields, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara. Conversions: Barrett (2).
Waratahs – Tries: Peter Betham (2), Will Skelton, Israel Folau. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3). Penalty: Foley.
Hurricanes – 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Callum Gibbins, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Subs: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Pat McCutcheon, 5 Dave Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images