The Hurricanes will return from the June international break with work to do in some key areas after they lost their second successive Investec Super Rugby match to the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night.
Ahead 7-3 near the end of the first half, the Hurricanes eventually lost 30-14 in a physical encounter which saw the Highlanders win their 12th consecutive match at home.
Things started well for the Hurricanes who scored the opening try to Jordie Barrett who could have had a second had the match officials not ruled it out for foul play.
That incident saw Liam Squire yellow carded. However, the Highlanders showed plenty of resolve in that period to take the lead following a Tevita Li try four minutes after the halftime siren had sounded.
The Highlanders then seized the initiative after the break when Aaron Smith scored following a break from fullback Ben Smith.
Some good work from a quick lineout throw saw the Hurricanes hit back when prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen crossed but they were unable to capitalise on that position as the Highlanders hit back to score tries to replacement prop Tyrel Lomax and the impressive Waisake Naholo.
The Highlanders defence then really stood up as they snuffed out a number of attempted attacks from the Hurricanes who made costly errors at key times.
Overall it was a disappointing performance from the Hurricanes which left captain Brad Shields frustrated in what was his 100th match for the club.
Shields admitted the side would need to return from the break and work on a number of areas that were letting the side down.
The lineout was one problem with the side losing a number of their own throws in attacking positions while the Hurricanes inability to maintain possession was also concerning.
However, the side will return still in second place on the New Zealand conference with matches against the Brumbies, the Blues and Chiefs to round out the regular season.