Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has applauded his team's fighting qualities in the wake of a nightmare start following their 29-19 Super Rugby loss to the Hurricanes.
Leaking four tries in the opening 21 minutes appeared to end Saturday's match as a contest, but the visitors went on to dominate the final three quarters and threatened to snatch an upset win at Westpac Stadium.
Their resilience went unrewarded as the Australian Conference leaders suffered a third straight defeat and slipped to 5-5 for the season.
They were left to rue a lackadaisical start that left them trailing 26-0.
That was still the score at halftime after shoring up a shambolic defence and gaining a foothold before surging with three tries in a purple patch midway through the second half.
"What's happened to us in previous games is that we've fallen away when we've lost momentum," Wessels said.
"So the really pleasing thing out of tonight is that we found a way to fight out of that and regain control. Unfortunately we didn't do it early enough but I think we've learned a lot."
Jordie Barrett landed a long-range, late penalty to push the hosts clear and the result was virtually sealed when Quade Cooper missed a subsequent penalty attempt from right in front of the posts that would have kept Melbourne in contention.
It capped a forgettable outing for five-eighth Cooper, who was eclipsed by All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett, particularly in the early exchanges.
Barrett crossed for one try with a sizzling double-around and played a part in others to Ngani Laumape and Wes Goosen.
Flanker Vaea Fifita bagged their fourth as the 20-minute mark ticked over, sparking the prospect of the hosts challenging their 71-6 winning scoreline when the teams last met in Wellington two years ago.
Melbourne's recovery was based around a superior scrum and some hard running around the fringes which created quick ball for Will Genia.
Starved of possession, the Hurricanes became frustrated and were hammered 12-3 in the penalty count.
Referee Nic Berry repeatedly warned the hosts for repeat offending but didn't brandish a yellow card, to the annoyance of Wessels.
"They were probably lucky not to get one, but I don't think that was the story of the game," he said.
"The story of the game was we were down and out and fought our way back. That's the real thing we take out of this."
The visitors were credited with 79 per cent territorial domination in the second spell and it led to tries to Matt Philip, Billy Meakes and Reece Hodge.
The Hurricanes notched a fourth straight win and their eighth of the season to solidify second place overall behind the Crusaders.