Skipper Ardie Savea has saved the day for the Hurricanes with a late try securing a 22-18 win over the Waratahs in a pulsating Super Rugby Pacific clash in Sydney.

The Waratahs led 15-0 at halftime and held the lead until the 75th minute when Savea scrambled over the line for the match-winning try on Saturday night.

It robbed NSW of victory in front of large and vocal crowd at Leichhardt Oval, which harked back to their glory days, and also put a dent in their hunt for a top-four finish.

The win allowed the Hurricanes to leapfrog the Waratahs into fourth.

NSW looked like they would fly the flag for Australian rugby after the Brumbies, Reds and Western Force fell to their Kiwi rivals.

As well as the heartbreaking loss, in-form centre Izaia Perese limped from the field with a suspected MCL and is now in doubt for the Wallabies Test series against England in early July.

"It feels like it got away from us that game," Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon told Stan Sport.

"We controlled possession in the first half but they came out of the blocks really quickly in that second half and we had trouble controlling that.

"We had opportunities to complete and we didn't."

The teams were level at 15-15 until a Ben Donaldson penalty in the 68th minute put NSW ahead.

The buffer wasn't enough and despite some desperate defence, All Blacks back-rower Savea climbed off the deck after a heavy knock to do the damage.

Savea said his team he couldn't repeat what was said in the halftime talk but it worked.

"We talked about taking it moment by moment and we did that and got ourselves back into the game," he said.

"The win is very important coming into the back end of the competition."

NSW had to play the final three minutes a man down with prop Paddy Ryan red-carded for an alleged high shot on Jordie Barrett.

The Waratahs forwards laid the platform for a 15-0 halftime lead, with their set piece causing all sorts of headaches for the visitors.

Such was their scrum dominance Hurricanes coach Jason Holland switched his props before the break, bringing All Blacks enforcer Owen Franks and Tevita Mafileo into the fray.

Test hooker Dane Coles also started the second half and with the Hurricanes hammering the line, Mafileo broke through in the 42nd minute.

Centre Bailyn Sullivan then crossed after 60 minutes to square it up.

NSW scored twice in the first half although with 94 per cent of possession and territory in the opening 20 they should have been further ahead.

No.8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco came up with a try after picking up the ball at the back of the scrum.

They backed that up with Perese getting away a freakish backhand flick pass for winger Dylan Pietsch to score in the 36th minute.

The Waratahs at least walked away with a losing bonus point to help their finals quest.

HURRICANES 22 (Tries: Mafileo, Sullivan, A.Savea Pens: Barrett, Cons: Barrett 2) WARATAHS 18 (Tries: Warren-Vosayaco, Pietsch Pens: Edmed, Donaldson, Cons: Edmed) 

Waratahs: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Will Harris, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Archer Holz, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.

Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Teterta Faulkner, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Max Douglas, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Triston Reilly.

Hurricanes: 15 Josh Moorby, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 TK Howden, 5 Justin Sangster, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.

Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Caleb Delany, 21 Cameron Roigard, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Billy Proctor.

Referee: Jordan Way

Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Damon Murphy