The NSW Waratahs have seized control of the Australian conference with a defiant 50-29 Super Rugby victory over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
The Waratahs overcame a 15-3 penalty count in the home side's favour to run seven tries to three and bag an all-important bonus point on Saturday at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
Halfback Jake Gordon bagged a double while Wallabies five-eighth Bernard Foley continued his excellent form with the boot to slot eight from nine shots at goal for a 17-point personal haul.
Skipper Michael Hooper admitted relief after the Waratahs overcame the Sunwolves' advantage in possession and territory.
"Particularly in that first half, a lot of penalties put us under a lot of pressure and allowed the Sunwolves to get into our game - and against the wind," Hooper said.
"We knew that coming into the second half when they would have the wind, it would be tricky."
A third-straight win pulls the Tahs to within one competition point of the conference-leading Melbourne Rebels, ahead of another vital derby next Saturday in Sydney against the Queensland Reds.
Hooper and coach Daryl Gibson were expecting an up-tempo, free-flowing encounter and so it turned out.
The two sides piled on 55 points in the first half alone, with the Waratahs enjoying a 38-17 lead at the break, courtesy of Gordon's first try in the sixth minute. This was followed by strikes from centre Curtis Rona, flanker Will Miller, Gordon again and fullback Bryce Hegarty.
Hooper's five-pointer three minutes into the second half put the result beyond doubt before the skipper's yellow card put his team under some unwanted stress.
"I obviously had 10 minutes in the sideline there and I was disappointed in that decision that I made there and I put the team under pressure," Hooper said.
"(It) allowed the Sunwolves to get some attacking ball and to score a ball around the scrum where I would have been on the field.
"So I've got to work on my relationship with the referee and get those decisions rights."
The Sunwolves fightback threatened to deny the Waratahs their bonus point, but powerhouse winger Taqele Naiyaravoro crashed over nine minutes from the death to ensure the visitors left the Japanese capital with the maximum return.
While the Sunwolves remain winless against Australian opposition, five wins and a draw from their first seven matches in 2018 have given the Waratahs their best start to a season in nine years.
Not surprisingly, Hooper has identified next week's hosting of the Reds, followed by another home game against South African conference leaders the Lions as critical.
With a block of four games against Kiwi heavyweights the Crusaders, Highlanders, Chiefs and Blues to follow, the next fortnight looms as potentially season defining.
Australian sides lost all 26 clashes with New Zealand opposition in 2017 and haven't tasted success in trans-Tasman encounters in almost two years.