The NSW Waratahs have restored some national pride with a hoodoo-busting 41-12 Super Rugby win over an undermanned Highlanders outfit in Sydney.
The victory snapped an embarrassing run of 40-straight defeats for Australian teams against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby, a drought stretching six days shy of two years since the Waratahs beat the Chiefs 45-25 in 2016.
The Waratahs had since lost their past nine matches against Kiwi rivals, blowing a 29-0 lead against the Crusaders last week in Christchurch to suffer the biggest collapse in the competition's 22-year history.
But an air of inevitability hung over Saturday night's match at Allianz Stadium, as soon as the Highlanders had winger Tevita Nabura sent off in the 19th minute for a shocking studs-to-the-head strike on his NSW opposite Cam Clark.
After leaping to collect a Waratahs high ball, Nabura lashed his right boot almost karate-style while mid-air into Clark's face.
Television match official George Ayoub declared "deliberate action by the player in the air to put his foot in front of him" and suggested New Zealand referee Brendon Pickerill issue the red card.
Already trailing 8-0 after an early penalty goal to Bernard Foley and a 15th-minute five-pointer to powerhouse winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, the last thing the Highlanders needed was another player sent to the sheds.
But that's exactly what happened, with All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith yellow carded for a deliberate knockdown, leaving the visitors with only 13 players on the park for 10 minutes.
The Waratahs took advantage with Naiyaravoro bagging his second try of the night - and 10th for the season - to send the home team to halftime with a 15-0 buffer.
A second-half double to star fullback Israel Folau, and further tries to Curtis Rona and Lalakai Foketi, iced the win and secured the Waratahs a bonus point to send the Australian conference leaders six competition points clear of the chasing Melbourne Rebels.
Folau's brace brought up his 49th and 50th tries in Super Rugby, the dual international becoming the third-fastest player to reach the half-century milestone, taking just 83 games to accomplish the feat.
Waratahs captain Michael Hooper admitted he'd grown tired of talking about Australia's humbling losing streak and was relieved his side had broken the curse.
"If you'd asked me before the game, I wouldn't have said anything about it. Now it doesn't matter," Hooper said.
"But it's frustrating to hear that all the time and it was the last thing we were thinking about. We got a good result there tonight.
"I'm really happy with our boys' performance to stick and hold them to not many points.
"Pleased with our game managers there. We were able to pick out their weaknesses.
"I'm proud of the boys."
Highlanders skipper Ben Smith was gracious in defeat, saying the Waratahs "thoroughly deserved their win".
"The Waratahs played some great rugby tonight and really put us under pressure," he said.
"At times, we made tough work of it. But we're a pretty tight-knit unit so we'll take the learnings and be better next week."
The Waratahs face the Chiefs next week in Hamilton, no doubt with renewed belief they can challenge for a second title in four years.