The Hurricanes have wilted in the Johannesburg sun, squandering a 22-3 lead to lose 44-29 to the Lions and force the Crusaders to travel to South Africa for the Super Rugby final.
Comfortably in front with halftime approaching, the Hurricanes conceded a late try to Lions prop Jacques Van Rooyen and duly fell apart in the second stanza.
Ross Cronje and Malcolm Marx bagged quick tries for the Lions before a yellow card to Beauden Barrett for failing to roll away from a ruck opened the floodgates.
The Lions, who finished first on the overall Super Rugby ladder despite avoiding Kiwi opposition all season, ran in three tries - with Springboks first-five Elton Jantjies prominent - to close out the match.
They will now enjoy home advantage in next weekend's Super Rugby final, with the Crusaders to make the 11,500km journey to the Republic.
"We just didn't come out and do what we were doing in that first half, and they got a bit of momentum on, and took it right to us," Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles said.
"They just kept going to the 80th minute and we couldn't really stop their momentum, their attack. We gave it everything we've got."
The run of the first half certainly didn't indicate such a scenario.
Careless Lions errors and the Canes' sheer pace created a lopsided opening stanza in which the Barrett brothers ran riot.
TJ Perenara opened the scoring after dribbling a mislaid Jantjies pass all the way to the line, before Wes Goosen added the Hurricanes' second.
Shoddy Lions work at the ruck then gave Ardie Savea his side's third.
Throwing the ball around and cutting through the Lions' defence at will, the Hurricanes looked destined to secure an all-Kiwi final in Christchurch.
But it wasn't to be, as Van Rooyen's barging effort precipitated the Hurricanes' second-half collapse and defeat.
"I really believe that, in the second half, we played the type of rugby we as the Lions have been striving to play," halfback Cronje said.
"There was always that belief in the team. The coach just revved us up at halftime, and the boys went out there and really showed what we can do."