The Blues backed their defence to quell the Hurricanes 27-17 in Super Rugby Aotearoa action at Eden Park on Saturday.
Gameflow: The Hurricanes ate two yellow cards in this one, the first at the end of the first quarter when the TMO spotted flank Du’Plessis Kirifi making a dangerous cleanout on Blues flyhalf Otere Black.
Kirifi jogged back on just after fullback Jordie Barrett put the Hurricanes into a three-point lead, but the visitors were again down one man, and four points, when referee Brendon Pickerill sent skipper Ardie Savea to the naughty chair for collapsing a maul and awarded the Blues a penalty try (7-6).
Barrett and Black traded penalties to see the Blues head into the tunnel with a 10-9 lead at the half.
The Canes fullback put his team back in front with a 55-metre penalty six minutes into the second 40, but the visitors were kept scoreless for the next 30 minutes as the Blues reclaimed the lead and extended it through converted tries from centre TJ Faiane and wing Mark Telea.
Though Reed Prinsep barrelled over the line with 240 ticks on the clock remaining, bringing the Hurricanes within a converted try, Barrett failed to add the extras and Black kicked a last-minute penalty to seal the deal.
Nuts and bolts: While the Hurricanes got into the 60s for percentage of territory and possession at times, their determination to convert this advantage into tries, rather than points, kept the Blues right in the contest.
It took almost 20 minutes for fullback Jordie Barrett to eventually concede and have a crack at goal for the visitors and by that time the Hurricanes were down to 14 men and the Blues had implemented a plan built around attacking the Hurricanes’ breakdown and feeding off the ensuing errors.
The benefit of efficient defensive breakdown work was compounded by a Blues attack that found purchase in one-pass rugby in the second half, feeding heavies such as Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Hoskins Sotutu on direct carries for impressive gains that reaped two tries.
What does it all mean?: The Blues snapped a two-game slump to climb into second place in the Aotearoa standings with 14 points, four behind the Crusaders and five ahead of the Highlanders. The Hurricanes are in last place, having lost five of their last six.