The Hurricanes got their campaign back on track when they secured a hard-fought 23-19 victory over the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
The visitors must be commended for their heroic defesive effort late in the second half when the Blues were camped inside their 22 for long periods in a bid to secure victory.
The Hurricanes, who soaked up plenty of pressure early on, outscored their hosts three to two with their captain TJ Perenara leading the way with a brace.
They suffered a blow, however, when Nehe Milner-Skudder was forced off with what looked like a serious shoulder injury midway in to the second half.
The Blues had the better of the early exchanges and dominated territory and possession, but the Hurricanes didn’t panic. The men from Wellington soon took control of proceedings and held a 15-8 lead at half-time.
The Blues had little to show for their early dominance and although Ihaia West opened the scoring from the kicking tee in the 12th minute he missed two shots at goal earlier on.
The home side continued to hold the upperhand and in the 20th minute Rene Ranger showed great acrobatic skills as gathered a George Moala pass before diving over in the right-hand corner, despite the attentions of two defenders.
That try seemed to liven up the Hurricanes as two minutes later Victor Vito got their first try from the back of a superb driving maul inside the Blues’ 22.
Five minutes later the Hurricanes took the lead via Perenara’s first try after great work in the build-up from Milner-Skudder. The All Blacks flyer gathered the ball close to the halfway line and set off towards the try line, but when confronted by the cover defence he delivered a delightful chip kick which Perenara gathered before diving over.
Beauden Barrett added the extras and soon slotted a penalty which meant the visitors were in the ascendancy at he interval.
The Blues were fastest out of the blocks after the restart and were rewarded in the 43rd minute when George Moala crashed over from close quarters after Charlie Faumuina laid the groundwork with a powerful drive in the build-up.
West missed with the conversion attempt which meant he Hurricanes led 15-13 but Barrett gave the visitors a five-point lead when he slotted another penalty shortly afterwards.
The Hurricanes went further in front when their forwards set up Perenara, who dived over in the right-hand corner shortly after Milner-Skudder left the field with his injury.
The Blues thought they were back in the game in the 58th minute when Tevita Li ran onto a pass from Lolagi Visinia, just inside the Hurricanes’ half, and beat four defenders before crossing the whitewash.
The try however was disallowed, after the TMO ruled correctly that the pass from Visinia was forward.
Despite that setback, the hosts were now in the ascendancy. West added two further penalties to narrow the gap to four points and although they threw everything into their attack they couldn’t breach the Hurricanes’ defence.
The last five minutes was a frantic affair as the visitors launched a resilient defensive effort and although Vito was sin-binned in the process – for a professional foul – they did remarkably well to keep the Blues out.
Tries: Ranger, Moala
Pens: West 3
Tries: Perenara 2, Vito
Pens: Barrett 2
Yellow Card: Vito
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Male Su’a, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (c), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Steven Luatua, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Lock, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Melani Nanai
Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Cory Jane
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Brett Johnson
TMO: Shane McDermott