The Hurricanes claimed all five points against the Blues in a 35-19 victory that keeps them in touch with New Zealand's leading trio.
The Hurricanes claimed all five points against the Blues in a 35-19 win that keeps them in touch with the leading trio in New Zealand's conference.
Victory puts Mark Hammett's side on 30 points which is nine off pace-setters the Chiefs, four off the Highlanders and three from the Crusaders.
Another loss for the Blues – their ninth out of ten this term – means they are a huge 27 points off the franchise from Hamilton in the conference.
The Blues looked hungry for only their second win of the season as, from the outset, Rene Ranger made a statement in defence when the 'Canes went wide. That early leg-up had its reward too when the home side failed to roll away and that allowed ex-'Cane Piri Weepu to open matters.
But the Hurricanes, who were themselves coming off a defeat, struck back five minutes later when Beauden Barrett went the aerial route and put a ball onto the head of George Moala. It proved a successful option as high-ball specialist Cory Jane forced Moala to fumble the ball into the path of Conrad Smith. The captain was already not the Blues most favourite person after scoring a late winner against them in Auckland and further caused them problems with this score.
Barrett had missed the conversion but later added three points from the kicking tee either side of two attempts from the man replacing Gareth Anscombe at fly-half, Michael Hobbs.
Weepu was in good form with the boot and around the field as he strives to return to fitness before the June Tests and when he made it 13-8 with half-an-hour gone, the Blues were playing a more structured style than last time out. Pat Lam would have been much happier.
It did not last long though when wing Cory Jane broke out from his own 22 before fending a chaser and handed on to Super Rugby's top try-scorer right now, Andre Taylor, who showed his speed to find the whitewash in the right corner. Barrett's off-night with the boot continued.
He did make amends just two minutes from half-time when striking three more points over the uprights from 35 metres out to make it 16-12 at the break, capping an entertaining half.
There was something of a lull to the fifteen minutes after the resumption until Julian Savea was denied a try in the corner as TMO Garratt Williamson informed referee Jaco Peyper that the wing had put his foot in touch before scoring. It was an unfortunate call not least after a good break and fine offload from Barrett. But one that did not take long to be scratched from the memory as the duo combined once again on 58 minutes as Savea dived over strongly.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes though, that try didn't put them out of reach of their rivals as Barrett's conversion struck the post so it was 21-12 with just over 20 minutes remaining at Westpac Stadium. It was only delaying the inevitable however as the home side put the game to bed on 67 minutes. Their bonus-point was brought about in a similar manner to Savea's effort as, from a TMO decision against them, the Hurricanes then crossed in the aftermath when number eight Victor Vito picked up from the base of a scrum and popped to the nuggety TJ Perenara. The scrum-half showed good strength to force his way over.
Centre Benson Stanley scored the Blues' only try in the 74th minute but it was too late to affect the outcome of the match and was ultimately chalked off when a stray pass from Hadleigh Parkes found lock Jason Eaton who stepped two players to add the icing.
Tries: Smith, Taylor, Savea, Perenara, J Eaton
Con: Barrett 2
Pen: Barrett 2
Pen: Weepu 4
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Jack Lam, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Alapati Leiua.
Blues: 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 David Raikuna.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)