After two back-to-back losses, Leon MacDonald’s team was desperate for a win against the Hurricanes at Eden Park.
The Hurricanes needed a win, as they had won one game to date.
The first half was tense. Despite two yellow cards to Du’Plessis Kirifi in the 17th minute and Ardie Savea in the 31st minute, the Hurricanes trailed the Blues by a point at halftime. It took 27 minutes for either team to score, and it came through a penalty for the Hurricanes.
Fullback Jordie Barrett converted the penalty to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead. The Blues hit back through a penalty try in the 31st minute, resulting in Savea being given a yellow card. The Hurricanes’ forward pack had no answer to the Blues’ forward pack as they muscled their way to the try line and Savea left the field for ten.
Former All Black and Sky Sports New Zealand commentator Jeff Wilson critiqued the decision, claiming that it was a harsh decision to yellow card Savea. The visitors reduced the deficit to a point in the 37th minute through a penalty.
Otere Black then took the score out to 10-6 in the 39th minute through a penalty. Then, in added time, Barrett helped reduce the margin to a point with a penalty. The score at halftime read 10-9 in favour of MacDonald’s men.
In the 46th minute, the Hurricanes took the lead for the second time in the game through another Barrett penalty. The Blues then regained the lead through a TJ Faiane try in the 50th minute. Stephen Perofeta made a clean break and assisted Faiane for the try. Black converted the try to give the Blues a 17-12 lead in the 52nd minute.
The Blues took the score to 24-12 via a try from winger Mark Telea and the subsequent conversion by Otere Black. Centre Rieko Ioane made a clean break and drew a defender in. He then passed the ball to Telea, who pulled off a one-handed try in the corner.
Flanker Reed Prinsep gave the Hurricanes a consolation try in the 76th minute, but it was too late. The Blues had already sealed the game. Black converted a penalty in added time. The score at full-time read 27-17 in favour of the Blues.
The stars for the Blues were centre Faiane and Perofeta. Faiane made five carries for 31 metres, scored a try, beat one defender, made seven passes and 11 tackles. Perofeta made five carries for 49 metres, beat three defenders, made a clean break, seven passes and three tackles.
Dalton Papali’i also had an excellent game for the Blues. Papali’i made four carries for 27 metres, beat one defender, made one clean break, two passes and 15 tackles.
The Blues have the bye next week, while the Hurricanes play the table-topping Crusaders at home in a must-win clash on Sunday 11th of April at 1:35 pm AEST.