The Blues beat the Western Force 24-15 at Eden Park in Auckland.
Dane Haylett-Petty’s last minute score denied Tana Umaga’s team a bonus-point victory.
The Force started well taking an 8-0 lead when Richie Arnold scored from close range, but things fell apart on the half-hour when the visitors lost Isi Naisarani to the sin bin.
Two tries by Matt Duffie and Akira Ioane, in the final five minutes of the half, gave the Blues a 12-8 lead going into the break.
The second half was a scrappy affair with both sides throwing caution to the wind. But Rieko Ioane and Michael Collins sealed the deal.
Jono Lance opened the scoring, after some early pressure by the visitors, in the fifth minute.
Arnold, who had a great game, scored to increase the Force’s lead.
The big second-rower powered over from close range after the turnover from a Blues lineout. Tetera Faulkner started the move before Arnold barged over, through Jerome Kaino’s tackle.
The game changed on the half hour when Naisarani was yellow carded for two cynical penalties in quick succession.
Duffie had a try ruled out after George Moala’s forward pass but, five minutes’ later, Akira Ioane crossed the whitewash.
Gerard Cowley-Tuioti collected the ball from the lineout and the Blues set up a driving maul, drove forward and Ioane was awarded the try after the referee and his assistant conferred. Piers Francis added the extras.
It was soon 12-8 after Moala got on the outside of prop Tetera Faulkner and charged into the Force’s 22, beat Matt Hodgson’s chase, drew Haylett-Petty and sent Duffie over in the corner.
TJ Faiane had a try ruled out soon after the break but the blues would not be denied.
The Perth men were holding their own and should’ve made more of their opportunities. However, like last week against the Bulls, the hosts went through the gears.
On 64 minutes Rieko Ioane was matched his older brother’s try.
It started deep inside the Blues’ 22. Ihaia West took Augustine Pulu’s pass and sent Ioane away, the replacement bounced a defender, popped to Michael Collins, who made a break and returned the ball back to Ioane to run in untouched.
West slotted the conversion from the touchline and the Blues led 19-8.
Collins was soon in on the act after West’s line-break. The standoff put Collins away after drawing Alex Newsome and the game was over.
The game was open in the final minutes as David Wessels’ team looked for a late try.
It duly came. Haylett-Petty took a pass from Matt Philip, the lock forward found space deep inside his 22, beat Billy Guyton, and sent the fullback over to score and deny the Blues a bonus-point.
Final score is Blues 24 (12) Western Force 15 (8)
Tries – A. Ioane, Duffie, R. Ioane, Collins
Con – Francis, West
Tries – Arnold, Haylett-Petty
Pen – Lance
Con – Prior
Cards – Yellow (Naisarani, 28th minute)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Glenn Newman
15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi or Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Rieko Ioane.
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Robbie Coleman