Wellington based Super Rugby franchise the Hurricanes earned their first victory of the 2016 season by beating the Blues 19-23 at Eden Park in Auckland.
The Hurricanes outscored the Blues by two tries to three with TJ Perenara crossing twice for the visitors.
The victory is the Hurricanes third straight win over the Hurricanes as in 2015 the Wellington side won both of the contests between the two sides.
The Blues in seventh place remain above the Hurricanes in the standings on points difference but the Wellington side move up to eighth from ninth.
Having made a strong start to the match and leading 8-0 the Blues let their opposition back into the match and by half time the Hurricanes had scored 15 unanswered points and were in the lead.
The Hurricanes extended their lead to 10 points at 13-23 but then let the Blues back into the match and had to hold on with 14 players for the victory.
Last year’s beaten finalists, reeling after defeats in the opening two rounds, had to muster all their defensive prowess as the Blues laid siege to their line in the final 15 minutes of the game at Eden Park.
They outscored the Blues three tries to two, including a brace for stand-in captain TJ Perenara, but were lucky to escape with their first win of the season.
The Tana Umaga-coached Blues applied early pressure, only for Ihaia West to miss two penalties before finding his range and nailing a third.
Rene Ranger gave them the opening try in the 22nd minute, scooping up the ball on the right wing then leaping over a flailing Julian Savea to plant it in the corner.
The Hurricanes responded immediately when Victor Vito darted over the line from the back of a driving maul.
Perenara then gave Wellington a 15-8 half-time lead when he gathered Nehe Milner-Skudder’s perfectly weighted chip kick and left three defenders in his wake.
Moala narrowed it to 15-13 two minutes after the restart thanks to some solid lineout work from the Blues.
The Hurricanes then worked the ball forward and Perenara crossed for his second, despite protests from the Eden park crowd that Julian Savea knocked on in the build up.
Tevita Li looked to spark a Blues revival with a scything run through the Hurricanes defence, but his outstanding effort was disallowed after replays showed it came off a forward pass.
West made it 19-23 with two penalties and the Blues pressed for a try, launching a series of lineouts only to be denied by dogged defending by 14 Hurricanes players after Victor Vito was yellow carded.
Next week in Round 4 the Hurricanes host the Western Force in Palmerston North while the Blues travel to Brisbane where they will play the Reds.
Final Score Blues 19 (8) Hurricanes 23 (15)
Tries – R.Ranger, G. Moala
Pen – I.West 3
Tries – V.Vito, TJ.Perenara 2
Pen – B.Barrett 2
Con – B.Barrett
Cards – V.Vito (82nd minute yellow)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Brett Johnson
TMO : Shane McDermott
Attendance : 20100
Ofa Tu’ungafasi, James Parsons, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Josh Bekhuis, Jerome Kaino (c), Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, George Moala, Male Sa’u, Rene Ranger, Lolagi Visinia.
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Nic Mayhew, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Melani Nanai.
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
Replacments : Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Cory Jane.