Hosea Gear scored a hat trick of tries for the Highlanders who were just beaten 29-31 by the Blues in a Super Rugby warm up in Queenstown.
Blues replacement first five Baden Kerr kicked a last minute to earn the Blues the victory.
A typical pre-season match in other words as both sides looked to perfect combinations with the second starting off proper next week.
The Blues led 28-19 at the break, and clinched the match with a penalty goal by Baden Kerr in the final minute.
The Highlanders set piece was wonky all game and it failed to put much together in the way of continuity.
The Blues burst out of the blocks but faded as the game went on as their key players left the field.
The home side failed to finish off at times although its skipper Hosea Gear could not be faulted as he grabbed a hat trick of tries.
Gear, skippering the side in the absence of Andrew Hore, looked dangerous while inside him Ma'a Nonu was his usual hard running self.
Piri Weepu looked good for the Blues on his time on the field while No 8 Peter Saili got through plenty of work.
Final Score Highlanders 29 (19) Blues 31 (28)
Tries: Gear 3, Hoeata, Wheeler
Cons: Parker 2
Tries: Retallick, Moala, McCartney, Weepu
Cons: Weepu 4
1. Tony Woodcock , 2. Breayden Mitchell , 3. Ma'afu Fia , 4. Jarrad Hoeata , 5. Josh Bekhuis , 6. Joe Wheeler , 7. John Hardie , 8. Nasi Manu , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Hayden Parker , 11. Hosea Gear (c) , 12. Ma'a Nonu , 13. Phil Burleigh , 14. Kade Poki , 15. Buxton Popoalii
Backs: Jason Emery, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby, Trent Renata and Frae Wilson.
Forwards: Hugh Blake, Tim Boys, Liam Coltman, Tom Franklin, Paul Grant, Chris King, Jamie Mackintosh and Bronson Murray.
15. Charles Piutau ,14. Frank Halai , 13. Rene Ranger ,12. Francis Saili ,11. George Moala, , 10. Chris Noakes, 9. Piri Weepu , 8. Peter Saili , 7. Luke Braid, 6. Steven Luatua , 5. Ali Williams (C) , 4. Culum Retallick , 3. Charlie Faumuina , 2. James Parsons , 1. Tom McCartney
Replacements : Quentin MacDonald, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Liaki Moli, Ronald Raaymakers, Sean Polwart, Kane Barrett, Joe Edwards, Bryn Hall, Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Marty McKenzie, Pita Ahki
With thanks to the Highlanders for the match report.