The Blues beat the Hurricanes 16-31 in a scrappy 2021 Round One Super Rugby Aotearoa contest at Sky Stadium, Wellington.
The Blues scored four tries to two in an untidy match that saw 30 penalties and almost as many handling errors.
A clinical second-half performance by the visitors, however, saw the Auckland franchise runaway convincing winners in a game littered with mistakes.
Dalton Papalii scored the visitors’ only try of the first stanza, but two quickfire tries by Caleb Clarke and Stephen Perofeta soon after the restart, saw the Blues pull away in the second.
Clarke’s 49th-minute try is his third five-pointer in his last three games against the Canes; they must be sick of the sight of him.
Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua grabbed a brace, either side of the interval, to keep the Hurricanes in the contest.
But Rieko Ioane’s dagger, two minutes from time, broke the home team’s resolve. Two yellow cards did not help the hosts.
They did not take their chances and paid the price when the Blues punished their profligacy and ill-discipline.
Otere Black’s accurate kicking accounted for 14 points, and the three second-half tries to one made the difference.
Teams share a try, but Hurricanes lead at the break thanks to Jordie Barrett’s boot
The Hurricanes took a slender four-point lead into the shed after Barrett kicked two late penalties, despite the hosts being down to 14 men after James Blackwell’s 32nd-minute yellow card.
Leon MacDonald’s side opened the scoring when Papalii capitalised on a Vaea Fifita knock-on to score after four minutes. Black converted.
But Jason Holland’s men hit back when Aumua crashed over near the right-hand corner, two minutes later. Barrett could not convert.
Aumua ran through two defenders but was not held in the following tackle before getting up and reaching for the chalk.
The interchanging passing by Ngani Laumape, Jackson Garden-Bachop, and Fifita, helped set-up the hooker.
The rest of the half was a stop-start affair as the teams made a multitude of handling errors and mistakes. Blackwell was sin-binned before the break.
However, the Blues eschewed a shot at goal. They also did not make their extra man count as Barrett added two late first-half penalties to give the hosts an 11-7 halftime lead.
Blackwell was lucky not to receive another yellow for another cynical play right after re-entering the field.
Blues come out firing after the interval, scoring twice in five minutes through Clarke and Perofeta
Clarke, who caused all sorts of issues for the Canes defenders, scored after taking Black’s pin-point cross-field kick.
In between the two tries, the Canes had Kirifi sent to the naughty step for a cynical foul near the goal-line.
Kirifi, not long on, did not roll away after a bulldozing driving maul collapsed near the home team’s try line. The Blues opted for a scrum, five metres out from the chalk.
Perofeta finished off a slick backline move. Black – ever involved – threw a looping switch and pass, after a decoy runner took out the midfield defence.
It allowed the fullback a walk-over score; the forwards did the work, the backs finished the job.
Black converted both tries before Aumua barged over for his second score from an expert move off a driving maul on 63 minutes.
Barrett’s conversion attempt looked at first glance – and on the television replay – to be good; however, both touch-judges kept their flags down.
Harry Plummer’s long-range effort fell short, keeping the Hurricanes in a one-score game going into the last quarter of an hour.
It did not matter, however, because Black kicked a late penalty before Rieko Ioane sealed the deal after Wes Goosen’s handling error gifted Ioane the try.
Final Score: Hurricanes 16 (11) Blues 31 (7)
Tries – Aumua (2)
Pen – J. Barrett (2)
Cards – Blackwell (Yellow, 32′), Kirifi (Yellow, 53′)
Tries – Papalii, Clarke, Perofeta, R. Ioane
Pen – Black
Con – Black (4)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Brendon Pickerill
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jonathan Taumateine 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Luke Campbell, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 James Lay
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Tanielu Tele’a