The Highlanders eased to a 16-34 bonus-point victory over the Blues at Eden Park, Auckland.
Shannon Frizell starred, scoring a hat-trick and setting up Kayne Hammington’s early second-half try.
This is the Highlanders‘ 10th win in 13 matches against the Blues and the first time the south islanders have won four games on the bounce against the Auckland team.
Dillon Hunt opened the scoring with a first-minute try before Frizell’s first-half double saw the visitors lead 11-20 at the break.
Jonathan Ruru and Tumua Manu scored either side of the interval, but it was not enough to stave off another disappointing defeat.
This was the first time that the Highlanders have recorded back-to-back victories over the Blues in Super Rugby.
Blues off to a bad start.
A routine clearance ended with Hunt charging down Bryn Gatland’s kick after 37 seconds.
It went from bad to worse when Frizell barged towards the goal-line. The flanker was short but his team-mates’ drove him over the whitewash.
Lima Sopoaga took the conversion quickly, giving the officials no time to check the replay and give his side a six-minute 12-point lead.
Blues hit back.
The home side did not let their heads drop, hitting back immediately after the TMO Ben Skeen, awarded Ruru a try.
The Blues went 12 phases with multiple pick-and-goes before the scrumhalf put his team on the scoreboard.
Gatland atoned for his missed conversion to reduce the deficit to four in the 14th minute.
The Blues were starting to gain the upper hand and had most of the territory and possession.
Another penalty from Gatland and a missed penalty by Sopoaga made it a one-point 11-12 game.
The Highlanders were made to defend for many stretches in the first-half. They kept the blue tide away and then struck against the run of play.
Rob Thompson split open the Blues defence before being tackled inside the home team’s 22.
The Otago men recycled quickly, Sopoaga sending the ball wide to Tom Franklin.
Franklin played his boiler-room partner Jackson Hemopo, who offloaded to Luke Whitelock.
The No 8 drew the defender and sent Frizell away for a try that was touched by four forwards in the build-up and score. Sublime handling from the big men.
Sopoaga kicked a penalty before the break to extend his side’s lead.
Hunt botched a walk-in try with some amateur handling, knocking on when it looked easier to score than drop the ball.
It did not prove too costly because the Highlanders started the second-half as they began the first.
Frizell combined with Tevita Li for Hammington’s five-pointer.
The blindside flanker ran towards the sideline on Akira Ioane’s outside.
He slipped Jordan Hyland’s weak tackle and found Li.
The winger took a tackle and offloaded to Hammington – brilliant.
More of the same.
Things got worse for Tana Umaga’s men. Aaron Smith, on for Hammington, took a quick-tap penalty on the Blues 22.
The All Black halfback combined with Ben Smith, who drew the defenders and played Frizell on the inside for his third.
The No 6’s angled run, speed and power were too much for Ruru.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, and after some good build-up, the Blues got some reward for their endeavour.
Tumua Manu strolled in for the score after some excellent handling by Gatland and Stephen Perofeta.
The Ioane brothers started the move from an attacking scrum before Manu finished in the corner.
The Blues have now gone 15 games without a win in New Zealand derbies since February 2016.
Final score: Blues 16 (11) Highlanders 34 (20)
Tries – Ruru, Manu
Pen – Gatland (2)
Tries – Hunt, Frizell (3), Hammington
Pen – Sopoaga
Con – Sopoaga (3)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Lash
TMO: Ben Skeen
15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Tinoai Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Neenee, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Matt Duffie.
15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Alex Ainley, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes.