A late try from Mark Abbott secured a 28-24 win for the Hurricanes over the Blues in a thrilling contest in Auckland on Saturday.
In what has become the norm between two New Zealand sides in this competition, this was another superb encounter with both teams staying true to their attacking roots throughout.
In the end, the champions outscored their hosts by four tries to three with Abbott leading the way with a deserved brace.
The result means the Hurricanes close the gap on the Crusaders at the top of the New Zealand Conference while the Blues are still languishing at the bottom despite claiming a losing bonus point.
The Hurricanes made a terrific start and after Beauden Barrett drew in several defenders with a superb run early on, Abbott spotted a gap at a ruck close to the Blues’ try-line before crashing over for the opening try.
Jordie Barrett slotted the conversion but it did not take long for the Blues to reply. And they did it in style thanks to brilliant interplay between Augustine Pulu and Melani Nanai.
Pulu got a pass out to Nanai on the edge of the Hurricanes’ 22 and flyer set off towards the visitors’ try-line. He still had work to do and sold TJ Perenara an outrageous dummy before offloading to Pulu who dotted down.
It did not take long for current World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett to leave his stamp on this match and he did so by setting up a try for Ngani Laumape in the 15th minute.
Barrett did this with a superb line break from close to his ten-metre line and he did well to draw in a couple of defenders just outside the Blues’ 22 before offloading to the on-rushing Laumape who scored next to the posts.