Hurricanes win thriller against Blues

It did not take long for the Blues to reply though, and once again Nanai was heavily involved. Steven Luatua laid the groundwork with a bustling run in the build-up before offloading to Nanai who outpaced the cover defence before crossing the whitewash.

The Hurricanes regained the lead when they pounced on a Sonny Bill Willams error after a lineout just inside the Blues’ half. Williams knocked on a pass from Pulu before Beauden Barrett kicked the ball upfield. He regathered and outsprinted three chasers and crossed for his side’s second try.

Williams made up for that mistake shortly afterwards when he broke open the Hurricanes defence with a powerful run before Perenara brought him to ground deep inside the visitors’ 22.

At the ensuing ruck, Beauden Barrett deliberately slapped the ball out of Pulu’s hands and was sent to the sin bin for his indiscretion. 

That was ten minutes before the interval but although the Blues stepped up a few gears on attack, they could not score any points during this period and the Hurricanes led 21-14 at half-time.

The second half was a more measured affair and although the Blues improved as the half progressed, the Hurricanes showed why they are the champions as they finished stronger. 

Blues head coach Tana Umaga deserves credit for his decision to bring on rookie fly-half Bryn Gatland, son of British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland, along with scrum-half Billy Guyton with 30 minutes left on the clock and the duo’s introduction helped the Blues to take control of proceedings shortly afterwards.

Gatland narrowed the gap with a penalty shortly after coming onto the field and ten minutes later, the Blues took the lead for the first time when Scott Scrafton burrowed his way over the try-line after Jerome Kaino and Matt Moulds laid the groundwork with strong carries in the build-up.