Sacha Pisani

Blues stay in Super Rugby Aotearoa title hunt

The Blues claimed a hard-fought 32-21 victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Sunday's bonus-point win moved the Blues to 22 points, just two adrift of Super Rugby Aotearoa log-leaders the Crusaders with two rounds remaining. The Crusaders, however, have a game in hand.

The Blues produced a physically dominant performance, with Finlay Christie scoring a try in each half.

The Blues raced to a 12-0 lead courtesy of tries from Akira Ioane and Christie before the Highlanders responded via Josh Ioane's penalty and an Ash Dixon try to cut the deficit to two points.

The Highlanders moved 13-12 ahead following a controversial review, which saw Blues prop Karl Tu'inukuafe's try overturned, instead penalised for being offside.

But the Highlanders' lead was short-lived as TJ Faiane scored straight after the restart to make it 17-13 in favour of the Blues, who proceeded to claim a 24-16 half-time advantage via Ioane's penalty and Ofa Tuungafasi's try.

Christie added his second try of the match just three minutes into the second half before Beauden Barrett's penalty gave the visitors a 32-16 cushion.

The Highlanders rallied and saw Shannon Frizell cross over with four minutes remaining, but it didn't prevent the Blues from celebrating a bonus-point win.

Match highlights

Highlanders – Tries: Ash Dixon, Shannon Frizell. Conversion: Josh Ioane. Penalties: Ioane (3).
Blues –
 Tries: Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie (2),  TJ Faiane, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalty: Barrett.