Blues shock Hurricanes
The Blues banished the memories of their 2012 season with a superb 34-20 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Dubbed by many as being this year's basement side in the conference, the Blues shocked the Hurricanes by scoring four tries in the contest.
Frank Halai grabbed a brace while Charles Piutau and Rene Ranger also crossed, with Piri Weepu kicking the remaining points for the Aucklanders.
There were some home truths for the home side, however, as they couldn't recapture their hugely impressive 2012 form in their season opener.
Without the injured Cory Jane, the 'Canes came off second best to the promising Blues backline, which was marshalled well by veteran Weepu.
The Blues got off to a good start as fly-half Chris Noakes made a fine break and earned his side a penalty which Weepu slotted to give the visitors a 3-0 lead after as many minutes.
However the Blues were unable to claim the ball from the re-start and immediately put themselves under pressure. Beauden Barrett nailed a penalty kick and followed up with another soon after to give the Hurricanes a 6-3 lead after 17 minutes.
The Blues looked dangerous on attack and it wasn't long before the exciting Tongan back-three sparked into action.
Following a line-out 20 metres from the Hurricanes' line, George Moala smashed his way through Conrad Smith before Rene Ranger fired a miss pass out to Frank Halai who crossed the whitewash for a try on debut.
However while there were plenty of exciting moments on attack, the Blues looked passive in defence and allowed the Hurricanes to make the most of their possession as they found plenty of inroads upfield.
'Canes wing Julian Savea finished off a sustained period of play to go over in the corner, and Barrett's conversion gave the home side a 13-8 lead before Weepu narrowed the deficit with a penalty kick on half time.
The Blues came out with renewed vigour in the second half and got stuck into their counterparts. Once again it was fly-half Noakes who made the initial break before a second man play out wide saw Charles Piutau crash over the line.
However in what looked to be a match defining call, video referee Vinny Munro controversially sin-binned Halai for purposely knocking the ball into the in-goal as he dueled with Savea and awarded the Hurricanes a penalty try.
With their backs against the wall, the young Blues outfit hit back the only way they knew how - on the scoreboard.
Weepu slotted a penalty goal to narrow the deficit to just a point with 20 minutes remaining, before Ranger celebrated his 50th game in style and put his side ahead with a brilliant try as he brushed off three defenders to fight his way over the line.
George Moala then intercepted the ball and raced 40 metres, and from the ensuing ruck the ball was spun wide as Halai crashed over for his second try.
A penalty on full-time by Weepu put an exclamation mark on a fine performance as the Blues came away five points.
Tries: Savea, Penalty
Con: Barrett 2
Pen: Barrett 2
Tries: Halai 2, Piutau, Ranger
Pen: Weepu 4
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Bryn Hall, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)