The Blues showed loads of promise as they went down fighting, eventually losing 38-33 to last year’s Super Rugby champions in their first pre-season game of the year.
It was a tight, fast-flowing contest that was broken up into four 25 minute quarters. The Blues dominated the early stages with two tries to new signing Michael Collins in the first 20 minutes, both converted by Ihaia West, but the Hurricanes fought back with one converted try of their own just before quarter time.
Early in the second, Piers Francis carried on as he left off last season, dotting down beneath the sticks. Again the Hurricanes answered back with a try of their own, keeping the score 21-12 in favour of the home side at halftime.
But the match ebbed and flowed as both coaches rang the changes, and the third quarter saw the Blues under pressure early, absorbing more than 10 phases of play in front of their own line before Ambrose Curtis managed to streak clear and score a try down the other end.
From there the momentum was well and truly on the side of the Hurricanes, who ran in three tries in a row, two of them converted. A brilliant try by Pasqualle Dunn brought the Blues back into it in the last quarter, before the fight back was finally scuppered by a yellow card to Sam Nock and a 98th minute try to the away side.
But head coach Tana Umaga will be pleased with what he saw. Though the Blues’ discipline let them down at times, young guns Collins and Dunn impressed, and veterans Kara Pryor and Melani Nanai showed they’re tracking well for the new season ahead.
“We are pretty happy with what we saw,” Umaga said. “We gave the players a good hit-out, tried to implement some of the things we have been working on and we have come away without any injuries.
“We finished with a young and green group who have been training their butts off for eight week filling in for our All Blacks – we had nearly a whole starting 15 on the sideline and they gave a good account of themselves.”
Blues 33 (Michael Collins 2, Ambrose Curtis, Piers Francis, Pasqualle Dunn; Ihaia West 3 conversions)
Hurricanes 38 (Ngani Laumape, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Chris Eves; Jordie Barret 1 conversion, Otere Black 2 conversions, Tiaan Falcon 1 conversion)