Winger Rieko Ioane scored two tries, bringing his tally to six from his past two games, as the Blues ended a 20-match losing streak against New Zealand opponents, beating the Highlanders 33-26 in Super Rugby.
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu barged over the line in the 74th minute and flyhalf Otere Black added a 78th minute penalty as the Blues came from behind in a match of seven lead changes to snatch their first win over a New Zealand conference rival since 2016.
Highlanders flyhalf Marty Banks kicked a penalty – his sixth goal from as many attempts – to put the Highlanders ahead 26-23 with 16 minutes left.
But the Blues finished more strongly and with more luck.
“It’s awesome, it’s good for our confidence,” Blues captain Blake Gibson said.
“We haven’t beat en a New Zealand team in a while so it’s good to get that monkey off our back.
The Blues were able to dominate the final exchanges with Naholo in the sin-bin, scoring first through Tuipulotu, then sealing their win with Black’s penalty.
“It was tough, we knew it was going to come down to the key moments and I thought the Blues took them near the end of the game more than we did so we’ll learn from that,” Highlanders captain Ben Smith said.
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