The Auckland Blues continued their mid-season recovery with a bonus-point 28-6 victory over the Wellington Hurricanes in a frantic New Zealand derby match here on Saturday.
The Blues scored four tries, all converted by Chris Noakes, with Frank Halai and Charles Piutau touching down in the first half while James Parsons and Tom McCartney scored in the second.
The Hurricanes, who went into the match on a four-game winning streak, were faced with a ferocious Blues defence which restricted their point scoring to a penalty by Beauden Barrett and a drop goal by Tusi Pisi.
It was the second successive win for the Blues, following a spell of three losses, and propelled them past the Hurricanes and into second place in the New Zealand conference behind the Waikato Chiefs.
It was also the second time the Blues have beaten the Hurricanes this year after their new-look side stunned the Wellington franchise 34-20 in the first round.
But after claiming victory in the first game with 15 unanswered points in the closing 10 minutes, this time the Blues were never behind and crucially scored on either side of the half-time break to rock the spirit of the visitors.
With time on the clock at the end of the first half, the Blues stretched their lead from 7-6 to 14-6 when a well-rehearsed move from the back of a scrum saw fullback Piutau cross the line.
Minutes after the resumption of play, equally deft passing by the Blues put hooker Parsons over and with Noakes on target with the conversions the Blues were 21-6 ahead.
In the space of a few minutes the Hurricanes had slipped from one point to 15 points in arrears and while they were able to shore up their defences for a while, the Blues constant battering produced the bonus point try to McCartney with 20 minutes remaining.
Blues flanker Steven Luatua proved a one-man wrecking machine with his turnovers and punishing runs while the snappy passing of explosive outside backs Piutau, Frank Halai and Francis Saili stretched the 'Canes.
The one scoring opportunity the Blues did miss came when, against the natural laws of rugby, a prop ran down a wing with huge All Blacks front rower Ben Franks catching former New Zealand Sevens flyer Frank Halai.
The Blues have a bye next weekend while the Hurricanes host the Western Force.