Super Rugby 2019: Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger relieved to end losing streak

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger is a relieved man after his side returned to the winner's circle following five-straight losses.

The southern men claimed their first win since round two in February against the Reds with a 24-12 victory over the Blues in Dunedin to retain the Gordon Hunter Memorial trophy.

The Blues dominated the early stages, but the Highlanders had the stronger finish with a second-half try penalty try, an intercept shifting momentum.

Mauger hopes the win will boost the team's morale as they remain in touching distance of the playoff spots with seven matches remaining.

"I'm extremely proud of the fortitude and resilience of our team - not just tonight but over the past four or five weeks, because it's been challenging.

"Tonight's performance is a reflection of just how much our boys care about each other, and they care about representing the Highlanders.

"The most important people to the group is ourselves. So, I think we went a long way today.

"Our defence created opportunities for us through their pressure, and it's nice to finish a few of them off."

However, Mauger is wary that his team still has plenty of improving to do if they want to remain in that winner's circle.

They travel north to Tokyo for their next match against the Sunwolves in Japan.

"There are some areas where we need to be better. We probably bombed a couple in that first half.

"We could have been a little bit further ahead at half time. We played some good footy, but there's still plenty left in us."

For Blues coach Leon MacDonald, he was left disappointed as his side slumped to their 23rd-straight away loss against New Zealand opposition - a record which stretches back six years.

"At home we've been playing good rugby, but away we haven't quite matched that so it's something we need to address," he said.

"There were lots of critical moments in the first half we didn't convert, and in the second, the game slipped away from us.

"We had 18 errors, turned over lots of ball and weren't able to build phases and build pressure.

"The Highlanders played their game really well, and we didn't cope with it."

The Blues have the bye next week, but will travel away to face the Brumbies in their next match on May 4.