Hurricanes coach John Plumtree has heaped praise on flanker Ardie Savea for his mammoth effort during his side's scrappy 22-12 win over the Blues in Auckland.
Plumtree feels Savea has elevated his game to a new level, as the 25-year-old continues to push his case for the All Blacks' number seven jersey for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Savea made some big runs and crunching tackles, which helped the Hurricanes tp their ninth win of the season.
"Tonight we needed Ardie Savea at his best, and he was right amongst it," said Plumtree.
"It was a different type of game for him. He had to get up there and do a lot of dirty work. That was another side I'm seeing to him.
"I just thanked him for that in the changing-room because you see the big runs and tackles he makes that everyone loves, but tonight he had to go and mix it with some Blues players who were pretty physical. I'll probably have to put him on ice tonight. He's pretty dinged up."
Plumtree admitted the 10-point win against the Blues was ugly but needed, as it helps them keep in touch with the Crusaders in the New Zealand conference.
The Blues scored the opening try of the game try through halfback Sam Nock, before the Hurricanes hit back with Ben Lam and Jordie Barrett crossing the line as the visitors led 14-7 at the halftime.
Flanker Dalton Papali'i scored the Blues' second to close the gap to two points, before Beauden Barrett's try pushed the lead out to 19-12.
Jordie then slotted a late penalty goal to put the result beyond doubt, denying the Blues a losing bonus point.
"I think we feel like we're battling. We are capable of playing really good football but when it turns ugly we also want to win those ugly moments," Plumtree said.
"If we get to the end and get a shot [at a final], okay, you never know. But every week we're hard on ourselves about looking for improvements and we've got standards we're trying to live up to.
"We're blooding young players too, and they've been amongst all that which is good because they're seeing what it takes and how tough it is and they're amongst those wins and it's giving them confidence."
It's the Hurricanes' eighth successive win over the Blues and their fifth in a row in Auckland.
Meanwhile, Blues coach Leon MacDonald was left to rue some costly mistakes which could have put his side in a better position to win the match.
The loss still leaves the Blues in fourth place in their conference, but they could drop to the bottom if the Chiefs beat the Sharks in Hamilton on Saturday.
"Anytime you lose it hurts," he said. "I felt the team played really well tonight.
"We created plenty, and obviously, we couldn't seem to push the ball down over the line. It's frustrating.
"The game was won and lost on little moments the little intercept there when we were hot on attack when a dummy would have allowed us to score."
The Blues must now prepare for another New Zealand derby in the 'Battle of the Bombays' against the Chiefs in Auckland while the Hurricanes will host the Jaguares in Wellington.