Super Rugby Aotearoa: Huge second half from Blues sees them storm home over Hurricanes

The Blues have produced a second-half masterclass to make themselves early favourites for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title with a 31-16 victory over the Hurricanes. 

The Auckland-based side wasted no time to open the scoring after just four minutes through Dalton Papalii but the home side responded just one minute later through barnstorming hooker Asafo Aumua.

Both sides showed early-season rust with several handling errors and penalties affecting the flow of the game in the first 30 minutes.

The game swung in the visitor's favour when Hurricanes lock James Blackwell was yellow-carded ten minutes before halftime after persistent penalties from his side.

During his absence, the Hurricanes stepped up a level. Wellington's captain Ardie Savea - playing his first game as captain and 100th game for the Hurricanes - won two crucial turnovers to ease the pressure on his side. 

Jordie Barrett made the Blues pay for their wasted chances, with two monster penalties to give his side a surprise 11-7 lead at halftime. 

Whatever Leon MacDonald said at halftime worked perfectly as his side came out on fire with two tries in the first 15 minutes. 

The first came through Caleb Clark who gobbled up a cross-field kick from Otere Black before Stephen Perofeta scored just seven minutes later.

In between the two tries, replacement loose forward Du'Plessis Kirifi was the second Hurricanes player sent to the bin for more deliberate penalties.

The home side got themselves back into the contest nine minutes later when Aumua grabbed his second of the night to cut the deficit to just five.

But the Auckland outfit stormed home with a penalty goal to Black and a late try to Rieko Ioane to seal the victory.

The Blues have a well-timed bye next week with the latest news Auckland is moving into a seven-day lockdown. Shortly after their victory, the Auckland-based side confirmed they won’t be going back to Auckland, now trying to figure out next options.

At the post-match press-conference MacDonald said his side could stay in Wellington but also floated Cambridge as an option. 

The Blues head coach spoke at length and said not training for a week is an absolute non-negotiable. The Hurricanes will help out their rivals in any way possible chief executive Avan Lee said.

The Hurricanes will look to bounce back when they travel down to Christchurch to play the Crusaders that will likely played without fans.

Blues 31 (Papalii, Carke, Perofeta, Ioane tries; Black 4 conversion, 1 penalty) bt Hurricanes 16 (2 Aumua tries; Barrett 2 penalty)