Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues coach Leon MacDonald says his side is back in the fight after Hurricanes victory

Blues coach Leon MacDonald says his side is "back in the fight" after breaking their two-game losing streak with a 27-17 win over the Hurricanes. 

After the Highlanders shock 33-12 victory over the four-time defending champion Crusaders on Friday, the competition has a very open feel to it. 

The victory sees the Blues move just four back of the 'Saders and just five clear of an improving 'Landers side in third with four rounds remaining before the grand final. 

"I think everyone knew teams could beat everyone else, but the way the Highlanders beat the Crusaders was a bit of a statement really," MacDonald says.

"All of a sudden it has opened it right up. They [the Highlanders] must be brimming with confidence, and we've got to travel to Dunedin to take them on at home [after the bye week], and that's going to be a big battle for us.

"We understand how important four points are and how critical losses are at this time of the season as we're starting to head to the end."

After a disappointing loss to the Chiefs last week, the Blues knew nothing but a victory would suffice if they were serious title contenders. 

"We had a really good week, our review from the Chiefs game was pretty raw and bone-deep and we needed to get out there," MacDonald says. "I saw a lot of intent, there was a lot of passion and heart from all our players. We desperately wanted it.

"I think the 'Canes have been going through the same process and that's the competition we're in - it's brutal."

It wasn't a vintage performance from the home side though, with the first half one to write off with handling errors and penalties keeping the 'Canes in the contest. 

"It was a little bit error-prone, as the teams we trying a little bit hard and we were pushing the breakdown areas," MacDonald says.

"At times when we started getting our attack going, started carrying hard, getting our cleans and fastball, we looked really good.

"When we get that going I thought we looked really dangerous and scored some good tries.

"Our scrum was pretty solid by and large, putting pressure on there and we wanted to get our big men around the park and carry with purpose and show some intent at cleanouts, which we saw. 

"They can be pretty happy with their night in the office."

The Auckland side is still a long way from their best and will need to improve if they want to claim their first Super Rugby title since 2003.  

"We understand how important four points are and how critical losses are at this time of the season as we’re starting to head to the end," says MacDonald

The Blues were much improved in the second-half with crucial tries to TJ Faiane and Mark Telea saw them pull away but they still managed to blow their bonus point position over the closing five minutes but the most important thing is the victory.

"It was huge," says Blues openside Dalton Papalii, who had a team-high 15 tackles without a miss, a couple of big-time breakdown turnovers and 27 metres on just four runs. "After winning those first two games at the start of the season, we sort of got a little bit complacent with the way we were training. 

"This week we aimed to peel it back and start focusing on the basics.

"I think we went out there, especially our forward pack, we have the names but we weren't delivering that killer blow. 

"This week we peeled it back and said to our forward pack, this is where we do the dark arts and we need to be better at it and we went out there and I thought we did it pretty well." 

The Blues are rewarded with a week off before they travel down to Dunedin to square off against the Highlanders. 

Join us on Saturday for live updates of the Chiefs taking on the Highlanders.