The Blues held on to beat the Hurricanes 25-19 in the Super Rugby Pacific in Wellington.
Hoskins Sotutu delivered when his side needed him most, conjuring a turnover at an ensuing ruck to clear the ball into touch and hold on for a tight win.
Hurricanes was reduced to 14 men after a poor discipline from lock Isaia Walker-Leawere who interfered with the ball at a Blues ruck while clearly off his feet.
The Blues made the most of the advantage they were given to finish the half though, scoring twice through Caleb Clarke and Hoskins Sotutu to earn a 22-5 lead at the break.
It added to a frustrating first half for the Hurricanes which was perhaps summarised best by Jordie Barrett’s missed conversion from right in front which hit the posts.
Jane’s men appeared to be listening as they saw their chance to claw their way back into the contest early in the second half when Cam Suafoa was also sent to the bin for a high tackle.
Tries to Salesi Rayasi and Joshua Moorby gave the Cake Tin crowd something to rise for as they deficit was cut to three points.
The Hurricanes could have had another try had it not been for a superb tackle from in-form Blues halfback Finlay Christie, he swept across the field to tackle the much-larger Barrett into touch as he looked to finish off a brave run from the Hurricanes.
But instead the match remained locked at 22-19 in the visitors’ favour although things were going off the rails for the Blues with the ball going to ground or the sideline on numerous occasions, stunting the attacking flare their star-studded backline is usually renowned for.
But their biggest issue was the lineout following the early departure of Tuipulotu with a knee issue, eventually leading the Blues to look at other options when they earned penalties instead of a rolling maul – a rarity in today’s game.
Instead, a penalty from Stephen Perofeta pushed the game out to six points, leaving the Hurricanes needing a converted try to steal the win – and they almost had it.
The nerves in the Blues pack appeared to be showing in the final moments when the Hurricanes earned a penalty at a Blues scrum near the Auckland line, giving the hosts a chance to steal a win much like the Fijian Drua had against the Crusaders hours before.
Hurricanes 19 [Tyrel Lomax, Josh Moorby, Salesi Rayasi tries; Jordie Barrett 2 con]
Blues 25 [Patrick Tuipulotu, Caleb Clarke, Hoskins Sotutu tries; Stephen Perofeta 2 con, 2 pen]