Blues 24 Hurricanes 28

Of all the defeats the Blues have and will suffer this season, this is the one that will hurt the most.

This was the game where they will feel most intently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They had this one. Really had it with 10 minutes to go, but for the third time this season, they couldn't finish off what they started.

They will know there were key moments - too many - where they lost their composure, discipline and accuracy.

But they will also know that they encountered the world's best player who made his presence felt in a number of ways, a number of times and did things no one else on the planet could do.


In the big wash up analysis, the Blues could justifiably say the big difference on the night was the brilliance of Beauden Barrett.

Julian Savea of the Hurricanes fends off Michael Collins of the Blues. Photo / / Anthony Au-Yeung
Julian Savea of the Hurricanes fends off Michael Collins of the Blues. Photo / / Anthony Au-Yeung

"When you have got the world's best player against you in that kind of form ... He's just unbelievable at the moment," said Blues coach Tana Umaga, who also joked that the modern game had outlawed the old ways of dealing with a first-five of such influence.

"He's playing with so much confidence and has time on the ball. He is the world's best player at the moment and he certainly showed that."

While the Blues would be justified in playing the Barrett card, they will know it would be folly to do so.

Little moments matter and the Blues, even with the influence of Barrett, could and probably should have won. They were camped on the Hurricanes' line with 10 minutes left, but didn't score. Instead they turned the ball over and a few phases later, Barrett had opened them up and Mark Abbott finished them off.

If the Blues want to make that breakthrough, they have to be ruthless when they apply pressure because the margins at this level are so thin, players such as Barrett are so good, that they just need one touch to change history.

It was a touch of a different nature by Barrett that opened the prospect of history changing favourably for the Blues He was shown his third yellow card in two games, this time it was for slapping the ball out of Augustine Pulu's hands.

Barrett's time in the bin should really have been the stage in the game where the Blues took control, but it wasn't. It had been tit for tat up until then -- score for score.

But in Barrett's absence the Blues seemed to get a little jittery about trying to exploit their numerical advantage.

They were hurried, anxious, forcing things too much as if they felt it would be terrible shameful not to score points in that period.

That tendency to become frantic is proving to be the ill they cannot cure. It has been the root cause of their other defeats and the Blues need to find a way to retain a better emotional equilibrium.

When they were focused, urgent and calm, they showed they can play. That was especially true in the first half hour where they delivered ample periods of good rugby. Those periods included the requisite accuracy and ruthlessness to be converted into points. That mattered. When they did open up the Hurricanes, they made sure to finish it off.

But staying in that mental hot zone is a challenge with which the Blues struggle. Just as happened last week in Dunedin, they went missing at key moments.

They made mistakes at critical times that cost them. A wild pass by Pulu went though the hands of Sonny Bill Williams and sat up for Beauden Barrett -- who of course had the gas to go the distance and score under the posts.

From the momentum being with the Blues, it was suddenly with the Hurricanes and all because there wasn't enough attention to detail around a basic play.

There were too many moments like that. Too many poor last passes. Too many occasions where players looked up just before catching the ball only to drop it and too many loose carriers that saw the ball turned over at the contact point.

As the Blues know, getting close is not enough to ease their pain or push them up the table.

Blues 24 (A. Pulu, M. Nanai, S. Scrafton tries; P. Francis 2 cons; B. Gatland pen, con)
Hurricanes 28 (M. Abbott (2), N. Laumape, B. Barrett tries; J. Barrett 4 cons)