All the action as the Blues hosted the Highlanders.

The Blues have played 14 derby matches since their last New Zealand conference victory – an unsuccessful streak that runs nearly two and a half seasons.

Their sole victory was Tana Umaga's first competition game in charge in 2016 – a 33-31 win over the Highlanders at Eden Park on February 26. Of the side that started that match, only James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Patrick Tuipulotu will start against the Highlanders at Eden Park tomorrow.

Since that glorious summer's day two years ago, they have lost 13 matches against Kiwi teams; their best result a 16-all draw against the Chiefs at Eden Park in their final conference match of last season.


It is a run full of near misses and hard-luck stories, but the bottom line is the Blues haven't been good enough to get across the line since Umaga's first game in charge and, given their current form and injury issues, it's difficult to see that changing in their next challenge against the Highlanders.

It doesn't get any easier after this for the Blues as they have still to play the Hurricanes and Crusaders, the two top teams in the New Zealand conference, home and away.

Interestingly, there are few blowouts in terms of their defeats. The widest margin is 15 points – against the Crusaders in 2016 and the Chiefs last year.

Ten of the losses have come by seven points or fewer, including all three of this season's; they lost by seven points to the Highlanders in Dunedin in round one and by six and two to the Chiefs.

The Blues should have done far better in their first match against an injury-hit Chiefs at Eden Park in round two and Umaga's men had a long lead in the return match at Waikato Stadium a fortnight ago, only to concede it and the match with a penalty try in the final 10 minutes.

Why the shocking streak? It probably has its origins in the Blues' decision making and skill execution under pressure and the ability of the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders, all of whom have won titles in the past five years, to punish mistakes.

For whatever reason, the Blues for all of their improvement away from home under Umaga compared with his predecessor John Kirwan, don't have the same killer instinct.