For the Blues, this week was tougher than most others.

Returning from Argentina still without a win, before they could think about running out against the Sunwolves they said their farewells to late prop Mike Tamoaieta at a memorial service.

With emotions riding high following his sudden death, it was fitting the side met the Sunwolves at North Harbour's QBE Stadium, where Tamoaieta plied his trade in the Mitre 10 Cup.

It looked as though their tough times weren't quite over as play got underway, but the hosts roared to action to secure a 28-20 win – with Tamoaieta's No.276 emblazoned on their jerseys.

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The Blues paid tribute to Mike Tamoaieta by wearing his team number on their jerseys. Photo / Getty Images
The Blues paid tribute to Mike Tamoaieta by wearing his team number on their jerseys. Photo / Getty Images

The Blues met a tough test from the Sunwolves, buoyed by their first ever away win last time out, but four tries from Rieko Ioane saw the hosts home.

After a video montage and moment of silence was observed to pay tribute to Tamoaieta, it was the Sunwolves who came out of the blocks with more enthusiasm.

Much like they did against the Chiefs a week ago, the Sunwolves got their teeth into the Blues in the opening minutes with No.10 Rikiya Matsuda getting the scoring underway from the tee inside of five minutes.

Penalties were a common feature of the opening 40 minutes. After Matsuda kicked his side six points ahead moments later, his Blues counterpart Harry Plummer got the hosts on the board after 15 minutes.

It was a case of live by the offload, die by the offload for the Blues in the first half – with first-time captain Sonny Bill Williams involved heavily. And while there were times they forced passes that weren't on, it was a James Parsons offload that led to Ioane crossing in the corner.

It was the first try the Blues had scored in the first half of a game this season and gave them a slim lead, albeit a brief one. After the Blues went ahead by two, Matsuda and Ioane traded tries to see the Blues lead 15-13 at the break.

While they were slow to start the game, the Blues only got better over the course of it. Ioane found himself across the stripe twice inside the opening 20 minutes of the second half to push the Blues lead out to 12.

Needing to be the next to score, the Sunwolves struck through Uwe Helu who dove over from close range. But a late penalty from the boot of Otere Black pushed the margin from five points to eight, stretching it out further than a converted try and sealing the match for the Blues.

Blues 28 (Rieko Ioane 4 tries; Harry Plummer con, pen; Otere Black pen)
Sunwolves 20 (Rikiya Matsuda, Uwe Helu tries; Matsuda 2 cons, 2 pens)
HT: 15-13