His team's playoffs dream finally dashed thanks in part to a controversial decision by the referee, Blues coach Leon MacDonald has promised the Blues will give everything in their last match of the season against the Hurricanes in Wellington next weekend.

The 29-28 defeat to the Reds at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium effectively shut the Blues out of the finals, and while there is a danger they could clock off this week, MacDonald said there was little chance of that happening.

There is also the prize of a first away win of the season up for grabs against a Hurricanes side who have already qualified for a home quarter-final and who have to travel home from Johannesburg after their victory over the Lions.

"There's a lot of pride in this group," MacDonald said afterwards. "They're very proud of the team they play for so I think the motivation will be there to put a really good performance in. We've seen throughout the whole season that when we get it right we're a formidable team to play against. It will be the last opportunity of the year to play as a team so we'll be up for it."

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At 21-5 up after 24 minutes, the Blues should have shut the door on the Reds but some of their bad habits returned in the form of ill discipline and poor decision making.

But, in saying that, had what would have been Augustine Pulu's third try of the evening been allowed to stand by the match officials, the Reds would have faced a far harder road home.

The Blues halfback did extremely well to make his way to the line after being knocked over by two Reds defenders, but referee Brendon Pickerill, after first awarding the try, came to the conclusion with his television match official that Pulu was held in the tackle and didn't release the ball.

The multiple replays appeared inconclusive as to whether Pulu was held and tries can only be disallowed when the evidence is "clear and obvious".

In this case the Pulu, who was excellent overall, and the Blues were short-changed. A converted try would have increased their lead to 13 points.

"I suppose I have to pick my words carefully here," said MacDonald. "I just can't see why it wasn't a try but the referee found a way.

"It would have pushed the lead out. I think we were up by six points. It was under the posts and obviously a critical moment. We had the ref's ears on. We heard what they were discussing. It was his decision, I suppose. Obviously we don't agree with it but that's life isn't it.

"There's so much on for referees to get right and I don't think they're getting it right at the moment. There are too many games where people are talking about the influences of the referee. It shouldn't be the case in any sport where the referee has a big influence on the outcome.

"Maybe it's something that World Rugby need to look at in time."

For the Reds it was their first victory over a New Zealand team in 16 attempts, and their coach Brad Thorn wasn't convinced they could do it after a poor start.

"At the start of the game I thought 'this could get ugly'," he said.