After a historic first victory in Melbourne a week ago, the Blues faced a cruel reality check in Hamilton tonight, losing 41-26 to a merciless Chiefs side.
The Blues conceded a try within ten minutes from a lineout drive, and then another to Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie on 21 minutes, but indiscipline from the Chiefs and the boot of Ihaia West kept them in the contest until the match effectively ended just before halftime.
On the stroke of the 40th minute Steven Luatua, who had been one of the best players on the field until that point, was red carded for making contact around the head of Chiefs winger Tim Nanai-Williams.
One minute later, the Chiefs piled on the misery with another try just before halftime, going into the break 22-9.
Soon after the restart, the Chiefs added to their tally twice before substitute George Moala was bundled out agonisingly close to the try line. That seemed to be the spark that ignited a mini fight-back for the 14-man Blues.
Patrick Tuipulotu busted through five minutes later, before some classy play by Charlie Faumuina resulted in another try. Then Rene Ranger barrelled over for another consolation, making it three unanswered tries.
But though the Blues showed backbone and heart, it was always going to be a nigh-impossible mission for a 14-man side to topple the rampant Chiefs at home.
We’ll have another crack at the Chiefs when we play them at Eden Park on Friday 26 May. For now, though, the team’s attention turns to our first home game of the season, against the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday 11 March. Purchase tickets here.
Blues 26 (Tuipulotu, Faumuina, Ranger tries; Ihaia West 1 conversion, 3 penalties)
Chiefs 41 (Messam, McKenzie, Elliot, Boshier, Lowe, Lienert-Brown tries; Cruden 4 conversions, one penalty)