Competition leaders the Chiefs have held off a determined challenge by Super Rugby neighbours the Blues, a late try by lock Brodie Retallick helping to secure a 29-23 win.
An end-to-end clash played at a frantic pace in Hamilton on Friday night was in the balance until the 77th minute when Retallick, back from a rib injury, crashed over.
It was the Chiefs’ bonus-point touchdown as they extended their winning run to five matches.
The Blues gained a bonus point of their own when five-eighth Ihaia West slotted over post-hooter penalty.
But it was still their 10th defeat in a row to the Chiefs and it kept them bottom of the New Zealand conference.
The home side had gone into halftime up 10-6, but the Blues exploded out of the blocks in the second spell with two spectacular tries.
The first came from Melani Nanai, a late inclusion at fullback after Lolagi Visinia suffered a neck injury in training.
Nanai gathered the ball on halfway and set off, showing his step and pace to score.
Three minutes later, winger Rieko Ioane, dangerous all night with ball in hand, finished off a expansive attack with a big run of his own.
Chiefs co-skipper Aaron Cruden pegged back the margin, the five-eighth accelerating through a gap to touch down.
Centre Seta Tamanivalu then dotted down from a well-worked scrum move.
Fullback Damian McKenzie’s conversion pushed the hosts back in front, before Retallick provided the decisive late touchdown.
It was a match in which both teams showed a willingness to move the ball.
The difference in the opening spell was the Chiefs’ ability to finish.
The Blues, boosted by the earlier than expected return of regular skipper Jerome Kaino from a shoulder injury, created a number of opportunities, but were let down by their execution.
They dominated the start, but their early possession and territory came to nothing, whereas the Chiefs’ first foray produced a fifth-minute try for prop Mitchell Graham.
The home side crossed again midway through the opening spell, No.8 Michael Leitch starting the move by pinching a lineout throw.
After in-form inside centre Charlie Ngatai made a big bust, Leitch was on hand to send winger Shaun Stevenson over in the corner.