By Steve Hepburn, Rugby Writer for the ODT

[abridged]

A typical pre-season match in other words as both sides looked to perfect combinations with the second starting off proper next week.

The Blues led 28-19 at the break, and clinched the match with a penalty goal by Baden Kerr in the final minute.

The Highlanders set piece was wonky all game and it failed to put much together in the way of continuity.

The Blues burst out of the blocks but faded as the game went on as their key players left the field.

The home side failed to finish off at times although its skipper Hosea Gear could not be faulted as he grabbed a hat trick of tries.

Gear, skippering the side in the absence of Andrew Hore, looked dangerous while inside him Ma'a Nonu was his usual hard running self.

Piri Weepu looked good for the Blues on his time on the field while No 8 Peter Saili got through plenty of work.

Blues 31 (Culum Retallick, George Moala, Tom McCartney, Piri Weepu tries, Weepu 4 con; Baden Kerr pen) Highlanders 29 (Hosea Gear 3, Jarrad Hoeata, Joe Wheeler tries; Hayden Parker 2 con)

Halftime: 28-19 Blues