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The Blues dominated possession early with the Highlanders forced to defend deep for most of the opening 20 minutes.
A classic midfield burst from Ma'a Nonu set up the opening try of the match for loose forward Tom Robinson.
The Highlanders responded almost immediately through unlikely try-scoring machine Shannon Frizell, who went over for his sixth of the season.
The Highlanders had a try ruled out moments earlier after TMO replays showed a Blues player got to a bobbling ball inside the goal area first.
Sio Tomkinson pulled off a crucial intercept near his own line to stop the Blues scoring a late first-half try, before being dragged down near halfway.
The Highlanders spurned two late try scoring opportunities themselves, Tevita Li in particular was guilty of taking his eyes off the ball with the line looming.