The Auckland-based Blues held on with their backs to their goal line after the fulltime siren to beat the Wellington-based Hurricanes 31-27 in the match of the season in Super Rugby Pacific. 

In Saturday's match between the long-time New Zealand rivals, the Hurricanes had the last attacking opportunity and battered the Blues' goal line in the final moments of a match between the first- and second-placed teams after 12 of 15 regular-season rounds.

The second-placed Blues finally won a defensive turnover and kicked the ball out of play to end the match almost four minutes after the fulltime siren.

They now move past the Hurricanes into top spot and will probably hold that place, which gives them home advantage throughout the finals.

The biggest match of the season drew a daytime crowd of 26,000 to Auckland's Eden Park and lived up to its billing. 

Fans were riveted by superb defence from both teams, lead changes, some contentious decisions and a constantly narrow margin between the teams.

Had the Hurricanes managed to score and to win, it would have been deserved as much as the Blues' victory, such was the ferocity of the contest. 

The Hurricanes, who already were depleted by injuries to key players, lost three more before the start, including captain Billy Proctor and All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax.

They came close to winning the match when scrum-half T.J. Perenara scored the 64th try of his career in the 68th minute, putting the Hurricanes only a point behind the Blues and increasing his lead on Super Rugby's all-time try-scoring list.

But flyhalf Harry Plummer kicked a penalty soon after - his fifth goal from five attempts - to stretch the Blues' lead to four points and they just held on. 

"Rugby's a cruel game," Hurricanes captain Brad Shields said. "It was pretty tense, which is exactly what we expected. I think we let them into the game too early, and the fact we managed to stay in it was good."

The Blues scored after only five minutes through centre Bryce Heem, but the Hurricanes struck back almost immediately with a try to Shields.

A try to fullback Cole Forbes put the Blues ahead 14-5, before a try to Hurricanes winger Josh Moorby cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime.

The Hurricanes took the lead with a try to back-rower Peter Lakai early in the second half, but the Blues rallied with a try to winger Mark Telea and led 21-17.

Jordie Barrett narrowed the lead to a point with a penalty, but the Blues had their biggest lead at eight points after a contentious try to prop Angus Ta'avao, who appeared to score in a double movement.

Perenara's try set up a thrilling finish. 

Blues 31 [Tries: Heem, Forbes, Telea, Ta’avao; Cons: Plummer 4; Pen: Plummer] Hurricanes 27 [Tries: Shields, Moorby, Lakai, Perenara; Cons: Barrett 2; Pen: Barrett]

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 AJ Lam, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Taufa Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Cole Forbes.

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Justin Sangster, 3 Pasilio Tosi, 2 Kianu Kereru-Symes, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Raymond Tuputupu, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Siale Lauaki, 19 Ben Grant, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 22 Richard Judd, 23 Riley Higgins.

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart