Second-half tries from TJ Faiane and Mark Telea earned the Blues a hard-fought 27-17 win over the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa at Eden Park on Saturday.
Leon MacDonald's side missed out on the bonus point when Reed Prinsep scored a late try for the Hurricanes as the Blues closed the gap on leaders the Crusaders to four points.
The Blues needed a strong showing in the second half after their inability to punish the Hurricanes' indiscretions proved costly in the first 40 minutes, as they twice failed to take full advantage of players being sent to the sin bin.
Du'Plessis Kirifi was the first to be sanctioned for cleaning out Otere Black in the 17th minute. The Hurricanes not only made it through the 10-minute penalty without conceding but saw Jordie Barrett score the game's first penalty.
The Blues went in front just after the half-hour mark when referee Brendon Pickerill awarded a penalty try after Ardie Savea was judged to have collapsed a maul that was driving toward the line.
Savea was sin binned for the offence, but again the Blues could not take full advantage, with Barrett kicking a pair of penalties either side of a successful effort from Black to leave the game evenly balanced at halftime.
Barrett put the Highlanders back in front with his fourth penalty seven minutes after the restart, only for the Blues to retake the lead in the 51st minute when Faiane crossed the line.
Auckland's second try of the match came after Stephen Perofeta burst through the gain line before slipping a pass for Faiane to cross unopposed.
With 15 minutes to go, Telea scored in the corner to finish off a move started by Rieko Ioane, and Black's conversion gave the Blues a 12-point cushion.
Prinsep powered over the Blues' line four minutes from the end to keep the Highlanders alive, but with Barrett missing the conversion, Black kicked a late penalty as the home side held on.