The Auckland Blues seized on errors from the Otago Highlanders to score three tries in their 30-12 victory in their Super Rugby clash at Eden Park on Saturday, which moved them to the top of the New Zealand conference.
George Moala, Ma'a Nonu and Charles Piutau all scored tries as a direct result of the Highlanders' failure to clear their own territory to move to 16 points, two ahead of the twice champion Waikato Chiefs, who play South Africa's Bulls later.
Flyhalf Simon Hickey added 15 points from the boot for the Blues, who suffered some bad news during the week when scrumhalf Piri Weepu was ruled out for at least four weeks after he suffered a minor stroke earlier in the month.
Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga kicked all of his side's points with four penalties but the visitors were unable to really get any momentum in the second half.
(Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)