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Hat-trick of defeats for Blues
McAlister off target as New Zealanders slip up in Auckland
The Blues' play-off chances took a knock after losing 16-11 to the Chiefs in Auckland on Saturday - their third defeat in succession.
Both sides scored one try each, but the wayward kicking of Blues pivot Luke McAlister proved to cost his side dearly after missing five shots at goal.
Opposite number Stephen Donald contributed 11 of his side's points courtesy of three penalties and a conversion to deny the home side a crucial win.
Victory would have pushed the Blues one clear of the Stormers and provisionally level with the ladder-leading Reds. Instead, the former tournament leaders face losing their grasp at the top of the NZ Conference when they face the Crusaders next weekend.
The Chiefs held a narrow 7-6 lead at half-time and the scoreline was still close as time ran down, but some desperate defence from the visitors got them home.
McAlister's range was accurate early on, after giving the Blues an early 6-0 lead thanks to two penalties - one an impressive 55m effort - while Donald missed the same amount of attempts from bang in front.
The Chiefs struck gold in the 27th minute though when veteran centre Tana Umaga worked his magic in the midfield to put Mils Muliaina away before finishing off in the corner.
Donald - with his hardest kick of the match - made no mistake from the touchline and the Chiefs hit the front 7-6, maintaining that lead into the half-time break.
The Blues hit back strongly in the second half, after centre Jared Payne touched down in the corner after seven minutes. McAlister was unable to add the extras, but the hosts were back in front.
It didn't last long. Two further Donald penalties gave his team a narrow 13-11 lead which they defended stubbornly, before the Chiefs pivot added a measure of safety with another penalty two minutes from the final whistle.
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|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
|Friday 11th July|
|Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne Rebels|
|Brumbies 47 - 25 Western Force|
|Blues 8 - 11 Chiefs|
|Sunday 6th July|
|Waratahs 44 - 16 Highlanders|
|Saturday 5th July|
|Cheetahs 27 - 20 Sharks|
|Stormers 16 - 0 Bulls|
|Western Force 30 - 20 Reds|
|Crusaders 21 - 13 Blues|
|Friday 4th July|
|Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne Rebels|
|Chiefs 24 - 16 Hurricanes|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com