Auckland - The Blues banked an important bonus point from a 36-12 win over the Lions in the Super 14 on Friday.
Anthony Tuitavake, Rudi Wulf and Joe Rokocoko, who all spent time on the wing for New Zealand last season, were among the Blues try scorers as the Blues moved from ninth to fifth place on the Super 14 log at the start of the tournament's ninth round.
Wulf marked his first match of the current season - after spending eight weeks sidelined with a broken wrist - with two second-half tries while Tuitavake and Rokocoko also touched down in a comprehensive but flawed win.
Scrumhalf Chris Smylie scored the first of the Blues tries and engineered the second, to Tuitavake, which boosted their lead to 14-0 at halftime. Replacement Peter Saili scored the last of the Blues’ six tries seven minutes from fulltime.
The Lions made a small impression with two second-half tries.
"It was a big turnaround after our bye week," Blues captain and All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu said.
"It was great the way the boys stepped up this week and now we have to continue stepping up."
The Blues commanded both territory and possession throughout the match but more than 12 handling mistakes limited the effectiveness of the backline in the first half and cast more doubt on the their credentials as title challengers.
Many of their deficiencies were in midfield, particularly at inside centre, where All Blacks regular Isaia Toeava had a mixed game.
The Lions made 133 tackles but missed 33 in a performance which fuelled the Blues' ambitious attacking style.
"We played the possession right, we played at the right end of the field but it didn't quite come off for us for a lot of the game," Mealamu said.
Smylie scored the Blues' first try after nine minutes then brilliantly constructed the second with an inside break and strong run from a turnover created by All Blacks prop John Afoa. Toeava converted both.
Wulf scored in the 42nd and 71st minutes, first off a Toeava chipkick and later from a charge down of an attempted clearance by Lions flyhalf Andre Pretorius.
Rokococko scored in the 49th minute and Saili made the win comprehensive with his late try.
Winger Henno Mentz and halfback Jano Vermaark scored late consolation tries for the visitors.
Tries - Rudi Wulf (2), Chris Smylie, Anthony Tuitavake, Joe Rokocoko, Peter Saili. Conversions - Isaia Toeava (3).
Auto & General Lions:
Try - Henno Metz, Janno Vermaak. Conversion - Andre' Pretorius.
15. Paul Williams, 14. Rene Ranger / Joe Rokocoko, 13. Anthony Tuitavake, 12. Isaia Toeava, 11. Rudi Wulf, 10. Tasesa Lavea, 9. Chris Smylie, 8. Jerome Kaino, 7. Josh Blackie, 6. Chris Lowrey, 5. Anthony Boric, 4. Kurtis Haiu, 3. John Afoa, 2. Keven Mealamu (Captain), 1. Charlie Faumina
Replacements: 16. Tom McCartney, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Jay Williams, 19. Peter Saili, 20. Grayson Hart, 21. Michael Hobbs, 22. Jimmy Gopperth
15. Louis Ludik, 14. Shandrè Frolick, 13. Jaque Fourie (Captain), 12. Deon van Rensburg, 11. Henno Mentz, 10. André Pretorius, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Ernst Joubert, 6. Todd Clever, 5. Anton van Zyl, 4. Jannes Labuschagne, 3. Lawrence Sephaka, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16. Hansie van Dyk, 17. Gert Muller, 18. Gerhard Mostert, 20. Chris Jonck, 21. Earl Rose, 22. Walter Venter