The Blues kept their Super Rugby Aotearoa title hopes alive after repelling the struggling Chiefs for a much-needed 21-17 victory on Sunday.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett impressed in his first start at five-eighth as the Blues withstood a Chiefs challenge to emerge triumphant in Auckland.

Following back-to-back defeats, the Blues returned to winning ways in front of more than 33,000 fans at Eden Park – the Auckland team now only two points adrift of leaders the Crusaders after six games.

The Chiefs fell to a franchise record seventh consecutive loss after almost snatching a last-gasp victory away to the Blues, who prevailed thanks to some desperate defending and a relieving penalty.

It was a bruising encounter after tries from Matt Duffie and captain Patrick Tuipulotu helped the Blues to a 14-0 lead inside 15 minutes.

The Chiefs responded by dominating the remainder of the first half, but they only had Lachlan Boshier’s try and seven points to show for it by the interval.

An early seven-pointer from Solomon Alaimalo levelled the game in the second half, and a Damian McKenzie penalty put the Chiefs ahead shortly after.

But the Blues regained the lead a quarter of an hour in when Finlay Christie crossed over as the hosts held on for their fourth win of the campaign.