Blues smash Reds in Super Rugby card-fest

A fitting farewell for loose forward Jerome Kaino after the Blues crush the Queensland Reds 39 to 16 at Eden Park.

Two contentious first half yellow cards two minutes apart cruelled any chance the Reds had of breaking their six-year drought at Auckland's Eden Park.

While they were reduced to 13 men, the Blues ran in two tries to open up a 21-6 halftime lead and were never headed despite seeing two yellow cards of their own in the second half.

Duncan Paia'aua and Alex Mafi crossed to add some respectability for Queensland but it was too little, too late.

Officiating was already in the global rugby spotlight after a number of hotly- debated decisions throughout the June Test window.

Reds coach Brad Thorn said Friday night's match and the TMO-assisted calls that blighted it, wouldn't have helped the sport's cause.

"The game's in an interesting place, isn't it?" Thorn said.

"If that's what rugby is where you slow things down ... I don't know if that's enjoyable for people.

"Everyone's talking about that at the moment on both sides of the Tasman.

"I don't know what I'm supposed to say. It's hurting the game."

Rookie winger Jordan Petaia was the first Reds player sent to the bin in the 23rd minute for what television match official Ben Skeen deemed a dangerous lifting tackle on Blues centre Michael Collins.

Thorn argued the yellow card was overly harsh as Petaia didn't drive Collins into the ground.

Two minutes later, Petaia was joined on the sidelines by Taniela Tupou, carded for a low no-arms tackle on Blues prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Replays suggested Tupou tried to wrap his arms around Tu'ungafasi's ankles but was knocked back by his opponent's leg.

Staggeringly, neither the referee nor TMO saw fit to punish departing Blues great Jerome Kaino for an arguably worse hit on Scott Higginbotham five minutes into the contest.

Kaino's attempted clean-out was more of a shoulder charge that struck Higginbotham flush on the right side of his back, with the Reds captain requiring brief medical attention.

Thorn didn't want to use any of it as an excuse for the five-tries-to-two defeat but was frustrated.

"If you want to penalise (fair enough) but a yellow card as well?" Thorn said.

"For me it's hard. I was a physical player. I enjoyed hitting rucks hard, I played in league in the 90s."

"I'm just saying, far out."