The Crusaders exacted sweet revenge over the Super Rugby champion Reds on Sunday after battling to a 15-11 win in Christchurch.
The Crusaders exacted revenge over the Super Rugby champion Reds on Sunday via a hard-fought 15-11 victory.
Just a solitary try was scored in the action from Christchurch Stadium and that arrived in the second minute when Reds hooker James Hanson burrowed across wide on the left.
But that acted as false hope of a high-scoring game as penalties and errors marred matters.
Tom Taylor kicked five penalties while Mike Harris struck two as the lead changed hands five times.
Taylor reclaimed the lead for the last time with his fourth penalty in the 72nd minute, putting his side ahead 12-11, then sealed the points late on.
The only area in which the Crusaders were wholly superior was at scrums where they dominated the Reds for all but a ten-minute spell in the second half when replacement Wyatt Crockett was binned for a shoulder charge on Will Genia.
The Reds gained the upper hand in most other areas, notably at breakdowns where they forced turnovers and gained early penalties from New Zealand official Bryce Lawrence.
New Zealand-born centre Mike Harris missed his only two kicks at goal in the first half as the Crusaders took a 6-5 lead to half-time. But he landed two from two in the second half to give the Reds an 11-9 lead with the three points that stemmed from Crockett's yellow card.
Penalties began to flow the Crusaders' way in the last ten minutes of the match and Taylor took full advantage, improving his tally for the 2012 season to 38 goals from 45 attempts.
Hanson handled twice in the movement that led to the only try of the match when the Reds charged down a clearing kick immediately after the kick-off. The visitors promptly drove toward the line, patiently recycled possession then helped Hanson over on the blindside.
Taylor kicked a penalty in the seventh minute and another in the 20th to force the first lead change of the match. Harris, who had missed the conversion of Hanson's try, then skewed a 33rd-minute penalty which cost the Reds any chance of taking a lead into the break.
He landed his first goal of the match three minutes into the second spell but Taylor replied only three minutes later. Harris goaled in the 61st minute to make it 11-9 before Taylor decided the match in a result that moves the Crusaders up to second in New Zealand.
Pen: Taylor 5
Pen: Harris 2
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland/Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ross Kennedy, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Tom Marshall.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Eddie Quirk, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Rod Davies.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)