A superb second half fightback secured the Crusaders a hard-fought 18-17 victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Chiefs had a chance to win the game with the last kick of the match, but a Gareth Anscombe penalty attempt, from 52 metres out, fell just short of the cross-bar.
Anscombe's direct opponent was the visitors' hero as he scored all their points via six penalties.
The match started at a frenetic pace with both sides running the ball from all areas of the field, but despite the enterprising attacking play, there waslittle to show for their efforts.
The Crusaders dominated the early exchanges and spent large parts of the opening 20 minutes camped inside the home side's 22.
The men from Christchurch raced into a 6-0 thanks to two penalties from Colin Slade inside the opening 10 minutes, before Gareth Anscombe reduced the deficit with a three-pointer of his own to open the home side's account.
Slade added another penalty two minutes later to give the visitors a 9-3 lead but they were to suffer two big setbacks - in quick succession - which would
First, Dominic Bird was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on Liam Squire and shortly afterwards Kieran Read was also forced to leave the field after taking a stiff arm from Michael Fitzgerald to his face.
Referee Garratt Williamson and his assistants didn't see that incident and it proved costly for the visitors as Read subsequently failed a concussion test during his spell off the field.
The Chiefs gradually took control of proceedings and the match came alive just before half-time when Tom Marshall ran onto a perfectly-timed pass, from his namesake, Rhys Marshall, before slipping past Jordan Taufua and Willi Heinz to score in the corner.
Anscombe failed to convert but the hosts went into the sheds with their tails up and holding a 17-9 lead.
The Chiefs came out firing after the interval and nearly scored their second try, after taking the ball through 25 phases with their forwards. Liam Messam and Ben Tameifuna both came agonisingly close to scoring but the visitors kept them at bay with a solid defensive effort.
The hosts would regret that wasted opportunity as the momentum shifted back in the Crusaders' favour as the match progressed. Mistakes crept into the Chiefs' game and when it was within goal-kicking range, Slade made them pay.
He got the second half's first points with a penalty in the 50th minute, after the Chiefs pack was penalised for deliberately wheeling a scrum, and although he struck the post twice, with penalty attempts in the 53rd and 67th minutes, the home side failed to capitalise on such lifelines but instead committed further mistakes.
From the second miss, the Crusaders regathered and Chiefs committed another error on defence which Slade had no difficulty in punishing as it was in front of the uprights.
The visitors then took the lead for the first time, after the Chiefs went offside on defence at a line-out, with Slade's final penalty, nine minutes before full-time, and then defended resiliently, although Anscombe's penalty attempt nearly robbed them of victory at the end.
The victory ends a two-match losing streak for the Crusaders, against the Chiefs, and takes them to within three points of the defending champions at the top of the New Zealand conference table.
Try: T Marshall
Pens: Anscombe 4
Pens: Slade 6
Yellow Card: Bird (29th minute, shoulder charge)
Chiefs:15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordan Payne.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Adam Whitelock
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)