Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder sang Kieran Read's praises after Saturday's 23-3 Super Rugby win over the Blues in Christchurch.
Blackadder hailed the returning number eight as an inspiration and said although George Whitelock did well as the stand-in captain, during Read's absence with a toe injury, having him back meant a great deal to the side.
"Every time he gets the ball he is smashing through the defence and it was good to have him back," he said.
Blackadder said the Crusaders had delivered "a pretty clinical performance" in difficult conditions.
"I thought offensively we played really, really well and took the few opportunities when they arose," he added.
"Field position was critical, especially in that second half. The teams had felt each other out a little bit with thrust and parry ... and we tried to get a bit of structure. I was really pleased with the way we started the second half and kept the pressure on."