The Crusaders underlined their Super Rugby title credentials when they beat tournament leaders the Brumbies 23-30 in Canberra.
The match was meant to be a celebration for returning Brumbies flanker George Smith who won his 137th Brumbies cap overtaking the previous most capped Brumby George Gregan at 136.
Instead of a party for Smith the Brumbies had to settle for a losing bonus point after the Crusaders dropped their intensity with a 17 point lead and allowed the hosts to score 10 points in the closing minutes and finish within 7 points.
The result is the Crusaders first win in Canberra since 2003 when they beat the Brumbies 21-28 and have lost their last four matches in the city.
All Black number 10 Dan Carter was at the heart of the Crusaders' attack as the benchmark Super Rugby team scored three tries to two in what skipper George Whitelock termed a "season-defining" win to keep his team in the running for the playoffs.
Carter kicked immaculately with three conversions and three penalties from his six goal attempts and was the difference in a precision performance by the Crusaders.
It was the Crusaders' sixth win in 10 games and puts them six points behind New Zealand conference leaders Chiefs and just two behind the Blues.
The Brumbies had early fortune when Matt Toomua intercepted Carter's pass and raced 70 metres to score unopposed in the seventh minute and a conversion and penalty by Christian Lealiifano pushed the home side out to a 10-0 lead.
But the composed Crusaders got into their rhythm to draw level following a try by scrum-half Andy Ellis after sustained pressure in the 21st minute.
The Brumbies began the second half in the Crusaders' quarter but the New Zealanders comfortably held them at bay and struck through a try by winger Zac Guildford in the corner off a great Ryan Crotty pass.
Carter tightened the screw with the conversion and two more penalties to give the Crusaders a 23-10 lead before Lealiifano kicked the Brumbies' first points in almost an hour with a penalty.
The Crusaders sealed victory eight minutes from time when replacement Israel Dagg began and finished a sweeping 90-metre counter-attack for the team's third try and a 30-13 lead.
The Brumbies finished well to score a converted try by skipper Ben Mowen and a Lealiifano penalty to take away a losing bonus point from the match and lead the overall tournament by one point.
Final score Brumbies 23 (10) Crusaders 30 (10)
Tries - M.Toomua, B.Mowen
Pen - C.Lealiifano 3
Con - C.Lealiifano, M.Toomua
Tries - A.Ellis, Z Guildford, I Dagg.
Pen - D.Carter 3
Con - D.Carter 3
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Ref 1:Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 2:James Leckie
TMO : Matt Goddard
1. Ben Alexander,2. Stephen Moore,3. Dan Palmer,4. Peter Kimlin,5. Sam Carter,6. Fotu Auelua,7. George Smith,8. Ben Mowen (c),9. Nic White,10. Matt Toomua,11. Joe Tomane,12. Christian Lealiifano,13. Tevita Kuridrani,14. Henry Speight,15. Jesse Mogg,
Replacements :16. Siliva Siliva ,17. Scott Sio,18. Leon Power,19. Colby Faingaa,20. Ian Prior,21. Robbie Coleman,22. Pat McCabe
1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Corey Flynn ,3. Owen Franks ,4. Luke Romano ,5. Sam Whitelock ,6. George Whitelock (c) ,7. Matt Todd,8. Luke Whitelock,9. Andy Ellis ,10. Dan Carter ,11. Zac Guildford ,12. Ryan Crotty ,13. Robbie Fruean ,14. Tom Marshall ,15. Tom Taylor
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell ,17. Joe Moody, 18. Dominic Bird ,19. Jordan Taufua, 20. Willi Heinz , 21. Adam Whitelock , 22. Israel Dagg