The Crusaders kept their chances of reaching the Super Rugby play offs alive for another week by beating the Highlanders 12-40 at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin with a bonus point.
The result moves the Crusaders provisionally into fifth place and with two matches remaining they could overtake the Chiefs and win the New Zealand Conference.
The Crusaders will however have to beat the Chiefs next weekend in Christchurch and hope that they don't pick up any further points in the standings from their remaining matches.
The Highlanders played the last 20 minutes of the match with 14 men as All Black centre Ma'a Nonu was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle on Tom Marshall in front of 18463 fans.
The Crusaders were also reduced to 14 players in the final 20 minutes as Corey Flynn came on to become the most capped Crusaders player of all time and high tackled Aaron Smith and was yellow carded.
Former All Black winger Hosea won his 100th Super Rugby cap in the match and scored one of the Highlanders two tries.
The Crusaders decisive fourth try came on full-time with a breakout by replacement wing Telusa Veainu who ran the length of the field after Dan Carter risked a quick lineout on his own line.
The Crusaders, seven-times Super Rugby champions, have a reputation for peaking at the business end of the season and are showing this year is no exception.
The win kept them in the top six and moved them to within three points of the fourth-placed Reds who have played an extra game.
All Blacks pivot Carter, playing in New Zealand's only covered stadium for the first time, was the standout performer and finished the game with a personal tally of 25 points.
He scored a try and landed all eight shots at goal in a determined effort to produce a strong performance after a sub-par outing in the third Test against France.
"I was a bit frustrated with the way I played last week and I just wanted to get out here and play again and put in a good performance," he said.
The Highlanders, in their final home game of the year, remain anchored at the bottom of the table and their cause was not helped by playing the last 25 minutes with 14 men after Ma'a Nonu was red-carded for a spear tackle.
After a Carter penalty had the Crusaders in front early, the Highlanders struck back with a well-worked try when Tamati Ellison flicked the ball behind his back to put Ben Smith in space for the opening try.
While the Highlanders had their moments on attack, they rarely looked like cracking the defensive wall of the Crusaders who in turn always looked threatening.
They regained the lead 10 minutes from the break when Carter slipped past Fumiaki Tanaka and Ben Smith to put George Whitelock over for the try.
Carter landed the conversion and a penalty to have the Crusaders ahead 13-7 at the turn.
A desperate dive by Colin Slade denied the Crusaders a try at the start of the second half when he beat Zac Guildford to the ball by a fingertip but it was clear Canterbury had stepped up a notch.
Andy Ellis, Carter and Veainu scored tries and Carter converted them all and landed a further two penalties.
Final Score Highlanders 12 (7) Crusaders 40 (13)
Tries - B.Smith, H.Gear
Con - C.Slade
Cards - J.Hoeata (19th min yellow), M.Nonu (57th min Red)
Tries - G.Whitelock, A.Ellis, D.Carter, T.Veianu
Pen - D.Carter 4
Con - D.Carter 4
Cards - C.Flynn (59th min yellow)
Referee: Steve Walsh
Assistant Ref 1:Kane McBride
Assistant Ref 2:Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri
TMO : Keith Brown
1. Tony Woodcock ,2. Andrew Hore (c),3. Ma'afu Fia ,4. Brad Thorn ,5. Josh Bekhuis ,6. Jarrad Hoeata,7. Elliot Dixon ,8. Mose Tuiali'i ,9. Fumiaki Tanaka ,10. Colin Slade ,11. Hosea Gear (vc),12. Shaun Treeby,13. Tamati Ellison,14. Kade Poki,15. Ben Smith
Replacements : 16. Liam Coltman ,17. Bronson Murray, 18. Jake Paringatai,19. TJ Ioane ,20. Aaron Smith ,21. Lima Sopoaga ,22. Ma'a Nonu
1. Joe Moody ,2. Ben Funnell ,3. Nepo Laulala,4. Tom Donnelly ,5. Sam Whitelock,6. George Whitelock (c) ,7. Matt Todd,8. Luke Whitelock,9. Andy Ellis ,10. Dan Carter ,11. Zac Guildford ,12. Tom Taylor ,13. Ryan Crotty ,14. Tom Marshall ,15. Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Kieran Read, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tyler Bleyendaal,22. Telusa Veianu