Super Rugby Champions the Chiefs kicked off their title defence with a 10-18 victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.
The Chiefs outscored the Crusaders by two tries to one and their second try by replacement James Lowe came in the final minute through an intercept as the Crusaders were looking to snatch the victory.
Both sides looked rusty in their season opener but most of all the Crusaders will be frustrated that they allowed 21 points slip through their fingers in penalty kicks.
The Crusaders also had two players yellow carded while the Chiefs had one.
The Chiefs victory came as a result of a massive defensive effort which is certain to frustrate opposition teams throughout the season if they can keep it up.
Replacement fullback James Lowe galloped away for a 75-meter intercept try in the final minute to clinch the win for the Chiefs and flyhalf Aaron Cruden added a sideline conversion which denied the Crusaders a consolation bonus point.
Centre Robbie Fruean, who transferred from the Crusaders to the Chiefs between seasons, opened the scoring with a ninth-minute try which helped the Chiefs to an early 0-11lead. They protected that advantage under exceptional pressure for the remainder of the match.
The Crusaders closed to 10-11 with seven minutes remaining and were pressing the Chiefs line when Lowe pounced on the pass near the right-hand touchline and dashed away to score his first Super Rugby try.
Cruden's conversion capped an outstanding victory for the Chiefs who were without many first-string players and suffered more injuries during the match, yet beat the team favored to win the New Zealand conference.
Fruean's try gave the Chiefs an early boost.
The powerful centre, whose career has been dogged by a heart ailment caused by rheumatic fever, finished a movement which began on the Chiefs' 22 when he brushed off three tacklers, including the New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, to score out wide.
Cruden kicked a penalty in the 39th minute which gave the Chiefs a 0-8 lead at halftime, while Crusaders flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal missed five straight shots at goal before being replaced.
The Crusaders' only try came in the 48th when lock Sam Whitelock burst through a poorly defended lineout.
Tom Taylor, who replaced Bleyendaal, landed his first shot at goal by converting the try, but missed two more attempts before kicking the 73rd-minute penalty which cut the Chiefs' lead to one point.
Both teams had a player sin-binned in the first half and the Chiefs were hard-hit when prop Ben Tamiefuna and lock Brodie Retallick were forced from the field in the second half after a head clash.
The Crusaders face the Blues in Auckland next weekend while the Chiefs will play the Highlanders in Hamilton next weekend.
Final Score Crusaders 10 (0) Chiefs 18 (8)
Tries - S.Whitelock
Pen - T.Taylor
Con - T.Taylor
Cards - D.Bird (yellow 36th min), G.Whitelock (yellow 43rd min)
Tries - R. Fruean, J. Lowe
Pen - A.Cruden 2
Con - A.Cruden
Cards - B. Tameifuna (yellow 42nd min)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Mike Lash
TMO: Chris Wratt
1 Tim Perry ,2 Corey Flynn ,3 Owen Franks ,4 Samuel Whitelock,5 Dominic Bird,6 George Whitelock ,7 Richie McCaw (c) ,8 Luke Whitelock,9 Andy Ellis ,10 Tyler Bleyendaal ,11 Nafi Tuitavake ,12 Ryan Crotty (vc) ,13 Reynold Lee-Lo ,14 Johnny McNicholl ,15 Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett , 18 Nepo Laulala , 19 Luke Romano ,20 Matt Todd ,21 Willi Heinz , 22 Tom Taylor,23 Rob Thompson
1. Jamie Mackintosh,2. Rhys Marshall,3. Ben Tameifuna,4. Michael Fitzgerald,5. Brodie Retallick,6. Liam Messam ,7. Tevita Koloamatangi,8. Kane Thompson,9. Augustine Pulu,10. Aaron Cruden (c),11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma,12. Charlie Ngatai,13. Robbie Fruean,14. Tim Nanai-Williams,15. Mils Muliaina,
Replacements :16. Nathan Harris,17. Pauliasi Manu,18. Ben Afeaki,19. Matt Symons/Liam Squire,20. Nick Crosswell,21. Brad Weber ,22. Andrew Horrell ,23. James Lowe