The Crusaders held on to the top spot in the New Zealand Super Rugby Conference when they beat the Blues 21-13 in Christchurch in a feisty contest.
The result means that the Blues chances of reaching the play offs are almost certainly over as even though they have a match still to play it is highly unlikely that they qualify as the highest number of points they can achieve is 41.
However to get 41 points they would need to beat a resurgent Chiefs team with a bonus point. Mathematically the Blues can still qualify so they are not out of contention yet but they remain last in the New Zealand Conference.
The Crusaders have shown mixed form in 2014 but it was clear from early on that they had brought their better form.
Colin Slade scored the first points of the match with a penalty before Ihaia West levelled the scores with a penalty for the Blues.
Nemani Nadolo scored the opening try for the home side and just as they looked like that would score again Frank Halai intercepted a wide Crusaders pass and ran the length of the field. Instead of the Crusaders potentially leading 15-3 at that stage the Blues went into the lead at 8-10.
The lead changed hands twice through penalties before half time but it was the visiting Blues that went in for half time leading on the scoreboard.
The second half turned into an armwrestle between the teams and it wasn't until the 66th minute that either side was able to add to their score.
Colin Slade held the Crusaders kicking duties but he had to leave the field for a concussion test after connecting with Ma'a Nonu. Slade went in for the tackle but bounced off and lay on the field flattened for the second week in a row.
All Blacks No.10 Dan Carter took over the kicking duties and his 66th minute penalty put the Crusaders into the lead for the first time in the half.
The Blues continued to keep the Crusaders under pressure, testing their defence and discipline until Fijian wing Nadolo crashed over for his second try.
Carter's conversion put the Crusaders eight points into the lead which meant the Blues had to score twice.
From that point on every time the Blues tried to lift the Crusaders spiked their intensity and held on to keep the visitors scoreless in the second half.
The Crusaders finish their season with a home match against the Highlanders who are their main rivals for the lead in the New Zealand Conference.
The Blues will have to wait and hope that other results outside of their control can keep them in contention.
While the Blues will need a big victory over the Chiefs next week they will have home advantage as the match is at Eden Park in Auckland.
Ma'a Nonu bumps off Colin Slade
Final Score Crusaders 21 (11) Blues 13 (13)
Tries - N.Nadolo 2
Pen - C.Slade, D.Carter
Con - C.Slade, D.Carter
Tries - F.Halai
Pen - I.West 2
Con - I.West
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Garratt Williamson
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Lash
1. Wyatt Crockett ,2. Ben Funnell, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Dominic Bird ,5. Jimmy Tupou,6. Jordan Taufua, 7. Matt Todd ,8. Kieran Read (C) ,9. Andy Ellis , 10.Colin Slade , 11.Nemani Nadolo , 12.Dan Carter ,13.Ryan Crotty (VC) ,14.Kieron Fonotia , 15.Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Nepo Laulala, 19. AN.Other, 20. Luke Whitelock, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. Tom Taylor, 23. Johnny McNicholl
15. Lolagi Visinia ,14. Frank Halai,13. Pita Ahki,12. Ma'a Nonu,11. Charles Piutau,10. Ihaia West,9. Bryn Hall,8. Jerome Kaino,7. Luke Braid (C),6. Steven Luatua,5. Tom Donnelly,4. Patrick Tuipulotu,3. Charlie Faumuina,2. Keven Mealamu,1. Tony Woodcock
Replacements : 16. James Parsons,17. Ofa Tu'ungafasi,18. Sam Prattley,19. Hayden Triggs,20. Peter Saili,21. Jamison Gibson-Park,22. Francis Saili,23. George Moala