The Crusaders scored a late try to earn a 19-20 victory over the Western Force in Perth and earn their fifth consecutive victory.
The Force led for most of the final quarter and the Crusaders handling errors cost them several try scoring opportunities.
A late try by Jordan Taufua meant that the Crusaders outscored the Force by three tries to one. Peter Grant kicked 13 points in the match which kept the Crusaders under pressure throughout the second half.
The Crusaders are on their way home to New Zealand after a successful trip to South Africa but costly mistakes hurt the visitors in the second half, as the toll of their road trip appeared to catch up.
The Crusaders led 13-6 at half-time, with an early try to Mitchell Drummond and a second to McNicholl in the 26th minute, but the Force hung in there due to penalties.
The Force then grabbed the lead with their only try through Ryan Louwrens, who came off the bench to stun the Crusaders.
Down 19-13 going into the last 10 minutes, the Crusaders rallied to press strongly for the match-winning try.
But they wasted their own hard work through uncharacteristic errors, with a couple of knock-ons and Johnny McNicholl failing to catch the ball when he was on the end of a high kick and had an open try line a stride away.
Codie Taylor was also denied by just centimetres when he was shunted into touch by the Force.
But just when all seemed almost lost Jordan Taufua was able to barge over close to the posts and narrow the margin to one point.
It left Richie Mo’unga, who had earlier missed two relatively easy conversions, with an easy kick to snatch the lead.
Force skipper Matt Hodgson said his side let itself down in the dying minutes.
“The boys played well, but we gave them too many opportunities at the end,” he said.
“They are a quality side and they took them – we gave them that many opportunities in our 22 in that last 10 minutes and they are going to come up with a result.”
Next week the Force have a bye while the Crusaders return to Christchurch where they will host the Jaguares.
Final Score Force 19 (6) Crusaders 20 (13)
Tries – R.Louwrens
Pen – P.Grant 4
Con – P.Grant
Tries – M.Drummond, J.McNicholl, J.Taufua
Pen – R.Mo’unga
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2:Graham Cooper
TMO : Ian Smith
1. Pekahou Cowan , 2. Heath Tessmann , 3. Tetera Faulkner , 4. Sitiveni (Steve) Mafi , 5. Adam Coleman , 6. Angus Cottrell , 7. Matt Hodgson (C) , 8. Ben McCalman , 9. Alby Mathewson , 10. Peter Grant , 11. Semisi Masirewa , 12. Solomoni (Junior) Rasolea , 13. Ben Tapuai , 14. Luke Morahan , 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
Replacements : 16. Nathan Charles , 17. Francois van Wyk , 18. Jermaine Ainsley , 19. Rory Walton , 20. Richard Hardwick , 21. Ryan Louwrens , 22. Ian Prior , 23. Albert Nikoro
1. Wyatt Crockett, 2. Codie Taylor,3. Owen Franks ,4. Luke Romano,5. Sam Whitelock,6. Jordan Taufua,7. Matt Todd,8. Kieran Read (C), 9. Mitchell Drummond, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Sean Wainui, 14. Johnny McNicholl, 15. Ben Volavola
Replacements : 16. Ged Robinson ,17. Joe Moody,18. Mike Alaalatoa,19. Scott Barrett,20. Jimmy Tupou,21. Andy Ellis,22. Kieron Fonotia,23. Jone Macilai