The Crusaders had to come from behind to beat the Rebels 30-26 after the Rebels took the lead with a second half surge in in Christchurch on Sunday.
The victory is the Crusaders first victory over the Rebels as they upset the seven time champions 28-19 last year in Melbourne.
The Rebels outscored the Crusaders by three tries to two so the home side had to rely on Tom Taylor's boot as he kicked six penalties and converted one of their tries.
The Crusaders scored the opening try by Zac Guildford after two minutes of Rebels attack and then ten minutes later Tyler Bleyendaal went over for the Crusaders second try.
Having conceded two early tries the Rebels looked to be headed for a hiding but they fought their way back into the match and trailed 18-11 at half time.
The Rebels then scored two tries in succession ten minutes after the break and took the lead.
Tom Taylor's boot and Crusaders scrum then proved the decisive difference as the Rebels conceded several penalties allowing the home side to take the lead.
The win lifted the seven-time champions to seventh on the table, but it was not a performance they were happy with against a team languishing near the bottom of the championship.
The match marked the return of All Blacks goal-kicking maestro Dan Carter - who has missed the past four weeks because of paternity leave and a hamstring injury - but his performance was overshadowed by Taylor's kicking prowess.
The Crusaders inside-centre landed six penalties, three of them into the teeth of a strong wind in the closing quarter of the game after the Rebels had led 21-26.
The Rebels had the satisfaction of outscoring the Crusaders three tries to two, leaving the Crusaders captain George Whitelock disappointed with his side's performance and thankful for Taylor's kicking accuracy.
"We started well but then we took the foot right off the throat and let the Rebels right back in. Our defence was pretty passive," he said, adding that the message was clear when the Rebels led with 20 minutes remaining.
"We needed to work away and wear them down and we eventually got the penalties."
The Rebels, refreshed from a bye last week, opened with more vigour than the Crusaders as they recovered the kick off and worked their way up to the line.
But it was the Crusaders who scored first when Matt Todd snapped up a turnover ball to ignite a counter-attack from his own line which ended with Zac Guildford scoring in the corner at the other end of the field.
Tyler Bleyendaal added the second try, running straight through the scrambling Rebels' defence from a close-range scrum and Taylor's conversion gave the Crusaders an early 12-0 lead.
That was the end of the Crusaders try-scoring endeavours as the Rebels struck back with a penalty to James O'Connor who then converted Scott Higgenbotham's try at the end of an 80-metre break which started from a lineout steal.
Taylor added two penalties and O'Connor kicked his second for the Crusaders to turn with an 18-11 lead.
After a further exchange of penalties following the restart, the Rebels produced an inspirational five-minute spell, scoring two tries to hit the front.
O'Connor got the first, punishing the Crusaders for falling off two tackles and from the restart the Rebels immediately went back on attack and hooker Ged Robinson scored from a lineout.
But with Carter coming off the bench along with All Blacks Wyatt Crockett and Andy Ellis the Crusaders were able to improve their territorial control, allowing Taylor to land the match-winning penalties.
Final Score Crusaders 30 (18) Rebels 26 (11)
Tries - Z.Guildford, T.Bleyendaal.
Pen - T.Taylor 6
Con - T.Taylor
Tries - S.Higginbotham, J.O'Connor, G. Robinson
Pen -J.O'Connor 3
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1:Garratt Williamson
Assistant Ref 2:Kane McBride
TMO : Vinny Munro
1. Joe Moody 2. Corey Flynn 3. Owen Franks ,4. Luke Romano ,5. Sam Whitelock ,6. George Whitelock (c) ,7. Matt Todd,8. Luke Whitelock ,9. Willi Heinz ,10. Tyler Bleyendaal ,11. Zac Guildford ,12. Tom Taylor ,13. Ryan Crotty ,14. Tom Marshall ,15. Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16. Ben Funnell 17. Wyatt Crockett 18. Dominic Bird 19. Jordan Taufua 20. Andy Ellis 21.Dan Carter. 22. Adam Whitelock
1. Nic Henderson, 2. Ged Robinson, 3. Laurie Weeks, 4. Hugh Pyle, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Jarrod Saffy, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 8. Scott Higginbotham (c), 9. Nick Phipps, 10. James O'Connor, 11. Cooper Vuna, 12. Rory Sidey, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Tom English, 15. Jason Woodward
Replacements 16. Shota Horie, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Luke Jones, 19. Gareth Delve, 20. Nic Stirzaker, 21. Angus Roberts, 22. Lachlan Mitchell.