Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has admitted that his Crusaders were nowhere near their best in their 30-26 scrape home against the Rebels.
The Crusaders went out to a 12-0 lead in as many minutes thanks to tries from Zac Guildford and Tyler Bleyendaal and Tom Taylor's boot but then relaxed and allowed the Rebels back into the game.
Wallabies and Rebels No.8 Scott Higginbotham scored the Rebels first try in the 23rd minute and the visitors added two penalties to trail 18-11 at the break after Tom Taylor slotted another penalty on the stroke of half time.
In the second half the Rebels scored two quick tries and took the lead at 21-26 and if it wasn't for Tom Taylor's boot and the Crusaders being awarded penalties at the scrum the Crusaders would have been in real trouble.
Memories of last year's loss to the Rebels as well as the loss to the Force were brought back as the Crusaders season looked set to be derailed.
However the seven-time champions - with a major boost from the replacements bench - in the final quarter took a step and saved the Christchurch franchise the embarrassment of a second loss to the Rebels.
"We came second at the breakdown," Blackadder admitted to Fairfax NZ News.
"They got the reward for the work they did there and we couldn't get our hands on the ball," the coach said.
"Suddenly, with 15 minutes remaining, there was a lot more fight and energy with our carries and the breakdown work was really good - that part was missing for the majority of the game."
Blackadder struggled to explain why the Crusaders lacked the intensity needed for most of the match.
"I don't know why the defence was so poor. It can only be mental application. I don't think I have seen so many missed tackles and guys just walking straight through our defensive line.
"It was cumbersome, it was just not good enough."
The Crusaders face the current Super Rugby leaders on Sunday and Blackadder said the team will have to take a good look at themselves before arriving in Canberra.
"Guys just have to take responsibility and say it is not good enough."