The Crusaders comfortably beat the Reds 32-12 with a bonus point at the AMI Stadium on Friday which keeps the Crusaders hopes of a place in the play offs alive for another week.
The Reds who were playing without most of their stars and handing almost a third of the team new caps due to extensive injuries in the camp were held scoreless for 67 minutes but then managed to score two quick tries which made the scoreline a lot more respectable.
The Crusaders started the 13th round of the 14-round regular season in sixth place and improved temporarily to fourth with their seventh win of the season, although other matches in the round are likely to force them down the table.
The defending titleholders and seven-time champions now face a last-round match against the Blues in Auckland from which they may also need five points to have any chance of reaching the tournament playoffs.
The Crusaders played a game kicking for territory, then using close passing among the forwards to advance the ball which saw the current champions score three tries for a 20-0 lead by halftime.
The Crusaders led with an early penalty to All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald, playing his 119th match for the Crusaders in his last Super 14 season.
A 15th-minute try to No. 8 Thomas Waldrom, converted by MacDonald, gave the Crusaders a 10-0 lead and put them on course to a comprehensive win.
Prop Owen Franks scored the Crusaders' second try after 26 minutes and center Tim Bateman added their third three minutes before halftime.
Both sides scored two tries and 12 points in the second half but the Crusaders maintained an insurmountable advantage.
Hooker Jason MacDonald scored the first try of the second half, extending the Crusaders' lead to 27-0 and replacement Sean Maitland made it 32-0 after 60 minutes.
The Reds hit back with late tries to Ben Tapuai, in his Super 14 debut, and to veteran prop Greg Holmes.
"Considering the conditions, I think we played some good rugby," Crusaders and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said.
"We played at the right end of the field and created some good chances."
"Unfortunately we weren't able to take all the chances we created but we wanted five points, we got five points and we're happy."
Four of the seven tries in Friday's match went to forwards as tactics were dictated by the conditions.
Tries -Waldrom, Franks, Bateman, JMacdonald, Maitland
Penalties -Leon MacDonald
Conversions -Leon MacDonald 2
Drop Goals -
Tries -Ben Tapuai, Greg Holmes
Conversions -Quade Cooper
Drop Goals -
Cards - Yellow (33) Quade Cooper
Referee: Chris Pollock (News Zealand)
Touch judges: Keith Brown (News Zealand), Kane McBride (News Zealand)
Television match official: James McPhail (News Zealand)
Assessor: Glen Wahlstrom (News Zealand)
Crusaders :1. Wyatt Crockett,2. Jason Macdonald ,3. Owen Franks,4. Brad Thorn ,5. Isaac Ross ,6. Kieran Read ,7. Richie McCaw,8. Thomas Waldrom ,9. Andy Ellis ,10. Stephen Brett 11. Adam Whitelock,12. Ryan Crotty , 13. Tim Bateman , 14. Jared Payne , 15. Leon MacDonald
Reserves: 16. Daniel Perrin, 17. Bronson Murray , 18. Michael Paterson , 19. Jonathan Poff , 20. Kahn Fotuali’i , 21. Sean Maitland ,22. Hamish Gard.
Reds :Quade Cooper, Brando Va’aulu, Charlie Fetoai, Anthony Faingaa, Rodney Davies, Ben Lucas, Brendan McKibbin, Leroy Houston, Andrew Shaw, Ezra Taylor, Adam Byrnes, Van Humphries, Laurie Weeks, Sean Hardman (c), Ben Daley.