The Crusaders fought back from a 17-9 deficit to beat the Chiefs 18-17 in Hamilton on Saturday.
The game was in the balance until the final play. Chiefs flyhalf Gareth Anscombe had an opportunity to win the game for the hosts, but his penalty goal attempt from 52m out fell short.
The Chiefs dominated the first half and looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory. But the Crusaders fought back in the second stanza, and goal-kicker Colin Slade converted the bulk of their opportunities into points.
The win is an important one for the Crusaders, who are now just three log points behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
Chiefs – Try: Tom Marshall. Penalties: Gareth Anscombe (4)
Crusaders – Penalties: Colin Slade (6).
Chiefs – 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordan Payne.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Adam Whitelock.
Photo: Sandra Mu/Getty Images