All Blacks wing Sevu Reece scored a hat-trick of tries as the Crusaders gave themselves a chance of progressing to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final with a bonus-point win over the Rebels on Saturday.
Despite a Reece hat-trick, the Crusaders fell one converted try short of booking a place in the title decider with the final scoreline 52-26.
In a pulsating clash with the winless Rebels at the Leichhardt Oval, the Crusaders attacked relentlessly from the start in sunny conditions and eased the pressure on themselves with early tries to Mitchell Drummond and a hard-running Will Jordan.
The Rebels impressively were able to resist the assault from the Crusaders, whose nerves were heightened when Braydon Ennor inexplicably fumbled the ball running unopposed to the line just before half time.
A try from Frank Lomani and subsequent conversion from Carter Gordon reduced the Crusaders’ lead to only 12 points with 15 minutes remaining.
In a late flurry, they managed further tries to Oli Jager and Braydon Ennor before running out of time.
© Agence France-Presse