First five-eighth Dan Carter became the highest pointscorer in Super rugby history as his Crusaders held out the New South Wales Waratahs 20-13 in an arm-wrestle in Christchurch.
Prolific All Blacks No 10 Carter kicked all his team's points via five penalties as a relieved Crusaders scraped through a tense encounter at AMI Stadium between two sides firmly in the hunt for Super 14 semifinal berths.
The game's first try was scored by the visitors, an epic score to centre Rob Horne that went through 25 phases, but it wasn't enough to overcome the methodical hosts and deadly marksman Carter, who passed yet another career landmark.
His fifth penalty with 13 minutes remaining handed his side the lead and took him to 1022 points in the competition, edging him clear of the 1019 scored by ACT Brumbies great Stirling Mortlock. It wasn't Carter's best night with the boot, landing six from nine shots, with a late penalty miss ensuring the Waratahs earned a bonus point.
A controversial try with 4min remaining to halfback Kahn Fotuali'i - his grounding of the ball appeared unconvincing -- handed the Crusaders a flattering margin and maintained a phenomenal record at home to Australian Super rugby sides. They have only lost once to them in the last decade, to the Waratahs in 2004.
The result ensures the Crusaders will be second behind the Bulls through nine rounds while the Waratahs -- who led coming into this weekend - drop to third.
The Crusaders turned around a territory deficit in the closing stages, their forwards taking control at the breakdown and allowing few chances to the desperate visitors.
Two of the best scrums in the competition produced a messy battle while both sides struggled for continuity, with poor handling or inaccurate kicking in general play often disrupting flow.
Both teams defended strongly, epitomised by a tackle from Waratahs skipper Phil Waugh on opposite Richie McCaw in the 20th minute, ripping the ball away as the All Blacks skipper dived over the tryline.
Carter's boot and that of Waratahs inside backs Daniel Halangahu and Berrick Barnes dominated the first-half scoring, which resulted in a 6-6 standoff.
The Waratahs took momentum into halftime following the sinbinning of Crusaders halfback Kahn Fotuali'i by South African referee Craig Joubert for a lifting tackle on Barnes.
The visitors couldn't take advantage although ironically it was the return to the field of Fotuali'i that sparked the visitors' most sustained attack, a relentless assault that saw eventually saw Horne force a neat grubber kick from first five-eighth Halangahu.
The injection of reserve No 8 Thomas Waldrom gave the hosts some go-forward and Carter landed two penalties followed by Fotuali'i's try, burrowing over in the right corner off a ruck.
Waugh and No 8 Wycliff Palu both passed late fitness tests to start for the Waratahs although there will be concerns in Australia over the sight of Palu being assisted from the field after suffering a knee injury in the final quarter.
The Crusaders will seek to push for a semifinal berth at home to the Cheetahs next weekend while the Waratahs will have a bye.
Crusaders 20 (Kahn Fotuali'i try; Dan Carter 5 pen) New South Wales Waratahs 13 (Rob Horne try; Daniel Halangahu pen, con, Berrick Barnes pen). Halftime: 6-6
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