The Crusaders were run close by the Reds in Christchurch on Friday, emerging 24-20 winners in a thrilling Super Rugby clash that went down to the wire.
AS IT HAPPENED | Crusaders 24-20 Reds
The Reds outscored the Crusaders by four tries to three but missed all their conversions and a penalty to let the 10-time champions off the hook.
The result puts the Crusaders on top of the Super Rugby ladder alongside the Brumbies on 18 points, overhauling the Stormers on 17, who have a bye this week.
It also extends the Crusaders' undefeated home record to 34 matches but captain Scott Barrett admitted they failed to dominate a committed young Reds side.
"We were ill-disciplined and tried to push too many passes, we didn't play that smart really," he said.
Reds skipper Liam Wright said he was "incredibly proud" of his side, even though they posted their fifth loss in six matches and an eighth straight defeat to the Crusaders.
"We didn't come here for a strong and brave loss, we wanted a win and we put ourselves in a position to do it," he said, refusing to blame his goalkickers for the loss.
"I see them doing the extras every week, long after we're back in the sheds. They're putting in the work but it's just not paying off just yet."
The Crusaders opened the scoring when Joe Moody barged between the posts in the 12th minute but the Reds hit back immediately, working the ball wide to winger Chris Feauai-Sautia.
The Queenslanders locked up the scores at 10-10 when Harry Wilson edged the ball through a crush of players onto the line and were unlucky not to be ahead at the break.
The sides exchanged tries after the restart but the Reds' could not convert while Richie Mo'unga slotted home to make it 17-15.
The Crusaders scored their third through Leicester Fainga'anuku after a blockbusting run from Jack Goodhue.
Henry Speight then sparked a Reds resurgence with a try-scoring break that started deep within his own half.
The Reds were chasing the win until the final moments, when an attack broke down three minutes after the siren.
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Crusaders 24 (10)
Tries: Joe Moody, George Bridge, Leicester Fainga''anuku
Conversions: Richie Mo'unga (3)
Reds 20 (10)
Tries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Harry Wilson, Taniela Tupou, Henry Speight
15 George Bridge, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga'anuku, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Manasa Mataele
15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Isaac Lucas, 9 Scott Malolua, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith
Substitutes: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Filipo Daugunu