When it seems just about everyone else in the game appears to be losing their heads, the Crusaders under Scott Robertson can usually be relied upon to do what they do best.

The crux of it is they beat the Reds 22-12 at Suncorp Stadium tonight and thus ensured the ripples caused by the Chiefs' demise to the Sunwolves in Hamilton were confined to the other side of the Tasman.

The victory was their 18th in a row and their eighth straight on the road. Both records. And yet, Robertson won't be entirely happy even despite the humid conditions and physical nature of the match sapping the strength from both teams and leading to uncharacteristic mistakes.

They again let slip a bonus points in the final moments. Will it be costly in the scheme of things? Possibly. Last week they coughed up a valuable point to the Hurricanes after being entirely dominant throughout, this time they weren't as dominant but should have banked five competition points all the same. Instead, they let it slip with flanker Scott Higginbotham went over.

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Another factor was the bizarre scene of the visitors playing the final six minutes with only 14 players on the field because they had used up all their reserves. Mitch Hunt replaced Richie Mo'unga at first-five but suffered an injury most assumed was a head knock which would have allowed Mo'unga to come back on. However, the officials decided otherwise and off Mo'unga went again.

Still, the Crusaders went to the top of the Super Rugby table – possibly briefly – and the defending champions remain the team to beat. They were slightly off their game tonight but not too far off and going by the form book they should provide the Chiefs a lot of problems in Christchurch next weekend.

It was vision and skill execution which had the Crusaders 10-0 up in the first 10 minutes, with Jack Goodhue laying on a try for Braydon Ennor with a cross-kick and, straight from the re-start, Will Jordon and Ennor combining for Jordan to score his first try for the franchise.

And while they stretched and pushed the Reds defence which appeared to fatigue the home side, the Crusaders couldn't get across the line again until the second half when they went back to basics with lineout drives which reaped tries for Whetu Douglas and Jordan Taufua.

The visitors' relative battles were were probably due to the defensive effort and willingness for the Reds - hindered by an early injury to highly-regarded 19-year-old centre Jordan Petaia - to work for each other under Brad Thorn, but a lot of it was simply down to poor skills from the Crusaders.

It seemed they had too much possession at times and didn't quite know what to do with it. Whereas earlier they had found space near the sidelines, in the second quarter they went to width too quickly and were flat and static as a result.

Samu Kerevi's converted try was a good reward for the Reds' stubbornness, and while flanker Liam Wright's try was ruled out for obstruction, Higginbotham caught the Crusaders short on the blindside to narrow the gap and deny the Crusaders another point.

Crusaders 22 (Braydon Ennor, Will Jordan, Whetu Douglas, Jordan Taufua tries; Richie Mo'unga con)
Reds 12 (Samu Kerevi, Scott Higginbotham tries; Bryce Hegarty con)
Halftime: 10-7