Former champions now 2-2 on the season with a win in Victoria.
The Canterbury Crusaders continued their recovery from a shaky start to the Super 15 season to edge out the Melbourne Rebels 25-19 in Melbourne on Friday.
It was the seven-time Super Rugby champions’ second straight win after losing their opening two games to get their season back on track.
Centre Tom Taylor proved the difference with a faultless six penalties and one conversion after both teams scored a try each.
Neither side was able to cross the tryline in the first half, with Taylor kicking his team to a 12-9 halftime lead, while fullback Jason Woodward collected the Rebels’ points.
The home side had plenty of possession but too often they released the pressure on the Crusaders with an error or poor kick while an adverse penalty count did them no favours.
The Crusaders’ defence was rock solid, with Rebels prop Laurie Weeks coming off second best as he knocked himself out taking the ball up late in the first half and didn’t return.
The Kiwis scored their only try in the 56th minute hooker Ben Funnell going crossing wide out.
The conversion and then another penalty from Taylor pushed Canterbury’s lead out to 13 points and while there was still time to make amends, Melbourne never really looked comfortable.
The Rebels finally scored their try with two minutes remaining with flanker Scott Fuglistaller plunging over the line after the forwards had mauled the ball.
Bryce Hegarty added the extras to ensure an important bonus point for finishing within seven points.
Compounding the disappointment, the Rebels lost fullback Woodward eight minutes into the second half with a leg injury.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said his team got what they needed.
While disappointed with the attack he praised his team’s defence.
“Off the back of not having a potent attack tonight we defended with our hearts and it probably made the difference in the end,” Blackadder said.
“We can go into the bye next weekend in pretty good nick and we need to put a lot of work into our attack and there are a few things we can do which will certainly improve our game.”
Rebels coach Tony McGahan said the Crusaders’ experience got the better of his team.
“They were just a bit cuter than us in certain aspects and they controlled things really well,” he said.
“We kept coming back and they kept slipping away.”