The Crusaders have continued their unbeaten march through Super Rugby Aotearoa with a 47-23 win over the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday.
The defending champions were too clinical for the hosts, punishing mistakes and indiscipline and riding a stifling defence to a 13th consecutive win over their northern rivals, in the process proving the gulf at the top of the competition is wider than many may have thought.
Hooker Codie Taylor had another outstanding game for the Crusaders, while Will Jordan was a constant menace from the back field.
Pivot Richie Mo'unga was also instrumental, scoring a try and kicking flawlessly from the tee to break his own individual scoring record with a 28-point haul.
Meanwhile, the Blues struggled to find their rhythm and were unable to get their key weapons established in the face of the Crusaders' relentless defensive pressure, falling to their first defeat of the season.
Both teams finished with four tries apiece but the Crusaders' came at more timely moments, while they kept the misbehaving Blues at bay with Mo'unga's boot.
The visitors opened the try-scoring in the 10th minute, when Jack Goodhue pounced on a perfectly weighted close-range grubber from halfback Bryn Hall, beating Akira Ioane to the ball by a matter of inches.
The Blues struck back eight minutes later, after a Crusaders mistake led to a swift Blues counter attack that ended in a try to flanker Blake Gibson to edge the locals back in front.
After a Richie Mo'unga penalty to reclaim the advantage, a trademark try from a five-metre lineout from stand-out Codie Taylor extended the Crusaders' lead to 17-8, a scoreline that remained through until the end of the half.
Early in the second half, another Mo'unga penalty kept the Crusaders account ticking over, until Kurt Eklund bulldozed his way over the line from a ruck to cut the Blues' deficit to five points.
More poor discipline defensively then cost the Blues, as Mo'unga bolstered the Crusaders' lead to an 11-point margin with back-to-back penalties.
The Blues kept their hopes alive, as Eklund grabbed his second try with a sneaky dab down the blindside in the 66th minute.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Mo'unga stutter-stepped his way through a hole to put one nail in the Blues' coffin.
The locals weren't ready to roll over, as Hoskins Sotutu rampaged his way down the right hand edge off a great offload from Tom Robinson to give the Blues a sniff, trailing by nine points with seven minutes left.
Sevu Reece put the icing on the cake with time running out, running in a try from broken play to seal the win for the Crusaders.
The Blues will try and get back on track against the Chiefs in Hamilton next weekend, while the Crusaders savour some recovery time with a bye.
Crusaders 43 (Reece, Taylor, Mo'unga, Goodhue tries, Mo'unga 4con, 5pen) Blues 27 (Eklund x2, Sotutu, Gibson tries, Black con, pen, Plummer con) Halftime: Crusaders 17-8