The Crusaders continued their march to another potential trophy, crushing the Waratahs 54-28 in Wollongong on Saturday.
The reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions survived three yellow cards in the win, running in eight tries to three to secure a vital bonus point in a five-horse race for a spot in the final.
After taking a 26-9 lead into the break, the Crusaders looked to be on the road to top last week's demolition of the Reds when returning skipper Scott Barrett crashed over minutes after the restart.
But the sin-binning of prop Ollie Yager split the game wide open with the attack-minded Waratahs crossing the line twice in three minutes.
Impressive centre Izaia Perese terrorised the Crusaders' midfield combination of Leicester Fainga'anuku and Dallas McLoed all afternoon, leaving the former in his wake when he crossed the line in the 54th minute to reduce the gap to 10.
But Fainga'anuku made amends for being steamrolled by Parese, getting the Crusaders back on track a minute later with a close-range try.
Bryn Hall and Will Jordan added two more tries for the red and blacks before Waratahs winger Alex Newsome scored in injury time with the Crusaders reduced to 13 men.
Earlier, Mitchell Drummond, Sevu Reece, Dallas McLoed and Codie Taylor scored first-half tries as the Crusaders brushed off a sluggish start, scoring 21 points in 10-minute blitz at the end of the spell.
The Crusaders briefly jump to second spot behind the Hurricanes, who have recorded three bonus points wins in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
The Blues can jump back to the top on Saturday night with a bonus-point win over the Brumbies.