Force were left heartbroken by Crusaders' late win while Chiefs and Stormers continued to impress in Super Rugby.
Crusaders captain Kieran Read insists they must go back to the drawing board despite Jordan Taufua's dramatic late try sealing a 20-19 victory over Force in Super Rugby on Friday.
Ryan Louwrens' score just after the hour put Force 19-13 ahead at the nib Stadium, helping them recover from a 13-6 half-time deficit.
But Crusaders bombarded the Force line in the closing stages and Taufua crashed over for the visitors before fly-half Richie Mo'unga kicked the winning conversion to deny Force an upset win.
Crusaders subsequently sit level with defending champions Highlanders, who are third, in the Australasian Group, but Read was far from impressed.
"I don't think it was a good performance to be honest, we made far too many errors," he said. "Certainly it is not what we wanted to come here and do, but we'll take the win and get back to the drawing board next week when we get home.
"We're in a good place now in terms of results, but there is a lot of work to do."
Also on Friday, Brodie Retallick made a try-scoring return from injury as Chiefs continued to set the pace in a gutsy victory over New Zealand rivals Blues, while Stormers battered struggling Sunwolves in Cape Town.
Chiefs 29 - 23 Blues
Chiefs ran in five tries to Blues' two, but the boot of Ihaia West kept the visitors in the match. Mitchell Graham and Shaun Stevenson scored unconverted tries as the hosts led 10-6 at the break, but Melani Nanai and Rieko Ioane scores shortly after the restart put Blues in front. Aaron Cruden and Seta Tamanivalu tries put Chiefs back in the lead and Retallick - who suffered broken ribs in the loss to Lions last month - added the bonus try late on as the hosts racked up a fifth straight win.
Force 19-20 Crusaders
The Crusaders were dominant both territorially and in possession and unconverted tries from Mitchell Drummond and Johnny McNicholl saw them take a 13-6 half-time lead. Four penalties from Peter Grant kept the hosts in the match, though, before replacement Louwrens gathered to score after Matt Hodgson knocked the ball back in the tackle. Crusaders launched a swathe of attacks, though, and Taufua rode three tackles to touch down in the 79th minute.
Stormers 46 - 19 Sunwolves
South Africa Group leaders Stormers completely outclassed Sunwolves at Newlands. Sikhumbuzo Notshe scored twice, while Kobus van Wyk, Scarra Ntubeni, Juan de Jongh, Louis Schreuder and the mightily impressive Jean-Luc du Plessis also touched down in seven-try bonus-point win. Sunwolves' misery was compounded when Tim Bond was sent off for a dangerous tackle with eight minutes remaining.
THE KEY MOMENTS
Somewhat surprisingly it was Louwrens try for Force that swung the momentum in Crusaders' favour. Staring down the barrel of an unlikely loss, the New Zealanders found another gear and McNicholl almost scored a second before Taufua's late show.
"The boys played well, but we gave them too many opportunities at the end. They are a quality side and they took them - we gave them that many opportunities in our 22 in that last 10 minutes." - Force skipper Hodgson reflects on an agonising defeat.
Chiefs are now 12 points clear at the top of the Australasian Group having won five straight games, with Crusaders occupying a wildcard spot in fourth. Stormers are seven points clear of Sharks in the South African Group.