Western Force lock Nathan Sharpe bowed out of Super Rugby by praising the Crusaders as the hardest opposition he has faced in his career and he rating them the form team of the competition.
The New Zealanders held off a fightback to claim a 38-24 win at AMI Stadium yesterday as Australia international Sharpe played his final game in the competition.
"They're the form team we've played this year," he said.
"I'm proud of our crew. We brought a lot of young guys over here for this game but they hung in there and did really, really well.
"The Crusaders have been the hardest opposition I have faced across my whole career.
"The Emirates Force means a hell of a lot to me and now that it is done and dusted and unfortunately we didn't get away with a win."
Crusaders' win ensured them a home game next week in the first of the play-offs.
Captain Richie McCaw told Sky Sports: "There was a lot of little mistakes and our set pieces didn't function too well. But we got the win which was what we wanted.
"We played with pretty good pace and intensity in the first half but we didn't carry that on.
"The Force showed they were a reasonable team and they came back and put us under pressure.
"We didn't win as much lineout ball as wanted but now we are in the play-offs it is back to square one."