Seven-time champions the Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 35-18 in Super Rugby on Saturday, keeping their slim play-off hopes alive and forcing the top-ranked Hurricanes to sweat for another week on the prospect of a home play-off in New Zealand. All Blacks star Dan Carter returned to fly-half and to form, kicking six goals from seven attempts for 15 points. After playing recently at inside centre, Carter returned to his favoured fly-half role to produce his season's best performance, while the Hurricanes produced their worst, losing for only the second time in 14 games. The win improved the Crusaders' record to 7-7 and means they cannot be counted out of play-off contention, though they at least have to beat the Blues and ACT Brumbies over the next two weeks to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since the 2001 competition. The Hurricanes need a point from their remaining regular-season matches against the Highlanders and Chiefs to clinch first place and home advantage through the play-offs as they pursue their first Super Rugby title. Carter took advantage of a one-sided penalty count in the first half to kick three penalties and the conversion of a 25th-minute try to scrum-half Mitchell Drummond as the Crusaders opened an early 16-3 lead. But Carter also missed touch and missed a tackle as the Hurricanes cut the lead to 16-8 with a 33rd-minute try to hooker Dane Coles. The Hurricanes scored again, through flanker Ardie Savea, in the opening minute of the second half to close within a point of the Crusaders, but their game disintegrated from then on and they could make no further inroads against the Crusaders' defence. Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said: "We had to absorb a bit of pressure in the first half, but that last five minutes on defence was the bit that's been lacking all year and I'm proud of the way the boys held them out at the end." In another Saturday match-up, the ACT Brumbies moved provisionally into first place in the Australian conference with a 22-16 win over the Pretoria, South Africa-based Bulls. Fijian winger and man of the match Henry Speight scored two tries for the Brumbies, who led 8-6 at half-time at Canberra. The Brumbies face an anxious wait over Wallabies lock Sam Carter, who went off in the 23rd with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. "It got a bit close at the end, we needed a win at this stage and we got it," ACT captain Stephen Moore said. "It was a very stop-start game. We were a bit rusty after the bye and we need to be better in Perth," against Western Force next week.