The champion Crusaders, down 21-16 on the hour, scored 31 points in the final 20 minutes to reduce a rampant Reds outfit to rubble in Brisbane.
The Crusaders won 47-21 for a second successive five pointer in the Vodacom Super 14 and again underlined the qualities that have won them five tournament titles.
The New Zealanders are a side capable of battling through a rough period and they are also a side that does not panic. They needed these character assets in Brisbane when Dan Carter showed his human side in missing five of his first eight kicks at goal and Richie McCaw gave every opensider comfort that even the best can stutter for an hour.
Carter, mortal for 60 minutes, was majestic in the last 20 while McCaw turned the fumbles into a last quarter fury.
Outside of them Rico Gear saved tries, made tries and then scored an outstanding one. Aaron Mauger was a calming influence to Carter and Leon Macdonald was the consistent performer for the champions. In the engine room the big names stood up when needed, with McCaw, Ruben Thorne and Chris Jack teaching the more inexperienced Reds forwards the lesson that games are not won on the hour but at the final hooter.
The Reds were courageous and tough. Flankers David Croft and Hugh McMeniman excelled and prop Rodney Blake is pressing for the more appealling international stage, but collectively the Reds could not match the skill of the victors. Drew Mitchell, on the Reds wing, and Latham showed their value to Australian rugby, but Mitchell was a lonely figure without the inspirational Latham, whose departure on 62 minutes coincided with the Crusaders turning to Rico Gear to take them into overdrive.
Carter suddenly found his radar and any prospect of a Reds revival was further reduced to fantasy with two sending offs.
Carter finished with 27 points and left 12 more (through three botched conversion attempts and two fluffed penalty kicks) in Brisbane. With other teams a misfiring kicker would have got them down. With the Crusaders it only seemed to lift them.
Tries: Mitchell (12 min), Latham (57 min)
Pens: Flatley (2nd minute, 25th minute, 29th minute)
Tries: Madonald (17th minute), Carter (55th minute, 71st minute), Laulala (65th minute), Gear (75th minute), Mauger (79th minute)
Convs: Carter (66th minute, 72nd minute, 76th minute, 80th minute)
Pens: Carter (23rd minute, 40th minute, 63rd minute)