The Chiefs are the only unbeaten side at the tournament and face a last game against the Barbarians on Saturday and on Wednesday's form they will be favoured to take the tournament title.
It was a case of Chiefs' backline flair and all-round defensive determination proving too much for the Crusaders forward game, where hooker George Bell scored a hat-trick of tries based around his side's lineout maul.
The game started at a hectic pace with four tries, two each, in the first 18 minutes.
But the turning point came in the middle of the game when blindside flanker Nikora Broughten was sin-binned. Any hopes the Crusaders had of taking advantage were lost as it was the Chiefs who scored during his absence.
Captain centre Gideon Wrampling said during Broughten's absence the team had put in a 'huge shift' and dug deep against a strong Crusaders side.
He said they had played on a few Crusaders mistakes during the hectic first quarter of the game and had got lucky in being able to use their skills to their advantage.
Crusaders captain and No8 Anton Segner said his side lacked execution and the Chiefs had been good enough to pounce on the Crusaders' mistakes. Their tries from their lineout drive rewarded the work they had put into that area.
Shrugging off the 70 points they conceded in their opening game, the Barbarians side put early pressure on the Blues, responding to Blues wing Meihana Grindlay's early try with a superb recovery by hooker Bryn Gordon drawing the sides level.
However, the superior power and combination enjoyed by the Blues pack ground the Barbarians spirit down and several tries were posted in mauling play close to the line as they took a 50-19 win. Lively halfback Manu Paea proved deadly with his sniping play around rucks close to the line.
The Hurricanes got out to a 29-3 lead over the Highlanders in the first half before the southerners started to claw their way back into the game. They had posted 17 points by half time but missed a golden opportunity to pressure the Hurricanes when they were reduced to 13 players for eight minutes with overlapping sin-binnings.
But in a much tighter second half, the Hurricanes kept their noses in front in the face of some quick-thinking play by the Highlanders backs, and through the power of big forward Arese Poliko who scored two tries.
Results and scorers were:
Blues 50 (Meihana Grindlay, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Jock McKenzie, Sofai Maka, Wallace Sititi, Manu Paea 2, Ray Sua tries; McKenzie 2 con; Christian Stenhouse 3 con) Barbarians 19 (Bryn Gordon, Jack Parker, Mateo Taiseni tries; Parker 2 con). HT: 50-19
Hurricanes 36 (Peter Lakai 2, Ethan Webster Nonu, Matt Oldridge, Riley Higgins tries; Aidan Morgan 4 con, pen) Highlanders 31 (Michael Manson, Arese Poliko 2, Noah Hotham tries; Cameron Millar 4 con, pen). HT: 29-17
Chiefs 49 (Kane O'Connor 2, Tama Te Aute 2, Larenz Tupaea Thompsen, Te Paea Cook Savage tries; Lucas Cashmore 4 con, 2 pen; Josh Jacomb con, pen) Crusaders 28 (George Bell 3 tries; Ollie Lewis 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 26-21