The Crusaders needed to win to keep their hopes of extending their season alive and they did so by seizing control of the match from the outset.
The hosts raced into a 32-3 half-time lead thanks to tries from Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Andy Ellis and Matt Todd.
The Force replied after the break with Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi and Josh Holmes crossing as their opponents made a host of changes, but the New Zealanders, for whom Dan Carter kicked 12 points, held on for victory.
The Crusaders came flying out of the blocks and Dagg touched down in the opening minute, with Carter adding the extras.
Maitland's try in the 15th minute made it 12-0 and, even though a Ben Seymour penalty got the Force on the board, the hosts ran riot in the final third of the half.
Two Carter penalties sandwiched converted tries from Ellis and Todd as the Crusaders racked up 20 points in 11 minutes to move out of sight.
The game seemingly won, the Crusaders made several changes, with Carter among those to come off.
A Tom Taylor penalty put them further ahead, but the Force showed fight as tries from Godwin and Mafi in the 53rd and 60th minutes reduced the arrears to 35-17.
Taylor knocked over another penalty and, even though George Whitelock was yellow-carded in the 75th minute and Holmes touched down three minutes later, the Crusaders held on to run out comfortable winners.