Williams unravels New South Wales

Two Tries by the Queensland wing Nathan Williams sealed a 31-16 Super 12 victory for Queensland over their arch rivals New South Wales in Brisbane yesterday.

The Reds were languishing third from the bottom of the Super 12 table before the game with only one win after five rounds - a victory against the Waikato Chiefs last weekend.

New South Wales, who started the game in fifth position, had taken an early lead with a penalty from the Australian international full-back Matt Burke, but Queensland's Elton Flatley tied the score and then team-mate Williams gave them a seven-point buffer with the first of his tries. Flatley extended the lead with two further penalties before Burke brought New South Wales back to 19-9 at half-time.

But New South Wales failed to withstand heavy pressure early in the second half and victory was sealed when first Williams crashed over for his second try and then Damian Smith crossed for a brilliant score after Queensland had taken a quick tap penalty 30 metres out. Flatley's missed conversion was his only blemish of the night.

The Super 12 champions Canterbury Crusaders, 39-12 ahead early in the second half, squeezed out a 42-36 win over the Otago Highlanders to send them to the top of the table, overtaking their opponents in the process.

Otago went ahead with a Tony Brown penalty in the fifth minute but the Crusaders hit back three minutes later with the first of their four first-half tries. Caleb Ralph ran on to a pass from Ron Cribb and went over near the posts. Andrew Mehrtens converted.

Brown and Mehrtens exchanged penalties to make it 10-6 to the Crusaders but Brown re-established the Highlanders' lead with a penalty and a superb 40-metre drop goal.

That appeared to pique the Canterbury side and they totted up 22 points during the final 14 minutes of the half. Norm Berryman stormed through a non-existent defence for a try that was converted then the Fijiian Marika Vunibaka broke through a minute later to score.

Mehrtens missed that conversion but he added the two points when Cribb crashed over in the 37th minute. Another Mehrtens penalty right on half-time stretched the Crusaders' lead to 20 points.

Cribb rubbed salt in the Highlanders' wounds with a great little kick through for a touchdown within two minutes of the restart and Mehrtens converted to make it 39-12.

The replacement winger Karl Te Nana launched the Highlanders' fightback with a 60th minute try, followed closely by efforts from Kelvin Middleton and Rua Tipoki. Mehrtens kicked a penalty to make it 42-31 but the Highlanders had the last word with a Pita Alatini try, earning them two bonus points.

The ACT Brumbies equalled the biggest win in the history of the competition when they slaughtered South Africa's Golden Cats 64-0 in Canberra. Australian Test backrow forward Owen Finegan scored three tries.