The Natal Sharks missed out on the chance to go top of the table yesterday when they were undone by a strong first-half display from the Queensland Reds. Queensland went into an 18-6 lead in the opening 40 minutes and held on to that advantage in the second period as they claimed a 25-13 triumph. Adam Byrnes, Will Genia and Digby Ioane scored tries for Queensland, while Ryan Kankowski scored Natal's lone score. The Queensland captain Berrick Barnes said: "I was really proud of the boys, they were outstanding, they did a lot of hard work this week." Meanwhile, in other action, Lelia Masaga's individual try sealed a 14-10 win for the Waikato Chiefs over the Otago Highlanders. Masaga beat four defenders as he charged down the touchline to put the visitors in front for the first time, 14 minutes from the end of the all-New Zealand clash. Winger Fetu'u Vainikolo's try had given the Highlanders an early lead, which was cancelled out before the interval by a Tanerau Latimer score. Highlanders regained the lead with a penalty after the break before Masaga's late heroics won the game for Waikato.
The Western Force came from 14 points down to draw 23-23 with the Canterbury Crusaders in their clash. Matt Giteau kicked 13 points and set up tries for Haig Sare and James O'Connor to inspire the Force's recovery from being 20-6 down at one stage to earn a share of the spoils. Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman and Isaac Ross scored tries for Canterbury.
* With agencies