The Crusaders extended their winning streak over the Waratahs to nine matches with a 33-18 victory in Nelson in their second match of the season.
The Crusaders were forced to move the match from Christchurch as their home ground was hit in last week's earthquake.
Before the match the teams joined in a moment's silence as a remembrance of the rising death toll from the earthquake which struck the team's home city of Christchurch 11 days ago.
The Crusaders were playing in the red and white striped jerseys of the West Coast Rugby Union, honoring the miners who died in an explosion at the Pike River coal mine on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island late last year.
Due to the earthquake the Crusaders match against the Hurricanes last week was cancelled and called a draw which has allowed the Crusaders to secure points from their "three" matches even though they have actually played two.
Many of the Crusaders sported beards, having foregone shaving in recognition of Christchurch residents who still lack the luxury of running water.
Neither team won a bonus point for scoring four tries as they both scored three tries each.
The Waratahs started strongly by scoring the first two tries but Dan Carter kept the Crusaders in touch with his penalty kicking.
The Waratahs scored their last points in the 25th minute to lead 13-6 but five minutes later Robbie Fruean scored the first of his two tries and from that point the Crusaders dominated the match and the scoreboard.
The Crusaders came out for the second half with determination and Sonny Bill-Williams opened the scoring when he scored his first ever try for the Crusaders on his debut.
"There was a hell of a lot of pressure we put on ourselves for this game and just the way all the guys stood up, man, that was awesome," Crusaders captain Kieran Read said.
"Hopefully we showed the region what we're about. Everyone's been showing it the last 10 days, everyone who's been working around the city and in the suburbs. We just carried on the work that they've been doing."
The Waratahs looked likely to continue their unbeaten record this season as they rushed to a lead in the first match played in Nelson by a team from New South Wales in almost 120 years.
Center Tom Carter, who had unenviable task of marking Williams, scored a try after five minutes to give the Waratahs an early lead and, after Carter had kicked the Crusaders ahead, they reclaimed the advantage with a try to scrumhalf Luke Burgess.
Flyhalf Daniel Halangahu missed three early shots at goal before fullback Kurtley Beale was handed the kicking duties and put the Waratahs ahead 13-6 with his first attempt from long range.
The match changed course in the last nine minutes of the first half as Fruean scored twice, from an intercept and a neat final pass from Williams, while Carter kicked six goals to give the Crusaders a 26-13 halftime lead.
Williams, touted as a potential superstar after his switch to rugby from rugby league, had a mixed debut. His first four touches resulted in three inaccurate passes and a dropped ball, but he gradually grew in confidence and effectiveness.
Surrounded by players such as Carter and Fruean who have greater skill, Williams' brute force seemed to complement their talents. He handled without taking a vital role in several movements that led to tries and he showed a sharp attacking instinct in his own 45th minute try.
Williams handled twice in the lead up as the Crusaders typically kept the ball alive though a long series of passes then took Carter's pass from a quick ruck 15 meters from the line, straightened from his left foot and broke the Waratahs defense inside flyhalf Daniel Halangahu.
The only other points of the second half came from a try to Waratahs replacement Afa Palakani.
"They were obviously carrying a lot of responsibility for the region tonight," Waratahs captain Phil Waugh said.
"They were very good and we were a bit off."Final Score Crusaders 33 Waratahs 18
Tries - R Fruean 2, S Bill-Williams
Pen - D Carter 4
Con - D Carter 3
Tries - T Carter, L Burgess, Afa Pakalani
Pen - K Beale
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Ref 1:Kane McBride
Assistant Ref 2:Richard Kelly
TMO :Garratt Williamson
Crusaders :1. Wyatt Crockett ,2. Corey Flynn ,3. Owen Franks ,4. Brad Thorn ,5. Sam Whitelock,6. George Whitelock ,7. Matt Todd ,8. Kieran Read (Capt),9. Andy Ellis ,10. Daniel Carter ,11. Adam Whitelock,12. Sonny Bill Williams,13. Robbie Fruean,14. Sean Maitland,15. Israel Dagg
Reserves: 16. Quentin MacDonald,17. Ben Franks,18. Chris Jack,19. Jonathan Poff,20. Willi Heinz,21. Matt Berquist,22. Tom Marshall
Waratahs: 15. Kurtley Beale , 14. Lachie Turner , 13. Rob Horne , 12. Tom Carter , 11. Drew Mitchell , 10. Daniel Halangahu , 9. Luke Burgess , 8. Ben Mowen , 7. Phil Waugh[c] , 6. Dave Dennis , 5. Kane Douglas , 4. Dean Mumm , 3. Al Baxter , 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau , 1. Sekope Kepu
Reserves 16. Damien Fitzpatrick , 17. Benn Robinson , 18. Sitaleki Timani , 19. Pat McCutcheon , 20. Brendan McKibbin , 21. Ryan Cross , 22. Afa Pakalani , 23rd - Pat O'Connor