Dunedin - The Chiefs' two-year reign as Super Rugby champions likely ended on Friday when they were beaten 29-25 by the Highlanders, who stayed on track for their first playoffs place in 12 years.

All Blacks fullback Ben Smith finished a brilliant counterattacking try in the 49th minute to give the Highlanders a decisive lead after they trailed 13-10 at halftime. Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga added 16 points - six goals from six attempts - to reach 150 points for the season, a record for the Dunedin-based franchise.

The Hamilton-based Chiefs started the match in eighth place, clinging to playoffs contention, and, with only two matches remaining in the regular season, likely can't achieve the top-six finish which would allow them to contest the postseason.