DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 27: Liam Sopoaga of the Highlanders prepares to pass the ball during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 27, 2014 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

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.