WELLINGTON – Lima Sopoaga kicked a penalty with two minutes remaining to give the Highlanders a narrow 18-15 win over Queensland in their Super Rugby clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
Earlier, the Chiefs downed the Waratahs 39-27 in Hamilton in another good day for New Zealand Super Rugby sides.
The Reds and Highlanders were locked at 15-all after a torrid arm wrestle between two evenly matched sides when lock Izack Rodda was penalised for a high tackle right in front of the posts.
Sopoaga stepped up and made no mistake to give the visitors their first win in Brisbane in five matches.
"In phases we did some good stuff but we also did some stuff that let us down, as we've done all season, but I'll take that win any day of the week," Highlanders captain Ash Dixon said.
"The message was to keep it simple, be direct and hold on to the ball as much as we could."
In a match that failed to reach any great heights as a spectacle, the Highlanders' superior kicking game proved the difference between the two teams.
Sopoaga and scrum half Kayne Hammington put the Reds under enormous pressure with their kicking from general play whereas the Queensland kicking lacked penetration and accuracy.
Both sides scored two tries apiece, one in each half, with Sopoaga's late penalty proving the difference.
"I think we did everything we could to lose that in the back end of the match," a frustrated Reds captain Scott Higginbotham said.
"It was just a case of too many simple errors."
The Reds led 10-8 at the break and then skipped away to a 15-8 lead when fullback Hamish Stewart crossed five minutes after the restart.
But All Blacks flanker Liam Squires barged over with 20 minutes remaining to level the scores.
The Highlanders launched a wave of attacks but Queensland looked like holding on for a draw until Rodda's clumsy tackle.