New Zealand’s Wellington Hurricanes have opened up a 14-point lead at the top of the Super Rugby standings with a tense win over title rivals Waikato Chiefs at the weekend, while the ACT Brumbies ended a run of defeats. The Hurricanes won their summit battle 22-18 to extend their lead over the two-time champions Chiefs in the New Zealand conference and underlined their claims as the team to beat in this year’s championship. The Brumbies recovered from back-to-back losses to down South Africa's Golden Lions 30-20 in Johannesburg to hold down second place overall and edge two points clear of the NSW Waratahs in the Australian conference. It also remains a tight race in South Africa with the Northern Bulls coming away from their 23-18 defeat against the Auckland Blues with a losing bonus point. The Pretoria-based Bulls lead the Western Stormers by just one point in the South African conference after the Stormers had this weekend off along with the Canterbury Crusaders and Western Force. The Chiefs, 13 points behind the 'Canes, are the second-most successful team although they remain in fourth place under the conference system which reserves the first three places for the top teams from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. New Zealand's Otago Highlanders are on equal points with the Chiefs in fifth spot after downing the Central Cheetahs 45-24 in Bloemfontein. Defending champions Waratahs were far from convincing 33-18 winners over South Africa's Coastal Sharks in Sydney and are in the playoff spots in sixth position. In the weekend's other fixture, the Queensland Reds put together their best game of a troubled season to spank the Melbourne Rebels 46-29 to climb off the bottom of the standings. In Wellington, All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu sealed victory for the Hurricanes in the 67th minute with the second of his two tries, but the home team had to fend off a determined Chiefs fightback. In a desperate finish, the Chiefs won an attacking five-metre scrum on full-time but conceded a penalty when their pack came under pressure. A three-try blitz set up the Brumbies for a bonus-point victory over the Lions at Ellis Park. Centre Tevita Kuridrani, number eight Ita Vaea and fly-half Christian Lealiifano scored within nine minutes to give the Australians a 22-6 half-time lead. Superb Brumbies defending kept the South Africans at bay for 25 minutes of the second half before flanker Jaco Kriel snatched a try. But seven minutes later any doubts about the outcome were dispelled when winger Joe Tomane dived over in the corner. The Bulls lost ground in a 23-18 upset loss to the Blues in Auckland. The Bulls dominated territory and possession but could not convert it into points against the unfancied Blues, denting their chances of making the play-offs. Debutant Ryan Tongia scored two tries as the Highlanders defeated the Cheetahs to complete a disastrous Super 15 weekend for South African sides. Tongia scored twice within 18 minutes of the kick-off as the Highlanders went on the lead 26-3 at half-time. Otago were 38-3 ahead before a three-try Cheetahs rally gave the scoreline a degree of respectability. The Waratahs were pushed to the limit before fighting off the Sharks. They only sealed the match with a runaway try by fly-half Bernard Foley in the final minute after a Sharks handling error. The Reds staged a stunning 58-point turnaround to end a tumultuous week with a big win over the Rebels in Brisbane. Queensland were smashed 58-17 by the Crusaders last week and rushed in former Wallabies coach John Connolly to help end a demoralising run of outs.