Courageous forwards and Mike Delany's accurate kicking were the decisive factors as the Highlanders celebrated a hard-earned 16-11 win over the Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Delany kicked three penalties and a conversion to contribute 11 valuable points, while his much-vaunted opposite number, Morne Steyn, was poor with the boot.
The victory meant the Highlanders kept their play-off hopes alive against the competition-leading Bulls.
Elsewhere, the Crusaders bounced back from their shock defeat to the Rebels with a thumping 59-12 win over the hapless Blues at AMI Stadium.
The Crusaders had strips torn off them early in the week by coach Todd Blackadder for the manner of their defeat in Melbourne, and they responded in perfect fashion on Saturday.
They scored nine tries to two in a dominant display right across the park, and in particular up front, en route to their highest score against their traditional Super Rugby foes.
The Queensland Reds' hopes of sneaking into the finals received a major boost as the reigning champions defeated the Lions 34-20.
The Reds, bolstered by the return from injury of superstar Quade Cooper, started slowly but they scored the only try of the first half through back-rower Liam Gill to take a 13-6 lead into the break.
Queensland crossed three times in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to secure the all-important bonus point and virtually seal the contest before taking their foot off the accelerator in the final stages against a Lions side that never gave up.
In Saturday's late game, the Stormers climbed to the top of the Super 15 standings after seeing off the Waratahs 19-13 in a hard-fought clash at Newlands.