The stumbling Brumbies will be happy to have left South Africa's abrasive sides behind and will be out to reassert themselves after a shock draw cost them top spot on the Super Rugby ladder.

Up 13-0 against competition newcomers the Kings in Canberra on Friday, the Brumbies had to settle for a 28-28 stalemate.

It meant the pace-setting Brumbies (29 points) slipped to second on the table, trailing the Chiefs - who had a four-point bye - on for and against points differential.

On paper, the Brumbies' record against the South African teams of two wins, one draw and a loss was quite respectable.

However, they have clearly lost the sparkle that was evident in their first four games, the last of which was an excellent win over the Sharks in Durban.

They lost their unbeaten record the following week against the Stormers in Cape Town, needed a last-gap penalty to beat the Bulls in Canberra and couldn't subdue the Kings, who scored four tries to two.

"I was reflecting and thinking what is happening and why is it looking like the graph is going downwards in the last couple of weeks," Brumbies coach Jake White told ABC radio.

"And you know South African sides are big and abrasive, they're direct and their defence is really strong."

Queensland (26), who had their bye, closed to within three points of the Brumbies and are fourth on the ladder behind the three conference leaders, the Chiefs, Brumbies and Sharks (25).

The Australian leaders will square off in Brisbane on Saturday week, but first the Brumbies play the bottom of the table Highlanders (6) in Dunedin on Friday and the Reds play the Chiefs in Hamilton the following day.

Brumbies captain and flanker Ben Mowen is expected to be fit for the game in Dunedin despite limping around the field against the Kings.

The NSW Waratahs (17) dropped two places to tenth on the ladder and a distant third in the Australian conference following a 41-29 loss to the Hurricanes (23) in Wellington.

It was an 11th straight overseas loss for NSW, who have their second and final bye in the next round.

Melbourne Rebels (14) snapped a five-match losing streak with a 30-23 away win over Western Force (11) on Saturday.

The Force fought back from a 15-0 deficit to 23-23, but winger Jason Woodward scored his second try to secure the Rebels' second victory this season, both over the Force, who lost lock Hugh McMeniman to a shoulder injury.

South Africa hosted two of the closest games of the round.

The Sharks squeezed out a 21-17 win over the Crusaders (21) who scored the only try of the game in Durban, but were beaten by seven penalties from the boot of five-eighth Patrick Lambie.

The Cheetahs (22) needed a penalty after the hooter from five-eighth Burton Francis in Bloemfontein to eke out a 26-24 victory over the Stormers (16) and establish a franchise record of five successive Super wins.

In Auckland, All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu scored two tries, as the Blues (22) snapped a three-match losing streak with a 29-18 bonus-point victory over the hapless Highlanders, who have lost all six of their games.