PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — Former All Black Lelia Masaga scored a hat-trick of tries as reigning Super Rugby champions the Chiefs rounded off their South African tour with a 35-24 victory over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
Masaga dotted down twice during a first half that ended with the visitors 18-13 ahead and he completed his hat-trick 13 minutes into the second half yesterday.
His third earned the Chiefs a four-try bonus point and they flew home with seven points after bagging two in a narrow loss at Western Stormers last weekend.
"I guess we got a pass mark after taking seven points from two matches but it was disappointing to lose in Cape Town," said Chiefs captain and lock Craig Clarke.
Replacement forward Sam Cane scored the Chiefs' other try and fullback Gareth Anscombe raised his season points tally to 70 by kicking three conversions and three penalties from eight shots at goal.
Exciting teenage winger Sergeal Petersen and loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht crossed the tryline for Kings and five-eighth Demetri Catrakilis kicked one conversion and four penalties.
The Chiefs led from the ninth minute at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, when Anscombe kicked a penalty, and built a 32-13 advantage early in the second half before Kings hit back.
But the difference in class between the defending champions and the debutants was always obvious with the visitors' backs and forwards often combining in superb handling movements while the home team offered courage and spirit.
Victory lifted the Chiefs to second on the combined Super Rugby table -- one point behind the Brumbies and they are playing like a team capable of going far again this season.
After overcoming Western Force in their opening match, the Kings have now lost the Sharks and Chiefs, but took no points and start a four-match Australasia tour next weekend.
Kings lock and skipper Steven Sykes said: "We must hold on to the ball more but there is improvement each week. The team played better than last week and gave our backs better ball."