PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AFP) –
Former All Black Lelia Masaga scored three tries as Waikato Chiefs of New Zealand rounded off a South Africa tour with a 35-24 victory over Southern Kings Friday.
The right wing they call Flash 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.
His third earned Chiefs a four-try bonus point and the southern hemisphere championship title-holders flew home with seven points after bagging two in a narrow loss at Western Stormers last weekend.
Replacement forward Sam Cane scored Chiefs’ other try and full-back Gareth Anscombe raised his season points tally to 70 by kicking three conversions and three penalties from eight shots at goal.
Exciting teenage right-wing Sergeal Petersen and loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht crossed the try-line for Kings and fly-half Demetri Catrakilis planted one conversion and four penalties between the posts from seven shots.
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 rallied.
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 Chiefs to second place on the combined Super 15 table — one point behind ACT Brumbies of Australia — and they are playing like a team capable of going far again this season.
After overcoming Western Force of Australia in their opening match, Kings have refused to be cowed at home to 2012 finalists Sharks and Chiefs, but took no points and start a four-match Australasia tour next weekend.
“I guess we got a pass mark after taking seven points from two matches,” said Chiefs captain and lock Craig Clarke, “but it was disappointing to lose in Cape Town.”
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.”
Chiefs seemed hell bent on running Kings dizzy and a couple of Masaga tries in the corner gave them an 18-6 advantage before Petersen intercepted a Masaga pass and raced almost the length of the field for a try.
When Cane barged over and Masaga completed a blindside break with another try in the right corner it looked like Kings were facing their first hiding in the competition.
But replacement Chiefs scrum-half Augustine Pulu was sin binned on the hour mark and Engelbrecht forced his way over soon after to set up an exciting finish with Kings narrowing the gap to eight points before a late Anscombe penalty.