Masaga hat-trick seals gritty Chiefs win
March 16, 2013
Lelia Masaga proved to be a real handful for Southern Kings, scoring three tries in the Chiefs' victory
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A hat-trick to winger Lelia Masaga has given Chiefs a 35-24 win against a resolute Southern Kings outfit at Nelson Mandela Stadium.
A large crowd at the Port Elizabeth ground acknowledged Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam, who led his side out in his 100th Super Rugby match. From there the Chiefs ensured he reached the milestone on a winning note as the defending champions recorded a four-tries-to-two victory.
Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu's opportunity to shine was snuffed out within 60 seconds after he was given a yellow card for not releasing the tackler. The Kings did their best to make the most of the numerical advantage by scoring nine points in his absence, but in the end it was to no avail as the Chiefs finished their South African tour with a win and a loss.
For the Kings, their second consecutive loss will be disappointing, but the fighting spirit they showed against the defending champions, particularly in defence, will see them feared by other Super Rugby sides in weeks to come.
Gareth Anscombe kicked the Chiefs to 15 points courtesy of three penalties and three conversions while Kings No.10 Demetri Catrakilis kicked four penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 14 points.
Messam led the side out for the first encounter between the two sides as the metaphorical David took on Goliath.
Catrakilis was penalised for a dangerous tackle on centre Tim Nanai-Williams, and it was subsequently converted by Anscombe.
The Kings five-eighth kicked a penalty of his own before Anscombe kicked the visitors back to a three-point lead after almost 18 minutes.
The Chiefs stuttered at times, but eventually prevailed prevailed (video can be viewed in Australia only)%]
The Chiefs were able to find their mojo following the twin penalties, and when play was spread quickly through the backs it was a long pass to Masaga that gave the visitors the first try of the match. Masaga was in the action soon after with his second try after some clever inter-play between Nanai-Williams and Cruden.
While referee Stuart Berry went upstairs to look at a couple of seemingly forward passes, it was a later pass from Cruden to Masaga that saw the Chiefs winger score his second try for the night and for the season.
A Kings penalty reduced the deficit to 6-18 before Segeal Petersen capitalised on a Masaga fumble to sprint 80 metres and score a try on the stroke of halftime to cut the deficit to 13-18. It was as close as they got, however.
Two tries within 14 minutes in the second half to Sam Cane and Masaga's third, saw the lead extended to 19 with well over a quarter of the game remaining.
Petersen looked as if he could have had his fourth try of the competition after he kicked a ball halfway down the field, but Asaeli Tiokirotuma was on hand to take the ball into touch.
Augustine Pulu took to the field in the 60th minute but was made to sit out the following 10 after referee cited him for a professional foul in holding up play.
The hosts capitalised immediately when Jacques Engelbrecht benefitted from a large buildup to reduce the deficit to 14 as Pulu watched on from the sin bin.
Another Catrakilis penalty saw the deficit reduced to eight with 11 minutes to play, but Anscombe replied straight back to give the Chiefs a 35-24 victory.
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