Fullback Damian McKenzie continued his brilliant start to the Super Rugby season, helping the Chiefs overwhelm the winless Southern Kings 58-24 in Port Elizabeth.
Bouncing back from a surprise loss to the Lions in Hamilton, the Chiefs opened their road trip with a sumptuous seven-try performance which featured 28 points from McKenzie.
The lively fullback slotted 10-from-10 shots at goal and also played a full part in an expressive attacking display which left the Kings grasping, particularly in the second half.
McKenzie was among the Chiefs’ best players in their opening win over the Crusaders and subsequent loss to the Lions, taking over as first-choice goalkicker from All Blacks five-eighth Aaron Cruden.
It left Cruden free to orchestrate an attacking performance which created tries for his co-captain Sam Cane (two), McKenzie, flanker Taleni Seu, centre Charlie Ngatai, winger Glen Fisiiahi and himself.
The result lifts the Chiefs past the Highlanders to the top of the New Zealand Conference and second in the Australasian group behind the unbeaten Brumbies.
The Kings drop to last place on the overall table, having opening with a 43-8 loss to the Sharks, followed by a bye last week.
Touted as the potential easy-beats of the season following their recall to Super Rugby, they have done little to shake that tag.
Numerous turnovers were ruthlessly exposed by the Chiefs, who scored six of their tried in the last 50 minutes.
Leading just 13-12 after half an hour, McKenzie dived across in the right corner to help push his team 27-17 clear at the break.
Hooker Edgar Marutlulle scored both of the Kings tries while five-eighth Louis Fouche slotted 14 points with the boot.
The Kings face a daunting trip to Christchurch to face the Crusaders next week while the Chiefs head to Argentina where they will be the first Kiwi side to play the newly-formed Jaguares.