McKenzie stars as Chiefs destroy Brumbies in Super Rugby

Waikato Chiefs destroy ACT Brumbies in weekend's Super Rugby

Sydney (AFP) - Damian McKenzie had plenty to smile about as he pressed his All Blacks claims with a starring role in the Waikato Chiefs' 48-23 win over Australian leaders ACT Brumbies in this weekend's Super Rugby.

Fullback McKenzie reaped a personal haul of 23 points from a try, three conversions and four penalty goals as the Chiefs floored the Brumbies with six tries in their first win in Canberra in eight years.

While the Chiefs took charge of the New Zealand Conference with their fifth win, South African strugglers Southern Kings broke through for their first victory and kept Japan's Sunwolves winless with a 33-28 victory in Port Elizabeth.

Super Rugby champions Otago Highlanders came from behind to down Australia's Western Force 32-20 in Dunedin, while fellow Kiwis Canterbury Crusaders edged South Africa's Golden Lions 43-37 in Johannesburg.

Argentina's Jaguares are still chasing their second win in their debut Super Rugby season after going down 24-16 to the Blues in Auckland.

The Pretoria-based Northern Bulls won their South African derby over the Central Cheetahs 23-18.

The Melbourne Rebels clung on to down the NSW Waratahs 21-17 and claim their first victory over the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday.

McKenzie, who breaks out into a smile to help him relax before taking kicks at goal, was one of many standouts as the red-hot Chiefs demolished Australian Conference leaders the Brumbies with a spectacular show of running rugby.

The Chiefs were on a different level from the Brumbies, ripping apart their usually strong defence for a club record fourth-straight win outside New Zealand.

McKenzie now has seven tries among his 108 points this season to be the series' top scorer, 37 points ahead of nearest rival Elton Jantjies of the Lions.

The Chiefs, winners in 2012 and 2013, looked championship contenders with their fluent attack while two-time winners Brumbies took a massive hit to their chances of winning the title, such was the disparity between the two teams.

- Highlanders scare -

The Kings soaked up continuous second-half pressure to beat the Sunwolves by five points. But the outcome at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium could have been different if the Tokyo-based visitors had not opted to run several kickable penalties.

Sunwolves spent much of the second half inside the Kings' 22, but the visitors did not break through until the final minute when wing Akihito Yamada dived over in the corner for an unconverted try.

The Highlanders survived a scare against the Western Force, scoring four tries to two, but had to work hard after trailing 14-0 early in a bruising encounter.

The result ended a decade-long winning streak for the Force in Dunedin, where the Australians have been an unlikely bogey team for the Highlanders.

The Bulls maintained their dominance over the Cheetahs in a typically bruising South African derby in Pretoria.

It was the 14th victory for the Pretoria team in the past 16 meetings with the Bloemfontein side.

A yellow card to Tevita Li provided the wake-up call the Auckland Blues needed as they held off the Jaguares in a feisty clash at Eden Park.

It was the Jaguares fourth consecutive defeat since winning their opening game against the Cheetahs, and a late Ihaia West penalty denied them even a bonus point for a narrow loss.

Ryan Crotty scored a hat-trick of Super Rugby tries for the first time as the Crusaders beat the Lions after a 10-try spectacle.

The New Zealand inside centre struck after just 50 seconds and twice early in the second half as the record seven-time champions threatened to win easily after leading 22-20 at half-time.