The Southern Kings will leave on Sunday for the overseas leg of their Super Rugby campaign without injured captain Luke Watson.
Kings Director of Rugby Alan Solomons said the skipper has not fully recovered from the throat injury he sustained in their opening match against the Force, so they are not prepared to risk taking him on tour.
The Eastern Cape side will be targeting further improvement in their overall play as they contemplate their most challenging part of the season.
The competition rookies lost their second match in a row out of three straight home games when they went down 35-24 to the defending champions Chiefs in Port Elizabeth on Friday, but delivered another gutsy performance as they strove to prove they belonged in the competition.
Not helping the Kings' cause on Friday was the late withdrawal of captain and lock Darron Nell through injury, meaning Steven Sykes had to step into the leadership role, their third captain in as many matches.
"It was bit tough with Darron getting injured in the warm-up," Sykes said after the game.
"But they are the defending champions, so we always knew it was going to be a tough game, but I think we did well. We must just keep holding on to the ball a bit more."
Ball retention has been a recurring theme for the Kings, who have been outstanding defensively, but have not had many opportunities on attack.
"The most important thing for us is to improve week after week," Sykes said.
"We held on to the ball more than last week. It is something we need to keep working on, but I felt we gave our backs more ball from the set piece tonight."
Sykes added that the team were looking forward to the trip overseas and their first match against the Crusaders on Saturday.
"For lots of them [Kings players] it will be the first tour so we hope everyone has recovered from tonight [Friday night] before we fly out on Sunday."
While the Chiefs were still smarting from losing the previous weekend to the Stormers, captain Craig Clarke said they were satisfied with the outcome, in which they collected a bonus point.
"It was big battle," Clarke said. "You must give them a lot of credit for the way they played, they put us under a lot of pressure, and we were a little frustrated with our execution."
Meanwhile, Chiefs' try-scoring hero, wing Lelia Masaga, with three tries, paid tribute to loose forward Liam Messam who was playing his 100th game for the New Zealand franchise.
"The coaches wanted to make sure we get involved, get some ball in hand and hopefully score some tries," Masaga said.
"But tonight was all about Liam Messam playing his 100th game and I just want to make sure I was doing something for the big man."
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