By John Fallon
Southern Kings 22 Munster 39
Dan Goggin’s stunning bonus point try helped Munster begin their tour of South Africa with a PRO14 victory over Southern Kings at Outeniqua Stadium in George.
Hometown favourite CJ Stander returned as Munster captain and scored, while Niall Scannell, Calvin Nash, Rhys Marshall and Dave Kilcoyne were also on target in a brilliant six-try win.
Munster had Gerbrandt Grobler yellow carded in the first-half but recovered from a 15-13 half-time deficit.
Munster coach Johann van Graan has made ten changes after last weekend’s 20-19 win over Toulon and Southern Kings had the better start, while Munster suffered an injury blow in the tenth minute when James Cronin left the field with what looked like a bad arm injury.
But they re-grouped and Ian Keatley’s first success off the kicking tee came in the 17th minute. Munster could have extended their lead ten minutes later but a penalty was reversed when Grobler dived in and collided with Ruan Lerm’s shoulder.
Southern Kings scored 15 points unanswered before his return. Andy Ntsila scored their first try in the 27th minute and four minutes later Stephen Greff crashed over.
Munster were reeling and Banda added a penalty before Grobler came back. But in the 38th minute Munster scored their first try and it came after some incessant pressure with Grobler prominent, Niall Scannell finished off.
Keatley missed the conversion but Nash showed his scintillating speed to score in the 44th minute of the first half.
Keatley missed again and it was 15-13 in favour of the hosts at half-time but Stander scored eight minutes after the resumption.
This time Keatley added the extras and Munster were 20-15 ahead before some exquisite handling from Rory Scannell set up Goggin’s bonus point try in the 52nd minute.
Michael Makase scored a wonder try for Southern Kings late on but Munster were already out of sight.
Scorers for Southern Kings: A Ntsila, S Greeff, M Makase tries; M Banda 2 cons, pen.
Scorers for Munster: N Scannell, C Nash, CJ Stander, D Goggin, R Marshall, D Kilcoyne tries; I Keatley 3 cons, pen.
Southern Kings: M Banda; M Makase, J Nel, B Klaasen, Y Penxe; M du Toit, G Masimla; S Ferreira, S Coetzee, P Scholtz; S Greeff, B De Wee; A Ntsila, M Burger, R Lerm.
Replacements: J Forwood for Ferreira (36), Ferreira for Forwood (h-t), L Pupuma for for Scholtz (56), L Mtyanda for Greeff (56), R van Rooyen for Masimla (56), N Dukisa for Nel (63), L Badiyana for Ntsila (67), L Vulindlu for du Toit (70), Forwood for Ferreira (70).
Munster: JJ Hanrahan; C Nash, D Goggin, R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, J Hart; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, G Grobler; D O’Callaghan, C Oliver, CJ Stander.
Replacements: D Kilcoyne for Cronin (10), S Fitzgerald for Goggin (32), Goggin for Fitzgerald (h-t), R Marshall for N Scannell (56), J O’Donoghue for Oliver (56), B Holland for Kleyn (56), Fitzgerald for Hanrahan (63), J Stafford for Hart (65), B Scott for Ryan (67) R Copeland for Stander (73).
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland).