CJ Stander receives king’s welcome in South Africa

Southern Kings 22 Munster 39: There was a carnival atmosphere at Outeniqua Park on Saturday and while it seemed for a time that the Southern Kings were going to spoil CJ Stander’s homecoming, Munster’s superiority shone through in the end as they cantered home.

Over 200 Munster fans contributed to a wonderful afternoon and evening of entertainment, with a game between two local teams getting everyone fired-up in a curtain-raiser that had some jaw-dropping hits and tackles.

The crowd of over 6,000 went mad during this game and, while nearly half of them headed for the exits before the main event, there was still a cracking atmosphere for Munster’s first game on African soil.

The Kings, who will be much better next season when they have proper preparation, contributed enormously to the occasion and caused Munster plenty of trouble in the opening half.

However, Munster, even with 10 changes from the side which pipped Toulon, kept their composure and struck for two tries before the break and, with the likes of Stephen Fitzgerald and Dave Kilcoyne making big impressions off the bench, they strolled home.

Johann van Graan said the ambition shown by his men to score a try from deep before the break was vital in them starting their two-match tour with a win. They endured a torrid opening half, where little went right, but after cutting a 15-3 deficit with a try, they went to touch with a penalty from deep inside their own half and played on to score and cut the gap to two points at the break.

“One of the things we are working on is our tempo,” said van Graan. “We had a penalty on the hooter just inside our 22, we could have just kicked it out. We went for touch and we scored a try. It was a massive momentum swing in the game. We managed the game in the second half very well, while our bench also did pretty well.

He will today learn the extent of the shoulder injury suffered by loosehead prop James Cronin, who went off after just 10 minutes.

“It looks like a shoulder injury. It’s very difficult to say. He was in a bit of pain and that’s why we took him off immediately.”

The Munster coach expressed delight for CJ Stander, who scored a try on his return to his hometown, George.

“It’s nice for him. For CJ it’s all about the team, but it’s to see how the people of George have embraced him. It was nice for him to score a try, but it was a very good team effort from all involved, management and players, and even the non-playing guys.”

Munster trailed 15-3 approaching the interval after Gerbrandt Grobler was harshly binned, but they got in for tries from Niall Scannell and Calvin Nash to cut the gap to two at the break.

Munster, with Ian Keatley controlling matters at out-half, dominated the second-half. Stander crossed after 48 minutes for the decisive score and the bonus point win was wrapped up with efforts from Dan Goggin — following a sublime pass from Rory Scannell — Rhys Marshall and Kilcoyne.

The Munster squad returned to Cape Town by road yesterday and will base themselves there until heading up to Bloemfontein on Thursday to take on the Cheetahs on Friday evening in the Highveld.

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).

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